Sunday, December 25, 2011

Search for a World War II B-24 bomber

Paul Quinn, a 67-year-old Gastonia native — Ashley High School class of ’62 — describes himself as a World War II “aviation nut” and he’s on a mission.

For years the model airplane builder and a pilot/owner of two restored World War II airplanes has been searching for information concerning a WWII B-24 bomber that was on display at the Gastonia Municipal Airport after the war for about 10 years.

In 1947 Gastonia businessman and community leader, Allen Sims — Sims Legion Park was named for him — bought a B-24 and donated it to the Gastonia Boy Scouts/ Air Scout troop, where Quinn’s father, Paul Quinn Sr. was a leader. Sims bought and donated the plane in memory of his son Albert who killed in WWII flying a B-24.

The plane was actually a C-109 tanker version of a B-24 with the gun turrets flared over with aluminum, but the bombardier’s lower window remained. The plane was flown into the Gastonia Municipal Airport and placed behind a chain link fence. Quinn’s dad had the key and he would take children out to the airport in the 50s and let them climb all over it.

Sometime in the late 50’s the plane was sold, made airworthy and flown out. The rumor, Quinn said, was someone bought it to haul fish in South America.

For many years Quinn has been searching for information about this airplane and so far been unsuccessful. His goal is to find pictures and tail number to build a model of it to donate to the Gastonia Airport or to the Gaston County Library, and to hopefully discover what happened to it.

Quinn is hoping that readers might be able to help with is search. He’d like people to send him information or photos they have of the plane.

The recent issue of Air Classics Magazine published a letter he wrote about the plane and he received a call from an aviation author in California, Nick Veronico, who is writing a book about WWII B-24 bombers that escaped the salvage yards and were sold to technical schools, Scout Troops, museums, collectors, etc. He, too, would like to know more about the Gastonia B-24.

Quinn sent The Gazette this photo that he copied from the book, “Hagerstown During WWII” by Kurtis Meyers.

“This could very well be the Gastonia B-24 as it is a C-109 tanker version of a B-24, which is the type plane Allen Sims bought and donated to the local Air Scouts,
wrote Quinn in an e-mail. “There were only a few hundred of these B-24/C-109 tanker conversions and many of those were painted with stripes on the nose, which were not on the Gastonia plane.

“I remember the Gastonia plane had a number painted on the nose and no other markings similar to the this one — as a child I would draw pictures of the plane.

In his e-mail, Quinn included a copy of his father’s 1946 Boy Scout Squadron 1 ID card.

Anyone with information can contact Paul Quinn via e-mail at pquinn@hearst.com or write him at 1185 Oakmont Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601.

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