MISSION 1 - REGGIO EMILIA AARs

316th BS (Lead)

FULL HOUSE, Lead flight, lead plane

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 0% bomb run.  Excellent formation kept E/A away almost the entire mission.  Saw only 3 E/A after rally point.  One 1 superficial hit taken.  Landed without incident, no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Every thing was text book, just like we practiced it back in South Dakota.  With Colonel Lamb leading the us from the right seat, we saw no enemy fighters all the way to Reggio Emilia.  Flak was light and inaccurate and with almost perfect conditions that we could have asked for, Lt. Sears still somehow missed the rail yards, with the bombs falling into some nearby field.  Some Italian farmer is sure going to be upset when he finds out that most of his livestock was blown away.  After the Rally Point is when we saw the only enemy aircraft this entire mission.  Three Me-109s came at us from head-on and we damaged two while they gave us a minor hit in the fuselage in return.  After that, it was clear flying back to base.

 

- Capt. Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House 


LUCKY PENNY, Lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Lost bombardier's heater zone 3 outbound and other superficial damage.  1 casualty,  2nd Lt. Michaels, severe frostbite to both hands and right foot.  One Me-109 claimed shot down by Sgt. Edmonds..

 

Mission Narrative:

A great start to our first mission together.  All of the crew was very spirited with jokes and kidding being the rule of the morning . . . that is until we took off, then all got real quiet as they realized the seriousness of their situation.

As we headed over Adriatic we seemed to tighten up formation more than usual, as if sensing this was way more than another practice run. As we get south of the Rimini rail yard we are attacked by a group of 109's.  Our fighters must have been elsewhere as 3 of these Krauts targets our plane; coming in at 12 high, 12 level and 1:30 level.  We get off the first blood as Eddie (Navigator) sends lead flying into his targeted 109.  Smoke and flame is seen pouring from the front of his fighter as he is seen limping toward home.  Meanwhile the 12 high fighter misses with his shots but as he blazes by our plane Edmond (tail gunner) gets to shoot with open sights right at the tail and the German fighter explodes after being hammered with those twin guns.  Finally, the fighter at the 1:30 position manages to find the range and pumps shell after shell into the front of the Penny.  This fighter must feel lucky as he cuts around for another pass, but now, facing a concentrated fire of more than one gun, his aim is poor and he flies off to pick on an easier target.

 

As we continue on, flushed with victory of our first kill, we begin to examine the results of the damage to the front of our plane.  Most damage was superficial but I suddenly receive a message from Hamilton the navigator that Michaels (bombardier) seems to be shaking.  Adams (co-pilot) goes down to check and comes back to report that the heater unit in the bombardier compartment is shot to hell.  Our first mission and we now must face my first command discussion . . . do we continue or drop out of formation.  Michaels comes on the radio and pleads with me to keep going; "I'll be okay, Capt . . ., let's just go a little longer and I'll be okay." So with that, we continue on, keeping in formation.

As quickly as the Germans come, they are gone and our trip to the target is pretty quiet.  As we approach the target, flak is seen but is light and scattered.  We line up on the target already smoking from other bomb hits . . . We appear to have scored pretty good, as we turn towards home, Edmond says he sees much more smoke and flame.  I radio down to Michaels letting him know what a great job, and there is silence on the other end, then a weak "thanks" is heard on the open channel . . . Hamilton goes to check and sees Michaels huddled in a corner shaking uncontrollably.  We decide to take him back to the radio room area to check him out and discover that his right foot and both hands are almost black.  As we begin to work on him, we are again attacked by Germans, this time two waves of 190's.

 

The first wave is a lone 190 on a vertical dive that goes past us like a meteor, thankfully missing us.  The second wave has 190's at 12, 1:30 & 3 all high.  All shots from us, as well as from the Germans, are misses and we are able to leave the fighters and the target well behind us as we head for home.

The ride home was fairly quiet both outside the plane (no more fighters) and inside the plane as the crew all prays for Michaels.  The plane trip home seems to take forever but finally we see the airfield.  As we taxi in, an ambulance is waiting for us and takes Michaels to the infirmary.

Later than evening, I have to inform the crew that John Michaels' injury was much more serious than it looked (and it looked pretty bad).  He is likely to loose at least 4 fingers and 3 toes, if he is able to keep his hand at all.  I try not to second guess myself, wondering if I should have pulled rank and dropped out of formation possibly saving a crewman.  I balance this with the thought of horror stories heard at the base of what happens to a plane without formation flight.  Although I don't like it, I think for the crew I made the "better" choice.

I'll try to visit John before he gets shipped out in the next few days.  Let's hope the 'Penny' has had it's last twist of BAD luck . . .

-1
st Lt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny


PROUD MARY, Lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 50% bomb run.  Lost top turret and nose guns.  No casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Modest fighter activity, but many attacks seems like they were by ace quality pilots.  Top Turret was lost just before bomb run and nose gun right thereafter.  No other serious damage, however.  No crew wounds.  After Bologna, flew back (through zones 4 to 2) with no attacking waves.

Proud Mary embarked on her first raid with confidence borne of inexperience.  The crew encountered tough fighter resistance over the target, with the top turret and the nose gun suffering knock out blows.  No crewmen were injured. The trip home was uneventful. Though somewhat chastened, the crew was proud of the fact they plastered the marshalling yard with at least half the bomb load.
 

-1st Lt. Cody Reames, Pilot, Proud Mary


SATIN DOLL, second flight, lead aircraft, deputy leader

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Returned with no casualties and minor superficial damage to waist section and radio compartment.  One Fw-190s claimed by Sgt. Will Blankenship.

 

Mission Narrative:

Msgt. Clayton Hardison eyed the shell holes perforating the overhead of the radio room and waist.  Sighing and shaking his head he spoke. "What have you boys done to my airplane, Lieutenant?"

Grinning, Lt. J.P. McConnell answered, "We had roof vents put in, Pops, courtesy of a Focke-Wulf."

"Well, at least you boys got home O.K.  Tell me, Lieutenant, how was it, you know, up there and all?"

Mac McConnell regarded the man they called Pops.  He was all of 8 years older but had been in the Air Corps since '38 and around B-17's most of the time.  He had proved to be reliable and resourceful, almost magically producing replacement parts when they were needed. "Well Sarge, I'll tell ya' it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  We met up with 3 Me-109's over the Adriatic.  Before ya' know it, 2 of them are spinning down toward the water, flames rolling back from the cowls.  A couple of Jugs from the escort had pasted them cold.  One got through the screen, and Lieutenant Morris opened up with the nose .50 while George started hammering away with the top turret.  Both of them missed and that's when we picked up the 'extra ventilation' in the radio room & waist, he was setting up a second pass and got drilled by another '47 from the escort.

We tightened the formation up a little more and Sky Wolf & Rock 'em & Sock 'em kept the Jerries off our backs until we got near the target. While we were starting the bomb run, 2 Me-109's were lining up to make a pass at us from ahead, but got pasted by a couple of P-38's."

"Was there any flak, sir?" Pops asked, mesmerized by the account of the mission.

"Yeah, over the target.  But there wasn't any around us.  It was fairly light and inaccurate.  Phil got his sight lined up and put 30% of the load into and around the main switching station of the rail yards, when just then, 3 FW's came barreling in at the nose.  Phil had just enough time to snap off a quick burst at the one boring in from 12 high.  A few of the rounds found their mark and messed up the Kraut's aim, but George missed completely with the top turret . . . you might want to check the sights on it."

"Will do, sir"

"Anyway, Billy Boy got the one from 12 low, blowing the engine out of it.  Sarge, I tell ya' what, that ole boy never new what hit him!  The last one was setting up from 130 level, I guess he was too intent on getting us lined up and never saw the Lightning that stitched his left side.  We saw a couple more FW's after that but they were too busy trying to get away from those P-38's to pay us any mind.  That's about it.  Like you said, we all came back in one piece, bombed the target, took some minor damage, destroyed an FW and damaged another."

"Thanks, Lieutenant.  I sure was worried about you guys while you were gone.  I'll get the sheet metal boys right to work patchin' those holes, and I'll check out that top turret myself.  But first I'm going to paint a bomb on her nose, and maybe a cross for that '190."

-1
st Lt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll


SKY WOLF, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  No casualties.  Minor superficial damage to starboard wing flap and radio compartment. Two Fw-190s claimed by SSgt. Henry.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off was smooth as possible from our airfield.  Everyone checked out none the worse for wear just like in a training session.  We formed up on Satin Doll just as planned.  Keeping formation with her was tough though until Lucky Penny finally got into her slot and out of our way.

We sailed over the clear Med without a care in the world until we neared the IP.  We had to look alive as we crossed the coastline but nothing serious made any passes at us.  The P-38s stayed with us good and tight.  The black dots on the horizon ahead were the first enemy we saw and the P-38s flew right into them breaking up their formation.  We stayed in formation even though two Fw-190s got thru the friendlies to make a go at us.  Our tail gunner, Sgt. Masterton, damaged one and it left the area smoking but it was not seen to crash.  A sneaky kraut dove down hard, straight from above and pinged us in the starboard wing flap and in the radio room but nothing serious was damaged.  When he swooped back around for another go at us our engineer, SSgt. Henry, put "paid" on his ticket and he just exploded. The port waist gunner can verify the shoot down.

We neared the target and it was in plain sight.  Railroad tracks and warehouses were everywhere in sight.  Flak was light, small caliber, and dispersed.  We believe we hit the target with 30% of our load or maybe more.  We did go a little long but everything down there is German, so no worries.

We turned for home and got wide of the formation and struggled to get back in with Satin Doll.  Thankfully only one enemy 109 was around to mess with us and he too dove hard from above, straight thru the formation.  He missed us and we missed him for all the trouble.

Once we left the coastline, the enemy's attacks dwindled to nothing.  But just to keep us on our toes a 190 made a final pass at us from way up high.  Luckily our engineer was looking that way and sent him down smoking the whole way.  Our tail gunner reported the 190 finally went
down almost out of sight but he did see the impact and explosion in the water and can vouch for the kill.

We traveled on with the knowledge our first mission out was a success.  Just landing the Sky Wolf was left to do and that was as smooth as ever.  We rolled into the hardstand area and was secured by the ground crews.  I did see what I think was the Old Crow Express that went long on the runway and into the grass at the end and she stopped hard.  At least they are not pulling our bird back with a tow truck . . .

-1st Lt. Benjamin Sterling, Pilot, Sky Wolf


ROCK 'EM & SOCK 'EM, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Landed with minor damage.  One Me-109 claimed by SSgt. Patrellia.

 

Mission Narrative:

Good clear day for the first mission for our crew.  Rock 'em and sock 'em looked fine when we took off.  A clear run up the coast as we turned in towards the coast just east of Bologna.  Sky Wolf was on our left and Satin Doll just ahead of us I think.  We saw the low squadron, 318th below us take a few passes from Me-109's.  We didn't see any planes until we hit the coast and our Thunderbolts banked off.  The fighter coverage was good and when we hit that coast we took a few passes by Me109's head-on.  The P-38 Lightnings were there to see them off and we took minor damage; we even managed to wing one.

Target IP and bomb run were good, light flak, no hits near us, hit the target and then banked west for the IP.  We took some small hits over the target and the top gunner, Patrellia, shot down a head-on ME109.  Good hit, we saw the guy's chute.  Tail gunner knocked some pieces off an Fw190 coming from behind and the other Fw190's we chased off by the P-38's; great work on their part.

We headed for the coast and although we saw the 317
th and 318th under attack, none of the enemy fighters made it through to us.  We were clear all the way home to the base.

It was a good first mission for me and the boys.  I think we might have picked up a lucky charm here.  Plane served us well, hardly a scratch on her, we didn't even use much ammo, although some of the guys complained 'cause they didn't get to fire their guns at the Germans.
 

-1st Lt. T. H. Joss, Pilot, Rock 'em & Sock 'em


317th BS (High)

THE MOANING WITCH, first flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Took BIP and fell-out-formation.  Made it back to base with 3 dead & 3 other wounded men.  Plane scrapped, category 'E'.  Two Fw-190s & 3 Me-109s claimed by crew.

 

Mission Narrative:

Hell.  Simple and to the point.  We got going nice and early and so did our German buddies.  Anyone would think they could win this shindig the way they play.  We got bounced by 3 109ís just as we started heading towards Reggio.  Pratt drilled the one from 12 High but he still got a shot in and hit Butler in the shoulder.  Lucky it was just a scratch, a Hollywood fleshy.  Then Gimp yelled that heíd just nailed one as it went past.  Good shooting.

We got jumped again just before the target when 3 190ís came boring in.  Spratt winged one but good and he scrammed trailing flame and smoke.  Pratt nicked another and that seemed to spook them enough to miss everything.

The target zone was crawling with the lice and we got hit pretty good.  The tail plane got nicked as well as the Starboard root and I could have sworn that something spanged off the bombs.  Spratt nicked another.

Then the flak f***ed our day up.  We got hit in both wings but nothing serious and then an almighty bloody whack when we got bipped in the Radio Room.  Spratt must have timed his release perfectly Ďcause he still got about 30% on.  We lost Weisman straight away and the howl of the wind was crazy.  We lost formation in a hurry and just managed to keep the Witch flying.  As we turned, the bastards hit us again.  The control cables were shot.  Thatís when a lovely trio of 190ís came out to play.  The port root got drilled and #1 gave up under the punishment.  Butler got it feathered and 2 of the 190ís were hit by the boys with good effect.  Iíll take their words for who hit what Ďcause I wasnít looking!  The 3rd one swung round on the tail and Gimp cremated him.  Now we had a few problems.

Stooging around in this airspace isnít exactly good for the health.  A couple 109ís and a 190 stafflen kaptein came in to have a good look. Sprat put a belt into the kapteinís cockpit and that was him.  The 109 at 1:30 got a good hit on #4ís oil tank but it sealed quickly enough.  Miller scared one enough that he pulled up and Mueller gave him his ticket to hell.  The other idiot kept making passes but he must have been a green as grass.  He couldnít hit a door if he flew into it!  He probably ran out of ammo.

Another group like this one hit us but except for Miller and Pratt hurting a couple, nobody hit anything.  A pair of 190ís then got us.  Pratt and Spratt nicked them but we got nailed for 3 passes that cost us our port flap, starboard landing gear.  A Purple Heart for Spratt, Fettzing and Mueller.  Fetz and Mueller were hit bad but no-one could help them at all.  We were actually grateful the intercom was out so we couldnít hear them dying.

We were bounced by 3 109ís just before home but only minor hits and then another PH went Gimpís way.  He got hit in the butt.  I gotta ask about that one.

Landing was rocky but Butler and I got it down.  Six Purple Hearts and I reckon Butler should get something for helping bring our bent bird home.  Spratt also did good but thatís up to the old man.
 

-1st Lt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, The Moaning Witch


FRISCO KID, first flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 20% bomb run.  Landed with port aileron out, rafts shredded, one control cable hit and other superficial damage with 3 casualties, all light wounds; Sgt. McNutt sent to infirmary for 3 days.  Two Fw-190s claimed by 2nd Lt. Baty & Sgt. Moore.

 

Mission Narrative:

A successful first mission for the lads, all in all.  We took off and joined formation, rendezvoused with 2nd BG, and headed out over the Adriatic, picking up the Checkertails of the 325th, who would escort us part of the way in.  Jerry still managed to get by the Little Friends, though, for we were attacked by two enemy A/C - Bf-109s.  One scored minor hits on us, but SSgt. Wilson (Engineer) hit it and reported seeing it fly away, smoking.

The rest of the inbound flight was uneventful, and we were not attacked until our arrival at the target zone, when one Fw-190 dived steeply on us from above.  We fired at it, but missed, as did it.  Flak over target was light, and we hit the target with 20% accuracy.

On the way home, we got hit hard by three waves of enemy fighters (we figured the 14
th FG missed the rendezvous).  2nd Lt. Baty (Navigator) flamed one Fw-190, and Sgt. Moore (Ball Turret) nailed another.  The Jerries scored many hits, wounding both waist gunners, shooting out the rafts, knocking out the port aileron, and damaging the control cables.

We were attacked once more on the way home, by more Fw-190s.  We damaged two, but one hit and lightly wounded 2
nd Lt. Danby (copilot).  The aircraft made it safely back to base, and is ready for further action.  We await status on our wounded crewmen.
 

-1st Lt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid 


LITTLE MISSY, first flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 20% bomb run.  Landed with damage to the starboard wing root and rudder & superficial damage to an engine. Sgt. Mickle was wounded and sent to infirmary for 1 day.  One Fw-190s claimed by Sgt. Fokker and one Me-109 by SSgt. Lister.

 

Mission Narrative:

At the briefing Spencer had been worried about the weather, though everything had turned out alright in the end.  The weather had in fact aided the raid by playing havoc with the German attempts to intercept, with many their formidable ME-110's being grounded.  The form up was good with everyone practicing what they had learned in the States, the squadron formation was a bit loose, something that would have to be rectified very soon by everyone if they were to survive.  The Germans seemed to concentrate their attacks on such loose formations.  Spencer had concentrated the entire flight on keeping snugly on the CO's right wing, this was taxing and exhausting work.  His co-pilot Peter Glover was tasked with keeping the crew in check and looking out for fighters.  There was little German activity outbound, although they were pounced on by some 109's who got through the defensive fire and put a few rounds through the waist, Sgt. Neil Mickle was wounded in the arm by some shrapnel which gave everyone a good scare.  The bomb run was textbook, the new bombardier was as cool as ice in spite of the flak bursting all around.  The engineer and tail gunner distinguished themselves by getting a 109 and a 190 apiece.  Spencer had set up a little "reward" fund using his own money for any crew members who shot down any Germans, looked like there was going to be tough competition among the crew to get their hands on this money . . .

Well, they had done it! survived their first combat mission, there were many relieved faces when they touched down, and there were certainly going to be a few celebrations later.
 

 - 1st Lt. Spencer Kennedy, Pilot, Little Missy


GOOD TIME GAL, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 40% bomb run.  Landed with minor damage to the waist section.  One Me-109 claimed by Sgt. MacDonald.

 

Mission Narrative:

No real drama, I'm afraid, hardly worth the time and effort. A pretty good run into target all the same, and a decent drop.  My tail gunner, Sgt. MacDonald, did a fine job of shooting down a 109 on the way back.  Intel should confirm the kill.  He put a few holes in the waist but managed to miss everything vital.  A few patches and we'll be flying gain, I'm sure.  Now, who's up for glass of my new Chianti?
 

- 1st Lt. Milton Forrest, Pilot, Good Time Gal


GO FOR BROKE, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 50% bomb run.  Landed with no rudder controls, top turret inoperable, and superficial damage to nose and port wing.  Pilot received light wound. Two Fw-190s claimed by 2nd Lt. Richard Osa (bombardier).

 

Mission Narrative:

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

We did not encounter any enemy fighters until 20 minutes from Reggio Emilia where we encountered four (4) ME-109's all coming from the front (12H, 10:30H, 1:30H, 12 Level).  Drove three off but the one that came in at 10:30H was able to hit a wing and the pilot compartment.  The hit to the wing did only superficial damage but the attack wounded the pilot.  The fighter came around and but missed and was driven off.

Nearing the target, we enountered two more waves. The first wave consisted of two (2) FW-190's (12H, 12L) and one (1) ME-109 at (1:30L). One of the FW-190s was claimed to be shot down by 2
nd Lt. Osa. The second FW-190's cannon fire scored hits to the upper part of plane, causing the Top Turret to be damaged along with damage to the pilot compartment where rudder controls were damaged causing the rudders to malfunction.  The ME-109 missed and was driven off.  The second FW-190 came back and was claimed to have been shot down by 2nd Lt. Osa.  The second wave was driven off by the fighter escort before they were able to attack.
 

Nearing the target, encountered light flak and we took a hit to the nose but sustained no damage.  Despite the jostling, 2nd Lt. Osa was able to find target and dropped  50% of the bombs on the target.  On leaving target, two (2) ME-109s attacked at (1:30H, 9:00L) but fighter cover was able to drive one off while the other on missed and was driven off.

South of Reggio Emilia, we encountered two (2) waves of fighters. The first wave consisted of four (4) FW-190s coming in at (12H, 3H, 6H, 9H).  Two (2) were driven off by the P-38 fighter cover.  The other two (2) missed the plane and were driven off.  The second wave consisted of one (1) FW-190 attacking in a vertical dive but it missed and was driven off.

Did not encountered any further fighters for the remainder of the mission.  Arrived Sterparone Field, Foggia Italy, was able to land safely even though the rudder controls were damaged.

-1
st Lt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go For Broke


DARKWATCH, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 20% bomb run & returned with minor superficial damage to the tail section.  One casualty, Sgt. Sadat, light wound; 1 day stay in base infirmary.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was a beautiful flight in, clear and easy . . . Almost fun.  What fighters we saw were driven off by other ships in the formation.  No enemy aircraft over the target - didn't even see any flak.  Bombs were on target with good grouping.

As we turned for home we were engaged by three Fw-190s.  A VERY friendly P-38 took care of one of them (more about him in a moment), while Lt. Keefer damaged another.  If they put any holes in us on that pass, I didn't hear about it.

About ten minutes later a 190 jumped us from 10:30 high . . . he had us lined up real good but that P-38 came back out of nowhere.  He was super-aggressive (maybe too aggressive . . . shot across my nose close enough to give my bombardier a buzz cut), but we were sure happy to see him bounce that FW.  We didn't get his number, but I'd like to thank him.

Then suddenly there were no fighters to be seen and we were on our way home.  Levvy fired a burst at a Me-109 that jumped us in a vertical dive - put a couple superficial holes in the tail, which woke us up.

And it was a good thing, too. With base just over the horizon we got hit from four directions by 109s.  They came out of nowhere.  Sure could have used that barnstormer in the P-38 then.  Tiege and Sgt. Disbrow threw a bucket of bullets at the guy coming up our six, but he juked their shots like an ace and rocketed in to close range, then either missed or had his guns jam, not sure.  Sgt. Disbrow claims the pilot
gave him a salute before breaking off, but he's been reading a lot of comic books lately so I'm skeptical.

It was pretty hot work for the next few minutes with everyone shooting and shouting; then the Messerschmitts were gone as quick as they
appeared.  I did a roll call over the intercom and it was only then we found out Sgt. Sadat had been wounded.  It was a light one in a place
where the sun doesn't shine and if it was up to Meelad he'd probably keep it to himself, but a wound is a wound (and an inch the other way
wouldn't have seemed so funny), so I'm putting him in for a Purple Heart.

I resisted the impulse to wag our wings over the field . . . Soft landing . . . One down, too many to go.
 

-1st Lt. Paul O'Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch


318th BS (Low)

GENERAL COMEDIAN, first flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Returned with no casualties.  Damage: #1 engine feathered, rudder damage, superficial damage in nose compartment and to the #3 engine cowling.  One Me-109 claimed by SSgt. Carlin and one Fw-190 shared by SSgt. Carling & 2nd Lt. Blackhead.

 

Mission Narrative:
Woo-hoo! Action in Zone 2: Four FW-190s jump our plane but one is chased off by some P-47s.  They tried to hammerhead us from the front and back at the same time.  The third one nearly escaped out notice by diving straight down on us from a cloud.  The Focke Wulf attacking the front opened a few vent holes that nobody in the nose appreciated, it being December.  The plane from the rear put a shudder into the rudder, just a little vibration.  The vertical diver just roared past making little popping noises.  We were celebrating our first combat when the radio operator screamed "I see a frigging plane behind us shooting!"  That's what happens when you are in the tail end Charlie squadron.

 

We almost didn't make the mission due to bad fuel.  It must have been left over fuel from the flight over that got a bit of condensation sitting in this cold weather.  Two of those hot shot birds came back around for another try.  Norman in the nose and George in the top turret blasted one into tiny little pieces.  We narrowly missed the biggest piece.  The other plane took a pot shot, missed and buzzed off.

 

Before we knew it we made landfall in Northern Italy.  A welcoming committee of two ME-109s paid their respects.  Some P-38s returned the gesture and they seemed happy to depart the show.  We were enjoying the show but had to get busy prepping for the drop.  We found prepping to be too slow 'cause we had planes all over the place trying to eat up our time.  A whole bunch of enemy flyers were coming in our general direction but some other B-17s took up their attention.  Two planes did find us.  One was an ME-109 that got close and seemed to hound us but not attack.  It had TECK printed on the side.  We'll get with Intel on this notation as it is new to us.  A 190 flew at us but wasn't a good shot or anything.  Three more FWs flew by.  One coming in from 3 Level popped #3 engine.  A piece of the cowling went "that way" but the engine was undamaged.  We went into the final approach for the drop while the enemy gunners down below tried to shoot a couple birds out of the sky.  They may have gotten the birds but missed us by a long shot.

 

No sooner that the bombs were dropped the enemy was back hunting us.  Our 'Little Friends" kept a group of three Focke Wulfs off our back but that damn Messerschmidt with TECK on the side attacked us from the rear again. Three guns blazed at him but missed due to his expert jinxing.  He whacked engine #1 which had to be feathered 'cause it went to high speed and was uncontrollable.  When "TECK" came back around, George up top took him out.

 

Before landing a couple more ME-109s buzzed us.  Mike in the tail swears that TECK was on one of those planes.  I, Lt. Franks, will personally find out what the heck 'TECK' means.
 

-1st Lt. Fred Franks, Pilot, General Comedian


LUCKY LAUREL, first flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Left formation zone 2 inbound from loss of nose compartment heat and landed with minor damage.  No casualties.  Claims: One Me-109 each by 2nd Lt. Carrierre & Sgt. Legge.

 

Mission Narrative:
Overall, it was pretty easy for the maiden trip.  We first ran into three 109s in Zone 3, but after one was cleared by friendly fighters the other two missed their mark just as we had.  Obviously nerves were tight and our aim was poor. In Zone 4 we had two more waves but both were driven off by friendlies.

It was looking pretty easy until we entered the target zone. There we were jumped by four fighters.  Our escort chased one away, but the rest were left to us. That's when Pat Carriere, our navigator, took a break from the maps and knocked a 109 clean out of the sky.  Not too shabby for a flight school wash-out.  The ball gunner damaged the FW-190 and both remaining attackers missed our plane.  Light flak over the target and good visibility helped us achieve a 30% run.

After we made our turn, two more waves of two came in.  Friendly fighters chased one from each wave and the bogies missed us yet again.  Feeling pretty lucky we continued our return leg. In zone 4 two more waves struck. The escorts chased one fighter from the first wave but the second ME 109 sent two shells into the nose compartment. Our tail gunner, Stan Legge, hammered this plane as it passed by his big guns. Unfortunately the heat was knocked out for both guys up front.  After exchanging misses with the second wave we continued in formation.  I knew we had some time before Steven and Pat turned blue and zone 3 was still a dangerous place to be alone.  As it was, a sole 109 made an unsuccessful vertical dive. I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Fearing possible frostbite and being relatively safe in Zone 2 we dropped below 10,000 and made it the rest of the way home without any more enemy attacks.  All in all, not too bad for our fist mission.  I'm proud of the guys!

 

-1st Lt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Lucky Laurel


OLD CROW EXPRESS, first flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 30% bomb run.  Took flak hit on tail (damaged tail wheel).  Barely returned to base with S. wing fuel tank leak  Ran off tarmac into adjoining grass area.  Total damage: 52 points.  Co-pilot took a minor shrapnel wound in shoulder, patched up and returned to duty 16 Dec. 1943.  Two Fw-190s claimed; one each by SSgt. O'Reilly and Sgt. Carter.

 

Mission Narrative:

After take off we formed up with the rest of the Bomb group. The formation seemed in good shape. Then we head off towards REGGIO EMILIA.

"How is every one feeling?" asked Anderson.

"Can't wait!" said an excited Madison.

"Well, we'll see how you are feeling when things get hot," replied Sumlin.

"Yeah, you will see.  You will see me here firing my gun fearlessly.  And you . . . well, you will be scared sh**less," said Madison laughing.

"Laugh it up, funny man . . ."

"HEY!  Pipe down.  Keep the intercom clear.  Damn, you two make too much noise. . . Oh yeah, before I forget, now would be a great time to test fire your guns since we are over the Adriatic Sea," said Anderson.

"Alright . . ." But before Madison was able to finish what he was about to say the radio came alive with chatter.

"We got a bandit 12 high" 0'Reilly yelled.  "Looks like a 190, here he comes," his guns now firing. "I think I got him.  He's going down!  He's going down!  Hey Hamlet, can you confirm that?"

"Yeah, yeah, down he goes.  Nice one!" said Hamlet.

"Bandit 3 high!" screamed Madison.

"Bandit 9 high," said Sumlin.

"Hey, I got another one here at 6 high," cried Carter.

"Oh man, they're all over us!" said Madison as his guns were firing. "Damn you bastarrrddd!" The 190 passed under and broke off after missing.

"Wow, look at that.  Another Kraut bites the dust" said an excited Carter as he claimed his victory over his 190.

At the same time Sumlin was screaming "Oh sh**, I can't hit him, I can't hit him. . . here he comes. SShhh**." As the 190 came through unscratched but was able to score 3 hits in the port wing, none of them causing much damage.

"Sh**, here comes your 190 Sumlin," said Peterson as he is aiming his 50 cal. at the 190 coming around. "Come on . . . come on, keep it stead now, just a little more (50 cal goes off in the background) . . . DAMN!" The 190 passes by, without scoring a hit, and dives away.

"Another bandit 10:30 level coming in," said Blackbird. "Oh Sh**," he says in a whisper as his 50 cal goes off.  "Looks like a 109." The 109 missed, banks left and breaks off.

"Bandit, 12 level, coming in fast. (50 cal goes off)  It's a 109," says Peterson. The 109 misses, passes by and breaks off. 

Then they were gone.  Just as fast as they came they left.

"Everyone ok?" asked a worried Anderson after things got quiet.

"Everything find in the nose," answers Blackbird. "Just a little shaken up thou."

"I'm alright," answers Norton.

"No one hurt in the waist," says Sumlin.

"Nothing wrong with me," said Carter.

"Good.  Stay sharp, there's bound to be more of them out there," said Anderson.

Time passes and nothing happens.  We had nothing to do but wait.  And to pass time, Carter says a little prayer to himself back in the tail.  Madison and Sumlin are watching the skies wondering when the next ones will come.  Hamlet is watching the ground 22,000 feet below him thinking that's a long ways away if he fell.  I was manning the 50 cal. in the radio room waiting.  O'Reilly is just spinning in the Top Turret just waiting.  Peterson is wondering when they are going to get there and when is it going to end.  Blackbird is making sure that he has their position marked on the map.

"We should be reaching the waypoint in a minute," says Blackbird over the intercom.

"Roger," answers Anderson.  A minute later the formation starts to turn.

"Right on the money," Blackbird said to himself.

"Bandit 10:30 High," said O'Reilly.

"Another one 3 Level," answered Madison.

Both O'Reilly and Blackbird fire on the 190 and both miss. "Damn he's good," said O'Reilly.

"Not that good," answered Blackbird, "cause if he was, he would have hit us."

Meanwhile back in the waist Madison and Hamlet are firing at the 190. "I think I got him!  I see smoke coming out!  Hey Hammy, is he going down? Hammy?"

 

"No, no he recovered. It seems like you only damaged him.  But he's breaking off though.  Sorry man, not this one," said Hamlet.

"Sh**"

Again all was quiet as we traveled through the air.  "Navigator to Pilot, the DP is coming up," said Blackbird after awhile.

"Roger that," answered Anderson.

"Bandit coming in at 12 high," said O'Reilly.

"Bandit 12 low coming in," said Peterson.

"Here he comes. (50 cal goes off) Damn just missed him." O'Reilly said.  "Sh**, (50 cal burst) it looks like he's (50 cal burst in background) going for the starboard wing. (more 50 cal bursts) Sh** he's hit it!" said a worried Peterson. "Here he comes for his second pass." The 190 came around and was hit by Peterson's gun, only damaging him, but it was enough to cause him to miss. "Take that you bastard!"

"That looks like all of them," said O'Reilly. "For now."

A short time later.  "Navigator to Pilot, were at the IP," announced Blackbird.

"Roger that.  Peterson you hear that?  Get ready.  I will just put her in, then hand it to you. Ok?" Anderson told Peterson.

"Roger," was Peterson's answer.

"Flak at 12 o'clock," said Blackbird.  The Flak shells exploded here there, all around us.  It was light but accurate.

"Pilot to Bombardier, she's all yours," said Anderson

"Roger," said Peterson.  Just then a flak shell exploded close to the tail.  It caused the plane to jump.

"Is any one hit?" asked Sap.

"F**k, that was a close one.  F**ken flak, sh**," said a pissed off Carter.

"Carter, you alright?" asked Anderson with worry in his voice.

"Yeah, I'm alright.  Damn flak. It just scared the living sh** out of me . . . to close," said Carter.

A couple moments later while the flak is still going off, Peterson yells, "Bombs-Away!"

"All right guys we're half way done.  Let's go home," Anderson told his crew.

"Sh**!  Hey Anderson, I got some good news and some bad news to tell you, what do you want first?" asked Sap.

"Huh, the bad news . . . I guess," answered a puzzled Anderson.

"Well, the bad news is that were losing fuel in the starboard wing side.  But the good news is we should have about enough to make it home, just enough," said Sap.

"Sh**, we will have to watch . . ." Anderson tried to say but O'Reilly broke in before he could finish. "Bandit 12 level coming in."

"I see him," said Peterson with his 50 cal. blazing in the background. "Damn!" The 109 fires his guns, hitting the pilot compartment, the bullets bounce around the pilot compartment sending a small piece of sharpen flying everywhere and one right into the shoulder of Sap, the 109 passes turns around and gets ready to come again.

"F**k, I'm hit!" yelled Sap in pain.

"O'Reilly, check him out," ordered Anderson.

"Bandit, coming around at 3 level.  Here he comes! (50 cal goes off) I damaged him!" said Hamlet. "He's breaking off!"

"Hey, Lieutenant Sap, I'm here man!  It's going to be ok," O'Reilly told Sap.

"It hurts, I don't wanna die."

"Don't worry you won't die.  I got you." O'Reilly said as he pulled Sap out of the chair and put him on the floor so he could get a clear look
at him. "Don't worry, its not that bad, it's just a little piece of shrapnel that hit you."

"Sh**, it hurts."

"Don't worry you're going to be OK. You should be able to continue to do your job. Let me just bandage you up."

"All right, take care of it."

"Don't worry guys; he's going to be O.K.," O'Reilly told the crew.

The rest of the way was quiet, no more fighters attacked us.  Sap seemed like he is going to be ok, O'Reilly said it was just a light wound. The thing that had us more worried then Sap's wound was the fuel.  Sap calculated that we should have enough fuel to reach home.  I just hoped that he was right.   Couple of hours later we reach the Sterparone Airfield with very little fuel left.

"Alright, everyone get into your landing positions, we just got landing clearance.  And we have plenty of fuel to land so don't worry," Anderson said to the crew.

"All right, lower the landing gear . . ." Anderson said to Sap.

"Landing gear is lowered," answered Sap a moment later.

"Alright, here we go," said Anderson.  The landing went smoothly up until we touched down, then it got bumpy.

"Ok, apply the brakes," said Anderson.

"Applying brakes," answered Sap.

They reached the end of the run way only to find out that she won't turn. "Sh**!  She won't turn; the tail wheel must be damaged.  All right,
lets take her straight into the grass."

As we were landing the medic trucks and fire trucks came racing down to meet us.  "OK, Sap lets stop her, this should be far enough" Anderson told Sap.  And just then the engines started to sputter.  They sputtered then stopped.  We had just made it and Anderson was heard saying, "Thank God."

"Alright Lieutenant, lets get you out, and get you checked with the medics," O'Reilly said as he helped him out of his chair and then out of the plane where the medic trucks were waiting.

I stood there looking at the faces of the men wondering where their joy had gone.  It was like they weren't the same person.  They seemed
exhausted.  As they started to get out I went in the waist to see what I could see.  I saw spent 50 cal shells covering the floor and at the back, close to the tail, I saw some holes.  Some big enough for me to put my hand through, some just big enough to see, it musta been the flak I thought.  I went back through my radio room and through the bomb bay into the pilot compartment, where I saw more spent shells from the T.T. on the floor and Anderson was still there in his pilot seat.  I walked up to him and said "Hey, Lieutenant Anderson, how you doing?" I musta startled him cause he jumped a little.  I laughed a little.

"I'm ok . . . How about you?" he said in a soft voice.

"Same here," I answered.

A minute passed in silence.  "I think we should get down now."

"Yeah, I guess we should."

Once outside we saw that the crew was still there, waiting for us no doubt, all expect Sap who left to get his wound checked out.  The tow
truck had come down through the grass to pick up Old Crow Express.  She would have to get pulled to the hardstand or where ever they would be taking her to get her patched up.  I looked towards the runway and there was a B-17 landing, I couldn't tell who it was, I wondered how it had gone for them.  Then we all started to walk towards the debriefing office.  We walked silently . . .

 

-Sgt. Bobby Norton, Radio Operator, Old Crow Express


FLYING BEWILDERED, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 0% bomb run.  Returned with 2 KIA & 1 LW.  Damage to the starboard wing root, both tail-plane roots and ball turret ammo feed belts.  Extensive damage to repair: 18 Hits Received (136 damage points).  One Fw-190 each claimed by Sgt. Chrisman (Engineer) & Sgt. Wicks (Tail Gunner).  26 Enemy A/C Encountered (2 Shot Down, 1 FBOA, 3 FCA, 13 Driven Off).

 

Mission Narrative:
Flying Bewildered was assigned the #4 slot in the low squadron for this mission.  The beginning of the mission was like a milk run.  Those enemy fighters that showed up were either chased off by our fighters or failed to press home their attacks but as we pasted the IP the world fell in on us.

We were set upon by enemy fighters, both Me-109's and Fw-190's, from the IP to just before bombs away, despite the best efforts of our fighter cover to keep them at bay.  They killed the Co-Pilot, 2
nd Lt. Abrego with a 20mm cannon round to the chest and damaged the starboard wing root close to were it joins the fuselage.

Next came the flak, it was light and inaccurate but it must have unnerved 2
nd Lt. Pennington as he missed the target completely.

After the bomb run we turned for home and were immediately attacked by enemy fighters from every clock position.  2
nd Lt. Pennington was hit by round to the upper head which killed him instantly and Tech Sgt. Silas received a light wound to his left calf.  Flying Bewildered received damage to both tail-plane roots and the ball turret machine guns were made inoperable because of damage to the ammunition feeds.  During this running battle with enemy fighters SSgt. Chrisman (Flt. Engineer) and Sgt. Wicks (Tail Gunner), each claimed an Fw-190 shot down.

After we left the target area enemy fighter resistance disappeared and we returned to Foggia Airbase without any more problems.  We landed safely at Foggia, where we dealt with our casualties and were debriefed before getting some well earned rest.  One mission down 49 to go . . .
 

-1st Lt. Mark Nicks, Pilot, Flying Bewildered


GOLD DRAGON, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 40% bomb run.  Fell out-of-formation prior to target run due to loss of bombardier's heater.  Returned with 4 KIA & 1 LW (2nd Lt. Minter to infirmary for 3 days).   Extensive damage to repair: 177 damage points.  One Fw-190 claimed by SSgt. Brown (Engineer) & Sgt. J. Tucker (Ball Gunner), two Fw-190s and one Me-109 reported as damaged.

 

Mission Narrative:

What a terrible first mission.  We lost four crewmen and realized how terrible war really is.

We were still over water when the first wave of three 190's jumped us.  We took one hell of a beating.  They knocked out our tail guns and Rodell and Jimmy were hit. Jimmy took one thru the leg and was bleeding pretty badly.  Rodell just got a piece of plastic from one of his instruments in the face but said he was able to continue his duties.  Jimmy didn't survive the trip and died en route to base after the bombing run.  We also took a hit in our Bombardier's heater and had to drop out of formation and descend to 10,000 ft.  But Marcus got our first Kill when one of the 190's burst into flames just before he was able to fire at us.

As a crew we decided to continue on try to drop our load on the target.  It was really tough when we started the bombing run. We could see our fighter cover engaged with a host of 109's and we were thankful they were they.  But, a few got through and Marcus  took a pretty bad hit when one shell hit him.  We made him as comfortable as we could.  That took out the top turret.  With the tail gun, stbd waist, and the top turret all out we seemed to be hanging on with a wing and a prayer.  We were able to drop our load on target and head for home.  Just as we leveled out heading home one 109 jumped us a placed a lucky shot thru Marcus' chest.  Lucky for him it was quick.  I ordered Tim to assume the top turret position for the rest of the flight.  Shortly after that 109 left another came at us.  We must have pissed off somebody somewhere because this 109 only made one pass but he got off a shot that took Rodell's head completely off.  As bad as it was I made a decision to have Jerry move and use Rodell's heater so we could climb back into formation.

The rest of the fight home was not without incident.  Two 109's jumped us just as we got over water and placed a shot right through Tim that killed him.  That's it: four lost crewman and our Bombardier took a hit that, thankfully, only left a gash on his arm, he should make a full recovery.  We did, however, hit the target with 40% accuracy.
 

- 1st Lt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon


399th BS (Low) - On temporary duty flying with the 318th BS

 

PRINCESS LILIKOI, second flight, left wingman, tail-end Charlie position

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target, 20% bomb run.  Fell out-of-formation inbound over Arezzo, landed on 3 engines & 3 casualties.  Extensive damage (211 points): Nose oxygen system out from fire, port elevator out, #3 engine oil leakage, auto-pilot inoperable, rudder and control cable hit, and numerous superficial holes to starboard wing and tail.  One Fw-190 claimed by SSgt. Marlow.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was a quiet mission until the Target Zone.  As we approached the IP A LOT of fighters came our way, but fortunately most of them were driven off by the Group, but there were a few that managed to get through and attack us.  They kept on coming even after the FLAK and was on our tail to the RP (rally point) and followed us to Bologna.  There were two fighters that came at us several times and scored hits each time.  There was just no where to run and hide.

 

Fortunately, luck was with us because we had to leave formation due to an oxygen fire in the nose and descended to 10.000 ft.  We were now over Arezzo and felt pretty much alone up there, now flying on 3 engines after shutting down #3 due to an oil leak.  Saw bandits chasing us, but a squadron of P-38s drove them off.

Well, what can we say?  We arrived at the base two days ago and we were eager to fly.  We did not expect this.  Is this hell?  We lost a man today . . . Our friend was killed on our first mission.

- 1
st Lt. Frank Kingsley, Pilot, Princess Lilikoi


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