MISSION 28 - Klagenfurt AARs
316th BS (Lead)
FULL HOUSE, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with minor damage to the port wing, port aileron, nose & radio room sections and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by MSgt. Miller.
The outbound trip was smooth and uneventful. The heavy clouds over the target area must have prevented our escorts from rendezvousing with us as we didn't see a single friendly fighter on this entire mission.
Over the target, 5 enemy aircraft attacked, a mixed force of FW-190s, ME-109s & ME-110s, of which 4 missed hitting us. An FW-190 from 12 o'clock high hit the nose compartment, lightly wounding Lt. Forrest in the right calf and a 13mm bullet struck Lt. Penny, our navigator, in the head. Luckily, Lt. Penny was wearing his steel helmet which deflected the bullet and saved his life. One of the FWs made another pass but MSgt. Miller sent him away with major damage.
Flak light as expected but unbelievably effective as a burst exploded off our port wing but it didn't cause any major damage, just some holes in the port wing, the aileron and to the radio room. The target was almost obscured by the clouds and Lt. Forrest did his best to place the bombs on the IP but it is unknown if he hit anything.
After the group left the target area, more enemy aircraft attacked, this time 4 ME-109s. Our defensive fire shot down one, by MSgt. Miller, and damaged two other that spoiled their aim but the fourth one hit the radio room but luckily it barely missed hitting the radio operator, TSgt. Moore. Just seconds before, TSgt. Moore had just moved from his location when a 20mm shell entered the compartment and hit the area where he had just stood. That 109 made another pass from 9 o'clock high but the port gunner, Sgt. Fuller, damaged it and it was last seen diving away below.
No further enemy attacks occurred once the group reached the coastline, making the return trip routine. Upon reaching the base, the weather was bad, very bad, but our landing went without incident.
- Maj. Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House II
SATIN DOLL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by MSgt. Turner & Sgt. Blankenship.
Satin Doll came through her second trip to Klagenfurt unscathed. We encountered our first E/A about 75 miles out. We damaged 2 of the FWs and the third was plastered by a P-38.
A short while later, another gaggle of three FWs came at us. This time the escort scored two and PeeWee drilled the one on our tail, sending him down in a flaming mass of battered metal.
Things were quiet for us until we neared the target where two ME-110s tried to get at us. PeeWee peppered the one at 6 level, and sent him off trailing smoke from his starboard engine. Billy Boy Blankenship called in that he had blown the cockpit out of the one at 9 low with the ball turret guns, and that he was going down spinning out of control.
The flak was light and ineffective, owing to the lousy weather I guess, and we made the run without a scratch. Steve Douglas was back onboard making his second trip to Klagenfurt with us. Somehow he managed to put 20% of the load onto the airfield through the heavy undercast.
We encountered no further E/A on the trip back, and despite the soupy conditions, made a reasonable landing.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
LUCKY PENNY, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with port wing flap inoperable, superficial damage to the waist section and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Watkins and 1 ME-109 by Capt. Hamilton.
No sign of enemy as we flew in and out of heavy cloud cover until we reached the northern coast of Italy (zone 4). One lone ME-109 came at us from the 12 o'clock but was killed by the Navigator.
As we came over target, 4 FW-190's came at us round the clock (12, 3, 9, & 6). The starboard waist guns got one of them, one missed us, the radio room guns damaged one but he managed to hit the port wing and wounded the tail gunner in the left shoulder before flying off trailing smoke. The last one put superficial damage to waist area.
Flak was light and just a little bumpy but no damage. Due to weather - thick clouds and slight wind - bombs were off target.
As we headed for home we encountered no other enemy fighters and landed successfully.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
OLD YARD DOG, second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with #3 engine feathered, tail guns destroyed, superficial damage to the starboard wing, to the nose, waist and tail sections and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Lt. Bonner.
The weather was horrible for this mission. I will be surprised if anyone hits anything. It was like pea soup out there. Whose bright idea was it to fly today anyway?
The takeoff went well and the form up was done as ordered. We settled in the middle squadron as deputy lead. We didn't see any friendly fighters or enemy aircraft until we were at the IP. A lone 109 jumped us but my engineer sent it away smoking for its trouble.
Flak was light but we did get a big bang in the tail right before bombs away. Sgt. Beasley in the tail reported nothing looked lost or loose so we kept flying. Having a veteran bombardier on missions like this makes it at least a little worth while. Lt. Wiggins dropped them true even though we were bounced by the flak hit and the sky was so overcast (After mission results put us at 20% on target).
We turned for home and everything was still going well. Then four 190s came from forward and starboard of us. Lt. Bonner shot down one of the jokers with a solid burst from the cheek guns. The ball gunner can confirm the enemy aircraft coming apart as it fell to earth. But the rest avenged their friend. Our tail guns were blown away and we took superficial hits in the nose, waist, and starboard wing. Coming back around they got hits on our #3 engine and it quickly went into the red zone and we had to shut it down. It feathered so we stayed with the formation trailing smoke. We were worried on the way home as we were trailing smoke just asking the Krauts to come hunting for us but we didn't see any more from then on.
Landing was tough trying to get everything lined up but once we started down everything went smooth as silk.
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
DARLA'S BITE II, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with ball turret guns knocked out, the starboard waist gun jammed, damage to the rudder root, and other superficial holes (51 pts. on Peckham Chart). No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by Sgts. Albers & Andrew (Andrew's claim was later confirmed by S-2).
Due to weather conditions we were delayed over an hour from takeoff. When we were able to get off the ground we headed out for Austria.
About two hundred miles out we came across four ME-109s. The weather prevented our little friends from rendezvousing with us so we had to contend with these fighters on our own. Weber and Thorne teamed up to smoke (FBOA-2) the enemy aircraft coming in from 12 o'clock high. This Jerry was trailing smoke and flames as Andrews finished of the job. The ME-109 coming in from 9 o'clock was chased away from attacking as Wakefield filled the skies with lead (FBOWA). The third enemy, what seamed to be a green pilot, was shot down by Albers. Sam said this guy was so locked in to aiming he flew straight at him. The fourth ME-109 snuck through to hit the rudder and take out Albers' guns. On his return Thorne convinced him to miss (FCA-1).
We did not see any other fighters till the target when two FW-190s made a half-hearted attack. Thorne and Andrew damaged each plane as they swung by.
Flak was light, yet one burst found its way to our tail. Even though it only did superficial damage, it was enough to knock the plane as Thorne released our eggs. Albers and Andrew both believe we were off target. This is hard to confirm as clouds obscured their view of the target.
With our job for Uncle Sam done we turned for home. We only encountered three Me 109s about 100 miles from home. These came out of a cloud bank and surprised out gunners. As none of our gunners were even close to hitting any of their fighters. Luckily two of them were off the mark and missed us. The one that did hit us only hit none vital areas. His second attempt was for show as he hurried to find where his wing mates went to.
Landing we fun but safe in the Italian soup, hopefully this stuff will blow over or we can stay home. With the clouds so close to us, it was like flying blind. Don't think this type of mission is worth the government's money, or our lives.
We saw a total of 13 enemy aircraft, with two claims, Sgt. Andrew - 1 ME-109 destroyed & Sgt. Ambers - 1 ME-109 Destroyed.
- 2nd Lt. Don Beckett, Pilot, Darla's Bite II
WICKED WAYS, second flight, left wingman
Runway abort. Did not take off or form up.
RETURN TO SENDER, third flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard wing root hits (2), damaged rudder, superficial hit to starboard wing (75 damage points) and no casualties. Claims: SSgt. Desjardin and Sgt. Martinelli.
We were attacked by 4 ME-109s about 50 miles out from base. Two were driven off by our fighter coverage, and 1 was shot down by SSgt. Edward Desjardin. The last ME-109 was not able to hit us.
About 50 miles outside of Klagenfurt, we encountered 2 FW-190s; both of them were taken care of by our escorts.
Over the target, Wicked Ways and Darla's Bite II took care of any fighters that got near us. The fact that we did not encounter any fighters over the target combined with the fact that we were not hit by any flak enabled our Bombardier to put 30% of our payload on target.
As we turned for home, we were jumped by 3 FW-190s. One was driven off by our escort and 1 missed us completely. The third fighter put several holes in the plane. However, he got too greedy, and one of our replacements, Sgt. Martinelli, was able to make him pay for his mistake.
After that, no further enemy fighters were encountered. In spite of the thick cloud cover over the airfield, I was able to set Return to Sender down smoothly.
- 2nd Lt. Billy A. Folse, Pilot, Return to Sender
399th BS (Lead)
RAID HOT MAMA, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with rafts
starboard wing root damaged, and superficial damage to the tail (61 pts. on
Peckham Chart) . No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-110 by Sgt.
. No casualties. Claims: 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Thompson.
Mission Description: The heavy weather made the Groups forming up a challenge. We encountered our first enemy fighters over the water before reaching Yugoslavia. Defensive fire from our formation kept the fighters out of range.
About 100 miles from the target finally met our escorts and they drove off several Jerry fighters. Two made a pass at us and Sgt. Thompson destroyed an ME-110 coming in from 6 o'clock low. SSgt. Fargo drove off an FW-190 (FCA).
When we reached the target, flak was light and ineffective. Lt. Phelps found a hole in the cloud cover and was able to bomb the target (40%).
After leaving the target we were jumped by three FW-190s. SSgt. Fargo managed to damage one (FCA) and spoil his attack run. Sgt. Thompson caused heavy damage to another FW-190 (FBOA). The last one came at us from 9 o'clock high and hit the tail in the rudder, starboard wing root and destroyed the life raft in the bomb bay. They decided to leave us alone after that.
The remainder of the flight home was uneventful.
We saw a total of 9 enemy aircraft.
- 1st Lt. Art DeFilippo, Pilot, Raid on Mama
317th BS (HIGH)
SILVER SPOON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with minor damage to the port wing, rudder and no casualties..
Not a whole helluva lot to write home about, to be honest. We didn’t see any Kraut fighters, thanks to our fighter jocks. They seemed to be buzzing around the lower squadrons and left us alone. We were told the flak would be light, and it was. One little gunnery officer must have had his porridge this morning, though, 'cuz he had his boys zero in on us! We took a few hits to the port wing and rudder, just enough of an irritation to our bombardier, who puts his eggs wide of the target. We had a pleasant flight back, which was great after the problems we had trying to get airborne for the last mission.
- Maj. Neil Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon
DARKWATCH, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port wing
fuel tank leaking, #1 engine, starboard wing aileron, ball turret heat and
rotation mechanism all inoperable. Damage to the rudder, control cables, and
Pilots' Compartment windows. Superficial damage to to both wings,
bomb bay, tail, nose, and radio room compartments. 5 Casualties & 1 case
of frostbite. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by SSgt. Poulous & Sgt. Moore, and 1
ME-109 by Sgt. Kalinski.
It took some time, but Abernathy is finally “one of us.” He’s overcome his early trouble with the bomb toggle to become a crew favorite, and scoring an Air Medal for his work over Pisa was like the cherry on top. The Darkwatch crew has an inferiority complex – they’re convinced they’ve been unfairly passed over for medals and promotions (that I won’t file papers or toot our horn with HQ doesn’t help, but that’s a different story). Anyway, with his shiny new medal, Abernathy has become star citizen, valued crewmember, and ship mascot all in one. And to think that a week ago I couldn’t remember his name.
It’s good that Abernathy has become a familiar face. There are precious few of those these days. Only Ulm, in my co-pilot’s seat, remains from the original crew. We’re less than half way through our tour and we’re down to two guys. The other night Ulm started to say something about how if we were in the 8th Air Force we’d be three missions away from going home, but I cut him off quick. There’s no damn good at all can come from that line of thought.
They say we have it easier here in Italy but you couldn’t tell by this mission. Seems like we were hardly wheels up before we got hit by four FW-190s, coming in from every point on the compass. Moore shredded one from the ball but the other three got a clean run at us. We took a whack of superficial damage from one of the bandits, but then Poulous got him on the return pass.
Caught our breath, and got jumped by four more FWs. P-38s drove off one of them, but we suffered walking hits from one on our six, which put a bunch of holes in us and hit both my new guys in the waist (Kalinski and Bellamy, both on their first mission in the Darkwatch, poor kids). I sent LaGrasta back from the radio room to cover the starboard waist.
The pea soup over the target didn’t help us out. Four more FWs found us easy enough. Fortunately, they were content to flash their guns and then vanish into the murk.
Flak was no factor. Bomb run was off target, and whoever the genius was that sent us up in this mess really should have his head examined. We were flying blind in that weather. Four ME-109s found us as we turned for home. One tagged us in the port wing inboard fuel tank, and then our lives got real interesting. I saw a spark near the tank and I thought we were going to catch fire, but I clutched one of my lucky rabbit’s foots and was actually relieved to see fuel leaking from the tank instead. The leak didn’t look too bad, and I figured we could make it home, although it would be close. The Messerschmidt came back for more but Poulous dusted him, saving our lives for about the thousandth time since he joined the crew.
But we were a long way from safety. Three FWs came right up behind those Messerschmidts and they hit us coming and going. That’s when our port wing #1 engine went out (fortunately we got the prop feathered right away). It must have been about then that our waist got shot up again, killing my already-wounded waist gunners, along with LaGrasta, who was back there from the radio room trying to help.
Now the FWs smelled blood. They knifed through our reduced fire and hit us again from six and three o’clock. Abernathy earned a purple heart to go with his new Air Medal, and Dennis caught a bad one.
We cleared the bad weather zone and had time to think for a second. Moore reported in from the ball that his turret was inoperable and his heat was out. I knew there was no way we could survive being out of formation with so many crew killed or wounded, so I told Moore he’d have to tough it out – there was no way I could take us down below 20,000 feet.
Moore would get frostbite on the way home, but he’ll fly again. Others of my crew were not so lucky. Kalinksi, Bellamy, and LaGrasta all bought it. Dennis astounded everyone with a rapid recovery from his serious wound. And once again, I didn’t get a damn scratch.
But we were lucky – darn lucky – that we didn’t see any bandits on the way home. Low on ammo and with so many guns silent, I wouldn’t have liked our chances.
Landing was a white knuckle affair with bad visibility and my fuel light glowing. But it’s hard to cry for sympathy when you’re landing with a ship-full of casualties. All this in the name of flying into a weather front to scatter our bombs approximately nowhere. FUBAR.
- Capt. Paul O'Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch
CARDINAL EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with minor damage to the waist section and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by TSgt. Fowler (later confirmed by S-2).
I returned to the Express today after a much needed day off to find her decorated with various lucky charms the crew has been collecting. I personally like the some of the pictures the men have been collecting of some of their favorite ladies. I’ve got a very superstitious bunch and am all for anything that keeps the moral positive.
We could tell early on we would need some luck today because the weather was atrocious!!! We ran into a couple of planes on the way out. One was chased away while the other was totally chewed up by our radioman. I now have one of the cockiest radio operators in the whole theatre.
The weather was awful as we entered the drop zone. The flak was nearly non-existent and I have no idea where our bombs landed. I can tell you they didn’t land where we intended them too.
So we turned the Express around and made our way back to Steparone. It seams as if we saw enemy fighters the rest of the way home. We managed to damage two, but they both got away. We were damaged by a couple ourselves. With the exception of our starboard waist gunner’s busted up shoulder, all the damage to the plane was very light. The rest of the sorry German fighters were either bad shots or couldn’t stand the heat from our little friends. We landed the plane safely and are all looking forward to the weather clearing.
- Capt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express
DIVINE WIND, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 75%. Returned with superficial damage to the bomb bay area and no casualties.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About one hundred 100 miles from Sterparone Field we were attacked by three (3) FW-190s coming in from 12 high, 12 low, and 1:30 level. One fighter was driven off by fighters from the 1st Fighter group while the other two missed the plane and were driven off by a combination of machine gun fire from the formation and fighter cover.
About fifty (50) miles from target we were attacked again by three (3) FW-190s coming in from 12 high, 12 low, and 1:30 level. One was driven off by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group. The one that came in from 1:30 was lightly damaged by the Navigator (2nd Lt. Fujimoto) which caused it to miss our plane and not return. The other from 12 low missed the plane and didn’t return.
We encountered very light flak which didn’t hit the plane. The bombardier, 2nd Lt. Nakahiro, caught a break in the clouds over the target and was able to put 75% of the bomb load on target.
On the turn around, boggies were spotted at 1:30 level but were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomber formation before they were able to attack.
About one hundred (100) miles from target we were attacked in two waves. The first consisted of one (1) FW-190 coming in down in a VERTICAL DIVE. The top turret manned by SSGT. Shimizu was able to damage the fighter before it was able to attack and it didn’t return.
The second wave consisted of four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12 low, level, high, and 6 low. Two fighters were driven off by fighters of the 82nd Fighter Group and didn’t return. The one from 12 high was heavily damaged by SSGT. Shimizu and caused it to miss the plane and it did not return. The one coming in from 12 low was able to hit the plane once in the bomb bay area causing superficial damage to the area. When the plane coming passed the plane, the tail gunner (Sgt. Sakaue) was able to hit the plane and caused light damage on it. The plane returned at 3 level and it was damaged by SGT. Hanano manning the starboard waist gun. This plane to miss the bomber and fled the area.
About one hundred (100) miles from Sterparone Field, we were again attack by four (4) FW-190s coming in from 12 level, 3 high, 6 high, and in a VERTICAL DIVE. Two of the fighters were driven off by fighters of the 82nd Fighter Group. The one coming in on a VERTICAL DIVE was lightly damaged and missed the plane and few off. The one coming in from 12 level missed the plane; both e/a did not return.
We reached Sterparone Field and landed without any problems.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
ISLE OF R'LYEH, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 75%. Returned with port wing
landing gear out, damage to port tail plane and rudder, port wind flaps
inoperable, and radio knocked out. There was damage to the underbelly of
plane on landing including extensive damage to ball turret, due to landing gear
failure. There were also 8 superficial hits which caused no significant
damage. Four casualties. Claims: 2 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Sgt.
Adverse weather conditions made our take off and forming up with the squadron extremely difficult. The strong winds and pelting rain kept the plane jostling and made for very poor visibility. It did not take long for some of the men to start complaining about air sickness and I had to keep on them to stay focused on their jobs.
The weather started to clear up shortly after we left land and were over the Adriatic. We were almost immediately jumped by four 109s. Our little friends managed to drive two of them off but our gunners were unable to fend off the two remaining enemy fighters and they proceeded to tear into the plane. Lt. Winland was hit in the belly by a 109 coming at us from 12 o'clock low and our radio was knocked out by the other fighter.
After the two Messerschmitts were gone I ordered Lt. Lawson to replace Kenny at the Navigator's post. Radioman Brown tried to make Ken as comfortable as he could and dosed him up with quite a bit of morphine, as he was still conscious and in considerable pain.
We were next attacked by a lone FW-190 after crossing over to Yugoslavia. He managed to get by our gunners and damage our plane, knocking out our port wing flap. Sgt. Densmore managed to shoot him down after he passed over the plane and flew behind us.
Over Austria we were jumped by 4 more 109s. The crews' gunnery was pretty poor, except for Sgt. Densmore, who scored another kill for the day. One of the 109s hit SSgt. Lewis in chest. We also suffered multiple hits that caused no real damage to the aircraft. I ordered Sgt. Brown to take over the top turret.
Flak was very light over Klagenfurt and did not cause us any trouble. The weather however was terrible. Visibility was extremely low and Lt. Highsmith said he was having trouble sighting in on the target. In the end he managed to put most of our bombs onto the target despite the weather.
As we turned to head home we were attacked by 5 FW-190s. Our little friends again came to our rescue and managed to drive two off. One was shot down by Briggs in the tail bringing his total to three kills today. Another hit us in the waist, wounding Sgt. Atwood with a graze to the left arm and Sgt. Rondina in the left shoulder, putting him out of action. Another 190 also damaged our port wing landing gear, preventing us from being able to lower it.
After the remaining 190s had left the rest of the flight was uneventful, except that SSgt. Lewis bled out and died from his wounds before we could make it back to base.
The weather over the base was even worse than when we had left. With one landing gear out I had the crew assume crash positions and we went in. I had Jeff back in his co-pilot seat to assist me in the landing. We were both able to keep her steady as we landed and were able to keep the aircraft upright for most of it. When she finally tilted to her port side and the wing hit runaway there was a terrible screeching and grinding side. The plane began to turn to the left, but managed to stay upright. There was a great crashing sound as the ball turret was partially crushed. The boys kept their cool throughout though.
Lt. Winland died of his wounds that evening and Sgt. Rondina's wound was too great for him to continue, so he will be going home.
- 1st Lt. Clay, Pilot, Isle of R'lyeh
399th BS (HIGH)
PRINCE OF TUSCANY, second flight, left aircraft
Shot down by enemy fighters over Yugoslavia (zone 4 outbound). No survivors. Claims: 1 FW-190 shot down, 1 FW-190 damaged.
Shortly after making landfall, there was a break in the clouds. An entire flight of four FW-190s jumped the squadron, concentrating their fire on the AC 42-11849 (Prince of Tuscany). Using their height advantage, the enemy covered all angles of the planes. The aircrew of PoT was successfully defending themselves, scoring at least one kill, when the flight leader coming in from the 6 o’clock high position rolled down along the plane body and fired a long burst into the PoT’s body. The Prince of Tuscany was ripped by explosions, breaking apart immediately.
No chutes were seen.
- Gathered from witnesses in the 317th Bomb Squadron (Aircraft 42-11849 had been assigned to the 317th from the 399th for the mission)
FRISCO KID II, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Aircraft was shot down leaving target area by enemy fighters, approximately 5 miles SE of Klagenfurt. Eight men exited aircraft but only seven chutes seen.
'Shortly after the group turned around from the target to head back to base, it was attacked by a large formation of enemy a/c, mostly FW-190s, that overwhelmed the air cover provided by the Lightnings of the 82nd Fighter Group. Frisco Kid II (42-14198), leading a three-plane element of the 399th Bomb Squadron as part of the high squadron of the group, was seen to catch fire in the port wing, near the fuselage, She fell slowly out-of-formation, trailing smoke, seven parachutes were seen to open before the a/c burst into flames and plummeted to earth.'
-- From the 88th Bomb Group (H)'s official MACR of the Klagenfurt, Austria, mission, 31 January 1944.
RATS REVENGE, third flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Aircraft was shot down leaving target area by enemy fighters, approximately 8 miles SE of Klagenfurt. No survivors.
Rats Revenge was last seen sinking from formation shortly after the formation turned for home. Smoke was reportedly billowing from her waist section. Unconfirmed reports from deciphered German transmissions indicate that the Rats Revenge finally succumbed to enemy fire, and crashed, several hundred miles northwest of Sterparone Field. At this point all crew members are feared dead.
-- From the 88th Bomb Group (H)'s official MACR of the Klagenfurt, Austria, mission, 31 January 1944.
MISSY MOUSE, third flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with repairable damage and no casualties. Claims: 2 ME-109s & 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Virgil (later confirmed by S-2).
An Air Medal recommendation to SSgt. Virgil for shooting down five enemy aircraft in only three missions over enemy territory. A credit to the Air Gunners' School back in the States.
- 1st Lt. J.H. Elston, Pilot, Missy Mouse
318th BS (Low)
THOR, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Fell out-of-formation zone 4 inbound after losing Pilots' compartment oxygen system. Returned alone with Pilots' compartment oxygen system, top turret, and radio inoperable, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by TSgt. Duff; 1 FW-190 by Dave Tucker and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Mason (later confirmed by S-2).
Everything was normal until just before we crossed into Austria when we got jumped by four 190s. Dave Tucker got his 7th kill. Right after we crossed into Austria things got really bad. Just before we dropped bombs we were hit by three 190s. One killed our bombardier and wounded our navigator. The other two passed with no hits. Since we were so close to the target we decided to continue the run. Allen Duff (Radio operator) took over as the bombardier but he missed with the bombs.
Once we formed up for the return trip home we hit by four more 190s. One wounded Nick Lomelle (S. Waist Gunner). Once we got to Yugoslavia we got hit again by 190s. This time by three which took out Pilot Compartment's Oxygen and put Tom Anthony out of his misery. Right after we chased away the 190s we hit by 109s which took out our radio. Allen Duff, now manning the chin turret, got his first KIA by exploding a 109. Elliot Mason sent another 109 to his maker.
Just before we got home we were jumped by a single 190, thank god for the little angels keeping the others off our back. Allen Duff got his second KIA.
Our landing was without incident. I am sorry to say good-bye to Tom and Jerry. They had been with us almost since the beginning.
- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Thor
LONGHORN LADY, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned alone and out-of-formation with oxygen system inoperable, several fuselage hits and no casualties, Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Gumm.
Once over Yugoslavia we were jumped by four 190s. One of the 190s put some superficial hits to the radio room, while another 190 was destroyed by Sgt. Gumm (tail gunner). The others missed on their attacks.
There was light flak over the target and we did not receive any flak damage. The weather over the target was bad and our bomb run was off target. We only put 5% of the bombs in the target area.
We didn't run into any more enemy fighters until we got back over the water when we were jumped by three 190s. One of the 190s was damaged and another missed on his attack. The last 190 out some fuselage hits and knocked out our oxygen system. Due to the oxygen system being out, we had to drop below 10,000 feet for the rest of the short flight home. We had an uneventful landing back at the base.
- Capt. Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
EAT AT JOE'S, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned out-of-formation with the #4 Engine out and unfeathered; port wing outboard fuel tank holed (self-sealed) with some fire damage; Norden bomb sight & navigator's equipment destroyed; port elevator, starboard aileron inoperable, propeller feathering controls inoperable; navigator's heat out; partial damage (1 hit each) to control cables, pilot/copilot oxygen, rudder, port wing root; and numerous superficial hits to both wings, waist, bomb bay, and #3 engine. 4 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by Sgts. Linstrom & Burleson.
Well, when we got a bandit on our tail less than 100 miles out of the base, I knew it was going to be a long day. Our fighters chased him off, but we kept getting bounced by Germans all the way to the target. We had pretty good fighter support, but the Germans kept coming on, and some would get through our screens. They were all ME-109s at this point.
As we crossed over land, we got bounced by more fighters, and saw our first Wulfe for the day -- he waited 'til we were busy with a bunch of 109s, then came at us from straight over head. Sgt. Vandermere put enough lead in him to throw him off, and he left us alone, but we were already in trouble; one of the 109s destroyed our bombsight. As we were so close to the target, I decided to keep us with the formation.
Over the target, we picked up more 190s. Webster jammed his gun trying to hose down 3 high with fire, but he was able to fix it later, thankfully.
Flak was light, and very inaccurate, but Lieutenant Cochrane missed the target, owing to the weather, the loss of his bombsight, his inexperience, and the horrible weather.
Coming out of the target, things just kept getting worse. We were hounded by Germans in multiple waves. Featherstone got killed, and we just raked over and over by Wulfes. From here on it was all a blur -- at one point, we had guys calling out fighters from all over the place (5 190's from 12, 1:30, 3, 6, and 9 high!). Our port wing caught fire, and I had to dive out of formation to put out the fire. I lost the formation here, and was hoping to catch up, but then we took a hit to the #4 engine and lost that. That's when we discovered that our prop feathering controls were gone. The drag from the propeller kept me from catching the formation, and we were alone, though I did notice at least one other plane from our formation dropping out of formation around here. Somewhere in all this mess, Cochrane got killed. Poor guy, on his first mission; and Harrison got hit badly. Sgt. Linstrom managed to do some patch work, but he was so busy firing that he really couldn't do much to help.
As we neared the Adriatic, I remember Evans telling us that his heat was out; he was getting cold, so I took us down to 10,000 feet. By now, his navigational equipment had been destroyed, too, not that he had much opportunity to use it anyway. I did my best to avoid German planes and to give my guys good shooting angles, but it was tough, with that engine. Fortunately, we did get some support from the fighters while we were over the Adriatic. I don't know how we got home. I thought we were all going to die.
- 1st Lt. Joseph Delany, Pilot, Eat at Joe's
GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, Lead Aircraft
Did not bomb target. Aborted zone-2 outbound and returned alone out-of-formation with pilot and co-pilot heating system out, intercom out, tail-wheel damaged and no casualties.
Damn, right out of the gate we got jumped by four FW-190s. Friendly fighters chased off two bandits, and Joe Thompson (hoping to make ace status) shot up another, but we didn't see the guy diving from above and he plastered us from tip to tail. A few seconds after their second attempt and it was quiet again.
It didn't take long for Bill and I to know that our heat was knocked out but thankfully not much else. I'm no hero and the thought of continuing to Klagenfurt below 10,000 feet seemed foolhardy, especially in this weather. I had Andy tell the crew we were aborting (no intercom) and to keep their eyes peeled. Thankfully, the Germans didn't see us winging home alone and after a rougher than normal landing, we were the first ones back.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
DANGEROUS ENCOUNTER, second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Reached target area but fell out-of-formation when starboard outer wing tank caught fire from fighter attack. Jettisoned bomb load and returned home alone with port aileron inoperable, superficial damage to the port wing (4 hits), fuselage (3), tail (1), waist (1) sections, & 2 casualties. With the pilot dead, and the co-pilot seriously wounded, 7 men bailed out over the base and Lt. D. Catalano (bombardier and a flight school washout) successfully landed the plane in bad weather and saved the life of the co-pilot. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Lt. F. Catalano & 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Greenspoon.
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