Archive for July 19th, 2008


Tree Swallow



Tree Swallow: Medium-sized swallow with iridescent blue-green upperparts and white underparts. The wings are dark gray and tail is dark and forked. Black bill, legs and feet. Swift, graceful flight, alternates slow, deep wing beats with short or long glides. Turns back sharply on insects it passes.

Range and Habitat

Tree Swallow: Breeds from Alaska east through northern Manitoba to Newfoundland and south to California, Colorado, Nebraska, and Maryland. Spends winters north to southern California, the Gulf Coast, and the Carolinas. Preferred habitats include open areas near water, such as fields, marshes, meadows, shorelines, beaver ponds, and wooded swamps with standing dead trees.



World War II American Bombers: B-24 and B-17

B24 Liberator – The “Strawberry Bitch” – Served with the 512nd Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force based in Libya and Italy. It had interesting nose art. Some say that the red-headed babe painted on the side had not a stitch of clothing on, when the plane was serving in action. 

The B-24 Liberator was produced in greater numbers than the B-17 Flying Fortress, with over 18,000 B-24s built.  It had a bomb load of 8,000 pounds and was equipped with six .50-caliber machine guns in the nose, top and sides, and four .303-caliber machine guns in the tail.  It had great range of 2,200 miles and could fly at 28,000 feet at 290 miles per hour.  The plane had many variants serving in many roles from bombing to maritime patrol to transport to fueling.  The plane is most noted for raiding deep into Nazi territory and destroying the oil fields at Ploesti.  While the mission succeeded in stopping oil production at Ploesti for a time, the Liberators paid a heavy price, with only 33 of 177 planes returning to their base in condition to fly again.  Liberators were prone to catch fire and their lightweight construction couldn’t take the battle damage dished out by experienced Luftwaffe pilots and anti-aircraft batteries.




B-17 Flying Fortress:  Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby

While not produced in as great of numbers as the B-24, the B-17 Flying Fortress has a superior reputation because of its rugged design and ability to absorb battle damage.  This high level bomber repeatedly carried the war to the Nazi homeland with devastating consequences on Nazi cities and industry.  Capable of delivering up to 17,000 pounds of bombs at a range of 2,000 miles it flew at high levels above thirty thousand feet at speeds of around 200 miles per hour.  The plane carried an immense amount of fire power with thirteen .50-caliber machines guns strategically placed over the entire plane.


Because of damage the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby ended up interred in Sweden.  The following is an account of how the plane ended up in Swedish hands.

“Soon after we crossed the German border, we lost number three engine, I believe because of losing oil pressure. Bob could not get the prop feathered (rotated 90° to put the blade edge perpendicular to the airflow). It continued to windmill (turn without power in the airflow) the entire trip with no vibration. We attempted to stay in formation with three engines but found this impossible and had to drop out. We continued on course to the best of my ability. We were losing altitude but continued to the target and dropped our bombs.

Flying alone toward the Baltic Sea, we saw many German fighters attacking formations of B-17s and could not understand why they didn’t pick us out as a straggler. Before we reached the Baltic Sea, we lost the second engine, and the decision had to be made to go to Sweden because we could not make it back to England. Bob asked for a course to Sweden, and I charted one to a little town called Ystad in the very southernmost part of Sweden.

All loose equipment, including machine guns, radio equipment, and clothing, was thrown overboard in order to lighten the ship. An attempt was made to drop the ball turret, but it wouldn’t move.

As we approached the coastline, Bob was interested in knowing whether or not it was Sweden. I confidently stated that it was, but after the flak started coming up as we got over land, I wasn’t so sure. All of it was low, and I believe the Swedes were just telling us ‘Don’t try anything.’ Just before we reached land we lost the third engine, and we were losing altitude fast. A Swedish (J-9) fighter came up and led us to Malmö, Sweden, where a B-24, also in trouble, landed just ahead of us. Actually, we had to swing wide to keep from colliding.”


The Strawberry Bitch and the Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby can be found at


On This Day, 7-19-08, World War II: America Bombs Rome

America bombs Rome

On this day in 1943, the United States bombs railway yards in Rome in an attempt to break the will of the Italian people to resist as Hitler lectures their leader, Benito Mussolini, on how to prosecute the war further.

On July 16, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to the Italian civilian population to reject Mussolini and Hitler and “live for Italy and civilization.” As an “incentive,” American bombers raided the city, destroying its railways. Panic broke out among the Romans. Convinced by Mussolini that the Allies would never bomb the holy city, civilians poured into the Italian capital for safety. The bombing did more than shake their security in the city — it shook their confidence in their leader.

The denizens of Rome were not alone in such disillusion. In a meeting in northern Italy, Hitler attempted to revive the flagging spirits of Il Duce, as well as point out his deficiencies as a leader. Afraid that Mussolini, having suffered successive military setbacks, would sue for a separate peace, leaving the Germans alone to battle it out with Allied forces along the Italian peninsula, Hitler decided to meet with his onetime role model to lecture him on the manly art of war. Mussolini remained uncharacteristically silent during the harangue, partly due to his own poor German (he would request a translated synopsis of the meeting later), partly due to his fear of Hitler’s response should he tell the truth — that Italy was beaten and could not continue to fight. Mussolini kept up the charade for his German allies: Italy would press on. But no one believed the brave front anymore. Just a day later, Hitler secretly ordered Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to take command of the occupied Greek Islands, better to “pounce on Italy” if and when Mussolini capitulated to the United States. But within a week, events would take a stunning turn.

“America bombs Rome.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Jul 2008, 04:56


On This Day

1525 – The Catholic princes of Germany formed the Dessau League to fight against the Reformation.

1799 – The Rosetta Stone, a tablet with hieroglyphic translations into Greek, was found in Egypt.

1848 – The Women’s Rights Convention took place in Seneca Fall, NY. Bloomers were introduced at the convention.

1870 – France declared war on Prussia.

1942 – German U-boats were withdrawn from positions off the U.S. Atlantic coast due to effective American anti-submarine countermeasures.

1943 – During World War II, more than 150 B-17 and 112 B-24 bombers attacked Rome for the first time.

1974 – The House Judiciary Committee recommended that U.S. President Richard Nixon should stand trial in the Senate for any of the five impeachment charges against him.

1975 – The Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts separated after being linked in orbit for two days.

1985 – Christa McAuliffe of New Hampshire was chosen to be the first schoolteacher to ride aboard the space shuttle. She died with six others when the Challenger exploded the following year.

1989 – 112 people were killed when a United Airline DC-10 airplane crashed in Sioux City, Iowa. 184 people did survive the accident.


Massachusetts begins ill-fated Penobscot expedition

On this day in 1779, Massachusetts, without consulting either Continental political or military authorities, launches a 4,000-man naval expedition commanded by Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, Adjutant General Peleg Wadsworth, Brigadier General Solomon Lovell and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere. The expedition consisted of 19 warships, 24 transport ships and more than 1,000 militiamen. Their objective was to capture a 750-man British garrison at Castine on the Penobscot Peninsula, in what would later become Maine. The expedition arrived on July 25 and proceeded to launch a series of inconclusive land attacks, leaving Patriot naval forces underutilized and allowing the British plenty of time to send for reinforcements. The land commander, Brig. Gen. Lovell, began to retreat at the arrival of Sir George Colliers seven British warships, expecting Saltonstall to engage in a naval battle. Saltonstall, however, did not fight for long: the naval engagement concluded in total disaster on August 14, when Saltonstall surprised both Patriot and British commanders by fleeing upriver and burning his own ships. The Patriots lost in excess of 470 men, as well as numerous Continental Navy and Massachusetts ships that were burned during the retreat. The British achieved their victory at a cost of only 13 men. Saltonstall and Paul Revere later faced court martial because of the fiasco. Saltonstall lost his commission, but Revere won acquittal. By contrast, Peleg Wadsworth, who served as Reveres second-in-command, won acclaim for his performance in the engagement. He had organized the retreat, which was the only well-executed aspect of the mission. Wadsworth’s family continued to play a celebrated role in American history: his grandson was the famed poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The failed Penobscot expedition was considered the worst naval disaster in American history until the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, more than 160 years later.

“Massachusetts begins ill-fated Penobscot expedition .” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Jul 2008, 04:57

Morgan’s raiders defeated at Buffington Island

Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s raid on the North is dealt a serious blow when a large part of his force is captured as they try to escape across the Ohio River at Buffington Island, Ohio. Cut off from the south, Morgan fled north with the remnants of his command and was captured a week later at Salineville, Ohio.

“Morgan’s raiders defeated at Buffington Island.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Jul 2008, 04:57

July 2008

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