Today in U.S. military history: ‘Broken Arrow’ — B-47 drops nuclear weapon after mid-air collision

1914: Austrian doctors examine a young Adolf Hitler, determining him unfit for service in the Austro-Hungarian military. Hitler will volunteer for the German army when war breaks out in August, serving as a runner for a reserve infantry regiment.

1918: U.S. Army Lt. Stephen W. Thompson, a member of the American 1st Aero Squadron, is invited by French aviators to fly in a French “Breguet” biplane bomber as a gunner on one of their missions. Thompson shoots down a German Albatross fighter over Saarbrucken, Germany, making him the first American in uniform to shoot down an enemy airplane.

Today, the U.S. Air Force’s 1st Reconnaissance Squadron traces its lineage back to the 1st Aero Squadron.

1943: President Franklin D. Roosevelt awards Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift the Medal of Honor for his role as commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during the Guadalcanal campaign.

1944: Over Forges-les-Eaux, France, Oberstleutnant (Lt. Col.) Egon Mayer shoots down a P-47 Thunderbolt, becoming the first Luftwaffe pilot to shoot down 100 enemy warplanes entirely on the Western Front. Mayer is shot down and killed two days later while leading an attack on a B-17 formation over Sedan.

A captured Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw-190

Most of Mayer’s victories are Royal Air Force fighters, but the German ace takes down 21 B-17s, six B-24s, two B-25s, one B-26, and 12 P-47s.

1958: A F-86 Sabre collides with a B-47 Stratojet bomber (featured image) piloted by Maj. Howard Richardson during a simulated combat exercise. The Sabre pilot ejects and the B-47’s wings are severely damaged, forcing an emergency landing. Before the bomber can land safely, the crew jettisons the 7,600-lb. Mark 15 hydrogen bomb off the coast of Savannah, Ga. before landing at Hunter Air Force Base.

The Pentagon informs the public that the weapon’s nuclear capsule had been removed prior to the mission and therefore presented no threat.

Author: Chris Carter

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