The cover of the first edition of the USAFE (U.S. Air Forces in Europe, created in August 1945) pamphlet (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1945) shown above shows the Eiffel Tower as it looked during the August 1945 exhibition of U.S. Army equipment on the Champs de Mars directly under the tower. The searchlight beams arcing behind the famous monument, forming a V for Victory sign, are courtesy of none other than A Battery of the 225th AAA Searchlight Battalion, who had several searchlight sections on hand to provide Hollywood premierestyle lighting for the event! The Skylighters brought five lights to the tower and set one up in front of each leg and one directly under the tower with its beam pointed straight up. The lighting effects, as you can see, were nothing short of spectacular.
The Rhine Valley News reported, in its 7 September 1945 edition, "In their role of illuminating historic Eiffel Tower, five sections of the 225th AAA Searchlight Battalion are providing one of the most striking displays in the United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe (USSTAF) Exhibition currently showing in Paris. The searchlights, manned by minimum crews, nightly are trained on the noted spire, bringing the world famous weblike structure into sharp relief. On cloudy nights a spectacular reflection of the edifice can be plainly seen in the sky. As symbolic of Paris as is the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building of New York City or as is Big Ben of London, Eiffel Tower is the site of the U.S. Air Force exhibit, which is centered in and about the base of the symbolic structure. The exhibit consists mainly of U.S. Army equipment, most of it air force material. It has attracted thousands of patrons since its inception and continues to pack them in daily. Opened in late summer, the show is dedicated to the French people, in recognition of the aid they gave U.S. airmen forced to land on French soil during the pre-invasion days when France was prostrate under the tyrannical heel of her enemy, the Boche. Of all the roles the 225th men have performed illuminating enemy planes, lighting up U.S. engineer projects for the night shift, homing friendly planes, etc. most pleasant of all is this present nocturnal adventure in Gay Paree."
Under the Eiffel Tower, 1945.
In the photograph below, taken from the lower level of the tower, one of the 225th's 60-inch GE searchlights can be made out just to the left of the B-17 Flying Fortress (see black box overlaid on photo) dominating the scene. Also in the picture are a P-51 Mustang (left) and a P-47M Thunderbolt (right). The Thunderbolt's nose was emblazoned with the legend: "Zemke's Wolfpack, 56th Fighter Group, 1,000 Enemy Aircraft Destroyed!" A B-24 Liberator was also on display, painted in the colors of the 467th and 790th Bomb Groups and carrying on its nose the "Witchcraft" caricature and named "Witchcraft II."
By the end of the war, the original "Witchcraft" (pictured above) had clocked a staggering 665 flying hours and had been flak-battered and beaten beyond belief in the process. Her skin had been perforated over 300 times by German ack-ack and she'd seen her engines changed 13 times. Her olive-drab livery was patched up so many times with different colored material it appeared as if she was clad in Joseph's coat of many colors than camouflage. Her battle scars became marks of distinction along with her proud record of never having a single casualty among any of her many crews. Indeed, it was said by all those who flew in her that they always felt certain she would bring them home. And she did, every time. "Witchcraft" flew on every one of the 467th Bomb Group's operations from its very first mission to the last but one (totaling 130 with no aborted missions over 54 weeks of continuous combat between April 10, 1944 and April 24, 1945). She returned to the Zone of the Interior (the U.S.) to be feted in June 1945, but after taking part in a nationwide tour designed to promote the sale of war bonds, the Witch suffered the fate of so many other veteran B-24s. The aircraft the Germans couldn't destroy was sold for scrap. It was said that the buyers made more money from the fuel siphoned out of her tanks than they paid for the whole aircraft. A stand-in undamaged, gussied up, and christened "Witchcraft II" was used as a representative B-24H at Paris in July, commemorating the combat record of her namesake.
Another piece of equipment on display because of its key role in winning the war in Europe was a Willys jeep. Displayed on an elaborate platform, the jeep was lashed down with a camouflage parachute draped over the back along with the parachute harness used for dropping it from a plane, which was set up by the 557th Quartermaster Aerial Supply Company. (Visit this page often for more details about the displays!)
The closeup above (the searchlight is on the left, directly behind first flagpole) reveals the characteristic shape of the searchlight drum and one can even make out the front wheel of the chassis.
Also on display, along with the bigger, fiercer, and sexier warbirds, was "Janey," Alfred W. Schultz's World War II artillery spotter plane, an L-4B Piper Cub. Both Janey and Schultz participated in the fighting from North Africa through Sicily, Italy, and southern France to Germany. Janey was the only L-4B Piper Cub to survive the entire European War intact. Janey and Schultz were General Patton's limo and driver for a time, taking Patton on dangerous flights to observe ground fighting, to check out German glider fields, and to meet wounded soldiers as they were being evacuated. The photo of Janey below (taken in 1944 at Anzio, Italy) is reprinted here courtesy of Rich Heller.
The photo below (courtesy Jim Young) shows a C-46 Commando on display with a leg of the tower in the background, and Janey tucked neatly under her starboard wing. The sharp-eyed warbird aficionado will surely note the tell-tale tail of a P-61 Black Widow at right.
The two photos below are reproduced courtesy the B-26 Marauder archive, and are from Dixon Deemer's scrapbook. They depict members of the 599th Squadron, 397th Bomb Group preparing a Marauder for display at the USSTAF exhibition.
The B-26 being wheeled into postion.
With a leg of the tower in the background.
The two photos below are reproduced courtesy Seabird Publishing. They show two representative types of the ETO's most famous warbirds on display at the USSTAF exhibition.
View of a Douglas A-26B Invader early "flat top" model sporting a multiple-gun nose.
This one's christened "Tom Swift's Flying Machine."
View of Colonel "Hub" Zemke's Republic P-47 Thunderbolt under the tower. Col. Zemke was the leader of the 56th Fighter
Group, the "Wolfpack," that led all other fighter groups in the European Theater of Operations in air-to-air victories.
This same plane is the one visible in the photo above, to the right and below the B-17.
The flagpoles are clearly visible in both photos.
Contents & Layout © Copyright 1996-2003 Skylighters
Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org