TB-26C Marauder #41-35182; Glennie, MI - 3 November, 1944
This is a B-26C. The TB-26C was a variant stripped of its armament and fitted with a towing windlass. This enabled the craft to tow targets for aerial gunnery training. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Crew: Pilot - 1st Lt. Roy E. Yturria, 28, Grand Rapids, MI Engineer - S/Sgt. Donald W. Jaton, 25, Syracuse, NY Engineer - S/Sgt. Willis A. Dunn, 27, Suffolk, VA Engineer - S/Sgt. Emanual Mokol, 22, Gary, IN
Milton Clouse and his classmates were well into their studies at Glennie School when a plane flew overhead. Being as close as they were to an Army Air Field, this was not an uncommon occurrence and caused no undo excitement until the roar of the engines changed pitch. Soon every student was at the window trying to catch a glimpse. What they saw, they would never forget.
At 10:15 on the morning of 3 November, 1944 a TB26-C, serial # 41-35182 took off from Oscoda (MI) Army Airfield (the now defunct Wurtsmith Air Force Base) on a routine transition flight to check out aerial engineers. About 10 minutes later, students at Glennie School witnessed the plane begin a dive from approximately 1000 ft. It then leveled off and began to climb. At about 400 ft. the plane rolled over onto its back before diving almost vertically into the Huron National Forest a few miles north of Glennie, MI and the terrified children at Glennie School. The plane exploded upon hitting the ground, killing all aboard instantly. National Forest Service fire fighters had also witnessed the plane go down and were first on the scene. The massive explosion caused a 3 acre forest fire. Little was left of the plane as the engines had burrowed into the crest of a small ridge. Because of the severe damage to the plane, no cause could be determined, and we’ll never know why the plane crashed on that day in November. The B-26 was known to be a difficult plane to fly, even for experienced pilots. 1st Lt. Yturria had 616 total hours of flight time with 106 hours in this model plane.
Roy Yturria was survived by his brother Vernon who was a medic serving in Germany at the time. Vernon could not get over the fact that he survived battles in a foreign country and his brother died just a few hundred miles from their boyhood home. After the war, Vernon legally changed his name to Roy as a tribute to his fallen brother, he is now deceased. Donald Jaton left behind a pregnant wife who would give birth to his daughter just thirty days later, the wife and daughter are now deceased. Emanual Mokol has a surviving nephew named after him. To date, I have no other information on Willis Dunn.
Roy Yturria (center) with unknown companions (courtesy of Scott Yturria)
I had received the crash report for this incident around the same time as the Almont B-24 information. I realized that this must be the source of the newspaper article that sparked my interest in aviation archaeology in the first place. However, faced with researching a plane crash that was three hours away or one that was an hour away, the Almont crash took precedence. I finally tracked down the newspaper article from the Oscoda (MI) Press from July of 2003 in the fall of 2009. The crash report, newspaper accounts of the time and the 2003 news report were not of any use in locating the actual spot of the crash. I am fairly familiar with the area, but there was not enough information on roads or landmarks to guide us to the site. I called Ken Clouse, one of the men mentioned in the 2003 article. He had been to the site and his uncle was one of the children at the Glennie School on the day of the crash! He said he would be more than happy to take me to the site. As it was nearing winter, I thanked him and told him I’d be in touch with him come spring. June 2010, I received a call from Dave Trojan. He was going to be in town over the 4th of July weekend and wanted to go to the Glennie site. A quick call to Ken in Glennie and the trip was set. It just happened that I was working out of town, in the area of Glennie at the time in question. We met and exchanged research and information with Roger Clouse and followed him a few miles north of town and down a Forest Service road. After several tense minutes of finding nothing, Roger confessed that he had not been to the site since 2003 and that things weren’t looking familiar, but knew we were in the general area. He then placed a call to his cousin Ken who appeared minutes later to help in the search. The two of them, along with the local historical society, had been trying for years to place a memorial at the spot. Ken confirmed that we were in the right general area but we still found nothing. During this time I saw a hawk appear to dive bomb Roger and Ken who were a distance away from me. Soon after a Forest Service truck showed up and asked if we knew that there was a fledgling hawk under the wheels of my truck. We probably saw his first flight! The Forest Service personnel explained there was a nest in the vicinity and they had been checking on the young hawk. They moved it out from under the truck to the safety of the trees and said that he would eventually fly back up to the nest. While they did not know anything about our B-26 crash, they confirmed that we had the proper grid coordinates and were on their way. In the meantime, Roger and Ken apologized for not finding the crash but had to be on their way. Dave and I thanked them for the help and stayed on our own to continue the search. I soon noticed an area in the woods where the foliage was covered in white stuff, and happened to look up to see the hawk’s nest (you can imagine what the white stuff was!) and called to Dave. As he was coming over to check it out, he found our first piece of aluminum! Soon other pieces surfaced and we finally noticed the barely perceptible impact crater and mound….the hawk had led us to it! This was definitely a micro-site but one piece appeared to be from a control panel with a partial ID plate screwed on it. A quick scan with the metal detector proved we had the spot with many positive hits. We did not dig since we located the site. We placed the found pieces together under the hawk nest and placed a small flag as a memorial. Hopefully Roger and Ken will be successful in getting a more fitting memorial erected in the near future.
The B-26 was a fast, medium bomber built by Martin Aviation. It had better overall performance than its contemporary, the B-25 Mitchell. However, the Marauder's small wing area and high wing loading, the highest of any allied bomber of the time, meant higher approach, touchdown and stall speeds. The Marauder's high performance and revolutionary features made it a hard plane to fly, especially for new pilots. The resulting high crash rate inevitably spawned a number of cynical nicknames such as "Widowmaker", "Martin Murderer", "The Flying Coffin." Consequently, a variety of design changes were implemented and the resulting B-26B had an additional 6 feet of wingspan and other changes. These modifications reduced landing and stall speeds and ultimately yielded the lowest attrition rate of any combat aircraft of WWII.
Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43 Double Wasp radials of 2,000 hp each (takeoff power)
Performance: Maximum speed: 282 mph at 15,000 ft., Cruising speed: 214 mph, Range: 1,150 miles with 3,000 lbs. bomb load; 2,850 miles (maximum) Service ceiling: 21,700 ft.
Weight: 38,200 lbs. (maximum)
Dimensions: Wingspan: 71 ft. 0 in., Length: 58 ft. 3 in. (56 ft. 1 in. on B-26C-10 and later due to tail turret change), Height: 21 ft. 6 in.
Armament: Eight .50-cal. machine guns (12 .50-cal. after package guns were added early in the production run) plus 5,200 lbs. of bombs (maximum overload)
TB-26 variants were trainer aircraft and stripped of armor and armaments and equipped with a C-5 towing windlass to tow targets for aerial gunnery practice