Short Final: U.S. Army Ale Force


As the World War II story goes … at an advance American fighter base during the North African offensive, mechanics fixed up a left-behind medium bomber, which took on the role of squadron “hack,” including one regular mission that was never recorded on the official logs. Apparently, there was no shortage of GI beer, but refrigeration was nowhere to be found. So, when the combat flying was done for the day, one of the pilots would be “assigned” to take the bomber up to a frosty altitude over the airfield and circle while the beer got cold enough to enjoy.

During one such mission, a commanding general flying his personal aircraft dropped in for an unscheduled inspection stop. As he made his rounds, pilots and ground crew sneaked nervous glances up at the circling bomber, hoping the general didn’t notice. Time went on, and still the brass hat wasn’t leaving, stopping to make frustrating small talk with the pilots, who all knew the bomber’s fuel must be running low.

Finally, the general stopped talking, squinted up in the sky, and said, “Fer Chrissake, can someone please get on the radio and tell that beer plane to land so we can all have a cold one?”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. That’s OK–I agree that it’s still good humor.

    It’s kind of like Mel Brooks (writer of “Blazing Saddles”) character “The 2,000 year-old-man” schtick–some humor is timeless, (and worth repeating!).

  2. My dad spent considerable time with the USAAC during WWII. When I was a kid, he told me that his unit’s recon P-38s would almost always take some oranges (if they had them) along on some of their high altitude missions. The guys at the various air bases in the Philippines (they were constantly being moved farther north) really appreciated the gesture, he said.

  3. About a year ago a bad hail storm came thru and the owner of a damaged Auster decided to take advantage of the fabric damage insurance to redo the entire airplane in original camouflage. They knew it had been involved in the D day invasion and during strip back they found a bullet hole in the frame. Apparently the squadron’s main duty for this plane was to replenish beers from England.