"The Ruptured Duck"
was a North American Aviation B-25B Mitchell
(S/N 40-2261), which was
piloted by Lt. Ted W. Lawson
from the 95th Bombardment Squadron,
, during the Doolittle Raid
on Japan commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle
bombing Tokyo, Lawson
ditched "The Ruptured Duck" in the sea near Shangchow, China.
different B-25 is on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum
colors and livery of "The Ruptured Duck".
Preparations for the Doolittle Raid
attack on Pearl
Harbor, a reprisal raid on Japan was approved.
After considering other aircraft types, a total of 24 operational
B-25B medium bombers were selected to undertake the raid.
The medium bombers were detached from the 17th Bomb Group (Medium),
based at Lexington County Army Air Base, Columbia, South Carolina,
and sent to the Mid-Continent Airlines modification center in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for installation of additional fuel tanks.
The aircraft were further modified by:
- Removal of the lower gun turret
- Installation of de-icers and anti-icers
- Steel blast plates mounted on the fuselage around the upper
- Removal of the liaison radio set
- Installation of three additional fuel tanks and support mounts
in the bomb bay, crawlway and lower turret area to increase fuel
capacity from 646 to 1,141 U.S. gallons (2,445 to 4,319
- Mock gun barrels installed in the tail cone, and
- Replacement of their Norden bombsight with a makeshift aiming
Two bombers also had cameras mounted to record the results of
Volunteer crews, including Lt. Ted W. Lawson, were gathered for an
unspecified "extremely hazardous" mission were also solicited from
the 17th BG. The 24 crews selected picked up the modified bombers
in Minneapolis and flew them to Eglin Field, Florida, beginning 1
March 1942. At Eglin, the crews received intensive training for
three weeks in carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying,
low altitude bombing, and over water navigation.
Lt. Col Doolittle stated in his after action report that an
operational level of training was reached despite several days when
flying was not possible because of rain and fog.
Origins of the name
Honorable Service Lapel Button
During a practice run, Lawson scraped the
bottom of the tail
when he pointed the nose of the bomber too
high before attaining flight speed. The following is from Lawson's
book Thirty Seconds over Tokyo
(Random House pub. 1943).
"One morning I came out to my plane and found that somebody had
chalked the words 'RUPTURED DUCK' on the side of the fuselage. I
grabbed Corporal Lovelace, a gunner I knew, and asked him to paint
some sort of design on the ship. He's a good caricaturist. Lovelace
got out his stuff and painted a funny Donald
, with a head-set and the earphone cords all twisted around
his head. Lovelace did a swell job in blue, yellow, white and red.
Then he added something that gave all of us another laugh. Under
Donald Duck he drew a couple of crossed crutches. The other boys
now got busy with insignias."
The origins of the name, "The Ruptured Duck" referred to a patch
(later an Honorable Service
) worn on the uniform of returning veterans, explained
K.T. Budde-Jones, Pacific Aviation Museum director of education.
"It meant they were being discharged and said, 'I'm not AWOL, I'm
allowed to wear this uniform until I get my civilian clothes.' And
of course everyone wanted one because it meant you were going home.
The patch was of an eagle in a wreath, but everyone thought it
looked like a duck, a ruptured duck."
Although "The Ruptured Duck" became one of the most famous of the
Doolittle Raiders, seven other bombers carried distinctive nose art
and individual aircraft names: "Whiskey Pete" (aircraft No. 3),
"Green Hornet" (aircraft No. 6), "Whirling Dervish" (aircraft No.
9), "Hari Kari-er" (aircraft No. 11) "Fickle Finger" (aircraft No.
12) and "(The) Bat Out of Hell" (aircraft No. 16). Doolittle's
personal aircraft, S/N 40-2344, carried no special markings.
The Doolittle Raid
In the foreground on the deck of the
USS Hornet is "The Ruptured Duck" (aircraft No.
As a result of the operational training, one other aircraft was
heavily damaged in a takeoff accident and another taken off the
mission because of a nose wheel shimmy that could not be repaired
On 25 March
, the remaining 22 B-25s took
off from Eglin for McClellan Field, California. They arrived on
for final modifications at the
Sacramento Air Depot. A total of 16 B-25s were subsequently flown
to Alameda, California, on 31 March to be
loaded aboard the USS Hornet.
Fifteen raiders would be the mission force
and a 16th aircraft, by last minute agreement with the Navy, would
be squeezed onto the deck to be flown off shortly after departure
from San Francisco to provide feedback to the Army pilots about
takeoff characteristics. Once underway, Doolittle decided to forego
the reconnaissance flight.
The attack on Japan
On the morning of 18 April 1942, the USS Hornet
16 B-25s 170 miles (275 km) farther from Japan than planned
due to a Japanese boat spotting the attacking fleet. (The 16th
bomber was made part of the mission force at the last minute.)
Despite the fact that none of the B-25 pilots had ever taken off
from a carrier before, all 16 aircraft launched safely.
The raiders flew towards Japan in sections of three-four aircraft
before changing to single-file at wavetop level to avoid detection.
bombing 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo where Lawson
dropped his bombs, the other targets were two sites in Yokohama, and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka.
Subsequently, 15 of the 16 bombers proceeded
southwest along the southern coast of Japan and across the East China Sea towards eastern China.
One B-25, extremely
low on fuel, headed instead for the closer land mass of
With night approaching and weather rapidly deteriorating, the
aircraft were also running low on fuel. Lawson realized he would
probably not be able to reach the intended "safe" bases in China.
Like other crews who decided on either abandoning their aircraft by
bailing out or crash-landing on the coast, the mission of "The
Ruptured Duck" ended prematurely when Lawson crash-landed off the
coast near Shangchow, China.
Lawson who lost a leg and suffered other serious injuries as a
result of his crash landing, but like most of the B-25 crews that
came down in China, eventually made it to safety with the help of
Chinese civilians and soldiers. Rather than considering the
Doolittle Raid a failure, the U.S. government awarded the survivors
a Distinguished Flying
The nose art of the "The Ruptured
Duck" being recreated by famed Pacific Theater nose artist, Hal
The Doolittle Raid was the subject of two 1944 feature films
including Thirty Seconds
based on a book of the same title by Captain
Lawson (promoted after his return to duty). Spencer Tracy
played Doolittle and Van Johnson
portrayed Lawson in an accurate
depiction of the mission. Throughout both the book and film, "The
Ruptured Duck" formed the backdrop of the Doolittle Raid. Over the
years, the imagery of Lawson's aircraft became identified closely
with the Doolittle Raiders. Recently, the Pacific Aviation Museum –
Pearl Harbor opened its doors and one of its premier displays was a
Doolittle Raiders B-25 marked in the colors of Lt. Lawson's "The
Crew of "The Ruptured Duck"
Ted W. Lawson
Ted W. Lawson was the pilot. Lawson was born in Fresno, California and attended Los Angeles City College.
He joined the Army Air Corps
in March 1940.
After the Doolittle Raid, he authored Thirty Seconds Over
, an account of his participation in the Doolittle Raid.
The book was subsequently adapted into a film
of the same name.
Later in the war, he served as Liaison Officer, U.S. Air Mission,
Santiago, Chile from May 1943 until April 1944. He was retired for
physical disability on 2 February 1945. His decorations include the
Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and the Chinese Army,
Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
Lawson owned and operated a machine shop in Southern California, as
well as working for Reynolds Metals as liaison between the company
and the military. He died in his home in Chico, California on 19
was Lawson's co-pilot. He was born on 29 June
1918 in Spokane. He graduated from Portland High School in
Portland, Oregon, in
1937. He studied law at Albany and Northwestern colleges in Portland until he
enlisted as a Flying Cadet in the U.S.A.A.F. on 7 February
He graduated from Advanced Flying School and was
commissioned as a Second
on 27 September 1941.
was injured during the crash-landing in China after the
He managed to evade capture with the help of friendly
Chinese. After successful escape and recuperation, he returned from
India in October, 1942. He was later technical advisor for the film
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
. Davenport served in Alaska,
flying P-40, P-38 and P-51 aircraft from 1944 until 1947. He had
been commanding officer of several fighter units and also commanded
an Air Defense Command unit flying F-106 interceptors.
served in Korea and flew 86
combat missions and rose to the rank of colonel.
decorations include the Silver Star
Legion of Merit
with 1 Oak Leaf
, Air Medal
, Commendation Medal
with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
, and the Chinese Army,
Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade. Davenport died on 14
February 2000 in Panama City, Florida, aged 81.
Charles L. McClure
, (4 October
1916 – 19 January 1999) was Lawson's navigator. He graduated
University City High School, University City, Missouri and attended the University of Missouri.
He enlisted as a Flying Cadet on 12 October
1940 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and graduated from navigator
training and was commissioned as
on 5 December
McClure dislocated both of his shoulders in the crash after the
raid and was hospitalized until June 1943. He was assigned duties
as a navigator instructor and again hospitalized from February 1945
until June 1945. He was retired for physical disability on June
1945 with the rank of captain. His decorations include Distinguished Flying
, Purple Heart
, and the
Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
Robert Stevenson Cleaver
(22 May 1914 – 20
November 1942) was Lawson's bombardier. Cleaver enlisted as
Aviation Cadet at Vancouver Barracks, Washington on 15 March 1941
and was commissioned as Second
with the rating of bombardier on 16 December 1941 at
Pendleton Field, Oregon. He was injured during the crash-landing in
China. After returning to the United States, he was
stationed at Baer
Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana when he was killed in an aircraft crash near
Ohio on 20 November 1942.
Cleaver had risen to the rank of first lieutenant prior to his
death. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying
, Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps
, Class A, 1st Grade.
David J. Thatcher
(born 31 July
1921), was the only enlisted crew member and served as the flight
engineer/gunner. Thatcher was born in Bridger,
Montana. Upon his high school graduation, He enlisted
on 3 December 1940 and completed the Airplane and Engine Mechanic
Course in Lincoln,
Nebraska in December 1941.
was the only crew member to avoid serious injury when "The Ruptured
Duck" crash-landed just off the China coast,
enabling him to help the rest of the crew evade
returning to the United States, Thatcher later served in England and Africa until January
1944. He was discharged from active duty in July
1945 after stateside assignments in California.
Thatcher reached the rank of staff
sergeant. His decorations include the Silver
, the Distinguished Flying
, Air Medal
with 4 Oak Leaf
Clusters, and the Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A,
Thatcher is the last survivor of the crew. Only 9 out of original
80 raiders are currently alive. He was portrayed in the 1944 film,
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
by actor Robert Walker
- Lawson 2004
- Talento, Catherine. "WWII veteran's artwork lives on at museum." Air
Force News Agency, 25 April 2007. Retrieved: 10 February
- Watson 1950, p. 20.
- "Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Grand
Opening." Western Air Museum, 23 April 2007.
- Chun, Clayton K.S. The Doolittle Raid 1942: America's First
Strike Back at Japan (Campaign: 16). Botley, Oxford, UK:
Osprey, 2006. ISBN 1-84176-918-5.
- Glines, Carroll V. The Doolittle Raid: America's Daring
First Strike Against Japan. New York: Orion Books, 1988. ISBN
- Glover, Charles E. "Jimmy Doolittle’s One Moment in Time."
The Palm Beach Post, 18
- Lawson, Ted. W. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Secaucus, New
Jersey: Pocket Star, 2004 (reprint). ISBN 0-74347-433-3.
- Watson, Charles Hoyt. DeShazer: The Doolittle Raider Who
Turned Missionary. Winona Lake, Indiana: The Light and Life