MISSION 27 - VILLAORBA AARs
318th BS (Lead)
LONGHORN LADY, Lead flight, Lead aircraft (Group Commander)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with radio and aileron controls inoperable, # 4 engine out with prop feathered and superficial damage to both wings, radio room, the tail and Pilots Compartments. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Bird (later confirmed by S-2).
In spite of being the lead plane we ran into rather light enemy resistance on the way to the target running into five 109s and a 190. Two of the 109s were damaged while the 190 was destroyed by Sgt. Bird.
There was medium Flak over the target and we received flak hits knocking out the radio, aileron Inoperable and superficial damage to both wings and the tail. Being that we were the lead plane, I was not pleased that we didn't get any of our bombs on target.
On the way our of the target area we were jumped by three 190s and a 109 but only received minor damage. Then another 109 came in and the Co-pilot, Lt. Beaton, was seriously injured (lower right arm).
The rest of the way we ran into 5 more 109s and two 190s. We did get the # 4 Engine knocked out (prop feathered) by the last 109. We had a safe landing. The Doctor seems to think that Lt. Beaton should be able to fly again.
- Capt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
GOLDEN SPIKE, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned without damage or casualties.
Another milk run, and another step closer to home.
The first enemy fighters we saw came at us from three directions about 150 miles from base. Without any friendly fighter cover we were expecting the worse, but our engineer damaged one of the ME-109s and all three Germans missed.
Closing on the target a single Me109 was chased away by our escorts and their flak also left us alone. Unfortunately with such heavy cloud cover we missed the target.
On the way home three enemy waves were chased off by the formation and we landed in time for happy hour. Based on the poor results reported by buddies in the 88th I'm thinking we might be revisiting Villaorba sometime in the future!
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
EAT AT JOE'S, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to waist, port wing, tail, radio room and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Burleson.
Things were going smoothly until we neared the Italian coast. As we neared the coastline we got jumped by a single FW-190 coming in a vertical dive. Sergeants Johnson and Linstrom both got shots at it, but he came in too quick for them and put a few shots into us. Lt. Pike took a hit on his left hand in that pass, but was able to continue his duties.
Coming over the target the weather clouded up badly. We thought it might hide us from enemy fighters and flak, but we weren't so lucky. We saw a couple of twin engine fighters, 110s, and one of them closed on our tail, but Sergeant Burleson took it down. I turned over control of the plane to Lieutenant Gross for the bomb run, and we ran into flak right away. A chunk from a close burst killed Charlie; I hope to God he didn't suffer. Between the weather, the flak, and Charlie getting killed, Lt. Gross missed the target.
Heading to the rally point and back out we had another lone 190 come at us from 10:30 high. This one put a piece of 20mm shell into Lt. Gross's shoulder; I don't know what kept his arm in place. Sgt. Featherston jammed his waist gun up firing at the 190 when it came back from 9 high. Fortunately he was able to quickly repair it. I sent Sgt. Webster up from the waist to the nose to take care of Lt. Gross and to man the guns in the nose, but we didn't see any other fighters the rest of the way. Web probably saved John's life, but he may lose his arm. We're going to miss Charlie a lot; he was a great guy.
- 1st Lt. Joe Delany, Pilot, Eat at Joe's
THOR, second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned out-of-formation with loss of tail section heating system inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by Sgts. Mason & D. Tucker, 1 ME-109 by SSgt. J. Tucker & 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Pulley.
We had it smooth sailing until we got back into Italian airspace. We were jumped by two 110s and two 109s. We sent one 110 limping home and one 109 created a nice hole in the Italian countryside.
The bombing run was totally useless we missed the target completely.
Coming off the target we were jumped by two 190s and one 109. We splashed both 190s and sent the 109 away smoking badly. We lost the Alan Pulleyís heat and had to drop out of formation.
Just before we got home we were jumped by four 109s. We sent three of them limping home and the last one spinning out of sight minus a tail.
We are glad to be back home.
- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Thor
DANGEROUS ENCOUNTER, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with top turret guns destroyed, superficial damage to the fuselage and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Hutton.
In spite of being under attack almost since the group was over the middle of the Adriatic Sea, we reached the target area with minimum of damage, losing the top turret guns and 1 superficial fuselage hit.
Flak was inaccurate but the bad weather contributed to the bombs missing the main target.
After the rally point, a pair of 109s attacked. Sgt. Hutton shot one down but the the other one hit the tail section, wounding Sgt. LaFrenye. From that point on, no further fighters were seen, either they were driven off by other B-17s or by the fighters. We made a good landing back in Italy. One of the Docs treated Sgt. LaFrenye and said that he'd miss the next mission.
If it was not for GOOD fighter in the target zone inbound, I think we might have been toast; five FW-190 in one wave?
- 1st Lt. C. Wells, Pilot, Dangerous Encounter
317th BS (Lead)
DIVINE WIND, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #4 engine out due to oil leak from hit by flak, navigation equipment out, control cables damaged in the tail and in the waist area and superficial damage to the tail and starboard wing. No casualties. Claims: 2 ME-109s by SSgt. Shimizu & 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. O'Hara.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About 100 miles from target we were attacked by four ME-109s. Three were driven off by fighters of the 14th Fighter Group leaving one that came in from 12 level that was heavily damaged by the top turret that was manned by SSGT. Shimizu.
Fifty miles away from target, we were attacked in two waves. The first wave consisted of one ME-109 coming in from 10:30 high. SSGT. Shimizu was able to shoot down the plane before it was able to fire on the plane. The second wave consisted of four ME-109s. Two were driven off again by fighters from the 14th Fighter Group. The others came in from 12 low & high missed the plane and were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group.
Over the target we encountered medium flak that was able to hit the plane seven times: twice in the tail, twice on the starboard wing, twice on the waist, and once on the nose. Damage from the barrage is as follows: Superficial damage to the tail area, wing area of the starboard wing, and waist. Flak did hit the nose area and damage the navigation controls. The #4 engine which caused oil leakage, and control cables in the tail and waist area.
Because of the damage to the control cables and navigation equipment 2nd Lt. O'Hara was not able to line up the plane on target and we were not able to hit the airfield.
On the turnaround, because of the oil leakage from the flak hit we had to shut down the engine and feather the prop. Since we dropped our load over Villaorba we were able to keep in formation.
About 75 miles away from target we were attacked by 3 ME-109s coming in from 1:30 level and 12 high and level. The one coming at 12 level was shot down by 2nd Lt. O'Hara before it was able to shoot on the plane. The other two missed the plane and didnít return.
About 150 miles away from base bogies were spotted coming in from 6 level. But because of the intense machine gun fire they were driven away before they were able to shot at the bomb group.
Fifty miles away from base we were attacked by four ME-109s. One was driven off by fighters of the 1st Fighter Group. One coming in from 3 high was damaged by SSGT. Shimizu. Another one from 9 level was heavily damaged by the port waist gunner, Sgt. Yano. Both e/a missed the plane and didnít return.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without any problems.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
316th BS (High)
FULL HOUSE, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #2 engine, radio room and port waist guns inoperable, the starboard waist gun destroyed, the starboard wing inboard tank holed and leaking, damage to the port wing root, numerous (8) superficial hits to the fuselage, bomb bay, radio room, tail, on both wings and 5 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Montgomery.
We ran into a buzz saw today. From the moment the group entered entered enemy territory in northern Italy until the group made it back to the Adriatic, we were under constant attack. The first attack consisted of 4 ME-109s. While two 109s broke off after their first attack, with one of them heavily damaged by Sgt. Montgomery as it flew by, the other two attacked us three times. From the way this pair worked us over, I have to conclude they were at least seasoned veterans, if not aces. Their attacks killed Lt. McClure, the bombardier, seriously wounded Sgt. Williams, a waist gunner, and lightly wounded Lt. Penny & MSgt. Miller, the navigator & flight engineer, knocked out two 50's, as well as putting lots of holes throughout the Full House. The other waist gunner, Sgt. Fuller, reported Williams was hit in the throat and he would do the best he could to stop the bleeding and to make Williams as comfortable as he could with a shot of morphine.
Approaching the target, a pair of FW-190s made an unsuccessful attack while we sent one away with heavy damage.
As we flew through the thick flak bursts, it appeared we would made it through unscathed, when suddenly, we were jarred by a flak burst exploding very near behind us. The number 2 engine began to smoke and it was quickly feathered. Another piece of flak punctured the inboard starboard wing tank. Luckily, it was a slow leak and we were able to transfer a good amount of fuel to the port tanks. Miller reported there was enough fuel to make it back to base provided there was no other leaks or we didn't lose another engine. In the back of the plane, the starboard waist gun was destroyed and Sgt. Montgomery reported the flak narrowly missed hitting him. With Lt. McClure dead and visibility bad, the bomb run was way off target and there was no appreciable damage to the airfield.
After the rally point, an attack by a pair FW-190s lightly wounded TSgt. Moore, the radio man, and hit the ball turret which at first I thought Sgt. Ward was killed when he didn't check in. That attack knocked out the intercom to the ball turret and how Ward later emerged from the turret near the end of the mission without a scratch, I'll never know. His guardian angel must have been looking out for him today. Sgt. Montgomery shot one of them down as it flew pass his twin 50s, the Full House's only claimed kill.
Just before we reached the coastline heading southward, 4 ME-109s attacked but luckily they weren't as skilled as the earlier fighters and they all missed while MSgt. Miller heavily damaged one of the fighters in return. While over the Adriatic, we saw more fighters but the timely arrival of 1st Fighter Group P-38s kept them busy.
Approaching the runway, we fired the red flares for the ambulances to meet us, where Sgt. Williams was quickly rushed to the operating room. Unfortunately, Williams later died and the 88th loses another original member who had been with the group since it was formed.
- Major Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House II
SATIN DOLL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with radio destroyed, superficial flak damage to tail and port aileron, minor damage to the nose compartment from 20mm & 30mm shells, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by TSgt. Johansen & Sgt. Jackson (TSgt. Johansen's claim later confirmed by S-2).
The Satin Doll first drew the attention of the enemy over the Adriatic. Four FWs bore in from above intent on busting us out of the formation. Those Forked Tailed Angels of the 14th FG blasted three of these out of the sky. The remaining 190 in a vertical dive snapped of a quick ineffective burst and broke off, heading for the lower squadrons.
We next drew the attention of the Krauts nearing the target where Full House II blasted away at two more FW's heading for us. The flak was medium thick and we saw Full House II take a hit in her #2 engine. Just as Tanner got it the prop feathered, another burst went off right between us holing our port aileron and peppering Full House II's starboard waist. Another burst perforated our tail, but with no noticeable effect. Despite the crummy weather and bouncing around, PJ managed to put about 40% of the load onto the airfield.
Rallying off the target, we were jumped by 3 FWs that had been waiting up high for us. George got some hits on the one at 12 high causing him to break off his attack. The one at 1:30 high was pasted in the fuel tank by Hal Jackson; the 190 blew up before the pilot bailed out. The third attacked from 10:30 high, and scored some hits on the radio room and nose. A fragment grazed PJ's right foot and Swede called in that his radio gear had been shot up. The Wulf made another pass from 9 level and was turned away by a hail of lead from the top, ball and port waist guns.
Nearing the Adriatic, a lone Me-109 bored in from directly above, George snapped off a quick burst with the top turret, and peppered his wings. Swede had a little more time to sight him in and drilled the sucker right in cockpit with the radio room gun. Blankenship called in from the ball that the Kraut blew up shortly after passing below us. We encountered no further action from E/A the rest of the way home, and landed without incident. 25 down, 25 to go.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
OLD YARD DOG, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties.
One of our easier missions. Everyone formed up well and we took the left wing slot off of Full House II in the high group. All the way to the target was quiet for us even though other planes in the group were attacked. As we got closer to our target the overcast thickened and I was worried we wouldnít be able to hit the target.
Over the target area a 109 shot past us chased by P-38. He was more worried about the fighter than hitting us. Flak was medium caliber but not accurate. Everything was hitting below us. I figure the clouds messed up their range finders, which was fine by us! LT. Wiggins found a hole in the cloud cover and we dropped our bombs well (30% on target).
Turning for home we stayed in as tight as we could with the leader and covered him left. No more enemies attacked us and we didnít fire a round in anger at them either. Landing was uneventful and the ground crews will get to take a well deserved rest as they have nothing to fix on our plane.
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
LUCKY PENNY, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with rafts destroyed and small holes in cockpit and center areas of the plane. No casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Edmonds and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Watkins (Sgt. Watkins' ME-109 was later confirmed by S-2).
Very quite but long flight. Bad weather about halfway to target. No enemy fighters got near us due to clouds and friendly fighters until target area.
Two FW-190s hit us in target area. One was chased off and another hit cockpit area, but did little damage but shake us up. Flak damaged the rubber rafts but little else. We put bombs on target just barely . . . I think that last bit of flak flung us into the target zone as cloud cover was very think.
Coming home, we got an ME-109 with our waist guns and a lone FW-190 by the tail guns. Our Engineer was able to smoke 2 more planes just before we reached home while they did little damage other than pepper our stbd. side.
Landing was smooth as weather was much better at base.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
DARLA'S BITE II, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with the starboard aileron Inoperable, structural damage to the port wing and rudder & 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 each by Sgt. Andrews (both of Sgt. Andrews' claims were later confirmed by S-2).
We took off at 9:35 and formed up at 9:42 AM. At around 400 miles out we were attacked by two Focke-Wulfs . Fighter cover hadn't caught up with us yet so we had to defend them off our self. Lieut. Thorne was able to damage the first one in. Sgt. Andrews observed this fighter dropping out of the fight trailing smoke. The second fighter hit us but there was no critical damage seen from this hit. On the second frontal attack form the remaining fighter Sgt. Andrews plastered him as he past by after his attack. This was the fifth fighter claimed by Sgt Andrews.
Over the target the weather started to turn and turn for the worst. This didn't slow up the enemy fighters though. We had two waves come in and come in fast. The first wave was four FW-190s which two were chased off by the P-38s. We really owe these guys as the last few missions they have saved our butts. The two that made it in were both shot up by Lieut. Thorne (FBOA-2) and Sgt. Andrews (FCA-1). The fighter from 12 o'clock missed us, but the one from 6 o'clock high hit us good, taking out the port aileron, damaging the port wing root and wounding Sgt. Alber's left leg as well. As the enemy fighter that hit us turned to come back for another go at us two P-38s blasted him out of the skies.
The second consisted of another four Focke-Wolf 190s. SSgt. Weber hit one hard, claming a probable as the fighter was smoking as it crossed over us. Two fighters missed us altogether and one hit the Rudder root. This enemy fighter made a half hearted successive attack with no effect. Though there was more flak than the last few missions, it was very inaccurate due to the weather. Lieut. Thorne was out standing today as Sgts. Albers and Andrew's claim we put nearly half of the eggs on target.
Coming off the bomb run we ran into a gaggle of Me 109's. There were four 109s, of which two missed one was destroyed by Sgt. Andrews and the last one hit the bomb bay with no critical damage done. On his return Sgt. Tippet put up a wall of lead that diverted his intent and he broke off his attack for other targets. There was a second attack after the bomb run of a lone 109, evidentially heading home, made a lack luster attack and headed south for home.
We didn't see any Germans after we were 100 miles from the target. We landed with out incident and headed for the O-Club for some grub and brew.
We saw a total of 18 enemy aircraft, with two claims, Sgt. Andrew one FW-190 & 1 ME-109 Destroyed. More Focke-Wulfs were seen than ME-109s.
- 2nd Lt. Don Beckett, Pilot, Darla's Bite II
RETURN TO SENDER, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with outboard starboard fuel tank holed and leaking, both wing root damaged to both wings, port aileron inoperable, control cables damaged, 10 various superficial hits (125 Damage Points) and 5 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Desjardin.
- 2nd Lt. Folse, Pilot, Return to Sender
399th BS (LOW)
FRISCO KID II, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with numerous bullet and flak holes in the fuselage and port wing. No casualties.
Quiet, more less, until we got to the target zone. We saw some enemy a/c over the Adriatic, but our Little Friends and fellow B-17s drove them off. Only a couple enemy a/c attacked us over target, probably due to the bad weather--one put some holes in us, but that was it. We also took flak hits, but so far Jerry wasn't hitting anything vital--aside from some holes, no damage or injuries. We laid our eggs on the target and turned for home.
That's when the Krauts really hit us--two waves of 190s and 109s. We shot up a few of them, but they kept coming, right through the fighter cover. Luckily, they didn't do a lot of damage. One of the bastards almost took my head off--fortunately I was bending over to check a gauge and the bullet passed over my head.
The enemy left us alone for a while, then came back out over the Adriatic. A 109 came at us from the front, but fortunately did no damage. We made it back safely. Lotsa holes for the ground crew to patch.
- Capt. D. Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid II, acting CO, 399th BS
PRINCE OF TUSCANY, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with ball turret guns inoperable, wing root damage to both wings and no casualties.
The Prince enjoyed being in a mass formation of bombers today. It seemed that every time fighters would approach the formation, they would pick out other targets. We engaged no enemy fighters inbound to Villaorba.
Over Villaorba, we found the flak to be fairly effective. The Germans seemed to have the range today. We had 2 close bursts in quick succession. Luckily it was mostly superficial damage - the exception being a big chunk of shrapnel at the base of the port wing and damage to the rotating mechanism of the ball turret, rendering the guns ineffective. Sgt. Snow was not harmed.
Despite poor weather, 2nd Lt. Schnieder was able to put the bombs on target (30%) and cause significant damage to the hanger area.
The return trip was moderately quiet. We saw a few fighters, but the encounters were brief. The Prince dished out little damage (not for lack of trying) and the ME's were not able to land any significant blows.
-1st Lt. Frank Marion, Pilot, Prince of Tuscany
MISSY MOUSE, lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with very little damage and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Virgil (later confirmed by S-2).
This mission was a resounding success for my crew. We hit the target with about 60% of our bombs despite the bad weather and the best efforts of enemy fighters. We shot down or damaged 5 enemy aircraft and returned to base with very little damage and no casualties. Well done boys!
- 1st Lt. Jerry Elston, Pilot, Missy Mouse
RAID HOT MAMA, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Dropped out of formation after bomb run and returned to base alone with the starboard cheek gun, bomb controls, tail oxygen knocked out, damage to the rudder and port tail-plane roots, superficial damage to the Pilot compartment, nose, bomb bay and waist sections. (102 damage pts). 1 casualty. Claims: 2 ME-109s by SSgt. Fargo, 1 ME-109 each by 2nd Lt. Demarco and Sgt. Thompson (one of SSgt. Fargo's ME-109 was later confirmed by S-2).
Our take off was uneventful and so was the flight until we were half-way to the target. The enemy fighters appeared our escorts provided good cover but several Jerries managed to break through. We managed to damage one ME-109 (FCA) and SSgt. Fargo destroyed ME-109 before before the others could hit us. The damaged fighters failed to press home his attack.
Later we were attacked again but the defensive fire from our formation kept the fights out of range.
Over the target we were attacked by fighters again, despite the bad weather. Our escorts drove off three FW-190s. One made an attack from 3 o'clock low and was hit by Sgt. Goyer (FCA) but he pressed home his attack. The FW-190 caused superficial damage to the nose, bomb bay door and waist. In addition our bomb controls and oxygen in the tail were knocked out. Sgt. Thompson reported a hit to the tail rudder. A lone ME-109 came in from 12 o'clock high and SSgt. Fargo made short work of him.
Flak over the target was accurate with two hits to our plane. One struck the nose injuring Lt. DeMarco in the left foot and the other caused minor damage in the waist. The damage to the bomb controls and the injury to Lt. DeMarco caused our bombs to fall out side the target area.
We were forced to drop out of formations after the bomb run. Shortly after leaving the target we were jumped by another group of ME-109s. Lt. Jacob damaged one (FCA), Sgt. Goyer drove another off (FBOA) and Lt. DeMarco destroyed the other.
About an hour later we were attacked again by 3 ME-109s, Sgt Thompson got his first kill as one tried to come in from 6 o'clock and Sgt. Goyer damaged another (FCA). We were struck again by flak before leaving the coast suffering minor damage to the nose, pilot compartment and a hit to the port tail plane root.
The remainder of our flight occurred with out any additional attacks. After landing I spoke with the flight surgeon and he said Lt. DeMarco was lucky and would be returning to duty and a few days.
- 1st Lt. Art DiFilippo, Pilot, Texas Thunder
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 0%. Retuned with numerous holes throughout the ship (15 superficial hits) and no major system damage and 4 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109s apiece by SSgt. Rance and Sgt. Wapram (Sgt. Wapram's ME-109 was later confirmed by S-2).
We formed at the end of the low squadron. On the way to the target we saw some FW-190s a couple of times but they didn't approach close enough to be a threat. When we reached the target airfield squadron of FWs attacked. The shells rattled on both of our wings but luckily nothing was damaged (6 superficial hits).
Flak was much heavier than last mission. As they exploded very closely, clouds of metal covered our plane. From the front and the rear we heard the screams. There were nobody conscious in the nose section in time to make a bomb run and we dropped bombs far from the target area.
The FWs showed up again and only 7 of us survived the thunderstorm of bullets. Lts. Di'Anno & Bailey and Sgt. Parsons didn't make it.
The plane was so full of holes that we all prayed it did not fall apart before we reached base. Luckily, we landed safely with almost no ammo. Sgt. Dennis Stratton will be going home after he recovers. This evening in the hospital he started talking that the Midnight Express is the cursed plane that kills the people but keeps its mechanical parts intact. (15 superficial hits - no mechanisms damaged, 4 crew unfit for duty).
- 1st Lt. Paul Day, Pilot, Midnight Express
Return to Sterparone Field