Preserving The Oral HistorIES of Combat Veterans

COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

William Hanna | 91st Bomb Group - Army Air Corps/Air Force

2:13   |   B-17 pilot Bill Hanna reveals what was in the first letter he got from home and why he finished his required 25 missions in record time. Unfortunately, he had to "volunteer" for a few more missions.

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Keywords   :     William Hanna    B-17    pilot    wife    crash    volunteer

Videos ( 10 )
WWII
  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  4:18

    The day after Pearl Harbor brought a deluge of volunteers, and Bill Hanna was one of the lucky ones who qualified for pilot training in the Air Corps. He almost didn't survive the training.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  6:23

    The last thing any pilot trainee wanted was to be a bomber pilot. They all wanted to fly fighters but when Bill Hanna wound up in a B-17, he felt no one ever flew a better airplane. He was headed overseas as a co-pilot, but in a gutsy move he qualified as first pilot and was soon flying his craft over the North Atlantic to England.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  3:53

    When Bill Hanna joined the 91st Bomb Group in England, the losses were an astonishing 92%. Shrugging off an early rookie mistake, which nearly got him court martialed, he felt he could whip the whole German Air Force with just a little help from his tail gunner. He recalls an incident involving a special modification to his plane.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  6:26

    B-17 pilot Bill Hanna remembers the cold conditions at high altitude and remains envious of the B-24 crews who had heated suits. He encountered enemy fighters every time he flew, including a fateful mission with an unbelievable coincidence.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  5:54

    Pilot Bill Hanna was on the first mission to bomb Berlin, which got a lot easier as the bombers began to get fighter support. He explains why a lone bomber is no match for a lone fighter and has a tale about his radio operator who was the only crew member to get injured.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  3:05

    On June 6, 1944, Bill Hanna flew his B-17 toward Normandy and dropped his bombs right on target just inland. It was early, before men began hitting the beach. He recalls the awesome sight and wonders how they managed to organize such a large effort.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  2:54

    Bill Hanna reveals why the 91st Bomb Group was known as the "Ragged Irregulars." His B-17 also had a name and he explains why they chose it and painted it on the nose of the plane.

  • William Hanna  |  WWII  |  91st Bomb Group  |  7:22

    Bill Hanna relates the steps in executing a bombing mission, from the sketchy breakfast to the debriefing, where he once had to describe a prototype rocket plane he saw. As if the danger of formation flying with hundreds of planes wasn't enough, he just might face a Buzz Bomb when he went to London to have a beer.

Vietnam
Cold War
  • William Hanna  |  Cold War  |  11th Troop Carrier Squadron  |  7:01

    Pilot Bill Hanna returned to service for the Berlin Airlift and remained in Europe to provide transportation for the Cold War effort. He remembers a little wine-based detente in Italy when Communists marched on his picnic. Also, he explains why he decided on a career in the Air Force as a result of walking into a clothesline.

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