The Mairzy Doats
The Mairzy Doats was a Consolidated B-24J Liberator and was built either in San Diego, California or in Fort Worth, Texas. Unlike prior versions of the B-24, the J series had a factory-installed nose turret, a simplified, easier fuel transfer system from outer wing fuel cells to the main fuel tanks, and probably had inward- rather than outward-opening nose wheels. It no longer had a ball turret on the bottom of the plane. There were other changes to the J series, but these occurred in B-24s manufactured later in the production series.
The Mairzy Doats was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radial engines with General Electric B-22 turbo superchargers rated at 1200 hp at 2700 rpm for takeoff and maintaining this power as a military rating up to 31,800 feet. It had a maximum speed of 300 mph at 30,000 feet and 277 mph at 20,000 feet. The B-24J’s combat operating speed was 180-215 mph at between 10,000 and 25,000 feet. The Mairzy Doats weighed about 38,000 pounds empty and 56,000 pounds in its combat mode. It had a wingspan of 110 feet and a length of 64 feet 2 inches, and a height of 18 feet. Amazingly, it had a ground clearance of only 20 inches. With a 5,000 pound bomb load, it had a range of 1,700 miles and a time aloft of 7.3 hours. It carried about 2,364 gallons in its main fuel tanks and 450 in its auxiliary wing tanks.
The Mairzy Doats would usually accommodate 10 crew members, including: pilot; co-pilot; bombardier; navigator; radio operator; nose turret gunner; top turret gunner who doubled as flight engineer; two waist gunners; and a tail gunner. It had ten 50-caliber Browning machine guns in the five firing positions previously mentioned. The B-24 carried 4,700 rounds of 50-caliber bullets. Its usual offensive bomb load was 5,000 pounds, though it could carry up to 12,800 pounds for short ranges using external racks underneath each inner wing.
The Mairzy Doats was initially assigned to the 392nd Bombardment Group, 579th Bombardment Squadron. It was damaged by flak on return from an April 12, 1944 mission to Zwickau. Unfortunately, thinking the plane was going down, the two waist gunners bailed out; however, the plane did make back to its base. One gunner was listed as KIA and the other as MIA.
The Mairzy Doats apparently was repaired and felt airworthy as it was transferred to the 445th B/ 703rd in August 1944, perhaps to replace a damaged B-24 or one that had been shot down. I suppose that a newer B-24J was given to the 579th Bombardment Squadron.
If it is true that the transfer of the Mairzy Doats to the 703rd Squadron occurred in August 1944 and that the first combat mission flown by the Hautman crew was on July 18th as documented by 2nd Lt John Friese and alluded to by 2nd Lt. Maynard Jones in a letter to his parents, then the Hautman crew flew a different B-24 prior to the Mairzy Doats. Perhaps the earlier B-24 flown by the Hautman crew was no longer airworthy, so the Mairzy Doats was substituted. It may be that the crew flew B-24s belonging to other crews who were being rested before receiving their own aircraft.