Piskin Crew – Assigned 753rd Squadron – May 26, 1944

Standing: Henry Sonnenfeld – B, Joe Feldman – N, Arnold Piskin – P, Joe Zanella – CP, Norm Hull – NTG
Kneeling: Roy Thomas – TG, Don Shannon – E, Joe Schroeder – BTG, Bill Bothwell – RO, Verle Erickson – WG
(Photo: Joe Schroeder)

Completed Tour

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Arnold A Piskin T1228 Pilot Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
1Lt Giordano Zanella T2126 Co-pilot Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
F/O Joseph M Feldman T124708 Navigator 14-Mar-45 CT From AAF 365 - DS to AAF 146
1Lt Henry R Sonnenfeld 0693636 Bombardier Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
T/Sgt William W Bothwell 34024894 Radio Operator Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
T/Sgt Donald R Shannon 17083683 Flight Engineer Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt Roy W Thomas 38419897 Armorer-Gunner Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt Joseph B Schroeder 3672716? Aerial Gunner Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour
S/Sgt Norman L Hull 15332431 Aerial Gunner 10-Dec-44 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Verle C Erickson 1702241 Aerial Gunner Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Completed Tour

Arnold Piskin and crew were one of ten specially trained AZON crews who were assigned to the 458th in the spring of 1944.  Originally intended for duty in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, their orders were changed en route and they flew to England instead.

The four officers, flight engineer and radio operator that had trained together arrived in England in May 1944, along with Tec4 Bernard H Kurs, an Electronics Technician assigned to keep the AZON equipment in good working order.   The four gunners, not on board the AZON aircraft en route to the combat zone, continued on to the CBI, being replaced by four different gunners once the crew arrived in England.

The specially modified B-24J they flew over from the States was 44-40273 Howling Banshee.

This crew was together throughout their entire tour and finished the required number of combat missions at approximately the same time in December 1944.  All of the crew were sent to the Casual Pool 70th Replacement Depot for return to the States in January 1945 except for F/O Joseph M. Feldman, navigator.  He was transferred to the 389th Bomb Group at Hethel on December 30, 1944.

Members of Arnold Piskin’s family have created an incredible website at howlingbanshee.com.  Don Shannon, the crew’s engineer and top turret gunner kept a very detailed diary during the war and it can be seen in its entirety at the Howling Banshee site.  It has been invaluable in certain areas of my research on crews and aircraft in the 458th.  A tour of that amazing website is highly recommended.


Date Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn A/C Name Comments
14-Jun-44 5 TARGETS AZ06 1 44-40273 T J4 1 HOWLING BANSHEE  
15-Jun-44 3 RAILWAY BRIDGES AZ07 2 44-40273 T J4 2 HOWLING BANSHEE  
20-Jun-44 NOBALL FRANCE REC NTO 42-95008 R J3 -- UNKNOWN 035 MSN #3 RECALL
07-Jul-44 LUTZKENDORF 86 3 44-40285 H J4 5 TABLE STUFF  
11-Jul-44 MUNICH 88 ABT 42-100431 B J4 -- BOMB-AH-DEAR #4 ENG CYL BLOWN
13-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 90 4 41-28682 I Z5 44 UNKNOWN 003  
16-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 91 5 42-95118 E 7V 10 ALFRED V  
20-Jul-44 EISENACH 95 6 44-40273 ? J4 4 HOWLING BANSHEE  
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" 98 7 44-40273 T J4 6 HOWLING BANSHEE  
31-Jul-44 LUDWIGSHAFEN 99 8 44-40273 T J4 7 HOWLING BANSHEE  
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE 100 9 42-100431 B J4 31 BOMB-AH-DEAR  
05-Aug-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 105 10 44-40273 T J4 11 HOWLING BANSHEE  
06-Aug-44 HAMBURG 106 11 44-40273 T J4 12 HOWLING BANSHEE  
08-Aug-44 CLASTRES 108 12 44-40273 T J4 13 HOWLING BANSHEE  
09-Aug-44 SAARBRUCKEN 109 13 44-40273 Y J4 14 HOWLING BANSHEE  
14-Aug-44 DOLE/TAVAUX 113 14 44-40273 T J4 16 HOWLING BANSHEE  
15-Aug-44 VECHTA 114 15 UNK -- -- --   PILOT'S LOG
17-Aug-44 LE FOULONS BRIDGE AZ11 16 44-40273 T J4 17 HOWLING BANSHEE 10/10 CLOUD - NO DROP
18-Aug-44 WOIPPY 116 17 44-40273 T J4 18 HOWLING BANSHEE  
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER 117 18 44-40273 T J4 19 HOWLING BANSHEE ABORT - SORTIE
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ12 19 44-40273 T J4 20 HOWLING BANSHEE  
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOL AZ14 21 44-40201 N J4 16 SILVER CHIEF  
18-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES TR02 -- 42-52616 Q 44BG T1 GLORY BEE PFF
19-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES  TR03 -- 41-28735 S J4 T2 V  
05-Oct-44 PADERBORN 128 22 44-40273 T J4 23 HOWLING BANSHEE  
09-Oct-44 KOBLENZ 131 23 44-40273 T J4 26 HOWLING BANSHEE  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 24 42-50449 W J4 4 HEAVENLY HIDEAWAY   
19-Oct-44 MAINZ 136 25 44-40273 T J4 29 HOWLING BANSHEE  
26-Oct-44 MINDEN 138 26 44-40273 T J4 30 HOWLING BANSHEE  
02-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 140 27 44-40201 N J4 23 SILVER CHIEF  
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE 142 28 44-40134 R J4 28 UNKNOWN 039  
09-Nov-44 METZ AREA 145 29 44-40273 T J4 33 HOWLING BANSHEE  
21-Nov-44 HARBURG 148 30 44-40201 N J4 29 SILVER CHIEF  
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 150 31 44-40283 I J4 22 LASSIE COME HOME 8AF/K-21
30-Nov-44 HOMBURG 151 32 UNK -- -- --   PILOT'S LOG
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 33 42-50449 W J4 23 HEAVENLY HIDEAWAY  
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 34 42-50575 O J3 16 UNKNOWN 020  
27-Dec-44 NEUNKIRCHEN 159 35 44-40277 P J4 27 MISS USED  
28-Dec-44 ST. WENDEL 160 36 44-40277 P J4 28 MISS USED

Horsham St Faith – 1944

Standing: Henry Sonnenfeld, Joe Schroeder, Bill Bothwell, Arnold Piskin, Joe Feldman, Joe Zanella
Kneeling: Roy Thomas, Norm Hull, Don Shannon, Verle Erickson
(Photo: Anne Zimmer)

Dismal flying conditions…

Standing: Verle Erickson – WG, Joe Feldman – N, Norm Hull – NTG, Don Shannon – E/TTG, Joe Zanella – CP
Kneeling: Roy Thomas – TG, Henry Sonnenfeld – B, Arnold Piskin – P, Joe Schroeder – BTG/WG, Bill Bothwell – RO
(Photo: Joe Scroeder)

B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40273  J4 T  Howling Banshee

Fastest B-24J in the ETO
On November 12, 1944, the Howling Banshee (40273-T) met with misfortune when her squadron mate Table Stuff (40285-H) ran into her during a maintenance accident and chewed up the entire tail section with its props.  Although both aircraft were damaged to such an extent that they were initially considered write-offs, the Howling Banshee was spared after the tail section of another damaged aircraft, Shack Time (40275-L), was attached to her forward half.  All three of these aircraft were original AZON ships.

Lt. Dick Ayers of the 3rd Strategic Air Depot at RAF Watton decided that the two aircraft sections could successfully be joined together.  The task was carried out at the aircraft’s home base of Horsham St. Faith as the two sections were too large to be transported to Watton.  It took a team of twelve men just 29 days to complete the work, successfully joining the two halves together at the center of the bomb bay doors.

Aircraft inspectors found that less than one quarter of the variations allowed at the factory had been used in completing the procedure.  Following completion of the work, the Howling Banshee was flight tested by Capt. Henry Miller, and not only did it fly perfectly, it cruised at 10 mph faster than the average B-24, thus making it, “one of the fastest B-24J’s in the ETO.”

Approximately 0920, 12 November 1944, B-24J A/C 44-0285 [sic] was sitting 10 yards from east door, Hangar #4, AAF 123. Plane was facing west on wet, oily concrete, particularly under left main gear. Hangar door was open. There were no wheel chocks under tires. Master Sergeant Cloud and Sergeant Symonds, crew chiefs, had parking brakes locked and were busy adjusting No. 1 supercharger (electronic) and did not notice that A/C was pivoting on right gear. By the time A/C could be stopped it had slid into the tail of A/C (B-24J 273) which was parked just inside hangar and seriously damaged both A/Cs. The prop of A/C 285 chewed elevator and tail turret of A/C 273, wrecking both parts. The left wing of A/C 285 hit left rudder of A/C 273 resulting in large hole of former and left rudder damage to A/C 285.

No one was injured.

a) That wheel chocks be used at all possible times, especially in run-ups near obstructions.
b) That no run-ups be allowed near hangars or other A/C.

Howling Banshee with new tail attached

Distinguished Flying Cross

Giordano Zanella, Joe Feldman, Arnold Piskin, Henry Sonnenfeld

Back row: Don Shannon, Roy Thomas, Bill Bothwell, Verle Erickson
Front row: Norm Hull, Joe Shroeder
(Photo: Joe Schroeder)