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Speech – The Thunderbirds Go To War – and Book Signing
August 17 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
In mid-October 1942, the 34th Bomb Squadron known as the Thunderbirds received orders to deploy to Brazil. What member so the squadron did not know was that their destination was an airfield in Algeria.
Recently equipped with unproven Martin B-26As and B-26Bs, the 34th Bomb Squadron set out accompanied by its sister squadrons in the 17th Bomb Group, the 37th and 96th. Each crew was issued mimeographed sheets of paper with the designers estimates for fuel and oil consumption. The first flight manual for the B-26A/B/C wasn’t issued until March 1943, six months after the squadron flew its first combat mission.
This presentation is the story of that journey which was the first time that Army Air Corps Medium bombers flew across the South Atlantic as well as their first year in combat. When the 34th left the U.S., there weren’t any satellite weather maps, reliable wind forecasts, and none of the pilots had any experience flying long distance over water. GPS was a half a century in the future.
Marc talks about the missions they flew and the challenges the 34th faced during the North African and Sicilian campaigns. There is a personal note to this story. Marc’s father was one of the co-pilots of one of the B-26s.