Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Original Turbo the Flying Dog - Circa 1944

Turbo's Navy ID
I would like to thank aviation enthusiast, Russell, for bringing another amazing Turbo to my attention. The "original" Turbo was a female flying dog who served with our nation's Navy in World War II. What's great is that judging by the pictures, present day Turbo and WWII Turbo shared the same floppy ears for a short period of time! Below is a short history on Turbo, in Russell's words:

Rescued at sea
Turbo was born November 19, 1944 and became the mascot of a Navy Patrol Bomber crew in the latter part of WWII, primarily cared for by co-pilot Loyd Malcolm Bettis.
Ens. Loyd Bettis (later promoted to Lieutenant junior grade), was a member of Squadron VPB-121 and was copilot on a Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer.

Turbo trained with the crew in the Privateer during their training at Camp Kearny.
This crew's original Privateer was the first aircraft of this type that was lost in WWII January 12th 1945. After multiple engine failures, the crew had to ditch their plane 500 miles off the coast of California. All were saved, and happily, Turbo was rescued also after 9 hours in a rubber life raft.

Turbo ^ Ens. Bettis. Tinian, 1945
Turbo on Tinian
Turbo in training (see the ears?!)

Turbo became a member of The Sea Squatters Club, which honors airmen that ditched and survived in a rubber life raft.  The society was created by the Walter Kidde Company.  Presumably, Turbo was also honored as a member of the Goldfish Club, a British organization with the same mission as the Sea Squatter's organization, since Ens. Bettis was inducted.

The crew was assigned a new plane, noseart "Abroad for Action," and Turbo went with her crew to the war in the Pacific. 

They performed their assigned role as a Navy Patrol Bomber in the Marianas Islands:  Eniwetok April 1945, Guam July 1945, Tinian August 1945, and Iwo Jima later in August 1945. Yes, Turbo was at Tinian, the island where the B-29s took off and delivered atomic bombs on Japan, greatly shortening the war. She was likely a witness to this historic event.

After the war, Turbo returned to the States, but sadly, she didn't live a long life as a veteran of WWII. 

The only flying Consolidated Privateer was at Oshkosh this year, although it looks considerably different than wartime planes, without the nose and tail gun turrets and side blisters.

Years ago, Loyd Bettis wife, Elinor, allowed me to make a copy of her husband's WWII Navy scrapbook, so that other family members could have a copy.

He became an Eastern airline pilot after the war.  He passed away early in 1973 from cancer.  I never met him since I didn't become acquainted with his daughter until 2000.  He is survived by his wife, Elinor, and daughters, Ann, and Kathe.  His son, Alan passed away in 2006.

Enjoy the history of the first Turbo and remember our veterans! (human and canine)

Turbo's Sea Squatters Card


  1. Great post! I really enjoy the back stories of WWII. This had a different twist but a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Isn't it funny how the dog has an ID card (no wallet, pocket or purse to put it in) and the men have dog tags?


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