The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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"Pappy" Gunn was a former U.S. Navy flight instructor and
airline official who was one of the last Americans to escape from the Philippines. His wife and
four children were interned by the Japanese
for the duration of the war, giving him a powerful personal stake in fighting the Japanese. Gunn was commissioned a captain, joined 5
Air Force in Australia,
and quickly established a reputation as a master tinkerer and
innovator, eventually rising to the rank of colonel and command of 5 Air Force Service Command. Most aircraft models deployed to the Southwest Pacific were
field modified by Gunn and his assistants.
A Gunn makeover typically
involved dropping superfluous equipment and crewmen and replacing them
with more guns and fuel tanks. For example, Gunn remade the A-20, which proved mediocre in its design role as a conventional bomber, into an aerial gunship by replacing the bombardier with four 0.50 Browning machine guns. These
were supplemented with two additional 0.50s in fuselage blisters and
the twin 0.50s in the dorsal turret, giving the aircraft devastating
forward firepower. Two high-capacity fuel tanks were installed in the
forward bomb bay, and honeycomb racks were installed in the rear bomb
bay for over 40 parafrag bombs.
Also known as the "Mad Professor", Gunn was a
terror to subordinates to whom his reckless flying seemed suicidal, but
he enjoyed the patronage of Ennis Whitehead, deputy commander of 5 Air Force.
Wilson (2006; accessed 2012-4-23)
The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia © 2007, 2012-2013 by Kent G. Budge. Index
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