Hundreds of millions of dollars in B-24 "Liberators" bombers in a cemetery in the Pacific. After Hugo Wilmar photographed the landing of the Marine Brigade in the summer of 1947, he travels for Publisher De Spaarnestad through the Archipelago. Here he portrays the various islands for the popular Dutch magazines. These reports show the different population groups and their customs. Biak is one of those islands near New Guinea. During Hugo's visit to this island in the spring of 1948, he took pictures of a B-24 cemetery.
On the remote island of Biak near New Guinea, Hugo Wilmar photographs the harsh reality of the Second World War. And in particular the battle for the Pacific. Hundreds of B-24 Liberators lie in a cemetery in the inaccessible jungle. In the jungle are more frightening reminders of the fierce battle between the Americans and the Japanese .
The B-24 Liberator bomber is one of the most famous bombers of the Second World War. These aircraft were used by (among others) the Americans, the British and the French. The Dutch Air Force also had a few in service. The bombers were used for various missions. These missions ranged from reconnaissance missions to photography missions and bombing campaigns. In total, the American aircraft manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft approximately 18.000 B-24 aircraft produced.
The B-24 Liberator was not very popular with the crews. They called the device “the Flying Coffin”. This was mainly because there was no comfort. In addition, the aircraft was difficult to control due to the placement of the petrol tanks and the more than 3600 kilos of bombs on board. Certainly if the aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire, the aircraft became virtually uncontrollable.
Many B-24s in the cemetery in Biak have a painting on the nose. These are usually cartoon characters or pinup girls, depending on the name of the device. These names were supposed to increase morale among the crew members. Life expectancy on board the B-24s was not great. The planes themselves were not granted a long life either. Most of the aircraft in Biak cemetery had not even been in service for a year. They had flown less than 12 missions on average.
However, the planes in Biap's cemetery are not the remnants of fighting. After the capitulation of Japan, the US Air Force abandoned the planes.
The B-24 Graveyard has since disappeared. Most of these aircraft are recycled. The remains were swallowed by the jungle. There is no trace of it anymore.
The B-24 Hell's Belle was part of the 494th Bombardment Group. The nickname of this group was “Kelly's Cobras”, after Commander Colonel Laurence B. Kelly. The 494th Bombardment group was the last group of B-24 bombers delivered during World War II. With Hawaii - and later Okinawa - as its home port, the Hell's Bell was mainly active in the Pacific. In June 1945 Kelly's Cobras with the Hell's Belle were the first bombers to attack the Japanese islands. Although the 494th bombardment group returned to America in December 1945, the Hell's Belle remained behind in the jungle of Biak. (source)
Hangover Haven II
The B-24 Hangover Haven II was part of the 20th Combat Mapping Squadron. … The plane has made 38 flights. Of these, 12 were a success. 14 missions failed for various reasons. The other flights were return flights or flights to another base. On January 16, 1945, the Hangover Haven II was abandoned in Biak.
The B-24 bomber Photo Queen was reported missing during a routine mission in the Archipelago. The official report of the missing person was that the plane had crashed in the Pacific Ocean. None of the 11 crew members survived the accident. That was 71 years ago. Relatives of two of the Photo Queen crew members have discovered after a long investigation that the story is different.
It turns out that the plane got into a typhoon. As a result, the plane went off course. Subsequently, the aircraft was forced to land in enemy territory. The corpses of at least four of the American crew members are buried in Biak. It is not known how the Photo Queen ended up in the aircraft graveyard.
The Pinup on the nose of the plane was painted by Al Merkling