MISSION 95 - VIENNA AARs
318th BS (LEAD)
SCREWBIRD's GIFTS , First flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #1 engine feathered, bomb bay door, port aileron and starboard waist MG inoperable, radio out, structural damage to both tail plane roots, numerous superficial damage throughout the aircraft (132 damage points) and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by Sgt. Stallard and 1 Me-109 by 1st Lt. Brame.
Seemed we might get by on this one until we hit the hit the flak. Took at least nine hits from the flak, if we remember correctly. With all that bouncing around and damage we are lucky we got the bombs away at all. Post flight inspection yield a couple of holes that just missed the bombs. Got jumped as we exited the bombing run and lucky for us we nailed both the 190s.
Just before we got back we were jumped by a few persistent 109s. They played hell on us. Lost the port #1 engine, port aileron, port guns and added quite a few holes in this old Screwbird. Post inspection noted we almost lost our tail, a lot of damage to our tailplane roots (both sides). Sgt. Owens took a hit during all this fiasco.
- Major Mike Mikula, CO, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
STORM RUNNER , First flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 75%. Returned starboard aileron inoperable, superficial damage to the tail and no casualties.
I can’t decide which mission was easier, Verona, Italy or Vienna Austria. Both were cakewalks.
We were able to get over Vienna without running across any enemy fighters. We did receiving some damage from the flak above Vienna, enough to damage our starboard wing and tail, but not enough to knock us off target.
The only fighters we encountered on our way home was as we crossed into Yugoslavia from Austria; 2 Me-110s got close, but a P-51 got one and the other missed before racing off.
The rest of the run was uneventful. Its been a nice few days.
- 2nd Lt. Paul Stinson, Pilot, Storm Runner, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
RAIDEN MAIDEN, First flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Fell out-of-formation after bomb run. Returned alone and landed with bomb bay doors damaged and stuck open, starboard elevator, intercom and chin turret inoperable, structural damage to starboard wing root, a few cockpit windows shattered, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Jack Mathis and Sgt. Jim Decker.
Left Italy in a beautiful blue sky and successfully formed on the lead squadron behind Major Mikula in Screwbird’s Gifts. Everything on plane was in operational order. Headed over the Adriatic headed for Yugoslavia and Austria.
We saw several enemy fighters after going feet dry in Yugoslavia, but none made any passes on us. Amazing view from the front with no fighters attacking us directly.
We arrived over the target and received a severe flak attack, the starboard wing root was hit and the starboard elevator was acting very slushy just as we entered the Bomb Run. 2nd Lt. Pyle again dropped over a clear target and we saw the bombs hit near the aim point. As we turned off the target we were again hit with flak, one shell must have hit the door mechanism right as we left the target and tried to close the doors. We could not close the doors and I sent 2nd Lt. Frank Beadle to try to close the bomb doors with the manual gear. He unsuccessfully struggled with the gear for the next 2 hours, right up until we were over land in Italy before finally giving up.
The open doors put enough drag on the Maiden to slow us until we fell out-of-formation as we turned for home.
As we watched the rest of the formation leave us, we were hit by 3 109s from the front. Luckily they made a single pass and missed us in the process. A short while later we were again hit by 2 109s again from dead ahead. One of the bogies got some good hits on us, shattering the co-pilot’s window; luckily 2nd Lt. Beadle was still working on the bomb doors, so caused no further damage in our compartment. The fighter made another unsuccessful pass and flew off. 2nd Lt. Pyle came up to the flight deck and told me his chin turret was out. Likewise TSgt. Graham, a new replacement came up to the flight deck and told me the intercom was out. So now we are out of formation, no intercom and the front turret out. At least we are still airborne, just very lonely.
The next attack was 3 109s again from directly ahead, this time a lone P-51 chased off one and the other 2 were forced to attack from high and low directly ahead. SSgt. Mathis got some hits on the high one and Sgt. Decker hit the low one seeing it burst into flames as it went past. Neither fighter came back.
As we approached the Adriatic, we had a single 109 make a vertical dive attack on us, and a single 109 from directly ahead. Neither hit, and we saw nothing but clear sky as we left Yugoslavia over the Adriatic.
As we flew over Vis, I told Lt. Beadle to give up on the bomb bay doors, and he came back to his seat, covered in sweat and very uncomfortable as the wind coming through his broken window hit him in the face.
We spotted our base, late as the other forts were already down and most in their parking berths. We landed with a bit of difficulty because of the starboard elevator, but helped due to good weather. Down in one piece. Scary mission, all alone for most of it.
- 1st Lt. Mark Mathis, Pilot, Raiden Maiden, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
JOLLIE ROGER, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with radio & port elevator inoperable, tail wheel damaged, structural damage to port wing root, superficial damage to the port ailerons, to nose, bomb bay and waist compartments (132 damage points) and 1 light casualty.
Mission completed successfully.
Our trip to the target was pretty good and quiet.
We didn’t see any aircraft near us until we were starting our bomb run and those aircraft were distracted by other planes in the formation and did not approach us.
We got hit pretty hard by flak on the approach and Lt. Havens took a hit. It did not seem to slow him down any and he was still able to drop our bombs on target.
Leaving the target area we again were hit by flak and took some major hits but this did not impede our egress.
The trip home was a repeat of the trip to the target. Saw some aircraft near us as we left the target zone but they did not come after us.
No other aircraft came our way for the rest of the mission.
Landing was a greaser.
Doc says that Lt. Havens was only lightly hit and should not be out too long.
- 1st Lt. Raul Smith, Pilot, Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
MAE DAY, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with structural damage to starboard wing root, port flaps inoperable, damage to the rudder and 1 light casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Worth.
We had two 109s attack on the way to the target (zone-4). The first 109 was driven off by fighter coverage. The second 109 was shot down by Sgt. Worth. It was came in from the 3 o’clock level.
Flak over the target was heavy and we took some damage. We had a starboard wing root hit, tail rudder hit, Sgt. Givens had a light wound to his right knee and the port wing flap was inoperable. The bomb run was on target with 30% in the target area. Flak was medium on the way out of the target, but we did not take any hits.
We had no contact with any enemy fighters on the way back to base.
The landing was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Ralph Baumgartner, Pilot, Mae Day, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SILVER GHOST, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with minor damage to starboard outboard fuel cell (slight leak), damage to the starboard cheek gun and no casualties.
Take off at 0700, formed up with the 316th and 399th squadrons. Major Mikula then led the group up to 20,000 feet to rendezvous with the 463rd and 301st bomber groups. Our group drew the high position for the wing.
Bandit contact was minimal until we were deep inside Yugoslavia near the Austrian border. But by and large the enemy aircraft attacks were ineffective. They just didn’t want to press their attacks or were low on fuel. Whatever the reasons was fine by us. The squadron grouping seemed very tight today, the supporting fire was probably one of the reasons the Jerries went looking elsewhere.
Flak over the target was horrible. We had a couple near bursts, one close to the starboard wing. Lieutenant Wilhite reported a slight decrease in fuel pressure in number four tank. At that point I decided to completely take the outboards down first to compensate for the slight fuel leak in number four.
Lieutenant Smith thinks he only had an average drop. Smoke from the lead groups drop was obscuring the target.
The group turned to the rally point and was greeted by another round of flak. Either Vienna is well defended or the guys in Intel missed something on their recon flights. Fortunately the flak wasn’t as heavy as what we got going in. Some half-hearted attacks by German pilots as we left Austria, however our mutually supporting fire again really persuaded the Jerries to attack elsewhere. They continued to harass the squadron until we made Yugoslavia and then they decided to break off. Probably low on fuel.
The rest of the flight over Yugoslavia was uneventful. The crew was vigilant but no more enemy fighters jumped us. We made the Adriatic in good time, Lieutenant Wofford pointed out to the crew the island of Vis. Some of the crew jokingly relayed over the intercom, “Sir, Been there, seen that, got the tee-shirt,” as it was where some of us had so recently spent some time. Sgt. Gibson swears he saw the outline of Lickity-Split sitting in the shallows near the island.
We finally crossed over into Italy, the wing broke up, each group heading to its specific fields. The 318th was the first to break the pattern and make our landings. I brought in Silver Ghost last, a smooth landing (by my standards anyway) and taxied to our hardstand.
We reported the damaged machine gun and told Sgt. Brown about the fuel pressure in number four tank. He confirmed later that yes there was a leak, however small, but that it would be patched and fit for flight for our next scheduled mission.
- 2nd Lt. Mark Romero, Pilot, Silver Ghost, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
317th BS (MIDDLE)
AC# 43-8987, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the starboard waist MG knocked out, structural damage to both wing roots, superficial damage to the port wing, port flaps, nose, bomb bay, waist and tail compartments and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Nakano.
Near Graz, Austria (zone-5) - Saw boggies coming in from 6 o’clock high that were driven off by a combination of bomber fire and fighter intercept by the 52nd Fighter Group before they were able to attack.
Approaching target (zone-6) - Five (5) Fw-190s attack coming in from every direction. One fighter was driven off by fighters from the 52nd Fighter Group before it was able to attack. A fighter coming in from 12 o’clock high was damaged by 2nd Lt. Ito. Also, one coming in from 6 o’clock high was damaged by Sgt. Tom Ito. All of the fighters, except for the one coming in from 9 o’clock high, missed. This one did a walking hit causing superficial damage to the nose, port wing and tail; it only was able to knock out the starboard gun. The fighter was able to return attacking at 12 o’clock high but missed the plane and didn’t return.
OVER TARGET - Encountered HEAVY FLAK getting hit three (3) times, once each in the wings and waist. The hit to the starboard wing damaged the root area, the hit to the port wing slightly damaged the wing flap but it was still operational. The hit to the waist was superficial in nature. Because of the hits to the bomber we were not able to get any bombs on target. On the turn around we were hit with more flak but this time we were not hit.
Leaving target area - Three (3) Me-110s attacked the bomber coming in from 12 o’clock low, 10:30 level and 6 o’clock low. The one coming in from 10:30 was damaged by the chin turret manned by Lt. Ito. The one coming in from 6 o’clock was heavily damaged by the ball gun manned by Sgt. Nakano. Both e/a missed the plane and didn’t return. The other one coming in hit the plane 3 times: once in the tail, port wing, and bomb bay. The hits to the tail and bomb bay were superficial. The hit to the port wing damaged the root area of the wing. The fighter returned from 9 o’clock level and it was shot down by the ball gun manned by Sgt. Nakano before it was able to attack.
Southern Austria (zone-5) - Boggies came in from 6 o’clock but were chased off by a combination of fire from the bomb group and timely interceptions by the 31st Fighter Group.
Landed at airfield without any problem.
- 1st Lt. Mickey Akiyama, Pilot, AC# 43-8987, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CHARLENE, Third flight, Left aircraft
Did not bomb target. Shot down by flak 2m SE of Vienna; 10 KIA.
Bomber SN#43-8976, aka Charlene, was hit by flak over Vienna resulting in a fuel tank fire and explosion. No parachutes were observed as the plane spiraled out of control and crashed.
- From debriefing reports of 88th Bomb Group (H)
EAGLE ONE, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 75%. Fell-out-of-formation after bomb run. Returned home alone and landed with fire damage to the nose, waist and tail compartment, rafts shot up and destroyed, the port aileron, starboard elevators and tail turret inoperable, damage to the control cables and tail plane, the starboard inboard fuel tank leaking, the port inboard fuel tank holed (self-sealed), superficial damage to fuselage, starboard wing, #4 engine, to the nose, radio, waist and tail compartments (248 damage points), and 2 light casualties. Claims: 3 Me-109s by 2nd Lt. McCoy, 2 Me-109s by Sgt. Simpson, and 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Manes and Sgt. Parker.
What a mission this was. Everything started off great. As soon as we cleared the safe zone we had a couple of 109s come at us which were quickly chased away by our escorts. Then it was quiet all the way until we hit the target zone . . . and all hell broke loose. It started out easy enough as two more 109s came at us. Lieutenant McCoy hit one with a single burst and it simply exploded and we flew through the debris. I don’t know what he hit . . . but it must have been something important.
Then . . . we found out those intelligence boys were right on the money about the AA capability around the target. We got hit and bounced around like none of us have ever seen or felt. It was terrifying . . . and it just kept on coming like we were the only plane they were shooting at. But when it finally stopped and we assessed the damage we found out that only one of us had been hit . . . our new starboard gunner, Sgt. Davis, but it was only a big scratch. The Eagle actually fared pretty well considering. The radio was out and the starboard elevator was no longer working. Lieutenant Decker was saying something about the controls getting a little soft so I guess some control cables took some damage too. Plus there were a lot of holes we could see in the aircraft. But other than that . . . we realized how lucky we had been so far. Then to top things off . . . after getting hammered by that flak . . . Lt. McCoy still dropped our bomb load dang near right on target.
Then we turned for home.
Once again the Jerry AA gunners found their range on the Eagle. They punched a bunch more holes in her . . . and knocked out the port aileron. But then our luck ran out. One hit back in the tail started a fire . . . although Sgt. Parker was able to contain it. However, we now knew we were heading down because of the loss of oxygen back there. Then . . . there was one final hit and we all could see fuel start to leak out of the starboard inboard tank. Now we were in real trouble. But the leak seemed to be rather small . . . and we all held out hope that we wouldn’t lose so much fuel that we wouldn’t make it home.
So as we got down to lower altitude and the formation disappeared we were on our own . . . and the boys got real serious. Four more 109s jumped us as we cleared the flak shooting gallery. Two of them were driven off by some escorts who came down to help us out. The other two were both shot down . . . one by Lt. McCoy . . . his second of the mission. The other one by our quirky navigator Lt. Manes. So far so good. As we exited the target zone we were swarmed by five more of the Jerry bastards and unfortunately none of the escorts were around this time. Again . . . some of the best shooting we’ve had as a crew continued as Sgt. Parker and Sgt. Simpson each sent one spinning down. The other three made their initial pass at us but they succeeded in only putting yet more holes in the ol’ Eagle. As they turned around to come back at us our crew let loose once again. Lt. Manes and SSgt. Hobbs damaged a couple of them as witnessed by the black smoke they began trailing . . . and Lt. McCoy bagged his third 109 of the mission.
As we cleared that area . . . you can’t imagine our surprise when all of a sudden we started taking hits from AA fire again. It was much smaller stuff . . . but it still caused problems. We had another fire up in the nose which Lt. McCoy easily extinguished. Then after realizing the Lt. Manes had taken some shrapnel in his leg Lt. McCoy played medic and patched him up . . . and then he let us know that it wasn’t too serious. Man . . . this guy had his act together today. There was also some superficial damage to the #4 engine and another fuel tank leak which quickly sealed itself up. Thank God . . . because the fuel gauges were not showing a very rosy picture as it was according the SSGt Hobbs.
Anyway . . . some more enemy fighters showed up around this time. Why not right? This time there was a total of four. Sgt. Simpson killed his second 109 of the day. The other three got through and put more holes in our plane. They turned for us again . . . and Lt. McCoy damaged one so bad he kept right on going after whipping past us and putting a few holes in our starboard wing. The other guy got through and shot up our rafts and knocked out the tail turret . . . but thankfully Don Parker was fine. This guy turned around and peppered us with more holes . . . and believe it or not . . . ANOTHER fire started in the waist compartment. You can’t believe how happy we were when one of the new guys, Lou Davis, reported the fire was out with the last extinguisher we had onboard.
From that point on . . . all was quiet . . . and we all just knew what everybody was thinking, How much gas do we have left?
Well . . . believe it or not . . . as Lt. Decker was bringing in the Eagle for landing . . . about 10 feet above the runway the engines started sputtering a bit . . . causing us to come down real hard. But we made it . . . although we were running on fumes. I think we are all gonna get drunk tonight after this adventure. Great bomb run . . . ammunition running low . . . fuel damn near gone . . . our plane shot to hell (the ground boys will be busy patching her up) . . . but the best part is only a couple of us even get hurt at all. I suppose that is what matters the most.
- Sgt. James Rim, Gunner, Eagle One, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
316th BS (HIGH)
FOUR-OF-A-KIND, First flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with top and tail turrets inoperable, radio destroyed, damaged to the tail wheel, superficial damage to the starboard wing, starboard ailerons, to the fuselage, nose, bomb bay, radio, waist, tail and pilots’ compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 1st Lt. Gilbert and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Smith.
CABALLERO, First flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Group Spare - Took place of Ice Queen. Returned with ailerons instruments, navigator and port waist heating systems inoperable, damaged to the control cables, to the rudder (1), to the port wing outbound tank holed (self-sealed), superficial damage to the port wing (1), fuselage (1), nose (3), bomb bay (1), radio (1), waist (1), and pilots’ (1) compartments, and 1 light casualty and 2 cases of frostbite. Claims: 1 Me-110 apiece by SSgt. Siemon & Sgt. Sawyer.
SLEDGEHAMMER II, First flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the starboard waist MG inoperable, superficial damage to both wings, to the tail plane, to the pilot's window and 1 light casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by Lt. Newman and Sgt. Fleetwood and 1 Bf-109 apiece by SSgt. Parsons and Sgt. Hornsby.
Mission #95 started off with the crew in a jovial mood . . . must have been the previous milk run which raised morale. However, things quickly got down to business as SLEDGEHAMMER’s crew fought off no less than six enemy waves prior to reaching Vienna. The fighters started soon after crossing into enemy territory and didn’t let up until we were long past Vienna. The first enemy fighter put a bullet hole in the plane’s windshield, which whistled annoyingly the entire rest of the flight. He paid for this transgression as the engineer downed him with a long burst. The crew continued their amazing shooting, with 3 more aircraft shot down before reaching the target, and no serious damage incurred by the plane.
The extremely heavy flak at the target seemed to have us bracketed and we took 4 flak hits, two in the starboard wing, and two in the tail plane. About this time a Bf-109’s bullet grazed Jackson Browne’s thigh (the port waist gunner) and knocked out the starboard waist machinegun. With all the flak and fighters, it was not surprising our drop appeared to be somewhat off target.
Just after the drop we took some more flak bursts in our vicinity, but there was no damage. Our gunners were busy again on the return trip, driving away 4 enemy fighters with accurate defensive fire. Things finally cooled down, we transferred some ammo to the top turret, but this was an unnecessary precaution as no more contact was made and the landing was perfect.
The crew was amazed at the lack of battle damage in spite of the heavy flak and large numbers of enemy fighters . . . two hits to the wing, two to the tail plane, a damaged machinegun, and a single bullet hole in the windshield. Lt. Springfield summed it up with three words: "Good defensive gunners".
- 2nd Lt. Dave Mattews, Co-Pilot, Sledgehammer II, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
GINGER SNAP, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with structural damage to port wing root, port aileron inoperable, starboard wing outboard fuel tank holed, superficial damage to the starboard aileron and waist compartment - all damage caused by flak, and no casualties.
We did not spot any fighters until we passed into Austrian airspace, but the P-51s kept them off of us from that point all the way in to the target. But flak over the target was brutal, as Ginger Snap was hit numerous times. The heavy flak rattled the entire crew, including the normally steady Lt. McClain, as his bomb drop missed the target.
Leaving the target area we were hit again by flak. As soon as we finally passed through the dense flak belt surrounding the city we were jumped by 5 German fighters, including a 2-engine job. The Mustangs chased off the Me-110 and its escort (Me-109?). But three Fw-190s got past the little friends and made a coordinated, head-on pass at us. Lt. McClain exploded one in mid-air, and SSgt. Skorsky’s target flipped over on its back and dove sharply away, visibly on fire. The third bogey luckily missed us and streaked through the formation behind us.
As we neared the Yugoslavian border, a lone FW-190 made a diving pass on us before our gunners could react. This fighter missed us also, fortunately, and we observed it continuing its dive through the rest of the group below us.
After landing, our ground crew informed us that our starboard outboard fuel cell had been hit by flak. Evidently the cell self-sealed, and we were extremely fortunate not to have caught on fire.
- Captain Harold Snakenburg, Pilot, Ginger Snap, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
WENTVILLE WIZ, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with 2 casualties (154 damage points). Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by Lt. Phillips and Sgt. Clement.
WHIRLWIND, Second flight, Right aircraft
Did not bomb target. Shot down by flak hit causing runaway engine 1m SE of Vienna; 3 KIA, 7 POWs.
After heavy sustained fighter attacks, Whirlwind was caught by a series of flak burst. Last radio message heard was that two of the crew had been killed and three wounded, one seriously, then number 4 engine was a runaway and they were bailing out. Whirlwind was last seen breaking out of formation trailing seven parachutes prior to reaching the target.
- From debriefing reports from the 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SATIN DOLL, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #3 Engine oil tank ruptured, fire damage to #3 Engine, starboard elevator inoperable, superficial damage to starboard wing skin from 20mm shells, starboard ailerons holed from flak damage, ball turret Plexiglas damaged, to the waist, and tail compartments and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Ronnie Rountree & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. A. S. Walker.
Yet again we go for a walk in the Vienna woods. Right after we crossed into Yugoslavia it looked a little dicey, lots of little specks forming up out in front of us. Fortunately, the Mustangs of the 52nd FG brushed three of them off our nose before they got close enough to do any harm.
Halfway to Austria, a lone Me-109 broke toward us from 1:30 high, only to get swatted out of the sky by the 52nd.
The reception nearing the target area was warm as usual, and us with minimal cover. A mixed flock of FW-190s and Me-109s clawed at us, with an old Me-110 skulking up from behind. SSgt. Rountree got a few good hits on the 190 12 high, causing him to shoot wide and break off trailing heavy white smoke. Lt. Eggers fired a quick burst from hr nose .50 at the 109 climbing up from 12 low, missing him. The Kraut wasn’t any better, and broke off after firing a quick burst wide of us. Sgt. Walker plastered the Me-110 at 6 low with his tail .50s, while another 109 at 130 level was dispatched buy the one P-51 we saw over the target. Sgt. Maust hammered away at an Fw-190 at12 low, but with no luck. The Kraut put some rounds into the starboard wing, holing the skin a little. He swung around to 12 level for another pass, and was met by SSgt. Rountree’s twin .50s. Again, the Engineer’s aim was good enough to rattle the Jerry, and send him packing trailing smoke. No sooner had that settled down, then an FW bore straight down on us from above. SSgt. Rountree hammered away with his top turret guns and this time was rewarded with seeing the engine blow completely off the little fighter. Sgt. Maust called in that the Jerry pilot hit the silk right after his wrecked AC passed below us.
Flak over the target was as briefed, heavy and accurate. No sooner had it started then Whirlwind went down trailing flames from the #4 engine. Calls came in from the crew that they had counted 7 chutes. We has a bit of a bumpy ride ourselves, with flak holing the starboard aileron, jamming up the starboard elevator, and blasting the #3 engine oil tank. Fortunately the fire was short lived, and the extinguishing system worked on the first try. Sgt. Maust called in from the ball that a chunk of flak had taken out a couple of the Plexiglas panels in his turret, and that his right thigh had been grazed in the process. He said that it was nothing major and that he would be able to stay at his position. Even with the bouncing around, Lt. Eggers managed to get 30% of the load into the tank farm, numerous secondary explosions were noted by Sgt. Maust and Sgt. Walker.
Coming off the target, they tossed another flak barrage at us, not as heavy, but still accurate. More holes appeared in the tailplane skin, and the waist section received some new ventilation, but nothing serious was hit. Rallying off the target the tight formation kept the few krauts off our back. The rest of the trip was fairly calm, with the escort keeping everything off us.
Landing was a little interesting with the starboard aileron full of holes and
the starboard elevator not responding, but we still managed to get the Doll
back on the ground without further damage.
- Capt. William M. Patrick, Pilot, AC# 42-11806, Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
ICE QUEEN, First flight, Left aircraft
Runway abort - Supercharger failure prior to take off.
317th BS (HIGH)
INDISCREET, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with port aileron inoperable, damage to the control cables, superficial damage to the radio compartment and no casualties.
We had a quiet flight to the strike zone. As we approached the target we were attacked by two ME-110s. Carl Fisher got hits on one of the a/c, driving it off. The second enemy a/c pressed its attach in spite of our defensive fire, scoring hits in the tail, the radio area and both wings. Minimal damage was done, although the hit in the tail did minor damage to our control cables, and the hits on our port wing damaged the aileron, making it inoperable.
Our bomb run was successful, with the majority of our ordinance hitting the target.
After our run we were attacked by two ME-109s. Fighter cover drove off one of the enemy a/c. The combined defensive fire from our guns disrupted the attack of the second fighter; It scored no hits on our a/c.
The remainder of the flight was quiet with a safe landing back at base.
- 2nd Lt. Shaun Parker, Pilot, Indiscreet, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
THE BRAZEN HUSSY, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bomb target, 0%. Group Spare - Took place of Double Trouble. Returned with port elevator inoperable, control cables damaged, superficial damage to the fuselage (2), nose (1), waist (1) and tail (2) compartments and 2 casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Tolbert.
DOUBLE TROUBLE, Third flight, Left aircraft
Runway abort. Did not form up and take part in mission.
399th BS (LOW)
LAURALEE II, First flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #3 engine feathered, starboard wing flap and tail compartment heating system inoperable, superficial damage to #1 engine, both wings, and fuselage and 1 case of frostbite. Claims: 1 Fw-190 shot down by Capt. Pipes; 1 Me-109s apiece by Capt. Pipes and MSgt. Ross.
On 8 July 1944 I led the 399th as the Low Squadron in our group, part of a three-group formation attacking the oil refineries at Florisdorf, a suburb of Vienna. Enemy air action was light until we arrived at the target zone. S-2 told us that Vienna is now the second most heavily defended city in Europe, and they were correct. We were met with heavy air opposition.
It was at this point we observed the loss of Hit ’N Run. She was in formation off our port side. Her bombs detonated, and she exploded with the loss of her crew. Lt. Compton was a promising young officer, and his loss, as well as that of his crew, will be sorely missed. At any rate, we were undamaged by enemy fighters; Capt. Pipes, back with us after his leave, claimed one Me-109 shot down while MSgt. Ross got another one.
Flak was as briefed--very heavy. We lost another member of our squadron at this point, when Buffalo Gal lost her tail section to another flak hit. Another new crew, whose loss will be sorely felt. We took damage to our own tail section, and our starboard wing, but nonetheless were able to hit the target, turn through the additional flak that we had been correctly briefed on, and lead the remainder of the squadron on the turn for home.
Enemy fighters continued to attack us as we egressed the target area. Capt. Pipes claimed another a/c, an Fw-190; we also counted at least three probable kills. One of the attackers knocked out our #3 engine; at first we could not control it, but then Lt. Hill and myself were able to feather the propeller and shut it down.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. I am sorry to report one case of frostbite, with SSgt. Snowdon (flak knocked out his heat) but I am told that he will soon return to duty. As always, the 399th stands ready for further action.
- Major Bill Hearn, CO, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
HIT 'N RUN, First flight, Left aircraft
Did not bomb target. Shot down by enemy fighter 5m SE of Vienna; 10 KIA.
Prior to the bomb run, a shell hit from an Fw-190 approaching from 6 o’clock level, entered the bomb bay, causing an explosion that resulted in the loss of the crew and plane.
- From debriefing reports of 88th Bomb Group (H)
CROSSTOWN BUS, First flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned and crashed landed at base; 6 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Page.
Take off was as scheduled. We took off closer to 7:20 AM. There were fighters on the way up, but we didn’t have any get near us until as we approached the city of Graz, Austria (zone-5). The P-51 escorts drove off two of three ME-109s that came in at us. The last one was shot down by me while I manned the Bombardier position as it came in at us from 12 o’clock level.
Over the target zone, our escorts started getting thin. We had four ME-109s come at us from head on: 12 level, low and high. Had another come in from 10:30 level. Bad shooting on our part, we didn’t score any hits on them. Three of the four missed, but the one at 12 Level tore up the pilots’ compartment. Both our pilots, 2nd Lt. Fishman and 2nd Lt. Dexter (co-pilot), were seriously wounded. SSgt. Rockowitz left his top turret position, moved Lt. Fishman from his seat and took the controls. We only dropped out-of-formation for a short time and he was able to get us back into position. The ME-109 that hit us made another pass from 10:30 level, but did no damage.
The navigator, Lt. Roberts, helped move both Fishman and Dexter to better positions and applied some first aid. We started catching heavy flak over Vienna. We took hits in both wings, all superficial and a solid hit in the nose which killed the navigator, Lt. Roberts. We dropped the bomb load but with a 0% hit. Flak was moderate leaving the target and we took no more hits. Only one FW-190 came in at us as we left from 10:30 high. It did some minor damage to the radio room, but no system hits. It came back at us from 3 level and Sgt. Garcia, the ball turret gunner, got some good hits on the it.
As we flew through southern Austria (zone-5), an ME-109 dove vertically on us. Our Radioman Sgt. Ingram was close, but didn’t hit it. It didn't hit us either.
The rest of the flight was easier with two FW-190s jumping us as we got near the coast of the Adriatic (zone-3). One was driven off by P-51s and the other came in at us from 12 level. We missed and he missed. Last seen he was heading east.
SSgt. Rockowitz was doing well flying the plane, but landing was another issue. Fishman and Dexter could not bailout and between he and I, we’d have a tough time landing the plane. As senior officer aboard the plane, I ordered all the crew that were able to bail out over the base area. Rockowitz and I worked on landing the plane because of Fishman and Dexter’s conditions. We were on approach and as we touched down, we bounced up and tilted to the right. The starboard wing caught the field and from what I hear, we nearly did a cartwheel. Both Rockowitz and I received light wounds. Unfortunately Lt. Fishman and Lt. Dexter were killed. The rest of the crew bailed out and were fine except for the radioman; Sgt. Ingram’s chute did not open and he was killed from the fall. The plane is wrecked and I haven’t heard what they’ll do with it.
- 2nd Lt. Jeff Page, Bombardier, Crosstown Bus, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
DIMESTORE GIRL, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with light damage and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Bf-109 by Sgt. Neidermeyer.
PASSIONATE WITCH, Second flight, right aircraft (Tail-End Charlie #2)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with flight deck Instruments inoperable, structural damage to the rudder (1), both wing roots (1 each), multiple superficial damage and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. McLaughlin; 1 Fw-190 shared by Sgt. McLaughlin and 2nd Lt. Burns.
Our escorts kept enemy fighter from attacking us for most of our flight to the target, as we neared the target Jerry came at us.
The flak was tough and we saw Buffalo Gal take a direct hit and go down. Shortly after that we were hit by flak on the flight deck and Lt. Miller was severely wounded. Due to the flak hit our bombs went wide of the target area.
As we left the target we assumed the tail-end Charlie position and more fighters attacked us. Our luck held and our escorts kept most of the enemy fights away, a couple did manage to make a run at us and the boys scored some hits.
The Flight Surgeon fixed up Lt. Miller but his war is over and he will be returning home as soon as he is fit to travel.
- 2nd Lt. Ralph Knight, Pilot, Passionate Witch, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
BUFFALO GAL, Second flight, Left aircraft (Tail-End Charlie #1)
Did not bomb target. Shot down by direct flak hit to tail compartment 1m SE of Vienna; 7 KIA, 3 POWs.
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