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Old Able's Story
Old Able, the Plane with Personality
(Click on any thumbnail to see a larger picture. All pictures are set to open in a new window. To return here, just close the window you're in.)

Able Bent
"Able Bent"
There are accident investigation photos of October 15th, 1951 of Able in a ditch with the right gear folded under. I was told she had a tire shot out and the pilot lost control of her in the landing.
1st Lt Johnnie Grubbs was Pintail of the night in "Old Able" when he took a shapnel hit in the head, was blinded by the blood and let navigator 2nd Lt. Vince Alessi direct the plane home from the right seat. That must have been a nervous gunner, Sgt. Earl Brooks, in the back as Alessi talked Grubbs in for the landing. (Read Vince Alessi's recount "The Pilot is Hit!" in War Stories.) Vince Alessi
"Vince Alessi"
A Cartoon about Able
"An Able Cartoon"
"Old Able" was so well known that she was the star of a series of mission cartoons by Sgt. Bryant, who wasn't even in the 13th.

I left K-8 on June 28th, 1952, and "Old Able" was still making her trips. If she did as well the second year as the first she would have had over 400 missions.

Capt. Reece Black took a picture of Able in August 1952 when she climbed out of the traffic pattern of K-8 on her way home -- honorably retired from battle. Reece said she was so tired and out of trim she was hard to fly. I wondered what happened to her. I thought she was probably broken up for scrap by an ungrateful Air Force.

Not so!
Old Able "Old Able"

I recently discovered Able was brought home and refurbished. In November 1956 she was given/sold to Colombia in a new life as a "C" model with a glass nose -- designated as FAR #2508. A glass nose. Oh, the embarrassment.

She was sold to Colombia on a political deal on the pretext she would do anti-submarine work, but was eventually used in counter-insurgncy work. She was written off and abandoned at Cartagena airport in March 1963. Oh, the humiliation she must have felt.

Of all the B-26 birds that deserved being dressed up in a museum, it was Able.

She always brought her crews home!
-- Charles W. Hinton, 13th Navigator
hanging on the nose guns of "Old Able"
Charles Hinton

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