MISSION 37 - WIENER-NEUSTADT AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
SILVER SPOON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard flaps inoperable and minor holes to the nose and pilots' compartments. 2 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Spofforth.
Things were pretty quiet all the way to the target, actually. Any Jerries that did turn up were driven off by our little friends. Flak looked worse than it was; concentrated, but high. Jim Blackmore put a good deal of our bombs on target, and soon after that the fighters came in. A coupla 190s and a 109 worked us over. The Major and Jim took hits, with the Major looking like he’d bought it. He was one lucky SOB, I can tell you! Anyhow, Fred came down out of the top turret and took over. He and Forrest managed to keep us level and in formation all the way home. We called for the meat wagon for the Major, but the medics tell us it looked far worse than it was.
- Capt. Charles Yablowski, Navigator, Silver Spoon
MEMPHIS GAL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with navigation instruments destroyed, port flaps and starboard elevators inoperable, port tail plane wing root damaged, port inboard fuel tank hit - self sealed, bomb-bay area hit, numerous superficial holes all over aircraft, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Lt. Silver, 1 ME-109 & 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Jacobs, and 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Mitchell.
Another rough one. We were bounced by innumerable German fighters. There were more FW-190s than I have ever seen before and the dreaded ME-110 also made an appearance. Roberto Almeda, our engineer, made a chilling discovery as he made his usual bomb-pin removal ritual . . . our bombs carried the scars of a German fighter attack, we had almost all been blown out of the sky. We lost another stalwart crew member today, Andrew Scott, our trusted radioman was hit badly, the Doctor's say he will never walk again. He will be sent home as soon as he is fit enough to travel . . .
Donald Tonkin, my ex-co-pilot, was right, it's only a matter of time before we all buy the farm. Out of the original crew sent from the States, only myself, Clark Nimble, the navigator, and Roberto Almeda, the engineer, remain.
Flak although heavy was inaccurate and gave us little grief. We dumped our bombs on target and made our weary way home without further incident.
- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
CARDINAL EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with damage to a wing root, other minor damage, and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Booth.
A pretty uneventful trip on way out until we were jumped by two 109s over Austria. One damaged our wing root but on the way back around we did significant damage to him.
We avoided a dose of flak and were able to unload 30% of our bombs in the vicinity of the target area.
We saw much more from the enemy on the way back. The only damage we took was very minor. We were able to shoot up one 190 very good. He eventually spun out of control. It looks like our top turret pounded him pretty good.
The mission quieted down as we got closer to home. We had a safe landing and the morale of the men seems to be upbeat.
- Capt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express
BEDAMNED, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Returned out of formation with bomb controls and port waist heating system inoperable, a few superficial holes, 4 casualties; needs the blood washed out. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Lt. Spratt, 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Simons & Sgt. Jackson.
This one was a dozy. Things were really quiet until we hit the target zone. We had 109s and 190s all over us like flies on dung. We didn’t take many hits going in but the boys got plenty on them. A number of Adolf’s sons were nursing battered planes home.
The flak took a chunk out of the tail and blew Jackson’s heat out. Spratt was shaken with the flak hit and dropped early. He still managed to get some of the eggs in the frying pan.
Egress was like landing in the middle of a Luftwaffe review. We had 3 waves of mixed Fockes and Messyschitts. Jackson got a 109 to make up for the fact that we were going to 10 thou to stop him from freezing his A** off. Simons got a 109. The rest of the guys just threw lead up and seemed to spook the Krauts off with a few probables and possibles. We were pretty uneventful ‘til we were almost home (zone 3). Some flak gunner did come close with some 40 mil just before Yugoslavian border near Graz (zone 5). Should tell the Intel boys about it.
We had 4 Fockes and a lone Messy bounce us over the Adriatic (zone 3). Spratt got a 190 off the nose but couldn’t stop his buddy stitching us from stem-to-stern. The bomb controls got taken (Spratt hadn’t got much decent use out of them anyway!), Roberts got hit in the face, Jackson and McMahon got splinters in their legs and Levine got it in the back. Simons really banged up another 190 and the others just kept flying and shooting and then broke off. Must have run out of ammo.
Landing was ok with Simons giving me a hand. The meat wagons did a good job getting the guys out and into the infirmary but it was too late for Eddie. Roberts died about an hour later on the table. Doc says the shell damage to his face had sent fragments into his brain. Just one of those things.
And then there were 5.
- Capt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, Bedamned
DIVINE WIND, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port aileron heavily damaged, the #4 engine was hit and damage appears to be light (will be checked by ground crew to determine actual damage), damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, superficial damage to the fuselage, nose area, starboard wing, and no casualties.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About one hundred (100) miles from target we encountered one (1) FW-190 coming in on a vertical dive. The plane missed our bomber and did not return.
About twenty-five (25) miles from target we were attacked by four (4) ME-109s. One plane was driven off by fighters from the 325th FG. One attacked from 9 high missed the bomber and was also driven off by fighters. Two came in from 12 and 3 high were able to hit the plane three times, twice in the starboard wing, once in the nose. The hit to the nose was superficial in nature, one hit to the starboard wing was superficial in nature while the other hit was to the #4 engine. The hit to the engine seemed superficial since all dials read normal. The two planes returned at 1:30 level and 12 high. Again both of these planes were able to hit the bomber three times, twice in the fuselage for superficial damage and once in the port wing where it damaged the port aileron so it was unusable. The fighter that came in from 12 high was hit as it passed by the tail gunner (Sgt. Sakaue) and did not return. The other plane was driven off by fighters of the 325th FG before it was able to shoot at the plane.
Over the target we encountered medium flak and encountered no hits. But because of the near misses and having to man machine guns just before we hit target, 2nd Lt. Nakahiro was not able to line up the plane over the aircraft factory. So NONE of the bombs hit the intended target.
On the turn-around from the target we were attacked by two waves of fighters. The first wave consisted of one (1) FW-190 coming in from 12 low and three (3) ME-109 coming in from head-on. The FW-190 was driven off by fighters from the 1st FG. The rest missed the bomber and were driven off by a combination of machine gun fire from the bomber formation and fighter cover. The second wave was boggies coming in from 10:30 level were driven off by fighters from the 1st FG before they reached the bomber squadron.
About one hundred (100) miles from base boggies were spotted coming in from 12 level and they were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group.
Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
DARKWATCH, second flight, right wingman
Unable to start #3 engine. Did not take off and participate in mission.
318th BS (Middle)
THOR, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with minor damage (51 Peckham pts) and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-110 by Sgt. J. Tucker.
The trip was not one of our good ones. We had three crew members wounded (LW), navigator, bombardier, and the ball turret gunner. Lucky for us we did at least hit the target for 40%.
- Major Joe Smith, Pilot, Thor
LONGHORN LADY, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with feathered #3 engine, auto-pilot inoperable and several fuselage hits. 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Gladson (later confirmed by S-2).
We ran into two 190s in the target zone. Both were damaged with one of the 190's wounding 2nd Lt. Bixler (light wound to right foot). Over the target area we did take a superficial hit to the port wing. The bomb run was off target, with 0% of the bombs in the target area.
Then we were attacked by three more 190s and one was destroyed by SSgt. Gladson, the others missed on their attacks. We were then jumped by four 109s. Two of the 109s were damaged and our auto pilot was knocked out from their attack. We faced one more attack, running into four more 109s. Two of the 109s were damaged. We had the # 3 Engine was knocked out (prop was feathered), the rest of the damage was superficial.
The landing was uneventful.
- Capt. Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
POETIC JUSTICE, third flight, right wingman
Shot down by direct flak hit to port wing. 1 survivor.
Based on reports from fighter pilots and crew of other aircraft, Poetic Justice suffered a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire, causing the port wing to separate from the fuselage and sending the aircraft into an uncontrolled spin. One chute was seen; all other crewmen are presumed dead.
399th BS (HIGH)
RAID HOT MAMA, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 96%. Returned with chin turret inoperable, superficial damage to port wing (2), radio room and cockpit, no casualties.
Take off and form up went well, we had a quite ride to the Yugoslavian coast. Then enemy fighters came out, but our escort did a wonderful job ensuring they were not able to attack our formation.
Upon reaching the target are the Germans made a real fuss. We were attacked by several enemy fighters resulting in minor damage to our aircraft. Sgt Blanchard manage to heavily damage (FBOA) an ME-109 and he left the fight trailing smoke.
Lt. DeMarco did us proud by placing almost all our bomb load on the target.
We were attacked once more prior to reaching the coast, one fight slipped past our escort and cause superficial damage to our radio room.
- Capt. Arthur DeFilippo, Pilot, Raid Hot Mama
LOUISIANA PIRATE, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with radio, port flaps, starboard elevator, starboard cheek gun, top turret inoperable, numerous holes all over aircraft, 3 wounded. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. MacDonough (later confirmed by S-2).
Another one that was pretty quiet until we were almost at the target zone. The formation did get attacked as we hit the Yugoslav coast, but none of the enemy attacked us personally. Once we crossed the border into Austria, though, we saw Kraut planes pretty constantly all the way over target and back. The 38s did a great job of keeping them off us, though--only a few attacked us on the run in, and they did little damage (one dove down on top of us and shot out the radio).
Flak was moderate, but didn't hit us. We got attacked by more Germans after we turned around from the target, but they didn't do much other than put some holes in us.
The trip back was also uneventful--once again, the formation was attacked, but not us--until we were almost home. Then a large number of 190s busted through the fighter cover and hit us hard. One of them raked our fuselage, shooting out the top turret and hurting Joe bad (doc says he got his ticket home). Dan and the new navigator also got hit, and we took some damage to the flying surfaces. McDonough flamed one of the bastards, and they left us alone after that.
So we made it back, shot full of holes and with three wounded.
-1st Lt. Rich Stevenson, Pilot, Louisiana Pirate
GOODBYE GIRL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Fell out of formation after bomb run and returned alone but aircraft was irreparably damaged due to hard landing when landing gear collapsed. 7 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by TSgt. Corey, 1 ME-109 apiece by Lt. Paxson, MSgt. Tracey, & Sgt. DeWolf (all ME-109 claims later confirmed).
The outbound leg of the mission was simply unforgiving.
As soon as we entered Yugoslavia we were hit by our first group of 109s. Three from our 12, and one from our 6. Sgt. DeWolf downed the one coming in on our 6, but the others made it in unscathed. They raked our port wing and nose, but did no real damage. When they came back around Lt. Paxson downed one, and the others missed us on their second pass. A second group of 109s was scattered by fire from the formation.
As soon as we neared the target we were hit by the first of three separate groups of fighters. The first group were 109s once again they came straight at us; MSgt. Tracey got one of them and Sgt. Fishback drove another off, and the other two were driven off by our escorts. The second group were 190s. Only one of them came at us directly, and he came at us from directly above. As he came in TSgt. Corey tore his wing off. They third group was mainly 190s. They came in from our 1-to-10. Sgt. Kollar shot up on coming in from our 10, but the others kept coming. They shot up our nose and my compartment. I got hit in my right arm and when I yelled at Lt. Speier to take the controls he didn't respond. I looked over and saw him slumped over in his seat. He took a round in the chest.
I called Sgt. Tracey out of the turret to get Speier out of the seat and do what he could for him. The 190s came back around and targeted my compartment again. Their aim was dead on. They shot up the control panel. My boys were calling out targets everywhere. The panicked shouts over the intercom were almost deafening, but after their third pass the voice of Sgt. Tracy cut through them with a single word, "FIRE! #3's on fire!", Tracey's voice was calm but concerned. Shut it down, and get that fire out, "Guys make sure your chutes are on tight, we might have to bail out", I ordered. Luckily the fire extinguishers worked and Sgt Tracey got the prop feathered.
FLAK over the target was thick, and on target. We took superficial hits to both wings, and nose. Other hits took a large chunk of our rudder and knocked the suit heaters out in the waist.
When I attempted to turn the controls over to Lt. Paxson for the bomb run we discovered that our auto-pilot was out. Our bomb run was off, and Paxson reported we missed the target completely.
Just after we turned for home we were forced to drop from the formation to keep my boys in the waist from getting frostbite. Once we made it down to 10,000 feet we were immediately hit by a group of 190s. They shot up our bomb bay, put several new holes in our starboard wing, and put several rounds into the waist. When they came back around they shot up my compartment. When I called out for the crew to check in; Sgts. Luft and Kollar failed to check in. Sgt. Fishback reported that Sgt Luft. was unconscious but alive, but Sgt. Kollar was dead.
I was about to order Lt. Paxson to go back and check on Sgt. Luft when we took a flak hit to the nose, wounding Lt. Paxson and Lt. Duggins. Thank God we made it the rest of the way back to base without further attacks because it might had been the end of us.
I did the best I could landing the plane, but we came in too hard. With one good arm and my engineer helping me fly, I couldn't make all of the last minute adjustments. The landing gear buckled when we hit the ground and while the plane is a total loss; none of my crew were injured further.
The doctor says the war is over for Lt. Speier and Sgt. Luft, they're headed home.
- 1st Lt. Gordon, Pilot, Goodbye Girl
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to both wings and 1 casualty.
Flight to target was pretty standard with one or two Krauts showing up but they didn't have the opportunity to close into attack position. When we reached the target group of fighters attacked. Some of them were wearing strange white blue tail marks and were quite good. We earned some holes in starboard wing and damaged one ME-109 (by Roberts).
Flak was quite heavy and the one exploding behind us in inappropriate moment made us miss the target -- Bombs went wide.
After we turned for home, one vertical climbing ME-109 knocked out one engine.
On the way back, we were harassed by an FW in a vertical dive but we returned safely. Mechanics found substantial numbers of holes near the fuel tanks. We were lucky this mission and the rudder needs serious repairs though.
- 1st Lt. Day, Pilot, Midnight Express
SANTA'S HENCHMEN, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with flap
control instruments, right cheek guns and tail guns inoperable; nose and pilot
compartments fire extinguishers, radio destroyed; damaged rudder and bombsight,
16 superficial hits, and 6 casualties.
Take off and assembly over the coast was routinely flown and it was a quiet flight until landfall east of Zara (zone 3). A seasoned ME-109 unit slipped through the fighter cover. Sgt. Jacobson hit a 109 from 6 low. His tracers threw the pilot's sight off and he missed us. He was chased by P-47s and driven off, as were the remaining two Krauts.
Over Maribor (zone 5)we met the Germans again, but they were all driven off.
We got safely through the flak and Lt. Archer hit the target.
After we had left the flak area and turned at the Rally Point, there was a big hole in the fighter cover and four 190s saw this opportunity and attacked from out of nowhere. Sergeant Ellsworth and Lt. Archer were killed during the first pass. Two of these jokers wouldn't leave us alone. They came around for two successive attacks, but one was finally shot down by a Lightning and the other driven off. After the last 190 had disappeared, blood was covering the floor of our plane. Two men killed and three wounded during this attack.
The ME-109 unit that attacked over Zara were waiting for us again. Sgts. Toby Lawson and Bert Jacobson had attended to the wounded men in the waist and were now manning a machine gun each. We had expected another heavy fight, but the bandits were not coordinated in their attacks and made only one pass before the left us. Thought we saw one being shot down by the Lightnings.
- 1st Lt. Leo Hoffman, Pilot, Santa's Henchmen
THE PUTRID POTATO, second flight, right wingman
Aircraft ran off runway into mud during taxiing out. Did not take off and participate in mission.
318th BS (High)
GOLDEN SPIKE, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Fell out of formation due to wind-milling propeller after bombing target and returned alone with #1 engine, intercom, oxygen systems, port flaps and ailerons inoperable, damage to the rudder and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Lt. Thompson, 1 ME-109 by Lt. Lawton, and 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Turner.
We earned our pay today. The inbound trip was easy enough. Even though we were attacked by five waves in the last 100 miles, we had effective fighter protection and Jerry couldn't hit us if he tried. The crew claimed a couple bandits and three more were damaged. After several easy missions we were feeling pretty confident until our port wing took a flak hit. We were able to shut down our number one engine but the damn thing wouldn't feather. It felt like someone had thrown out an anchor.
We had an accurate drop in spite of the flak hit, but our slow speed necessitated we fall out of formation. Alone, the Krauts came at us over and over again. We had five waves attack us over Austria. Initially we flew straight and level in order to give our gunners (including two aces) a stable platform, but when we lost our intercom system we started evasive action. The plane took numerous hits but the crew managed to avoid injury as we crawled towards the Yugoslavian border.
There we suffered repeated attacks from three more waves including an ME-110 flown by an ace. He managed to walk hits from tail to tip. That attack knocked out the oxygen system and seriously wounded Sgt. Stolberg (one of the original crew). After making three passes he returned to his base, no doubt cursing our good luck. Dropping to below 10,000 we could see water ahead and we began to think we just might make it.
By the time we crossed over the Adriatic the nose and top turret guns had run out of ammo, but so close to base we were thinking the worst was over. Suddenly four FW-190s and an ME-109 surrounded us. Once again some little buddies chased a couple away, but only our small guns were able to fire at the approaching bandits. Other than evasive flying we were pretty helpless. With tremendous luck Lt. Lawton managed to down the ME-109 using area spray fire from the starboard cheek gun, and with the constant dives and jinks we avoided any serious damage save a light wound for Lt. Dean.
It felt like an eternity, but eventually the Germans left us alone and we were once again over friendly territory. After landing, an ambulance took Sgt. Stolberg to the hospital where he should recover from his wound. Thank God for answered prayers -- were safe and the crew is happy Sgt. Stolberg will be heading Stateside to see his family. He's done his share for this mans army, and then some, but that leaves only four of the original crew and several more missions
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
DANGEROUS ENCOUNTER II, third flight, right wingman
#1 Engine developed oil pressure leak. Did not take off and participate in mission.
THE BAWLMER EXPRESS, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with ball turret mechanism inoperable, medium damage to starboard waist area, superficial damage to pilots' compartment and starboard wing, 2 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Schreiber.
This was definitely not a "lucky seven" mission for The Bawlmer Express. We were attacked almost continuously all the way to the target by alternating waves of FW-190s and ME-109s. Most of the hits scored against us by the fighters caused only superficial damage, although my co-pilot was slightly wounded by one pass. SSgt. Schreiber claimed an ME-109 destroyed.
Most of our damage occurred from three flak hits over the target . A piece of shrapnel from the first shell jammed our ball turret, while miraculously missing Sgt. Winter. Sgt. Cox in the starboard waist position was not so fortunate. Two hits to his position caused multiple wounds, resulting in his death from massive bleeding. Our bombardier, George Heim Jr., showing commendable coolness under fire, managed to place about 30% of our bombs on target again.
From that point on, it was as though we became invisible to the enemy. We encountered no fighters all the way back to Streparone Field. Trapped in the ball turret, Sgt. Winter was especially grateful that we landed without any problems. Lt. Jones reports that his wound was "just a scratch" and that he is fit for duty.
-1st Lt. Mark Beyer, Pilot, The Bawlmer Express
316th BS (Low)
FULL HOUSE, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with #1 engine, tail turret, port elevator inoperable, tail compartment oxygen system damaged, superficial damage (8) to the radio (2), bomb bay (2), nose (1) compartments, #2 engine (1), starboard flaps (1), port wing (1), and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Montgomery, 1 ME-109 by TSgt. Moore and MSgt. Miller, 1 ME-109 shared by Lt. Sears & MSgt. Miller, 1 ME-110 apiece by MSgt. Miller & Sgt. Ward.
- Major Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House II
SATIN DOLL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the radio & intercom inoperable, two large flak holes to the rudder, flak damage to the starboard wing root, superficial flak damage to port wing and tail fin, superficial damage to the cockpit and radio room, no casualties. Claims: 3 FW-109s by MSgt. Turner, 1 FW-109 by Sgt. Jackson, 1 ME-109 apiece by 1st Lt. Morris & Sgt. Wall.
The Satin Doll survived yet another long run into Austria. Other ships in the formation drove off the first E/A we encountered over Yugoslavia before they could get a line on us.
Nearing the Austrian border, a lone ME-109 swept in on our tail but was blasted by a P-47 before he could take a shot at us.
Nearing the IP, we received, the Luftwaffe sent up a welcoming committee. Two FWs came at us one from 10:30 high and the other from 3 level. Hal Jackson plastered his Kraut right in the cockpit, while Henderson and Turner filled the sky at 10:30 with lead. They didn't hit anything, but the tracers spooked the Hun into missing and breaking off his run. Right on their heels came a pair of 109s at 1:30 high and 9 level. A Lightning jockey got the one off our nose, and Brad Wall, drilled his Kraut at 9.
Flak over the target was medium thick and fairly accurate. We took hits in the rudder, both wings, and the vertical tail. Fortunately no major damage was done, and PJ managed to get 20% of the load on target.
Rallying off the target things got a little hotter. The Luftwaffe must have wanted us to stick around as they sent up three waves to keep us from leaving the party. The first, a pair of 110s, met up with some Lightnings and were last seen spinning down in flames. The next flight of four 109s tore into the formation aiming for our nose. PJ blasted the one at 1:30 high, and Wall got a piece of the one at 10:30 high. The 38s took care of the two at 12 high and level. Even though Wall had hit his 109 pretty good, he pressed his attack, punching a few holes in the radio room and cockpit before breaking off trailing smoke. The third batch swept in the same way as the second. Again the 38s knocked the bugs off our nose, while everybody that had a clear shot hosed the sky. Hal dinged his 109 and sent him off smoking, while Wally, Brad, and George scared the Kraut off at 1:30 high. As we neared the Yugoslav border, a pair of 190s came in from the front high & low. PJ winged the one at 12 level and just as he was lining us up, George blasted the engine out of the Wulfe. Blankenship and Wally missed the one at 130 low and he proceeded to knock out the intercom and radio. On his second pass from 12 high, George nailed him with the top turret .50's. With no intercom and no radio, things got a little more tense. We still had a lot of mission to fly and no way to communicate between the crew and other ships in the formation.
Halfway across Yugoslavia we met up with a trio of FWs. George blasted the one at 12 high, while Blankenship and Wally sprayed the skies at 1:30 level and 12 low. They both missed but so did the Krauts who broke off and sped away to the Northeast.
The rest of the way home was quiet, except for the whistling of the wind through the newly acquired ventilation and we landed without incident.
- Capt. John P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll
LUCKY NICKEL, lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with port cheek gun & radio knocked out, control cables and port aileron damaged, and minor damage to port wing, pilots' compartment and superficial damage to the #1 engine. No casualties. Claims: 2 FW-190s & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Jenkins (1 FW-190 later confirmed by S-2), 1 ME-109 by MSgt. Allison, & 1 ME-110 by SSgt. Edmond.
We saw action in throughout the mission except around home base. We started (zone 2) with three 190's all at the front but every body missed.
Next, (zone 3) we saw two 109s. The top turret damaged one and again the enemy missed.
Then (zone 4) the enemy fighters were chased away by others but kept us jumpy.
Nearing the target zone (zone 5) we got hit with 2 waves, a lone 190 that radio op. managed to damage, then two 109s but all missed.
Over target we had 3 waves to deal with. Another lone 190 that was sent off with damage, three 110s attacked from the rear which the tail gunner killed one, and two others were damaged or missed. The 3rd wave were two 109s that managed to put a little damage on us but ball turret got his first kill on that wave.
Flak did over half of the plane's damage with 5 flak hits - Knocking out radio, port cheek guns, an aileron hit and superficial damage to tail and starboard wing areas. We got a 30% on target shot and then swung for home, picking up another wave of 190s and a 110 in VC. The 190 got a walking hit but only scored superficial damage on all but the engine #1 and control cables.
Again, just outside of target area (zone 5) we got 2 waves again, two 190s and a 190 and three 109s. The ball turret scored 2 kills here while others got some damage shots. Enemy seemed to focus on the front port side since no fire from cheek came at them but the ball & top turrets put plenty of lead in the air.
Next (zone 4) we saw other B-17's take the enemy fire while we watched, and finally a before home (zone 3) three 190's hit us. Two were chased away by friendly fighters and one missed but not after taking some damage from the engineer's guns.
At last it was quiet (zone 2) and we landed without trouble but ground crew was worried as we had gone off air just before target and other planes had reported us trailing smoke (must have been that #1 engine) . . . overall we still are in one piece but again almost out of ammo and very tired.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel
OLD YARD DOG, second flight, lead aircraft
Took off but oxygen system leak in tail compartment forced pilot to return to base and abort mission.
LUCKY SEVEN, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the tail turret inoperable, damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, port wing, tail and tail root. Claims: 1 FW-190 by shared kill by SSgt. Rhodes, Sgts. Fidone & Duffy, 1 ME-110 shared by SSgt. Rhodes & Sgt. Fidone (ME-110 claim later confirmed by S-2).
Take off and formation went good. We had an easy go till we approached the Yugoslavian coast. There we ran into two FW-190s. With them insight the bomber squadron tightened up the formation, making it much more difficult for Jerry to get in. This was the case with our two aggressors. The one from the front missed us and left for a better target. The second FW pushed his luck and SSgt. Rhodes, Sgts. Fidone and Duffy dissected the Wulf into many parts.
Over Yugoslavia five ME-109s dropped in to break up our tight formation with no luck. Yet, two 109s landed shots on our bird. The other three were driven off by our little friends. One from 3 o'clock hit our tail root and holed the port wing. Another ME-109 in a Vertical Dive walked us from tip-to-toe. Wounding Lt. Ratt, Sgts. Lis and Duffy, taking out Burroughs' tail guns and hit the oxygen system with one 20mm shell.
At the target we were jumped by three waves of fighters, though the tight formation drove away the first two waves. Again we were hit by the B-17 that helped drive off the bandits that holing the tail with 20mm shells. The third wave was a lone FW-190 dropping in by a vertical dive. His speed and the flying lead were too much for his aim and he missed us completely.
Flak was as expected but very inaccurate and we were not affected. Our bomb run was much better over the past missions as we placed 20% on target.
As we turned for home we saw our first ME-110s. Three attacked us with one destroyed by Rhodes and Fidone. A second was convinced to go home by Rhodes winging him on his second pass. The other Kraut holed the bird with no critical damage.
When leaving the target zone and bake at Yugoslavia four 109s tried to attack, but due to the tight formation they all missed. One chopped up quite well by Lt. Radfordson as he clamed a probable over this one. We saw no other Jerries the rest of the trip and landed without incident.
We saw 17 enemy aircraft, destroying 2 damaging 2 with 5 driven off by fighters. Three wounded lightly and hopefully returning soon. Aircraft damage was substantial yet repairable (92 points per Peckham's chart).
- 1st Lt. Jamie Jameson, Pilot, Lucky Seven
THREE TIMES A LADY, second flight, left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE#2)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with auto-pilot, navigation equipment, radio, port waist gun inoperable, damage to the control cables & rudder, and numerous (15) superficial hits. 5 casualties. Claims: 3 ME-109s by SSgt. Rose (1 ME-109 later confirmed by S-2), 2 ME-109s & 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Escobar (1 ME-109 later confirmed by S-2)and 1 ME-109 by TSgt. Evans (later confirmed by S-2).
We took off and formed with the squadron with no difficulties and initially all was quiet. As we approached the Yugoslavian coast we saw a wave of enemy aircraft approach, but were driven off by our little friends. As we settled into the long flight over occupied Yugoslavia we were jumped by a pair of ME-109s. SSgt. Rose managed to shoot one down, but the other got through our defensive fire. He hit us in the nose section killing Lt. Aiken. Sgt. Escobar in the tail managed to damage the 109 as it passed behind us, driving it off.
The rest of the flight over Yugoslavia was pretty quiet with very little enemy action near us. As headed over Austria Rainmaker had to abort and head for home. This put us in the happy position of being "Tail-End Charlie".
We were then slammed by a pair of waves of enemy 109s. We were able to shoot down several of the 109s and to drive some others off. Unfortunately, several got through knocking out our auto-pilot mechanism. Also, my co-pilot, Lt. Bernard, took a hit from an attacking 109, shattering his right leg.
The flak of the target was fairly heavy, but we were received no hits from it. Our targeting was off from the loss of the auto-pilot mechanism, so our bomb run completely missed the target.
During our return trip home we were attacked by a total of 6 waves of enemy aircraft. Our fighter escorts were of little help and most of the Germans managed to engage us. Several more 109s and a 110 was shot down and some more 109s were damaged. The ones that got through knocked out our radio and navigation equipment and wounded several of the crew including myself. We were able to keep things together though and to stay in formation for the return to base.
- 1st Lt. Joe Cross, Pilot, Three Times A Lady
RAINMAKER, third flight, lead aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE#1)
Aborted outbound zone-3 after losing radio and nose compartment heating system. Returned alone, out of formation with radio, nose compartment heating system, tail turret, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Forysth.
All was going well until we reached Yugoslavia where we got pounced upon by 5 fighters. Three were chased off by little friends but 2 got through and made the Rainmaker their favorite target. Our flight engineer was able to shoot down 1 of the ME-109s while the other strafed us aft-to-forward knocking out the tail guns, radio, nose heaters and mortally wounding both waist gunners. With no radio and no heat to the nose we dropped out of formation and headed home landing with no further damage.
-1st Lt. Juan Roebuck, Pilot, Rainmaker
Return to Sterparone Field