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Veterans Stories

489th B-24 : "Big Time Operator" (B.T.O.)

The story of the B-24 ‘B.T.O.’ was the subject of an email discussion between 489th veterans Ernie Davis and Wally Forman. It is published here with the kind permission of Ernie Davis.


In 1998 Wally wrote to Ernie:

“The pic I have of 44-40072 while she was in the 489th is a very fuzzy picture from a clipping – any chance I could get a clearer one from you? Failing that, how about a verbal description? The one I have is a wolf dressed in top hat and tails, sitting on the ‘B’ of BTO. the nose art was on it when the 492nd crew picked it up in Nebraska or Kansas. After their tour, the plane was handed to the 489th. The story I was given was that they liked the nose art but wanted to personalize it – make it “their” plane, so they painted spats on the wolf’s bare feet. Don’t know whether it was while the plane was in the 489th or after it arrived in the 453rd that armor plate was put on outside the pilot’s window, obliterating part of the wolf, and it was repainted a little different!

“Also the long walking cane the wolf had been holding in his left hand had the ends removed and it became a thin, smoking stogie. After the 453rd it went to the 466th. If I can get presentable pictures, I think it would be a good story to write up for the newsletters of those 4 groups and probably Second Air Division.”

Ernie replied:

“I HAVE the picture in hand. Appears to have been taken from an 8mm movie film. It is on the Pilot’s side, partly covered up by armor plate. He has a top hat, bow tie, tux., no spats, and is sitting on top of the ‘B’ with his feet on the ‘T’. It is in color, black tux, white shirt, lapel pin in white, he is brown with his tail flowing out behind. His hand and wrist are resting on the ‘B’. I will try to scan it and send you a copy.”

Here is the scan:

B24 'B.T.O.'B24 'B.T.O.'

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