m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson Air Corps 1942 - 1945
Click to view Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's complete thirty five mission list and twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses flown between March 27th thru August 26th, 1944 out of Horham Airfield, England.
Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson poses at attention at Blackland Army Air Field in front of his 1941 Dodge Deluxe four-door Town Sedan D-20 model (Civil Commission Version). He had recently graduated from Advanced Flight Training at Blackland and received his wings in 1943.
This car fascinated me, particularly with my dad standing at attention before it. With much help and words from my friend Nathan Howland, I will add his observations on the car which are very important to this photograph:
This car is slightly unusual to see it in this configuration in the photograph, because it is a converted civil car painted to a military specific Staff Car spec, white tires and all. Also they were still in civilian gloss lacquered coat.
At the time of this photograph the standard version of the model was being mass-produced under contract by Dodge specifically for wartime military use. As were Chevy's, Fords & Plymouth's.
They all lacked the silver time such as rear fender & bars (front and back), the chrome boot handles, and the chrome trim around the rear window, and strip running under the windows along the top of the doors. Needless expensive military extras, unless you were really Top Brass - which went for the step plate at the bottom of the doors too.
The idea was that there would be nothing on the cars that would glint to possibly draw attention - especially from strafing aircraft. It also dropped production cost and time significantly involved with chrome plating. As such the military versions were all given a very matte coat of Olive Drab, a military production serial number (just like planes), and a white star, and shipped out.
Most of the early conversions (like the one with your father here) stayed in the country. The more basic military versions were shipped out to different theaters of the war.
Lt Erickson sent many photos back to his folks and 3 year old sister Dian in the Dakotas during his training days in 1943. He began something he continued to do throughout the war, sending home dozens and dozens of letters. Some filled with photos so his family would know he was doing alright. He carried his camera with him regularly and you can see mnay of the images here on the site.
Blackland is five miles northwest of Waco, was activated in June 1942. It was initially named China Springs Army Air Field and was also known as Waco Army Air Field No. 2 before being renamed after the local black soil. It was first a glider training school and in October 1942 became an advanced two-engine pilot school.
By January 1944 having been assigned to the 334th Squadron of the 95th Bomb Group (Heavy) Lt. Erickson would fly to England for combat duty. When the crew arrived at Horham Airfield after a lengthy and problematic journey their original ship they had flown from Langley, Virginia up the east coast with stops at Roosevelt Field in New York, Maine, Greenland and Iceland was taken away and transferred to another squadron. In a letter home, he stated that he and the crew were quite disappointed, but that was the way of things in the Air Corps.
Lt. Erickson and crew were without a ship of their own for the first months stationed at Horham. From the time they began flying combat missions in March of 1944 right up till their final mission on August 26th, the 10 men crew would end up flying 35 missions aboard twelve different B-17s.
The twelve B-17s flown:
After flying eighteen missions aboard other B-17s, on May 31st, 1944 the crew flew their first mission aboard the "Lili of the Lamplight," (44-6085). It became their ship and so named the "Lili of the Lamplight" by the crew not long after their first few missions on-board.
The 'Lili of the Lamplight' was shot down on a mission with another crew aboard on August 25th, 1944 and after mutiple attempts at saving her, spiraled to earth and exploded in the forest of western Poland. The crew bailed out and three crewmen perished and the remaining seven were captured by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp.
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