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Short Stories

The Iwakuni Sea Wall
by John Harris
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"E" Easy was a dual control airplane. It may originally have been a 731st Squadron plane, or maybe it still belonged to the 731st. Nevertheless, on this mission it was flown by a 13th crew.

The mission was complete and all the crew had left to do was negotiate a GCA into Iwakuni through a driving rain. If someone could have only known that the GCA final controller had had a few too many!

The only reasonable way to carry a navigator in a dual control airplane was to have him ride in the nose through takeoff and landing, even though it was in violation of the Dash-1.

The navigator was the first to know about the impending trouble. Through the driving rain, he saw the sea wall approaching out of the wrong part of his window and let out a healthy yell (described as a scream by at least two people). The pilot corrected as best he could, but he was far too low and it was much too late. He hit the sea wall, removing the right gear and nose wheel and mangling the props. The airplane made it to the runway but veered off into about a foot of standing water before coming to an abrupt stop.
The crew started to leave. The right seater got out. The pilot was standing up and starting to get out. The navigator decided it was time for him to leave and started out of the nose at high speed. Everyone knows you can't get out of the nose of a dual control B-26 except through the entry door located underneath the bombardier's compartment. The airplane was resting on that! On his way out the navigator hit the control yoke on the right side, which hit the pilot on the left side in the stomach and sat him back down. The navigator, not realizing he couldn't get past the control wheel, got out anyway. He ran down the right wing tip, which was already submerged, and did a ground loop when his feet hit the water.

He was in such a hurry that he didn't bother to get back up, crawling the last 25 yards in the water. The only name that I recall from this incident was navigator John S. Horr. He offered to end his Korean tour at this point.

Colonel Belser didn't think very much of his offer to not fly anymore and a great difference of opinion arose. John only managed to delay the inevitable and eventually finished his tour.

-- John Harris
13th Pilot
John Harris