MISSION 11 - Sofia AARs

318th BS (LEAD)

GOLD DRAGON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with no damage or casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We had a really good mission.  We were on target 40% and only saw a total of six enemy aircraft, a lot of that I can thank our little buddies.  Only Dave Tucker hit any of enemy fighters.  No damage was noted on the post flight inspection.  I wish all the missions could go this easy, especially with the lead.

 

- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon


IRON LADY, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with top turret guns, port elevator, bomb release mechanism and bomb controls inoperable, plus numerous superficial holes to both wings.  1 casualty.  2 ME-110s by Sgt. McNichol and 1 FW-190 by 2nd Lt. O'Donnell (One of Sgt. McNicol's claims is later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

We took off and formed up with the rest of the group.

 

We were bounced by 3 FW-190s as we crossed the coast of Albania and although one was driven off by our little friends and one missed us, the third which came in from 10:30 high hit us in the pilots' compartment and succeeded in knocking out the top turret guns and wounding SSgt. Foster.  It came back round for a second pass from 9 high and riddled us scoring a multitude of hits on both wings (Thank God for self-sealing fuel tanks), the tail and our bomb bay, making the bomb release mechanism inoperable in the process. On it's third pass we missed him and, fortunately, he missed us.

 

We didn't encounter any other enemy aircraft until just prior to starting the bomb run when we were attacked by 3 ME-110s.  Our escorts intercepted one and Sgt. McNichol on the tail guns destroyed the second one from 6 low.  The third fighter from 12 low scored hits on the bomb bay and the nose, knocking out the bomb controls as well.  On its second pass it made more holes around the pilots' compartment and the nose but it finally got too greedy and tried to come in for a third attack on our six and was destroyed by our tail gunner.

 

The flak was very light as expected and came nowhere near us and although we had good visibility over the target, because of the damage inflicted to our bombing controls and release mechanisms and we didn't manage to put any in the pickle barrel.  As we cleared the target area and turned for home Lt. O'Donnell, our bombardier, took his frustration out on an FW-190 that tried to jump us from 12 high and destroyed it.  The 2 ME-109s that accompanied it both missed and broke away although Paul Roberts, starboard waist, swears he got a piece of one of them.

 

As we crossed back over Yugoslavia, 2 ME-110s tried to sucker punch us from 9 low and 6 level.  However the P-38s got one and Sgt. McNichol sent the other away with one engine on fire and bits missing from its tail (FBA-2).  After that we didn't encounter any other enemy aircraft as we returned home and landed safely at base.

 

Sgt. Brewster, my crew chief, reckons there's about 117 Damage Points but it shouldn't take long to patch the old girl up.  Sgt. Foster foot should heal up without any problems according to the docs.

 

- 1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady


THE ANT'S HILL, lead flight, left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with light damage to the ball turret and 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Mendes.

 

Mission Narrative:

Our fifth mission with the squadron turned out to be a relatively uneventful one.  The enemy’s fighters were ineffective, while our guys did excellent work in defending The Hill.

 

As we flew over the Albanian coast, a half-hearted attack was made on us by a pair of ME-109s.  The lead pilot got a face-full of lead from Sgt.Mendes for his efforts, and dove straight into the Adriatic.  The other one was easily driven off by our escorts from the 325th.

 

Passing into Yugoslavian airspace, we were approached by four ME-109s, but only one of them managed to slip past the P-38s from the 14th FG.  He scored two superficial hits, one of which wounded our ball turret gunner, Sgt. “Shorty” Pyne on the leg.  Then he too was chased off by our escorts.

 

The only fighter opposition we faced over Sofia were two FW-190s. Both pilots must have been inexperienced, because they made only one pass each without hitting anything.  Sgt. Wagner scored several hits with his .50 cal. on the rear Wulf’s tail before they both ran for home.

 

The light flak over the target had no effect on our bomb run, and Lt. Stubbs estimated that about 30% of our bombs landed within the rail yard area.

 

Leaving Sofia, we were attacked by a lone FW-190, but he had no more success against us than the ME-109s did.  This time, the boys of the 1st FG were performing the escort duties and were equally impressive in keeping the enemy off our backs for the duration of our trip home.  We landed safely back at Streparone without incident.

 

This mission was a welcome break for us; however, no one attributed this one to the new man on the crew, Sgt. Daly.  This time, the credit belonged entirely to the “little friends” who accompanied us

 

- 1st Lt. Anthony Hilliard, Pilot, The Ant's Hill


GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with top turret inoperable, flaps and rudder instruments damaged, starboard inboard tank hit (self-sealed), port waist gunner heating system out, rudder and control cables damaged.  1 frostbite casualty.  Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Thompson, Sgts. Stolberg and Turner (2nd Lt. Thompson's claim is later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

"Sofia!" The name invoked nasty memories for those of us from the original crew.  Sofia was the first, but not the last, of several bad missions that claimed crew members.  We clutched our lucky charms a little tighter than normal.  This time though we were in the middle squadron and enjoyed good protection from the rest of the 88th.  Things went well during the trip to the target.  About 200 miles out a single FW-190 made a half-hearted run at us before being chased away by escorting fighters.

 

Over the target things got hot.  A group of five 109s jumped our plane from around the clock and diving from above.  The bombardier and engineer both damaged their targets but everyone else missed.  Three of the five bandits hit the plane in several places -- top turret knocked out, control cables, instruments controlling the flaps, rudder -- and worst of all two wounded crew.  Our ace engineer, Don Garbutt, took a hit in the chest but like in a movie his Bible stopped the shrapnel from penetrating (used up his lucky charm) and Stolberg on the starboard waist gun was a little banged up too.  On the next pass Turner in the tail knocked down his first ME-109 but we were hit again in the starboard wing.  Our inboard tank started losing fuel but self sealed.  On the third pass the remaining bandit hit the waist section and before long Sgt. Stolberg reported his suit was not working.

 

With flak peppering the sky the bandits gave us a breather.  We missed the target again but I was distracted, calculating the risks of dropping out of formation to help Dick.  We were so far from home and our top turret was inoperable.  As a crew we had discussed this situation and being "nonessential" the danger to the entire crew outweighed the need to keep Dick warm.  He knew that better than any of us and after clearing the target zone he came on the intercom to insist we stay in formation.  That made my decision easy and we headed for home surrounded by the rest of the 88th.

 

And it was a good thing we stayed close.  Fighter cover chased off four bandits from the next three waves while the port waist gunner and bombardier each claimed an ME-109.  One hundred miles later we were approaching Albania and had avoided any further hits, however Dick was complaining about numbness in the extremities.  One more wave fell afoul of our formation and soon Italy came into view.

 

After landing the ambulance met the plane and took Don and Dick to the hospital.  Early reports are promising for both men and they'll be back for the next mission.

 

- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike


LONGHORN LADY, second flight, right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with ball & tail turret guns inoperable, bombardier's heat out, radio destroyed, superficial damage to the #2 engine and multiple fuselage hits.  5 casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Over Yugoslavia we were jumped by four 190s, knocking out heat to the bombardier, knocked out the ball turret, shot up the radio, wounded 2nd Lt. Beaton twice and Sgt. Asher once, some superficial damage to the # 2 engine and multiple fuselage hits.

 

We didn't take any flak hits over the target allowing us to get 30% of the bombs on target.

 

Back over Yugoslavia we were shot up by a 109.  We lost the tail guns, Sgt. Asher was wounded again, 2nd Lt. Davidson was KIA, SSgt. Styles was KIA.

 

After we landed we found out that Sgt. Maddux had a serious case of frostbite and will be sent home.

 

- 1st Lt. Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady


WANG DANG DOODLE, second flight, left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with Intercom and port waist gun heat out; rubber rafts destroyed, rudder damaged, and superficial damage to the nose and starboard wing.  2 casualties and 1 case of frostbite.

 

Mission Narrative:

This one was pretty easy right up to the target.  Din't see a single Jerry -- well, not botherin' us, anyways, up until we got into the bombin' run.  There we got jumped by three 190s.  One of 'em walked hits on the fuselage, which is when Billy got hit in the arm and the intercom went out, I guess.  T'other guys missed and went away, but this son-of-a-gun came back and hit Lieutenant Friedman on his second sweep.

 

Flak din't bother us none, we saw a little but it was very inaccurate, and Jed dropped his bombs, about 30% in target.  He's a consistent sucker, ain't he?

 

We reformed with the group, and kept a nice tight formation, which kept Jerry away, up until around Albania.  There we got three more 190s comin' at us.  We was all set for a big fight, but our boys upstairs drove two of 'em away, t'other guy missed and went home.

 

I feel bad about Hemphill.  Without'th intercom, I didn't know he was freezin' back there.

 

- 1st Lt. Ted Deschamps, Pilot, Wang Dang Doodle


OLD CROW EXPRESS, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%  Returned with starboard aileron inoperable, a couple of superficial holes in the bomb bay and pilots' compartment and no casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Carter and 1 ME-110 by Hamlet.

 

Mission Narrative:

This time went better then the last time we visited Sofia; the first time we lost 2nd Lt. Mark Blackbird, he was our first navigator, may he rest in peace.

 

Anyway we took off, formed up and head out with out incident.  We did not meet any fighters until we were over the Albanian Yugoslavian border, where we were attacked by four 190s.  Two were driven off by out little friends the P-38s from the 14th FG and of the other two one managed to hit us and come around 3 times.  In his first pass he hit the Pilots' Compartment, the port wing, and bomb bay.  In the Pilot Comp. and port wing he only made holes hitting nothing as they bullets passed by.  In the bomb bay we believe it hit one of the bombs, it would seem as there is no exit hole only the entry hole.  It was either a dud or it did not hit hard enough but it had NO EFFECT.  The second pass he hit the starboard wing aileron.  And on his third pass Sgt. Carter was able to take him down.

 

About 20 miles from the Yugoslavian Bulgarian border there were some fighters but they were driven off by the guns of others 17s. Around the vicinity of the target area there was three 190s that came at us.  SSgt. O'Reilly damaged one of them and 2nd Lt. Peterson also damaged him which caused him to miss wide and he did not come back.  Sgt. Sumlin damaged the second one and I guess the third one did not want to deal with us and went to pick on an easier target.

 

The flak was pretty light and inaccurate so we had no trouble and 2nd Lt. Peterson was able to focus and put 60% of the payload on the target.  About the same percent the first time we went there.

 

Out of the target area this lone 110 came in at a vertical climb but he did not get far as Sgt. Hamlet was able to take him out before he was able to fire.

 

Over the Yugoslavian Bulgarian border we got attacked by a 190 and two 109s.  The P-38s from the 1st FG, I believe, were able to drive off the 190 and one of the 109s. The other came and got damaged by SSgt. O'Reilly which caused him to only make one pass.
The rest of the way was quite with no fighters attacking.  We landed safely with very little damage.  10 missions down 40 to go.

 

- 1st Lt. Fred Anderson, Pilot, Old Crow Express


317th BS (Lead)

DARKWATCH, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with port aileron inoperable and superficial damage to the pilots' compartment, bomb bay and port wing.  2 Casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. McGuire.

 

Mission Narrative:

Easy flight in, with Moore blowing up the only bandit that got near us.  A couple FWs made a desultory pass at us over the target, but flak was no problem, so I really can offer no excuse as to why we missed the target.

 

We had excellent fighter coverage as we turned for home, saving us further grief.  Things got a little ragged on the inbound flight. The formation got all loose (not used to flying with those 318th guys) . . . sure could have used some support from the other ships when four Messerschmidts jumped us, because our fighters were nowhere to be seen.  It was a spirited little furball, but it could have been a lot worse. . . we were hit about a dozen times, mostly superficial stuff, but Krystek took one through the knee that’s going to send him home.  And good for him.

 

- Capt. Paul O'Conner, Pilot, Darkwatch


MEMPHIS GAL, third flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted mission zone 4 outbound; returned alone with loss of Norden bombsight, pilots' compartment oxygen system damaged, bomb bay doors inoperable.  1 Casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Alemda and TSgt. Scott.  TSgt. Scott's claim for 1 ME-109 is later confirmed by S-2.

 

Mission Narrative:

As the Albanian coast slipped beneath us they hit us, two ME-109s from 12 o'clock.  Just as SSgt. Almeda (the engineer) cried out his warning, the Germans opened fire.  Alemda managed to get good hits on one but they both tore into us like angry wasps.  The nose exploded as their shells found their mark.  I heard our bombardier cry out in pain while Donald and I instinctively ducked as the reckless Germans (who didn't break off their attack) passed over our heads, only narrowly missing us.  SSgt. Almeda did a quick damage assessment and found our bomb-bay doors inoperable and Lt. Simms reported his bombsight out.  We also took a oxygen supply hit in the pilot compartment.  We had no choice but to abort the mission.

 

The shattered nose increased the drag on the bomber and we, had a difficult time keeping her in trim. Simms our bombardier got a nasty piece of shrapnel in his side but the wound didn't seem too deep, although in a lot of pain Simms manned his gun till we touched down.

 

- 1st Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal


316th BS (High)

LUCKY PENNY, lead flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 95%.  Returned with damage to the starboard wing root & the outboard fuel tank (sealed). No casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Jenkins, 1 Fw-190 by 1st Lt. Hamilton & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Allison.  Sgt. Jenkins' claim for 1 ME-109 is later confirmed by S-2.

 

Mission Narrative:

Leading the High group, feels funny not knowing about Capt. Tanner and crew . . . I'm not used to this front slot but we'll do the Full House guys proud . . . this was a long mission but overall not too BAD, fighters appeared but were driven off by fighters or other B-17s in our group all the way to target.

 

Over target we were attacked by four 109s, but scored two kills right out from ball and top turrets.  The two remaining guys missed and tail gunner got one one of them a parting damage shot.  Flak was light and then Dave lighted up the target with a "almost" perfect score (he screamed into the intercom . . . he was very excited!).

 

Coming about heading for home 3 more 190s jumped us, one of them hitting the fuel tank but it self-sealed.  ball gunner got his 2nd kill, third one missed and flew off.  The lone 190 came at us again but everybody missed.  No more fighters seen until almost home where we were attacked by 190s but everybody again missed.

 

Finally, as we almost reached home three 190s came at us.  One was driven off by friendly fighters, one missed but the third guy again hit our wing, on both the wing root and, yes the fuel tank...this one was also a self-sealed tank on the inboard tank.  Tail gunner winged him and he flew off.  Anyway, we landed safely and repairs are being worked on as I write this report.

 

- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny


OLD YARD DOG, lead flight, right wingman 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with bombsight & waist oxygen system damaged and the port wing fuel tank holed.  1 casualty.  Claims: ME-109 by SSgt. Post

 

Mission Narrative:

Everything went relatively well on this mission.  Escorts kept most everything off us except for a 109 that came in high from the front.  Our engineer shot his tail off as he passed by.  The ball gunner confirmed the shoot down.

 

Over the target the flak was light but accurate.  We took a hit in the tail that lightly wounded the tail gunner and the waist that knocked out the oxygen.  They went to bottles.  The bombardier expects 30% hits on the target.

 

As we turned for home a 190 came in and we damaged him from the top guns again but not before he knocked the bombsight off its mounting.

 

Everything was quiet on the way back except for a moment when a 109 holed the port wing fuel tanks but it must have been empty cause nothing serious became of it.   Landing was easy enough.

 

- 1st Lt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog


FLAK TRAP, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 10%.  Fell out-of-formation due to oxygen fire approaching the target zone.  Returned to base alone with the starboard wing outboard tank leaking, tail gunner's heat out, pilots' compartment oxygen system charred and useless, superficial damage to the tail and wings, and 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 each by Sgt. Carter, 1 FW-190 by by SSgt. Sears, 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Martin.  Sgt. Carter's claim of 1 ME-109 is later confirmed by S-2.

 

Mission Narrative:

Flak Trap's sixth mission was scary to say the least.  In zone 5 out, three FW-190s attacked.  Our fighter cover ran 2 off but one hit us from twelve level causing an oxygen fire in the cockpit and putting out all our oxygen in the pilot compartment.  Engineer Matt Sears put the fire out quickly and we had no further damage to our B-17 from the fire.  The FW-190 attacked again from three o'clock level but missed because our ball gunner got a piece of him.  Two ME-109s then attacked us but our fighter cover ran both away.

 

We dropped out of formation and down to 10,000 feet in the target zone.  We really drew the attention of the Luftwaffe after dropping to low altitude and out of formation.  One ME-109 & 4 FW-190s attacked.  The radio operator damaged an FW-190, our bombardier damaged an FW-190 and our ball turret gunner claims an FW-190 shot down.  All the German fighters missed our plane on their attack runs.  After that we were attacked again by one ME-109 and 2 FW-190s.  Our bombardier claimed one ME-109, our engineer claimed one FW-190 shot down and the other fighter missed us.  No other enemy fighters were seen during the bomb run.

 

Our bomb run was off target again (bad die roll again) but bombardier Bob Martin was able to place 10% of our bombs within target area (lucky die roll again).

 

In the target zone back we were attacked by three ME-109s multiple times.  They lightly wounded our navigator and put the tail gunners heat out; luckily we were already down to 10,000 feet, so no worries about frostbite.  They also inflicted superficial damage to our tail and wing.  After that attack we were pounced on by one ME-109 and two FW-190s but luckily they all were bad shots and missed our plane.

 

In zone 5 back we were attacked by three ME-109s.  All three missed us and our bombardier managed to damage one of them.

 

In zone 4 back two ME-109s attacked.  Our bombardier and ball gunner both got a few hits on two of them but one got lucky and hit our starboard outboard fuel tank causing a slow leak.  Our ball gunner could see the damage and estimated that we could probably make it back to base even with the leak, but it would be very close.  Both German fighters attacked us again from nine and ten thirty level.  Our ball gunner claimed an ME-109 shot down and the other fighter missed us on his attack run.

 

We made a good landing back at base and it looks like our ball gunner was correct.  We found out that we only had enough fuel left in our tanks to fly about another 20 minutes (1 more zone).  Thank goodness we were able to make it back.  I guess we were also pretty lucky that we were not hit by any light flak on our return flight home.  Our navigator should heal up pretty quickly since he only suffered a scratch in the arm.

 

- 1st Lt. Joe Daves, Pilot, Flak Trap


SATIN DOLL, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with tail wheel damaged by flak, a 20mm hole in the rudder and superficial damage to tail compartment and Stbd wing.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-110 apiece by Sgts. Blankenship and Wheeler.

 

Mission Narrative:

Sure felt strange without Capt. Tanner leading.  Grif was leading the high sqdn and Satin Doll led the 2nd element.  Harmon's Sentimental Journey settled in on our port wing.  Coleridge's Rock 'em & Sock 'em aborted on the strip without a squawk on the radio.  I guess they had radio malfunction.  But the group spare, McPherson in Caballero, soon took up his slot.

 

We didn't draw any attention from the Krauts until we neared the Albanian/Yugoslav border.  Two FWs swung in on us and were quickly dispatched by the Jug Jockeys.

 

Shortly after crossing the Bulgarian border, 2 Me-110s took a run at us from 6 level and 9 low.  Two P-38s plastered the one lining up on our tail, and Billy Blankenship blasted the one climbing up from 9 low, bringing his claims to 6 E/A destroyed.  The other Krauts were kept off us by the other A/C in the sqdn.

 

Just before the target, two more Me-110s tried the same tactic, this time with some success. The one from 9 low shot in our general direction, missed and broke away toward the low sqdn.  The 110 at 6 level punched holes in the rudder, stbd wing, and the tail gunner's compartment.  This really pissed Sgt. Wheeler off, and when this Kraut came back for another pass at him, PeeWee nailed him with the tail guns.  Blankenship called up from the ball, saying that the Kraut was headed down for the deck, trailing flames and smoke from both engines.

 

We were on the bomb run through light flak, when some lucky SOB scored a hit in the tail.  PeeWee called in that the tail wheel was shot to hell, that's all.  Despite the bouncing around, P.J. Morris still managed to drop the load on target, putting about 30% into the center marshalling yards.

 

Rallying off the target, we ran into 2 Me-109's, but they met a pair of P-38s that had other plans for them.  We saw Daves' Flak Trap drop out of formation under heavy fire from a gaggle of 109's.  PeeWee called up that they were getting hammered, but that they were keeping up, and giving the krauts everything they had.

 

Nearing the Yugoslav border, 2 more ME-109s started to line up on us, but got run off by the P-38s.

 

We didn't draw any more attention from the Jerries the rest of the way home and landed without incident, despite the shot up tail-wheel.

 

- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll


CABALLERO, group spare

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with port wing flaps inoperable and superficial damage to nose and radio compartments from flak shrapnel.  No casualties or claims.

 

Mission Narrative:

Took place of Rock'em & Sock'em in the high squadron and formed up as the right wingman of the second flight leader Captain McConnell in Satin Doll.  It was a quiet mission, almost a 'Milk-Run', as we encountered nary a German or Bulgarian fighter during the entire flight.  Good escort coverage, flying a tight formation with Satin Doll and Sentimental Journey, and defensive fire by other B-17s were the main reasons that my crew didn't fire a single shot at the enemy.

 

Flak was accurate as we took some hits approaching the target.  The jarring of the flak bursts caused the bombs to fall wide of the aiming point.

 

The return journey was routine and uneventful.

 

- 2nd Lt. John C. McPherson, Pilot, Caballero


SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with starboard waist gun inoperable, 6 superficial holes to the port wing and fuselage, and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Highsmith.

 

Mission Narrative:

No enemy activity until we got about 150 miles out from base.  Our Little Friends seemed particularly aggressive today.  They took out one 190.  Another 190 got through, but missed.  The third guy was a real pro.  Came at us from 12 low.  Saw a few holes appear in the port wing, but nothing serious.  The tail gunner, Simpson, damaged him as he passed us.  The 190 circled back around to hit us from 12 level, but missed.

 

The next wave found us about 50 miles away from the target.  Fighter coverage drove off two ME-109s.  An ME-110 tried to sneak up on us from 10:30 low. The Ball Turret gunner, Highsmith, spotted him and claims a kill.

 

Over the target we got a lot of help from the other bombers in the squadron.  No flak hits, but the Bombardier had a case of first combat jitters and missed the target completely.

 

Immediately after the bomb run, two FW-190s appeared.  The escort fighters drove off one and Highsmith damaged the second one, but we still took a few hits.  The starboard waist gun was put out of commission, although the gunner, Carlson, did not suffer any injuries.  Our Radioman, Jenson, did catch a piece of metal in his calf.

 

For the next 100 miles, there were plenty of fighters swarming around, but none of them came close to us due to the excellent coverage provided by the other bombers near us.

 

As we got to within 50 miles of base, we thought we were home free.  However, four FW-190s came at us from 12, 3, 6 and 9 high. The Jugs from the 325th FG had us covered, though, and drove off three of the planes.  Our Top Turret gunner, Berzinski, and the Radioman, Jenson, both claimed to have hit the remaining plane making a run at us from 6 high.  However, the lucky guy still put several holes in the plane, and left 1st Lt. Harmon, our pilot, with a little present lodged in his knee.  Hopefully the medical officer will release him for the next mission.  If not, then it looks like I might be moving up to Pilot for at least one mission.

 

- 2nd Lt. Dale G. Brennan, Co-Pilot, Sentimental Journey


317th BS (High)

SILVER SPOON, third flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Fell out-of-formation after bomb run (zone 4) due to nose heating system damage.  Returned with auto-pilot, nose heat, engine feathering control instruments out, and ailerons inoperable.  6 Casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

This was a nightmare. Strangely enough, nothing untoward happened on the way there.  A few bandits going after other planes in the formation, nothing more. We got hit just as we started the bomb-run, though.  An ME-109 came in from 12 high and hit us hard. Sgt. Lowe in the top turret had his head blown off, and our starboard wing took hits.  While Lt Carpenter and I tried to re-organise, Lt. Blackmore managed to put his eggs on target and we turned for home.

 

We got hit by 190s and 109s coming back, losing our nose heat and both waist gunners were wounded.  Our instruments were also smashed by rounds hitting the flight deck.  Pancetti called in that he’d taken a splinter in the face, but that Kemper was in a bad way. The bastards came back, and this time finished off poor Kemper.  We took another hit on the instrument panel, losing our feathering controls, and Lt. Blackmore took a hit to the foot.  Their third run at us saw Blackmore, Yablowski and Ferrelli copping a packet.  Blackmore managed to hit some of them and they buzzed off soon after.

 

I had no choice at that point but to drop down to 10 000ft and hope for the best.  We flew from tree to tree, hiding behind hedges. We’re back now, though, so I guess we should be grateful.

 

-  Capt. Neil Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon


CARDINAL EXPRESS, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with port wing root damaged and several inconsequential hits.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Spritz.

 

Mission Narrative:

This mission was uneventful until we were attacked near the target.  Our ball gunner shot down an Me-110.  We made a good bomb run, with nearly 30% of the payload landing within 1,000 feet of the target.  We were attacked several times on the return trip.  We took several inconsequential hits and a good shot to the port wing root.  We were able to damage one of our attackers.  We encountered a total of 10 enemy planes during this mission.

 

-1st Lt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express


DIVINE WIND, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with superficial damage to the pilots' compartment, waist and tail sections and no casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by 2nd Lt. Fujimoto, 1 ME-109 & 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Shintani.

 

Mission Narrative:

We took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.

 

About two hundred (200) miles from the target, bogies were spotted coming in from 12 level but they were driven off by fighter escort.

 

One hundred fifty (150) miles from the target, we encountered one (1) ME-109 coming in from 3 low but it missed the plane and was driven away by machine gun fire from the formation.

 

About one hundred (100) miles away from target one (1) ME-110 came in from a vertical dive and was shot down by the ball gunner, Sgt. Jack Shintani.  This was the only fighter that we saw approaching the target.

 

We encountered light flak over the target and we didn’t encounter any close calls from the flak.  Because of that, 2nd Lt. Jim Nakano was able to find the target and was able to put about 40% of the bomb load on the target.

 

Fifty (50) miles away from the target on the return leg, we encountered two waves.  The first wave consisting of four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12, 3, 9 high, and 9 level.  The ball gunner, Sgt. Shintani, shot down the one that came in from 9 level and the one coming in from 9 high was damaged by Sgt. Tom Yano.  The ME-109 coming in from 3 high was the only one that was able to hit the plane, hitting the pilot compartment, tail, and waist area.  The only one that was able to hit the plane was the pilot compartment where it created superficial damage on the windows of the compartment.  The plane from 3 high returned from 9 level, and was driven off by fighter escort.  The second wave consisted of one (1) FW-190 coming in from 10:30 high which the navigator, 2nd Lt. Terry Fujimoto, shot down.

 

One hundred fifty (100) miles from base we encountered one (1) ME-109 coming in from 12 high which was driven off by fighter escort before it was able to get to the bomb group.

 

We reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.

 

- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go for Broke


399th BS (Low)

PRINCESS LILIKOI, lead flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with tail gunner's oxygen system damaged by oxygen fire & many superficial holes throughout the aircraft.  1 casualty.  Claims: 3 ME-109s by Sgt. Powers (One of Sgt. Power's claims is later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

It was a quiet trip until Princess Lilikoi was attacked over Yugoslavia by three FW-190s from the southwest, coming out of the
sun.  They came in together with blazing machine guns, and each of them had our ship as the target.  Could this be a new tactic they're using?  Fortunately, they missed and flashed by.  Sgt Roberts hit one as he passed by below.  Not long after these three, a group of 109s attacked but the fighter cover drove them off.

 

There might be a training unit in the area.  Approximately ten minutes before the IP we were jumped by several 109s with very inexperienced pilots.  They were no match for the P-38s and Sgt Powers claims one of these KIA, and there was another 109 attacking over the IP which Sgt. Powers also claims a KIA.

 

There was light flak over the target and good weather conditions.  Lt. Duncan MISSED the Aim Point AGAIN.  He keeps loosing his nerve on the bomb run. The last 5 missions he's only hit the target once!  I can't have him in my crew if he's on a losing streak.  I will not risk the lives of my men with a poor bombardier.  I'll give him one more chance.  If he blows this one, he's gone!  He is a good gunner, though. I'll give him that.  He hit an eager 109 that was with us after the bomb drop and drove him off.

 

After we left the target area, four 190s attacked again, using the same tactics as the ones that attacked us on the way out.  The three 190s that came through the fighter cover flashed by together with blazing guns, Princess Lilikoi their target.  They missed.  This way of attacking us doesn't seem to be very effective, but if they hit, well, we'll die.

 

South of Nis a group of inexperienced pilots attacked again.  The leader brought them through the fighter cover so he could have been an ace.  This could be an indication of a training unit in the area, or a unit with new replacements.  After this wave the group and the fighters did a good job in driving all of the bandits away and it was an uneventful trip until we were over the Adriatic.  A 109 got away from the P-47s and with 2 of them chasing him, he fired a short burst at us and hit the oxygen in the tail, which caused a fire.  This expert pilot was driven off before he had a chance to attack again.  Sgt Roberts fought the fire while we descended with the group so I stayed in the formation until we broke up in the landing pattern.

 

We cannot go on risking our lives, bringing a load of bombs to the target only to see that the bombardier can't live up to his expectations and his task.  These last 5 missions have been in vain, except for a few enemies shot down and some support for the other guys in the group.

 

- Capt. Frank Kingsley, Pilot, Princess Lilikoi


SKY RAT, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with #3 engine feathered and superficial damage to both wings, nose and pilots' compartments.  1 casualty.  Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Pender and 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Edwards (Sgt. Pender's ME-109 claim is later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and form up went w/o incident.  As we crossed out over the Adriatic we were swarmed by four 109s.  Our escorts did a fine job of driving 3 of them off, and Sgt. Pender (tail) blew the other out of the sky.  As our escorts took off after the first group, we were hit by a second group of 109s.  Lt. Roberts (nav) put a few rounds on target, but nothing that slowed the first fighters pass.  He hit our starboard wing, and ventilated my pilots' compartment.  The others missed on their runs and he decided not to push his luck by making a second pass.

 

Yugoslavia was quiet; our escorts took great care of us driving off a number of 109s for us.  As we entered Bulgaria we were hit by a group of 190s.  Sgt. Pender managed to down his second fighter of the day, and Lt. Edwards (Bomb) tore the wing off a 109.  The others punched more holes than we could count, but they missed all major systems.

 

Over the target we took multiple flak hits.  We were hit in both wings, the nose, and the waist (injuring TSgt. Hurst).  Despite the
hit to the nose; Lt. Edwards put 40% of our load on target.

 

As we turned for home we were hit by a lone 109.  He came in out of the sun and raked our starboard wing; knocking out our #3 engine.  Our escorts took good care of us the rest of the way home, we never saw another inbound fighter.

 

Landing was uneventful.

 

- 1st Lt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat


MOONSHINE A-BREWIN', lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Did not fly.  Runway abort.

 


PALOOKAVILLE, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Fell out-of-formation due to oxygen fire and the loss of the radio.  Aborted in zone 4 outbound; returned alone with loss of radio, pilots' compartment oxygen system damaged by fire, damage to the elevators and rudder.  2 Casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by 2nd Lt. Mullalay.

 

Mission Narrative:

This was the maiden flight for our new B-17G. Handling during takeoff, in flight and landing was similar to our old F model.  The new chin turret proved it’s value during a fight over Yugoslavia.

 

Shortly after reaching the Albanian coast a flight 3 of Me109s made their approach.  One was driven off by our escort and a second was damaged by Mullalay in the new nose turret.  While he continued his attack it was unsuccessful and he left quickly with his wingman.

 

Approximately 30 minutes after the first attack, we were met by another 3 plane flight, this time Focke-Wulfes.  Again, escort helped us out by engaging one, but left us with 2 both coming in from the 12 o’clock position, one high, one low.  The one coming in high was able to draw a bead on us and it was at this time Sgt. Pederson was wounded in the shoulder.  Furthermore, the pilot compartment was riddled with bullets, causing damage to our instruments as well as destroying the oxygen supply for all members of the compartment.  The ensuing fire was quickly extinguished by 2nd Lt. Cook.  The fighter made a second pass this time centered on the radio room.  The radio was knocked out and Sgt. Avory was lightly wounded by flying glass.  Coming around again, the fighter came at us again head on.  2nd Lt. Mullalay was able to pour both barrels of the new turret directly into the engine of the enemy fighter scoring a kill that can be confirmed by myself and 2nd Lt. Cook.  While celebrating the kill, Sgt. Avory called out that another FW-190 was coming at us in a vertical dive.  He was able to get a few hits on the enemy, seemingly causing him to veer off target at the last minute.

 

With oxygen and radio out, we were forced to drop out of formation to 10,000 feet.  Once back over Albanian territory, we dropped our bomb load in uninhabited territory.  Our flight back through Albanian airspace did draw attention from various light AA units, but we received no damage and were able to land safely.

 

- 1st Lt. Henry Mershon, Pilot, Palookaville


HEART OF TEXAS, second flight, right wingman  (TAIL-END CHARLIE #2)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Did not fly. Runway abort.

 


FATEFUL AMY, second flight, left aircraft  (TAIL-END CHARLIE #1)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but exploded soon after from enemy fighter attacks.  No chutes seen.

 

Mission Narrative:

"Fateful Amy came under heavy attack just before arriving at the target and over the target.  The tail gunner shot down at least 2 German aircraft, possibly 3."

 

"I saw the plane under heavy fire though they seemed to be holding their own, a number of German fighters taking hits and plummeting out of sight.

 

"I thought I saw the inboard port wing fuel tank leaking fuel and engine no. 2 was definitely feathered.  About two seconds later the bomber exploded.  I can only assume she took a hit or hits to the load."

 

"The tail gunner was having a field day, he hit just about everything that flew past, and then just over the target zone she came under heavy fire and . . . exploded.  I didn't see any 'shutes . . . her load obviously went up, there's no way anyone got out."

 

- Taken from various fighter pilot and squadron eye-witness reports.


FRISCO KID, group spare

 

Mission Synopsis:

Not used, returned to base.

 


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