MISSION 40 - Klagenfurt AARs
316th BS (Lead)
FULL HOUSE II, lead flight, lead aircraft
Returned with superficial flak damage to the starboard wing and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Lt. Sears (Lt. Sears' claim was later confirmed by S-2).
Enemy opposition was unexpectedly light this mission. The first appearance of enemy fighters occurred approaching the target when a trio of ME-109s unsuccessfully attacked and all three escaped undamaged.
Flak was heavy and the Full House II took a near burst off the starboard wing which was enough to cause the bomb drop to be released early.
During the withdrawal phase, a pair of ME-109s were unsuccessful in their attack, which was then followed by another wave consisting of a trio of ME-109s who were also made another unsuccessful attack while one was shot down by Lt. Sears and another was damaged by Sgt. Montgomery as it flew pass the tail guns.
No further actions was seen as the group made its way home. The weather and visibility was bad during the landing approach but the landing went without a mishap.
- Maj. Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Full House II
SATIN DOLL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with radio and starboard aileron inoperable from flak damage, superficial flak damage to radio room, pilots' compartment, the port wing and 2 casualties from flak.
Satin Doll came back from her fourth trip to Klagenfurt a little battered but not broken. The gunners griped that they didn't get a shot at any E/A. Personally, I was glad to see that they decided to leave us alone!
In the target area, Full House II kept the Krauts busy and we flew through the fighters unscathed. I should have known our luck wouldn't hold out forever. The flak was as bad or worse than the 'Florence Flak Follies'. Thick, heavy and accurate best describe it. They had us bracketed pretty well, and the first burst blasted a big hole in the port side of the radio room. Anther shell burst below us sending fragments zinging around through the cockpit floor, wounding Hank in the foot and me in the arm. Three shells burst simultaneously amidships. Swede called in that his radio gear had been reduced to junk, the starboard aileron was gone and that there were a few new holes in the port wing. PJ was steadily cussing about all the bouncing around, but still managed to put 20% of the load on target.
Rallying off the target, the gunners of Full House II again kept the Krauts off us. PJ called in that it looked like they plastered a 109 with the chin guns.
We didn't see any more E/A the rest of the way home. Despite the crappy weather, no starboard aileron, and both of us banged up, Hank and I made a reasonably good landing.
Supporting fire from other A/C in formation excellent.
Flak heavy and accurate.
Me-109 shot down by Full House II's chin guns rallying off target.
- Capt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th BS, 88th BG (H)
LUCKY SEVEN, lead flight, left wingman
Developed engine problems soon after take-off. Jettisoned bomb load and returned to base without incident.
What a disappointment. Getting mentally prepared for a mission like Klagenfurt. As we rolled down the runway, Lt. Ratt and I noticed that something wasn't right. The Ship just didn't seem right, a little sluggish. We got off the ground, using a bit more runway than last time, but we were airborne. Then it went down from there. Our climb rate was off yet the dials all showed we should be climbing. Then "pop, pop" the number one engine just quit and we started to drop quickly. We worked and reworked number one till it coughed back to life. We pushed all four engines to their maximum trying to regain altitude in hopes to assemble with any bomber squadron, as we were not going to make it back to the middle group. This was all to no avail, as number one engine just wasn't going to make the trip. It was smoking on and off, only running at 60% to 65% power. Lt. Ratt, SSgt. Rhodes and I decided it would be best to unload the eggs and return home. Unable to keep altitude or speed would just hamper the Group and get us killed. We swung over the Golfo di Manfredonia to unload the load and returned to base. Came back and landed without any further incidents.
- 1st Lt. Jamie Jameson, Pilot, Lucky Seven
LUCKY NICKEL, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with radio knocked out, nose gun damaged, pilots' compartment shot up, damage to the starboard wing root, & 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 2 ME-109s by MSgt. Allison, 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgts. Petrie & Edmond (SSgt. Edmond's claim was later confirmed by S-2).
“All was quiet until over target. Flak was VERY heavy but we only got dinged. No enemy activity until on the way home that began just east of Rimini (zones 3 & 2). Then the sky was crawling with enemy fighters. All wounds and major plane damage came from the last fighter that would not be killed. Walking hits managed to ding or hit every compartment. Co-pilot brought us in as I was injured on right leg area.”
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
OLD YARD DOG, second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 30. Returned with rafts destroyed, damage to the control cables, cockpit windows, port wing root, 4 superficial holes in the fuselage, and 1 casualty.
First time out with this new G model and we were thinking we were really going to like the new firepower out the front. Plus all the changes in the craft all around made it a better bird to fly. Three of our crew are still training to make the change so we had some new guys around for this mission.
Take off and form up went well. We didn’t have any problems forming with our element. We saw P-38s straight away and they are always welcome. Being in the middle of the group made up feel really safe; with planes all around you all you had to do was keep from running into them!
Nothing much to report until we were nearing the target area. The P-38s were heavily engaged with the Luftwaffe about that time and a 109 came up hard from the front of our formation spinning in like a corkscrew. That boy shore knew how to fly or he was out of control and didn’t know it yet! He put some dings all down our fuselage but hit nothing serious. Thankfully for that as we didn’t even get a good shot at him.
Flak was heavy and accurate as expected. We took a large caliber shell in the waist compartment and gunner Shultz took an arm wound. It didn’t seem too serious at the time but we were busy lining up for the bomb run so I just noted it. Shortly after that another explosion rocked close to us and put a large hole in the port wing root and crack the windows in front of us. That would make landing a bear. Our control cables went slack for a while too so the ground guys are going to have to deal with that in the repair. Lt. Wiggins still bombed the target and put at least 30% on target. Probably more but we will let those recon boys figure that out.
Turning for home the P-38s came in tight again and we only had 2 more 109s get thru before we made it safely over the base. The rafts were lost in a pass but that would have been much worse if the bombs were in there!
Once we closed on the base the weather turned crappy as expected. As we settled in for landing a call came up from Riddell saying Shultz was unresponsive. I sent the radio man back to check on him and they found he had another wound on his inner thigh that had bled him almost out. We fired red flares and got to the head of the formation to land. Landing was tough but nothing we couldn’t handle.
We stopped and pulled Shultz out and off he went to the hospital. Once we got him out I remembered he had flown with us before. I would have to go check on him.
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
Flight Surgeon's report:
Sgt Shultz arrived with an upper arm wound on left arm and a severe inner thigh wound on the upper left leg. The arm wound is not serious but the inner thigh wound severed an artery. He is lucky he lived. He will need some major recovery time and will not return to flight status for some time if at all (seriously wounded – will not return).
RAINMAKER, second flight, left wingman
Failed to return from mission. Declared Missing-in-Action and is presumed lost over the Adriatic Sea with no survivors.
Rainmaker was last seen over the Adriatic Sea outbound to target. Its last radio transmission, “Joker Six to flight . . . have engine problems in three of four engines . . . trying to return to base . . . Good Luck.” Rainmaker is presumed lost in the Adriatic Sea with the loss of all hands.
-- From the 88th Bomb Group (H)'s official MACR of the Klagenfurt, Austria, mission, 19 March 1944.
399th BS (Lead)
GREAT SHAKES, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #1 engine out, top and ball turret guns
inoperable, damage to the control cables located in the tail section, #3
engine's oil tank holed but self-sealed, lots of holes in wings and fuselage and
1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 shared by TSgt. Marcello and Sgt. Gnaudsen, 1
ME-109 apiece by Lts. Miller and Burrows (Lt. Miller's claim was later confirmed
A hairy welcome to the group. We never saw so many planes in the air--the sky seemed filled with B-17s. Anyway, we got attacked out over the sea, with two 190s coming at us from front and back. Larry and Bill nailed the one coming up from behind, but didn't see the one that dove on us from above and raked our fuselage, killing Larry, knocking out Randy's guns, and putting lots of holes in us. That bastard came round a couple more times, holing our wings, but not doing any major damage.
After that we saw no more enemy fighters until we got to target, when a pair of 109s and a 110 attacked us. Joe got one, but one of the others set the #1 engine on fire. Thankfully the extinguisher charge got it. Then came the flak--so heavy I thought I could land on it. It hit the #3 engine, which began to throw oil, but then it stopped and seemed to run okay. It held up all the way home--Krauts must have holed the oil tank. Anyway, flak was heavy enough that we missed the target--God knows what the hell we hit. We were just glad to turn around out of there.
Some more Krauts escorted us out of the area--Brett got one, and one knocked out Tommy's guns. The rest of the flight home was uneventful. Landing was a bigger adventure than the return flight, what with one engine out and another damaged and the crappy weather over base. We all made it back though, except for poor Larry.
- 2nd Lt. Al Wilson, Pilot, Great Shakes
317th BS (HIGH)
SILVER SPOON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned #4 engine
inoperable, various fuselage hits and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by
Sgt. Pancetti and 1 ME-109 by Capt. Blackmore.
“We saw plenty of Jerries on the way out, but nothing really came too close to us. Those that did, missed. Flak was rough, and we must have been hit nine or ten times by big chunks of Krupp's steel. No major damage, though, and we got most of our load on target. A few holes in a couple of the crew, nothing serious. Captain Blackmore may need a psych evaluation, though. He’s taken a lot of hits, and he seems jumpier than he should be. On my way there now, in fact.”
- Maj. Neil Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon
MEMPHIS GAL, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties.
“We didn’t see a Jerry at all. The other boys took a pounding, and I saw Capt Montague go down. We counted 10 chutes, so that must be good, right? The crew chief is happy, cos we brought her home without a scratch. Hope this run of luck lasts!”
- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
CARDINAL EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Developed radio malfunction during pre-flight checks. Did not take-off and did not take part in mission.
BEDAMNED, second flight, lead aircraft
Shot down by enemy fighters approaching target area when an engine began to runaway. Ten chutes were seen.
“BeDamned had virtually no damage when she took a single 20mm round into an engine and that’s all she wrote . . . I saw one of the engines beginning to runaway and the crew bailed out. I counted ten chutes.”
- Eyewitness accounts from returning 317th personnel at debrifing.
DIVINE WIND, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with rudder, control cables & pilots' compartment's oxygen system damaged, superficial damage to the starboard wing, fuselage, waist nose and radio room compartments and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Sakaue.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About one hundred-seventy five (175) miles from base we were attacked by four (4) FW-190s. Two of the planes were driven off by fighters of the 1st FG. A fighter attacking from a VERTICAL DIVE missed the plane and didn’t return. Another plane coming in from 12 high hit the plane three (3) times, once each in the nose, waist and pilot’s compartment. The hits to the nose and waist were superficial in nature while the hit to the pilots’ compartment barely missed 1st Lt. Uyeda (used lucky charm or it would have been serious wound if not used). The plane then returned again at 1 2high and again was able to hit the plane three more times. This time, once each in the nose and twice in the fuselage but all the hits were superficial in nature. The plane then returned again from 12 level and was finally driven away from fighters from the 1st FG.
Fifty (50) miles away from the target zone we were again attacked by four (4) FW-190s. One was driven off by fighters of the 1st FG. The ones coming in from both 3 and 9 high missed the plane and didn’t return. The one that came in from 12 high hit the plane three (3) times, once each in the tail, bomb bay area, and waist. The hits to the waist and bomb bay areas were superficial, while the hit to the tail damaged the control cables. The FW-190 after strafing the plane was destroyed by tail gunner, SSgt. Sakaue.
Flak was heavy over the target and we suffered two hits, once in the waist and then again in the radio room. The hit to the radio room didn’t cause any damage while the hit to the waist area almost injured the starboard gunner (used rabbits foot for SSgt. Hanano, would have been serious injury). The bombardier was able to find the target even with the heavy flak and was able to put 40% of the bomb load on the target.
On the turn back we again attacked by more FW-190’s. Two were driven off by fighters of the 82nd FG, while the one coming in from 12 high was heavily damaged by the top turret (SSgt. Shimizu). This fighter was driven off and didn’t return.
A second wave consisting of three (3) ME-109s came in from 12 high, 1:30 and 3 level attacked the plane. The one coming in from 12 high was destroyed by the top gunner (SSgt. Shimizu) while the one coming in from 1:30 level missed the plane and did not return. The one from 3 level was damaged by the ball turret (SSgt. Shintani) but was still able to hit the plane three times, once in the nose and twice in the starboard wing. All hits to the plane were superficial in nature. The plane then returned at 12 high and was heavily damaged by the bombardier (2nd Lt. Nakahiro). The plane wasn’t able to hit the bomber and didn’t return.
Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
MORBID ANGEL, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with light damage and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Norman, 1 ME-110 by Lt. Brunelle, 1 ME-109 apiece by Sgts. Morris, T. and Morris, J. (Sgt. J. Morris' claim was later confirmed by S-2).
“I never thought we'd make the target, once that wave of fighters hit. It was great that we were able to shoot down so many, but the damage to the plane was ridiculous.”
“Somehow, the flak didn't hit us over the target, which I found to be some sort of karma for all the fighters we'd already faced. Norman shot down a 109 and a 190 before he was hit . . . and even without him, we still shot down 3 more, collectively. I'm not sure he shouldn't get some award or something, but he's fine, so I suppose awards are for the guys who don't go back out on missions. The damage can all be repaired, but I just hope we can get it all done in time for the next mission. We'll be working around the clock for a couple days to fix it, I know that much. I hope that does it for this target . . . maybe they just know we're going to be there or something.”
- 1st Lt. David Vincent, Pilot, Morbid Angel
399th BS (HIGH)
RAID HOT MAMA, third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to the nose compartment.
This was an unusual mission, our escorts along with our defensive fire kept the Jerry fighters away. The only blemish was that we completely missed the target. Just prior to our bomb release we were struck by flak in the nose, while it caused minor damage and our bombs missed the target completely. We were then struck by friendly fire while departing the target area.
Outside of missing the target, I wish all of our missions were this easy.
- Capt. Art DeFilippo, Pilot, Raid on Mama
CAROLINA LADY, third flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with #1 engine out, port tail elevator missing, damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, starboard & port tail planes, superficial damage to tai and fuselage. 1 Casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Smithley.
No opposition until we got over the target area. Three FW-190s hit us -- the ball gunner shot one down, Sgt. Karwoski in the tail damaged one with a passing shot and the top turret damaged another. None of the FWs hit us.
On the bomb run we got hit bad by flak -- Sgt. Karwoski was badly wounded, the #1 engine was shot out and the port tail plane elevator was blown off. The waist got peppered with holes, but no real damage. We were still able to unload on the target -- our bombardier did a great job of tracking the target and keeping us on it.
After the turn for home we got Sgt. Karwoski into the waist and did first aid -- enough to save his life. We added power to stay in formation, which we were able to do. About 70 miles past the target 3 ME-109s jumped us-the top turret sent one off smoking, but another sat on our tail and shot it to pieces. Our radio operator was on the tail guns, but the Jerry got away. He came back again but missed us on his second pass.
We shot off the red flares on approach and the ambulance took Sgt. Karwoski away -- the group surgeon says he'll live but he's on his way home.
- 1st Lt. Mark Choate, Pilot, Carolina Lady
THE PROPHET, third flight, left aircraft
Shot down by direct flak hit to tail section approaching target. 8 KIA and 2 POWs.
“I seen her hit by fighters before the bomb drop . . . Then right after that, Sumner's plane began to lag behind the rest of us . . . Yeah, I saw what happened. The Prophet took a direct hit in the tail - snapped right off . . . I only saw two parachutes.”
- From eye witness accounts from returning 399th Squadron personnel at debriefing.
318th BS (Low)
THOR, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Shot down by flak after taking a direct hit to the tail section. 1 Survivor.
GOLDEN SPIKE, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with radio out, 4 superficial damage holes in the wings and fuselage and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Archibald.
We had excellent fighter protection until we approached Klagenfurt. Over the target two waves of ME-110s attacked from the front. One of these bandits knocked out the radio and scared the willies out of Lt. Lawton and SSgt. Garbutt (both used lucky charms to avoid injury). Right after we cleared the 110s heavy flak damaged both wings and some shrapnel tore into Sgt. Johnson's neck. Getting knocked around didn't help Ace's bomb run and we missed the target again.
Turning for home a couple FW-190s made it into the formation and Sgt. Archibald added another bandit to his tally with a clean hit.
After that it was quiet again until a lone ME-109 jumped us from above. To his surprise TSgt. McArthy managed to hit this guy before he could do any damage.
Our final excitement occurred just 100 miles from base when a lone FW-190 made it past the escorts and shot up the nose (second lucky charm used by Lt. Lawton) and wings, but he was chased off before he could make a second run. After a rough landing we were home and Sgt. Johnson was rushed to the hospital. It looks like he's going to be heading home sooner than the rest of us. Lucky guy!
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
THE BAWLMER EXPRESS, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 50%, Returned out of formation after taking flak BIP in radio room. Returned with top turret, nose and waist positions guns inoperable, heating system inoperable to nose and tail compartments. Heavy damage to radio compartment as a result of flak burst inside the plane. Port landing gear inoperable, #4 engine damaged, rubber rafts shredded, several wing root hits on both wings and superficial damage to all other parts of the aircraft. 4 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Hamel, 2 ME-109s apiece by Sgts. Winter & Bianconi (One of Winter's claims was later confirmed by S-2).
This was the mission from Hell; the complete opposite from our last one. We were attacked by multiple waves of enemy fighters all the way to and from the target. Although we inflicted quite a bit of damage, we took almost as good as we gave out. Over Klagenfurt, we were hit by a flak shell that burst inside of the radio room, killing Sgt. Carillo. We managed to still hit the target with half of our bomb load, but were then forced to drop out of formation. Shortly thereafter, our top turret and nose guns were rendered inoperable and we endured multiple attacks from our front quarter for the rest of the trip. The oxygen was knocked out in the waist and tail, then the entire nose section lost its heat, forcing us to drop down below 10,000 feet. Fortunately, the light flak gunners were a lot less accurate than their heavies and we suffered no additional damage from them.
Over Yugoslavia, Lt. Nestor, Lt. Jones and I were all wounded, Nestor seriously. The enemy continued to press home their attacks with a real vengeance, returning multiple times with each wave. Our #4 engine and the port landing gear were knocked out as we approached the Italian coast, so that I ordered all of the crew except for Lt. Nestor (wounded) and Sgt. Carilllo (deceased) to bail out over our base before I attempted to land the ship. Lt. George Heim, our bombardier, is to be commended for volunteering to stay with the ship in order to continue treating Lt. Nestor's wound; this undoubtedly saved his life. The rest of the crew followed orders and all parachuted safely.
I was able to land the ship safely, but surveying all of the damage has convinced me that The Bawlmer Express has earned a one-way trip to the scrap yard. How ironic that the skipper offered us a new B-17G just prior to this mission, and we chose to stay with our old plane. I guess we'll have to take him up on the offer now, if we still can.
- 1st Lt. Mark Beyer, Pilot, The Bawlmer Express
LONGHORN LADY, second flight, Lead Aircraft
Aborted mission due to damage. Returned early and alone with pilots' compartment heat knocked out, radio out and several superficial damage, and 3 casualties.
We were jumped by four 109s. During this attack Lt. Bixler, Sgt. Stagg and Sgt. Gumm were all wounded, with Sgt. Gumm injuries very serious. Also, the pilots' compartment heat and the radio was knocked out. We dropped below 10,000 feet and out-of-formation. With the heat out, I decided to abort the mission. On the way back to base we ran into two 109s, but we were able to drive them off. The landing was uneventful.
- Capt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
BOULDER DASH, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target 30% during the withdrawal aircraft crashed landed after being critically damaged by enemy fighters 5 miles SE of Klagenfurt. 8 men bailed out, 2 others crashed landed with the plane resulting in 10 POWs.
AC# 42-11857 second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Suffered electrical malfunction soon after start up and did not participate on the mission.
Return to Sterparone Field