My dad Charles W. Johnson, Jr. was the pilot for both of these aircraft. I have photos and research that prove 42-24828 was Lil Spook. 42-24828 was shot down over Japan with a different crew on 5-26-45 MACR 14514, but my Dad continued raids until Aug 8, 45. It had to be with aircraft 44-86346. There is some discussion in the 505th forum of that a plane was identified by the japanese as Lil Speck but is was Lil Spook. Dad was in the 505th 484sq 84-06. On the 505th website 44-86346 was also listed as Lil Spook. It is listed as follows: Lil Spook 44-86346 313w 505g aka Spook 313w 509g 393s. It is also listed as a Silverplate which eventually ended up in the 509th. Other research shows it as a Silverplate Victor #94 being with the 98th bw 343 bs that bombed Koren and ended up scraped in Yakota AB Japan 1951. Is anyone familiar with 44-86346. Thanks.
Well, I realize that this is an original 5 year old post and request for information, but it’s better to get a late reply than no reply at all.
44-86346 was most definitely a Silverplate B-29 with the 509th
CG on Tinian. This aircraft is covered quite thoroughly in Dick Campbell’s book “The Silverplate Bombers” on pages 194 – 196 and also includes a black & white photo of the aircraft courtesy (Steve Pace) with 6346 and with what during WW II would be nose art now painted on the fuselage just forward of the left wing. Given this nose number and art placement and the aircraft in the background I would assume this photo was taken at Roswell or possibly Kwajalein as it was also assigned to Task Force 1.5 for the Operation Crossroads tests.
The full aircraft designator is B-29-50-MO-44-86364 delivered to USAAF: 15 June 1945 and was one of the 15 Silverplate B-29’s used by the 509th
CG on Tinian, once on Tinian it was assigned call sign Victor 94 and named "Luke the Spook" (post Nagasaki bombing) ; There is much more in Dick’s book should anyone want to look further. As a side note: The only Silverplate to carry a name or nose art before the Empire of Japan surrender was the Enola Gay.
There is a little controversy over this aircraft and its last flight from Tinian. After only a week on Tinian this aircraft was assigned to Thomas J. Classen and crew A-5 and along with aircraft Jabit III AAF S/N 44-27303 both aircraft departed Tinian on 9 August 1945 [while the Nagasaki mission was in progress] headed to Wendover Field by 509th
Operations Order number 41. The purpose of this mission was to hold at Wendover and await orders to load and return to Tinian with additional “Fat Man” Model 1561 bomb assemblies without
their fissile cores.[ The fissile core and initiators were sent separately generally by C54 of the 320th TCS, at least this was the case for F-31 the Nagasaki weapon] All final assembly of these weapons was all
done on Tinian including the insertion of their fissile core w/initiator and arming circuitry of the physics package. This final mission was never fulfilled as the Japanese surrendered shortly after the bombing of Nagasaki and no further weapons were required.
No mention of this aircraft being involved in bombing raids In Korea as it was a Silverplate and therefore became part of SAC. It was modified in April 1950 and was redesignated as a TB-29 with further assignments to the 10th
Radar Calibration Squadron at Yokota Air Base in Japan. It had additional assignments in Japan and at Hickam Air Force base, Hawaii in May 1957.
The final assignments for this aircraft were in November 1958/9 reassigned to 6431st
Air Base Group at Naha, Okinawa. In July 1960 it was assigned to the 51st
Air Base Group at Naha; again there is much more in Dick’s book “The Silverplate Bombers”. Disposition:
Dropped from inventory at Naha as surplus in July 1960 (scrapped)
Two other AAF S/N websites have confusing records regarding S/N 44-86346 being an aircraft of the (98th BW, 343rd BS) damaged by MiGs Oct 24, 1951, recovered at Yokota AB. Also have this plane as being a Silverplate plane, Victor number 94.
I’m not sure where
the confusion came in, but I know Dick Campbell spent months at Maxwell AFB with Archie DiFante and other Archivist at AFHRA/RSA studying the Silverplate’s, my money is on Dick’s account of 44-86346…
BTW The photo of Li Spook from the poster appears to have 377 as the last digits of it's S/N, not much to go on and I've failed to find a B-29 with that end to it's serial number. Unless that number is something other than the last three digits of the S/N.
post edited by 25Kingman49 -