|O. M. Dalbyk|
|Eau Claire Man Crew Chief on Famous Bomber
Ship Called Greatest of All Going Home
|BY DANIEL DE LUCE AN
ALLIED AIR BASE IN ITALY, January 29 (Delayed)— (AP)— The greatest
American bomber of them all is going home.
In quiet peace, the Blue Streak rested in a cold windy Italian pasture today, while worshipping mechanics painted the legend of her achievements on her flak-punctured body.
No other U.S. plane, according to statistics here, can equal the record of this scarred veteran of 19 months of battle overseas.
The Blue Streak was just another B-24 Liberator with a green and nervous crew when she began her career with the sensational raid on Rumania's oil fields in June 1942. Nobody could have guessed then that she had more stamina than Goliath and more luck than the seventh son of a seventh son.
One hundred and ten white stars glitter on her blue nose, representing 110 bombing missions, in which the odds were as much as two-to-one against the Blue Streak surviving.
Eighteen swastikas and five fasces painted on the bomber symbolize 23 enemy aircraft destroyed by her guns. Her bombs have accounted for one destroyer, one merchant vessel and one tanker.
She flew 1,058 combat hours-- equal to six weeks and two days in the air. She dropped 297 tons of bombs. She never lost a man.
"Nothing could really hurt her," said hard-boiled Master Sergeant R. E. Weizenegger, 23-year-old Crew Chief from Eau Claire, WI. "She's had 19 engines, two new wings, one new rudder, and any amount of patching. She's still a grand old lady."
Under her own power, as usual, the Blue Streak will return to the States. It's the idea of 28-year-old Colonel Kenneth K. Compton of St. Joseph, MO that the folks at home should have a chance to see the most distinguished plane of his famous 376th Bombardment Group, "The Liberandos."
Gunner Sergeant O. M. Dalbyk of Helenville, WI was a member of her last crew.