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B-24D "Hadley's Harem" Late Breaking News

by David H. Klaus

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B-24D HH Late Breaking News


Thanks to my friend Pavel Türk, the world’s leading expert on B-24 configurations and author of the must-have B-24 Liberator Handbook 1.dil/Vol.1 (unfortunately in the Czech language only, but the pics & diagrams are invaluable), we can now confirm that HH almost certainly had FIXED .50 nose guns in addition to the normal flexible .50s.  HH’s hulk was recovered from the ocean floor off the Turkish coast and now resides in the Rahmi M. Koc Museum in Istanbul.

Thanks to Pavel’s excellent photos we can clearly see the “10¢ gunsight” constructed of “T” iron and a steel wire ring bolted on the fuselage top in front of Hadley’s windshield.  The scrap view on the color instructions shows the sight layout.  The “T” iron appears to be about 6-8” long and the steel ring welded to the front end about 4” in diameter.

No available photos show fixed .50s in HH’s nose, but all were taken prior to May 1943 since the yellow 9AF ring around the national insignia had not yet been applied.  We know for sure that Col John (‘Killer”) Kane’s B-24D-CO Hail Columbia was modified just prior to the TIDAL WAVE mission to mount six fixed .50s in the nose (not all were actually mounted during the mission–see details in the instructions for HC), and Hadley flew as Kane’s left wingman during the attack. 

Kane was quoted as saying his first wave was modified with fixed nose guns, although it’s true no available photos of those nine B-24Ds show any fixed nose guns mounted, except for Hail Columbia.  It’s also true that the available photos of the other eight ships were all taken prior to May 43 since the yellow ring had not yet been added at the time these photos were taken.  Since Hail Columbia was modified during the two weeks prior to the attack, it’s possible the Harem and the others in the planned first wave were also modified.

Since the Harem definitely had a “10¢ gunsight” bolted to the top of the nose, it stands to reason that fixed .50s were also fitted.  No point in adding a gunsight if no fixed guns were mounted!  So: we know Hail Columbia’s nose configuration during the mission, but don’t know exactly how many (or if) fixed guns might have been mounted in the Harem’s nose.  Since it’s extremely unlikely each crew chief would have designed his own mounting system, it stands to reason what was fitted to Hail Columbia, or some minor variation thereof, was fitted to the Harem.  

My drawings on the color instructions show how four fixed .50s would most likely have appeared.  Whether four, or two, or even one (or...zero) fixed guns were mounted is open to speculation.  I suspect four was probably the right number.  If four were fitted in the same configuration as Hail Columbia, the mountings put the gun muzzles too close to the greenhouse plexiglas and metal structure.  On Hail Columbia, this split or weakened the structure, so unpainted aluminum stiffening plates were riveting as shown in the color drawing.  This suggests similar plates could have been applied to the Harem.

(Note that if fixed guns were mounted, they had to be bolted either just below or on top of the nose flooring.  This would require the flexible greenhouse gun be moved from the low center to the high center position, which is what my drawing show.)

Text Copyright 2019 by Dave Klaus
Page Created 1 Noveber, 2019
Last Updated 1 November, 2019

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