My experiences by Bill Banks


I was a T/Sgt and B-29 Crew Chief with the 345th Bomb Squadron, 98th Bombardment Wing at Yokata AFB, Japan from December 1951 through August 1952. The plane I crewed was a B-29 that had been overhauled and revised with some new equipment, such as Loran, that was state of the art at that time. It had been flying for some time before I arrived at Yokata and took the plane. I was transferred to Japan from the 72nd Strat Recon Squadron at Travis AFB, California. We had switched to B-36's shortly after the war started but my MOS as a B-29 ground Crew Chief became critical in Japan and away I went. I was happy as I had spent near three years on 29's and liked them much better than the mechanical nightmarish 36. My B-29 was in great shape and Paul Henrichs and I kept it that way, along with the help of other crew members and supporting technical crews.


Aircraft 2106 on its permanently assigned hardstand at Yokota AFB, Japan.

It is shown connected to its ground Power Unit. There is a tool storage shed under under the right wing and two maintenance stands lying on their side, one on the left and one on the right. There are a pair of wood ramps, onto which the plane was towed for tire changes, lying this side of the power unit. There is another small engine device, a pallet with something on it and a wood stand in the foreground, all of which I cannot identify. Parked at the tool shed is my Cushman scooter, I believe the only one on the base.

Closeup of 2106 nose art on Ready, Willin, Wanton


Aircraft 2106 being loaded with 500 pound bombs. Note the Japanese bomb loader behind #4 engine prop blade. Most, if not all, bomb loading, refueling, hardstand guard duty, mess duty, firefighting etc was performed by Japanese while I was at Yokata during 1952.

Mid 1952 and 2106 had 105 missions and had shot down a MIG. This aircraft was a good one, never aborting a mission due to mechanical problems while I was crew chief December 1951 through August 1952. My assistant, Paul Henrichs, and I really stayed on top of this machine.


A strike photo. The Aircraft Commander was Lt. Art Fink, a really good pilot.

This is an engine change at K14 under primitive conditions.

Number three engine failed up close to the Yalu and the remaining engines were probably pulling a lot of power in the crew's haste to get out of there. Consequently, number four blew a jug and the plane was landed at K14. A Flying Boxcar took a crew and I and two fresh engines to K14. We were told that NKA infiltrators were in the area and had raided the base. So we wasted no time in wrenching the two engines and checking them out. A partial flight crew was then flown to K14 and we all returned to Yakota aboard the B-29.

I am up on number four, S/Sgt Paul Henrichs on the engine stand. The other guys are Propeller and other people supporting Paul and I. They are S/sgt Wilburn Ray, A/2c Chester Anderson and Elmer Orosz.


As those that were there will remember, this is the first thing you saw when entering the main gate at Yakota. Note the directories hanging under the planes wings. The directories were sometimes helpful finding the
way home after a night on the town and a bit much sake.

Home away from home for much of the 345th.

It was a recycled Japanese barracks and, as was most of the Japanese buildings at that time, a fire trap. My bunk was near the window with the tree and I planned on being first into that tree in case of a fire

Our mascot, Tuffy

There was much nose art on the base, unfortunately I did not photograph much of it. I thought this was one of the best on the base.



Many thanks to Bill for sharing his story with us.