|John P. Benson Memoirs Order Page
|John P. Benson Short Snorter Note #1: One Dollar Silver Certificate
North Africa Emergency Issue banknote dated February 27, 1945.
Our train from Rochester had to be rerouted because of a train wreck ahead. We had to go the long way around so
the conductor gave us an “excuse” for being a day late!
This was a new program with all new officers, along with the cadets. We also had some B-17 navigators who had
just finished a tour of duty in England. Their pilots were taking transition training in Kansas. When their training was
completed their crews were re-assembled and became the first B-29 crews in the South Pacific and India. The poor
cadets had a lot of officers to salute so it was mandated that all the Second Lieutenants had to salute each other
too. The cadets did get to go to chow first while we put our money in the slot machines located in the lounge.
We were there during the hot weather, up to 113 degrees, but it was dry and not as uncomfortable as Tyndall Field. It
was too turbulent to fly in the afternoon. It was said that, on some days, Texas would blow by in the morning and
back in the afternoon. Sometimes the bowling allies were closed for a week because of the sand on the alleys
which seeped through any cracks.
We had a group of black student officers and they were the ones who wished to be segregated. They always ate
together at the same table and asked for a room for their own Officer's Club. I will say they were better educated
and more studious than most of us. We didn't have as much book work as we did at navigation school. It was more
physical than mental.
The Norden bomb site was quite an intricate piece of equipment. It had a gyroscope so that it would stay steady
during maneuvers. The bombardier "flew" the plane during the bombing run by turning a knob with each hand which
sent a signal to the pilot directional indicator needle. We had to keep the sight's cross-hairs centered on the target
until the bomb release was triggered. In training, one student would operate the sight up in the nose of the plane
(which was reached by wriggling through a tunnel). The other student would aim a movie camera down through the
open camera hatch and take pictures of the bomb on its way to the target and record the "hit". In the ready room,
they had a series of still pictures showing the bomb on its way and a plane coming into view from an angle, below the
bomb, and the bomb going to the wing. Someone screwed up and flew the wrong heading. The plane made a forced
landing but no one was hurt.
On one of my first bombing missions it was quite turbulent. It was always rougher in the rear of the plane where I
was. I got air sick and had the bright idea of sticking my head out the camera hatch to throw up! Everything blew
back into the plane. When we changed places, the other student then got sick. When we got back on the ground, we
both had to clean up the mess.
We also trained with the bomb sight in a high hangar. We had many "planes" consisting of a high platform on
wheels. Two students would climb aboard and one would fly the plane by following the P.D.I. needle and the other
would aim the bombsight at the target mounted on a "bug". The bug was a little larger than a car battery on wheels
traveling diagonally to the plane and at a much slower speed. If everything went well, the bug target would be
centered under a plunger, which would make a mark on the center of the target. The Norden site was very secret
and it was never left in the planes. It was carried out to the planes in a canvas bag by the bombardier. It amused us
to see the sights scattered all over the training hangar while a civilian was loading the Coke machines. We also
used a Link Trainer, like the ones at navigation school, only there would be a bombing run at the end.
|John Paul Benson
|John P. Benson short snorter overlaid on a map which traces
his route from the United States to China and back during WW2.