MISSION 14 - Florence AARs

399th BS (Lead)

PRINCESS LILIKOI, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but did not drop bombs due to jammed doors and returned with bombs still onboard.  Tail guns destroyed, autopilot damaged, bomb bay doors jammed shut, port tail plane root damaged, and lot of superficial holes.  2 Casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by MSgt. Marlow.

 

Mission Narrative:

Again, the first wave that we faced was over the target.  A wave of 190s came in before the flak.  The P-47s had a hard time against these good pilots and drove only one off.  Sergeant Metcalf hit an ace and threw his sights off our ship; he fired but missed. Another hit us and came around again, this time from 6 high.  Sgt Roberts in the tail could just stare at him since this fighter had knocked out his guns during the first pass.  During our first missions we noticed that many pilots attacked from directions that we couldn't cover because of damaged guns.  Better check if they really do have some kind of device that can tell them if we have guns knocked out.  Sure seems that way some times.  Our Engineer, MSgt. Marlow, hit this one and severely damaged him, but still he managed to fire and hit us before he dove and disappeared.  He riddled our plane with bullets, but luckily doing mostly superficial damage.  He hit the bomb bay doors, though, and jammed them.  MSgt. Marlow left his position immediately and tried to open them manually.

 

We were now going through heavy flak.  Several nearby bursts shook us around and made it difficult for MSgt. Marlow to open the doors.  A shell exploded near our tail killed our tail gunner, Sgt. Roberts.  We were now at the release point, but the doors were still jammed so we couldn't bomb.

 

More fighters attacked on the way to the Rally Point, but were driven off by Lt. Mershon's crew.

 

North of Terni a group of 109s attacked.  One made a second pass and killed Sgt. Metcalf, our Port Waist Gunner.

 

Landed with the bombs still onboard.

 

- Capt. Frank Kingsley, Pilot, Princess Lilikoi


SKY RAT, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with damage to navigation equipment, tail plane, and pilots' compartment windows, superficial damage to nose and tail.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Pender & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Strickland.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and form up went without incident.  We saw a lone, inbound 109 over the water; but our escorts drove him off.

 

Once we flew back over the coast we were hit by two full waves of fighters.  The first wave was 190s.  They came at us from all sides.  Sgt. Parker in the ball turret managed to put a few rounds on one of them, but he kept coming.  Several others missed us entirely, but one coming in from 9-high hit us hard.  He put several rounds through the pilots' compartment, radio room and out starboard wing; fortunately he missed and any vital systems.  He came back around from our 12 and hit us again, knocking out our navigation equipment and punching a few more holes through the pilots compartment.  As he past us Sgt. Pender in the tail tore a wing off his plane and sent him earthward.

 

The second group was comprised of 109s.  They were obviously green, because Sgt. Strickland downed one from the top turret without much trouble at all, and the others made awkward passes at us and missed us by a mile.

 

Flak was heavy, as expected, over Florence.  We took more hits than we could count.  The nose section alone took three hits, understandably rattling Lt. Makowski as he was trying to get the plane onto our line of approach to the target.  Our bomb run was off, and Makowski reported that none of our bombs hit the target.  The tail planes and the starboard wing also took multiple flak hits, but again, no major damage could be detected.

 

Once we swung back out over the water we saw a couple more inbound fighter, but they only made half hearted runs at us and missed.

 

Landing was safe, and without incident.

 

- Capt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat


PALOOKAVILLE, lead flight, left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Runway abort.  Did not participate in mission.


FRISCO KID, second flight, lead aircraft, Deputy Group Leader

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but jettisoned bombs after taking a BIP in the nose.  Fell out-of-formation and returned alone with nose blown off by the flak burst, tail compartment heat inoperable and superficial damage to port wing, including hits to inboard fuel tank (self-seal).  Aircraft later written-off as beyond economical repair.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was real quiet until we got to Florence.  Then one Jerry dove on us through the fighter cover and put some holes in the port wing.  He kept coming at us, peppering us, knocking the tail heat out, but not doing any major damage.

 

Then the flak . . . heavy heavy flak.  Next thing I knew there was blood and oil spattered on the windshield, and the nose was gone.  Gone, just like that.  We jettisoned bombs and turned for home, dropping down to 10,000 ft.

 

And the Jerries came at us, but the Little Friends were there and kept most of them off us.  McDonough nailed one, and Wilson another, and they couldn't do much damage to us.  We also took more flak, but didn't get hit again.

 

After we crossed the coast we picked up a couple 38s who took us most of the way home.  We saw only one more Jerry, who dove down on us without hitting us.  One of the 38s chased him away.

 

So the plane's a mess, but the boys are eager to get back in the air again and get Jerry for what they did to us.

 

- Capt. David R. Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid


MOONSHINE A-BREWIN', second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aborted mission due to oil system failure to #1 engine. Jettison bombs and returned alone without damage or casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take-off and form-up went without a hitch.  Everyone was keyed up for this mission due to the expected heavy flak.  As it turns out, we didnít have to deal with it.

 

About 150 miles north of Rome, our No. 1 oil system failed, spraying the entire engine and outer wing with oil.  SSgt. Powers did an outstanding job with troubleshooting and assisting us with shutdown.  The loss of power caused us to leave the formation, jettison the bombs, and abort the mission.  Fortunately, no fire erupted.  Because of the low oil pressure, the propeller would intermittently unfeather, causing the engine to wind up considerably.  Then the pressure would build back up and the blades would rotate to the wind.  We landed without incident, but were disappointed that we had to abort before the bomb run.  Probably because we had two P-47s escort us back, we saw no G.A.F. aircraft on the return.

 

- 1st Lt. C. Morgan, Pilot, Moonshine A-Brewin'


WALLS OF FIRE, second flight, left aircraft 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with intercom out, starboard wing fuel tank holed (self-sealed), control cables and port tail plane damaged.  1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

We saw very little enemy activity on the outward trip, despite the heavy flak predicted over the area the hits taken in no way jeopardized the bomb run.  Unfortunately, our navigator, Wendell Royce, took a round to his chest and will being going home.

 

Three or four 190s jumped us over the target zone on the return journey, raising a scare as one hit the starboard wing outboard fuel tank. Fortunately, the tank's inner rubber lining did its job and prevented the fuel from escaping.  No enemy activity noted at all after this.

 

- 2nd Lt. Moshin Ali, Co-pilot, Walls of Fire


316th BS (Middle)

LUCKY PENNY, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with starboard wing flap inoperable and 3 casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Allison & Sgt. Fidone.

 

Mission Narrative:

Flight out was routine (funny to be using this word but after 13 other flights that's just what it is).  Saw some enemy fighter activity but friendlies drove them away.  As we got close to target, the WALL of FLAK was horrific.  One lone fighter approached but was driven off, either by other fighters or flak, not sure, but we flew into this storm and immediately were hit dozens of times with little pings all over the ship.  5 shots managed to do some damage, mostly to bodies, not equipment.  Tail gunner called in
first with a small wound to the left calf.  A hit on the starboard wing got our wing flap.  Then there was a tremendous burst in the front of the plane actually lifting up the nose section.  Both the two boys up front got wounds and very shaken up.  Navigator got a banged up right arm from being thrown about, while Bombardier got a chunk of metal across his left leg, ripping the pant leg and causing a little burn from the hot metal.  He was still able to drop on target but not his usual accuracy with only 20% on target.  Hits to the radio room and waist area resulted in less damage but a lot of jittery nerves.

 

Exiting the target area, two109's dove on us but was again driven off.  Then another wave of the identical type and direction of enemy fighters again dove on us but we were ready for them.  One was again driven off by fighters but the other was blown away by our substitute ball gunner.

 

Finally, on the last leg  of our flight, three 109s came at us; two missed but a third tried for our starboard wing, he turned for another pass but our ACE top turret gunner nailed him for yet another kill.  Landing was uneventful but a few days away from that flak would be just fine by me and the crew.

 

- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny


SATIN DOLL, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with minor flak damage to port flap and radio room floor; superficial damage to waist area from 13mm & 20mm shells and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 each by SSgt. Turner and Sgt. Blankenship (SSgt. Turner's claims was later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

"Can we make this quick?  I need to get over to the infirmary and check on my boys."

 

"We first ran into the fighters nearing the target area.  Three FWs from 12 high, 3 level, and 3 high.  A P-47 got the last one. George and Lt. Douglas, yeah he's the replacement Bombardier, anyway, they opened up on the one comin' in for the nose.  Douglas missed but Turner got some hits on him with the top turret.  He fired off a quick burst, missed, and peeled off trailing smoke.  The one at 3 level worked the waist over pretty good even after Blankenship punched some holes in him with the ball turret guns.  Hal Jackson said that he had smoke pouring out of his cowling but he just kept coming.  That's when he & Wall got hit. Right after that, a lone Me-109 came screaming down in a vertical dive and Turner drilled him with the top turret."

 

"Then we were into 'Flak Hell'.  I swear these were the same guys they had at Fiume!  They were fairly accurate and punched a few holes in the port flap, and another fragment tore through the radio room floor grazing Johansen's foot.  Even with the bouncing around, Douglas managed to get the bombs on target."

 

"Rallying off the target, another lone Me-109 tried to scratch our belly, but got swatted hard by Blankenship in the ball.  That's about it.  No more E/A after that, and we landed with no problem."

 

Standing up he adds "Oh yeah, we're gonna need a couple of replacements for the next run."

 

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


FLAK TRAP, third flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Aircraft was shot down by enemy fighters over the Adriatic Sea.  No survivors.

 

Mission Narrative:

Witnesses in the 316th Bomber Squadron reported seeing Flak Trap explode while outbound over the Adriatic Sea.  Flak Trap was seen being attacked by several FW-190s over the Adriatic Sea (outbound zone 3) resulting in the bombs being hit and detonating.  There were no survivors.  Based on descriptions of the explosion from Sergeant Edmond of Lucky Penny, it can be concluded that the plane took a direct hit in the bomb bay, detonating the bomb load.  No chutes were seen.

 

- From eyewitness accounts from the crews of Lucky Penny & Satin Doll


318th BS (High)

GOLD DRAGON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with minor damage and no casualties.  Claims: 2 FW-190s by Sgt. Edwards & SSgt. D. Tucker.

 

Mission Narrative:

The crew was optimistic with this new 'G' model we named Thor.

 

We were jumped by no less then nine 190s while inbound to the target.  That put a lot of lead in the air but we were lucky and smoked three of them and only receive minimal damage.

 

I was glad to have Jerry Minter back and he did us proud by hitting the target with 30%.

 

The return flight was not without some excitement when three 109s jumped us just off the target.  Again there was a lot of lead in the air but everyone came up empty.  The rest of the flight was smooth and we had a textbook landing.

 

- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon


IRON LADY, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with returned with tail guns inoperable; port wing fuel tank leaking, control cables & rudder damaged. 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

We didn't see any enemy aircraft until just prior to starting the bomb run.  The first of three waves consisted of FW-190s . The only FW190 to hit us caused a serious wound to Ssgt. Jankowski, our temporary engineer.  The second wave ,which was ME-109s, all missed and the third wave was driven off by the  combined fire of the squadron.

 

The flak was dense and Sgt. McNichol reported seeing Wang Dang Doodle blow up in the section flying behind us.  We were then hit  by flak making the tail guns inoperable.  I ordered McNichol to move himself to the top turret.  Just as we got to the drop point we were hit by flak again and it threw us all over the place.  There was a huge hole in the port wing and I could see fuel streaming out of the fuel tanks.  That put us off our bomb run and we missed the target completely.

 

After clearing the flak we turned for home and were jumped again by another three waves of fighters.  They all missed or were intercepted by our little friends from the 1st FG and we managed to hit a couple ourselves to no great effect it seemed.

 

As we headed back down the Adriatic we got hit again by two waves of fighters I think.  The first wave was FW190s and Sgt. McNichol in the top turret got good solid hits on the one from 9 high (FBA-2) but not before it damaged our control cables and hit the rudder as well.  The other three in the  wave only half-heartedly pressed home their attack and got tangled up with our fighter escort trying to protect the FW-190 which was trailing plumes of smoke as they sped away.  The second wave was ME-109s.  A couple of our escorts managed to nail one and Lt. O'Donnell sent one away with parts of its port wing missing (FBA-2).  They all broke off after one pass causing no damage.

 

They were the last fighters we saw and I was glad to see the base as it came into sight.  We landed safely at base and got Ssgt. Jankowski to the base hospital where the docs said he will recover although he won't fly again.

 

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


THE ANT'S HILL, lead flight, left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with damage to the control cables, starboard wing root, rudder, and a few superficial holes.  1 casualty.  Claims: 1 FW-190 each by SSgt. Thymes and Sgt. Beane.

 

Mission Narrative:

We encountered no enemy fighter attacks until we were almost over the target, when we were jumped by four FW-190s.  Two of our attackers were destroyed: one each by Sgt. Beane and SSgt. Thymes.  All of the damage scored against us was superficial, although Sgt. Beane was wounded slightly.

 

Flak over the target was heavy and we were hit 6 times, causing damage to the rudder, control cables and starboard wing root.  All of the bouncing around severely affected the aim of our usually reliable bombardier, who scored a big goose egg on this trip.

 

The trip back home was uneventful, and we landed safely, despite our damaged rudder.

 

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


GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with ball turret & starboard aileron inoperable, port outboard tank leaking, #1 engine out due to oil

tank leak.  2 casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We finally put some HE on the enemy today, and for once we can hold our heads high in the O-Club.

 

The mission began quietly enough with no sign of fighters until the last fifty miles to target.  There three waves came at us.  Lots of lead filled the sky but nobody, us or the Germans, hit their mark during the first two waves.  However in the third wave, a pair of FW-190s jumped us.  We damaged one but the other from 3 o'clock level shot-up the ball turret and holed us in couple other spots. We thought Sgt. Archibald would have been hit when the 190's cannons ripped into the belly, but somehow his luck held out (used up his lucky charm).  On the Kraut's second pass we shot up his wing and he joined his friend back at base.

 

It was the flak that did the real damage though.  We musta took 5 hits at least.  The guys in the nose were each lightly wounded and the wings took a beating -- starboard aileron, an oil tank leak in the #1 engine, and the port outboard fuel tank started to leak too.  In the midst of our battering we noticed Wang Dang Doodle go up in flames.  The poor guys didn't have a chance, the flak probably hit their bombs.  I didn't expect it after the flak hits and all, but Lt. Thompson finally broke his jinx, dropping a about a third of the payload on target.

 

The return flight was uneventful.  We saw a lot more Germans as we turned for home, but most were driven off by the formation. Two more FW-190s fired some passing shots but once again we were lucky.  We shut down #1 engine about 150 miles from base and made it home before running out of fuel.  Whew, it's nice to be back at Sterparone.

 

- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike


WANG DANG DOODLE, second flight, right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but was soon shot down by a direct flak burst. No survivors.

 

Mission Narrative:

Witnesses in the 318th Bomber Squadron reported seeing Wang Dang Doodle explode while approaching the target.  Like other aircraft in the group, Wang Dang Doodle took numerous hits from flak.  Based on descriptions of the explosion from Sergeant Tebbs of Longhorn Lady, it can be concluded that the plane took a direct hit in the bomb bay, detonating the bomb load.  No chutes were seen.

 

- From eyewitness accounts from the crews of Longhorn Lady, Old Crow Express & Sentimental Journey.


LONGHORN LADY, second flight, left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Fell out-of-formation to 10,000 feet after bomb run.  Returned alone with tail section oxygen system & both main landing gear inoperable and several superficial fuselage holes.  Pilots made successful emergency belly landing.  No casualties.  Aircraft repairable; estimated repair is a minimum of two days.

 

Mission Narrative:

Halfway to the target (zone 3) we were jumped by four 190s.  Two were driven off by fighters, one missed on his attack.  The other got some superficial fuselage hits.  He missed on his return attack.

 

There was heavy flak over the target and we took many hits.  Most of the hits were minor fuselage damage, but two hits took out the port and starboard side landing gear (landing gear inop.).  The tail gunner suit heater was also knocked out.  In spite of the many flak hits, we were able to get 30% of the bombs on target.

 

We had to drop below 10,000 feet on the way back.  On the way home we ran into a few more enemy fighters but only received minor fuselage damage.  Due to the landing gear being out, we had to attempt a belly landing.  The landing was rough but the crew was safe.  I was told the plane was repairable, but I'm not sure on how long that is going to take

 

- 1st Lt. Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady


OLD CROW EXPRESS, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with heat out to the nose and pilots' compartments, port wing flap inoperable, radio shot up, control cables damaged, superficial holes on both wings, waist and tail sections.  2 casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Peterson.

 

Mission Narrative:

We met no enemy resistance until we were over the target area.  I guess they were waiting for us there because when we got there we were attacked by 3 waves of fighters.  The first did not get through to us and was driven off by the rest of the 318th.

 

The second wave of 190s came at us, one at 12, 1:30, 3 and 9 oíclock.  Two were able to make a second attack.  One was able to knock out the pilot compartment heat and on his second pass missed us.  The other was able to kill our navigator, I guess we are going to be getting another one, and only came around one more time.  In the third wave there were two Messerschmitts but both missed us completely and went on to attack another bomber.

 

Once we got to the initial point flak started to burst in little black clouds all over the formation.  Flak burst right over the port wing sending shrapnel all over the wing hitting the wing flap.  Then another one burst around the Radio Compartment where it took out the radio and wounded Sgt. Norton.  He received light wounds to his face and neck.  Unfortunately for him he will be scared from the injury but he will be fine.  Flak also hit the waist but hit nothing.  2nd Lt. Peterson was able to put 30% of the payload onto the target.

 

Once we were out of the bomb run we got attacked by 2 waves of fighters.  In the first wave there were 4 Messerschmitts.  2nd Lt. Peterson was able to destroy one and caused it to blow up in a beautiful ball of flame.  And the other three came at us but missed and dove away.  In the second wave we had a solo Focke-Wulf 190.  He was able to make three passes at us, in his first pass he hit the radio room causing more holes in the skin and shredded up the port wing flap some more.  His second pass he hit the tail causing one of the control cables to snap.  And on his third pass he missed us.

 

About 10 minutes after that 2nd Lt. Peterson reported that the nose gun was jammed, and then SSgt. OíReilly also reported that his guns were jammed.  Then Sgt. Nortonís gun was also jammed, then Sgt. Hamlet guns were also jammed, Sgt. Justin Sumlin also reported that his guns jammed.  It was so cold that their guns jammed I guess.

 

Once we were clear out of the target zone we, 2nd Lt. Long, 2nd Lt. Peterson and me, decided to keep in formation despite the lost of heat.  We came upon this conclusion because we had lost our navigator and lost our radio and if we had to ditch we would be lost for sure.  So we continued onward with the formation.

 

We were attacked once more by a solo vertical diver.  It only came in one pass and kept on diving towards the cloud cover below us.  We met no more fighters on the way back to base.

 

Once we were in the landing pattern we were pretty cold and shivering a lot.  But with the help of 2nd Lt. Long we were able to put her down it was a pretty tough landing, more tough than usual but we were able to put her down.  Now all I want is a hot cup of Joe and a warm place to sleep.

 

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


316th BS (High)

SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with 1 superficial hit to the fuselage and no casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Simpson.

 

Mission Narrative:

This mission was as much a milk run for the Sentimental Journey as was the mission to Guidonia.  Two ME-109s approached us
just before we hit the coast.  The Jugs escorting us drove one off, and the remaining 109 missed us.

 

While over the target, any fighters that tried to get near us were driven off by the massed firepower of our combined squadron. Flak was extremely heavy, but inaccurate.  Even though we took no flak hits, we AGAIN were unable to put any of our ordinance on target.

 

The return trip was relatively quiet.  We received excellent protection from our escorts on the way home.  Four ME-109s jumped us as we got back out over the water.  Two of them were knocked out by the P-38s.  One ME-109 pressed an attack, but missed.  The final ME-109 hit us, but only caused superficial damage to the ship.  As he flew past, our tail gunner, Sgt. Simpson, opened up with his twin .50s and sent the Kraut flaming to earth.

 

We saw one FW-190 the whole flight.  He came at us about 30 miles from base, but never made it through the fighter coverage.

 

I'm very dissatisfied with 2nd Lt. Devereaux's performance again today.  I am going to STRONGLY encourage him to spend as much
of his free time as possible over the next few weeks at the Group's bomb run practice facility.

 

- 1st Lt. William Harmon, Pilot, Sentimental Journey


DARLA's BITE, third flight, left wingman 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Fell out-of-formation due to an unfeathered prop and a excessive fuel tank leak caused aircraft to ditch in Adriatic Sea on return leg, 9 men rescued.  Claims: 2 ME-109s each by 2nd Lt. Thorne & Sgt. Andrews, and 1 ME-109 each by 2nd Lt. Catford & SSgt. Bresolf (1 ME-109 claimed by 2nd Lt. Thorne and Sgt. Andrews was later confirmed by S-2).

 

Mission Narrative:

The flight to the target was not too bad.  We saw around 13 enemy fighters but between our Little Friends and the exceptional shooting from Thorne, killing two, and Andrews, killing 2.  They kept most of  them away.  Only four German fighters got shots off that hit, nicking both port and starboard wing roots.  One ME-109 did pepper the port wing giving us an oil leak to #1 engine that sealed it's self.  The only breath taking moment was when this same aircraft popped the bomb bay harmlessly bouncing off the eggs.

 

This easy ride was about to come to a startling end over the target.  As I handed over control to Lieutenant Thorne all hell broke loss.  We were blasted by two bursts at once.  The first shell blew up just over the bomb bay, and as we would find out later, it took out the rubber rafts.  This same shell ripped into the starboard wing leaving a gaping hole through the inboard fuel tank.  We knew just knew we were going to spend time as prisoners of war.  The second shell went off under the starboard wing taking out the #3 engine.  Lieutenant Corvely did everything in his power, but nothing would get that prop to feather.  The drag was unbelievable.  Sgt. Andrew thinks the tail wheel may have taken a hit from this blast too, as he heard a loud bang just below and behind his position.  With all that was going on I had to take over the controls again.  Obviously this would be the reason why Lieutenant Thorne could not put any eggs on the target.

 

Due to the drag from the starboard engine wind milling and the loss of fuel we dropped out of formation.  Boy, what an invitation for the Germans.  We saw no fewer than 20 enemy aircraft on the 100-mile trip to the sea.  Right after we turned back home, THEY hit us with force.  This is when Lieutenant Corvely bought it.  He took a 20mm round in the neck.  He . . . Can we do this latter?  I . . . I can't do this right now.  Just, just say we had to ditch due to fuel loss . . .

 

- 1st Lt. Willford Wilcox, Pilot, Darla's Bite


317th BS (Low)

SILVER SPOON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with rafts destroyed, radio and tail guns inoperable.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-190 by Sgt. Fielding.

 

Mission Narrative:

I'm in no mood for this, fella!  I wasn't even supposed to fly this goddamn mission, and there's a pile of paper-work waiting for me in the office.  Let's hurry it up, okay?

 

We saw the odd Kraut buzzing past us on the way there, but my boys used effective spray fire to keep them outta harm's way.  Sgt. Fielding lured a 109 close enough to pop him, but nothing much happened 'til the target.

 

Man, was that flak heavy!! We took hits in the tail, bomb bay and radio room.  Thank god the only damage in the bomb bay was to the rafts, but we lost our radio and tail guns too.  No laughing matter, I can tell you!

 

Eggs on target and we headed home.  Nothing much to report, though there were a coupla Jerries who got close.  One or two 20mm shells hit us, but mostly superficial.

 

-  Capt. Neil Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon


DARKWATCH, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with tail oxygen system damaged, superficial damage to nose and port wing.  2 Casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Poulous & 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Baxter.

 

Mission Narrative:

Didn't see many fighters outbound this trip, and most of those we saw were driven off by formation ships or little friends.  I thought it was going to be a milk-run until we got hit by flak over the target.  Got our bombs away, but McGuire didn't check in on the intercom.  Berger checked him out and said he was slumped over his gun, and scarcely breathing.  Got him down on the deck but it didn't look good.

 

Had our share of fighters on the way back.  An FW-190 sliced up our nose and hit Baxter . . . he'll be going home after he gets out of the hospital.

 

Rory McGuire should be so lucky.  He was white as a ghost by the time we touched down, and I'm still not clear if he died in the hospital or while he was in the ambulance.  Doesn't much matter in the end, I guess.

 

This one really hurts.  McGuire was one of the original crew and a popular guy.  He'd just returned after recovering from a light wound and was actually happy to be back with the guys.  And now he's gone.

 

- Capt. Paul O'Conner, Pilot, Darkwatch


DIVINE WIND, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with starboard wing's aileron and flaps damaged, superficial damage to the port wing and bomb bay area. No casualties.
 

Mission Narrative:

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

 

About 50 miles away from target, two waves of bogies were spotted but both waves were driven off by fighters from the 325th FG.

 

Just before we reached target bogies were again spotted and again fighter escort prevented them from attacking the formation.

 

We encountered heavy flak in lining up to the target.  We were hit twice, once on the port wing and once on the starboard wing. The hit on the port wing was superficial in nature while the hit on the starboard wing damaged the aileron and made it inoperable.  2nd Lt. Nakano was able to steady the plane through the flak and with the target being clear, was able to put 20% of the bomb load on the target.

 

On the turnaround, our fighter cover was able to intercept a lone Me-109 and they drove it off before it was able to shot at our plane.

 

About one hundred fifty (150) miles from base, four (4) FW-190s attacked our plane.  Coming in from 12 level, 3 high, 6 high and a vertical dive, all of the fighters fired and missed the plane.  All of them were driven off by a combination of machine gun fire from the formation and fighters from the 1st FG that was providing cover for the formation.

 

Fifty (50) miles away from base we spotted four (4) more bogies coming in to attack the formation.  This time ME-109s came in from 12, 10:30, 1:30 high, and 12 level.  The fighter coming in from 12 high missed the plane, and as it flew pass the length of the plane, it was destroyed by the tail gunner, Sgt. Sakaue.  The planes coming in from 12 level and 1:30 high missed and were driven off by machine gun fire from the formation.  The last one from 10:30 high hit the plane twice, once in the starboard wing and bomb bay area.  The hit on the starboard wing damaged the flaps and made them inoperable while the hit in the bomb bay area damaged the area to the point where if we were still carrying our bomb load, it would have caused an explosion.  That one plane came back at 12 high and this time it missed the plane and was driven off by machine gun fire.

 

Reached Sterparone Field; the landing was rough because of the damage to the starboard wing, but no additional damage was sustained on the plane.

 

- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go for Broke


BEWITCHED, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with #4 Engine, tail guns, both ailerons, starboard flaps inoperable and damaged to the starboard wing root. 2 Casualties.  Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Simons.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was quiet until the target zone and we got hit with 3 waves of fighters.  The first two 109s were pretty green as only one got a hit in and smashed my aileron controls.  The navigator got a squirt into the wings of the other and he bugged out.  Missed my flying barnyard.

 

A 190 came in on our starboard quarter but was going by so fast that no-one had a chance to hit anything.  He sure as heck didn't give himself much a chance.

 

The 109 in the third group was hot.  His first pass took out our tail guns, the starboard flap and drilled the starboard wing root.  His second pass got the #4 engine but we managed to feather it.  His third pass was a little too brave as he forgot about the top turret and he came in on our 6.  It was game over for him; 109s sparkle just before they blow up.

 

Five flak hits!  Do we carry magnets to attract this crap?  Mostly superficial hits but then the waist gunners got hit again.  The starboard gunner's upper legs are a mess, hope he makes it.

 

Our egg-layer worked his magic again and got 30% on target.  Good thing we looked after him on the last hot mission.  He keeps our average going.

 

Nothing happened on the way home and we made a bumpy but safe landing.  The meat wagons got to us before the flares had hit the tarmac.

 

- Capt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, Bewitched


MEMPHIS GAL, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with Number 2 engine shut down & prop feathered, flaps inoperable, fuel tank holed (self sealed), control cables and rudder damaged and many superficial hits.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Almeda and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Baker.
 

Mission Narrative:

Another hair raising mission!  Seems like heavy flak is the order of the day.  Although we were hit by a few fragments we were able to keep on the bomb run and drop a fair percentage of our load on target.

 

We saw few enemy fighters with most being driven off by our fighter cover.  One fighter however did manage to damage us.  This German was flying like a man possessed and seemed impervious to our defensive fire, taking out our number 2 engine in the process (I wonder if he belongs to this new JG-700 everyone is talking about?  Unfortunately none of my men saw any distinguishing markings on the aircraft to confirm this or not).

 

We landed without incident and miraculously no one was injured, despite the best efforts of the enemy.

 

- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal


CARDINAL EXPRESS, second flight, left wingman  (TAIL-END CHARLIE)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with ailerons, intercom, engine fire extinguishers, tail compartment heat inoperable, rafts shot up, tail section oxygen system and starboard tail plane damaged.  2 casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 each by SSgt. Booth and 1 FW-190 by Sgt. MacCabe.

 

Mission Narrative:

The crew was understandably nervous about this one considering we were 'Tail-End Charlie' and the back of the Express has had more changes than a game of musical chairs.  We encountered enemy planes early and often.  We shot one ME-109 (by the Flt. Eng)  & one FW-190 (by the tail gunner), respectively down on the way out.  The plane took several hits, none of which did anything
significant.

 

The flak was unbelievably heavy, knocking out both ailerons.  The tail section also took a hit to the oxygen supply.  We were able to keep the ship on course.  Our bombardier did a magnificent job.  We estimate 30% of our bombs landed within a 1,000 of the target.

 

On the way back, we flew right into a nest of enemy fighters.  The action was very intense.  One fighter in particular, an FW-190 at 9 o'clock, filled us up with lead.  Our tail gunner got his heat knocked out,  our intercom system was knocked out, the lines to our engine fire extinguishers were disconnected, our starboard waist gunner was slightly injured, and our starboard tail-plane took some damage.  If that wasn't enough, we later discovered the rafts were apparently blown to smithereens during this attack too.

 

Once we fended this plane off we encountered a few more.  Amazingly, our engineer shot down another 109, without the help of our communication.  We took some more minor hits as we headed home.

 

Our landing was routine as everyone caught their breath from what we consider a very lucky day considering how many times we seemed to get hit.  We encountered a total of 18 enemy planes this day, some of whom were chased off by some of our own fighter pilots.  The day was not so fortunate for our tail gunner, because he developed a serious frostbite and will not be able to fly again.  So we are once again looking for someone new to man the back of the Express.

 

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


CABALLERO, group spare

 

Mission Synopsis:

Group Spare.  Took Palookaville's spot in lead squadron, left wingman.  Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with superficial damage to the starboard wing, radio room and fuselage.  1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

When two planes failed to form up in the lead squadron, I decided to take the group leader's left wingman slot to help protect the group leader's flight.  The only notable event during the outbound trip was when one of the second flight's wingman developed engine problems which caused them to abort and return to base alone.

 

Approaching the target, a pair of ME-109s shot up our plane, but the only notable hit was a light shoulder wound to the flight engineer, Sgt. Dodge.  Unfortunately, our gunnery was pathetic and both attackers escaped unscathed.  Expecting for more fighters to show up any moment, the crew reported bad news; the starboard cheek, the radio room and ball turret guns had all jammed up from the extreme cold.  Luckily, no further enemy attacks occurred.

 

Flak was thick and heavy but we flew through it without a problem.  During this time, the tail gunner reported the second flight leader had taken a direct hit to the nose and had fallen out of formation.  It looked like the pilots had gotten the plane under control and the crew did not abandon the plane.  Our two 316th planes in the third flight closed up and took up the empty slots in the second flight.  The bomb run was good and Lieutenant Pappas reported a good strike.

 

During the journey home, we saw no further enemy fighter, which was a good thing as the guns were still frozen until we dropped to lower altitudes coming in for the landing.  Doc MacDonald later said that Sgt. Dodge had "won an all expense paid three-day stay at his Four-Star infirmary".

 

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


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