42-6299

 

On 7 December 1944, B-29, # 42-6299, “Humpin’ Honey,” of 20th Air Force, Pardoba India, 462nd Bomb Group, 770th Bomb Squadro, departed the airfield at Kuinglai, China, on a bombing mission to Mukden, Manchuria. Over the target, at 0122 Zulu, an enemy aircraft crashed head-long into the B-29, killing all but two of the crew on board (MACR 10125). The crew were:

 

                                                 Pilot                             1stLt Aurelius M. Colby                       0-684282

                                                 Co-Pilot                       1stLt Frank R. O’Donnell                    0-808885

                                                 Navigator                    2ndLt Joseph B. Kremer                      0-811671

                                                 Bombardier                  1stLt Mark R. Cleland                          0-73820

                                                 Engineer                      1stLt Charles H. Krueger                     0-860702

                                                 Radio                           Sgt Raoul Zavala                                 39274088

                                                 Radar                           Sgt Herbert H. Roth                            15353855

                                                 Senior Gunner             Sgt Charles W. Ruddy                          12120545

                                                 Right Gunner               SSgt Kenneth A. Beckwith                  31154891        POW/EUS

                                                 Left Gunner                 SSgt Walter E. Huss                             35538620        POW/EUS

                                                 Tail Gunner                 TSgt Kenneth B. Gwaltney                  13003838

 

Radio message from B-29s of another group: Aircraft # 299 was crashed head-on into by an enemy fighter. Aircraft # 299 went into a spin and crashed burning. One parachute was scene.

 

SSgt Beckwith reported that the first unusual condition that was noticed in the B-29 was the disappearance of about 20 feet of the left wing. The B-29 seemed to fly straight and level for a while then started to spin to the left. SSgt Huss, Sgt Ruddy and Beckwith prepared to leave the gunners compartment to bail out. During this, Beckwith called on the interphone to the pilot to inform him of the damage to the left wing. There was no acknowledgment or answer. After the spin began, the alarm bell started to ring. Before he was able to completely fasten his parachute, he passed out from lack of oxygen. Before, he passed out, Sgt Ruddy entered the radar compartment. When Beckwith regained consciousness, he was out of the B-29 in a free fall at about 4,000 feet altitude. Only his arms were through the parachute straps, not his legs. He did not believe he had time to fasten the chest and leg straps so he pulled the rip cord and stayed with the parachute. After the parachute opened, he noticed that parts of the B-29 falling around him. He believes he saw the tail section hit the ground. They landed near a Japanese guard house, so did not have any chance to practice escape and evasion. Signed, TSgt Kenneth A. Beckwith, Rte 1, Skowhegan, Maine.

 

Beckwith believed Ruddy did not gt out of the radar compartment and may have passed out from lack of oxygen.

 

SSgt Huss wrote that he believed he and Beckwith were the only survivors. Neither knew how they got out of the B-29. They thought the B-29 exploded or broke open at the blister section; the fire control room, where they were. During his interrogation by the enemy, he was told that a badly injured crew member had been shot.