I met Jack at the 73rd Bomb Wing reunion last year in Norfolk, VA and Jack has kindly sent me several articles which will be found in different places on this web site.
Franklin was a flight engineer on the B-29's in World War II. Jack flew
out of Saipan, arriving there on December 11, 1944 and departing on
July 3, 1945. Jack's total combat flying hours were 443.2 . He flew
30 Combat Missions over Japan on A Square 24, "Wheel N Deal" . Jack
flew with the 870th Bomb Squadron, 497th Bombardment Group (VH) , 73rd
Bombardment Wing - 21st Bomber Command, 20th Air Force, #0868108 (formerly
17075338). He was an enlisted man - a corporal. Enlisted at the Jefferson
Barracks, Missouri (St. Louis) in June 1942.
Jack's crew flew their 20 missions primarily together and most of the missions were in A Square 24, Wheel 'N Deal, serial # 42-24604.
I am Jack Franklin, B29 flight engineer, 1st Lt., MOS 1028, 0868108, 20th Air Force; 21st Bomber Command; 73rd Bombardment Wing; 497th Bomb Group (VH); 870 Bomb Squadron.
On March 19th, 1945, my plane was A Square 31, New Glory, on our tenth mission where we released our low altitude incendiary bombs from 6000 ft. during a night attack on Nagoya. Almost three square miles of Nagoya proper were burned and destroyed by B29 crews that night.
Soon after we turned away from the mainland on our return to base, our #4 engine lost oil pressure and we feathered the prop. My pilot, Capt. Delker, was able to maintain altitude and the remaining three engines were set to allow a slower return. About an hour later, #3 engine lost oil pressure and started on fire. The fire was put out when our fire extinguisher system was activated. I feathered #3 before we lost all oil pressure. We transferred fuel for better balance and the pilots trimmed flight surfaces and increased power on #1 and 2 engines in order to try to hold altitude. In a plane the size of the B29, there is not enough loose equipment and material to throw overboard to allow any real load lightening.
We restarted #4 engine but with very low oil pressure, we had to again feather to keep that prop from running away. (during stateside training, we had a runaway prop which sheared off but luckily did not crash thru our plane) Anxious hours passed until Delker made a perfect landing with two dead engines on one side. (we did not know if this was possible) We had settled to about 1500 foot altitude by the time we landed at Iwo.
The Marines were still fighting on the North end of Iwo. Delker and 2 of the gunners stayed with me and the rest of the crew hitched a ride on to Saipan. The next day, the planes' crew chief, T/Sgt. Scott Nattress came in from Saipan and supervised the changing of the 2 engines in the next 4 days. I was given Marine clothing and boots to supplement my clothing against the night cold and volcanic soil. We slept in our plane and helped the engine mechanics during the day while hearing the battles in the distance. It was a relief to finally take off and return to our palatial quarters on Saipan.
My 30th mission was on June 15th to Osaka in a 14 hour 35 minute trip. I flew back to the States for reassignment on July 3, 1945. All 30 missions were not flown by us in one plane. Most were in A € 24; Wheel N Deal. I had enlisted in June 1942 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri to become a glider pilot (one eye was not good enough to get into the cadet program) Serial #17 075 338. The program was cancelled so I went to aircraft mechanics school in Chicago - then aircraft electrical specialist school - Chanute Field, Illinois where I was promoted to Corporal. Then I was accepted for aircraft engineering officer cadet school at Yale University, New Haven, Conn. for seven months where I was promoted to 2nd Lt. Then on to Lowry Field, Colorado for 3 months B29 flight engineers school where I won my silver wings as Observer (this was the only flying crew position in the Air Force which allowed glasses - my left eye was 20/25 instead of 20/20.)
Our flight crew was assembled in April and May 1944 and we trained at Pratt, Kansas; one of four B29 training bases. In December we took off from Harrington, Kansas and flew a new B29 to Saipan with stops at Mather Field, Calif.; Hawaii and Kwajalein - about 12,000 miles.
The Marine capture of Iwo allowed our plane to make an emergency landing and probably saved 11 lives. No telling what the outcome would have been if the last two engines had failed and we had ditched?
---- Jack Franklin