Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Post-War: ALCO and Howard Fogg's first book cover

March 1946: With the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in the midst of converting from steam to diesel locomotive production, Duncan Fraser, President of ALCO, makes the decision that launches Howard’s artistic career. Hired as ALCO’s new company artist, Howard begins painting their locomotives in the livery of prospective customers, and examples of his work for them can be viewed at

September 1946: At a three-day gala hosted by ALCO at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, Howard’s paintings are on display, and Lucius Beebe attends. A journalist with the New York Herald-Tribune, Beebe is considering leaving New York to pursue freelance writing and publication of railroad books. Lucius seeks out Howard and a long-term relationship is born, with Beebe buying a number of paintings over the years.

1947: Mixed Train Daily, co-authored by Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, is the first of many to use a Fogg painting on the cover. The following photo from Howard's archives shows L-R: Clegg, Fogg, and Beebe (seated), in front of the display of six paintings that Howard completed for their book.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Farewell, Liberty Belle

On June 13, 2011, flames from the left wing forced the Liberty Belle to set down in a cornfield near Chicago. Fortunately, the seven people aboard were uninjured, but the Belle won't fly again. The Liberty Foundation has posted information about that day, the events leading up to the flight, the pilot, and the Belle.

The Liberty Belle visited Colorado just a few weeks before her forced landing, and on a gray, overcast day we stepped aboard. Engine number three didn't want to run and the low ceiling had already kept us waiting for over three hours, but finally, we rumbled down the runway and took off. After she leveled, we were allowed to leave our seats in the radio compartment and wander the plane, though the tail gunner's position was off-limits and the ball turret remained closed.

We went forward first, across the narrow beam bisecting the bomb bay, to look over the pilots' shoulders. Then, on hands and knees, we scooted beneath the flight deck to the clear nose turret where the Norden bombsight still held vigil. A few minutes later we headed back to inspect the staggered waist gunner's compartment where clear plexi-glass provided ample views of the foothills to the west and plains to the east.

Every moment of the flight was cold, noisy, and exhilarating. About thirty minutes later, we enjoyed a very smooth landing.

May 15, 2011 was an extraordinary day - one we won't soon forget. Would we fly in the Belle again if she'd survived the crash? Absolutely. Flying in that lovely old B-17 Flying Fort was an honor.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ships and men tore a bloody hole in Western Europe

June of 1944 was the month that Eisenhower stormed and breached the Atlantic Wall of Festung Europa in the greatest short-range operation of war in the history of man to that time.

In the great scheme of assault, the VIII Fighter Command, forged and tempered as the peerless high altitude fighter team of all the world’s struggling forces, was slung into the rough and tumble of ground attack. Only their airplanes had the needed range before the cannon and the tactical air forces could be disembarked, and only they could choke off support from the Werhmacht at the chosen storming place, the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy.

So simply, is the story of June for the 359th Fighter Group told. With the 14 other groups of the Eighth Fighter Command, they isolated Normandy, hacked and splayed the German plan of reinforcement and counter-attack, and held off the Werhmacht while ships and men tore open a bloody hole in Western Europe.

It was expensive, 14 pilots were lost on tactical missions, 11 of those in the first 7 days of crisis, and this was one-sixth of the 359th Group’s normal pilot strength. Yet the total casualties for the month of 17 men, 16 operationally, was below the toll of May, and was well under the depletions suffered by other groups.

These are statistics, and they did not cushion the emotional shock of the grim second week of June, when 21 missions in 7 days cost 11 pilots, when foul weather, flak, fatigue, and warring enemy aircraft raised the normal odds against ground strafing to a great and nerve racking hazard.

P-51 CV-Q 44-15717 of the 368th Fighter Squadron in flight, with flight of four to his right. Photo courtesy of Elsie Palicka, wife of Ed Palicka, 370th Fighter Squadron Photographer: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

This excerpt from
Fogg in the Cockpit is from the June 1944 original monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day Order by General Eisenhower:

“You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

“But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940 and 1941.

“The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeat in open battle man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.

“Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.

“The tide has turned.

“The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.

“We will accept nothing less than full victory.

“Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

P-51B/C Mustang with D-Day stripes at East Wretham Airfield. Photo courtesy of Elsie Palicka, wife of Ed Palicka, 370th Fighter Squadron Photographer: Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1, 1944: A Welcome Day of Rest

D-Day looms, but that is a closely held secret and it isn't until June 4th that Colonel Tacon is summoned to AJAX for final briefing on the invasion plan. For the men of the 359th, Thursday, June 1, 1944 is a quiet day...

The following excerpt from Fogg in the Cockpit is from the June 1944 monthly narrative History of the 359th Fighter Group archived at HQ USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL.

"This month began with a dull Thursday enlivened for duty personnel in the hours before dawn with a vivid electrical display in the southern skies that misled some too-eager citizens into believing they had first view of: a) the biggest German raid of the war; b) a novel battle; c) the invasion. The rumble of thunder broke this spell, and it turned out to be the only fillip of the day, a somber affair with a dull overcast in which a release finally arrived at 1355. The whole Eighth Air Force was grounded, save for 29 special sorties."

And from Howard's diary:

"Solid deck of heavy low stratocumulus that stayed all day. Up at 0800. At 1300 released until tomorrow.

Shaw and the colonel took a pick-up ball team down to Honington (364th) and won 4 to 1. I spent most of the day at the operations shack writing letters.

The new snooker table’s a huge success, and it’s a swell table. Saw the movie tonight, and that was about all to the day. A welcome day of rest."

Lt. Spietzer batting. Photo courtesy of Anthony C. Chardella: Photo and June 1944 monthly narrative History of the 359th archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association.