B-26 Marauder 'Flak Bait' Flown Linen Relic Display by Ron Cole
Flak-Bait is a Martin B-26 Marauder aircraft that holds the record within the United States Army Air Forces for the number of bombing missions survived during World War II. Manufactured in Baltimore, Maryland as a B-26B-25-MA, by Martin, it was completed in April 1943, accepted by the United States Army Air Forces, and christened Flak-Bait by its first assigned pilot, James J. Farrell, who adapted the nickname of a family dog, "Flea Bait". Flak-Bait was assigned to the 449th Bombardment Squadron, 322d Bombardment Group stationed in eastern England.
During the course of its 202 (207 including its five decoy missions) bombing missions over Germany as well as the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, Flak-Bait lived up to its name by being shot with over 1,000 holes, returned twice on one engine (once with the disabled engine on fire), lost its electrical system once and its hydraulic system twice. Despite the level of damage it received, none of Flak-Bait's crew were killed during the war and only one was injured. Over two years of operations Flak Bait accumulated 725 hours of combat time and participating in bombing missions in support of the Normandy Landings, the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Crossbow against V-1 flying bomb sites.
A series of red-colored bombs are painted on the side of the aircraft, each representing an individual mission (202 bombs in total). White tails painted on the bombs represented every fifth mission. There is one black-colored bomb which represents a night mission. In addition to the bombs, there are also six red ducks painted on the aircraft representing decoy missions. There is also a detailed Nazi Swastika painted above a bomb to represent Flak-Bait's only confirmed kill against a German aircraft.
On March 18, 1946, Major John Egan and Captain Norman Schloesser flew Flak-Bait for the last time, to an air depot at Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria. There, the famed bomber was disassembled, crated, and shipped in December 1946 to a Douglas Aircraft factory in Park Ridge, Illinois.
When the National Air and Space Museum opened in Washington, D.C., in 1976, the nose section of Flak-Bait was placed on display there, with the remainder of the aircraft in storage at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland. In 2014, all parts of Flak-Bait were moved to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, for a comprehensive preservation and reassembly, which is still ongoing as of late 2023.
This piece of flown olive-drab-painted linen originated from the rudder of this aircraft. It was acquired from the staff of the Paul E. Garber Facility by Ron Cole in 1985.
The artwork is 11x17-inches and is framed in a 13x19-inch black satin frame, ready to hang. Each piece is signed and numbered by the artist, who also testifies to the authenticity and research into the pieces attached to each display. Authenticity guaranteed for life.
Very limited! The small piece of linen shown in these two photos (above) is all that we have.
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