B-17 Bomber Year & Serial (1940)

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The B-17 went through several alterations in each of its design stages and variants. Of the 13 YB-17s ordered for service testing, 12 were used by the 2nd Bomb Group of Langley Field, Virginia, to develop heavy bombing techniques, and the 13th was used for flight testing at the Material Division at Wright Field, Ohio. Experiments on this aircraft led to the use of a turbo-supercharger which would become standard on the B-17 line. A 14th aircraft, the YB-17A, originally destined for ground testing only and upgraded with the turbocharger, was re-designated B-17A after testing had finished. As the production line developed, Boeing engineers continued to improve upon the basic design. To enhance performance at slower speeds, the B-17B was altered to include larger rudder and flaps. The B-17C changed from three bulged, oval shaped machine gun blisters to two flush, oval-shaped machine gun window openings and a single “bathtub” machine gun housing on the lower fuselage, that resembled the similarly-configured and located ventral defensive emplacement on the German Heinkel He 111P-series medium bomber. Models A through D of the B-17 were designed defensively, while the large-tailed B-17E was the first model primarily focused on offensive warfare.

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(Image Source : www.warbirdalley.com)

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1st Canadian Parachute Battalion – United Kingdom to France

67Report N°138
Historical Officier
Canadian Military Headquarters

1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
Organization and Training
July 1942 – June 1944

Canada’s first specially trained parachute unit was the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion; it did not have the status of a regiment though is considered a direct predecessor to The Canadian Airborne Regiment. The Battalion was formed during the Second World War and disbanded shortly after; it served concurrently with the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, the administrative name for the Canadian component of the First Special Service Force. Unlike its counterpart in the US Army, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was entirely Canadian, and though it had a Canadian commanding officer, was assigned to the 6th British Airborne Division throughout combat employment and thus was not under higher Canadian command.

(1) Background to the Formation of the Unit (November 1940 – July 1942)
(2) Formation and Early Training (July 1942 – July 1943)
(3) Incorporation in the British 6th Airborne Division
(4) Arrival in the United Kingdom (July 28 1943)
(5) Legal Relationship to British Formation
(6) Administrative Arrangements
(7) Training in the United Kingdom (August 1943 – February 1944)
(8) 1st Canadian Parachute Training Company
(9) Mobilization and Preparations for D Day (March 1944 – June 1944)

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War Experiences, 1/Lt Alvin K. Dickson, 11th Armored Division

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This dug-in mortar emplacement near St Vith, Belgium is manned by, left to right, Pvt R. W. Fierde, Wyahoga Falls, Ohio; S/Sgt Adam J. Celinca, Windsor, Conn., and T/Sgt W. O. Thomas, Chicago. 24 Jan 1945 (NARA Signal Corps)
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200px-11th_US_Armored_Division_SSI.svg_AF : It’s December 28, 2002, and this is an interview for the Veterans History Project. I’m talking to Mr Alvin K. Dickson. Mr Dickson was born in Canton, Ohio, on March 18, 1918 and served in the US Army (11th Armored Division). He was a first lieutenant (Aug 1942 to Sep 1945).

1/Lt Alvin K. Dickson
11th US Armored Division

The 11th Armored Division landed in Normandy on Dec 16 1944 and was assigned to contain the enemy in the Lorient Pocket. The German counteroffensive along the Belgian border resulted in a forced march to the Department of the Meuse (France) and the defense of a 30-mile sector from Givet to Sedan, on Dec 23 1944. Launching an attack from Neufchâteau (Belgium), Dec 30, the 11-AD defended the highway to Bastogne against fierce assault. The division acted as spearhead of a wedge into the enemy line, and its junction with the 1st Army at Houffalize, Jan 16 1945, created a huge trap. After the liquidation of the Bulge, the Siegfried Line was pierced, Lützkampen falling Feb 7, Großkampenberg Feb 17, and Roscheid Feb 20 1945. After a brief rest, the division crossed the Prüm and the Kyll River, taking Gerolstein and Nieder Bettingen against violent opposition. Andernach and Bröhl fell Mar 9, in the sweep to the Rhine River. In the swing southward to clear the Saar-Moselle-Rhine pocket, the Moselle River was crossed at Bullay and the Worms Airport captured, Mar 21. After rest and maintenance, the division drove across the Rhine at Oppenheim, took Hanau and Fulda, and headed for the Thuringian Forest, reaching Oberhof, Apr 3. The offensive raced through Bavaria, Coburg falling on Mar 10, Bayreuth Mar 14. In the final drive, the division crossed the Regen River, Apr 24, overran Grafenau and Freyung, and plunged toward the Danube River, seizing Rohrbach, Neufelden, and Zwettl. The enemy put up its last fanatical resistance along the approaches to Linz, Austria, but the 11-AD entered the city on May 5. Pushing onward, elements contacted Soviet forces, May 8 and became the first unit of the 3A, to meet the Russian armies. The war in Europe officially ended on May 8 1945, and the 11-AD was placed on occupational duty until inactivation on Aug 31 1945.

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April 1945, Kronach, Germany, an M-4 Sherman of the 11th Armored Division (Third Army) is entering the city. (NARA-Signal Corps)

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