LADY BE GOOD
For more definitive information on the Lady Be Good, visit
the web site at http://www.ladybegood.com/.
Serial Number 41-24301
The Hatton Crew
|Left to right: 1 Lt. Hatton, Pilot; 2 Lt. Robert F.
Toner, Co-pilot; 2 Lt. Dp Hays, Navigator; 2 Lt. John S. Woravka, Bombardier;
T/Sgt. Harold J. Ripslinger, Aerial Engineer; T/Sgt. Robert E. LaMotte,
Radio Operator; S/Sgt. Guy E. Shelley, Asst. Engineer-Gunner; S/Sgt.
Vernon L. Moore, Asst. Radio Operator-Gunner; S/Sgt. Samuel E. Adams,
Good was the name of a 1924 Broadway musical. It was the first successful
musical for brothers George and Ira Gershwin. The song with the same
name was created for the musical and recorded in 1924 by Fred Astaire with George Gershwin
on piano. Click here to hear an instrumental
version of this 1924 song.
The B-24D, Serial Number 41-24301, destined to be known
as "Lady Be Good" and one of the most recognizable aircraft from World
War II, was manufactured at the San Diego Division of the Consolidated
Aircraft Company in the fall of 1942.
The aircraft was ferried to Topeka Army Air Force Base and
assigned to the crew of Lt. Samuel D. Rose for overseas deployment in March
1943. Lt. Rose and his crew and their as yet unnamed B-24 arrived at the 376th
Bombardment Group base at Soluch, Libya on March 23, 1943. The aircraft and
crew were assigned to the 376th's 514th Squadron.
On April 4, 1943 another 514th crew consisting of Ist Lt.
William J. Hatton, pilot; 2nd Lt. Robert F. Toner, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Dp.
Hays , navigator; 2nd Lt . John S. Woravka , bombardier; T/ Sgt . Harold J.
Ripslinger, engineer; T/Sgt. Robert E. LaMotte, radio operator; S/Sgt. Guy
E. Shelley, asst. engineer; S/Sgt. Vernon L. Moore, asst. radio operator and
S/ Sgt . Samuel E. Adams, tail gunner, departed from Soluch in the "Lady Be
Good" on a high altitude attack on the harbor at Naples, Italy.
Of the twenty-four B-24s participating in the mission only
the "Lady Be Good" failed to return to Soluch or be accounted for. The
only contact with the lost crew was a terse radio distress call shortly after
midnight on April 5th.
Click any image to see it larger.
In February 1959, a British Petroleum oil exploration team
discovered the nearly intact "Lady Be Good" 448 miles southeast of Soluch
in the untravelled Libyan Desert. Investigation at the crash site confirmed
that the crew had bailed out after exhausting their fuel.
The discovery of the wreckage set-off an extensive search for the crew
encompassing an area of thousands of square miles. In February 1960, nearly
a year after the "Lady" reappeared, the remains of five crew members were
found 78 miles northwest of the B-24. Leading to the crew's last camp
site was a trail of markers and personal equipment left behind as the
men trekked northwest in temperatures up to 130 degrees. Ultimately,
two additional remains, Sgts. Ripslinger and Shelley, were recovered
over 100 miles from the bailout point.
The exceptional preservation of the "Lady Be Good" after 16 years exposure
to one of the earth's most extreme environments prompted the return
of samples from the wreckage for technical study. In 1968, Mr. James
Walker, a research engineer with McDonnell Douglas Corp., initiated an
expedition to the crash site with a Royal Air Force desert rescue team.
Components recovered during this expedition subsequently provided invaluable
data on the useful life of aerospace materials. Displayed samples from
this investigation were donated to the Pima Air & Space Museum, (Tucson,
Section of map detailing the location of the plane and
locations of where the crew members were found.
Article and photos courtesy of James W. Walker
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