The aircraft with the noseart Oh-7 was a 445th Bombardment Squadron B-25C that flew over 80 missions in North Africa and Italy from March 1943 to January 1944. Oh-7 had the serial number of 41-13207 was manufactured by North American at a cost of $116,346.
Oh-7 was an original 445th BS aircraft that made the trip to North Africa in February 1943 when the 321st Bomb Group transferred from the United States to North Africa. The following people flew in "Oh-7" from Morrison Field to French Morocco via the "Southern Route" including Ascension Island:
Pilot - 2nd Lt. Roderick E. O'Harra
Co-Pilot - 2nd Lt. Morton Goodwin
Bombardier - 2nd. Lt. James H. Evans
Engineer - S/Sgt. William E. Martine
Radio - S/Sgt. Earl L. Mathews
Gunner - S/Sgt. Richard J. Herbert
Passenger - S/Sgt. Frank P. Killeen (Operations)
The following picture was sent to me by the nephew of S/Sgt. Richard J. Herbert, who is the second person from the left in the bottom row. Please let me know if you can identify any of the other men. Note that there are 42 bombs painted on Oh-7 at this point which would signify 42 combat missions.
Below is another picture of the nose of Oh-7 and some of the crew members, getting ready for the next mission.
Below is a photo of Gene Kmetovicz standing next to Oh-7 showing that the noseart was on the co-pilot's side as well. The photo was taken at Souk El Arba, and was supplied by Fred Lawrence, who was a 445th Crew Chief for the entire time the 445th was in the MTO.
Perhaps the most famous photo of Oh-7 was taken in color early in its career in North Africa. This photo has appeared in many books and magazines about B-25's. The photo is credited to the USAF, and it was provided to me by Steve Pace.
The following were identified in the Summer 1991 Issue of the Men of the 57th Newsletter (Left to Right): S/Sgt. Frank J. Klocke, of McCook, NE; Capt. Richard P. Tipton, Blythville, AK; Lt. James H. Evans, Six Mile, SC; Norman Bsharah, Charleston, WV; T/Sgt. Robert Finn, New York, NY; T/Sgt. J. J. Chereski, Florence, MA and Lt. Walter A. Triplett, Culpepper, VA.
The following photo was taken in December 1943 in Amendola, Italy. It shows Oh-7 taxiing out to the runway, behind another 445th BS aircraft, 42-64667. She had 74 missions to her credit at this point. It appears that the tail rudder had been repaired, the 207 having been replaced with a 486. This caused some confusion as to her identity a few years back, but the 113207 has been verified through other resources. Thank you to Henry Stephenson, who was the son of Captain Henry W. Stephenson, a pilot in the 447th, for sending me the photo.
Oh-7's last mission took place on January 13, 1944, when it was crash landed back at the 321st base in Amendola, Italy. In the 445th War Diary, Capt. James E. Nickerson wrote about the Oh-7 belly landing:
"January 13 - Preparations are being made for a move. The other Squadrons are already starting the move to the new base. The mission today cost the Squadron one of its oldest ships, "Oh-7". F/O Vallery was forced to make a crash landing at this base after his hydraulic system had been shot up by flak. The landing was practically perfect but it was the last flight for this famous ship which had over 80 combat missions to its credit."
Annex to Operation Order 186, for January 13, 1944 shows that the following men were in Oh-7 on a mission to bomb the Guidonia Airdrome, Italy.
Pilot - F/O Dean B. Vallery
Co-Pilot - 2nd Lt. Leighton D. Charville
Bombardier - 2nd. Lt. Walter E. Souders
Engineer - S/Sgt. Hunter C. Belt
Radio - S/Sgt. Ralph D. Irvin
Gunner - T/Sgt. Thomas J. Clark
The Aircraft Card for "Oh-7" which was obtained from the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, shows that Oh-7 was salvaged on January 13, 1944.
The interesting thing in all of this, is that the aftermath of this event was captured in a photo of the flight crew in front of Oh-7 after she had met her demise. My family happened to own Steve Pace's Warbird History Series book B-25 Mitchell, when we uncovered this story from the War Diary, and realized that Lt. Charville is likely the 2nd person standing from the left in this photo.
Oh-7 has also been immortalized as a 1:48 die-cast metal replica, from the Armour Collection by Franklin Mint. They named the replica Seven-OH-Seven due to mis-identification in some books due to confusion regarding the tail number, as discussed earlier.
Corgi has also produced a replica of Oh-7, a 1:72 scale die-cast as part of their Nose Art Collection, Model # US35305.
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