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Flying Jeep
Oct 09, '20

Curtiss-Wright CW-25 / AT-9 Jeep

1941 advanced trainer

In 1940, with Europe already at war, the US Army Air Corps knew that it was essential to begin preparations for the very real possibility that, in the not too distant future, the United States of America might become involved. As a part of this general thinking the US Army had already begun evaluation of the Cessna T-50 as an 'off-the-shelf' twin-engined trainer which would prove suitable for the transition of a pilot qualified on single-engined aircraft to a twin-engined aircraft and its very different handling technique. Procured as the AT-8, Cessna's T-50 was built in large numbers.

For the more specific transition to a 'high-performance' twin-engine bomber it. was considered that something less stable than the T-50 was needed. However, Curtiss-Wright had anticipated this requirement with the design of the Curtiss-Wright CW-25, a twin-engined pilot transition trainer which had the take-off and landing characteristics of a light bomber aircraft. The CW-25 was of low-wing cantilever monoplane configuration, provided with retractable tail-wheel landing gear and powered by two Lycoming R-680-9 radial engines. The single prototype acquired for evaluation had a welded steel-tube fuselage structure with the wings, fuselage and tail unit fabric-covered.

Evaluation proving satisfactory, the type was ordered into production under the designation AT-9, and name Jeep. The production examples differing from the prototype by being of all-metal construction. A total of 491 AT-9s was produced and these were followed into service by 300 generally similar AT-9A aircraft. They remained in use for a comparatively short time, for the USA's involvement in World War II in late 1941 resulted in the early development of far more effective training aircraft.

Difficult to Fly

Anecdote by Bruce Byers,

April 8, 2016

My father Ed Byers, Class 42-A at Ellington Field near Houston Texas, trained in AT-9s beginning in late January 1942. In his letters to his parents he wrote that after checking out in the Cessna AT-17 and the Beechcraft AT-7, his flight of instructors concentrated on the AT-9. The other two advanced transitional trainers were moved to other airfields. I have several photographs of my father standing near and in AT-9s. He wrote that they were the "hottest" of the advanced trainers and certainly more demanding to fly. He called the AT-17 "Bobcat" a slow, lumbering, wood and metal boxcar with controls that demanded more muscle to fly. Slow flying and slow landing. Even so, more than 4,000 AT-17s and variations were built and stayed in service long after the war. The 800 odd AT-9s hardly survived the war and like the Martin B-26s were soon scrapped.

Dad eventually graduated from flying AT-9s to pilot instructor in Martin B-26s at Laughlin Field, Del Rio, Texas. Photos of the AT-9 on the ground and in flight depict it as a beautiful, streamlined aircraft. Dad did not mention having any problems with engine trouble. He did write that it required a faster landing speed and that one had to fly it right down to the runway. If airspeed fell below 90 mph it would sink like a rock. Its wingspan was less than that of an AT-6.

He was in the group of pilot instructors at Laughlin Field that had to contend with the earlier version of the B-26 before it had its wings lengthened and its vertical stabilizer increased in height. Once that was done, the aircraft was more forgiving during landings. Still, it was a very demanding medium bomber.

Joe H. Baillie trained at Ellington 1942 and I went to Ellington Primary School 1959 - 61 - Cosmic coincidence?

Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base is a joint installation shared by various active component and reserve component military units, as well as aircraft flight operations of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under the aegis of the nearby Johnson Space Center. The host wing for the installation is the Texas Air National Guard's 147th Reconnaissance Wing (147 RW). Opened in 1917, Ellington Field was one of thirty-two Air Service training camps established after the United States entry into World War I. It is named for First Lieutenant Eric Ellington, a U.S. Army aviator who was killed in a plane crash in San Diego, California in 1913.

The Flying Division

Flying Division, Air Training Command is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to Air Training Command, stationed at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. It was inactivated on 14 November 1949.

Instructors and air cadets at Randolph Field, Texas with Curtiss-Wright AT-9 advanced two-engine trainers, 1944

Classification: This was the stage where it would be decided whether the cadet would train as a navigator, bombardier, or pilot

Preflight: Ground training for all air cadets. Successful completion meant being assigned to a flying school for training. "Washouts" were returned to the regular Air Corps ranks for reassignment.

Primary (Phase I): Taught basic flying using two-seater training aircraft. Usually taught by contract flying schools operated by the WFTC

Basic (Phase II): Formation flying, air navigation, cross-country flying skills were taught.

Advanced (Phase II): Single or multi-engine aircraft schools for cadets becoming fighter, bomber or transport pilots. After graduation, the successful Air Cadet received his "wings" and were commissioned Second Lieutenants. In addition, experienced pilots in the field were sent to Training Command "transition schools" to acquire additional single or multi-engine flying ratings.,_Air_Training_Command

Onward to B17s

Barksdale Air Force Base (Barksdale AFB) (IATA: BAD, ICAO: KBAD, FAA LID: BAD) is a United States Air Force base in northwest Louisiana, United States, in Bossier Parish. It is contiguous to Bossier City, Louisiana along the base's western and northwestern edge. Barksdale Air Force Base occupies more than 22,000 acres (89 km2) east of Bossier City and along the southern edge of Interstate 20.[2] More than 15,000 active-duty and Air Force Reserve members serve at Barksdale.

World War II

Barksdale was developed as an Air Corps flying school November 1940 and the runway apron was completed mid-1941. Between 23 and 25 May 1940, Barksdale Field was host to the Army's "complete military maneuvers" simulating European combat operations. Some 320 aircraft from throughout the Army Air Corps participated, as Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower watched. General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, also briefly visited Barksdale Field during the latter stages of the maneuvers.

During World War II, the airfield trained replacement crews and entire units between 1942 and 1945. Known units that trained at Barksdale were:

27th Bombardment Group (Light) 1 February 1940 – 7 October 1940 (Douglas A-24 Dauntless)

8th Pursuit Group 5 September 1941 – 7 October 1941 (Curtiss P-40 Warhawk)

46th Bombardment Group (Light) 2 February 1942 – 1 April 1942 (Douglas A-20 Havoc)

44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) February 1942 – July 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)

98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) February 1942 – 30 March 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)

92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) 1 March 1942 – 26 March 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)

93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) 1 March 1942 – 15 May 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)

90th Bombardment Group (Heavy) 17 May 1942 – 21 June 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)

17th Bombardment Group (Medium) 23 June 1942 – November 1942 (Martin B-26 Marauder)

95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) 15 June 1942 – 26 June 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)

100th Bombardment Group (Heavy): 18 June 1942 – 26 June 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)

319th Bombardment Group (Medium): 26 June 1942 – 8 August 1942 (Martin B-26 Marauder)

321st Bombardment Group (Medium) 26 June 1942 – 1 August 1942 (North American B-25 Mitchell)

The 335th Bombardment Group (Medium) took over training duties as a permanent Operational Training Unit (OTU) on 17 July 1942 with Martin B-26

Marauders. On 1 May 1944, the 335th was replaced by the 331st Army Air Force (AAF) Base Unit as the OTU, being subsequently replaced by the 2621st AAF Base Unit on 1 December 1945. The 2621st provided pilot training until 26 September 1947, when it was inactivated and replaced by the 2621st Air Force Base Unit.

Also during World War II Barksdale played host to the major contingent of the Free French Air Forces and Nationalist Chinese aircrews.


Training in the United States.

The wing was activated in 1942 as the 95th Bombardment Group at Barksdale Field, Louisiana with the 334th, 335th, 336th, and 412th Bombardment Squadrons assigned.

95th Bombardment Group emblem (approved 26 February 1943)

The group began training in August at Geiger Field, Washington, where it was equipped with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses. The unit trained for combat operations until moving overseas starting in March. The unit trained at Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington and Geiger. Final training was conducted at Rapid City Army Air Base, South Dakota from 14 December 1942 to 11 March 1943.

The air echelon processed at Kearney Army Air Field, Nebraska and flew its Forts via the southern route, flying to Florida, Trinidad, the northern coast of Brazil, Dakar, Senegal, and Marrakesh, Morocco to RAF Alconbury in the United Kingdom. The ground echelon moved to Camp Kilmer, then sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth to Scotland, arriving in May. The squadron then reunited at RAF Framlingham.

Combat with Eighth Air Force

The group arrived in England equipped with late model B-17F aircraft equipped with "Tokyo Tanks", additional fuel cells located outboard in the wings that gave this model additional range. It flew its first combat mission on 13 May 1943 against an airfield near Saint-Omer, France. For the next two months the 95th focused on attacking airfields and V-1 flying bomb launch sites in France.

Group Boeing B-17Gs in combat formation

Eighth Air Force's early experience with its Martin B-26 Marauders convinced it that the Marauders were stationed too far from the continent of Europe to reach a selection of targets. It determined to move them closer to the target areas, and an exchange of bases began. The entire 95th group moved to RAF Horham in June, where they replaced the 323d Bombardment Group, which departed the previous day. A few days later their place at Framlingham was taken by the newly arrived 390th Bombardment Group.

The 95th began strategic bombing operations in July and continued until flying its last operation on 20 April 1945. Its targets included harbors, marshalling yards and other industrial targets along with attacks on cities. On 13 June 1943 the group was leading the 4th Bombardment Wing in an attack on Kiel, Germany. The lead aircraft carried Brigadier General Nathan B. Forrest as an observer. The aircraft was hit by fighters on its approach to the target, and again after the bomb run was complete. It was last seen spiraling out of control with much of its tail shot away. General Forrest was the first United States general officer killed in action in Europe during the war.

The group received its first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) during an attack on an aircraft factory at Regensburg, Germany on 17 August 1943 when it maintained its defensive formation despite severe attacks by enemy interceptor aircraft. On 10 October, during an attack on marshalling yards at Münster, Germany, the squadron was subjected to concentrated fighter attacks on the approach to the target and intense flak over the objective. Despite these obstacles, the group's bombs were clustered close to the target. It was awarded a second DUC for withstanding these attacks to bomb its objective.

334th squadron B-17 under attack by German fighters

From 20 to 25 February 1944 the group participated in the Big Week offensive against the German aircraft manufacturing industry. A few days later, on 4 March, the squadron attacked Berlin despite adverse weather that led other units to either abandon the operation or attack secondary targets. Despite snowstorms and heavy cloud cover, the unit struck its target while under attack from enemy fighters, although the cloud cover required the group to rely on a pathfinder from the 482d Bombardment Group to determine the release point. It received its third DUC for this operation. This mission was the first time any unit from Eighth Air Force had bombed Berlin.

The group was diverted to bombing priority tactical targets during the preparation for and execution of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, attacking communications and coastal defenses. It hit enemy troop concentrations to facilitate the Allied breakout at Saint-Lô. The 95th attacked enemy troop concentrations during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945 and bombed airfields to support Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine in March.

One of the unit's more unusual missions was flown on 18 September 1944, when it led the 13th Combat Bombardment Wing to Warsaw to drop ammunition, food and medical supplies to Polish Resistance forces fighting against German occupation forces. The group landed in the Soviet Union, as it had previously done during shuttle missions to the Soviet Union.

The unit flew its last mission on 20 April 1945, when it attacked marshalling yards near Oranienburg. During its time with Eighth Air Force the 95th flew 320 missions, losing 157 aircraft, but claiming the destruction of 425 German fighters.

In the first week of May, it airdropped food to Dutch citizens in Operation Chow Hound. During the final Chow Hound mission on 7 May one of the group's aircraft had an engine catch fire. The pilot decided to ditch the aircraft when the fire threatened to engulf the entire plane, but hit a swell, causing the aircraft to break up almost at once. This was the last operational loss suffered by Eighth Air Force in World War II. From V-E Day until departing the theater in June, the 95th transported liberated prisoners of war and displaced persons. The air echelon flew their planes back to Bradley Field, Connecticut, while the ground echelon sailed once more on the Queen Elizabeth. The squadron was reunited at Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota, where it was inactivated on 28 August 1945.

During World War II its predecessor, the 95th Bombardment Group, was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England, stationed at RAF Horham. It was the only Eighth Air Force group awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations, with the highest total claims of enemy aircraft destroyed of all Eighth Air Force Bomb Groups − 425 aircraft. It was also the first Army Air Force group to bomb Berlin.

Oct 09, '20
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