The Story of that Invincible "Bloom's Tomb"
Every aircraft assigned to the 514th Squadron, carried a large "07" painted on each side of the fuselage. The 512th used the markings "L3", and the 513th used "4P" to identify its aircraft. Besides these markings, each plane was also assigned a letter of our alphabet which identified that one specific aircraft. Thus, Col. Kelly's P-47 carried the Squadron markings "07" and also the letter "Q". J.C. Van Bloom's carried the "07" with the letter "R". while the BIG ASS BIRD, a 513th P-47 assigned to Howard Park, carried his squadron's identifying mark of "4P" and the plane identification letter "S". I'm not sure just how the Squadron's identification letters and numbers were awarded, but the plane's identifying letters were awarded by "Luck of the Draw". Thus, through this means, J. C. was awarded the letter "R", with which to identify his aircraft.
After a number of serious accidents had befallen some of BLOOM'S TOMBS, and enemy artillery and gun fire damaged others — sufficiently to require replacements — the Squadron Operations Officer suggested to J. C. that, perhaps he should change the identifiying letter "R" on his plane, to some other letter in the alphabet. Such a change might counter the plane's bad luck and since this was a relatively easy change to make, there was little sense in tempting fate. However, J. C. refused to make that change, insisting on holding on to his "luck of the draw" letter "R", and after a while, this matter became a highly sensitive and hotly debated issue. The dispute was finally settled by a compromise that "saved face" for both sides. J.C. Van Bloom allowed a bar to be placed under the letter R, making it "R". That is what one might call — Creative Diplomacy.
The original "NOSE ART" on BLOOM'S TOMB depicted a pilot in a flight suit, sitting on top of a winged flying coffin, gliding through space — while thumbing his nose (at the enemy, so I'm told). All this against a background of a white, puffy cloud. This same basic design was displayed on eight of the nine planes assigned to J. C. It seems that the artist, S/Sgt. Sam Mickwee, our Squadron Intelligence Deptartment Chief, got just a little tired of repainting the same design, time and time again; feeling certain that in a few weeks, it would only again vanish. Thus, on the 9th P-47 D 433353, he painted a picture of a TOMBSTONE, with that recognizable phrase BLOOM'S TOMB underneath it.
Here are a few other novel and creative ideas that J. C. Van Bloom came up with for his numerous P-47s. He had his guns so wired that he could fire either all eight machine guns at one time, thus spewing out up to 6,400 caliber 50, rounds per minute; or (if the target so dictated), by flipping a switch, fire just the four outside guns, thus saving valuable ammunition. In addition, he had his 4 outside machine guns harmonized so as to converge at a distance of 400 yards and his four inside guns to converge at 4OO yards. This arrangement gave him additional flexibility in range.
J. C. also had, at one time, specially designed pipes fastened on to the plane's wings so as to give off a louder whistling sound when the plane went into a dive. I don't believe J. C. ever had an opportunity to interview any of the enemy troops on the ground, to learn just how effective these "wing flutes" of his were.