90th Bomb Group Message Board

Message No. 247
Author: Tony
Subject: B-24D Double Trouble
Date: Fri Jan 16, 2004 23:05


I want to first thank your father Joseph F. Broschart for his service to our country, and to wish him well in all his activities.

I wrote to Col. Charles P. Whitlock, USAF Ret. (the pilot), recently asking him about certain details of the Double Trouble’s April 24th, 1943, mission, and he graciously replied with additional information and corrections.

The following is what I have accumulated on the incident, but I know that some of it is probably still inaccurate, and some other facts are missing. If you can add to or correct what I have written, please do so.

Five aerial kills/mission, 4-24-1943 (Saturday before Easter Sunday) B-24D-53-CO
#42-40358 Double Trouble of the 5th AF, 90 BG (H) Jolly Rogers, 320th sqd.

During a reconnaissance mission to find a Japanese convoy, flying over the Pacific near Wewak on the North Central New Guinea (island) coast, Double Trouble was attacked by Japanese fighters. [Spotted a lone Japanese supply ship and began dropping bombs on it? – printed on the poster, but Col. Whitlock crossed out that portion] Twelve Zeros intercepted the B-24, shooting out two engines and the bombers' radio, losing five fighters in return – one to the nose gunner, the top turret gunner got the next one, two more were downed by?, and a waist gunner got the fifth one. The engine fire was put out and that engine was feathered, and the other engine was re-started. Escape from the remaining fighters was accomplished by first flying into clouds, and then outrunning them. Some 800 miles from their Port Moresby base on New Guinea's southeast coast, the mission continued on three engines, the convoy was sighted, and reported on when they returned to their base. All crewmen survived and the damaged bomber was repaired (it was salvaged in 1945). The pilot was awarded a Silver Star and the other crewmen were given DFCs for continuing their assigned mission after the interception and battle damage, and returning to their base to report the convoy sighting.

Crew: capt. Charles P. Whitlock/pilot, lt. Thomas M. Magness/co-pilot, lt. Francis J. Coleman/navigator, lt. George T. Maher/bombardier, sgt. Jack R. Oakley/radioman, sgt. Edwin E. Wohlford/nose gunner, sgt. Frank A. Matthews/?, sgt. Dean A. Jeffers/?, sgt. Joseph F. Broschart/?, sgt. Richard Coats/?

I started on this quest after seeing a copy (on page 56) of a wartime AAF recruiting poster of the incident in O’Leary’s book ‘Consolidated B-24 Liberator’, 2000.

Joyce it would be quite helpful if you could ask your father Joseph about several issues concerning the mission: was the Double Trouble flying alone or with other US aircraft?; what were the duties of the other crewmen mentioned above?; were any crewmen injured or killed during the mission?; how many guns were aboard the B-24?; were bombs carried, and if so, were they dropped on a Japanese ship?

My main source is an interview pilot Col. Whitlock gave about his life and wartime experiences, including the 4-24-1943 mission. The interview can be found at:

BonnieLee Dilworth gave me Col. Whitlock's name, and those of four crewmen - a B-24 was normally crewed by ten, and Col. Whitlock supplied the remainder.

Col Whitlock wrote to me that on the April 24th mission, his crew flew the Double Trouble because their airplane The Eager Beaver was in for repairs. This combat mission was the first for the Double Trouble, which was newly arrived from the US. He wrote that on the Double Trouble he flew that day the name was alone on the nose without the heads as shown in the photo on the 90th BG web site – but, five (5) kills are also shown in the photo and it is likely this was the airplane he flew (he did not question the serial no. I sent him), and that sometime later additional nose art was added.

Joe Braugher's web site (http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/) provided the exact airplane identifier based on the serial no., and its disposition.

The 90th BG web site http://www.90thbombgroup.org/ has a photo of the Double Trouble’s nose under the Nose Art section, A – D portion.

I posted a similar message to this one on the AAF web site (http://www.armyairforces.com/), and several issues were raised concerning the 4-24-1943 mission: no(?) Zero fighters were based in New Guinea during April 1943; Japanese army Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa fighters called Oscar by the US, were based there – and its overall appearance is similar to the Zero; Japanese records evidently show no army fighters lost or pilots lost that day; 90th BG records do not show the Double Trouble’s mission on that day as notable/outstanding.

But, here are my thoughts: could a lone (my assumption) bomber fight off an attack by 12 fighters, down 5, survive battle damage, complete its mission, fly back to its base without any dead (wounded?)? By early 1943 in the PTO, flying in a B-24D Liberator, I would think so: the bomber was likely armed with 10/11? M2 0.50” mgs, which covered it pretty well; the M2 was (and is) a powerful, accurate, long-range gun that could inflict mortal damage on most Japanese aircraft of the time. Japanese aircraft usually took to fire readily after being hit, and once afire were probably doomed. The B-24D evidently could take a lot of hits and survive, the wing being the most critical component, as I understand it.

Did the Double Trouble do the deed as per the poster? In all probability it was close to the truth for these reasons: by April 1943 the US had a long string of victories, why manufacture one? From my reading of Col. Whitlock’s interview, including the missions of April 12th and 18th, my gut feeling is that he is telling the truth. Were 5 fighters downed? – I honestly don’t know, but 12 attacking fighters present a target rich environment, and likely many were hit and caught fire – did they crash, were the pilots killed? Again I don’t know, but the bomber was manned by a combat experienced crew; were they mistaken in the heat of battle? Maybe.

Were the fighters Zeroes as claimed by the poster (used Zeke for the Zero) and Whitlock? Again I don’t know, but the navy Zero was a carrier-based aircraft, Japan had carriers, could they have been from a carrier? The Zero was a long-range fighter, with a ferry range up to 2,000 miles; did they operate from other island bases? The very similar appearing army Oscar may well have been the attacking fighters – they are distinguishable from the Zero by: a rather clear view canopy vs. the multi-framed Zero canopy; semi-exposed main wheels when retracted vs. completely covered main wheels in the Zero; and a non retracting tail wheel vs. a fully retracting tail wheel on the Zero.

Are combat records from any combatant nation entirely accurate? I don’t think so, the best proof of a victory claim is gun camera film of an aircraft exploding, losing a wing, the pilot bailing out, etc. Perhaps best of all is finding the remains of the claimed downed aircraft, over water that is near impossible.


Message No. 247 ▷ Parent Message No. 247 ▷ Grandparent Message No. 177
  • my father wanted to addjoyce falba, Wed Jan 14 10:12
    My father wanted to say that after they were acknowledged for that DOUBLE TROUBLE mission...there was a push to photograph the crew. Since 2 of the crew were already dead, the rest of them refused to ... more
    • B-24D Double Trouble — Tony, Fri Jan 16 23:05
      • about combat recordsjoyce falba, Sun Jan 18 03:08
        Hi Tony: It took 57 years for my father to receive another Silver Star thats how carefully records were kept, misplaced and lost. The last silver star was for assisting in the repair of the EAGLE... more
        • combat records, Double TroubleTony, Tue Jan 20 13:27
          Hello Joyce: I am glad that your father Joseph finally received his richly deserved medal - sometimes they given out far too late. If I may impose upon your's and Joseph's good will, I want ask... more
          • more info DOUBLE TROUBLE ....part 2.joyce falba, Tue Jan 20 14:43
            Hi Tony, No problem with the questions. I just wish my dad would use a computer because he would enjoy this site. My nephew did show him his picture and the EAGER BEAVER photos on this site. BTW, if... more
            • Bombs Kept Aboard?, etc.Tony, Wed Jan 21 09:40
              Good morning Joyce and Joseph: I want to double check that the 8,000 lb. of bombs were kept aboard the Double Trouble: this would be a heavy burden to a damaged aircraft flying on three engines. Was... more
              • DOUBLE TROUBLE..part 3joyce falba, Wed Jan 21 10:36
                Hi Tony, Joe said that after the one engine totally failed on the way back the bombs were salvoed but never during the attack. I mentioned about Whitlock writing his memoirs with his dgt's help...he... more
      • details on DOUBLE TROUBLE missionjoyce falba, Sat Jan 17 06:34
        Hi Tony, I was able to get your questions answered this AM. The plane was alone flying reconnaisse(sp?). They had bombs on board but didnt drop them that day on a Japanese ship. No one was injured or ... more
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