A loyal War Horse
The clouds were low and dark, with only streaks of gray going threw them in great bands. The sun was above the clouds in all of its fierce glory, but it could not burn through the mass of cold and wet below its powerful beams of energy. Some people on the ground would have called it a soul crushing gloom, that the clouds gave the flat landscape below. Below the low-lying grey and gloomy clouds, was a massive building in the middle of a great expanse of flat land.
The area was called Wichita, Kansas. Its current claim to fame was the massive building, and what was made inside her tall flat sides. It looked like those walls almost reached into the low flying clouds overhead. Near the huge building was a white expanse of concrete that was a perfect rectangle when seen from above. Connecting the rectangle to the outside world was a long narrow strip of concrete with a yellow stripe running down the concrete path long ways. This was the factory's runway for its product to leave by. From above small silver things were sitting on the rectangle of white in the open air. As you got closer to the ground, soon you could see little black specks moving near the silver things that were now cross looking. As you got even lower, soon those little dark specks turned into people.
Then you could see how massive the silver thing, that was the most advanced bomber of its time was to the normal world. The silver things were the current production run of the B-29 Super Fortress. This was an American four engine bomber that would come to change the world. One of these monsters would leave the huge building three or sometimes four times a day to be parked on the white concrete. There it would wait for a final check, before it was accepted by its new owner. If it passed a final check? It could be flown to a number of different bases around the country.
Now there was a line of seven B-29's waiting outside the huge construction building, that had berthed them. In the center airplane that was called simply 42-6347. Inside of its polished aluminum skin, a thin, plain looking woman cried while she worked inside the great beast.
Jana Scott was a farm girl from Texas, until a year ago. She was also one of the famous Rosie the Riveters. Her husband had enlisted the day after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. He had scored very well in gunnery school and had been assigned to a PBY unit, as his reward. He was sending almost all of his money home each month, but it was not enough to feed and take care of her and the four boys he had left behind. She did what a lot of women did in that situation today. She got a job in the defense industry, to both do her part and feed her kids. Jana was what someone farther down the timeline had called OCD, but only about at the mid-level of affliction. This was an asset in her current job. Aircraft were coming off the production line so quick, that sometimes stuff was missed. It was Jana's job to find those mistakes and fix them or report them to someone else to fix. She was very good at her job and most days she worked alone on an aircraft, until it met her standard.
It had been four days since she had received "The Telegram". Her husband had been assigned to VP-12 "Black Cats". They had been attacking the" Tokyo Express" for weeks now, and it was all over the news reels. Now he would never be coming home again. The whole crew for that matter would not be returning home ever again, after not returning from a night attack mission on the Express. She could not stay home, that would drive her crazy or maybe it would drive her crazier. So, she had come back to work as soon as she could without getting strange looks from her co-workers.
It was better to cry here instead of in front of the now fatherless boys. She cried and talked to herself, as she worked on the massive bomber. "You will get your crew home. You hear me?" She would fix a rivet then move to the next problem. "You will get your crew home. You will not let them die alone. You will get them home! You will do whatever it takes! You will get them home!"
She would repeat this chant as she cried and worked her twelve-hour shift in this one aircraft. She did not notice or would not have cared, if she had noticed. That a handful of other workers were outside of the bomber, and they could hear her. They had come to offer support, but instead they had listened to the distressed woman. Now they could only offer their silent support, and then returned to their own jobs deep within the massive building.
It was not uncommon for a plane to leave the factory with a name given to it by the builders, instead of waiting for the first crew to name them. Sometimes the names were given by famous people, or just to sell more war-bonds to help fund the massive war. So, when the mostly polished aluminum B-29 number 42-6347 flew to her new home? She had a new name. In letters in black and red printed on both sides of the massive bomber in three-foot-tall letters only said "Get'em home." Jana was not there when the plane, with its new name left the airfield.
It was with this name, that she went from a storage base to a training unit at the end of 1943. From there she almost went to China to launch missions against the main islands of Japan. But at the last minute, she was pulled to a different mission. It was after an engine fire in her Number 1 mount delayed her flight out. She had many crews so far, but none would dare change her name. It was considered bad luck, and bomber crews were more than a little superstitious. Okay, they are a lot superstitious. An addition had been made to the bottom of her name by her last crew, that would take her to war. They thought that it was a better fit of their ideas. "Complete the Mission." They had thought, that it was a good secondary goal.
In mid-1944 she and her latest crew had started their journey to Tinian Island, and soon after they would be dropping bombs on the enemy's homeland. They were very good at their mission, and it did not take long for them to develop a reputation of getting the hard jobs done and of getting safely back home again. When Curtis LeMay moved from Europe to the Pacific everyone knew that he was going to change the game, even before he landed on the island. Most people just did not know how much he was going to change things up.
It's well known that he ordered a change from high level to low level bombing attacks on Japanese cities. He also changed them from dropping mostly high explosives to more incendiary devices, and then he shifted into doing more night attacks. He had also ordered most of the defensive weapons, pressurization equipment and armor removed from the craft, all so that the B-29's could carry more fuel and bombs. What is not well known, was that he did not do that with all of the bombers under his command. Some still ran missions just as the huge plane had been planned and built for. This group of non-modified bombers were tasked with weather data gathering, recon, daytime bombing, mine laying and other types of pinpoint bombing. There just was not that many of them compared to the rest of the fleet.