The Memphis Belle In Boston – 1943

The Memphis Belle In Boston – 1943

     On June 28, 1943, the famous World War II, B-17, Memphis Belle, escorted by a squadron of Army fighter aircraft, arrived at East Boston Airport.  The “Belle” and her crew had only recently returned to the United States on June 8th after completing their combat tour in Europe.  The stop in Boston was part of a 31-city war bond and recruitment tour.       

     Hundreds reportedly came to see the famous B-17 and meet the crew, as well as their mascot, “Stuka”, a young Scotch Terrier. 

      The 10 man crew was greeted by Massachusetts Governor Leverett Saltonstall, Major General Sherman Miles of the 1st Service Command, as well as other ranking military personnel.   After brief ceremonies, the crew partook in a parade from the airport to Boston Common where they were met by Boston’s mayor Maurice J. Tobin.  The marching band played “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer”, which was said to have been inspired by a mission flown by the Memphis Belle in which it returned to base with portions of the right wing and tail so badly damaged that they required extensive repair.  

     Later in the day army planes performed an aerobatic show at the airport and the “Belle” was placed on display for public viewing.  Afterwards the crew were invited by the New England Aviation Committee to be their dinners guests at the Harvard Club.  

     The Memphis Belle was credited with dropping 60 tons of bombs and shooting down eight enemy fighters, and inflicting damage to at least a dozen others.     

     Source: Lewiston Evening Journal, “Memphis Belle Arrives At East Boston”, June 28, 1943

East Boston Airport – 1922

East Boston Airport – 1922

Boston, Massachusetts

Vintage Post Card View Of East Boston Airport

Vintage Post Card View Of East Boston Airport

     The East Boston Airport later grew to become Logan International Airport.

     The following newspaper article appeared in The New York Herald on May 16, 1922, Page 8.  

     Airport For Massachusetts

     Through the action of Governor Cox of Massachusetts in signing the bill providing for an airport in East Boston that Commonwealth becomes the first state in the Union to join with the Federal Government in establishing an airplane landing in conformity with the recommendations of the President.  Once again Massachusetts shows the way to other states in creating an institution which must eventually be imitated all over the country.

     Last March Mayor Curley of Boston wrote Governor Cox asking his help in obtaining the enactment of the bill, adding that of the $35,000 needed for the purpose Boston would have to pay about 40 percent, and that the city was prepared to assume that obligation.  Then he made two statements which showed that he was thoroughly aware of the future importance of aircraft.  One was that if the Federal Government adopted the ship subsidy it would inevitably tend to the development of a great merchant marine, which merchant marine, in the event of war, can best be protected through the service of aircraft.  He also pointed out that one inevitable result of the signing of the Four Power Treaty would be an “intense activity of the leading Powers of the world in aircraft development.”

     These are shrewd and far seeing observations, for a result of the failure of the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments to restrict aircraft building is the likelihood of just such activity as the Mayor of Boston pointed out.  In many parts of the country this possibility either has been overlooked or has not been considered worthy of much attention.  It is to the credit of Massachusetts and the city officials of Boston that they not only have foreseen this possibility, but had had the wisdom to act on the need created by the situation regarding aircraft. (End of article)    

East Boston Airport Accidents

                                      

      The following is a list of some early accidents/crashes which occurred at East Boston Airport.  For further information about any of them, refer to the “Aviation Accidents” – “Massachusetts” section of this website.  This is by no means a complete list of every accident that occurred at the airport, and others will be added as they become known.

     July 24, 1923: An army plane crashed on takeoff. 

     May 2, 1925: An army plane spun into the mud flats off runway.

     Dec. 19, 1925: A U.S. Army Curtis JN-4 crashed on landing.

     Dec. 19, 1928: A U.S. Army O2C biplane crashed in Boston Harbor.

     July 3, 1929: An army observation aircraft flipped on takeoff by gust of cross wind.

     July 8, 1929: Civilian airliner crashed making emergency landing.

     Aug. 27, 1929: Cessna aircraft crashed on approach.

     March 17, 1930: Army plane crashed in Boston Harbor.

     May 18, 1930: A Curtis monoplane crashed in water.   

     June 5, 1930: Fort Tri-motor passenger plane crashed on takeoff.  

     Sept. 27, 1930: Landing gear collapsed on army plane while landing.

     Feb. 26, & 27, 1934: Two U.S. Mail planes crashed into snow banks on landing.

     May 30, 1936: Army plane crashed into harbor.

     Dec. 22, 1937: “Santa Clause” parachuted over airport, landed in water, drowned.

     August 18, 1941: Army plane crashed into harbor.

    Sept. 15, 1941: Army P-40 aircraft collided with another aircraft.

    June 22, 1942: Army P-40 aircraft went into harbor at end of runway.

      

      

      

 

 

East Boston Airport – June 22, 1942

East Boston Airport – June 22, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 22, 1942, 2nd Lt. Malcolm A. McNall, Jr., was piloting a Curtiss P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-390) over Boston Harbor towing a gunnery target, as part of a target practice mission.  At about 2:00 p.m. he was attempting to return to East Boston Airport when he discovered that he was unable to release the target. 

     After trying five times to do so, he radioed East Boston tower of his situation, and was advised to fly low over the water at the north end of the field so that the target would get caught in the water and tear away form the plane.   Following instructions, Lt. McNall came in low over the water, but when the target dug in to the water, it didn’t tear free as expected.  Instead, the target pulled the aircraft down into the water.  Fortunately Lt. McNall wasn’t seriously injured. 

     The accident investigation committee blamed poor aircraft maintenance by maintenance personnel.

     At the time of the accident Lt. McNall was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.     

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-6-22-18 

 

Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Updated March 7, 2016

     

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 28, 1942, 2nd Lt. Albert J. Wiebe was on a formation training flight over the Boston area when his aircraft, a P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-539) developed engine trouble.  He left the formation to return to Boston Airport.  As he was making his approach to land when his plane lost power and crashed.  Lt. Wiebe did not survive.

      Lt. Wiebe was from West New York, New Jersey.  He enlisted in September of 1941, and received his commission on April 23, 1942.  He was survived by his wife.    

     At the time of his death he was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “4 Army Fliers Die In Ohio”, June 29, 1942  (The article covered more than one accident.)

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated July 12, 1942

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