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Major ‘Mad’ Jack Cram flew his Catalina “Blue Goose” as a bomber

Posted in America, Aviation, Historical articles, History, Weapons, World War 2 on Tuesday, 23 July 2013

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This edited article about World War Two originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 345 published on 24 August 1968.

Major Cram in Catalina, picture, image, illustration

'Mad' Jack Cram dropped his two torpedoes which sank a Japanese transport ship, by Wilf Hardy

The Pacific was a vital area for the Allies during World War II, and the war there was mainly near island bases which, had they fallen into Japanese hands, would have menaced the continent of Australia and, ultimately, the Pacific coast of America itself.

In a vast area like the Pacific Ocean, flying boats such as the Consolidated PBY Catalina played a big role. They were used principally for long-range reconnaissance, air-sea rescue, and anti-submarine patrols. They were slow, and easy meat for enemy fighters, but they could absorb tremendous punishment. They could also be fitted with landing wheels, making them amphibious.

One of the most outstanding stories about these remarkable aircraft, and the men who flew them, concerns a Catalina named Blue Goose, which was captained by Major “Mad” Jack Cram.

Major Cram arrived on the battered airstrip of Henderson Field on the island of Guadalcanal, one day in October, 1942. The American defenders of the island were hard-pressed. The Japanese had been shelling their airstrip, and now enemy transports were bringing troops reinforcements to a point farther along the coast.

The ships were protected by a destroyer screen and an “umbrella” of Japanese Zero fighters. They had to be stopped, and although Major Cram had never made a torpedo attack, he asked permission to join the dive-bombers gathering for the battle so that he could drop the 2,000-lb. torpedoes under his Catalina’s wings.

It seemed a crazy thing to do, but Major Cram was not nicknamed “Mad,” for nothing. He took the lumbering Catalina into the air and joined the fighters and fighter-bombers circling two miles east of the field. The formation moved in to attack the ships, and Major Cram pushed the flying boat’s nose into a dive as he headed for a Japanese transport about a mile ahead.

The Catalina was never built to exceed 160 m.p.h., but Blue Goose reached an indicated air speed of 270 m.p.h. before Major Cram pulled the toggle which released the torpedoes. The huge wings of the “Cat” groaned and flapped terrifyingly, but they held together, and “Mad” Jack had the satisfaction of watching both his “tinfish” explode against the side of a transport, which later sank.

Major Cram was awarded the Navy Cross for his skill and courage in the attack.

One comment on “Major ‘Mad’ Jack Cram flew his Catalina “Blue Goose” as a bomber”

  1. 1. Molly B says:

    I have googled Jack Cram many times….this is the first I have seen this picture and article.
    Mad Jack Cram was my Great Uncle.

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