|UNITED STATES AIR FORCE MUSEUM
Martin B-26G-11 Marauder
U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base has on display a B-26 that has been museum-painted to resemble "Shootin' In," a B-26B-50 assigned to the 556th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, Ninth Air Force. It bears the 387th's diagonal yellow and black "Tiger Stripes" on its vertical stabilizer and the serial number painted immediately beneath those stripes is that of the original "Shootin' In." Each bomb silhouette painted under the cockpit window represents a bombing mission; the aircraft is painted as having flown 120 missions. The prop spinners and propeller tips are painted in the yellow squadron color of the 556th (each of the four squadrons assigned to the 387th was assigned a different identifying color: yellow, blue, white or red).
34581 was delivered from the Martin Baltimore plant to the Army Air Force on September 14, 1944. Lt. Victor L. Wojkowski ferried the plane via the southern route to Casablanca, where it was transferred to the Free French Air Force.
The French had been using B-26 aircraft on operations since March, 1944. Two Escadre were formed, the 31st. Esc. and the 34th Esc., each with three Groupe de Bombardement (equivalent to a bomb squadron). The last Groupe de Bombardement to become operational was GB1/32 Bourgogne, of the 34th Esc., flying its first mission on September 12, at which time they had eleven B-26s. On October 24 GB1/32 sent six crews to Casablanca to collect new aircraft. These, which included 34581, would bring the unit up to full strength. She was painted with the fuselage stripe and given the battle number '67', both in green, which identified the 34th Esc. The rest of the aircraft was in bare natural metal, apart from the olive drab anti-glare panels on the nose and inside of the engine nacelles. Other markings consisted of the French Air Force roundel. Those painted in the standard USAAF positions retained the blue and white bar of the US insignia.
34581 flew 37 combat missions logging 155 hours 35 minutes, her last on April 25, 1945.
Training missions were carried out through the summer of 1945, and in the period between May 1 and October 22 a further 250 hours of flying time was recorded, bringing her total to 520 hours. With an overhaul and engine change due she was withdrawn from use, but remained with GB1/32 in a non-flying status until March 1946, when the French units began to dispose of their B-26s. Like many other of her kind she ended up in store at Mont de Marsan. She stayed there until 1951, when Air France selected 34581 and two other B-26s for use by its training school at Vilgenis, on the outskirst of Paris.Their easily dismounted engines and advanced hydraulic systems made them ideal training aids for Air France apprentices, who underwent a four year syllabus. For fourteen years these airframes gave valuable service in their new role.
As early as 1954 the USAF Museum had begun looking for a B-26 to display, but a thorough search of installations in the continental US proved fruitless and they began to give up hope of ever obtaining an example for their collection. In 1963 word was received by Col. Curry, then director of the USAF Museum, that a US officer had stumbled across two B-26s while on a visit to the Air France school. Could it possibly be true? Or was it the usual case of an A-26 Invader being mistaken for the B-26 Maurauder? Mark Sloan, the technical advisor for the museum, traveled to France to find out. Upon arrival at Vilgenis, he could hardly believe his eyes. There before him, in the wooded area of the training school grounds, were two B-26s, complete in every detail except armament. Upon learning of the historical significance of these airframes, Air France donated one to the USAF Museum and the other to the Musee de l'Air. In turn the USAF gave Air France a C-47 airframe.
The aircraft in now on display
at the U.S. Air Force Museum, Wright Patterson Air Force Base. It has been
museum-painted as "Shootin' In," a B-26B-50 assigned to the 556th Bombardment
Squadron, Medium, of the 387th Bombardment Group (Medium), operating with
the Ninth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations.