MISSION 15 - Prato AARs
318th BS (LEAD)
THOR, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties.
No enemy aircraft contact. This mission could not have been better. We saw no enemy aircraft and hit the target for 40%. I wish all missions could be this easy.
- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon
42-11828, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 60%. Returned without damage or casualties.
Considering we were using one of the spare planes, it was an easy mission. We didn't see any enemy fighters until we got over Italy, when we were attacked by two 109s. Both 109s missed on their attacks, but not before Sgt. Durst damaged one of them.
Flak was light over the target and we did not receive any flak hits. 2nd Lt. Bixler did a excellent job getting 60% of the bombs on target.
On the way home (still over Italy) we were jumped by four 190s, three of which were driven off by our fighter escorts. The other 190 came in by vertical dive on us, but he missed. We did not see any more enemy fighters the rest of the way back to base.
The landing was uneventful. While it was a good mission, I'll be glad when Longhorn Lady is ready to fly again.
- 1st Lt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, A/C 42-11828
THE ANT'S HILL, lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties.
Mission 15 was an absolute milk-run for The Antís Hill. We encountered no enemy resistance on the way either to or from the target. The light flak over Prato did not affect either our ship or the aim of Lt. Stubbs, who dropped about 30% of our bombs on target. We returned to Streparone field safely and landed without incident. We can only hope for more trips like this one!
- 1st Lt. Anthony Hilliard, Pilot, The Ant's Hill
GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, lead aircraft, Deputy Group Commander
Bombed target, 20%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by MSgt. Garbutt and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Jackson.
This one mission was a dream -- not a single hit on the plane and we even hit the target. We didn't see any bandits until the target zone. There a couple of ME-109s were chased off by friendly escorts and our replacement bombardier dropped a fifth of the bombs on the rail yard.
At the rendezvous at the Rally Point, three FW-190s made a run at our plane. Friendlies took care of one, but the other two were left to us. Our bombardier damaged the first 190 at 12 o'clock and the second at 3 o'clock level burst in the flame as the guns from the top turret ripped it to shreds. That one's gotto be confirmed. The damaged 190 off our bow missed and we continued on our way.
One more German, an ME-109, tried to hit us from 3 o'clock about 50 miles from Prato. He too was shot to hell by our starboard waist gunner. That was the last German we saw on the way home and before long we were touching down at Sterapone.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
IRON LADY, second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with 2 minor fuselage holes and no casualties.
Took off and formed up with the rest of the group. We were all glad that Hank Foster was back in the top turret as the two previous temporary engineers had both been sent home with serious wounds. He showed just how pissed off he was at the Krauts when just prior to us starting the approach to the target. We were jumped by a 109 which came down right on top of us and Hank got good shots into it (FBA-2) and it rolled away spewing smoke.
The flak was light over the target and Phil O'Donnell managed to land 50% off the eggs in the basket (Our best effort yet). As we cleared the target area, 2 FW-190s tried to get to us although the boys in the 14th FG got rid of them and the squadron defensive fire scared off the second wave.
Just as we were coming in range of the 82nd FG area we were hit by three 109s. SSgt Foster claimed another one (Fba-2) and the two others missed and fled as we linked up with the P-38s.
We landed back at base without any further problems except for Chief Brewster, our ground Crew Chief, complaining about the two tiny holes in the fuselage. I doubt we'll ever keep him happy.
- 1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady
PEARLY's PRIDE, second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with superficial damage to #4 engine and port wing. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Taft, and 1 ME-109 each by Sgts. Shea and Tyler.
Our first mission was not without excitement. We met our first Germans while nearing the coast, and it was quite a welcoming committee -- 4 ME-109s coming at us, three from in front and one in the rear. We returned the greeting in the finest traditions of Uncle Sam: Lieutenant Watson sent one home trailing smoke, while Sergeants Shea and Tyler sent two more on a sightseeing trip to the bottom of the sea.
As we came into the target area, we found more Germans waiting for us, this time a pair of the much-ballyhooed FW-190s. One of them got through our fighter screen and defensive fire, at got a shell into our compartment. It hit Lt. DeLyon in the hand. Perhaps now I'll be able to beat him at poker . . . It took another pass and then left us, perhaps we were too close to the flak.
The flak was inconsequential, though 'Shorty' reported that from his view, several other planes were getting bounced around by it. Lieutenant Watson managed 20% of the bomb load on the target.
As we left the target we were set upon by three more 190s. Two of them had their hands full with our fighters, the 'lucky' one who got through was dropped by Sergeant Taft.
The rest of the trip was quiet for us. Lieutenant Rushmore got to play doctor with Billy's hand. I think Ham was a little disappointed that the wound wasn't worse than it was, but Billy was quite happy. We are all quite happy to have returned to base safely.
- 1st Lt. August West, Pilot, Pearly's Pride
OLD CROW EXPRESS, third flight, lead aircraft
Did not take-off. Runway abort.
317th BS (Lead)
SILVER SPOON, third flight, right wingman
Aborted mission zone 3 outbound from fuel tank leak. Returned alone without casualties.
It happened soon after the Group formed up. A lone Kraut snuck through the little friendsí protective ring, and hit us from 12 high. One hit, in the starboard wing and the game was up. We started losing fuel immediately, and I donít think weíd have made the target with enough to get back. We had no choice but to wave everyone goodbye and turn back. None of the gunners even saw the bastard, let alone hit him.
- 1st Lt. Milton B. Forrest, Pilot, Silver Spoon
CARDINAL EXPRESS, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 75%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Booth.
I am proud to report
this mission was handled in a very efficient and business like manner. We
were attacked early on by a pair of enemy 190s. One was driven off by
fighter cover and the other was shot down by our top turret. As we drew
closer to the objective, we were attacked again but the plane was not hit by
enemy fire. We pounded the daylights out of
- 1st Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express
316th BS (High)
FULL HOUSE II, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with navigator's heating system inoperable, pilot compartment's windows and control cables damaged, and superficial damage to the starboard wing, bomb bay doors, and to bomb bay, waist and tail sections. 1 case of frostbite. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by MSgt. Miller & TSgt. Moore.
Take-off and squadron formation went without incident. The first sign of enemy resistance occurred as soon as the group left the coastline and entered the Adriatic. A pair of ME-109s attacked and hit Full House in the vicinity of the bomb bays but no appreciable damage was noticed. When one of the ME-109s came back again, TSgt. Moore shot him down as he returned from 6 o'clock high.
The next time e/a attacked was when the group approached the primary target when four ME-109s attacked. One caused minor damage to the starboard wing but another one scored a walking hit down the fuselage. This knocked out the navigator's heating system, damaged control cables and shattered some windows in the pilots' compartment. When the 'greedy bastard' came back for more is when MSgt. Miller took him out.
Flak was light and ineffective and Lt. Sears reported a very good strike.
After the Rally Point, no further enemy attacks occurred. Meanwhile our navigator, Lt. James Penny, reported he couldn't fell his toes as the group made its way back to base. I told him to hang on as this was a short trip and we'd be home soon. After we landed, Lt. Penny was taken to the infirmary where Doc McDonald informed me that he would recover without any serious complications but as a precaution, he wanted to keep Jim overnight just in case. There's going to be another mission tomorrow, so another navigator will fill in.
- Capt. Dan Tanner, Pilot, Full House II
LUCKY PENNY, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with port cheek gun & starboard elevator inoperable, and structural damage to the port wing root . No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Allison.
Fighters were out there, but not around us as we headed out for our next mission. Skies were bumpy but clear, and flak was seen on and off as we flew over enemy held positions. Being the High squadron, we were able to see the formations below, and some of them were taking fighter attacks.
Leaving behind the Italian coastline (zone 2 outbound) was clear for us. Over the Adriatic (zone 3 outbound) we encountered three 109s but both our gunners and enemy shots were off target.
Over the target flak was lighter than we've seen but we got peppered with 4 hits: 2 in the nose, 1 on the Port Wing and one in the tail. The tail received a tail plane hit that knocked out our Starboard elevator, the Port wing took a shot in the wing root but the most damage was in the nose were a blast destroyed our Port Cheek gun, and shaking up the guys in there too. Not too bad however as we were able to put 40% on target.
As we were leaving the area and cleared the Flak, 2 waves came at us. Two FW-190s jumped us but were driven off by unusually good fighter cover. The 2nd wave was a 190 diving at us but our ACE gunner nailed him good.
No other fighters were seen on the trip home . . . Almost a milk run . . .
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
SATIN DOLL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with superficial damage to nose, cockpit, waist and port wing from 13mm & 20mm shells. 1 Casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by 2nd Lt. Douglas.
A relatively easy mission, although not without it moments. Satin Doll formed up in the lead element of the high squadron, nestled right under the left wing of Capt. Tanner's shiny new Full House II.
Things were pretty quite for us until we neared the coast when two FW-190s came at us from 12 level and 1:30 low. Lt. Douglas, our 'temporary bombardier' plastered the one boring straight in at him. I personally saw flames from the cowling streaming back along both sides of the fuselage. Blankenship missed the one coming in from below us, and we picked up a few new holes in the waist & nose. One of the fragments nicked Douglas' right shoulder, and he royally reamed Blankenship for missing the Kraut. The 190 jockey must have heard Steve 'cause he missed and peeled off toward the low squadron.
Nearing the target, 3 ME-109s came in at the nose. Douglas was still fuming about his shoulder and missed the Kraut at 12 level. The escort chased off the one from 1:30 level, and Turner got a piece of the one at 12 high, but not before he shook us up with a couple of rounds in the port wing and cockpit.
Flak over the target was light and inaccurate, and Douglas regained his composure enough to put 50% of the load right into the middle of the marshalling yards. Wheeler called in from the tail that he saw a lot of secondary explosions so we must have hit an ammo train.
Rallying off the target, 3 FW-190s lined up on our nose. A couple of P-38s drilled the ones at 12 high and 1:30 level, leaving the one at 12 low to Douglas & Blankenship. Neither of them scored, but neither did the Kraut. We didn't encounter anymore E/A after that and had a fairly easy flight home. Nearing home, someone anonymously called in that maybe Douglas & Blankenship should both get some more gunnery training. This started a rash of wise cracks, digs, and swearing over the intercom that lasted until we were over the field. The Doc says that Douglas' pride is hurt more than his shoulder, and that he would be available for duty by the next mission.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
OLD YARD DOG, second flight, lead aircraft
Did not take-off. Runway abort.
DARLA'S BITE, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with rafts destroyed and minor damage from friendly fire. No casualties.
Today's mission was the complete opposite of yesterdays. Takeoff and formation went well. Weather was clear and crisp making it easy to form up. Trip to the target was mostly uneventful due to tight formation and lack of Jerries' vigor. The few that came up were chased away by other B-17s. This is where we picked up the only damage. The Sentimental Journey peppered us as they were fending off an ME-109. This took out our rubber rafts, as we found out after landing, for the second mission in a row.
Darla's run up to the I/P was smooth as we turned into the target. Flak, being light, didn't even effect operations at all. Lt. Thorne was able to place about 30% of our Eggs on target. Much better result this time.
As we turned to go home (Zone 4 O/B) we observed many more enemy aircraft waiting for our return. About 10 minutes out from the drop point we got hit by three waves of Jerries. The first wave, two FW-190s, approach from 10:30 o'clock high and 3 o'clock level. Our little friends, P-38s, descended on them and chased them away. The second wave, three ME-109s, came in from the front and starboard side. Again the P-38s drove home their attack, taking out two of the Jerries before they could line up on us. The third took this as an invitation to leave and dove for home. The last wave, some more ME-109s, were hit by our B-17s and left us alone. This time we didn't take any hits.
About 150 miles from home (Zone 3), two ME-109s caught up to us and took their shot. As the P-38s were still protecting the bombardment groups leaving the target, we didn't get any help with this group of enemy aircraft. Not that we needed, as Thorne shot up the one coming in straight and level, must have been green, giving Thorne a clear shot. The lieutenant ripped into his cowling (FBOA -2) sending the ME-109 wide, missing us completely. This must have rattled the one coming in at 12 level, `cause he missed as well and followed his pal down. Guess he was protecting him in case we decided to pursue him and finish him off.
The rest of the ride home was uneventful. Giving enough time for a quick bit and get over to the O-Club.
Crew Note: Our new copilot, Lieutenant Beckett, has worked out good. He seems to be fitting in well with the other members of the crew. One day is not much time to evaluate him, but he does seem to be a good chap.
- 1st Lt. Willford Wilcox, Pilot, Darla's Bite
SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port waist gun inoperable, superficial damage hits to the fuselage, radio room, waist; nose (3 hits) compartments. 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Simpson.
This mission started quietly for the Sentimental Journey. We did not encounter any enemy fighters until over the target.
However, near the IP, the Sentimental Journey was hit by three separate
waves of aircraft. The escorts appeared to have been
drawn down to cover the lower squadrons, because the first wave of two FW-190s had no problem getting through to us. One FW-190 attacked at 12 level. Our Pilot, 1st Lt. Harmon, suffered a serious wound to the neck from a 20mm fragment and the nose took a couple of minor hits. The other 190 attacked from 1:30 low. He was able to knock out our port waist gun and put a couple of holes in the plane. On their second pass at us, the Navigator, 2nd Lt. Bertelli, reported hitting the plane coming at us at 10:30 level. Good use of the intercom system allowed our tail gunner to anticipate the plane passing over his right shoulder. Sgt. Simpson reporting seeing his fire hit the passing plane, causing its left wing to fold under. The remaining attacker made a third pass at us and missed.
The second wave consisted of two ME-109s. By this time, some of our
escorts had returned, and they drove off one of the ME-
109s. The second plane put a hole in the nose of the plane, but no serious damage occurred. He missed on his second pass.
The third wave, consisting of a single ME-109, was driven off by the Jugs escorting us.
Although flak was light, we did take a hit in the waist just prior to releasing
our bombs. Our starboard waist gunner, Sgt. Carlson, received a light
wound when a piece of shrapnel tore across his thigh. We were unable to
put our payload on target, but I am
certain that this was a direct result of the flak hit, as it occurred just as our Bombardier was preparing to hit the toggle switch. It appears that our bombs landed just wide of the target.
The return trip was very quiet. We received excellent protection from the P-38s as we left the target area, and we didn't see any enemy fighters the rest of the way home.
The crew was very relieved to learn that Lt. Harmon's wounds were not fatal, but they are very disappointed that he will not be returning to the crew. He will be missed by all of us.
- 2nd Lt. Dale G. Brennan, Co-pilot, Sentimental Journey
317th BS (High)
BEWITCHED, third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with #2 Engine out, ball turret guns inoperable, tail oxygen system damaged by fire, damage to the rudder, starboard tail plane and the starboard wing root. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Simons and Sgt. Richards.
Those Kraut bastards! Our plane looks like a colander or Swiss cheese or something. Who needs air-conditioning?
We took off okay and were just heading out of base airspace when we got hit by four ME-109s. Front and beam attacks were coming, fighter cover was as much use as underwear on a honeymoon. Looked bad and then it got worse. The one from 12 High got our #2 and while I was feathering it, Butler tells me that there's some gas streaming from the inboard tank. The tank sealed and we breathed a sigh of relief. The guy at 3 high perforated the waist but missed anything critical. Brown got some hits on the one at 9 high and he bugged out. The greenie at 9 low didn't even come close to sharing our airspace with lead and also bugged out.
The first two came around on the 10:30 level and 6 level. The one at 10:30 completely fluffed his attack and screamed on by. That's when we felt the jackhammers slam the tail. Seems that Harris had hit the guy in the nose and there were flames everywhere on his 109 but his burst caught the tail 7 times. The rudder got smacked first, the second punched holes everywhere, the third got the oxygen and the bottle blew up. Singed Harris and as he put the fire out, he got hit in the calf. Damn near took the rest of his leg with it. The rest of the shots shredded plenty more holes in the area but nothing more was hit. The 109 dove down and out with his engine sending flame streaks 60 feet back. Hope he doesn't get out after what he did to Harris.
Down to 10000 ft, light flak sprinkling the sky, and Richards volunteered to take the tail position after moving Harris to the waist and threw some sulfa into the wound and hit him with some of those morphine syringes they gave us. "One for pain, two for heaven they say." Harris kept mumbling heaven over and over but Richards only gave him the one and that quieted him some.
We were clear until the target when five 109s tried to up their tally on our account; 12 low, 2 at 12 level, 1 at 12 high and 1 at 10:30 level. Simons got a probable on the 12 high and he broke off for home. The one at 10:30 hit us but only made more holes and one of them at 12 level did pretty much the same.
Four of them came back round for another go. The 9 level got his wings and engine peppered by Brown and he scrammed. One of them at 3 level got our ball guns and hit the starboard tail plane root. The others missed and swung round again.
The two at 1:30 level missed us just as cleanly as we missed them. The one at 6 level got hit by Richards that must have popped his aim some as he only helped increase our sky account versus airframe. He scrammed after that.
For once the flak missed us and our wonderful egg-layer, Spratt, pulled off another good bomb run and got about 40% of our eggs in the slot.
We swung for home and got bounced again by a swarm of 109s. When are they going to run out of these things? Four of them from between the 12 and 2 o'clock positions and one on our 6. The 109 at 12 high hit the radio room and the waist but just caused more holes. The one at our 6 did much the same to our port wing.
They came round again but this time Richards got the one on our 6. Like July 4 back home he said. The others missed but again came round. Pratt got one from the 12 and bits of airframe spangled and pattered across our airframe. His buddy caused some sparkles along our starboard wing root but otherwise nothing too serious except for the crew chief.
We came into the airfield popping red flares and again the meat wagons met us on the hardstand. This one was rough and loosing Harris (the doc says his flying days are as gone as last month's pay) has put a bit of a damper on the crew. Still, we put up a stiff fight and got through.
- Capt. Shamus Montgomery, Pilot, Bewitched
DIVINE WIND, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with port waist gun inoperable, Norden Bomb Sight damaged beyond repair and superficial damage to the port wing. No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Shimizu (Claim later confirmed by S-2).
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About one hundred (100) miles away from target one (1) ME-109 attacked the plane in a VERTICAL DIVE. It missed the plane and was driven off by machine gun fire from the squadron.
About fifty (50) miles away from target, four (4) ME-109s came in from 12 o'clock high, level and low and from 10:30 low. The planes coming in from 12 low & level were driven off by fighters of the 14th Fighter group. The bombardier, 2nd Lt. Nakano was able to hit the enemy coming in from 12:00 high and severely damage the plane. The one coming in from 10:30 low was hit by the navigator, 2nd Lt. Fujimoto, and was slightly damaged. Both planes were not able to hit the plane and because of there damage didnít return.
Over target we encountered light flak and were able to evade without getting hit. Over target 2nd Lt. Nakano was able to line the plane up on target and put about 60% of the load on the train yards.
On the turn back we were again attack by enemy aircraft. This time three (3) ME-109s coming in from 12 high, and 1:30 and 3 low. The fighters coming in from 1:30 & 3 low were driven off by the 325th Fighter Group. The one that came in from 12 high was able to hit the plane twice. Once that was superficial on the port wing and once to the waist. The waist hit was able to hit the port waist gun, making it inoperable. The plane then turned around and attacked again at 1:30 low. Again it was able to hit the plane. This time on the nose and again on the port wing. The port wing damage was superficial in nature but the hit to the nose damaged the Norden Bombsight. The plane again came around. This time at 9 high and it was shot down by the top turret manned by SSGT. Shimizu.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without any problems.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
MEMPHIS GAL, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with superficial damage and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Jacobs.
Unlike our previous missions Prato was a bit of a milk run. The flak over the target was light, which made our mission a lot easier. German fighter resistance was negligible. The crew chief will be pleased, just a few holes and not much other damage.
- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
399th BS (Low)
PRINCESS LILIKOI, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with minor
damage only: tail gunner's oxygen system hit and the Intercom system
malfunctioned. Two casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by Sgts.
Peters and Franklin (Peters' ME-109 was later officially confirmed by S-2)
We don't have much to report on today. We didn't see any new unit markings or new enemy tactics. The first fighters attacked north of Terni, but they were unorganized. As we approached the target we faced two waves of 109s. This time it was an organized attacked from head-on. They attacked in two waves, but the P-47s had a tight cover which was hard for the Germans to penetrate.
The flak was light and inaccurate. Lt. Segovia hit the target and Sgt Powers reported that at least 30 percent hit within 1000 ft.
On the way back the fighters attacked from head-on again. Most of them were driven off by the P-38s. Those that got through and hit us didn't do much damage, but one 109 wounded my waist gunners.
Good shooting by Sgt Franklin. His first mission and he kills a 109.
- Capt. Frank Kingsley, Pilot, Princess Lilikoi
FRISCO KID II, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSGt. Wilson (The ME-109 was later officially confirmed by S-2).
Very quiet--a milk run compared to our last mission. Didn't see any Jerries until halfway to target, when a lone 109 dived down on us. Wilson and Angelico fired at it, and Wilson saw his tracers slamming into it. It flipped over and went down in flames.
Over target, no planes attacked us. Flak was light, and our new bombardier hit the target with 40% accuracy.
More enemy a/c closed in on us as we made the turn for home, but the 38s of the 14th FG did a good job protecting us. Only one Jerry attacked us the whole way home, and SSGT Wilson (who had a good day of target practice) hit him hard, forcing him to break off trailing smoke. We landed without a scratch. So far, so good with the new plane.
- Capt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid II
WALLS OF FIRE, lend flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with port aileron inoperable and minor superficial damage. No casualties.
Our first real milk run, after being jumped by a solitary FW-190 on the outward leg about 60 miles from the target, Walls of Fire saw neither hide nor hair of the enemy. Untroubled by flak, bombardier Edwards unfortunately hesitated in dropping the load causing only minor damage to the target. We returned to base with no sign of enemy activity whatsoever. Well done the 14th and 82nd.
-2nd Lt. M. Ali, Co-pilot, Walls of Fire
SKY RAT, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Fell out-of-formation from pilots' compartment oxygen fire after bomb run. Returned alone with #3 & #4 engines out, radio, landing gear & elevator controls inoperable, pilots' compartment window shattered, rafts destroyed, and numerous superficial shell and bullet holes throughout the aircraft. Made belly landing; aircraft written off as beyond economical repair. 5 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Strickland.
Take off and form up went without incident. As soon as we headed out over the water we were hit by a group of 190's, Lt. Makowski managed to hit one of them but they kept coming. They missed us on the way past and that was the last we saw of them.
Once back over Italy, things went to 'hell-in-a-hand basket'. We were hit 3 waves of fighters. The first wave came in from our 12 and 3. Sgt Strickland downed one the coming in from our 3, but the others kept coming. One missed, the other shot us to hell. He shredded to starboard wing hitting the #3 and #4 engines (superficially), nose and tail. The rounds in the nose hit Lt. Makowski twice in the chest; and I am told he died instantly. The blow to the tail disabled our tail guns. The second and third waves were largely ineffective.
The flak over the target was forecast to be light, but we were hit hard. We took hits to the #4 engine (which would cause an eventual shut down), nose, instrument panel, both elevators were knocked out, radio room, and a flak hit to the waist injured both gunners. Without Makowski to control our bomb run, we were off target, but Lt. Sides dropped our load anyway. He did an outstanding job; were off of our bomb run, but Lt. Sides managed to put 10% of our eggs in the basket (not bad for a navigator).
Once we made the turn
for home, we were hit by a group of 109s. The top and ball turrets both
managed hits, but the group kept
coming. They cut us to pieces. Before I knew what happened the windows shattered and I took a round in the arm, I screamed for Lt. Sinclair to take the controls, but I got no response, I looked over at him and he was slumped over in his seat, he was gone. Reports came in from all over the plane about damage, I screamed for Sgt. Strickland to drop out of the top turret to help me fly the plane. As he did so a fire erupted in the compartment, the oxygen system had been hit and was burning. Sgt. Strickland was able to put the fire out but my O2 was gone.
We had no choice but to drop out of formation, but with no radio, we were on our own. Our #4 engine had to be shut down due to an oil leak, and it was all Sgt. Strickland could do to keep the #3 going. I prepared the crew for the possibility that we may have to ditch over water, I ordered the men to double check their `chutes and be ready to go if need arose.
It was as if the
Nazi's could hear our intercom because the next group of 190s raked our wings,
hit our rudder, and destroyed our
rafts. Looks like its the base or nothin' men! Just before Italy came back into view we were hit by the last group of fighters, I think they were 109s. With most of our gunners injured or in different positions, we were at their mercy. They raked our wings again, and again, and again. They must have figured we were goners, because they left.
As we approached the base I told the men with the landing gear and elevators controls shot out, it was too risky to attempt a landing with them aboard. I began circling the base, and ordered the men to bail out. Once the last one was out, I at the soft grass field and attempted a belly landing. The plane came down harder than I had expected, and according to the crew chief the plane will never be airworthy again.
- Capt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat
MOONSHINE A-BREWIN', second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with
port aileron inoperable,
port wing root damaged, various superficial damage
and no casualties.
and no casualties.
and formation without incident. No fighter activity until about 50 miles from
target. We were attacked by ME-109s in two waves. Sgt. Castillo believed he
damaged one attacking from 9 oíclock level. This same fighter, however, hit us
in the port wing, damaging the aileron. This made maintaining formation a
little more difficult, but we managed. The second wave attacked from head-on.
Sgt. Acton (on his first mission since he was wounded in
Flak was light and inaccurate. Lt. Eltman estimates thirty percent of bombs within the CEP. We glimpsed a few other GAF aircraft, but those were held at bay by our fighter escort. Landed without incident.
-1st Lt. Casey Morgan, Pilot, Moonshine A-Brewin'
HEART OF TEXAS, second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
After take-off, aborted forming up after developing intercom problems . . . returned to base.
PALOOKAVILLE, group spare
Assigned as group spare. Took place as 'Tail-End Charlie' after Heart of Texas aborted just after take-off. Bombed target, 20%. Returned with intercom inoperable and numerous superficial damage. No casualties.
After missing the last mission to Florence with a last minute technical problem, we ended up with the "Tail-End Charlie" slot. Somebody must be trying to tell us something. As luck would have it, it was a relatively short run.
Approaching the coast, we had the bad luck of running into a full flight of Focke-Wulfes. Irons reported a lone wolf ME-109 hoping for easy pickings as well. No fighter cover at this time, I assume they were busy elsewhere. Irons and Tolhurst claimed hits on their targets. The whole lot of them headed off after being unable to land a punch on us.
Coming into the target area, there seemed to be plenty of fighters, but they seem occupied with other planes. Light flak did not connect with us and we made the bomb run, 20% on target.
With the suburbs of Florence on our right, we encountered a full flight of 5 ME-109s. P-38s from the 82nd ran off three of them and Welan in the ball gave a fourth something to think about. We had a momentís respite before another wave of 5 Me 109s came after us. Again the 82nd helped even the odds. We did take some superficial damage to the port wing and nose, and the intercom was damaged, preventing effective communication. The P38s were persistent and helped drive off more 109s. That and a good shot from Mullalay in the nose, ended the German efforts against us. We saw no more of the enemy and were able to land safely.
-1st Lt. Henry Mershon, Pilot, Palookaville
A/C# 42-11767, group spare
Runway abort. Did not take-off.
Return to Sterparone Field