01 November 2007

RIP: Brig Gen Paul W Tibbets Jr, USAF (ret)

Paul W Tibbets Jr
23 Feb 1915 - 1 Nov 2007

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the commander and pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the final days of World War II, died today at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was 92.

His death was announced by a friend, Gerry Newhouse, who said General Tibbets had been in decline with a variety of ailments. Mr. Newhouse said General Tibbets had requested that there be no funeral or headstone, fearing it would give his detractors a place to protest.

And this from The Telegraph:
The son of a prosperous businessman, Paul Warfield Tibbets was born at Quincy, Illinois, on February 23 1915. His parents moved to Florida when he was 12 and he attended Western Military Academy before going to the Universities of Florida and Cincinnati to study Medicine.

His determination to fly overcame his parents' wish that he should become a doctor, and in February 1937 he enlisted as a flying cadet in the Army Air Corps at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. A year later he was awarded his pilot's wings and commissioned as a second lieutenant.

In February 1942 Tibbets was appointed to command the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group, and left for England. His squadron of B-17 Flying Fortresses was based at Polebrook, near Oundle. On August 17 1942 the USAAF mounted the first B-17 raid, and Tibbets took off at the head of 12 bombers to attack the marshalling yards at Rouen.

Altogether he flew 25 missions in B-17s, including some in Algeria, where he led the first bombing operations in support of the invasion of North Africa.

Much more is available at this page at the Ace Pilots site:
Not long after the surrender, Tibbets inspected the damage done to Nagasaki. He stayed in the Air Force, and participated in the development of the B-47, our first all-jet bomber. He learned to fly jets with Pat Fleming, a 19-kill Navy ace. In the early 1950's, he flew B-47's for three years. He advised on the making of the movie "Above and Beyond," and was pleased that the famous actor, Robert Taylor, played him. From the 1950's through the 1960's he had a number of overseas assignments, including France and India. After his retirement from the Air Force, he became president of Executive Jet Aviation in Columbus, Ohio.

The BBC has photos here.

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