1945: Man Dangles from B-29 During Bombing of Tokyo

Feb 20

Sgt. Krantz Dangles from B-29

A Lucky Escape During the Bombing of Tokyo

During one of the high-altitude raids over Japan from Saipan, one gunner had a lucky escape.

It was on a raid in February 1945 that Sgt James Krantz was blown out of the B-29 American Maid when his observation blister was shot away. Home made straps he had designed saved him from plunging to death and he dangled for 15 minutes over Nagoya before his fellow crew members could pull him back into the ship.

b-29 superfortress bombing tokyo

Original caption: This remarkable photograph, taken on a Boeing B-29 strike over Tokyo, Japan, shows Sgt. J Krantz, Hickory Point, Tenn., a waist gunner on a 21st Bomber Command Superfortress, dangling from his aircraft over Japan.

An alert aerial photographer, Captain John Bartlett, in another B-29 snapped the now-famous picture of the plucky gunner hanging from the American Maid while the fighting went on about him.

”The Japanese Chamber of Commerce had done a good job. They gave us a very hot reception.”

“We were struck by two win engine Jap fighters that rushed our tait. The tail gunner called up and said on of his fingers had been shot off but he dropped his cap over the blood stained stub on the floor and shot down one of the planes. The second one came in and blew the waist gunner out of the ship along with his gun-set. We were 27,000 feet up at the time and the temperature was about 45 degrees below zero. Krantz lost a few fingers from frostbite but other than that he came out all right.”

– Capt John D. Bartlett

krantz b29 superfortress tokyo

Krantz with his buddies in the Medical Treatment Center in Saipan, February 1945.




  1. Sgt J. Krantz’s daughter visited us at Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson Arizona in 2018 and showed the docents this photo of her father dangling from his blister. I work in one of our WW2 hangars with our B-29 Superfortress, Sentimental Journey, as our center piece and she came in to see our plane. She remarked that her father said that he was the only US serviceman to get frostbite in the Pacific Theater!

    • pmont005 /

      That’s amazing! Great story!

    • Brian Wells /

      I just learned through Ancestry DNA that my father was Jack Bartlett – Captain and pilot of the American Maid. I’ve since learned that I have a new brother and sister, both of whom I’m now in contact with, and I’ve actually met with my new sister twice. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to contact Sgt. Krantz’s daughter (what is her name?) to learn more. I’m still tracing back my ancestry and find new amazing things each day. Many thanks for your post!!!

  2. Chuck /

    Just heard a guide at the Air and Space museum outside Dulles say the B-29 program lost more people to frostbite than to enemy fire.

    Considering how many were killed in action, that’s a lot. This man got lucky twice over!


    Sgt. Krantz and the tail gunner, Sgt. Wilson, were both wounded on this flight. Two men from the ground crew replaced them the next day. Curiously, they were both named George Beck. My dad was S.Sgt. George A. Beck, Jr., and he replaced Krantz at the left gun. Cpl. George N. Beck took over the tail gun position. Both these men flew a number of missions on “American Maid” during the first half of 1945.