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New history mystery.

Test your knowledge of air power history by trying to answer this quarter's history quiz. Since the goal is to educate and not merely stump readers, you should find the multipart question, challenging but not impossible. Good Luck!

This August marks the anniversaries of two milestone events of American strategic bombing during World War II: the first American bombing mission over Europe and the first (and only) time atomic bombs were dropped in anger. In both cases, very few bombers were involved in the mission but both represented significant firsts in American airpower.

What was the target for that first American bombing mission in August 1942? This pilot flew both the first American bombing mission in the European Theater and the first dropping of an atomic bomb? For our readers who love nose-art, what were the names of the B-17 and B-29 flown on the two missions. For the real detailed-oriented readers: while a last minute aircraft change prevented these two aviators from flying the first American bombing mission with the pilot in our second question, they flew with him on the mission to drop the first atomic bomb (the three are pictured here on Tinian in '45).

Go to page 61 to learn the answers.

History Mystery Answer

On August 17, 1942, the 97th Bomb Group (shown flying in formation at right) conducted the first American strategic bombing mission over Europe when twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses bombed the Rouen-Sotteville Railyard in France. Paul Tibbets Jr. was the pilot who flew both on the Rouen mission and dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. For the mission to Rouen, then Major Tibbets flew a B-17E (Serial number 41-2578) named Butcher Shop. For the mission to Hiroshima, Colonel Tibbets flew a B--29 Super-fortress (Serial number 44-86292) named Enola Gay. Bombadier Thomas Ferebee and Navigator Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk flew with Paul Tibbets in Europe as part of the crew of the B-17 Red Gremlin and flew with him aboard the Enola Gay.

To learn more about the dropping of the first atomic bombs and to see more images, visit: and

To view the Roger Freeman collection of 15,000+ images from the European air war, which was the source for some of these official USAAF photos and to learn more about the air war via an interactive archive, visit the American Air Museum's website at

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Author:Simonsen, Dan
Publication:Air Power History
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2015
Previous Article:In memoriam.
Next Article:From the editor.

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