THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED B-29



RAZ'N HELL


the Wanderling


In the very heart of California's central valley is a place that should be of extreme interest to almost every serious aviation buff in the world, the Castle Air Museum. The museum is conveniently located adjacent to the now closed one time Castle Air Force Base previously operated under the auspices of the Strategic Air Command. The exhibits, which are mostly outdoors, display over 50 restored World War II, Korean War, Cold War, and edging into Vietnam era aircraft --- of which one is the vintage B-29 Superfortress pictured above. That particular B-29, which proudly carries the nose art name Raz'n Hell with lineage dating back to World War II and service in the Korean War, is widely different than any of the other aircraft on display for one distinct reason, it is said to be haunted. The B-29 came to my attention by a circuitous route one day while in pursuit of information regarding a mysterious C-47 I heard about.

Sometime before the end of World War II a fully fueled and operable C-47 with no markings and painted in the flat tan desert color of the Afrika Korps --- with a white underbelly --- was found parked beneath camouflage netting on a remote Nevada desert airfield thought to be what in recent times has come to be known as Scotty's or the Bonnie Claire airstrip, a basically remote forever abandoned X shaped strip with no real known history about 125 miles north of Las Vegas. The unmarked C-47 was eventually traced back as being one of thirty-nine C-47s used in Operation Torch, the invasion of Vichy French North Africa in November, 1942, in of which a great number of the 47s were either destroyed, lost, or ended up unaccounted for. The plane was stripped of all except bare necessities, even the landing and anti-collision lights were gone. The only thing inside were 20 or so brand-new parachutes divided and stacked along each side of the cargo bay, double the amount in count of bailout rations and canned water. Sitting neatly in their holders near pilot and co-pilot's seats were flight charts mostly related to Mexico and Baja California along with instructional and operational manuals all written in German.

Years later, and at the time unrelated to any of the above, I learned that a former high school classmate of mine was in the process of restoring the top of my list favorite aircraft, a P-40, the venerable World War II fighter made famous by the Flying Tigers --- albeit in this case, a Pearl Harbor survivor --- to it's full and flight worthy status. He, along with a number of other concerned enthusiasts, were doing so in a hanger at an airport in Torrance, California under the banner of a not for profit corporation they had formed called the Curtiss Wright Historical Association - Project Tomahawk Inc.



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In that the classmate I knew had at one time owned a sanitary hopped-up Ford duce roadster and was known to tear around the outside perimeter of the high school at a somewhat higher terminal velocity than the speed limit would infer --- often laying long strips of second gear rubber in the process --- and was now instead in the process of restoring a World War II Curtiss-Wright P-40 fighter aircraft pulled off of the top of a jungle covered mountain to a pristine flight condition, and it all seemed so formal with a corporation and all, on a whim one day I went by to see what was going on AND to get a close look at the P-40.

Several aviation buffs were there that day milling around each trying to out talk the other about their great expertise and knowledge in things aviation. Two of those aviation buffs, a high school history and geography teacher from someplace I didn't catch and a ceramics teacher from a nearby high school in Torrance, were talking about a crashed C-47 that one of them found years before in the San Bernardino Mountains. When I heard the one who found it say he was just a kid when he stumbled across the wreck in the mountains and it still had parachutes, clothing and other personal effects, thinking it might be a World War II wreck and possibly associated with the gone missing unmarked C-47 found parked in the desert in early 1945 I was suddenly more interested than mere eavesdropping. Up to that point in my life I had only garnered a few vague inferences of the C-47. Thinking there might be hard evidence laying around on the side of some mountain somewhere set my ears on fire.

I wasn't able to talk with the one guy who had actually found the C-47 for some reason or the other, he simply disappearing before I was able to catch him, although I was able to find out who he was several years later.(see) I did catch up the with the other guy, the ceramics teacher, before he got away that day, who inturn filled me in on the gist of their discussion. Once he told me the plane went down in 1952 I sort of lost interest. However, what is important to us here, in one of the world's biggest coincidences, is what else the ceramics teacher told me.

Shortly after the end of the Korean War the ceramics teacher had joined the Air Force and ended up stationed at Castle Air Force Base, in those days way out in the middle of nowhere in California's central valley farmland and well before the air museum was ever thought of. The ceramics teacher told me he had always considered himself an avid aviation buff and having missed being in World War II because he was too young, was constantly badgering the older airmen for war stories. One day one of the older guys told him that near the end of the war he was assigned to a small group of other airmen and a couple of officers on some sort of an organized ground search. Their search ended after several days when they eventually came across what they were looking for. According to the airman the fruit of their search endeavors turned out to be nothing less than a fully fueled and operable unmarked C-47 carefully hidden from the air under camouflage netting out in the middle of the remote Nevada desert somewhere west and south of Death Valley not far from the Sierras. Inside they found a bunch of parachutes, maps, and the operational procedures on flying a C-47 written in German. The two officers, acting as pilot and co-pilot, fired up the engines and took off leaving he and the other airmen on the ground to hike back. What ever happened to the C-47 he never learned.

The ceramics teacher told me that at the time he thought the whole thing sounded farfetched until one day the airman that told him the story came by and handed him a large envelope. The airman told him after many years in the service he would be retiring in a few days and wanted him to have what was in the envelope. When he opened he envelope he found the operational procedures on how to fly a C-47 --- written in German. The airman told him he had taken it from the C-47 the day they found it and stuffed it in his his shirt without anybody's knowledge.

Because the existence of the C-47 fitting perfectly into the scenario I knew about the late-in-1944 German Submarine Attack on Hoover Dam, or at least their attempt to do so thereof, and thinking I had a goldmine on my hands because of it, I asked to see the operations procedures. He told me a few years before, because he had been stationed at Castle Air Base and still held a strong affinity toward the place along with many fond memories, he had sent it to the Castle Air Museum thinking they might find it a bit of interesting Air Force history. When I checked on its whereabouts with the museum, nobody I talked to knew anything about ever having, ever receiving, or ever seeing an operational procedure handbook for a C-47 written in German. Like the eventual fate of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark it is probably stashed away in some box gathering dust lost among a whole bunch of other boxes stashed away somewhere that nobody knows the whereabouts of or any contents therein.



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However, when the ceramics teacher learned how serious I was about the whole thing, going to Castle Air Museum and all, he caught up with me telling me he and a bunch of his old Air Force buddies, the majority onetime World War II ground crew and flyboys, went to an annual warbird air show in Merced, California every year to judge airplanes. He said if I was interested he could arrange it so I could join them and while there, in that Castle Air Museum was only a few miles from Merced and since he knew a few people at the museum, the two of us could investigate more thoroughly the missing manuals.


BEFORE GHOSTS: THE WAR STORIES OF FLYBOYS AND GRUNTS

So said, I joined them. It was easy to see it was mostly a once a year get together for most of them and that they had been doing it for sometime. Even though I was a FNG they embraced me as one of their own and soon was in their fold. For me it was really cool, doing stuff I would otherwise not normally do. We all went up in a couple of vans together, stayed two to a room at a Motel 6 located close to the Merced airport, ate breakfast and dinner primarily at Denny's (chicken fried steak and eggs with county gravy), spent the whole day judging planes and drinking Gatorade, then hung out until way late at night BS'ing and drinking cold beer out of cans from a never ending pile of six-packs only to get up the next day and do it again.

Now, while it is true being a judge I got to be close to and climb in and out of and be around a whole lot of really cool warbirds in areas and places the paying public couldn't, for me what was the most interesting though was when the air show was over for the day and all the World War II Air Force buddies would get together for a gabfest and share war stories late into the night --- two stories of which were totally fascinating.

In that most of the group were World War II guys and all were Air Force with me being neither, my World War II Air Force experiences were zip --- although sometime after the war as a 14 year old or so I did ride half way across the county in the back seat of a North American AT-6 flown by an ex P-47 pilot.

I never really traveled in flyboy circles anyway, although on-and-off throughout my life I crossed paths with a number of fighter pilots from three wars and airmen from four. The most influential in my life, of course, was the person I call my Mentor. Although an American citizen he flew for the British RAF in World War I before the U.S. even entered the war, and did so after passing through Canada and fudging about his age. He was wounded twice, once big time in a raging air battle over Europe with a 1000 foot long Zeppelin and attending aircraft. I did meet an actual real life Flying Tiger pilot sometime in the early 1980s as well as a really interesting P-40 pilot many years after the Second World War. Not a Flying Tiger, just a regular old P-40 pilot that fought in the South Pacific during World War II, ending up receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, and a Purple Heart during his tour. The interesting part is that he ended up being a famous comedian. The following refers to one of his exploits:


"Coming in low over the target on a second or third pass in the same general area his plane was hit by ground fire, the engine began losing oil pressure. Noticeably disabled he quickly picked up at least three Japanese fighters on his tail. Not being able to engage them on any kind of an equal basis let alone three to one, he decided to evade them by flying through a narrow gap along a mountain ridge causing the pursuing planes to pull up after one of their group slammed into the the mountains. Attempting to reduce the possibility of attracting any more fighters, staying low he arced around hoping to reach Tsili-Tsilli in order to keep both himself and his aircraft intact. Without oil pressure or the oil needed the engine seized basically loosing most operational control of the aircraft. He decided to set down best he could wheels up on a sandbar that turned out to be part of the Waffa River, a subsidiary of the much larger Markham River about 50 miles northwest of Lae, albeit still in enemy territory."


Although the above didn't involve me personally it was told to me personally by the pilot. I was going to tell the group about his adventures, but passed on it because the pilot in question was Dan Rowan of the Rowan and Martin comedy team, famous for their Laugh In TV program and even though I thought his story relevant, like I say, it didn't involve me personally. See:


P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN


The real life Flying Tiger pilot I met was a man named William McGarry. His P-40 was shot out of the sky March 24, 1942 during a raid over Chiang Mai. Parachuting out he was captured and remained a POW for nearly three years. A few days prior to leaving Thailand the last time I was there I ended up visiting the Tango Squadron Museum at the Air Force Base situated on the opposite side of the entrance to the Chiang Mai Airport. There, on display, I was able to view firsthand the remains McGarry's P-40 Flying Tiger just as it looked when it was hauled back to the museum after laying undisturbed on the jungle floor for 50 years.[1]

As for heavy bombers, the closest I personally came to anything related to the U.S. Army Air Force and World War II bombers, especially so B-29s, came from two sources. One was through an old Chinese man who swamped a bar owned by my stepmother who told me stories about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan by B-29s during World War II. He told me from ancient times there was a female Buddha, a saviouress named Kuan Yin that, because of her compassion, could and did deliver them from harm. The other was through my Uncle and a close friend of his, the artist Peter Hurd. Hurd first attained national fame in the late 1930s, some through his efforts with the WPA. Over the next four decades he earned many awards and distinctions. During World War II he served as a war-correspondent artist for Life magazine and received the European Theater Medal for Service Overseas in 1947. Below is an example of one of Hurd's works done as a war-correspondent artist, executed by him in the field while serving in the China-Burma-India theater:



B-29 IN INDIA SUPPORTING OPERATION MATTERHORN. PAINTING BY PETER HURD
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When it sort of came to my turn to tell World War II stories mine mostly circulated around a two-man Japanese Midget Submarine that showed up floating in the surf one morning near my house when I was a kid after it was bombed off shore, a midget submarine that was allegedly mixed-up somehow in some plot to nuke Los Angeles. My other story, as found in The Japanese Secret War, was about my uncle wherein during the year 1943, stateside and for sure a noncombatant, he was shot and left to bleed out on American soil by Japanese agents. The two spies, according to what they told my uncle before they put a bullet in his back at close range, had been indulging in a series of clandestine operations during World War II in the desert southwest out New Mexico way after being left off from a German U-boat in the Sea of Cortez somewhere along the northern coast of Sonora, Mexico. In turn, that weekend, my stories, especially the last one, brought about from the flyboys, the first of what I considered two of the most interesting stories.

The first one, from an otherwise non-descript former airman, after interjecting he was of course sorry to hear about my uncle, said that my uncle's experience was nothing compared to what happened to him during World War II while stationed stateside. Although he wasn't shot like my uncle, he came close after being captured and held at gunpoint on U.S. soil by a bunch of German commandos infiltrating a U.S. air base along the Canadian border, a story of which I get into elsewhere.[2]

The second of the two interesting stories, and what this particular page is all about, has to do with the aforementioned B-29 Superfortress called Raz'n Hell on display at the Castle Air Museum. Why it even comes up is because Raz'n Hell is supposed to be haunted. On one of the nights of our gabfests we had a whole discussion on the so-called Ghost P-40 that was said to have shown up under mysterious circumstances both in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor. One faction argued that the alleged Ghost Ship had the same markings as a Flying Tiger, i.e., shark teeth and all. The other group insisted that the P-40 in question carried full-on pre-Pearl Harbor wing and fuselage insignias --- a white star in a blue circle with a red circle in the center --- more-or-less indicating that if so, the craft would most likely not be endowed with or be a Flying Tiger. Double ace and P-40 pilot Col. Robert L. Scott is most often given credit as the originating source for the P-40 Ghost story because most similar stories show a strong parallel to what he has written in the first chapter in his book published in 1944 titled Damned to Glory. During that gabfest when I was told that the B-29 was haunted and the plane was at the museum, I had to see for myself.




However, Raz'n Hell, currently on display at the Castle Air Museum is not the fully intact off the assembly line original. It is actually made up of three B-29s: 44-61535 the tail section, which was part of and left from the original Raz'n Hell; 44-84084 the wings; and 44-70064 the fuselage. The three aircraft had been being used for target practice at China Lake Naval Weapons Center with the wings actually being air lifted by helicopter over the mountains. Once the parts of the three planes started showing up at the museum in any amount of viable proportions they began to be reassembled into the fully restored plane presently on display. As for the assembled plane being haunted and not being the original, having been made up of three different B-29s, it is not clear which plane the haunter is associated with.



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There is a myriad of credible haunting incidents related back to the current Raz'n Hell that have been seen, heard, or experienced by any number of regular folk and witnesses, including museum employees, guests and visitors, and even people driving by. During the gabfests the veterans reported incidents ranging from a worker on the plane being handed a tool he requested only to find he was totally alone on the plane. Others have reported locked or secured hatches opening and closing and from the outside, to seeing a ghost-like figure in the cockpit. Also, people in cars have reported the landing lights being on at night when they aren't even hooked up or operable while others have reported hearing Morse code, again without any known outside or inside electrical hook up.

It was really only then, when I heard there were people who thought they heard Morse code emanating from the B-29's interior or radio opps station that my ears perked up. People who have claimed to have heard the code say it was being sent super fast, in short bursts, and hard to discriminate between letters. Some say they heard at least what they thought was the letter "S," but sure what they heard wasn't an SOS. Another thing that was not clear to most was if the code being heard was ethereal or physical in nature. So too, was it incoming or outgoing, that is, was it a message in the traditional, albeit ghostly sense, being received into the plane or a message being sent out from the plane, a plane with no transmitter, receiver or electrical power.




I was at one time in the military a notorious code sender of some repute, thought by some of my superiors to have been on par with the infamous Confederate guerilla telegrapher George A. Ellsworth or, just as equally if not more so, thought by the Army Security Agency as ready for the stockade. The ASA was always after me for some reason or the other. In the early days when I was no more than a private slick sleeve, if it hadn't been for higher authorities with higher priorities, ASA would have most certainly nailed me. So said, on par or ready for the stockade, after hearing about the muffled sounds of Morse code being heard deep within the bowels of the B-29 I wanted to hear it myself, even if I had to spend a night on the plane. My idea was if I could learn the person's "fist," I would send them back their own message.[3]


A BOY'S FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH MORSE CODE

As good as I may have been at one time with Morse code it didn't just happen overnight or out of the blue one day after falling off the top of a telegraph pole. When I was a young boy and my family was still intact there was a girl that lived next door who my mother hired on occasion to babysit my two brothers and me. The babysitter's grandfather, who also lived on the same property, had a floor to ceiling junk-pile filled workshop inside a dirt floor single car garage in their backyard, a workshop of which, much to the grandfather's chagrin, I snuck into every chance I got.

It was there, in the grandfather's garage, before I was barely able to read and write that I got my first introduction to Morse code. I had been snooping around his shop one day like I often did when I came across a little rectangular piece of wood that looked all the same as having been a mousetrap, but instead of a spring-like snap mechanism, it had a bunch of wrapped around coiled wires and other electrical stuff mounted on it. Although at that stage in my life my letter and number comprehension was only just beginning and rudimentary at best, printed on the surface of the wood were words that I would learn later identified what I found as a Dot 'N Dash Telegraph Set.

The old man told me what I found was only one half of a two part set that when hooked together with wires and a battery could, by using a series of dots and dashes, send messages back and forth between two or more people over long distances --- something he said the two of us could do if I was ever able to locate the other half. I never did find the missing second half, but while searching around I came across a much better example of basically the same thing in what was called a Tom Mix Straight Shooters Telegraph Set. The Dot 'N Dash set was made five or six years before and sold through the Johnson Smith Company. The Tom Mix set was originally a free box top offer promoted by the Ralston Wheat Cereal Company just a few months before the war started. When Ralston first made the sets available the old man sent for one but never used it, so for all practical purposes it was brand new.



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FROM CODES TO HAUNTED B-29s

As luck would have it the ceramic teacher had some pretty high up connections, and even though staying on the plane couldn't be put into place during our trip to the air show that weekend he was eventually able to pull it off.[4]

When we returned it had gone from a hot summer time to a cool going toward winter. Matter of fact it was down right cold, especially inside the bomber. During the time between the air show and our return trip I had put together a little Morse code device using a J-38 hand key with a leg strap and a battery operated door buzzer so if need be I could create an audible Morse code sound signal inside the plane. The ceramic teacher and I took up positons in the cockpit and settled in for the night. On and off I sent short bursts of code but nothing with the whole of the first night going by uneventful. The second night I was back in the co-pilot seat with the telegraph key once again strapped on my leg. Way into the night the ceramic teacher dozed off and after having guzzled a thermos full of coffee over a period of hours I found myself in need to relive myself. Without disturbing the ceramic teacher I slipped out of the plane and did just that, relive myself. When I got back inside, since it was so cold I busied myself with keeping warm and bundling myself up totally forgetting the hand key. After I discovered I didn't have it, not only was it not where I thought it was and I couldn't find it, it was gone.

I shook the ceramic teacher awake and asked him if he had moved my hand key. He apologized for having dozed off not realizing he had even been asleep. He said he hadn't touched the hand key nor did he know where it was. I took the flashlight and started looking around the cabin thinking it may have fallen into some nook or cranny or something when I got up to go outside earlier when suddenly I heard a noise down in the bowels of the fuselage beyond the cabin area. I stopped moving not making a sound. Then I heard it, dit-dit-dit, although muffled possibly by the distance but clearly coming from the interior, as though from my makeshift telegraph rig. I put my hand up in a hush fashion toward the ceramic teacher who began to talk and move about after hearing the sound himself. With the intense silence I heard it again, far inside the plane, muffled but still barely able to make out, a series of Morse code sounds --- dit-dit-dit, dah-dit, dit-dah, dit-dit-dah-dit, dit-dit-dah --- then a second time the same series of characters then a third followed by silence. We waited. No repeat, matter of fact nothing for the rest of the night. In the morning I went back into the fuselage and sure enough I was able to find my rig. When the ceramic teacher asked what the code translated into I told him:


SNAFU



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FROM CODES TO HAUNTED P-40s

THE STORY I DIDN'T TELL:

In The Code Maker, The Zen Maker, there is a footnote sub-titled How I Got There (Part II) wherein I write that after ending up in the far northern reaches of South Vietnam at a location not far from the DMZ I was met by a company spook and a non-com with the Army Security Agency, both implying they were out of an I Corps communication intelligence facility in Phu Bai.

What always seemed to be the case for me in those days, being immersed in a quasi typical need-to-know or eyes-only status situation, since it was just the spook, non-com and me, and we were out in the middle of nowhere I asked what was going on. The spook pulled me aside putting his arm around my shoulder saying it could be a day or two before we pulled out, depending on the weather at this end and the other end. I asked if we going into North Vietnam. He answered, close. The same way he couldn't clarify in those days, I still can't clarify in these days. What I am getting at is, even though I am revealing the military had a very special need for my talents duplicating and sending Morse code totally indistinguishable for virtually anyone to differentiate between messages sent by me and that of any person I was imitating, I am still not at liberty to tell for what use that talent was so needed or any implementation thereof. Without breaking any tenets on my part, the paragraphs that follow were written by Alfred McCoy and found in his book The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (1972) and are being presented for you to infer what you wish:


"From Nam Yu the teams were flown fifty-five miles due north and dropped off on the Laotian bank of the Mekong River. After inflating their rubber rafts, the teams paddled across the Mekong and hiked three miles through the Burmese jungle until they reached the joint Nationalist Chinese CIA base near Mong Hkan. It was originally established by a KMT intelligence force, the First Independent Unit, to serve as a base for its own cross-border forays into Yunnan, and as a radio post for transmitting information on the availability of opium to KMT military caravans based at Mae Salong in northern Thailand. When the CIA began sending its reconnaissance patrols into Yunnan, the First Independent Unit agreed to share the base.

"From Mong Hkan, the CIA teams hiked north for several days to one of two forward bases only a few miles from the border --- a joint CIA-KMT radio post at Mong He and a CIA station at Mong Mom.

"Using light-weight, four-pound radios with a broadcast radius of four hundred miles, the teams transmitted their top priority data directly to a powerful receiver at Nam Yu or to specially equipped Air America planes that flew back and forth along the Laotian Chinese border. Once these messages were translated at Nam Yu, they were forwarded to Vientiane for analysis and possible transmission to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The radio messages also served to pinpoint every team's position, all carefully recorded on a huge relief map of Yunnan Province mounted in a restricted operations room at Nam YU."

ALFRED McCOY: The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia


NAM YU: CIA LIMA SITE 118-A


Now we come to the part about the Ghost P-40 or the Phantom P-40 and how such a plane came to involve me --- sort of. The following paragraphs are from some notes I compiled years ago for a book I never wrote. Although I don't say so specifically, there could by an underlying tie back to the CIA-KMT radio posts described by McCoy:


"(We) hiked down to a rudimentary mountain road, following it to a river that doubled back on itself flowing south to the Mekong. From the river we headed northeast, all the while climbing in altitude along the side of the mountains. Eventually we crested the ridge following the top along the undefined border between Burma and China. In the mountains near the village of Wan Hsa was a second, but much smaller, CIA-KMT radio site called Mong He. We rested there two or three days, then crossed into Yunnan Province, China. We skirted a dirt road to a small river following it downstream several miles until it met the second of two streams joining it from the north. Going upstream we came across an all weather road that had a telegraph line stretched along it. At that point we were 15 to 20 miles into the People's Republic of China. From where we were we could watch five-truck Chinese Red Army convoys pass by a couple of times a day, otherwise the road was deserted. After we got a good handle on when a convoy might pass before the next one in either direction, we went down to the telegraph line and tapped into it, stretching a double loop back to our camp."


Then we got in trouble. Francis Gary Powers U-2 trouble. Our timing regarding the convoy that day did not turn out to be as reliable as it could have been. A couple of us, me included, were caught in the open, with me actually being atop a pole when a convoy showed up in the distance headed down the road our way. I scrambled down the pole, and duplicating my buddy, crawled through the same creek culvert our wires ran through to our camp. All well and good except for one thing. We left one of our primary tool bags sitting in plain view along side the road. I figured I could scoot back through the culvert and grab the bag hoping not to be seen before the convoy was on top of us. That's when one of the most unusual things to ever happen, happened.

I crawled into the culvert hoping to reach the other side when low and overhead behind me, just above the road I heard the overwhelming roar of an aircraft engine. As I pulled myself up out of the culvert on the other side, the side the bag was on, I could see a wheels up World War II fighter plane, looking all the same as a P-40 skimming along just above the road at full speed heading face on toward the convoy. The next thing I knew the plane began unleashing a whole stream of machine gun fire from her wings, scattering the convoy all over off the road and tearing the shit out of the asphalt for well over a mile. The plane began swinging around in a big loop for a second pass when the convoy reformed, only headed in the other direction, speeding away as fast as it could. The fighter peeled off and disappeared beyond the distant treetops and hills. I grabbed the bag and in the open ran across the road toward our camp.


GHOST P-40: LORE, LEGENDS AND HER WHEREABOUTS



PEARL HARBOR P-40 GHOST SHIP


As for the old man and the babysitter, they figured prominently in my early life in other ways as well. Less than three months into World War II, around the same time I was learning Morse code from the old man using the Tom Mix Straight Shooters Telegraph Set than a giant airborne object of an unknown nature overflew Los Angeles and surrounding communities in an event that has come down to be known as:


THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: 1942 UFO


The huge object, as big as a Zeppelin, was able to withstand over 1440 direct anti aircraft rounds before it escaped unscathed, disappearing in the night sky out over the open ocean south of Long Beach. Before reaching Long Beach, the object's path took it south along the coast from roughly Santa Monica to a spot where it turned diagonally inland over Redondo Beach. In doing so the object crossed directly over the top of my house. When it did, even though it was two o'clock in the morning or so, almost everybody on the block was outside to looking at it, and they were outdoors thanks to the old man who had a portable hand crank siren that he took out in the street and cranked up.

When the object flew south from Santa Monica along the coast it did so just above the surf line. In doing so it went right past the house of one C. Scott Littleton who lived on the Strand in Hermosa Beach. Littleton, now deceased, is considered THE foremost authority on the L.A. object. He too, like me, was also a young boy at the time of the overflight, albeit a year or so older. Although he uses a lot of my material to substantiate what he saw Littleton always adds that he felt I was to young to remember all the subtle nuances that I have interjected in what I have written about the object.

Well, it just so happens I remember a great deal from those days. For example, I remember my mother nursing my brother who was three years younger than me. Seeing barrage balloons floating in the sky tethered to the ground over the shipyards in Terminal Island where my father worked. But, most importantly I remember well the life size cardboard toy fighter plane-type cockpit --- colored on one side with dials and printed only in black and white on the backside --- with a movable square cardboard joystick the girl who lived next door and babysat my brothers and me, owned. It was called a Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit, and although I didn't have one myself, I played with hers so much it might as well have been mine. The same time I was using the Tom Mix Telegraph Set with her grandfather was the same time I was playing with the Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Cockpit AND the same time the fly over occurred.



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THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF


TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI


THE FLYING MACHINE: CHINA 400 A.D.


FLYING TIGERS AND MORE
THE BOY IN THE MAN REMEMBERS THE LEGEND

INCIDENT AT SUPAI
A SHAMANIC JOURNEY OUTSIDE THE TRADITION

CURTISS-WRIGHT P-40


FLYING TIGERS
THE ORDEAL OF LIEUTENANT STONER

THE MAYAN SHAMAM AND CHICXULUB


THE LADY ON THE DOCK AND THE PBY

PBY BLACK CAT ATTACKING MAST HEIGHT IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT

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SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?

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THE WANDERLING

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Operation Torch was the over-arcing name designation for the entire invasion campaign of Vichy French North Africa in November, 1942. Ever since I was a teenager I have carried an interest in Operation Torch because my first two years of high school I worked part time doing errands for a one time Merchant Marine that had his life adversely impacted because of Operation Torch. He was on a top secret convoy that was just forming up to go to Puerto Rico then on to either the Canary Islands or the Azores or possibly a direct invasion of North Africa when the ship he was on was torpedoed by a German U-boat operating out of a wolf pack just off the coast of Florida.

To save himself he had to jump overboard into burning gas and oil, badly scaring his lungs and burning a good part of his body in doing so. When I met him it was about ten years after the attack and he was, for the most part barely able to get around, hooked up to oxygen bottles and IV's most of the day. He died during the summer between my sophomore and junior years primarily because of the wounds he received in the attack. During the years I did errands for my Merchant Marine Friend he regaled me with countless stories and adventures he participated in of which one was searching for evidence of the Lost Continents of Mu and Atlantis --- although he had long become a skeptic of either or both ever having actually existed. He had joined the Operation Torch convoy specifically because it was going to the Azores which was said to be a one time part of Atlantis when the ship he was on was torpedoed.


MY MERCHANT MARINE FRIEND


As to Operation Torch itself, imbedded within the main operation were a number of smaller operations of which one, Operation Villain, is connected to the fully gassed and ready to go C-47 I write about in the main text above. The C-47 was one of 39 that was originally used in Operation Villain. How it ended up three years later a half a world away in Nevada, nobody seems to know.

Of the C-47s I offer the following:

The plan for Operation Villain was to use paratroopers of the 2nd Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment to seize Tafaraoui and La Senia airfields in Algeria.

A full compliment of 2/509 PIR paratroopers left England aboard 39 C-47's with the intention of flying over Spain into North Africa. No sooner had the formation left England than it was scattered due to unforecasted bad weather and after that, never able to reform. One plane landed at Gibraltar, four were interned in Spanish Morocco, two landed at Fez in French Morocco and three were reported as flying over Le Senia and being driven off by anti-aircraft fire.

Over a dozen C-47's were clustered together after landing on the western edge of the Sebkra d'Oran' dry lake without air dropping their troops. Ten other C-47s dropped their parachutists in the same area then landed at the eastern edge of the Sebkra and inturn, taken prisoner. Some of the paratroopers under command of Major William P. Yarborough attempted to march around the Sebkra and seize Tafaraoui airfield, a distance of over 20 miles. After covering roughly ten miles, and basically stranded because the terrain was so difficult to traverse, they radioed for help. Three C-47s, after siphoning fuel from sister ships, took off to retrieve them. No sooner had they picked up the troopers than six French Dewoitine fighter planes strafed the fuselages. The pilots turned the planes around making it toward the Sebkra crash landing at 130 miles per hour. The French fighters made three more strafing runs on the grounded aircraft, killing five and wounding fifteen. In the end just 14 planes of the original 39 planes were operational enough to fly right away, with a number missing or unaccounted for. So too, only 15 paratroopers out of the whole band that filled the 39 planes were judged fit enough to return to combat on an immediate basis. An accurate count on the dead, wounded and missing unclear.

Operation Villain was a complete fiasco, for the most part a total flop from one end to the other. Its over-arcing operation, Operation Torch initially wasn't far behind although eventually through the hard work, dedication and pure perseverance, in less than six months in North Africa the tide had turned in the Allies favor with the Germans fully on the run. Re the following regarding 100 German troop transports loaded to the gills with soldiers being secretly ferried out of Africa and caught by a group of P-40 Warhawks in what has become known as the "Goose Shoot":


"On Sunday, April 18, 1943 the U.S. Army Air Force's 57th Fighter Group stationed at El Djem, Tunisia in North Africa, on a routine mission over Cape Bon had 46 P-40 Warhawks in the air along with 18 British Spitfires flying top cover. Low on fuel and basically returning to base they came across a 100 plane flotilla of German JU-52 German troop transport planes flying just above sea level over the Mediterranean, escorted by 50 Messerschmitt fighters. Catching the Germans completely off guard, while the Spitfires drew off the Messerschmitts and kept them busy, the P-40s split into pairs diving on the enemy planes tearing the transports to shreds, with an overall kill count of 77 enemy aircraft destroyed."


P-40 GOOSE SHOOT





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Footnote [1]




As for my meeting with the real life Flying Tiger pilot William McGarry (1916-1990), I really don't want to get into a whole lot of his story right now for wont of deflecting away from my main thesis here, the haunted B-29. Briefly though, I met McGarry during a sand storm one day at a gas station outside a quickie mart in Coachella Valley sometime in the early 1980s while returning from a trip exploring around the Anza-Borrego Desert near Agua Caliente Springs in California. I had become privy to what I thought was some possibly relevant information regarding the so-called Lost Viking Ship that at the time I felt was information well worth pursuing. Although the information turned out to be a false lead and quite bogus, the fact that I went to the Anza-Borrego in the first place ended up being quite a little goldmine for me personally in that I happened across McGarry. I mean what could be better, lost Viking ships in the desert and P-40s.

The two of us arranged to meet and did so the next day starting early in the afternoon, talking way into the evening and night at the La Quinta Resort located sort of half way between the Anza-Borrego Desert and where he lived. It was there he regaled me with much of his Flying Tigers adventures such as being shot down over Chiang Mai and after being captured, being held prisoner for nearly three years, that sort of thing --- most of which can be found by going to my Phyllis Davis page or the Tango Squadron Air Museum, Chiang Mai page linked below:



REMAINS OF McGARRY'S SMASHED P-40 FLYING TIGER AFTER 50 YEARS IN A THAILAND JUNGLE
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TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI


FEI WEING: BIRTH OF THE FLYING TIGERS


















Footnote [2]




The World War II veteran said during the war he was a bottom of the line airman who, after serving in Europe was sent back stateside to recuperate from a wound. He ended up finishing out his enlistment at Raco Army Airfield in northern Michigan during a period of time that the war was showing all signs of winding down or outright ending.

He told the group and me --- and what has since proven to be true through research --- Raco Airfield was a giant triangle shaped airbase located out in the middle of nowhere originally built to defend the Soo locks on the Sault Ste. Marie canal, a mission that had pretty much gone by the wayside that late in the war --- so, for all practical purposes, while he was stationed there the airfield was pretty much shut down and running on a skeleton crew.



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He was doing routine guard duty sometime around midnight out along the edges of the facility when he was taken to the ground by a group of armed men. He was tied up and gagged and put with a couple of other G.I.s he knew that were also pulling guard duty, all closely watched over on the tarmac by a guy with a grease gun looking weapon. Soon, out of the dark a huge six engine bomber-like plane with a ton of wheels and later to be seen close up as being painted in a dark camouflage pattern with an iron cross insignia on the side of the fuselage, set down on the runway right in front of him hardly making a sound --- as if it was making an engines off landing. As quick as the plane come to a stop than a tanker truck pulled up and started refueling it. As soon as it emptied a second truck pulled up just as quick. When the refueling was completed he and the other two guards were forcibly nudged to get up and walk toward the plane. At first he thought they were going to be made to get on the plane, but just short of doing so they were forced to their knees and he was sure he was going to be shot in back of the head. Instead they were locked in a close by electrical shed. He could hear the engines start up and the plane begin to taxi, then it was gone. They were able to free themselves but couldn't get out of the shed until someone came across them and let them out.

At first nobody fully believed the story until the fuel trucks, which had been stolen, were discovered in the woods along with quite a number of empty 44 gallon drums similar to the one pictured below scattered all along the shoreline of Pendills Bay of the larger Lake Superior. The tops of the drums were stamped with a number of German words including the date 1943. The words translate roughly into: Kraftstoff = fuel; Feuergefahrlich = highly inflammable or combustible; Wehrmacht = unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.



More indepth coverage of the above incident can be found by going to GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM linked below, more specifically Footnote [8].


GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM





















The following, as it relates to the B-29 Superfortress Raz'n Hell, has been extrapolated from and presented for our purposes here through the graceful services of VINTAGE WINGS: A Homage to the Assembly Line as linked below. The B-29 in the black-and-white photo directly beneath this paragraph shows the actual real life in the flesh, whole #44-6135 Superfortress as it looked just as it's construction was ending on the assembly line just prior to going into service. The 44-6135 of course, became Raz'n Hell.




A big aircraft like the Boeing B-29 Superfortress needed a super factory. The Battle of Kansas (also known as the "Battle of Wichita") was the nickname given to a project to build, modify and deliver large quantities of the world's most advanced bomber to the front-lines in the Pacific. The battle began as the first B-29 Superfortresses rolled off the production lines of the massive new Boeing factory on the prairies near Wichita, Kansas.  The specific B-29 aircraft (44-61535) shown in this photo still exists, or at least part of it does and is outdoor display at the Castle AFB Air Museum in Atwater, CA.



After Boeing B-29A 44-61535 (see previous photo) was rolled off the assembly line, it was taken over by the USAAC, which became the United States Air Force. It was operational until 1957 when it was put into storage at Naval Air Station China Lake until 1980. Here, squadron ground personnel of the 28th Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group pose with 44-61535, better known as Raz'n Hell somewhere in the Pacific during the Korean War. Photo via Jay Somnii, @Flickr



In 1980, parts of 44-61535 were combined with components from two other B-29s to make a display aircraft at Castle AFB. The B-29, with only minimal parts from the original 44-61535, is none the less painted to resemble her. The Raz'n Hell serial number is displayed as 44-61535 which was the original Raz'n Hell, however this B-29 is a composite of three aircraft which were used as targets and recovered from from the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake. Nose art was restored by Jay Somnii, the person who sent us the previous Korean war era photo. Photo via  Rick Baldridge


VINTAGE WINGS: A Homage to the Assembly Line



















Footnote [3]


RICHARD M. BISSELL, JR.

From the very beginning it was all Richard M. Bissell. Bissell, at the time, was the CIA's Deputy Director for Plans and responsible for what became known as the CIA's Black Operations including the super secret spy plane the U-2.

How is it that I could seriously speculate a person of Bissell's stature would take notice of ME --- and of whom, a man I never personally met or knew --- especially so me being just one in a potential crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands he had to deal with on a regular basis? Most likely he didn't. More than anything it probably had to do with Bissell being in the loop, the nature of security clearances generally, and what they are specifically intended for. In my case, before being drafted, it was for the U-2. The U-2 was a small program, not some bulky, hunkering-along bogged down tank-tread tractor in the mud military machine. Nor was it a huge lost between the marble columns of some bloated government bureaucracy.

Most people involved either knew each other or worked together for years on some project or the other. When it came to security, the people who ran the U-2 program were interested in only one thing. Trust. That is, just because you had a security clearance, could they trust you like they trusted themselves and their tiny inner circle? The best way for that to be determined is to be what is called a known quantity. That comes about by someone they know and trust, knows you to such a point that they can vouch for your ability to be trusted at the level expected.

In my case there were a number of people in my background that would, by association, cast me in the right light. My uncle, who raised me during a good portion of my childhood was friends with a number of high ranking people such as Albert Einstein, Dr. Lincoln La Paz of the Los Alamos Labs, and, as it applied to me specifically in relation to the U-2, William Randolph 'Randy' Lovelace II. Since I was young and had only one semi-background 'glitch' to speak of and the list of known quantities just mentioned was of such quality, the rest was easy. The person associated with the U-2 who wanted me specifically was known as Harry the Man, the top rated high altitude breathing person in the world at the time, of whom both he and Lovelace I cover quite thoroughly in Area 51 at Groom Lake. It just so happened Harry the Man knew both Lovelace and Bissell. My uncle knew Lovelace. Circle complete. The slight background glitch? Bigtime mob heavyweight Johnny Roselli.


Not much time passed between being drafted and sent to the U.S. Army Southeast Signal Corps School in Fort Gordon, Georgia that various military superiors and interested parties began hearing of my expertise in Morse code. That, coupled with me already having in place a U-2 security based background with Bissell and the others in the chain, than members of those interested parties began moving quickly to secure my services and ensure others didn't interfere in adversely impacting that selection. Below, as found in Sheep Dipped link so cited:


"However, it didn't take long before a handful of remora Committee 303 off-the-books shining-knights roundtable spooks, playing fast and loose in the shadows under the deep cover of a red-phone presidential mandate, discovered the existence of the ground teams --- if they hadn't been responsible for them in the first place --- and once discovered, under a two-way reversible double blanket of security (an even more covert team pulled from a covert team) a special select few were soon appropriated for other duties."


SHEEP DIPPED

















Footnote [4]



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Above is an aerial shot of the Castle Air Museum. About a third of the way up from the bottom on the right side of the graphic can be seen a rather large delta wing plane. The nose of that delta wing plane points in a line of sight directly toward the length of the wing of a plane parked in front of it. If you follow in a line from the nose of that delta wing plane along the length of the wing in front of it, it points, after crossing a small road or path, directly to the B-29 Raz'n Hell.

Below is a photo of Raz'n Hell showing the opposite side of the plane from the nose art side. Each bomb depicts a bombing run she (i.e., the intact original Raz'n Hell) participated in.






















GEORGE A. ELLSWORTH


"I was at one time in the military a notorious code sender of some repute, thought by some of my superiors to have been on par with the infamous Confederate guerilla telegrapher George A. Ellsworth or, thought just as equally if not more so, by the Army Security Agency as ready for the stockade. So said, on par or ready for the stockade, after hearing about the Morse code being heard I wanted to spend a night on the ghost plane, an idea that was easier said than done."

THE WANDERLING: As Found In The Main Text Above


"A couple of us, me included, were caught in the open, with me actually being atop a pole when a convoy showed up in the distance headed down the road our way. I scrambled down the pole, and duplicating my buddy, crawled through the same creek culvert our wires ran through to our camp. All well and good except for one thing. We left one of our primary tool bags sitting in plain view along side the road."

THE WANDERLING: As Found In The Main Text Above


"Note has been made of the presence of Ellsworth in the Cincinnati office, and his service with the Confederate guerrilla Morgan, for whom he tapped Federal wires, read military messages, sent false ones, and did serious mischief generally. It is well known that one operator can recognize another by the way in which he makes his signals --- it is his style of handwriting. Ellsworth possessed in a remarkable degree the skill of imitating these peculiarities, and thus he deceived the Union operators easily."

EDISON HIS LIFE AND INVENTIONS, Chapter V (1910)


John Hunt Morgan was a Civil War general infamous as the leader of southern guerrilla force known as the Morgan Raiders. A major part of Morgan's success that entrenched him into the historic annals of war was his successful use of telegraphy as an integral part of his military operations. He did so by recruiting into his Raiders a certain telegraph operator named George A. Ellsworth, known as Lightning, a savant telegrapher of unusual genius.

Ellsworth is known for being able to listen to another telegraph operator for just a few minutes and then mimicking that other operator's "fist" to a perfection. For the most part all telegraphers send with a distinct style, known as a fist, which other telegraphers can recognize as easily as they are able to recognize a familiar voice. Ellsworth would tap into a telegraph line used by Union forces and copy military dispatches transmitted on that line. By tapping the wire, Ellsworth's instruments became a part of the line and he could then, by blocking the downstream or incoming code at his point of entry, rewrite or send misleading or false messages downstream with the other-end recipient, listening to the fist, assuming the sender was a familiar.(see)

In July 1862 during Morgan's First Kentucky Raid, his CSA cavalry stopped in Midway, Kentucky and seized the telegraph office immediately sending false messages to Union commanders in the area. What took place at Midway is best described in Ellsworth's own words as found in History of Morgan's Cavalry, Chapter VIII, page 192, linked below. Ellsworth is quoted as saying:


"At this place I surprised the operator, who was quietly sitting on the platform in front of his office, enjoying himself hugely. Little did he suspect that the much-dreaded Morgan was in his vicinity. I demanded of him to call Lexington and inquire the time of day, which he did. This I did for the purpose of getting his style of handling the 'key' in writing dispatches. My first impression of his style, from noting the paper in the instrument, was confirmed. He was, to use a telegraphic term, a 'plug' operator. I adopted his style of telegraphing, and commenced operations. In this office I found a signal book, which proved very useful. It contained the calls of all the offices. Dispatch after dispatch was going to and from Lexington, Georgetown, Paris and Frankfort, all containing something in reference to Morgan. On commencing operations, I discovered that there were two wires on the line along this railroad. One was what we term a 'through wire,' running direct from Lexington to Frankfort, and not entering any of the way offices. I found that all military messages were sent over that line. As it did not enter Midway office I ordered it to be cut, thus forcing Lexington on to the wire that did run through the office. I tested the line and found, by applying the ground wire, it made no difference with the circuit; and, as Lexington was Head-Quarters, I cut Frankfort off."


THE WESTERN UNION STANDARD
RADIO TELEGRAPH SIGNAL SET


HISTORY OF MORGAN'S CAVALRY


EVERYTHING IS FAIR IN WAR
THE CIVIL WAR MEMOIR OF GEORGE A. "LIGHTNING" ELLSWORTH,
TELEGRAPH OPERATOR FOR JOHN HUNT MORGAN
















Z SQUARE 3 "SNAFUPERFORT" SERIAL #42-63435:

Arrived on Saipan in early November of 1944, commanded by Captain Stanley Samuelson. #42-63435 was damaged on the first Tokyo mission and grounded for repairs. It was replaced by #42-65249. The original Z Square 3 (42-63435) of Samuelson that was damaged over Tokyo came back into service as Z Square 19 after having been renamed SNA PE FORT from SNAFUPERFORT.




Samuelson and most of his crew were reassigned to Z Square 12 (originally Z Square 8 #42-24692), and, except S/Sgt Robert Evans who parachuted to safety and became a POW, was rammed in the sky and lost on February 19, 1945 on a bombing run over Tokyo.



CAPTAIN SAMUELSON'S Z SQUARE 12 BEING RAMMED ON BOMBING RUN OVER TOKYO 2/19/45


DIARY OF CAPTAIN STANLEY SAMUELSON


SUPERFORTRESS OVER YOKOHAMA

































I used to go by the bar owned by my Stepmother and meditate in the alley with the old Chinese man. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan by B-29 Superfortresses of the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.

The mantra came up because of a 1940s comic book superhero called The Green Lama that used the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra much like Billy Batson used Shazam to become Captain Marvel --- to invoke superpowers --- and, in the Green Lama's case, like Captain Marvel, gaining super strength, invulnerability, the ability to fly, and even being impervious to bullets to the point of being bulletproof. The old dishwasher had six or eight copies of the Green Lama, all in like-new mint condition, of which, for whatever reason, he gave to me.


KUAN YIN



















DOT 'N DASH ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH SET


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