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Map Room

Welcome to the LGB.net map room. Subsequent map room updates will include a variety of LBG related maps, including an interpretive Google Earth KMZ map of Mission 109 with a timeline and position markers, and other LBG related materials. Check back from time to time as these maps are subsequently prepared, posted, and/or updated.

The LBG Crash Area Map
Last Updated: 05/29/2008

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View Map Notes and Data Sources

Previously published maps of the LBG crash site area, the path of the crew's traverse, and the positions where their remains were found, have been sorely lacking in quality, mostly hand drawn, and vary widely in terms of detail and accuracy. Literary claims of how far they walked vary widely as well. How far did these men actually travel? To find out, we have endeavored to create a map which gathers the known details of these elements and accurately measures them. The result is the map at left. Click the map to see a full sized version.

How was the map made?

The positions, distances, and azimuth headings on the LGB map were plotted and calculated using Google Earth and were based on coordinates published in Martinez, McClendon and elsewhere. These positions were then carefully transferred to a satellite photo of the area in Adobe Photoshop.

How accurate is the map?

We believe the locations, distances, and azimuth headings of map to be plotted as accurately as possible, given the variables that may exist in the original source data (see "Assumptions of Accuracy" on the Map Notes page). We have thus plotted the known positions of the LBG wreck and crew remains and taken careful distance and azimuth readings to correlate and plot the positions of the Italian and British vehicle tracks. The distances mentioned in the available accounts have been used to verify that these vehicle tracks are in relatively close correlation to those seen during the investigations in 1959. The timeline positions of the crew have been plotted by carefully studying the diary entries of both Toner and Ripslinger and using a "Walking Timeline Calculations" formula based on the rest times they mentioned in the diary entries, the previous and subsequent rests it can be assumed were taken in the hottest part of the afternoons thereafter, and average walking speeds to be expected by a group of men whose debilitation increases as their walking speed correspondingly decreases over the course of several days. Where parachute markers were placed, a half hour (with eight men at work) for their construction has been allotted. The parachute marker positions are based on the available published accounts, and Steve Whitby's excellent map in Jim Walker's history of the 376th Heavy Bomb Group entitled "The Liberandos" (1994) that contains over 60 pages of authoritative information dedicated to the LBG story.

Interestingly, even with the Italian track course diversion factored in, the crew's overall bearing of 332* from the rally point shows that they managed to maintain an almost perfect reciprocal of their 150* flight heading as they walked northwest towards Soluch. Careful usage of their emergency kit compasses seems to have been very effectively utilized.

For a detailed description of other elements and considerations that went into the map's creation see: Map Notes and Data Sources

The Google Earth Map
Last Updated: 07/27/2011
The GE map is now up to Version 1.3 see update notes below!

An Interactive Exploration...

Download "Lady Be Good 1.3.kmz"

View GE Map Notes and Tips

Google Earth's remarkable ability to dynamically view the world from any perspective, combined with it's intuitive interface, and user customization and geo-plotting capabilities make it a perfect platform to chart and explore the various aspects surrounding the Lady Be Good story. If you have Google Earth installed you can simply single left click the screenshot at left (or the link above) and it will open your GE installation, load the elements and imbedded information contained in the file, and zoom to central Libya. Right clicking on the same and choosing "Save Target As..." will save the KMZ file to your hard drive. Once downloaded, double clicking on it will likewise open GE and load the mapped data. It will then temporarily reside in you GE "Temporary Places" folder, so make sure and right click the file in the file window at the left of your GE screen and choose "Save To My Places" if you wish to keep the data and settings as part of your default GE files. If you don't have GE installed you can download a free copy here, courtesy of Google.

What's in the Map?

We've plotted a variety of LBG information into the GE file: The flight path of the Lady Be Good including her starboard descent to the crash site, the rally point after bail-out, path of the crew on their trek northward, parachute markers and discarded items the men left behind, the Italian and British vehicle tracks they followed and crossed, and the positions where investigator's finally discovered the airmen's remains. Left clicking on any of the imbedded icons will bring up a text bubble with much more information about that aspect of the map.

How accurate is the map?

The positions of the Lady Be Good wreck and crew remains are well known and have been plotted with a high degree of certainty. The other elements such as the crew's path, vehicle tracks and discarded items and markers have been extrapolated from a variety of informational data. Many of the positions of these various elements are based on careful azimuth and distance measurements taken in Google Earth to insure they correspond as accurately as possible with the information that was readily available. Given the limitations of there never having been a precision cartographic record produced of the various pieces of the investigation puzzle (to our knowledge anyway) most positions of the various elements herein should be considered approximations so far as their "precise" latitude and longitude are concerned. As stated above, this excludes the LBG crash site and the crew's remains, which are well documented. Painstaking care has been given to make sure that the imbedded textual information is also correct and we have crossed referenced and double checked it to insure it is as accurate as possible. When and if more precise or even contradictory evidence is offered or discovered we will update the KMZ file accordingly.

Where to Start...

The best way to explore the map is to start at the Lady Be Good herself, at the southern end of the map, and work northward. Clicking on the wreck will bring up an brief introductory overview of the most important aspects of the story. Moving northward (as the crew did from the rally point) will bring up a variety of other pieces of the puzzle, dispersed with diary entries from the crew during that part of their journey. The yellow "Timeline" markers contain a running dialogue of the crew's ordeal, while the other elements, (mostly in white) contain more detailed descriptions and historical tidbits about the Army investigation and other various facets of the story.

The Google Earth format provides a uniquely immersive environment by which to consider and contemplate the story of the LBG, and in creating it we hope we have accurately portrayed and honorably remembered her men in the doing.

For user tips and a detailed description of other elements and considerations that went into the GE map's creation see: GE Map Notes and Tips

02/21/010 UPDATE (Version 1.2) : Recently updated high resolution Google Earth Textures appear to finally show the exact location of the original crash site as being several hundred yards NW of where we previously had mapped with the old coordinates. Roads in the area converge on this spot where a well worn area at their junction indicate this was the precise location of the LBG for the many years she lay in the desert. The GE map has been updated to reflect this location (Version 1.2).

Flight Simulation Tests
Last Updated: 07/29/2011
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What's up with a "Flight Simulation Test" you ask?

The primary focus of the 1959/60 Army investigations was to find, recover, and repatriate the remains of the Lady's men. The effort required by the Army investigation teams to find clues to the men's whereabouts occupied the bulk of their time in the desert.

Though many photos were taken of the crash site during the course of the investigation, and items from the scene examined and inventoried, the unexpected difficulty of finding the lost airmen, combined with expense and manpower required to do so, likely left little enthusiasm or auxilary resources to linger upon the more subtle aspects of the crews final moments aboard their doomed Liberator, or at least its last few minutes aloft. That the LBG was running out of fuel, that the crew bailed out, the plane crashed, and that all but one of their crewman's remains were eventually recovered, was enough to close the investigation. Now, over fifty years later, could any insights as to what happened on the night of the crash be discovered from the known facts, archival photos, and historical records?

Armed with a good computer, original copies of both the 1942 and 1944 editions of the B-24 pilots manual, and well tuned Flight Simulation software, we decided to see. We set out to find a Liberator.After downloading and testing many "virtual" models, we were successful in finding a D model with finely tuned (and surprisingly accurate) flight dynamics, which included the ability to specify the weight of bomb load, remaining fuel, and crew distribution parameters. This was the aircraft to conduct our experiments.

For screenshots we gave it an LBG repaint, with the best known rendering of "Lady Be Good" on the starboard nose, the 514th bomb group squadron number on the port side, and the AAF production ID (42-30124) on both tailfins, and headed out to the Calanscio gravel plain in central Libya.

At best, we might discover what likelyhood of certain factors of airspeed, heading, rate of descent, altitude, throttle, mixture, and manifold pressure must have been in play in order for the crash to have occured as it did. A challenging experiment perhaps. At the very least, it would be an illuminating of excercise in aeronautical forensics.

Our full report chronicles what what we hoped to find out, how we conducted our tests, and the results observed.

View Full Report