Bombardier Henry Miller with his fingers through the flak shell hole caused by the fragment that hit his head during the bomb run on December 13, 1944.
Henry Miller is the subject of a Tribute on this site.
Video segment below shows the historic final mission for "Sky-Scrapper II" followed by how this B-29 was destroyed. The crew was unharmed and would continue their missions on "Sky-Scrapper III".
See "Sky-Scrapper III" for that story after watching this short video.
Shattered Nose Section John Garvin collection ASHF Photo Archives
In photos, text & video
ASHF Photo Archives
Segment from the ASHF produced "The Pilot and the Bombardiers" (2014). The story of the "Sky-Scrapper" crew members, Air Commander (Pilot) Capt. John Garvin and the 2 Bombardiers who served with him, Lt. Henry Miller and 1st Lt. Bob Maloy. ASHF Video
ASHF Photo Archives
General Orders No 130 July 2, 1945 Robert Maloy Collection ASHF Archives
July 18, 1945. The "Sky-Scrapper" crew receiving their Distinguished Flying Crosses for the January 27,1945 mission. Bob Maloy standing far left in the front line. Frank Oblock Family Collection ASHF Archives
UP and AP news releases December 11, 1944. John Garvin collection ASHF Archives
Click to watch the next story of:
Less than 48 hours after it arrived from California to Saipan, a second B-29 was assigned to John Garvin's crew replacing "Sky-Scrapper", which had been destroyed during the November 27, 1944 base attack. They flew their first complete mission in the new B-29 christened "Sky-Scrapper II" on December 9, 1944.
It was a solo night weather reconnaissance flight with a bomb drop over Tokyo. It was mentioned in press reports and offered a taste of the terrors these new long range missions would feature.
The repaired B-29 was flying missions again starting on January 3, 1945 to bomb a target of the "Industrial and urban areas in Nagoya". The "Sky-Scrapper II" tail gunner, Sgt. Alvin Borden, shot down an attacking fighter.
On January 9, 1945 it flew a mission to Tokyo with an alternate crew. The squadron lost 2 B-29's on this mission.
On January 14, 1945 it flew another mission to Nagoya with an alternate crew to bomb a Mitsubishi aircraft plant.
On January 19, 1945 it flew with its main crew to bomb a Kawasaki aircraft plant in Akashi.
On January 27, 1945 the Garvin crew flew "Sky-Scrapper II" on its most dangerous and difficult mission of the war. The target was a Nakajima engine factory in Tokyo. As the 62 B-29's from the 73rd BW approached Tokyo, they were attacked 984 times by over 350 fighters. It was largest launch of fighters by the Japanese against B-29's. 5 B-29's were lost to enemy action. 60 fighters were shot down along with 56 probables destroyed. "Sky-Scrapper II" shot down 5 fighters. The dramatic day was noted in an article from The Guaranty News.
Flight Engineer Richard Bauml watches nose panels being replaced.
John Garvin collection ASHF Photo Archives
Over Tokyo on that night mission their bomb bay doors failed to close. This first "Sky-Scrapper II" sortie also offered severe winds and dangerous icing that slowed the B-29 down even more and burned precious fuel. 150 miles from Saipan it became likely they didn't have enough gas to reach the base. The crew stripped the plane of all unnecessary weight and prepared to ditch. A destroyer was summoned for crew rescue, but John Garvin flew as long as the engines kept turning. They were able to land safely. Inspection of the remaining fuel in their tanks showed only 80 gallons were left. They should have had hundreds of gallons remaining in the reserve.
Three days later they took off with their squadron to bomb Nagoya. On the bomb run at an altitude of 29,000 feet, they were hit by flak in the nose and rear stabilizer. (See photos below)
A shell fragment shattered a section of the nose plexiglas hitting Bombardier Henry Miller's flak helmet as he was bent over his bomb sight. The cockpit depressurized but the flight crew took to emergency oxygen and Miller dropped the bombs with precision. Air Commander John Garvin was later quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle praising Miller's ability and saying he deserved a medal.
John Garvin Collection ASHF Photo Archives
After repairs were made, an alternate crew flew "Sky-Scrapper II" on a mission to bomb the Mitsubishi Aircraft Plant in Nagoya on December 18, 1944. Over the target the B-29 took hits from a fighter and flak in the tail. See photo below of the rear stabilizer being replaced.
Aircraft Record Card for the B-29 that would become "Sky-Scrapper II" Sourced by Mark Maloy ASHF Photo Archives
Added to their incendiary bomb load on the Dec. 9 solo mission, the crew threw out 2 cases of empty beer bottles. The bottles were known to make an ominous and scary sound as they fell to the ground
"Sky-Scrapper II" in early February 1945 after flying 9 missions to Japan and shooting down 6 fighters. ASHF Photo Archives