Aviation Historian 30
-
B.Cahill - The USAAF's Mediterranean Ferrets
With Tunis visible in the background, 42-3055 Ferret V awaits its next mission at Foch Field in March 1944. This B-17F acquired its distinctive mottled camouflage scheme soon after its delivery to the 16th RS; it was probably applied “in-house” by squadron maintenance personnel for additional stealthiness during its solitary overwater night missions.
Named Thunder Head, B-17F 42-3358, seen here in September 1944, was converted to Ferret configuration by the 16th RS in October 1943. Visible on the spine of the aircraft are two posts fitted with Yagi-array direction-finding antennas and an additional post antenna. Two months later Thunder Head returned home across the Atlantic.
Boeing B-17F serial 42-3358 Thunder Head is used as a backdrop for a photograph of its 16th RS crew and Rumanian soldiers at Ploesti in October 1944. The B-17 and its crew were in Rumania to pick up spare parts for the 16th RS’s captured Wurzburg radar at the unit’s base at Foggia.
The core of what was to become the 16th RS, including Ferret crewmembers and Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF) administrative personnel, pose for a photograph in front of B-17F serial 42-3055 Ferret V at Foch Field, Tunisia, circa early August 1943. Note the unusual black mottled camouflage scheme applied to Ferret V.
B-17F 42-3055, the long-serving Ferret V, was the only remaining purpose-built Ferret serving with the 16th RS when the squadron concluded operations in November 1944. Apparently also given the name The Pointer, 42-3055 was disposed of in-theatre, as it was considered to be too weary to make the journey back to the USA.
B-17 42-3358 Thunder Head (left) at Foch Field in March 1944. Note the navigation radar in place of the ball turret and additional antennas on the spine of the fuselage. At the right of the picture is a B-25C/D named Battle Bitch, although it is unknown whether this is the aircraft the 16th RS acquired for radar-calibration sorties.
LEFT The Radar Observer’s position in a 16th RS Ferret. Lower shelf, right to left: an AN/APR-4 receiver; Dumont 224-A Oscilloscope; SCR-587 receiver, and spare tuners for the latter. The upper shelf holds audio oscilloscopes. RIGHT Head of the AN/APR-5 installation team Lt Hovee poses beside his handiwork in July 1944.
Maintenance personnel of the 16th RS prepare one of the squadron’s Ferrets for another mission at Foch Field in September 1943. Initially lacking much of the necessary basic equipment, the unit was forced to borrow tools, maintenance stands and other equipment from the 17th BG’s Air Depot Group in order to maintain its aircraft.
The various aircraft of the 16th RS at Foggia, Italy, in July 1944. The handwritten numbers correspond to the picture as follows: 1) B-17F 42-30437; 2) B-17F 42-3055 Ferret V; 3) B-17F 42-3358; 4) B-17F unit hack #412; 5) B-25D radar calibration aircraft #463. Not numbered but parked to the right of ’437 is the unit’s unidentified P-38G.
B-17 42-3358 Thunder Head (left) at Foch Field in March 1944. Note the navigation radar in place of the ball turret and additional antennas on the spine of the fuselage. At the right of the picture is a B-25C/D named Battle Bitch, although it is unknown whether this is the aircraft the 16th RS acquired for radar-calibration sorties.
The various aircraft of the 16th RS at Foggia, Italy, in July 1944. The handwritten numbers correspond to the picture as follows: 1) B-17F 42-30437; 2) B-17F 42-3055 Ferret V; 3) B-17F 42-3358; 4) B-17F unit hack #412; 5) B-25D radar calibration aircraft #463. Not numbered but parked to the right of ’437 is the unit’s unidentified P-38G.
The various aircraft of the 16th RS at Foggia, Italy, in July 1944. The handwritten numbers correspond to the picture as follows: 1) B-17F 42-30437; 2) B-17F 42-3055 Ferret V; 3) B-17F 42-3358; 4) B-17F unit hack #412; 5) B-25D radar calibration aircraft #463. Not numbered but parked to the right of ’437 is the unit’s unidentified P-38G.