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Individual Awards & Decorations 365th FG WWII

Individual Awards and Decorations:

Page: 2/4


      During the month of April 1944, the Hell Hawks underwent the transition from being a Bomber-Escort Group to a Dive-Bomber Group. During this transition, it became apparent to the pilots that dive-bombing techniques needed improvements because there were too many things to be done at the same time by the pilot. They had to hold position in the flight, keep an eye on the target, reach for the manual release and at the same time maintain control of the plane in a the dive. With the added distraction of flak being thrown up at them, the pilots conceded that their bombing was inaccurate and inefficient at best.

      T/Sgt. Joseph Piantino in the armament-ordnance section of the 387th Fighter Squadron began work on replacing the A2 manual bomb release with an electrical/manual G4A bomb release. With the A2 release, the pilot was required to pull a handle that would in turn pull the supporting dogs on the wing shackle that held the bomb, and the bomb would be fall.

     The operation of the electrical/manual release was simply to press the bomb release button on top of the aircraft control stick. This actuated a solenoid that pulled a system of wires that would pull the dogs back and release the bomb. If the pilot desired to drop the bombs "safe", all that he had to do was pull the original manual release and the bombs would be jettisoned "safe".

     Three planes in the 387th Fighter squadron were equipped with the new G4A bomb release, and the planes were tested by Captain James E. Hill, First Lieutenant Julius H. Almond, and First Lieutenant Andrew W. Smoak. they were to report on May 23, 1944 the results of about two months of testing as follows:

  " To Commanding General IX tactical Air command.

   The following data is submitted for your information in regard to installation, and testing in combat of the G4A bomb release on all P47D aircraft. The invention of this device was accomplished by a member of the 387th Fighter squadron, T/Sgt. Joseph Piantino, Armament-Ordnance section. After considerable application, a G4a release was constructed of such a modification, and most important of all,  to create a concise more accurate bombing release device with minimum effort by all concerned. The recurring malfunctions of the A2 type release were creating too many difficulties in installation and maintenance, and it was because of this wasted time that a new release was therefore devised. This new type release cut approximately in half the time required for installation, and over 80% of maintenance work was removed after the completion of the modification. After two months of constant combat flying conditions using both A2 and G4A releases, the G4A release has accomplished and is still accomplishing, decisive improvements in all types of bombardment. Maintenance of the G4A release has been almost negative, and installation of further releases has caused the rapid completion of all modifications in bomb releases in this organization. This type of release, used by myself time and time again in combat, is therefore regarded as a vital contribution to the advancement of Fighter-Bombardment and its effective results in this theater of operations.

James E. Hill

Captain, Air Corps

387th Fighter Squadron"

The second report was from First Lieutenant Julius H. Almond, who wrote:

    " The invention of the G4A type bomb release for modification and installation in P47D aircraft is endorsed herewith. Under actual combat conditions in the European Theater of Operations, the G4A type bomb release has proven to be superior to A2 releases both being used simultaneously by various aircraft on combat operations. The effective increase in bombing accuracy and timing warrants investigation. Use of this release has not only proven worthy in bombardment of installations, but the time saved in its installation and its all-around maintenance is a constant improvement in operational efficiency.

Julius H. Almond

1/Lt., Air corps

387th Fighter Squadron"

The final report of the effectiveness of the G4A bomb release came from First Lieutenant Andrew W. Smoak, who wrote:

  " Endorsement is herewith acknowledged on the modification and the installation of the G4A bomb release on the p47D aircraft. Recent combat experience has proven the merits of this release, and the effective manner of this release under combat conditions has proven that this instrument is worthy of further investigation. The installation and maintenance of the G4A type release has tended to create accurate bombing and a simple, effective, instrument for combat operations.

Andrew W. Smoak

1/Lt., Air corps

387th fighter Squadron"

For this invention, Sergeant Piantino received the Bronze Star Medal. The citation with the award read:

  "The Bronze star Medal is awarded to Joseph Piantino, 6974187, Master Sergeant, 365th Fighter Group, 387th fighter squadron, for meritorious service in connection with military operations in the European Theater of Operations. As Armament Chief of a P47 Squadron from February to November 1944, Sergeant Piantino has demonstrated unreserved devotion to duty and exceptional capacity for developing technical devices to improve his unit's operational efficiency. In the initial period of dive-bombing in this Theater, there arose a critical need for a perfected electrical bomb release to reduce the number of malfunctions. Working long hours daily and exercising his comprehensive technical knowledge, Sergeant Piantino devised a simple and compact device to supplement the bomb release which has cut malfunctions to a minimum. his contributions to the technical and operational needs of his Squadron have been instrumental in the success of many missions against the enemy and reflects great credit upon himself and the Army Air Force.  Entered military service from New York."

  This citation was signed personally by General Elwood R. Quesada and was not left to a subordinate. The importance of Sergeant Piantino's invention called for the Commanding General himself to countersign the citation.

Technical Sergeant Joseph Piantino, right, developed an electrical bomb release to replace the unreliable and cumbersome manual release.The electrical released proved to be reliable and it was adopted by the Ninth Air Force First Lt. James T. Sydnor, Armament Officer of the 387th Fighter Squadron (L).


Source: The History of the Hell Hawks by Charles R. Johnson, pages 46, 47

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