Consolodated liked the way the bird handled and soon started on a navalised version: the Privateer. In the meantime, B-24's in the Southern Atlantic ate U-boats for dinner. As Allied air power, radar and industrial might proved too much for the U-boat threat, the B-24's were needed for the Pacific and plans were made to transfer them in mid-1944. Knowing the Japanese would be slightly more aggressive than the Germans and Italians, the pilot took the crew out for a day at the local fair as a "farewell" celebration.
The pilot paid for everyone to do attractions, rides, etc and young mechanic Grossman found himself at the rifle shooting booth. He was hitting everything that stood and soon attracted the attention of the pilot. "Hey son, are you drunk?" The Private convinced the Captain that he was sobre and the pilot paid for three more rounds at the game, all of which were handled easily by the young Private. "Shit - looks like you're gonna be our new tail gunner!," laughed the Captain and he slapped the young Private on the back.
Next thing you know, "Sergeant" Grossman is strapping himself in to the rear turret of "Sweet Routine" and heading West to Saipan. Upon hitting Saipan, Sweet Routine falls into a patrol pattern, carrying a mix of depth charges and plain old high explosive bombs. The Privateer is accepted for naval service and the B-24 evaluation crews are made sailors and transferred over. Sweet Routine's bomb group are then converted to regular bombers and the depth charge shackles are removed from the bomb bay.
Sweet Routine's first mission as a pure bomber would be over Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. It would also be the first aerial test of James' marksmanship. As the rear formation bomber, they received the attention of four Zeroes who were greeted by both of James' 50's. The tracers drove the marauders away and they peeled off to try their luck elsewhere. One of the planes appeared to be smoking so the side gunners ignored it.
After dropping their bomb load, the unit turned for home and were attacked again, this time by a whole squadron. The squadron broke off in to pairs to attack the bombers. Eventually two fighters made their way to Sweet Routine where they were sprayed liberally from the front and top turrets. The planes banked to come in for another run but this time, Sgt. Grossman was waiting. He depressed the trigger and both fifties poured lead in to the leading plane's engine. The side gunners saw the bird explode.
One straggler followed the unit as it headed home to Saipan and as dusk approached, the straggler decided to try his luck. The belly turret gunner sent tracers his way forcing him to pull up. He did so, then stupidly realized he was level with the tail turret. James didn't need prompting and soon sent lead into his silouette. The Zero flamed and then started to bank away. Following him in the turret, Sgt. Grossman dropped more lead in to him until finally, he exploded.
Sgt. Grossman ended the war un-eventfully and upon the separation of the USAAC from the US Army, he chose to stay Army instead of going to the new US Air Force. He was given a commission and went on to jump school and special forces (Green Beret). He retired from the US Army in 1965 as a Major.
This is the oft-built 1/48th scale Monogram B-24 model. It takes up a lot of real-estate when done. It is a joy to build with as much detail as you care to put in to it. Four AA batteries provide nose weight. For my markings, my lovely daughter Chelsea replicated the nose art right down to the obstruction of the "fire extinguisher" placard. She was having trouble getting the letters "SWEET ROUTINE" on decal paper, but decided to just hand-paint it. Not quite exact, but the Major was over the moon with it anyway!
I'm over at my next door neighbor Mike's house every now and then for computer work/repair and I happened to notice a black and white photo on his wall one day of a bomber crew in front of their bird and I asked who that was. He relayed that it was his father and that his dad lived two streets over. Well...needless to say, it has been great meeting him and getting familiar with his stories.