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July 03, 2007

Plane and More information

tail-image-183.jpeg Background info from Dave TW including probable plane art and name for Dad


Dave Ungemach here (davetw1 on armyairforces.com). My dad, Bill Ungemach, was a co-pilot with the 742nd BS before he was shot down and taking POW. He's doing well at 89. His service got me interested in researching the 455th BG. I'm not a historian - strictly amateur - but it's only a 3-4 hour drive to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. They have the records for the Fifteenth Air Force, and the 455th BG.

It's just an educated guess, but I think your dad was part of a very successful crew. I checked the records that I have, but haven't been able to find much. Most of the data from the archives is about crews that were shot down. On my next trip to Alabama, I'll see if I can find out more.

I take it from your posts that you've found Craig Ward's site. His dad was with the 740th BS, but he had passed away some years before. The BG history is a fantastic resource, and I'm glad he put it online:


The emblem of the 455th BG was "Vulgar Vulture" (a drooling vulture perched on a bomb). Each squadron was represented by a different colored bomb, and the 743rd's was generally red.

The B-24 tails are famous for their color schemes. Each group was assigned a different set of markings to make it easier to identify them in flight. For the 455th BG, the lower part of the tail was painted yellow, and the upper part was marked with a diamond (see attached artwork). In addition to the diamond, each squadron had a different symbol. The 743rd used a diagonal bar.

I'm not sure which aircraft is in the Helbig photos. It may have never been named, as not all of the aircraft were given nose art, and were only referred to by the last three digits of the serial number. With so many losses, crews moving around, aircraft down for maintenance, etc., sometimes they never had a specific crew to name them. It's also possible that the nose art was on the other side! The photographer may have asked them to stand on the left side for better lighting. It's impossible to tell, but two candidates for 743rd aircraft are "Red Hot Ridin' Hood" or maybe "Snuffy Smith and the Yard Birds."

Sorry for the information overload! I'll let you know if I find anything else. If you should find any more info about your dad, let me know - it might be a clue.


Dave Ungemach
Warner Robins, GA

PS You may want to repost the question about the pistol, carbine, and ARS information from your dad's file on the "All Hands Club & Canteen" section of armyairforces.com (it may generate more response). Good luck!

View high res image

Posted by keefner at July 3, 2007 10:19 PM