TOWER RECEPTIONS: MISSION 44
Forming Over Sterparone Field (zone-1):
Over the base, Caballero suffers an oxygen system malfunction and informs his squadron leader. The group spare, Adolph's Nightmare from the 399th squadron takes the vacated spot.
“Buckeye Five to Joker One . . . Joker Five is dropping out. Buckeye Five taking Joker Five's slot.”
Retuning to base, over Yugoslavia (zone-5)
The outside engine on the B-17's port wing was running rough but somehow the pilots were still managing to keep the struggling bomber to remain in formation. Their job was made more difficult from the lost of the port wing inboard engine and the port aileron over Sofia. The fact was, there was hardly anything left of the aileron; it was shredded to bits from 20mm cannon hits received from a twin-engine Me-110G-2 “Zestroyer” fighter, and all that remained were small pieces of the aileron that was still attached to the wing, flapping uselessly along in the slipstream.
Approaching from the north, a pair of Fw-190A-6 “Wuerger or Butcher Bird” fighters that had evaded the P-38 fighter escorts were closing in on the leading portion of the bomber formation. The Germans earlier briefing plan was working to perfection. While their other two “Kamrads” of their 4-plane “Schwarm” drew away the American escorts, the other two planes would go in for the bombers. The struggling bomber attracted the attention of the veteran leader of the 2-plane “Rotte”. An experienced pilot with over a hundred missions, he knew a struggling bomber would be easier pickings than an undamaged one. The leader radioed to his wingman to follow him and to do as he did and for God's sakes, to stay together.
Closing at over 650 km the two Germans approached from the bomber's starboard side and took aim. They would reach the American formation within 15 seconds. But before they were within their effective range, they would have to fly through the deadly the American-made Boeing II's .50 caliber defensive fire. It was always a frightening experience even for an experienced flyer but luck was with the two Luftwaffe pilots as the bomber's gunners bullets were wild all over the sky. The leader was slightly higher than his wingman and could see one of the engines on the port wing was tailing white smoke. He took aim for that wing adjusting for a deflection shot. His less experienced wingman aimed for the center of the bomber, hoping to hit something.
At 600 meters, both fighters opened fire. The wingman's 20mm shells missed the center fuselage but instead struck the starboard tail plane, weakening the structure, while his leader's tracers at first hit the bomber's pilots' compartment and continued to strike along the port wing. The outboard engine slowly begin to sputter and would have to be feathered. But before the pilots could feather the #1 engine, flames suddenly appeared at the area of the outside fuel tank.
As the two fighters banked left and began a power dive to escape, the American Boeing started to rapidly lose altitude. The pilot knew he'd have to dive quickly to put out the fire or the bomber was doomed. As the bomber named Full House II leveled out of the dive the fuel tank fire continued to blaze away, eating away at the metal. Lieutenant Mike Cawley knew they were finished and rang the bailout alarm to abandon ship. Once he was certain he was the last man aboard, Cawley bailed out through opened the bomb bay compartment. Soon, ten parachutes were gently floating earthward above a mountainous region of Yugoslavia near the city of Skopje.
Retuning to base, over Albania (zone-3)
“Cowboy One! This is Cowboy Six! Damn it! Jerry drilled our left wing fuel tank and it's leaking like a broken dam . . . Cowboy One! Entire left wing is on fire.”
“Cowboy Six, this is Cowboy One . . . Cowboy Six, this is Cowboy One . . . Will relay your position back to base . . . Repeat, will relay your position back to base . . . Good luck, Cowboy Six . . . This is Cowboy One out . . .”
“Cowboy 1! Thanks! We could walk back home from here, but I think Jerry will be waiting for us. Cowboy Six out.”
Hit the bail out bell! At least we're over land. "Wing Ding", I sure hope you didn't forget you chute this time. “Bail out!!!! Bail out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Everybody out? I just pushed a dead man out the door with his ripcord hooked to door frame.
Pop!!!!!!!! At least he'll get a decent burial Heading for the door! Dear God! That wind is sure cold! Here we go! thought Harry Higgenbottom just before he pushed himself out the nose hatch.
“Cowboy One calling base . . . . Cowboy One calling base . . . Cowboy Six is hitting the
silk seventy miles from Checkpoint Three . . . Repeat, Cowboy Six is hitting the silk seventy miles from Checkpoint Three . . . Over and out.”
Over the Albanian Coast on the inbound leg (zone-3)
“This is Cowboy One . . . This is Cowboy One . . . We are fifty miles from Checkpoint Three inbound . . . Repeat, We are fifty miles from Checkpoint Three inbound . . . We have lost our number three engine due to fuel tank leak in the wing . . . Am transferring remaining fuel so we can reach base . . . Repeat Am transferring remaining fuel so we can reach base . . . Will keep you notified if we reach Bingo . . . Repeat, will keep you notified if we reach Bingo . . . Over and out.”
Retuning to base, over the Adriatic Sea (zone-3)
“Fireball Six to tower . . . Fireball Six to tower . . . We are over water and we are on Fire . . . We are bailing out . . . please send help . . .”