4 April 1945

Ford B-24M 44-50838 blown in half by an Me 262, 4 April 1945. (U.S. Air Force)
Ford B-24M 44-50838 blown in half by an Me 262, 4 April 1945. (U.S. Air Force)

4 April 1945: 0928 at 51°31′ N., 10°18′ E, east of Hamburg, Germany, a Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1 Schwalbe twin-engine jet fighter shot down this B-24 with an R4M rocket.¹

The four-engine bomber was a Ford B-24M-10-FO Liberator, serial number 44-50838—a very long range heavy bomber assigned to the 714th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 448th Bombardment Group (Heavy), and based at RAF Seething (USAAF Station 146), Norwich, England.

No parachutes were seen.²

Germany surrendered 31 days after this photograph was taken.

Lieutenant Robert L. Mains’ crew during combat training. Standing, left to right: Corporal Charles H. Daman, Nose Gunner; Corporal Charles E. Cupp, Jr., Radio Operator; George S. Alexander, Top Turret Gunner; (unknown); Antonio Munoz, Jr., and (unknown). Kneeling, (Unknown); 1st Lieutenant Robert L. Mains, Aircraft Commander; 1st Lieutenant Allen L. Lake, Navigator; and (Unknown). Daman, Cupp, Alexander, Lake and Mains were aboard 44-50838 when it was shot down. (American Air Museum in Britain)
1st Lieutenant Robert L. Mains, aircraft commander of B-24M 44-50838, was killed in action, 4 April 1945. His remains, identified by DNA and physical evidence, were returned to the United States in October 2017, and interred at Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, New York. (Department of Defense)
Oberleutnant Rudolf Rademacher (1913–1953)

¹ Ford B-24M-10-FO Liberator 44-50838 was shot down with an R4M rocket fired from a Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1 twin-engine jet fighter, flown by Oberleutnant Rudolf Rademacher of Gruppe II, Jagdgeschwader 7 (11./JG 7), based at Parchim, Germany. Rudi Rademacher was a veteran of more than 500 combat missions, credited with at least 97 victories (and as many as 126), including 16 four-engine heavy bombers.

² TDiA has been informed by his grandaughter that Radio Operator, Technical Sergeant Charles E. Cupp, Jr., did survive. He was able to escape from the doomed bomber through its bomb bay. He was captured and held as a Prisoner of War.

³ MISSING AIR CREW REPORT:

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

6 thoughts on “4 April 1945

  1. Radio Operator: Charles E Cupp Jr, Escaped the B-24M 44-50838 Via the Bomb bay doors, and opened his Parachute @ 2000 feet.
    Crew from MACR report for the mission on 4/4/1945 for the above photo.

    Pilot: Robert L. Mains
    Co-Pilot: John E. LaRiviere
    Navigator: Allan L. Lake
    Observer-Top Turret: George S. Alexander
    Engineer-Flight Deck: Frank S Merkovich
    Radio Operator: Charles E Cupp Jr
    Left Waist Gunner: Harry J. Allen
    Nose Gunner Gunner: Charles H. Daman
    Right Waist Gunner: Anthony C Villari
    Tail Gunner: Stuart D. Van Deventer

    Lt. Robert Mains was a pilot of a replacement crew that joined the 448th, 714th Sq in Sep 44.

    His Crew:
    Lt. Robert L. Mains (P)
    Lt. Allen L. Lake (CP)
    Lt. John B. Hankin Jr (N)
    Lt. Jon W Johnson (B)
    Cpl Charles E Cupp Jr
    Cpl Harry G. Allen
    Cpl Charles H Daman
    Cpl Frank S Merkovich
    Sgt. Antonio Munoz Jr
    Cpl Anthony C Villari
    were the crew members. (Changes may have been made)

    This ship was a Ford-built B-24M, serial number 44-50838. She was shot down by a German Messerschmitt Me 262 (the first jet fighter ever used in aerial combat) on April 4th, 1945 by an R4M Air-to-air missile . Ed Chu was a tail gunner in the 448th and saw Charlies plane go down and thought for sure no one survived. But fortunately for Chuck (Charles E. Culp Jr.) he was able to jump out of the bomb bay doors and get his chute to open about 2000 feet above the ground for a safe landing even though he was captured by enemy forces.

    History Credit to Harolds Tribute to the 448th: hqmc2.tripod.com/id6.html

  2. Did you know? (You probably did) That there were no privates or corporals in combat bomber crews.

    From: “Into the Fire” – Ploesti the most fateful mission of World War II – by Duane Schultz p.49.

    “Pilots, Co-Pilots, Bombardiers, and Navigators were officers. The other six members of the usual 10 man crew, including the engineer, radioman and gunners were sergeants, even those fresh out of training school, for a reason relating to Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, who had been a fighter pilot during World War I.

    Whatever his faults and excesses, and there were many, Goering had great respect for airmen. As a result, he personally saw to it that captured British and American airmen were held in Prisoner of War camps administered by the Luftwaffe, rather than those run by the German Army, or Gestapo. And he insisted that his camps provide better food and facilities than the camps for captured ground troops

    In addition, the Luftwaffe provided differential treatment of prisoners by rank. Officers fared better than enlisted men sergeants better than privates or corporals. Consequently the U.S. Army Air Force decided that all enlisted men flying combat missions be made sergeants.

  3. Did I read wrong, or were there 5 Corporals in the crew of that B-24 in the story?

    1. No, you read correctly. That was while they were in training in the United States. Once deployed to Tthe ETO, they were promoted to sergeant, based on their aerial gunner specialty.

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