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THE MYSTERY OF THE VITAMIN-P

I am trying to obtain information on a B-24J named "Vitamin-P" that served with the 15th AF 376th BG beginning in late 1943.

My father's crew named that ship when it was issued to them in Topeka, Kansas in August 1943. The name came from an anagram my father created from the first letters of the home states of the crewmen:

Vermont 2nd Lt. Paul B. "Babbitt" Ranslow bombardier
Indiana 2nd Lt. Richard E. "Dick" Burk pilot
Texas 2nd Lt. Vernon E. "Skinny" Childers co-pilot
Arkansas Sgt. Max "Pappy" Cline armorer, ball turret
Maine S/Sgt. Earnest J. "Put-Put" Churchill engineer, top turret
Indiana Sgt. Abraham Lincoln "Bud" Wollam, jr. ass't. armorer, waist gunner
S/Sgt. Carl W. "Stinky" Boyd radio op., nose turret
New York Sgt. Herbert Gross ass't. Engineer, tail turret
Sgt. Marion W. Catania ass't. radio op., waist gunner
Pennsylvania 2nd Lt. Robert N. "Bob" McCall navigator

Sgt. Boyd developed a design, obtained paint and applied the nose art of a recumbent Bugs Bunny in a Superman-style outfit floating above the name.

On 4 October 1943 the Vitamin-P made an emergency landing in Tuskegee Alabama en route to Morrison Field, West Palm Beach Florida from Topeka. The crew remained with the aircraft almost two weeks waiting for delivery of at least two replacement engines. On October 16, the crew and cargo of the Vitamin-P were distributed into two stripped down B-24s and were flown out to Montgomery to take on a full fuel load. From there, they were flown back to Topeka. The crew was eventually given a new B-24J (42-73243) upon which Sgt. Boyd applied the name Vitamin-P II. On October 20, 1943, they again took off for Morrison Field for the first leg of their overseas journey. The Vitamin-P II shipped out to China assigned to the 14th AF, 308th BG, 375th BS.

In 1944, upon seeing the 375th's Vitamin-P II, ground crew personnel reassigned from other theaters to the 308th in China remarked about having seen another "Vitamin-P" in North Africa. That was the only indication my father had that the original Vitamin-P was repaired in Tuskegee and sent into action.

In December 2002 I bought "B-24 Nose Art Name Directory" by Wallace Foreman. That directory contained a listing for a B-24 named "Vitamin-P" assigned to the 15th AF 376th BG. I obtained a copy of a photograph of the Vitamin-P from Mr. Foreman on December 6, 2002 (attached). It matched the sketch in my father's scrapbook. This was the first picture of that aircraft my father or any of his surviving crewmates had ever seen.

Could it be that someone in your organization has a better image of the Vitamin-P, a serial number, squadron assignment, story and/or the ultimate disposition of the aircraft? From the crew photographs I have examined on your website, the B-24s of the 513th BS appear to have the same style and magnitude numbers as the Vitamin-P (#46). Is this correct? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Incidentally, the entire original crew of the Vitamin-P survived their combat experience in China and returned home.

Jack Gross

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