We’re taking pre-orders!

We are pleased to announce that we are officially taking pre-orders for our next book. Harvest of the Grim Reapers, Volume I will finish printing in early January and we will be able to ship out books once they arrive in Colorado. This is the last book project Lawrence J. Hickey personally oversaw before his passing, and we believe it will serve as a fitting tribute to his legacy. Head over to our website to place your pre-order and check out the sample pages.

Excerpt from the Diary of Jack Fox

While the source of this post is another diary, the person who wrote it played a different role in the Pacific Theater. Jack Fox was a tech representative for North American Aviation, the builder of the famed B-25. Sending a rep so far from the factories in United States was invaluable for both the company and the unit flying their aircraft. Jack Fox stayed on the base with the men so he could be available to assist them 24/7. 

“They Also Served”    

My first assignment as Tech. Repr., covering the aircraft known as the good ole’ baker 25 Mitchell Bomber, was with the 17th Bomb Group. The B-25 aircraft was engineered and produced by North American Aviation, Inc., in Los Angeles, California. I welcomed the opportunity to serve as a Technical Representative. Before departing for my new assignment I would require some briefing so I spent a little time with the Field Service Manager, Frank Lyons, in his office. I received my instructions and we worked out some of the details of the assignment. As I was about to leave the office Frank stopped me by saying, “What the hell can we call you besides John?”  

“Well BUB, that’s my name and you had better be damned careful what other name you use.” I replied. “That’s no good,” Frank countered and continued saying, “Let’s call you Jack as this will be better for everyone and easier also.”

That ended the conversation right there and I made my departure not as John Fox, but as Jack Fox and it remained so from that time on. All my correspondence came addressed to Jack Fox, so I continued using it also in my correspondence. I reported in at the Group Engineering office of the 17th Bomb Group at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington. Evidently there was a telephone conversation between this point and Frank Lyons as they were expecting a Jack Fox to report in as Tech. Repr. I guess it would have to stand that way so there was no use to change or check it now. I arrived in Spokane in the spring of 1941. During my assignment with the 17th Bomb Group, I became mighty fond of this doggone good ole’ B-25 airplane.

At the end of 1941, Jack Fox learned that he was recommended for an assignment with the Netherlands East Indies Air Force. After taking care of all the required formalities, Fox left for Australia at the end of February 1942 in a B-25. After a short stint with the NEI crews at Archer Field, he joined up with the 3rd Bomb Group at Charters Towers.  

NAA Rep Jack Fox
North American Aviation Service Representative Jack Fox, pictured at Charters Towers in 1942, had been sent to Brisbane to train a Dutch Army Aviation Corps unit stationed there on the operation and maintenance of the B-25 Mitchell. When the 3rd Bomb Group took over 18 of the Dutch B-25s, Davies convinced Fox to come back with the Group to Charters Towers and serve in a similar capacity. Fox went on to make an invaluable contribution to 3rd Bomb Group through his expertise in the B‑25 and his engineering capability. Together with Pappy Gunn, he was responsible for the A-20 and B-25 modifications which made the airplanes far more destructive than they had previously been.
(G. John Robinson Collection)

These 3rd Attack Group men were most certainly a wonderful bunch of guys. I had much respect for each and everyone of them. They were a close knit Group, a hard working bunch also mighty brave and courageous fighters.

I was getting an urge to go out on Missions but permission was refused me and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to go over to Port Moresby, New Guinea that I was able to sneak in a mission or so at different times. I felt that I should go a on mission or so because what better way was there to learn first hand what it was all about and also what was required of the airplane under these conditions. Through this medium I was able to obtain first hand information by way of experience regarding the equipment I was representing and besides I could form good reliable first hard reports which was another part of a Tech Reprs. job; to send reports back to the company and to do this it took a considerable amount of time especially when sketches or drawings had to be made up to accompany failure reports. Being on a mission was a hair raising experience. My first experience with ack-ack was over the Jap target of Lae, New Guinea and it startled me so I dam near had a shit hemorrhage. Yes, darn right I was scared and I would think, how stupid I was in not knowing when I was well off as I should have had stayed put on the ground back at our base. Then I would think about these combat crews who went out daily to try to paste the enemy and they faced this condition frequently and took their chances. I felt I wasn’t any better than these guys so I tried not to show too much concern but no doubt I didn’t cover up completely. Most of these men figured I must be plum nuts to want to go out on missions as I had no business to be in the airplane on a combat mission. Major Lowry, the C. O. of the 13th Squadron presented an idea of his to make me a fine control member aboard a combat airplane out on missions, mainly I believe to guard against and direct fire on enemy aircraft. He approached me with the idea one day and frankly speaking I was all for it and started making plans for this new role I might find myself in but something happened somewhere as the Major’s idea did not materially.  Then one day, Major Lowry was out on a mission and he and his crew went down in their airplane in the New Guinea Jungle. He sure was a mighty fine man and pilot, a good Squadron C. O. and flight leader so his death was great loss to the squadron as well as the Group.

Harvest of the Grim Reapers, Vol. I is at the printer

At long last, we are excited to announce the upcoming publication of Harvest of the Grim Reapers, Volume I. This 528-page unit history will cover the 3rd and 27th Bomb Groups through the end of 1942, and the heroic and tragic events that occurred along the way. As always, this includes a comprehensive list of the aircraft the unit flew during this time period (A-24s, B-25s and A-20s), and a selection of world-class profile art by aviation artist Jack Fellows. The manuscript has been completed in full, and we will start taking pre-orders as soon as we have confirmation of when the physical copies will be in our hands from the printer. This is the last book project Lawrence J. Hickey personally oversaw before his passing, and we believe it will serve as a fitting tribute to his legacy.

To hold you over until the book is in your hands, we gathered up all of our 3rd Bomb Group posts about events from 1942 so you can read a little more about the 3rd right now. We’ll make another announcement when we start taking pre-orders.


DOODLE was assigned to 1/Lt. (later Capt.) Orlen N. Loverin who piloted it overseas and through its first six months of combat. While headed for a leave in Sydney on December 19, 1943, Loverin was killed when the C-47 he was riding in ran into a thunderstorm and crashed in Rockhampton, Australia. DOODLE‘s original crew was: Loverin, pilot; 2/Lt. Kenneth D. McClure, co-pilot; 1/Lt. James M. Mahaffey, navigator; S/Sgt. Harry Zarfas, engineer; T/Sgt. Frank M. Dugan, radio gunner; and S/Sgt. Clair F. Ervin, turret gunner. The crew chief was T/Sgt. Charles L. Schell, who had lost his previous aircraft when it disappeared between Hamilton Field, California, and Hawaii during the deployment overseas.

Lieutenant McClure was one of the Squadron’s first co-pilots to get his own plane, taking command of DOODLE JR. (see color photo on page 193 of Warpath Across the Pacific) in October 1943. The original crew nickname was “The Brutes,” and as a medium bomber the plane had Bluto, the Popeye cartoon character, painted on the forward fuselage. Bluto’s head and upper torso appeared on the port side and his rear end, clad in red polka-dotted shorts, was painted on the other side as if it protruded through the fuselage of the aircraft. The eight ball on the bat’s mouth appeared on the medium bomber and was retained when the aircraft got its bat insignia in September or October 1943.

Crew of the 345th Bomb Group B-25 nicknamed "DOODLE"
The crewmen of DOODLE posed in front of their aircraft at Port Moresby in early August 1943. They were from left: 1/Lt. Orlen N. Loverin, 2/Lt. Kenneth D. McClure, 1/Lt. James M. Mahaffey, S/Sgt. Harry Zarfas, T/Sgt. Frank M. Dugan and T/Sgt. Charles L. Schell. (James M. Mahaffey Collection)

The profile illustrates DOODLE about the middle of February 1944, with 56 mission markers. CAPT. O.A. LOVERIN is painted in white beneath the pilot’s window. The bat insignia is a lighter blue than on HELL’S BELLES, demonstrating the variety of color shadings used on this field-applied insignia and the effects of fading. DOODLE flew at least 80 missions before being transferred to Service Command on July 12, 1944, as “War Weary.” Among the most important missions it flew in 1943 were: Rabaul, 10/12; Wewak, 10/16 (Loverin); Rabaul, 10/24 (Loverin); Boram, 11/27 (Baker); and in 1944: Dagua, 2/3 (Taylor); and Hollandia, 4/3 (Baird).

This profile history, as well as a color profile of DOODLE, can be found in Warpath Across the Pacific.

Author and founder of IHRA dies

It is with great sadness that we announce that the founder of International Historical Research Associates, Lawrence J. Hickey, died on August 14, 2021. He felt that the best way for him to give back to his country was to write and publish the histories of air units in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II. For more than 30 years, Larry relentlessly pursued a goal of presenting a full and accurate history for each Fifth Air Force unit, a goal which was realized in Warpath Across the Pacific (345th Bomb Group), Revenge of the Red Raiders (22nd Bomb Group), Rampage of the Roarin’ 20’s (312th Bomb Group), and two volumes of Ken’s Men Against the Empire (43rd Bomb Group). He will be missed.

Lawrence J. “Larry” Hickey

And So We Go To War

Below is the first entry Carl A. Hustad’s wrote about his journey aboard the Queen Mary. Although he didn’t know it at the time, he and the rest of the 43rd Bomb Group were heading to Australia and the Pacific Theater.

February 28, 1942

I have spent pleasanter birthdays before in my 26 years. Today is quite the hottest. If it weren’t for the open porthole, I should probably be much more uncomfortable.

We are at sea somewhere along the South American coast, my guess is North of Cabo de Orange. Maybe I should go back and bring myself to this point, as our journey is already 11 days on.

With a heavy snowfall and a very early hour of morning, we departed our old base at Bangor, Maine, entrained for Foreign War Service. Arriving at Boston, Mass., late that 17th of February, 1942, we were immediately embarked on our transport. It proved to be quite an unusual transport ship, being the Queen Mary of England. The crew are all English and many English customs are preserved. Tea and crumpets every afternoon at four especially. (Not a bad custom after all, when you get used to it.) But anyway, we crowded into our staterooms and tried to assemble and orient ourselves. The thought of leaving and the job ahead made conversation futile.

The next day at noon we left. Where we traveled the next five days, I have no idea, except we really traveled! We must have circled well out to sea to avoid the coastal submarine area. Sunday, February 22, we anchored and to my surprize, just off of Key West, Florida. Key West until Tuesday just before dark. Since then we have been steadily moving eastward along the South American coast.

Queen Mary
One of the three largest passenger liners in the world, the Queen Mary was a luxury ship during peacetime, as seen here. After refitting, she was capable of carrying as many as 15,000 troops in a single voyage, making her crucial to the war effort. Her importance to the Allies was so great that Hitler reportedly offered a $250,000 bounty to any naval captain who could sink the gigantic ship. By the end of the war, the Queen Mary had carried a total of 765,429 military personnel over a distance of nearly 570,000 miles. (Charles R. Woods Collection)

The ship we are on is fast. In fact, too fast for an escort. We are alone, but our speed seems to be the best protection. But, we are not unarmed. I believe we could make a fair showing for ourselves with any submarine. Of those, we have seen none so far. Reports have come in of other slower ships being torpedoed all along our course. There was even a rumor on board of a radio report saying we were torpedoed and sunk a few days back. And so we go to war.

Life on this Queen Mary transport is quite luxurious in a way. Many of the facilities are cut off for lack of sleeping space and dining rooms. The Officer’s lounge is very nice with its deep chairs and sofas. It is also air conditioned and almost too cool. It is in use constantly for the numerous card games and movies and so forth. A swimming pool has just been made available for us also. Water and fresh food seem to be the problems of any long ocean voyage. We are all trying to conserve the fresh water on board. We have three types of water on ship. The first is fresh drinking water which is not obtainable inside the stateroom. Next is plain water, but not suitable for drinking…..used for shaving, etc. The third is salt water which we use to bathe in. The salt water requires a special type of soap, as the ordinary soap won’t lather.

Read more about the 43rd Bomb Group’s journey aboard the Queen Mary in our book Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume I.

The Tent at the End of the Runway

As related by Capt. Walter A. Krell, C.O. of the 823rd Squadron, 38th Bomb Group.

“Crew training was set up at Charters Towers (70 miles west of Townsville), the base commander of which was an ancient chicken colonel whose constant interference with the war effort was so much help to the Japs. Early struggles to eliminate useless procedures were blocked and impeded by the commander, and I was a constant target of his complaints. He would track me down on the line or wherever and work me over about the behavior of our men on the base, in town, in the mess hall – – I soon had enough to prompt me to ask Shanty [38th Bomb Group C.O. Brian O’Neill] to get him off my back.

“Shanty had me pick him up in Townsville. We flew back to Charters Towers, and drove out to the headquarters just off the end of and slightly to one side of the runway. For 30 minutes Shanty listened in deadpan silence while the old coot unloaded about ‘new undisciplined Air Corps flying tramps’. Shanty, just promoted to full colonel, had borrowed the eagle insignias for his shirt collar. The eagle heads face right or left, according to how they are pinned on – – Shanty’s little eagle faced the wrong way. As we were leaving, the CO spied the error, fetched an eagle facing the right way from his trinket box, proceeded to pin it on Shanty’s collar. Shanty tensed up and I backed off a couple paces, but nothing happened and we left.

“Wherever we went, Shanty always did the flying. As we taxied out, Shanty asked, ‘Which runway leads over the old b’s camp?’ I cautioned ‘The wind’s the other way.’ ‘I didn’t ask you about the wind,’ he countered. The B-25 was light – – Shanty had it off halfway down the runway, flaps and wheels up by runway’s end and still under six feet altitude. He swung over the colonel’s pyramidal tent, straddled the peak with his props and hauled up. We peeled around and looked down – – the tent was smashed flat!

“When I got back to Charters Towers, the old boy was waiting – – did I know within minutes after he had given orders to Col. O’Neill to put a stop to aircraft flying over his area, some crazy pilot demolished the colonel’s tent with him still inside? He had suffered and could have been hurt. I was to track down the pilot. There would be a court martial he raged, red-faced and shaking his swagger stick in my face.

“Then I told the old duck the pilot was CO O’Neill himself who declared anyone stupid enough to set up headquarters in such a site was asking to get hurt, that he hoped he had made his point, and that he was at that moment en route to Brisbane to ask General Kenney (Commanding General, 5th AF) to assign a new training base for these critically needed combat units where they would no longer be an inconvenience to the Colonel. Within two days the Colonel had been relieved of his command and promptly departed the base, whereupon I made it eminently clear to the base paddlefeet that O’Neill could quickly arrange for any of them to be shouldering muskets over the Owen Stanley range – – that their job was to provide the services the flyboys needed – – or else! – – and things did improve!

“It was a great privilege to work with Col. O’Neill.  His qualities of greatness earned the respect and admiration of all those who knew him.”

Announcing the second edition of Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume I

After releasing Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume II, we quickly shifted to another project that kept us busy in late 2019 and early 2020: revisions to a book that was, we were happy to note, selling faster than we had anticipated. The announcement is a bit late, but here it is:

Thanks to all the interest and support from our readers, we already had to do a reprint of Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume I. We still have some first editions available, but new copies of the second edition have already been trickling out of their boxes and into customers’ hands. We think you’ll love the updates. Inside the second edition, you will find that the 8-page sneak peek of Volume II is gone. We filled up those eight pages with some new photos, including a rare image of the famed B-17 #666, co-author Edward Rogers revised and expanded a few of the stories, new material about the Japanese side was added by co-author Osamu Tagaya and we also corrected mistakes that were printed in the first edition. While we also must admit that the print quality wasn’t up to par in the first edition, we’re pleased to say that it was greatly improved with this second printing. Those are the biggest differences between the two editions. 

If you’re still here and haven’t clicked over to the Ken’s Men, Vol. I page yet, we have some other news: we’re making good headway on Harvest of the Grim Reapers, Volume I. This book will cover the history of the 3rd and 27th Bomb Groups from prewar times to the end of 1942. It is shaping up to be our biggest book since Revenge of the Red Raiders (624 pages), with current projections sitting at nearly 400 pages of narrative text. That doesn’t even include the appendices or color section. If you’re trying to plan your bookshelf space, make sure you have a gap for a 500+ page book. At this point, we are still a little ways from having an estimated date of when it will be heading to the printer.  

As we wrote earlier, the new edition of Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume I is already shipping. Head over to our website and buy your copy today!