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41-24311

B-24 Liberator

The B-24D, named 'Hadley's Harem' was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti Romania in 1943.
He was approaching his target refinery, code named "White IV", when his plane took two direct flak hits. “We were two to three miles from our target, flying about 50 feet off the ground when we got hit,” one of the gunners, Sgt. Newton, remembers. “We couldn’t turn because we were in a tight formation with other planes, so we kept flying, powering up to clear the smokestacks 200 feet tall.”

Lt. Hadley and Copilot James Lindsey of Texarkana, Texas, pointed their damaged airplane toward Cyprus, then veered toward Turkey. They jettisoned their bombs and ordered the crew to get rid of everything else, fire extinguishers, Mae West life preservers, parachutes, anything to lighten the airship, which was now struggling to stay in the air on only two engines. South of Ploesti, they joined up with another group of shot up straggler B-24s, like themselves, led by their 98th Group Leader, Col. John "Killer" Kane, in his B-24 that he had named, 'Hail Columbia' and continued following the entire group of planes south to try make it to the British air base at Nicosia,Cyprus.

Lt. Hadley made it all the way past the southern coast of Turkey. But almost out of gasoline and oil for their big Pratt & Whitney engines, he had to break away from 'Hail Columbia', 'The Squaw", 'The Sandman', and Walter Stewart in 'Utah Man'. Lt. Hadley radioed a goodbye to the group of his friends and turned his plane back, in the darkness, toward the Turkish coast. “We got 25 miles off the coast of Turkey and were flying barely above stall speed,” Newton recalled. “Hadley turned left toward land. It was about 8 o’clock at night, and we were losing oil pressure and altitude.”

Newton remembers Hadley asking his fellow crew members, “You want to try the beach - or the water?” Shortly thereafter, the two remaining engines froze, out of engine oil, and the ship plunged 150 feet, hitting the water nose first and breaking into three pieces. Neither Lt. Hadley nor Lt. Lindsey emerged from the sinking wreckage. They were caught in their collapsed cockpit and drowned. Seven of the ten crewmen survived the crash and were interned in Turkey. Both pilots, Lt. Gilbert Hadley and Lt. James Rex Lindsey received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart, posthumously, for their valor and sacrifice over Ploesti. August 1, 1943.

Approaching the target, the aircraft was hit by a flak shell, causing a fatality and serious damage. The crew managed to drop their bombs and set course for home. Engine problems led to a decision to divert to Cyprus. Hadley initially joined a group of damaged stragglers leaving Ploesti led by their Group Leader, Col. John Kane in 'Hail Columbia and several other shot up B-24s from the 98th Bomb Group and 'Utah Man' from the 376th, but Hadley's aircraft couldn’t maintain flight and pilot Hadley had to leave the formation and ditched in the sea off the coast of Antalya in Turkey. Three cockpit crewmembers, including Lt. Hadley, were KIA. Seven of the crew of ten escaped the sinking B-24 after ditching, and were able to swim to shore. Three of the crew were KIA. The survivors were captured by the Turks, and survived the war. ~ Aircraft Failed To Return - Ploesti oil refinery raid. Pilot 1st Lt. Gilbert B. Hadley - Copilot 2nd Lt. James Rex Lindsey. - Waist Gunner - Sgt. Christopher Holweger. MACR 167.

B-24 SN #41-24311 - D - CO
23 Nov 42 through 5 Dec 42 - Built in San Diego
10 Dec 42 - 2 Test Flights
12 Dec 42 - ACC AAF
13 Dec 42 - Delivered
24 Dec 42 - Flown to Fort Worth for MOD
01 Jan 43 - MODs Completed
12 Jan 43 - ACC again by AAF
26 Mar 43 - Went Overseas
09 Jun 43 - Cairo
15 Jul 43 - Flew First 98th BG Mission (Flew 10 missions including last)
01 Aug 43 - Ditched off Turkish Coast - MACR 167
1995 - 2 Crew Recovered
1996 - Cockpit Recovered
Dec 1997 - Installed in Rahni M Koc Museum (Istanbul)

Service

Aircraft

  • 41-24226 'Joisey Bounce' - 'Utah Man'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D 'Joisey Bounce' was assigned to Pilot Col. Walter T. Stewart of the 330 Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, for the famous mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, Aug 1,1943. Col. Stewart changed his assigned plane...

  • 41-24198 'THE VULGAR VIRGIN' - 'Hell From Heaven' - 'Shoot You're Faded'

    B-24 Liberator
    - Not to be confused with #42-40608, 'THE VULGAR VIRGIN' of the 8th Air Force - 93rd Bomb Group - 328th Bomb Squadron - It also flew on the Ploesti mission, piloted by Lt. Claude Turner - Interned Turkey Aug 1, 1943 - Lt. Turner escaped from the...

  • 41-11819 'Raunchy'

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D-CO Liberator - 'Raunchy' ...

  • 41-11825 'Hail Columbia' 'Grumpy' 'Little Chief Big Dog'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 'Hail Columbia', # 41-11825, originally served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was, first, the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

  • 42-40629 'The Scorpion'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator 42-40629, 'The Scorpion', with the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bombardment Group, and the 565th Bomb Squadron, flew on the Ploesti oil refinery raid, "Operation Tidal Wave" piloted by Lt. Kenneth M. Caldwell and Col. Jack Wood...

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Units

  • 9th Air Force
  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...

People

  • Gilbert Hadley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    First Lieutenant Gilbert Benny Hadley was a B-24D Liberator bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 344th Bombing Squadron, from Texas, based at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi, Libya, in the Mediterranean...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer, Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II, for his...

  • Harold Korger

    Military | Colonel | Bombardier Navigator | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Harold Korger was a bombardier in the 344th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. He flew on the famous mission, Operation Tidal Wave, Aug 1, 1943, to knock out the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. ...

  • Royden LeBrecht

    Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24 Command pilot of the B-24D, #4111761, The 'Squaw' in North Africa in 1942-43. Lt. Lebrecht flew on Operation Tidal Wave, the Aug 1 1943 Ploesti raid, with the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, and the 344th...

  • James Lindsey

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    James Rex Lindsey ...

  • Robert Sternfels

    Military | Major | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Robert Sternfels was a B-24D command bomber pilot in WWII in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombing Group, the Pyramiders, and the 345th Bombing Squadron. Lt. Sternfels flew the famous B-24D bomber, 'The Sandman' on Operation Tidal Wave, which sought...

  • Norman Whalen

    Military | Major | Navigator / Nose Gunner | 98th Bomb Group
    Norman Whalen joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. After graduating from Navigator School in Monroe, Louisiana, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57 B...

Places

  • Mellaha

    Military site : airfield

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Crashed Antalya, Turkey 1 August 1943

Failed To Return - Ploesti oil refinery raid. Pilot Gilbert B Hadley. MACR 167
Approaching the target, the A/C was hit by a shell, causing a fatality and serious damage. The crew managed to drop their bombs and then set course for home. Subsequent engine problems led to a decision to divert to Cyprus, but the aircraft couldn’t maintain flight and it ditched in the sea off the coast of Antalya in Turkey.

Assigned

344th BS 98th BG 9th AF.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2021 21:17:23 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Corrected a typo in the A/C "Description" - "crew" was misspelled.

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 23:01:21 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - 'Hadley's Harem' - Info Contributor - Robert Livingstone

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 22:55:07 Kickapoo Changes to description and person associations
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - 'Hadley's Harem' - Info Contributor - Robert Livingstone

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 11:52:35 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 11:01:57 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

B-24 - Best Web - Hadley's Harem'

Date Contributor Update
06 July 2020 21:10:18 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S. Young. Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
06 July 2020 21:07:52 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S. Young. Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:57:23 Kickapoo Changes to aircraft associations, unit associations, person associations and place associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:52:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:44:03 Kickapoo Changes to description
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:31:09 Kickapoo Changes to markings
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2019 22:27:23 Kickapoo Changes to markings, description, events, aircraft associations and person associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Michael Schultz ---- John S.Young, Jr. - personal archives

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 15:05:42 Al_Skiff Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, description, events, unit associations and mission associations
Sources

AAM Database.

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