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Corpus Christi: 1942

Corpus Christi: 1942

August 1942. Naval Air Base at Corpus Christi, Texas. Jesse Rhodes Waller, aviation ordnance mate third class, tries out a 30-caliber machine gun he has just installed in a Navy plane. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard Hollem for the Office of War Information.


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Beautiful PBY

When new they smelled like anti-corrosion paint, cosmoline and the wax most of the rubber and fabric wiring was coated with. The forward bubble was so big, they had to add plexi-glas stiffener strips to it to keep it from flexing at speed. Some of the weapons were on an arm that could swing away and locked in stow so the huge blister could be un-latched and rotated down, more for flight efficiency than crew comfort.

Navy PBY

My dad was a PBY Instructor in Corpus Christi probably around 1943-1944. I'd love to learn more about this plane and the Naval Air Training Base around this time. I'm a student pilot, myself--at 60 years old. My dad, if he were still with us, would be 95 years old. Any info about the plane, the training setting, and the crew members who flew them back then would be wonderful!

Jack Cram

Major Cram flew General Geiger's personal PBY Catalina flying boat in an attack on Japanese shipping on October 15, 1942. Click to read about this event in Jack Cram's own words. See the section titled "The Aircraft" to see a photo of his PBY and for additional info.

WW2 Bombers

A WW2 AAF vet once said that what is missing in photos is the incredible smell of newness of the planes having just so recently been delivered from the factory. As the interiors are largely unlined metal and lined with insulated wire and cables I can imagine the type of smell you get in a machine shop being present.

Navy PBY

This is a PBY-5 or 5A. First to have the "blister" for gun location. The PBY-3 had a sliding hatch. Probably a recruiting photo as the guns in the 2 blisters were .50 caliber. The .30 caliber was used in the bow location and in the tunnel hatch in rear section of the plane. The PBY designation means Patrol Bomber built by Consolidated Aircraft. They sometimes carried torpedoes, as was done at the start of the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

PBY Catalina

It is indeed a Catalina, but I think they were designed with offensive capabilities from the onset. "Bomber" is even in the prefix.

CC 1942

I believe that the plane is a PBY Catalina used in recon missions, I don't think they were normally armed until later. Anyone know if this is true?

You can even see the sweat

At first this photo reminded me of some of the "near real" computer generated scenes you see in current war films. The color, the depth of field, the contrast - everything has a feel of careful perfection beyond normal shots. Of course that is all true in this case. But what really sets it apart is the sweat on the arms and neck of the gunner. It was what gunners dealt with and more real it couldn't be.

[I have another photo of Jesse (the third on Shorpy) to post later today. The first one is here. - Dave]

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