MISSION 34 - KLAGENFURT AARs
399th BS (LEAD)
RAID HOT MAMA, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander
Jettison bombs in zone 4 prior to reaching target area to remain in formation. Returned with #2 engine, the starboard aileron and flaps inoperable, superficial damage both wings, to the nose, pilots' & tail compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Fargo (FW-190 claim later confirmed by S-2), 2 ME-109s by 2nd Lt. Jacobs, 1 ME-109 apiece by 1st Lt. DeMarco & Sgt. Curtis.
Well another mission as the group leader, the form up went well and out outbound leg was uneventful until we reached the Yugoslavian coast. Then we encountered enemy fighters, one was picked off by an escorting P-38. Four lined up for attack and SSgt. Jacob nailed a FW-190 coming in from 12 o'clock level. Two ME-109s made one pass with no damage, another damaged the starboard aileron as he came around for another pass Sgt. Curtis hammered him in the port wing until it separated.
After crossing the coast into Yugoslavia we came under attack again, 1st Lt. DeMarco poured heavy fire into an ME-109 coming in from 12 o'clock causing an engine fire and Sgt. Goyer reported it exploded when it passed below our aircraft. SSgt. Fargo damaged another ME-109 (FCA) throwing off the pilot's aim. The remaining fighter caused superficial damage to the nose, pilot compartment and knocked out the #2 engine which we were able to feather. Due to the #2 engine hit we were forced to jettison our bomb load to stay with the group. On his next pass he damaged the starboard wing flaps, he made one more pass but failed to hit anything.
As we approached the target we were attacked by another group of ME-109s coming in from the front. Lt. Jacob heavily damaged one (FBOA) and SSgt. Fargo destroyed another.
Flak was light over the target.
Upon leaving the target we encountered enemy fighters again. Four ME-109s came in from the front two were destroyed by Lt. Jacob and SSgt. Fargo. The others caused superficial damage to both wing and the tail. We suffered one more attack before reaching the coast, our fighter escorts stopped all but one and SSgt. Fargo killed the one that slipped by them.
The remainder of the trip home went without any
- Capt. Arthur DeFilippo, Pilot, Raid Hot Mama
LOUISIANA PIRATE, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #2 engine out, port waist, tail & ball guns inoperable, port landing gear brakes out, damage to the starboard wing root and to radio room oxygen system, numerous holes all over aircraft, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 shared by TSgt. Angelico & SSgt. Young and 1 ME-190 by Sgt. McDonough.
Pretty quiet until we got to the target. A couple Kraut planes dove on us from above on the way there, but neither did any damage and the first one got flamed real good by Young and Angelico.
Over the target, a couple 109s made a run at us from the front. One shot out the guns in the ball turret, and the other got nailed by McDonough as it flew past us over the tail.
Flak was light (though a couple bursts came close) and we hit the target and turned around. Another Kraut dove on us without effect, and it was quiet most of the way home.
Then all hell broke loose--a bunch of enemy aircraft broke through the fighter cover, and four of them came at us from all sides. They shot us up good, knocking out the tail guns (Bill was sore at that) and left waist gun, damaged the wings, knocked out the #2 engine. They also got the new navigator, Mager--pity that, it being his first mission and all. Drew got hit too, but the docs say he'll be okay. Young shot up one of the Krauts as they came back around, and they broke off.
We made it back safely, though the plane had trouble slowing down--I think they got one of the brakes. Pretty hairy.
-1st Lt. Richard Stevenson, Pilot, Louisiana Pirate
GOODBYE GIRL, lead flight, left wingman
Aborted mission over the Adriatic Sea (zone 3) due to lost of engine and radio room oxygen. Returned alone with 2 engines inoperable, port wing tank holed, radio room oxygen system, both elevators, port flaps, intercom, port landing gear brakes inoperable, damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, numerous holes to the port wing and fuselage, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by TSgt. Corey, Sgts. Fishback and Luft (Sgt. Fishback's claim later confirmed by S-2).
Take off and form up went without incident. Half-way to Yugoslavia we were hit by a group of 190s. They came at us from all sides and while Sgt. Fishback managed to down one of them; the rest raked our port wing and tail. We lost the #1 engine, port flaps, and oxygen in the tail. As they came back around Lt. Paxon managed to put a few rounds on one of the planes, driving him off but the others shot up the radio room and port wing. We lost the intercom, the oxygen system in the radio room, and the port aileron.
We had to abort the mission, we radioed Buckeye One, and dropped out of formation.
Almost immediately after turning for home we were hit by another group of 190s. They came at us from everywhere. Sgt. Corey downed one from the radio room, and Sgt. Luft got one from his waist position, but the other kept coming. They raked of tail and port wing repeatedly. Knocking out #2 engine, punching a slow leak into our port outside fuel tank, and taking out both elevators on the tail. On their last pass they shot up the radio room, hitting TSgt. Corey in the right leg.
On the landing approach the plane handled like a frying pan. I ended up bouncing it pretty hard on the landing and my crew chief says he's not sure whether or not I damaged something on the landing gear or not. His report will follow.
- 1st Lt. Herman Gordon, Pilot, Goodbye Girl
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned out of formation with tail compartment oxygen system damaged by fire, and jammed ball turret, minor superficial damage and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Rance.
It was still very early in the mission when first enemy fighters showed up. We came through unharmed and Sawyer claimed he damaged one ME-109.
The Klagenfurt Airfield must been caught unaware for when we arrived at the front of formation Germans were mostly still on the runway with couple of 110 in the air in the vertical climb and they didn't reach us in time.
Most of the flak guns were unmanned and we had an easy approach. I saw Raid Hot Mama and Louisiana Pirate making the bomb run in front of us and when our 3 planes passed over the airfield both main hangars were on fire. The Krauts realized that they would have nowhere to land because they attacked us with a new resolve which resulted in Lt. Wilcock being lightly wounded. Our ball gun jammed and we received minor hits but latter some lucky bastard hit our oxygen lines causing fire in the tail section. It looked scary for the moment but Sgt. Reitz put it out.
We returned out of formation but safely.
- 1st Lt. Paul M. Day, Pilot, Midnight Express
SNAKE BIT, second flight, left wingman
Shot down approaching target by enemy fighters. No survivors.
In what is seemingly becoming a regular occurrence in the 399th, 42-11855 was last seen during the final approach to Klagenfurt. A full flight of German Me 109s were engaged with the B-17 when she exploded, presumably from a hit by incendiaries on the bomb load. Needless to say, no chutes were seen.
SANTA's HENCHMEN, second flight, right aircraft
Developed oxygen system failure during formation over base. Aborted and returned to base.
318th BS (High)
THOR, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with auto-pilot and flap inoperable, 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. D. Tucker, 1 ME-110 by SSgt. J. Tucker.
The flight inbound to the target was okay until we entered Yugoslavia. It was there that four 109s jumped us. The end result was our port gunner, Elliot Mason was wounded (LW) and our autopilot was knock out completely. This was going to make the bombing run difficult.
Just before we got to the target a lone 110 came at us from below and Jeff Tucker got his second kill. And we did miss the target completely.
When we entered Yugoslavia we had a lone 190 come diving at us and Dave Tucker got his eighth kill. We then saw four 109s on the way home and they took out our flap controls but we still landed safely.
- Major Joe Smith, Pilot, Thor
GOLDEN SPIKE, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with damage to rudder and to the co-pilot's oxygen system. No casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Garbutt and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Gilbert.
It was a quiet flight. We didn't see our first fighters until the target zone. An FW-190 and a couple of ME-109s paid us a visit, but I don't think they liked the welcome we gave them. We shot down two of the bandits and their buddy did a roll and run to avoid our fire. The only hits we took came with a flak burst that did a little damage to the plane; nothing serious. We dropped a third on target and turned for home.
Four more Krauts made passes as we headed back to base. We damaged another FW-190 and they continued to miss us.
It was good day.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
THE BAWLMER EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with superficial damage to starboard wing and #3 engine, and no casualties. Claims: 2 ME-109s by 2nd Lt. Nestor (One of Nestor's claims was later confirmed by S-2).
This was a relatively easy mission for The Bawlmer Express. The only fighters to approach us on the outbound flight were driven off by our escorting P-38s and the other B-17s in our squadron. The light flak over Klagenfurt missed us completely, allowing our bombardier, Lt. Heim, to put 50% of the bomb load on target.
As we turned for home, we were jumped by a wave of four ME-109s. Three of them must have been green pilots, since they all missed on their initial pass and broke off their attack. The fourth managed to execute two passes from the 10:30 level position, scoring superficial damage to our starboard wing and #3 engine. After two unsuccessful attempts, 2nd Lt. Nestor finally managed to get a bead on him as the ME-109 tried a third attack from the same direction. A burst from the right cheek gun sent him spiraling down in flames.
Over the Adriatic, we were attacked by FW-190s and another group of 109s. Lt. Nestor racked up his second ME-109 of the mission, and the rest of our attackers were driven off by our returning escorts.
We landed at Streparone Field without any further problems.
-1st Lt. Mark Beyer, Pilot, The Bawlmer Express
LONGHORN LADY, second flight, lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with starboard inboard fuel tank leaking, bomb bay doors inoperable, and several holes in the fuselage. No casualties.
We ran into a 109 on the way to the target. The 109 missed on his attack, it was damaged during his pass.
Flak was light over the target and we were able to get 50% of the bombs on target.
On the way back to base we ran into a 190. The 190 was damaged during his pass while it damaged the starboard wing inboard fuel tank (leaking) and the bomb bay doors (inoperable). We also had several fuselage hits.
The landing was uneventful.
- Capt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
316th BS (High)
LUCKY SEVEN, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard aileron & starboard elevator inoperable, superficial damage to the nose compartment, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Rhodes, 1 FW-190 shared by SSgt. Rhodes and Sgt. Duffy, and 1 ME-110 shared by Sgts. Burroughs and Fidone.
First contact with the enemy was over the Adriatic Sea (zone 4). Our own ships drove of any opposition we might have had. We did take some fire from a 318th BS ship, I believe it was the Longhorn Lady.
We were jumped heavy in the target zone by a one wave of FW-190s and one of ME-109s. One of the FW-190s took out starboard aileron. As well, one 109 took out the starboard elevator.
Flak was very light and extremely inaccurate. Missing us completely. This didn't help our bombing accuracy any as again we were off target and Sgt. Burroughs witnessed the eggs missing the target totally.
The whole trip home we say enemy fighters. Luckily they were more interested in zooming through the formation than shooting us. That being said, SSgt. Rhodes did take a light wound to the hip on the trip back.
Landed without incident.
-1st Lt. James Jameson, Pilot, Lucky Seven
CABALLERO, second flight, left wingman
Developed engine failure during formation over base. Aborted and returned to base.
LUCKY NICKEL, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with starboard waist gun knocked out, radio shot up, rudder & starboard wing flap damaged, and no casualties. Claims: 2 ME-109s apiece by SSgt. Edmond & SSgt. Jenkins, 1 ME-109 by MSgt. Allison, and 1 FW-190 by TSgt. Dewes.
Mission was pretty quite until over target. We got shot up pretty bad by flak which seemed pretty light but they got our range putting metal into all parts of the plane. Flak knocked out one of the waist guns and on the return trip the enemy seemed to focus on that side of the plane. All gunners were almost out of ammo as we were hit by wave after wave of fighters in all zones on the return trip.
Friendly fighters and shots from other bombers drove away some of the fighters but over 12 got through, some with damage while others were dealt with by the crew.
I'm not sure what happened when as it all came so fast, one wave after another. We had over 6 kills and quite a few probables. Tail gunner almost ran out of ammo as well as the radio room, down to the last few belts. Anyway, we bombed the target but boy are we tired. Engine seemed to be acting sluggish too on the return trip so we may need to have it looked at.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel
SATIN DOLL, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Return without damage or casualties.
Once more, the Satin Doll came back from Klagenfurt unscathed. We encountered our first E/A crossing the Yugoslav border. The first wave of 3 ME-109s made a frontal attack. The two that got past the Lightnings, made a quick pass, missed us and broke off. Two FWs came in, also from the front, missed and broke for the deck.
Nearing the target, a lone 109 bore down on us in a vertical dive. Again our gunnery was lousy, but so was the Kraut's.
Steve Douglas seems to like bombing Klagenfurt. He's made three trips there with us and again he was on the mark, putting 20% of the load on target.
Just after the rally point, an FW made a diving pass on us. He must have been in a hurry, because he fired a quick ineffective burst, and broke away. We didn't draw any attention from the Krauts the rest of the way home and landed without incident.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
SHOO FLY, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with nose compartment heating system inoperable, starboard landing gear brake out, wing root damage to the starboard wing, superficial damage to the #3 Engine and 3 casualties and 2 cases of frostbite. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Folsom, 1 ME-109 apiece by Lt. Hamer, Sgts. Isaacson & Pulver.
317th BS (Low)
SILVER SPOON, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Fell out of formation after bomb run due to oxygen fire in cockpit. Returned alone out of formation with pilots' compartment oxygen system destroyed by fire, chin turret and port waist guns destroyed, rafts destroyed, superficial damage to the nose compartment, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by Capt. Blackmore and Sgt. Compton (Compton's claim later confirmed by S-2).
We were hit from everywhere when we got over the target. Jerries came at us from all angles. At one point I counted five of the little bastards zeroing in on us. They took out our nose guns and wounded Jim Blackmore in the nose compartment, so our bombs went well wide of the mark. Worse still, everything went up in flames around Sedgwick and I in the cockpit. Theyíd hit our oxygen bottles and we were forced to drop down to tree-top height after the rally point. We got hit by a bunch of 190s coming back, with the rudder and fuselage taking hits. We made it back, though, and thatís all that counts I guess.
- Major Neil Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon
MEMPHIS GAL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 10%. Returned with the port flap, both ailerons, port waist & port cheek guns inoperable, rudder damaged, numerous other holes throughout the ship, 3 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Lt. Nimble.
We were hit not long after we had formed up, a bunch of FW-190s penetrated our fighter cover and hit us from stem to stern. Lt. Goldberg, our bombardier, was killed outright by this first attack. We took a vote and decided to stay in formation and attempt to drop our bombs despite this setback.
We were hammered all the way to the target, our next casualties were the waist gunners, Knott and Barry, were both hit, with Knott being unable to man his gun due to his injury, though it didn't really matter since the German had destroyed his gun in the process along with our port cheek gun.
We made it through to the target and Nimble our navigator tried his hand at bomb aiming, with some success it seems and a lot of luck. Despite all the odds being stacked against us we managed to put 10% of our bombs on target.
Our arrival back at base was met with the now "usual" meat wagon's in attendance.
- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
DARKWATCH, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with #4 engine
& starboard aileron inoperable, damaged to the starboard wing root, superficial
damage to the radio room, #1 and # 3 engines, and no casualties. Claims: 2
FW-190s by SSgt. Poulous.
Used up one of my lucky charms (rabbit's foot), but we got home all right. Thought for a second a Focke-Wolfe was going to hit our fuel tank, but we were lucky to get off with only losing an engine. Aside from that bit of excitement, it was an uneventful mission, and we even managed to drop our bombs on the target for the first time in weeks. We enjoyed good support from the other ships in our formation, and our little friends were active on our behalf, as well. In all, a good team mission. Half way home . . .
- Capt. Paul O'Connor, Pilot, Darkwatch
BEDAMNED, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with tail guns inoperable, damage to the cockpit oxygen system and port aileron. 1 casualty. Claims: 3 FW-190s and 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Simons, and 1 ME-109 by Lt. Spratt.
Nothing much to write about. Got hit while over the Adriatic (zone 3) where the tail guns were taken out and the pilots' compartment oxygen got a ding; Spratt nailed a 109.
Over Yugoslavia, (zone 4) saw one lonely 109 which Simons blew apart; guess his silk elevator ride was even lonelier. A FW-190 then snuck in but Marconi freaked him out with a few slugs in his engine and he missed and buzzed off.
The target zone saw things get a little more interesting than previous missions. Miller winged a 190, Spratt damaged a 190 that then hit him in the gut. Simons got a 190 and dinged 2 more.
Flak was ineffective and Simons must have been really shook up. Pratt reckons that there was blood everywhere and that it was a miracle Spratt even managed to toggle the bomb release. I had Levine take over his guns to give him something to do other than wave at the Jerries.
Egress was where Simons showed just how damn good he is. Good thing too as Amoore had to drop to 10,000 and had us take over the squadron lead. He smoked 2 FW-190s and damaged a 109. The 109 did manage to hurt our port aileron but then it was pretty much a smooth ride home.
Landing was pretty good and the doc says that Spratt's gut shot was nowhere near as bad as we thought (Lucky charm used). He should be back with us pretty soon.
- Capt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, Bewitched
DIVINE WIND, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with main landing gear on the starboard wing inoperable, moderate damage to the rudder and Slight damage to the fuselage, nose and pilotsí compartments. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Shimizu.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
Two hundred (200) miles away from target boogies were spotted at 12 high but didnít attack. Another group of boogies were spotted at 9 level and were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group before they were able to get close enough to attack.
About seventy-five (75) miles from the target ONE (1) ME-109 attacked the plane from a VERTICAL DIVE. SSgt. Shimizu was able to hit the plane and cause heavy damage to the attacker before he was able to line up a shot. The ME-109 missed the plane and didnít return.
Over target we encountered light flak and did not receive any damage. 2nd Lt. Nakahiro was able to line up the plane over target and put 40% of the bomb load on the airfield.
On the turn back we encountered two waves. The first one consisting of three (3) ME-109s coming in from 12 high & level and from 1:30 level. The ones from 12 high and level missed the plane and didnít return. The other one was able to hit the plane four (4) times, twice (2) in the fuselage which was superficial in nature, once (1) in the nose and pilotsí compartments. The hits were also both superficial in nature. The plane returned at 12 high and was shot down by the flight engineer SSgt. Shimizu. The second wave was boogies spotted at 12:00HIGH and did not attack the formation.
About one hundred (100) miles from base we were again attacked by two waves. This time the first wave of two (2) ME-109s coming in from 12 and 10:30 level. One was driven off by fighters from the 14FG and didnít return, while the other one that came in from 12 level was damaged by SSgt. Shimizu which caused it to miss the bomber and it did not return. The other wave consisted of boggies coming in from 3 high and were driven off by both fighters and machine gun fire before they were able to mount an attack.
About seventy-five (75) miles away from base we encountered two waves. One wave of boggies, spotted at 6 level, was driven off. The second consisting of three (3) FW-190s coming in from 12, 1:30 and 3 high. Two were driven off by fighters from the 14th FG. The last one that came in from 12 high hit the plane once in the tail damaging the rudder. The plane returned at 12 high and again hit the plane, this time for three (3) hits, one each in the tail, pilotsí compartment, and the starboard wing. The tail hit again cause some damage to the rudder. The hit to the pilotsí compartment was superficial in nature and the hit to the starboard wing damaged the landing gear and made it inoperable for landing. The plane returned at 10:30 level and missed the plane because of the damaged caused by 1st. Lt. Muraki.
Fifty (50) miles away from base we encountered one (1) ME-109 coming in from 3 low but fighters from the 14th FG were able to chase the fighter away before it was able to attack our bomber.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without any problems.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
GOODNIGHT JOHN-BOY, (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Reached target but aircraft destroyed when bombs detonated from enemy aircraft fire. No survivors. Claims: 3 ME-109s destroyed and 2 FW-190s and 1 ME-109 damaged.
Return to Sterparone Field