First and foremost, thank you to all who have read my past blog posts and my book, “Homey’s Adventures.”
As promised, I am writing this book as a sequel to the happy ending of my first book. I just started writing this book, but I have been inspired lately. I decided to share this with you. So, without delay here is Chapter 6 of my third book:
Chapter 6 – No Place to Land
My dad’s journal included an article about the benefit of taking Iwo Jima:
This article was dated March 16 which is 10 days before the official end of the battle of Iwo Jima. Note that 330 lives had already been saved. This does not erase the tragedy of the 7000 marines who lost their lives taking Iwo Jima. However, we should look at why Iwo Jima was so important in the total war effort.
Tinian to Tokyo was almost 1,500 miles. This is 3,000 miles round trip. The B29 Range was about 3,200 miles. There was not much room for dallying around Japan. Another perspective is the distance from New York city to Los Angeles is 2,789 miles.
After Iwo Jima was captured, there were over 2,250 B29 landings on Iwo Jima. Wikipedia downplays this by saying that 80 percent of these were routine fueling. I cannot help wondering why Wikipedia does not think the B29s needed to refuel. The B29 flies through the air, its engines are not powered by air.
In addition, the range of the Japanese Zero plane was 1.900 miles with dropped fuel tanks. From Iwo Jima to Tinian Island is 732 miles. So, the Zero could attack Tinian and get back safely. Any Zero attacking Tinian from a base in Japan could not get back to Japan. The less well-known Japan long range bomber, Nakajima G5N, had a range of 2,650 miles. So, these bombers could not attack Tinian from Japan and get back safely.
A Japanese fighter based on Iwo Jima could also intercept a B29 before it could get to Japan. In addition, our Air force P51 Mustang fighters based on Iwo Jima could escort and protect the B29 bombers.
The Japanese may have fiercely defended Iwo Jima because it was very defensively important to them. In war, sometimes it is just as important to take away an advantage of your opponent as it is to gain advantage for yourself.
My dad’s fifth and sixth mission showed the importance of capturing Iwo Jima. Both missions were conducted before the battle of Iwo Jima began:
Two noteworthy items from this fifth mission. First, one of the planes lost an engine. Even though they made it back to Tinian, they did not think that they would make it back from their raid over Tokyo.
My dad’s comment about “sweating your gasoline out coming home” tells it all. Tinian was too far away from Tokyo for a reasonable chance of returning home when the slightest thing went wrong.
On my dad’s sixth mission something did go wrong:
My dad’s account of the mission tells it all:
To explain further, a windmilling propeller is a propeller that is driven by the wind and not the engine. The windmilling causes drag on the plane and can cause friction in the engine leading to fire. The B29 propellers were enormous. Here is a picture of one of the Island Queen’s propellers compared to the size of the crew:
My dad’s account was humbler than the one in the newspaper. In fact, my dad was cited with an Air Medal for his ingenuity in saving fuel and calculating when to get rid of the windmilling propeller.
The Air Medal (AM) is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. It was created in 1942 and was awarded for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. Most importantly, my hero dad saved his life and the lives of his fellow crew members!!!
In my mind I can hear the dialog of that fateful day:
About six hours after takeoff and over Tokyo:
The B29’s intercom was a headset and a microphone around the neck resting on his voice box:
“Pilot to crew, we have lost engine 4 on the starboard side. Let’s dump our payload on target and get the hell home. Tech Sargent, keep an eye on our fuel supply.”
“Will do sir”
About 3 and half hours later:
“Pilot to crew, engine 4 is on fire.”
“Sir, we need to get rid of the prop now or we will never make it back.”
“Okay, Andy. I pray that this works, or we will ditch.
I can see my dad nod his head alone in his part of plane in agreement: “Yes sir.”
About 15 minutes later:
“Pilot to crew, our 5,000-foot dive has successfully broken off the prop. It worked Andy!”
I can see my dad smiling that wonderful smile of his: “Yes Sir. Thank our lord in heaven!”
I remember my dad always nodded his head when he knew something was the right thing to do.
The article I cited in the beginning of this chapter about the importance of taking Iwo Jima is an understatement. Landing and refueling on Iwo Jima was critical to the war effort. My siblings and I are grateful to my hero dad who saved himself and his fellow crew members on his sixth mission. My sister and I would not have been born if my dad’s plane ditched that fateful day because there was no place to land except home base at Tinian.
The 2,250 B29 plane crews who landed on Iwo Jima during the rest of the war did not need someone like my dad to save them because they could land on Iwo Jima. I am grateful to all the marines who fought to take Iwo Jima because they provided a safe landing and fighter cover for thousands of planes that would bomb Japan over the next few months. The Island Queen was among these planes.
End Of Chapter 6
I just started writing my new book and I have a lot of research to do. I plan to share some of my work as time and resources permits. I am hoping by next Father’s Day, my new book will be completed and published.
I encourage anyone who had a parent or grandparent who flew in the B29’s from Tinian Island in 1945 to contact me. Without these heroes protecting our freedoms, we would not be able to celebrate our country’s founding on this Independence Day.
Originally, I started this blog as an eclectic mix of what I was thinking during the week and book reviews. I will do some of that too. So, you do not want to miss what follows. Follow my blog to make sure you receive it.
If you do not want to wait that long and you have not read my first book. I encourage you to go to my website, www.homeysadventures.com. You can read the first two chapters for free, and you can also purchase it. Or you can purchase it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other fine retailers. Just search for it using the words: Homey’s Adventures by Jim Wish.
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I liken myself to the Vienna Violinist described in chapter 5 of Homey’s Adventures Too. I play (write) for your enjoyment and mine. Happy Independence Day and God bless you all.