Miscellaneous Photos 1
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Unless otherwise noted, the photographs on this page are from the scrapbook of my father, "Mel" Varney, ball turret gunner on Capt. Wilson's crew.

These photos were all taken between mid-March and mid-December 1944. The squadron was at Nadzab, New Guinea, then Biak Island in this time frame.


Tent at Nadzab This is the typical enlisted man's condominium at Nadzab, New Guinea, March-August 1944. (Officer accommodations were no better.) Specifically, this was Dad's home-sweet-home which he shared with 3-5 other members of the squadron. The tents did little to protect their inhabitants from torrential downpours, oppressive heat and humidity, and insects.

Joe Davis, Sq. CommanderThe squadron commander, Major Joe Davis, makes a point. The sheet of paper under the right wing tip of the model reads: "Ground Situation, Madang-Hansa Bay, Activity as of 8 Jun 44. Aussie troops continue to advance NW along the coast and have reached Cape Gourdon. No contact or sign of the enemy. Our troops that landed on Karkar Island have completed a circuit of the island and report no contact.

final briefingFinal briefing. Three members of Wilson's crew are recognizable: copilot, Lt. Ben Woodall, (hat-less, hands clasped, arms on knees) sits attentively in the front row; to his right, left hand on right elbow is Sgt. Robert Sherr, gunner; Lt. Wilson, pilot and flight leader, sits against wall, facing the camera (left hand to chin, cap cocked to his right).

Photo lab techs at workWhen the weather was good and the photo missions regular, these photo lab technicians had plenty to do. The April 1945 Squadron History report tallies this output for 25 missions flown: 175 rolls of film, 10,192 negatives, 78,996 prints (63,595 of them K-18 9"x18"), and 2400 reprints of B-29 photographs taken over Tokyo by other squadrons. In one 24-hour period, three shifts turned out 8,500 prints.

draftsmen titling photosTitling photographs. To see what these draftsmen are up to, see the words at the bottom of the next photo.

making an index mapMaking a photo index map--a map of a map. The photo index map outlined on a composite aerial map all the photos which comprised it. Lt. Woodall, Wilson's copilot, looks on at left. Note the unspooled film.

radio shackThis was captioned "Radio shack". I have no idea what these chaps were up to, but it looks like they were having too much fun for it to have been work.

The man on the left has his hand on a BC-306-A Antenna Tuner, which is not connected to anything. The man at right has his headphones plugged into a BC-221 Frequency Meter.

engine mechanics at workToo many cooks. This Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp has all the help it can handle.

Charlie Heskew cleaning nose guns Charlie Heskew, the Wilson crew nose gunner, cleans guns on "T.S."

Mel Varney with ball turret"Mel" Varney poses with the ball turret, his station aboard "T.S." The retractable Sperry A-13 turret has been lowered and rotated for this photo.

T.S. in blue camouflage paintThis is F-7A 42-64051 not too long after it arrived at Nadzab in March 1944. "T.S." and crew were the first of the air echelon to arrive overseas from stateside. The paint is the camouflage employed for AAF photo planes until mid-1944: dark blue topside, lighter blue under. The white marks above the nose art are the handiwork of the Army censor. What he obliterated would have read something like: U.S. ARMY B-24J-1-CF, AAF SERIAL NO. 42-64051 F-7A.

T.S., no paintBy early June 1944 when this crew photo was taken, all the camouflage paint had been stripped from "T.S." In the photo, left-to-right, standing are: ____ , T/Sgt. Gray - engineer, Sgt. Varney - ball turret gunner, Lt. Woodall - copilot, S/Sgt. Kujawski - radio operator
Left-to-right, kneeling: Lt. Wilson - pilot, S/Sgt. Hagel - photographer, ____ , Sgt. Sherr - gunner, and Sgt. Heskew - nose gunner.

The nose art is a "Tough Sh.." card with an outhouse in the center. The boxes around the perimeter of a T.S. card out could be X'd out, or punched ticket fashion, to indicate use. In this one the card bearer had a choice of receiving sympathy or remembrance. For "T.S.", the boxes were "punched" by painting mission marker symbols in them.

The nose art was applied at Hickam Field, Hawaii while the repair of leaking fuel tanks delayed the trip to New Guinea--all much to the crew's chagrin, I'm sure.

Manila Bay from 21,200 ft. on 20 Oct 44 This is a mosaic of three successive exposures by the same oblique camera (K-17 with 6" lens). From Manila Bay geography, the aircraft was along a SW-NE line of flight and SE of Bacoor Bay when this sequence was made. (Arrow (6.) points to Canacao Bay. The larger bay SW of it is Bacoor Bay.) From camera geometry, at 21,200 feet either oblique camera would take in a distance along the earth surface of 1.7 to 178 statute miles from directly below. This gives a photo scale in a single exposure that covers a huge 40.8 : 1 range (1:46,110 to 1:1,883,300). See next image.

Page 3 of 3 of Final Mission Report 294Z-4, 20 Oct 44 (Goes with photo above) From the last page of Final Mission Report 294Z-4 flown 20 Oct 44 by F-7B's 44-40199 and 44-40847 in what was the deepest penetration of the Philippines by the Fifth Air Force to that date. The report entry for the fourth strip of K-17 tri-met photography (vic. of Bacoor Bay) describes the run which produced the photo above. The 24 exposures would have been eight shots of the three cameras fired simultaneously, and time-spaced to give a 55-60% overlap along the flight line for stereoscopic analysis. The entry "1133 / I" indicates the time in zone "I", which is Greenwich Mean Time plus 9 hours.

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This page was last updated May 25, 2010