The Crusaders

The 42nd Bomb Group served as the only B-25 Mitchell outfit in the Thirteenth Air Force during World War II. Going into combat in the Solomon Islands in the summer of 1943, the Crusaders took part in the drive to Bougainville and the isolation of Rabaul. After that campaign, the Thirteenth Air Force moved to New Guinea and became part of FEAF. The 42nd finished the war operating in the Southern Philippines and supporting not only the ground effort there, but also the invasion of Borneo in the Dutch East Indies.

Check out A. Gray’s page: for a look into the the day-to-day life of a 42nd Bomb Group tail gunner. It is a terrific site that gives you remarkable insight into the experiences of our American aviators in the SWPA during the war.

In honor of A. Gray and his remarkable website, I’ve posted some photos of the group that I’ve collected over the years:

42nd bg skip bomb practice new caledonia045

A B-25 crew from the 42nd practices skip bombing at New Caledonia in the summer of 1943.


42nd bg sqn co col harry wilson b25 nose art guadalcanal371

Colonel Harry Wilson in the cockpit of his 42nd Bomb Group B-25 at Guadalcanal, 1943.


42nd bg attacking bougainville 1943065 4x6

A dramatic shot of the 42nd during a bombing raid on Bougainville in the fall of 1943.

b25s 42nd bg munda Field 1943 8x10

The Crusaders operating from Munda FIeld, New Georgia during the climactic battles for the Northern Solomons in the fall of 1943.

42nd bg b25 cape sansapoor 4x6

The Crusader’s flight line at Cape Sansapor, New Guinea.

42nd bg b25 bombing sandakan borneo 4x6

A 42nd Bomb Group Mitchell roars off target during a low-altitude strike against Sandakan, Borneo in the summer of ’45.


42nd bg 13th af b25 crew in water zamboanga619 8x10

A 42nd Bomg Group B-25 crew gets into their life raft after ditching off Zamboanga, Mindanao in 1945.







Categories: World War II in the Pacific | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “The Crusaders

  1. Thanks for the good words. That was very kind of you. Say, do you know the day and month of the last photograph you posted?

  2. Absolutely wonderful photographs. What a plane the B-25 was. And every Allied nation seems to have agreed on that.

  3. Tom Haigh

    my dad James W. Haigh was a pilot in the 42nd Bomb Group, thank you for this! He lived to be 93. gone just 2 years, one of the Greatest Generation . . .

  4. I was not aware that the 42nd Bombing Group served in the Southern Philippines. Can you advise where and what dates they served? My father was a PBJ-1 pilot in Marine Bombing Squadron VMB 611, assigned to MAG 32, MAGSZAM, Moret Field, Zamboanga, Mindanao, PI from March 1945 to November 1945. He and his crew went MIA 30 May 1945.

    • David,

      I believe the 42nd moved to Palawan Island (Puerto Princessa) in March 1945 and remained there until the end of the war. The 41st Infantry Division (the Sunsetters) landed at Zamboanga in the spring of 45. The 162nd Infantry Regiment had been part of the Oregon National Guard before the war, and they made the landing there along with the 163rd (Wash. NG). I wrote my 6th book about 2-162’s deployment in Iraq, and then was in Afghanistan for awhile with the 162nd Engineers, so that is a unit very close to my heart.
      i believe I have color film footage of a USMC PBJ unit taken in early 1945. Found it at Quantico years ago. I’ll double check, and if I’ve got it, I’ll post it. Thank you so much for you comment. So many lives lost in the defense of freedom. It is why I do what I do.

      John R. Bruning

  5. A. Gray’s got a great blog. Very accurate.

  6. If you could reply with the date of the photograph with the caption A 42nd Bomg Group B-25 crew gets into their life raft after ditching off Zamboanga, Mindanao in 1945, I might be able to supply the details, e.g., aircraft number, names of crew, cause of crash, etc.

  7. Reblogged this on Pacific Paratrooper and commented:

  8. To capture the strike in the day is amazing!

  9. Amazing! Thanks to all of you for helping compile dates and actions. Freedom rings!

  10. That third photo looks amazing. It just have been such an interesting time to live back then with all that went on in the Forties–the entertainment, the social issues, the war. I’ve seen the newsreels from back then and most of the time, I can sense the impending doom that was about to occur from an air raid strike or bombing. What a time to never forget…

  11. Thanks for posting such an interesting batch of photos! Question about the second to last one: what’s your source for the image?

  12. Always enjoy seeing these old photos. They need to be preserved for future generations.

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