MISSION 41 - VERONA AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
SILVER SPOON, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Group Commander
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with damage to the port tail plane and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Klein and Sgt. Spofforth.
Hardly a bump. We saw a coupla Jerries, and those that got too close ate lead.
Flak put a ding in the tail, but other than that we could have dozed off. Klein WAS dozing up front, and missed the target by a helluva way.
- Major Amoore, Pilot, Silver Spoon, CO, 317th
DIVINE WIND, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with Intercom system and the starboard landing gear brakes inoperable, and 1 casualty.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About fifty (50) miles away from base we were attacked by three (3) ME-109s. Two were chased off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group, while one attacking using a VERTICAL DIVE was able to hit the plane once in the starboard wing damaging the brake system to the landing gear. The plane tried to make another run 12 high but it was driven again by fighters of the 325th Fighter Group.
About Two hundred (200) miles away from base we were again attacked by enemy fighters. This time one (1) ME-109 attempted to attack from 10:30 high but fighters from the 325th Fighter Group again were able to drive of the ME-109.
About fifty (50) miles from target we became the lead bomber because the bombers did not retain the formation. One (1) ME-109 coming in from 12 high was driven off by the fighters from the 325th Fighter Group.
Over the target we encountered medium flak which the plane twice, once in the radio room and once in the waist. The hit to the radio room damaged the intercom system inside the plane; the hit to the waist hit starboard gunner SSgt. Hanano in the hand.
2nd Lt. Nakahiro, even with the hitís by the flak was able to line up on the target and up about 20% of the bomb load on the target.
On the turn around we spotted bogies coming in from 10:30 level but they were driven off by a combination of fighters from the 325th Fighter Group and machine gun fire from the formation. Another wave of two (2) fighters were able to get to the formation. Again both were driven off by fighters of the 325th.
Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.
- Capt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Divine Wind
MORBID ANGEL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or no casualties.
There werenít many fighters, but our tail gunner, Pearson, was able to nick one of the 190s we did see on the way there. Maybe that scared them away from us. They sure did seem a bit timid, in my opinion.
Bombing run was fine, and no real damage to the plane, other than some superficial damage from flak. Our luck is a bit uncanny this trip. I hope itís not a sign of worse things to come. Iím putting the crew through extra training and drills, so that complacency or overconfidence don't set in. The war sleeps for no one . . . and we have to remember that at all times.
- 1st Lt. David Vincent, Pilot, Morbid Angel
MEMPHIS GAL, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with rudder slightly damaged, various fuselage hits and 2 casualties.
Our bad luck continues. God, when will this madness finally stop? There are only a few of us left from the original crew, and we lost two of the new guys today. Jessy Silver took a 20mm shell through the stomach, pretty much disemboweling him. Nimble helped keep his stomach in on the way home, and heís going State-side soon. Swoboda in the waist had it worse. Flak took his left leg off at the knee, and Barry on the starboard waist gun says it also took Swobodaís balls off. Says he saw Swobodaís mangled penis lying on the floor, but couldnít tell him that. God, this war stinks.
- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
MISS BEHAVIN, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with tail wheel inoperable, starboard cheek gun jammed, waist compartment and ball turret heating system out, co-pilot's oxygen system damaged, starboard inboard wing fuel tank holed - self sealed, superficial damage in the radio compartment, many bullet holes over entire aircraft concentrated in: nose, cockpit, radio room & waist compartments, (115 battle damage pts. per Peckham chart). 4 battle casualties & 1 case of frostbite.
Experienced light aerial combat along route to and
from the target. Bombs on target with 40% hitting MPI. Heavy black
and gray smoke seen up to 8500 ft. drifting southwest to northeast.
Miss Behavin OOA due to tail wheel damage. Repair completion expected by 23 March 1944. Make modifications to radio room gun turret to prevent empty shells from jamming BTG.
Overall, good bombing performance, no enemy kill or damage reported with a very high causality rate. Will have entire crew at gunnery practice range on a daily basis.
- 1st Lt. Harry Higginbottom, Pilot, Miss Behavin
WAKKA WAKKA, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port elevator damaged and no casualties.
A quiet one first up. The only fighters we saw missed us just as superbly as we missed them.
The flak took a chunk out of the port elevator and we missed the target just as well as we missed the Kraut fighters.
Lucky we didn't miss the runway.
- 1st Lt. Michael Malloy, Pilot, Wakka Wakka
399th BS (HIGH)
GOODBYE GIRL II, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Aborted mission over Adriatic (zone 3) and returned home alone with 2 engines, nose heating system, tail oxygen system, ball turret all inoperable, and 3 casualties.
Less than half-way to the target zone we encountered a lone 109. He came in from our 1:30. My boys missed him, and he made us pay. He raked us from the pilots' compartment to the back. Lt. Thompson was hit by flying glass and a round hit his arm. Sgts. King & Bailey were also hit on this pass. Our oil pressure in #4 dropped and we lost it almost immediately after his first pass.
As he came back around Sgt. DeWolf managed to get a round or two in his port wing, but he kept coming. He raked us a second time. This time knocking out our heat in the nose, oxygen in the tail, and disabling our ball guns. This time our #3 engine burst into flame. We were eventually able to get the fire out, but #3 was gone as well. The 109 peeled off, and we began to sink from formation. I ordered the jettison of our bomb load and we turned for home.
Landing was safe, and uneventful.
- Capt. Herman Gordon, Pilot, Goodbye Girl
GREAT SHAKES, lead flight, right wingman
Shot down by direct flak hit to port wing. 4 survivors.
"March 1944 was a bloody month for the 88th. Three days after the costly March 19 mission to the airfields at Klagenfurt, during which the group lost five Forts shot down and another written off, the 'Double Eights' made a return visit to the railyards of Verona. Bad weather reduced the welcome provided by the Luftwaffe, but flak took a toll. One of the first losses was Great Shakes, on its second mission with the group. Flak blew her port wing off as she began her run to target. She spiraled down in two pieces, spewing flame. Four parachutes were seen to open."
- From 'Power to Shatter: The Eighty-Eighth Bombardment Group at War', from Squadron-Signal Publications, page 37.
CAROLINA LADY, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with ailerons out and superficial damage to both wings and fuselage and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSgt. Barnes and Sgt. Smitley.
Take-off and formation went okay -- about 100 miles from the target we got jumped by 4 ME-109s that came at us from head-on and both 3 and 9 o'clock. SSgt. Barnes in the top turret shot down the leader . . . seconds later, Sgt. Smitley laid into one sneaking up from 9 low and exploded him about 200 yds away.
Flak was accurate during the bomb run-we got hit in both wings, blowing the starboard aileron off, rendering the port aileron inoperable, and put holes all over the wings and fuselage. Just then Great Shakes got it in the port wing -- it blew right off -- our tail gunner said he saw 4 chutes. We unloaded on the target -- just barely.
The flight home wasn't bad and we managed to land without incident.
- 1st Lt. Mark Choate, Pilot, Carolina Lady
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, second flight, lead aircraft
Hardstand abort due to oil leak. Did not take-off and did not participate in the mission.
ADOLPH'S NIGHTMARE, second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with tail turret inoperable and no casualties.
We didnít meet much opposition at all today. South of Rimini two 190s attacked, but they just whizzed by and disappeared. One was damaged by Staff Sergeant Benjamin Clare.
Flak hit us over the target knocking out the tail guns 2nd Lt. Zalenski missed the target.
Two more 109s attacked on the return over the target and Staff Sergeant Benjamin Clare hit one and Lt Zalenski hit another.
- 1st Lt. Howard Egan, Pilot, Adolph's Nightmare
318th BS (High)
EASY DOES IT, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with superficial damage to starboard wing, tail section and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Rincon.
Take off and form-up were uneventful. A little over 100 miles out we ran into heavy clouds that made flying a little more difficult. We also ran into our first Jerries; three 109s burst out of the clouds, itís a wonder they didnít crash into us! Fortunately, their shooting was as bad as ours, and we didnít see any more of the enemy until we got near Verona, when one came at us from 12 high.
Flak over the target was of medium intensity, and fairly accurate. WE took two close bursts, one off the starboard wing, the other near the tail section. Sgt. Cotten got a hunk of metal in his neck, Sgt. Aaronson saved his life with some quick first aid and manned the tail gun. Despite the flak and the weather, Kenny managed to get half our bombs on the target, and we turned for home.
Some of the veterans had warned us that the Germans always seemed to swarm us worse on the way home, and that was the case here, though we managed pretty well. Sgt. Rincon (port waist) used Aaronsonís gun to nail a 109, and that was the last Kraut we saw for the rest of the flight.
Landing was good. The only bad thing on the mission was Peterís wound, hopefully he'll be alright.
- 1st Lt. Jake McCardell, Pilot, Easy Does It
GOLDEN SPIKE, third flight, lead aircraft
Aborted mission zone-4 outbound. Returned with cockpit heating system inoperable and no casualties.
A short and uneventful flight. About 200 miles from base (zone 4) a small group of ME-109s came into the formation. One bandit was damaged by the nose guns but he still managed to hit the plane and knock out the pilot compartment heat. After the Germans left my co pilot and I agreed to return to base.
We stayed above 10,000 until we were over the water, then we dropped down into warmer air. We didnít see anymore enemy fighters as we returned to Sterparone.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
BAWLMER BETTY, third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bomb controls inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Lt. Heim, Lt. DeVormer, Sgt. Hamel, SSgt. Schreiber (SSgt. Schreiber and Sgt. Hamel's claims were later confirmed by S-2).
We encountered enemy fighters all the way to the target and back, but the attacks were poorly coordinated. This was possibly due to the generally poor weather. The only hit scored against us knocked out the bomb controls (fortunately after we had dropped our bombs). We managed to avoid the flak over Verona, but completely missed hitting the target. At least we caused some damage to the Luftwaffe by destroying four ME-109s and badly damaging two others. We landed safely in poor weather.
The crew definitely like our new ship and have voted to name her "Bawlmer Betty", after my sister.
- 1st Lt. Mark Beyer, Pilot, Bawlmer Betty
LONGHORN LADY, third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with port wing flap inoperable, several superficial fuselage hits and 1 casualty.
We didnít run into any enemy fighters or receive any flak damage on the way to the target. In spite of that, we were unable to get any of the bombs on target. We ran into many fighters on our way home and Lt. Beaton suffered a serious wound to his right thigh. It is unknown how long it will be before the Doc clears him to fly again. The only other damage was to the port wing flap (inoperable) and several fuselage hits. The landing was uneventful.
- Capt. Jeff Landers, Pilot, Longhorn Lady
316th BS (Low)
FULL HOUSE II, lead flight, lead aircraft
Fell out of formation during bomb run after losing two engines from flak. Jettisoned bomb load and returned alone 2 hours overdue with 2 engines inoperable, starboard aileron inoperable, fire damage to the tail compartment's oxygen system, superficial damage to both wings, to the nose and tail compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 shared by Sgts. Ferguson and Montgomery.
SATIN DOLL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 92%. Returned with radio
equipment destroyed by 20mm & 30mm shells, superficial damage to radio room from
20mm & 30mm shells and no casualties.
The third trip to Verona turned out to be a
relative milk-run for the crew of Satin Doll. We first encountered
the Luftwaffe halfway over
the Adriatic. Three ME-109s swept in at us from 9 high, level and 12 high. PJ blew the cowling off his at 12 high, while George and Brad
missed the Kraut at 9 high. Blankenship fired a few rounds in the direction of the 109 at 9 level, with no visible effect. Fortunately, the Jerries didnít shoot very well either, and missed hitting us.
Nearing the target, supporting fire from other A/C
in the formation kept the majority of the E/A off us. The lone 109 that
got through was swatted out of the sky by a Jug Jockey. Flak over the
target was medium-thick, but not very accurate. PJ got a perfect set up on
sight and put an estimated 92% of the load into the main switching complex of the marshalling. Wheeler called in from the tail that it looked like PJ had nailed not only main depot, but also plastered a train sitting alongside.
Rallying off the target, the formation again kept the main body of the Huns off us. Three 109s still managed to get through the defensive fire though. Two met up with a pair of Jugs. The third was missed by George and PJ, but must have been too shaken by seeing his Kameraden blasted out of the sky and missed us.
Back over the Adriatic, again the mutual defensive fire of the squadron kept us covered. About 100 miles out, a lone 109 came at us from 1:30 high. PJ got several good hits on him, smoke started pouring out of his cowling. Although damaged, he pressed his attack and managed to shoot up the radio room before breaking off for the deck. Swede called in that his new radio gear had bought it. Damn shame. "Pops" Hardison and his crew had just replaced all of the gear and practically rebuilt the radio room after flak tore it to Hell over Klagenfurt.
About 60 miles from home, we got bounced by a 109 in a vertical dive. Both Swede and George filled the sky with .50 cal rounds with George getting a couple of ineffective hits on the Krautís wing. He must not have had the stomach for a fight, as he shot way wide and broke off to the North. In spite of the stinking weather, and the radio being FUBAR, we still managed to make a decent landing.
Near target area, E/A marked with Italian fasces on wing and Italian flag on fuselage in place of German crosses lead by an Me-109 with regular Luftwaffe markings.
A/C 42-12231 Nightwing seen dropping from formation near Rally point.
- Capt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th BS, 88th BG (H)
LUCKY NICKEL, lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with radio & tail guns inoperable, life rafts again destroyed (luckily we never had to use these yet), rudder, tail plane and starboard aileron and flaps damaged, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 2 Me-109s by MSgt. Allison (1 Me-109 later confirmed by S-2), 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Jenkins (1 Me-109 later confirmed by S-2), 1 Fw-109 by SSgt. Watkins, & 1 Me-109 by Capt. Hamilton (Me-109 later confirmed by S-2).
Clouds of fighters hit us right after take-off but were driven away, then we flew through some bad weather but fighters still managed to find us knocking out the tail guns and shooting up our tail (rudder) section.
Flak was medium but did some damage to the radio and wing. Bombs dropped on target with seemingly good results but coming back we again got a lot of fighter attention. A few of our guys managed to bag a few enemy fighters and some friendlies got through but not very many of our guys around this turn.
Still overall we did pretty good being in the lower squadron. Almost ran out of ammo. Tail gunner (as he had no guns) had to shift some around the plane towards the end of the flight. However, we still made it home again in one piece, or almost one piece.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel
OLD YARD DOG, second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned without damage or casualties.
We took off without any trouble. Being last and the low group does have its advantages. Not many, but it does make forming up easier. Course we have to deal with riding shotgun with the tail end Charlie slot crews . . .
We didn't see anything German until we were over the target. Then the skies opened and the Germans came from everyone. One good thing is that for every German we saw at least one P-47. So we gave as good as we got. They kept most of the Germans off us until we were on the final run. Several 109s bore in from the front and my bombardier had to run the chin guns to save us. He sent one down smoking and the engineer made another veer off dragging smoke as well. But we missed the target but we did hit the city center. Flak was heavy but above us. We closed up tight with Lucky Nickel and Satin Doll and advised our flight to close up as well. I did see Lucky Seven stay right with us the whole time.
Turning for home the Germans came back this time with some 109s in Italian markings. Again the P-47s stayed right with us and kept the worst off us. Once we hit the cloud cover past the target everything eased up for the rest of the way home.
One more in the bag. Only a few more to go.
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
LUCKY SEVEN, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with nose gun destroyed, damage to the starboard wing root, the starboard waist gun jammed, and a few superficial holes, and 1 casualty. (41 Damage points per the Peckham damage chart).
After a disappointing forced abort four days ago, we were glad to be in flight headed towards the Jerries. We were able to get airborne and assembled without any incidents this time. The flight out was uneventful till about 100 miles from the target. Two waves of single ME-109s swung in for the attack. Our little friends, who proved to be right on the spot every time, chased off the first jerry away. Jerry number two, missed after Fidone damaged his tail. Burroughs saw bits of the rudder separate from the ME's tail as it turned for home.
In the target Zone our little friends did a great job of keeping three enemy fighters from getting close. Though they were out numbered and a lone ME-109 caught us from 3 o'clock high. Pegging the starboard wing around the root, continuing along the side of the ship he hit the tail injuring Burroughs. We thought he was bad, as we didn't here from him at first. Later he said he blacked out for while from the pain to his hand, but recovered shortly after (Sid Burroughs used his "Lucky Charm" to reverse a SW [d6=5] to a LW [d6=4]). On the second wave we had a frontal attack from three ME-109s of which Lt. Radfordson got his probable and Lt. Grams also claimed a probable. This knocked of the third ME's aim, as he miss us on his shot.
There was a medium flak but none of it found us and we went untouched. Lt.
Grams placed around 30% of the eggs on target as
confirmed by Sgt. Fidone.
Coming off the target we saw three waves of 109s awaiting our return. Again our little friends saved our butts by chasing the first three enemy fighters away. The other crews diverted the last wave. Their gunnery was great this day.
Around 100 miles from the target, we saw a flight of Me.109's but an attack never materialized. At the half way point of our trip we were jumped by two 109s. One missed us and the other took out Grams' nose gun. This fighter's second pass was almost his last. With a spray of bullets from Sgt. Lis' guns and SSgt. Rhodes getting a probable, chased this German off.
That was the last of Jerry for this trip and we made it the rest of the way without any other episodes.
Crew Status: Sgt. Sid Burroughs - Light Wound in the left hand. Awaiting Doctor's clearance for duty (later treated & released for further duty).
Aircraft Status: Lightly damaged and flyable; starboard wing root damaged by 20mm hit, nose gun inoperable, starboard waist gun jammed but repairable (41 pts damage - Peckham Chart).
Claims: Fifteen enemy aircraft encountered.
7 - Driven off by our fighters
4 - ME-109s Damaged; 1st Lt. M. Radfordson, 1-ME-109 probable; 1st Lt. M. Grams, 1 ME-109 probable; Staff Sgt J. Rhodes, 1 ME-109 probable; Sgt. L. Fidone, 1 ME-109 damaged
- Capt. Jamie Jameson, Pilot, Lucky Seven
CABALLERO, third flight, lead aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #3 engine inoperable, port waist .50 destroyed, damage to the control cables, superficial damage to the port wing, the fuselage, to the nose, pilots, bomb bay and tail compartments. No casualties. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by Sgt. Bristoe.
Return to Sterparone Field