Artwork and Research By;
Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
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Signed and numbered by the Artist and autographed by Captain Stevens.
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This is my painting of "Battlin' Beauty". Painting size is 2x4 feet.
I met Delmar Stevens at a small air show in Keystone Heights, Florida in February 2009. I told him that I had not worked with a B-29 pilot and asked if he was interested. He said yes.
This is a great photo of Stevens bomber artwork.
This is Stevens and his crew with their B-29, "Superstitious Aloysious". This was his second B-29 he flew over Japan.
Airplane Commander, Delmar Stevens
Delmar Stevens was born in 1920 in Michigan. He graduated form
It was 1943 when Delmar arrived at Pratt Air
However, by the time they reached
As they were heading back to Pratt, Wilkinson and Stevens were going over procedures for landing. The bomber was all electrical operated by six generators. Three of the generators were on the dead engines which made them inoperative. They worried if the remaining generators were able to operate the landing gear and the flaps at the same time. Wilkinson had Stevens lower the landing gear first and hold off on the flaps. This was a wise decision because they were running the risk of either the landing gear or the flaps but not both would work. As a consequence the flaps did not fully lower as the wheels hit the runway. Since the landing speed was faster than normal, both pilot and co-pilot stood on the brakes as they ran off the end of the runway into a snow bank. The right tire had blown and was on fire yet everyone was safe.
Other flights followed until the group was
ready for combat. They were then transferred to
Replacement crews were already filtering into the squadrons. They were replacing crews that had been lost in combat or accidents. Seriously injured personal were sent back to the States. Some crew members were sent back to train new crews. New pilots were first sent on missions as co-pilots with an experienced pilot and crew before they got their own bomber. The crew the co-pilot had trained with in the States will join him as soon as he qualifies for his own Superfortress. The pilot and crew were trained together but the pilot had to gain experience first and then he would be assigned a bomber manned by his crew.
Unfortunately one of the new
pilots was shot down on a mission over
Stevens said that he was fortunate because
the crew he inherited were well trained and worked together as a team. Together
they flew thirty missions all over South East Asia with many missions over
I asked him to describe one aerial combat encounter. The Japanese figured out that attacking the rear of the B-29 was suicidal so they would attack head on. During one mission as Stevens was concentrating on his bomb run over the Japanese Naval base, Kure, when a twin engine fighter attacked his bomber head on. With both aircraft racing towards each other the rate of closure was quick. At first Stevens was sure that the Japanese was going to forfeit his life and collide with his B-29. With Stevens sitting in the front row seat he admitted he was anxious when at the last moment the twin engine fighter swerved sharply to the left and tore off the wing of a B-29 next to him sending the bomber and crew down. The Japanese twin-engine fighter did damage the right aileron of Stevens bomber but not enough to hinder the flying capabilities of the bomber.
On two missions after attacking
Mid-air collisions were common during large bombing missions. Stevens recounted two episodes for me that were way to close for comfort. On one mission over Japanese held Saigon, Stevens and the formation of B-29ís found themselves flying into inclement weather. They decided to approach the target in single file one at a time. As Stevens was leaving the target another B-29 drifted right across his bombers path slightly above him. Stevens said that the other bomber was close enough to reach out and touch. Weather it was a few feet or a few meters Stevens was lucky to have avoided a mid-air collision.
During another mission the group had to fly into heavy anti-aircraft fire in a twelve plane formation. After the lead bomber dropped his bombs he would usually bank away in a slow shallow turn for all the other bombers to be able to follow while in formation. However the lead bomber unexpectedly banked away too sharply banking up on his wing, flying right through the entire group narrowly missing every bomber. Surely the miss-hap was a miscalculation on behalf of the bomber pilot. Yet acts like these would bring down quite a few Superfortresses during a mission.
The first raid on
After flying over the burning city Stevens had his crew check the bomber over inside and out as best they could to see if the aircraft suffered any damage from the extreme wind-sheer. They found no popped rivets or buckling in the wings or fuselage proving that the B-29 was truly a sturdy aircraft.
Stevens flew a total of
thirty-six missions. The first twenty missions were flown out of their airbase
Stevensís last mission was on July 4, 1945. As Stevens flew his last missions out of Tinian, the B-29 group that was commanded by Paul Tibbets was arriving for their up-coming historic flight. Stevens said that there were plenty of rumors running around about the secret mission Tibbets squadron was up-to, yet no one really knew until the first atomic bombs were dropped.
When his tour ended his
commanding officer asked if he wanted to stay and serve on his staff but Stevens
had a baby daughter that he had not seen yet so he requested leave back to the
During his service Stevens earned the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with 4 Battle Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation.
This is Delmar autographing the painting of the "Battlin Beauty".
Here is Delmar and the Artist.
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On July 5, 2010 I got a call from Delmar's family. They wanted to let me know that He had passed away the day before.
On July 4, 2010 I spent all day and into the night typing on my first book. I found the experience the most patriotic thing I had ever done. I spent hours and hours reading and writing about the bravest men that ever fought for our country under the most unusual conditions. Delmar served the United States of America with cool-headed assuredness that all American bomber pilot are known for.
This was the day I first met Delmar at a local air show in Keystone Heights, Florida.
Delmar always took his Superfortress and crew to the target and back many times. But he left us on July the Fourth, Two-Thousand and Ten.
Interesting B-29 facts;
In the May
2010 issue of Aviation magazine, they had an article about a B-29 pilot named,
First Lieutenant O. Dann DeWitt. Dann as you can imagine experienced all the same
hardships that all the other B-29 Groups faced when they were sent to bomb
Japan. It was a great article but what caught my eye was some incredible statistics.
Lt. DeWitt mentioned that his Group, the 504th lost 26 B-29's to combat and four
to operational failures. He continued with a staggering series of numbers that I
need to check. He claims that "nearly" 500 B-29's were lost by all
groups in the Pacific. This represents the loss of 5,000 airmen.
Fewer than 200 of the 5,000 airmen survived.
In the May 2010 issue of Aviation magazine, they had an article about a B-29 pilot named, First Lieutenant O. Dann DeWitt. Dann as you can imagine experienced all the same hardships that all the other B-29 Groups faced when they were sent to bomb Japan. It was a great article but what caught my eye was some incredible statistics. Lt. DeWitt mentioned that his Group, the 504th lost 26 B-29's to combat and four to operational failures. He continued with a staggering series of numbers that I need to check. He claims that "nearly" 500 B-29's were lost by all groups in the Pacific. This represents the loss of 5,000 airmen. Fewer than 200 of the 5,000 airmen survived.
That is incredible. This fairly much says that if your B-29 was shot down, you could pretty much kiss it all good-bye. However, each man held his own conviction that "it wouldn't happen to him." How stout the heart can be when the need arises.
I would like to add that I do not doubt the statistics but I do want to see this referenced in another book. The consequences are astounding. I was wondering why the Japanese did not make a better account of themselves, and apparently they did. The Japanese did a great job of defending their island as best they could. The Japanese were simply overwhelmed by our numbers as were the Germans. But the size of the Superfortress was overwhelming to the Japanese fighter pilots. Huge beautiful silver super-bombers. A Luftwaffe pilot in a small Messerschmitt 109 would have though that the B-29 was insurmountable as well.
Please review the other seventy aviators that we have worked with and interviewed in the Print Directory.
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All research, writings and artwork are by Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette.
No one is permitted to republish any part of this story with out my personal permission.
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Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
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Posted March 22, 2009
Counter Added on July 22, 2011