Top Turret Training during World War II. Fran and the other gunners who ended up on the Daisy Mae began their gunnery training in Las Vegas. They learned how to shoot with ground training and then graduated to shooting drills at drones while flying high over the Nevada desert.
Sergeant Masters, who taught Perkins, Conley and Calhoun, trained over 600 airman how to fly and fight during the summer of 1942.
You can learn more about “Flexible Gunnery School,” in my book, the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae.
On April 3, 1943, Fran and the other gunners, are picked up at Davis-Monthan Airfield in Tucson, Arizona and depart to Hawaii for their very first mission. This is their very first bomber. It is called Thumper. The ten-man bomber crew had been training since July and finally, they will be hurled into World War II.
Their new bomber with that brand new bomber smell, flies the guys from Arizona to Kualoa Airfield in Hawaii on April, 3, 1943. After the crew deplanes at 5 PM, a new crew gets on board Thumper for a defensive patrol around the Hawaiian Islands. Shortly after take off, the second crew loses radio contact with the control tower.
The crew and the wreckage of Thumper, are never found. Fran Perkins and the other guys learn quickly that even in non-combat roles, men are lost. A sickening feeling takes over the crew. In silent tribute to the relief crew on Thumper, they never mention her again.
Shown in the picture is “Thumper II,” in June of 1943. It crashed upon take off at the same Kualoa Airfield, where Thumper I was lost.