MISSION 12 - FIUME AARs
316th BS (LEAD)
LUCKY PENNY, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with tail & nose guns out, radio out, tail wheel damaged, port wing flap damaged & starboard aileron holed. 1 Casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Allison (ME-109 later confirmed by S-2) and 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Collins.
Leading the entire group certainly drew more fire than we had previously experienced in the last 4 missions. Although friendly fighters were out there, they were few and far between.
On zone 2 we got hit with 3 190's and a 109. Friendly fighters took out 1, two others missed but the one at 3 low placed hits on bomb bay, radio room and starboard wing. Only the R. Room was the telling hit knocking out our radio right off the bat. Our Ace gunner shot this bandit out of the sky as he made a second pass, and we moved on. Sgt. Jenkins, the ball gunner, after we landed said that the bomb bay shot rattled the doors but did little else. From then on, we could not communicate with the group so indicated to Navigator and Bombardier that we had one shot at this as all other planes would follow our lead.
Zone 3 again saw five 109s. Friendly fighters drove off 1 and our 'Ace' killed another, two of the enemy missed but again a fighter got through causing superficial damage to the Nose area. On his 2nd pass, the port cheek guns damaged him and the enemy was only able to inflict superficial damage to the waist area coming in from the 10:30 position.
Zone 4 even though Flak up ahead was heavy, we were hit by three 190s and a 109. Friendly fighters drove off 1 and all our shots as well as the enemy were misses. Flak hits were focused on the tail section knocking out both the tail wheel and more importantly the tail guns, and a hit on the rudder. Now, with no radio, no tail gun and a pretty shaken crew, we flew on to target. Once again, Dave Collins managed to place bombs on target scoring a 50% run. As we swung for home, we were jumped by fighters only to have them driven off by other B-17s.
Zone 3 was relatively calm only having 3 fighters; two 190s and a 109. The port waist guns damaged a 190 and the other two missed but the damaged fighter must have been bent on revenge as he scored 3 hits on the waist, the P. Wing and the nose. The wing hit was superficial but the nose hit knocked out the nose gun, and the waist hit gave a nice thigh wound to our Ball Turret gunner.
Zone 2 was again fighters swarming but driven off by fire from our other B-17s.
Lining up for landing, I was glad it was good weather with that unknown damage to the tail wheel. Fortunately we were able to make it straight down the runway. Doc says that the gunner's wound is "just a scratch" . . . Funny, Skippy kept mumbling something about, "I knew it . . . I knew this would happen . . ."
- Captain Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
OLD YARD DOG, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with port wing root damaged by flak & no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Beasely (Later confirmed by S-2).
Everything was just smooth flying until we got on the IP near the target. P38s were everywhere and drove off a hive of 109s. We didnít even get to shoot at anything. Those guys did good work.
Enemy flak was heavy and we received a huge hole in the port wing root. It nearly blew us out of formation. Others burst near us but we received no damage. Lt. Wiggins had a clear drop at the target even though we were bounced around by the flak and we saw many secondary explosions on the ground.
As we turned for home we drifted out of formation because of the stress damage on the port wing and a 109 with a green nose took some shots at us from 6 high, I guess hoping to shoot something down. We didnít disappoint him and Sgt. Beasley in the tail shot him straight down. Both he and the ball gunner reported a chute so we will probably see him again.
We got back into formation after the turn for home. Boy am I glad we did as 109s were everywhere but everyone else seemed to drive them off us. We landed with a lot of our .50cal ammo needing to be re-shelved . . . Which isnít a bad thing.
- 1st Lt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
FLAK TRAP, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with both landing gears inoperable, the ball turret jammed, and about 4 superficial hits to the starboard wing and fuselage. Belly-landed at base, killing the ball gunner. Two total casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by 2nd Lt. Jones.
Flak Trap's seventh mission turned out to be a bad luck flight. No enemy fighters were encountered during the entire flight until after our bomb run was finished. Our bomb run was on target and bombardier Bob Martin was able to place 20% of our eggs within target area.
In the target zone coming back we were attacked by two ME-109s but both missed on their attack runs.
Over the Adriatic (zone 3 back) we were attacked by four FW-190s. Our fighter cover ran one off, our Navigator shot one down and our Bombardier damaged one of them. The FW-190 at 12 high managed to hit our B-17, which caused our port landing gear to become inoperable. Ball turret gunner Ted Carter also informed me that the ball turret mechanism was inoperable and wouldn't move in any direction. We also took some superficial hits to our starboard wing. I knew that Ted couldn't get out of the turret due to the ball turret mechanism being jammed and with only one landing gear operating at least he still stood a chance of surviving the landing back at base. I begin praying hard during this time for him that no other damage would occur to our plane. The same FW-190 made a wide sweep around us and attacked again from 3 level. Our engineer managed to lightly damage it but the FW-190 still managed to inflict several hits to our ship. Two were superficial hits, our port waist gunner was seriously wounded and of all the bad luck our starboard landing gear was hit and became inoperable. The FW-190 attacked again from 12 level but missed on his attack run. I told my crew over the intercom to make preparations for a crash landing because both main landing gear were damaged. There was an overwhelming silence through out the plane because everyone on board knew Ted's fate due to being trapped in the ball turret. On approaching the base for landing, we could all hear Ted sobbing loudly and both our starboard waist gunner and him reciting the lords prayer together.
Ten minutes before landing Ted called out to me over the intercom. "Sir, please write to my folks and tell them that I died bravely." I called back to him, "I will, Ted, I promise you that I will write them." Not another sound was heard from him.
I made a smooth belly landing on the grass back at base and as the belly of our ship touched the earth, all of our hearts sank.
- 1st Lt. Joe Daves, Pilot, Flak Trap
SATIN DOLL, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port flap & bombing controls inoperable, port wing root damage, and superficial damage to port & starboard wings; all damage caused by flak. 2 casualties.
Fiume, I hope we never go back to that flak trap! We had a clean run going until just before the target. The only Kraut we saw inbound was a lone ME-109, closing in from 6 high right before starting the bomb run. PeeWee had him lined up when a P-38 drilled him right in the cockpit.
Then all hell broke loose. I've never seen, nor do I care to ever see again, flak that thick. The Kraut gunners had us lined up pretty good and we took a double handful of hits. Midway through the run, Wham! Wally calls up saying that he and PJ had just been nicked by a couple chunks of flak. Wham! Wham! Wham! Three more hits, Blankenship in the ball's yammering on the intercom about holes in the starboard wing. Again three more in rapid succession, this time taking out the port flap, a hit on the port wing root, and another in the nose. Wally's on the intercom, PJ's hit again when a chunk of flak wipes out the bomb control switchbox. Now we have to drop manually. Needless to say, with all the bouncing around, and the bombardier's equipment shot up, we didn't hit anything.
Rallying off the target, 2 ME-109s lined up on our battered nose. Thankfully, 2 P-38s got 'em before they got a chance to inflict any further damage on us. We didn't draw anymore attention from the Krauts the rest of the way home and made a reasonable landing despite the shot up port flap. The Doc says that PJ & Wally's injuries aren't serious enough to warrant any special attention (but they will taken off flight status as a precaution) and that they are both able to return to their full duties.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with radio and starboard elevator inoperable and 3 superficial damage hits to the starboard wing, and 1 each to the nose, waist and tail sections. No casualties.
A lone FW-190 made it through our fighter cover and attacked us about 50 miles from base. Our Navigator, 2nd Lt. Bertelli, hit him, and smoke was seen coming from his engine. The kraut missed us.
We didn't see any more of the Germans until we were over the target. Four FW-190s attacked us. Our fighter escort drove off all but the one that came screaming through the high squadron to get at us. The pilot missed us and continued on toward the low squadron.
Flak was extremely heavy and accurate over the target. Upon our return to base we counted no less than eight hits. We were very fortunate, though. The worst damage we suffered was the radio being destroyed and the starboard elevator being rendered inoperable. Due to the heavy flak, though, we were unable to put any of our ordinance on target.
The return trip was very quiet, as the only enemy fighters that ever got close were driven off by the other planes in the squadron.
- 1st Lt. Harmon, Pilot, Sentimental Journey
399th BS (Middle)
MOONSHINE A-BREWIN', second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with Navigator's equipment, top turret & port aileron inoperable and superficial damage to the fuselage. 2 Casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Kramer.
Takeoff until the target was almost a vacation. Just short of the target, we were attacked by two FW-190s that smashed up the nose and damaged the navigation equipment, and scared the bejesus outta Lt. Howell, but did little else. A second wave of 190ís missed us, but SSgt Acton was probably able to severely damage one of them.
The flak was hell: port wing damage that severed the flight control cables to the aileron, and destroyed the top turret mechanism and slightly injured SSgt Acton. This shaking put our bombs waaaayyyy off target!
After passing off of the target, a wave of ME-109s attacked us from 6 oíclock high. Sgt. Kramer dispatched one in short order; will have to see if any of our formation mates could confirm. We took some superficial hits from that pass. They returned for a second pass and were both damaged by our defensive fire (Sgt. Kramer and Lt. Eltman). Another wave of Germans passed near our formation about halfway to home base, but were chased away by one of the P-38 squadrons with us. I misjudged the wind on landing and got us mired in some mud on the right edge of the runway, but fortunately didnít hinder the rest of the group on their return.
- 1st Lt. Casey Morgan, Pilot, Moonshine A-Brewin'
PRINCESS LILIKOI, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%.Returned with tail guns destroyed, tail gunner's oxygen system and control cables damaged, and lots of superficial holes. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Morris.
The first wave that we faced was over the target when three 190s attacked from the north. The fighter cover drove most of them away, but an experienced pilot, probably an ace, came through and fired at us. He missed.
We met heavy flak, as predicted, which we managed to go through without getting hit. It shook us around a little bit. Obviously, so much that Lieutenant Duncan missed the target completely.
After the bomb run we got hit by flak and west of Zara a 190 attacked three times and put a couple of holes in Princess Lilikoi.
Overall this was an uneventful trip. No new tactics or units were observed. The fighter groups did most of the job when they drove of most of the enemies.
- Capt. Frank Kingsley, Pilot, Princess Lilikoi
SKY RAT, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #3 engine feathered, waist section O2 system inoperable, & superficial damage to the #4 engine, bomb bays & tail planes. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Edwards (Later confirmed by S-2).
Take off and form up went without incident. Outbound we never saw an inbound fighter until we passed Pola, but our little friends ran him off quickly.
The Flak was heavy as expected. We took superficial damage to our tail and starboard wing. TSgt. McMichael was hit in the neck, and was killed by a piece that ripped through the radio room. And our #3 and #4 engines were hit. #4 was superficial, but #3 developed an oil leak that required us to shut it down later in the mission. Lt. Edwards put 30% of our load on target.
As we turned for home we were hit by a large group of 109s. The P-38s
drove all but 2 of them off and the two left hit us with
everything they had. The first knocked out O2 in the waist, and the second shot up the radio room and bomb bay. They came back around and one was hit by Sgt Pender (tail) the second peppered the tail planes.
Once the 109's were gone we were hit by a group of 190s; fortunately they missed us entirely.
With the O2 out in the waist I was forced to drop out of formation. Once we made it down to 10,000 ft we were hit by 2 groups of 109s. Lt. Edwards sent on of them spiraling downwards. Sgts. Parker and Strickland each hit another, and the others decided to look for an easier target.
The rest of the trip back went without further hassles from the Luffwaffe. Landing was smooth, and without incident.
- 1st Lt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat
HEART OF TEXAS, third flight, left wingman
Runway abort. Did not form up. Group spare, Caballero, took spot in formation.
CABALLERO, third flight, left wingman
Group spare, took Heart of Texas' spot in formation. Bombed target, 40%. Returned with without damage or casualties.
Took off as group spare and took Heart of Texas' slot. A very lucky flight the entire mission. No Luftwaffe attacks at all and flak was heavy but inaccurate. Return journey uneventful and the landing routine.
- 2nd Lt. John McPherson, Pilot, Caballero
317th BS (High)
BEWITCHED, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Fell out-of-formation after bomb run and returned alone. Landed with tail guns & tail heat inoperable, tail oxygen system damaged, one fuel tank holed but self-sealed. Two casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by SSgt. Simons & Sgt. Harris (Sgt. Harris' FW-190 later confirmed by S-2).
Take off was smooth and flying was good until just past the coastline (zone 2). Got bounced by three 190s; fighter cover wasn't much good but Harris flamed the one on our six. His buddy on our 12 missed completely and scrammed. The one at 10:30 high got some hits in but nothing serious. Thank goodness for self-seal tanks!! He missed when he came round and headed home.
The flak over the target looked thick enough to walk on. Just before entering that stuff, one gutsy Kraut 109 pilot thought he dive in on our nose but he got bounced by the little guys and we never saw him again. The flak was crap. We took 8 hits which blew out Spratt's heat and wrecked the tail guns. It also hit Harris' oxygen but he'd remembered to switch the valve so it didn't flame. The waist got peppered and both the gunners got a little souvenir of Krupp steel.
Spratt kept his cool (how punny!) and landed most of our eggs right in the zone. I decided to head for a warmer clime despite Spratt's protests that he could hack it. Ha! Like I'm gonna waste a good egg-layer. Purse collected 2 lots. Greedy buzzard.
We got swarmed all over by five 190s and a 109. Except for the 190 on our 6 that Simons got, thank the Lord, the rest must have been as green as grass. Not one hit. Oh, we were blazing the taxpayers' dollars at them in .50 cal so that might have scared them. Purse winged one pretty good and he had flames all over his nose but he managed to dive down and disappear. The others just plain bugged out.
Nothing else happened and we landed fairly smoothly. My co said something about nice to fly again and I promised he could buy me a root beer in celebration.
- Capt. S. Montague, Pilot, Bewitched
DARKWATCH, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with the starboard wing flap inoperable, 2/3 of the rudder shot away, damage to the bombardier oxygen system, and superficial damage to radio room, starboard wing, port wing, and tail. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Abernathy (Later confirmed by S-2),
A strange mission -- not that I'm complaining. We got hit by multiple fighters and even took some flak, but nearly all of our damage was superficial. Sometimes the bullets were hitting us so frequently it sounded like hailstones on a tin roof, but after the smoke cleared, we were no worse off that a bunch of holes in the hull (and in Sadat's backside, again, but that hardly counts).
Our new bombardier did a fine job -- claimed a Messerschmidt, drove off another, and dropped his bombs on target.
Quiet ride home. LaGrasta picked up some swing music on the short wave and hooked it into the intercom, listened to it the whole way home.
- Capt. Paul O'Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch
SILVER SPOON, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bomb sight inoperable & no casualties.
We didnít see a German fighter at all, expect for those that attacked other aircraft in the formation. I expect it was because of my superior flying skills. The gunners have gotten slack, however, and intercom protocol was very sloppy. I donít know what other officers expect from their crew, but I certainly think standards are dropping! We were afforded the privilege of heavy anti-aircraft fire over the target, and my bombardier had his bomb sight rendered inoperable, although I suspect that he lost his nerve. Iím going to speak to the MO, the man needs to be given a thorough check-up! An uneventful flight back, hampered once again by the incompetence of my radio man and intercom protocol.
- 1st Lt. Milton Forrest, Pilot, Silver Spoon
FRISCO KID, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with damage to the rudder, tail oxygen system, and superficial holes in the nose compartment. No casualties.
Very quiet--saw no enemy a/c until we reached target area. Special commendation to Little Friends of 1st FG, who kept Jerry off us. Only one enemy a/c (FW-190) broke through fighter cover to attack us head on, but scored no hits and broke off.
Flak very heavy over target--we took three hits, taking damage to nose and tail. Despite heavy flak, eggs laid on target with 30% accuracy.
Enemy air opposition increased on return flight, but Little Friends and other Big Friends drove most of them away. We were attacked by two more groups of 190s on the way home, but neither scored any hits, SGT. Wilson reported possibly damaging one of the attackers. At any rate, we landed safely back at base and stand ready for action.
- Capt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid
MEMPHIS GAL, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with flaps inoperable, number 4 engine out, intercom out, rubber rafts destroyed. 2 casualties.
German resistance was sporadic outbound. Those Germans who did keep us
company made a hasty departure as we approached the target, not so much from
our fighter cover but from the carpet of flak coming up to meet us. We
were hit pretty badly by the exploding 88mm shells, which set our number 4
engine on fire (which we managed to extinguish after 2 attempts). Our
bombardier, Richard Klein, missed the target due partly to nerves and my failed attempt to keep the old girl steady on the bomb run.
Our intercom system had taken a hit so I only heard about our casualties once
we had turned for home. Poor old Bert got hit again, the last time he
had screamed all the way back to base, this time however his wound was more
serious but he remained surprisingly calm. For Bert this war is over,
he will be sent home once he is strong enough to travel. Foxworth, our
ball gunner, was not so
"lucky" as a jagged piece of metal had pierced his chest killing him instantly. The sight of the medics removing the bodies of my crew will haunt me forever. We have had three men killed so far and two seriously wounded . . . I suppose Donald is right its just a matter of time before we all will have our moment with destiny.
Once again Donald and I had a tough time bringing the old bird in. There was a nasty cross wind at base and we were already using full right rudder to compensate for number 4 engine. We did manage to set her down in the end but only after a few hair raising moments spent trying to keep her on the flight path.
- 1st Lt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
CARDINAL EXPRESS, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with port wing aileron inoperable and 4 casualties.
We were jumped on early and often by enemy fighters throughout our mission to Fiume. Bocci was shot up pretty good early on. The boys in the back did a magnificent job of stabilizing our wounded waist gunner.
As we neared the target zone we observed lots of action up and down the formation. We momentarily breathed a sigh of relief only to be jarred around by some major flak as we flew on. We took some damage from the flak including our Port Wing Aileron getting knocked out and our tail gunner getting slightly injured. These events seemed to knock us off our game a bit, as we are estimating only 5% of the payload landing within 1,000 feet of the target.
We were attacked again on our return trip. One attacker sprayed the nose section pretty good, lightly wounding both the bombardier and the navigator. Our little friends were effective once again. We encountered a total of 9 enemy planes during this mission. We were able to damage 2 of them.
Our post mission inspection showed the Express taking minor damage in 8 separate locations. Additionally, Bocci is being sent home, which will continue our revolving door of airmen in the back.
-1st Lt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express
DIVINE WIND, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to both wings, to the pilot compartment, the bomb bay and waist areas. No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Shimizu.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
One hundred (100) miles away from target two (2) FW-190s coming in from 10:30 high and 3 level attacked the plane. The one that came in from 3 level was driven off by fighter escort. The one that came in from 10:30 high missed the plane and was driven off by machine gun fire from the formation.
About twenty five (25) miles away from target we were attacked by four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12, 3, 9 high & 9 level. One was driven off by fighter cover. The one coming in from 12 high was severely damaged by 2nd Lt. Jim Nakano, the one coming in from 9 level was severely damaged by Sgt. Paul Sasaki. The one coming in from 9 high missed the plane and didnít return.
Over target we encountered heavy flak. None of it hit the plane but there were many close hits. This prevented 2nd Lt. Jim Nakano from getting a clear sight on the target and wasnít able to get any of the bombs to hit the target.
On turning back from the target one (1) ME-109 came in from 3 low and was driven off by fighter cover before they were able to fire on the plane.
About 10 miles away from the target we spotted bogies coming in from 3 level but our fighter cover was able to intercept them before they were able to reach the bomb group.
Because of the fighters intercepting the bogies from 3 level, four (4) ME-109s were able to reach the bomb group. They were able to come in from 12 o'clock low, level and high and from 6 low. Fighter cover was able to break off from there previous engagement and were able to drive off the fighter coming in from 12 high. The one coming in from 12 level missed the plane and didnít return. But the ones that came in from both 12 and 6 low were able to hit the plane for a total of four (4) times, hitting the waist area twice, the bomb bay area once, and the starboard wing once. Luckily, all the hits were only superficial. Both planes returned from 12 level and high. Both of these planes were again hit the plane, this time three (3) times, all three on the starboard wing; again all of these hits were superficial in nature and did not cause any problems in the flying of the plane. These two e/a again returned to attack our plane, 3 o'clock level and high. This time, our fighters were able to intercept the one and drove it off before they were able to shot at the plane. The one other one from 3 level was shot down by the engineer SSgt. Cliff Shimizu, who was manning the top turret.
About seventy-five (75) miles away from base we were attacked by four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12, 3, and 9 high and one at 9 level. The one from 3 high was damaged by Sgt. Paul Sasaki and it escaped. The ones from 12 and 3 high missed and were driven off. The last one from 9 level hit the plane twice, once in the fuselage which caused minor damage and the other hit to the canopy of the pilotís compartment. It returned at 1:30 level, again hitting the plane twice, again on the fuselage, which was minor, and on the port wing, missing all major components. This fighter again returned at 12 level but this time it missed and broke off combat.
Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
399th BS (HIGH)
PALOOKAVILLE, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with radio out, port wing aileron inoperable, minor superficial damage to the starboard wing and to the pilots' compartment all as a result from flak. 1 casualty.
This was a mission marked by great coverage from fighter escort and the validity of massed bomber formations. Safe in the formation we did not have an enemy fighter get close to us until we were preparing for the run into the target. One ME-109 made it through the escort and was able to get a burst off at us wounding 2nd Lt. Mullalay. The escort jumped on him immediately after that and we did not see him or any other fighter for the rest of the mission.
Flak over the target was heavy and we received back to back bursts. One was on the port side and caused significant damage to our aileron, for which I had to compensate. The second came on the starboard side, near the head of the plane. It did cause some superficial damage to the wing and the pilot compartment. The only significant damage was to the radio which was rendered inoperable, despite the best efforts of Sgt. Avory to restore it.
Despite the close calls with the Flak and being lightly wounded, 2nd Lt. Mullalay kept his eye on the ball and delivered our payload on target and to good effect.
-1st Lt. Henry Mershon, Pilot, Raw Deal
WALLS OF FIRE, third flight, right wingman
Failed to reach target. Fell out of formation and aborted mission zone 3 outbound. Returned alone with oxygen system out, rudder controls and ball turret inoperable. 1 casualty.
Unbelievable for a first mission. We were attacked by a single FW 190 about 70 miles from the target . A walking hits took out Bombardier Holmes, the oxygen system for the whole plane, the ball turret guns and the rudder. Forced to drop out of formation and with an incapacitated bombardier, I decided it prudent to abort and jettison the load over water. Not the sort of start you'd wish for, especially for Holmes who's previous plane had been destroyed last time out without him aboard, this being his first assignment since his last injury.
- 1st Lt. Mike Raines, Pilot, Moonshine-A-Brewin'
318th BS (LOW)
GOLD DRAGON, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port landing gear inoperable and made belly landing. Fuel from leaking fuel tank caught fire and plane was destroyed. All ten crewmembers safe. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Mason & 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Pulley.
We took off and formed up without incident. The flight to Fiume, Italy was uneventful. Our ďlittle buddiesĒ must have been busy up there because we saw no one. That heavy flak did cause us problems. The first burst took out our #3 engine just as our bomb load was being released. This caused us to completely miss the target. We were able to get the #3 engine feathered.
Just as we made the turn for home we were jumped by two 109s. Allen Pulley got his fourth KIA when one of the 109ís went spinning out of sight all aflame. The 109 from the 12:00 level passed us right on by with no damage. Just as we thought we might be alright three 190s jumped us. When there first pass was done we had a fuel leak on the starboard outboard wing tank and useless port landing gear. Our engineer Dave Tucker calculated we should have enough fuel to make it the rest of the way home. Two of those pesky 190s came around for a second pass. Our port waist Gunner, Elliot Mason, got his third KIA on one of those 190s . The other 190 made a clean pass.
I knew the landing was going to be a little dicey with the port gear up. I decided to do a total gear up landing. When everyone else was down and we were the only one left I made the gear up approach. The touch down was as smooth as I could expect. After the she stopped I ordered every one out. I was the last one out and had just gotten clear when the leaking fuel caught fire. By the time the rescue trucks arrived she was totally ablaze. When the fire was put out there was just a skeleton remaining. That old girl gave us her best. ďGold Dragon, may she rest in peace. She served us well!!!Ē
- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon
THE ANT'S HILL, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with heat out in both stations in nose compartment, damage to control cables, #4 engine oil tank, port tail plane wing root, starboard wing flap and wing root. Superficial damage to nose, pilots' compartment, radio room, bomb bay control cables, starboard waist position. 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by SSgt. Jankowski and Sgt. Mendes.
Our sixth mission began with a bang. We had no sooner climbed to altitude and headed out over the Adriatic when we were jumped by four FW-190s. Unlike last time, our escorts were of no help at first.
The first enemy aircraft was destroyed by SSgt. Jankowski without getting any
shots on us. I can personally confirm this kill, since it
exploded right in front of my eyes! Attackers two and three must have been rookies, because they both made one ineffectual pass and left. Number four was a better shot and managed to score walking hits down the length of our ship. Most of the shells caused superficial damage, but one lightly wounded our radioman, Sgt. Weber, and another damaged the port tail plane wing root. Changing attack positions must have affected his aim somehow, because he missed us on his second pass and bugged out.
Approaching Fiume, we were again attacked by a formation of four FW-190s that dove on us from all directions. This time, it was Sgt. Mendes' turn to score, as he downed the one at 9:00 high. Our escorts finally showed up and chased off the one attacking us from 12:00.
Sgt. Beane managed to damage the Focke-Wulf coming at us from his direction, but the enemy still managed to damage the starboard wing root and the oil tank on #4 engine; thank heaven, no fire resulted and the engine continued to operate normally. On his second pass, this guy scored superficial hits on the starboard wing flap and port wing. Thankfully, on his third pass, he missed.
The fourth attacker caused the most serious damage. He knocked out the heat to the entire nose compartment, before flying off as we approached the target. Although the flak was heavy, we managed to fly through it without being hit. Unfortunately, the cold must have affected the usually reliable Lt. Stubbs, because he only managed to put 20% of our bombs on target this time.
Leaving Fiume behind, I called to Lt. Stubbs & Lt. Wiener, asking about their conditions and inquiring whether they wanted me to drop to a lower altitude. They had just watched as another wave of enemy fighters was driven off by our escorts, and both of them said that they did not want to risk leaving the protection of the squadron. Lt.Wiener did develop a light case of frostbite as a result of this decision, but we managed to make it home without any further attacks and he will survive to fly again.
- 1st Lt. Anthony Hilliard, Pilot, The Ant's Hill
OLD CROW EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 99%. Returned with the #4 engine feathered, starboard waist gun destroyed, rudder damage, multiple holes in the starboard wing, other superficial holes to the port wing, tail and waist. No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Carter (Later confirmed by S-2).
We dealt a lot of damage in today's mission, 2nd Lt. Peterson was able to drop 99% of the payload on the target. On the way to the target we met some krauts but not many and Sgt. Carter was able to drop one. But besides that there was not that much action.
Over the target the flak was heavy and accurate. Six flak burst came pretty close. They hit the #4 engine which caused a oil fire. 2nd Lt. Long had trouble putting it out and after the second try it finally went out. In the waist it hit the starboard waist gun, knocking it out. Like I said, 2nd Lt. Peterson was able to drop almost the entire payload on the target.
On the way back we meet more opposition but nothing else was hit and we hit nothing. The Krauts seemed beat today.
-1st Lt. Fred Anderson, Pilot, Old Crow Express
GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bomb controls inoperable and 1 casualty from flak. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Archibald.
A good flight with only Sgt. Turner taking a little hit in his calf. On the way to target we came under attack about 150 miles from base. A good formation kept most of the enemy away but two FW-190s managed to make a pass. MSgt. Garbutt in the top turret damaged one and both planes missed their mark
Over the target two more waves pressed us. The first was chased off by the formation and of the second set of four ME-109s only one made it past the friendly fighters who were really on the ball today. We missed that bandit and he missed us in return. I was feeling pretty good until we saw a wall of flak go up around us. We took only two hits, one which wounded the tail gunner and another which destroyed the bomb controls. It was impossible to use the Norden and yet again we missed the target. There's no blame for this miss but we were still more than a little disappointed. I'm sure we have the worst bomb record in the 88th and the guys are taking a lot of ribbing from the other crews
At the rendezvous point the Germans came at us from several directions. Four bandits made attack runs and one luckless ME-109 pilot ran straight into a blast of .50 cal from Sgt. Archibald's belly guns, and for a change we didn't take a single hit enemy fighters.
Before long we were winging our way home without further damage. We saw a few more Germans but nobody came close enough to hurt us. After a smooth landing John got his leg bandaged and we were all walking to the O-club for a well deserved drink . . . and of course, fielding numerous catcalls about our bombing record. Then again, at least we're alive.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Dragon
LONGHORN LADY, first flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #2 engine feathered, tail wheel damaged, and a few superficial fuselage hits. 1 Casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Beaufort.
We did see any enemy fighters until we got to the target area. Over the target we were attacked by two 190s. Sgt. Beaufort was able to destroy one of the 190s. After a couple of fuselage hits, Sgt. Beaufort was KIA by one of the other 190s.
We took some flak hits causing damage to the tail wheel, the rest of the damaged was minor to the fuselage. We were able to get 30% of the bombs on target.
On the way home we were jumped by a 109. He was able to get a hit on the #2 engine oil tank causing a fire. We were able to put the fire out with the fire extinguisher. In spite of the damage to the tail wheel, we did not have any problem with the landing.
- 1st Lt. Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
WANG DANG DOODLE, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Fell-out-of-formation zone 3 inbound and returned with #1 and #2 engines out (oil leak from #1); bomb bay doors inoperable; radio out; shattered pilots' compartment windows; port waist gun jammed; minor damage to starboard wing root & rudder (1 hit each). 4 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. McNally and & 1 ME-109 apiece by Sgts. Busby & Grayson.
Things were quiet for us down in the back of the formation right until we hit land. Once we got near the target zone, the sky was swarming with Jerries. We didn't get to shoot at 'em, though. Between the tight formation and our fighters, none of those Germans got near enough to us to shoot.
The flak over the target was thick -- heavy and accurate. We took a number of hits from flak, particularly on the port wing, where we lost our #2 engine. Another burst caused an oil leak in #1 engine. Fortunately, Sergeant Harper was able to keep things running enough to get us back over the water before we had to shut that engine down. Lieutenant Baker dropped his bombs on target despite the flak and despite the smoke rising from the oil fires. I think the group as a whole did a nice job, cause that sucker was in flames! Busby reported 30% of bombs on target, Jed's pretty consistent, in't he?
Anyway, we got more Jerries comin' after us out of the target. Sergeant McNally sawed the wing of a 190, and then we were headin' towards the Sea. By this time we had to shut down #1 engine on account of the oil leak, and we lost speed and altitude pretty fast. We watched our formation disappear ahead and above, and I think they took our fighters with us, cause we got no help from them. We got set upon by five Me-109s, and they really stacked up on us from the front -- 12 low, 2 from 12 Level, 12 high, and 10:30 high. Despite our shootin', they kept coming back for more, and I couldn't do nothin -- no fancy flyin', on account of my engines out. We just had to sit there and take our medicine. Somebody drilled us good, walkin' hits up the fuselage. Friedman, Baker, Rutledge, and Grayson all got hit. From what Jed and Claude say, those boys were still alive, but were both in bad shape from their wounds. At some point, both Milton and Jeff got hit again, not sure exactly when it happened. As the Krauts came back for more, our boys got a little mad. Clay smoked one coming at 6 High, and Claude dropped one from 9. Jed at least set one guy smokin. Then, just like that, they were gone.
It was a long, slow trip home. Rutledge was already dead. Friedman hung on for a little while, Jed tried to help him out, but his wounds were too bad and he couldn't make it back to base.
-1st Lt. Ted Deschamps, Pilot, Wand Dang Doodle
IRON LADY, third flight, lead aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with waist and tail oxygen systems out; rafts destroyed; navigator's equipment inop.; tail wheel damaged; port wing & starboard wing root damaged (2 port, 1 starboard); 2/3 of the rudder shot away; control cables damaged and numerous other superficial holes all over the aircraft 4 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by Lt. O'Donnell, MSgt. Simeon, TSgt. Spiers & Sgt. Malone.
We took off and formed up with the rest of the group with no problems. As we crossed the coast to head up the Adriatic we tested guns and the crew settled in for the flight. It's a strange experience being the last ship on the raid and I impressed upon the crew the need for extra vigilance. As it was we didn't see a single enemy fighter the whole way up the Adriatic.
Just as we crossed the coast north of Pola we were jumped by fighters but due to the ferocity of the fire from the squadron the only fighter to sneak in was one from our six. As he came in from on high all my gunners missed him and he managed to score a number of hits on the tail, and both wings although nothing was serious. He tried to come round for a second pass but this time things were a little different and he ran into a hail of fire from Lt. O'Donnell on the nose gun and blew up in a ball of fire. I handed control over to Lt. Smith for our bomb run and although the flak was very intense we came out of it unscathed and with what appears to be about 40% of our Mark 43's on target (Good Job, Pete!).
As we tightened up in the formation and set course for home we were hit by two waves of enemy aircraft. Against the first wave the gunners were woeful although the ball turret scratched (FCA-1) an Me109. The Germans' shooting was as poor as ours and not a single hit was taken. The second wave all missed and our top turret knocked lumps off an FW-190 (FBA-2).
This continued as we headed back down the Adriatic (zone 3) as we were bounced by another two waves. The first wave of 5 ME-109s attacked from 12 all levels and from 6 high and low. The tail gunner destroyed the low 109 and Jonah Spiers took out the high one with his first burst. Then all hell broke loose. All three fighters from 12 opened fire and riddled us nose-to-stern. In the first pass the engineer was wounded in the foot, Sgt. Spiers had his head took off, control cables were damaged, the tail wheel was damaged, the Port Wing Root was hit. The Oxygen in the waist burst into flames (it was put out almost immediately by the waist gunners) and we took other hits in every other compartment in the plane. The three fighters came back round for another attack and scored more hits on us again although they seemed to hit nothing vital. They then broke off after a third pass at us and just as we gathered our breath we were hit again by a second wave. The gunners were beginning to lose a bit of discipline due to the constant enemy attacks and again missed all the attacking aircraft. In the first pass we took hits in the rudder, the tail oxygen supply was hit, the navigators equip was knocked out, the rafts were destroyed and both the navigator and bombardier were wounded, thankfully both only sustained light wounds. On their second pass two off the fighters missed but one persistent bugger put another load of holes in the Lady. He bit off more than he could chew cause as he came back in for a third go at us MSgt. Simeon nailed him from the top turret.
We were caught again just as it began to feel safe as we approached the Italian coast although this time our fighter escort showed up and chased off one fighter and the second missed us as he screamed past in a vertical dive.
We made it safely back to base although this landing wasn't my best (Dice roll 2 with a -1). Master Sergeant Brewster didn't look too happy when he saw the state of the Iron Lady (226 Damage Points) although he calmed down a fair old bit when he realized we had casualties. I need to speak to Captain Smith about our lack of fighter cover. It seemed to be almost nonexistent today. (Rubbish dice throws again!!).
-1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady