MISSION 45 - STEYR AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
MEMPHIS GAL, lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with hole damage to the nose and waist compartments and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Fulmer.
We were all a little nervous being the lead ship, especially Bob and Clarke in the nose. Fighter cover again was pretty good and many German attacks were thwarted by our little friends. We were a bit concerned about crossing the Alps especially on the return leg, as any damage that may force us to fly at a lower altitude would almost certainly be disastrous. Fortunately Lady Luck was with us today and we managed to return home despite the heavy flack and swarms of German fighters.
Despite Bobís nerves we got a good percentage of our bombs on target and are confident that the ball bearing plant will be put out of action for quite some time.
We must have the luckiest/unluckiest port waist gunner in the group. Luckiest, because he has managed to survive all the German attempts to kill him so far and there have been quite a few. The poor chap had just returned to our crew after being wounded over Klagenfurt, managed to get through Sofia without incident only to get it again this mission. The chaps over at the infirmary know my crew very well since we spend so much of our spare time there visiting poor old Knott. The Doctor says that he will make it, but only time will tell whether he will return to active duty. I hope for his sake they just send him home and let the poor man be.
- Capt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal
SILVER SPOON, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned out of formation with bombardier's oxygen system inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. MacDonald (1 claim later confirmed by S-2).
We came home at 10 000ft and alone yet again, but it was only for the last few miles. We had a smooth run there and back, with the Alps looking beautiful. A 109 got us on the return leg and knocked the bombardierís oxygen out, but that was it for excitement!
- Capt. Milton B. Forrest III, Pilot, Silver Spoon
MISS CONCEPTION, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with ball turret jammed and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Carlson.
DIVINE WIND, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Reached target zone but was shot down by flak. 9 survivors.
When the plane neared the target it was reported that there was heavy flak over the target. According to squadron reports, the plane took a direct hit on the port wing and exploded. It was reported that only three chutes were seen leaving the plane.
- from the 88th Bombardment Group (Heavy) MACR #64
WAKKA WAKKA, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with damage to the rudder, waist oxygen system, an oil leak to the #2 engine that self-sealed, and no casualties.
We got hit just outside of our home turf but he only managed to ding one of the waistís O2 bottles. The rest of the outbound trip was very quiet with the little guys doing a damned good job even with limited resources. Virgil really banged up a 190 over the target zone and dinged a 109 on the way home.
The flak was lousy. Nothing major got hit but it was enough to throw us off target. We saw 5 jerry fighters on the way home but our cover kept them far away.
Landing was reasonable. Another one under the belt.
- 2nd Lt. Peter Taylor, Pilot, Wakka Wakka
MORBID ANGEL, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bomb control inoperable, superficial damage to an aileron, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. T. Morris (later confirmed by S-2).
It wasn't until just before the target that we saw any fighters, and then there were 2 waves. The first one seemed like our luck from the last mission was changing . . . at first. Morris shot down a 109, and then Norman winged another one . . . but that one kept coming, and took out the bomb release mechanism. This mission was doomed, as far as our primary objective. But we figured we'd give 'em hell while we were in formation - the safest place to be, if you can call anywhere above Steyr safe. The second wave was where Sandoval hurt a plane bad, and it broke off.
Flak wasn't too bad . . . we had superficial damage to an aileron.
We started out on our way back with a fighter wave that traded shots with us, then went away . . . and then . . . silence. We didn't see another fighter the whole way home. Guess we'll have to get our revenge for Pearson next mission . . .
- 1st Lt. David Vincent, Pilot, Morbid Angel
318th BS (Middle)
GOLDEN SPIKE, Third flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with damage to the top turret and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Turner.
It was a surprisingly easy flight into the target. We didn't have any trouble until we reached Steyr. There we drew three small waves. We damaged the first Me-109 coming in from 12 level, but he still managed to shoot up the top turret, seriously wounding SSgt. Garbutt in the process.
The flak was really heavy. We watched in horror as Michigan Mule took a direct hit in the bomb bay to our port side, then moments later Divine Wind's port wing exploded and she violently dropped out of formation. God was good to us though, and we managed to close on the target without a single flak hit. For his part Lt. Thompson managed to drop 30% on the mark.
The flight home was quiet enough. Only three more Me-109s made it through the formation and friendly fighter cover. We damaged one and SSgt. Turner used his tail guns to finish off another Me-109 as it finished its attack.
Once we crossed the Alps Lt. Lawton spent the remainder of the flight patching up SSgt. Garbutt's wounds. His medical skills may well have saved Don's life but this time hell be going home. That only leaves two of us from the original crew, and we still have 7 missions to earn our ticket home.
- Capt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Golden Spike
BAWLMER BETTY, Third flight, right aircraft
Aborted mission outbound over the Alps (zone-5) from battle damage. Returned alone out-of-formation with jammed bomb bay doors, minor damage to pilots' compartment and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Lt. Mason & Sgt. Winter.
We encountered no enemy fighters until we were passing over the Alps, when four Me-109s jumped us. Two were destroyed before they could open up on us and one fired and missed. The fourth scored hits on our bomb bay, jamming the doors shut. Unable to bomb the target, we aborted the mission. Luckily, we encountered no more fighters all the way home and landed safely back at Streparone with our bomb load still intact.
This makes five straight unsuccessful missions. We're all convinced . . . Betty is a jinxed ship!
- 1st Lt. Mark Beyer, Pilot, Bawlmer Betty
MICHIGAN MULE, Third flight, left wingman
Reached target zone but was shot down by flak. No survivors.
Michigan Mule was seen exploding (flak burst in bomb bay) over target. No chutes were seen. All crew members believed KIA.
- from the 88th Bombardment Group (Heavy) MACR #63
399th BS (HIGH)
RAID HOT MAMA, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with the ball turret jammed, tail guns inoperable, the port wing flaps shot out, damage to the control cables, superficial damage to the port wing and the #2 engine, to the radio room and waist compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by SSgt. Fargo (Me-110 claim was later confirmed by S-2).
Our flight was routine until we entered the target area, then the fighters were upon us. A wave of Me-109s attacked us and made a head on pass. SSgt. Fargo shot up on and the pilot was seen bailing out. The others shot up our port wing and knocked out the ball turret trapping Sgt. McKnight. On the next pass our tail guns were knocked out. Sgt. Burrows managed to damage another Me-109 when he came around from 9 o'clock level.
The enemy fighters left as fast as they had arrived as we entered into the flak over the target. Lt. Demarco report that at least 40% of our bomb fell in the target area.
After we finished the bomb run the German fighters came at us again. Both Lts. Demarco and Donahue managed to score hit on an Me-109 each. An Me-110 came in from the rear; he must have seen that our tail guns were knocked out. He got a little to close and SSgt. Fargo put a long burst into his port wing, causing the wing to come off. We saw a couple of groups of Me-109s later, but the defensive fire fro the group drove off the bandits.
We spent the rest of the mission attempting to get Sgt. McKnight out of the ball turret with out any success. After landing it took the ground crew over half an hour to free him for the turret . I don't know how he is alive the turret was all shot up, but McKnight did not have as much as a scratch on him.
- Capt. Art DeFilippo, Pilot, Raid on Mama
ADOLPH's NIGHTMARE, Lead flight, right wingman
Aborted mission zone 2 due to mechanical difficulties. Retuned to base alone.
125 miles North of Foggia our electrical system went dead. We fell out of formation and turned back to base. Sgt. Clare tried to lower the landing gear, but they seemed to be stuck. We were really worried about Sgt. Vinson in the ball turret as he was trapped. As we slowly descended Sgt. Clare finally managed to lower the landing gear and we landed safely.
- Lt. H. Egan, Pilot, Adolph's Nightmare
MISSOULA EXPRESS, Lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with port main landing gear inoperable, bombardier and pilot's heating system, tail turret guns, port wing ailerons and flaps inoperable, damage to the port outboard fuel tank (self-sealed) and wing root, numerous superficial holes and damage all over the aircraft, and 3 casualties and 2 cases of frostbite.
It was nice and quiet all the way to target. Once again, we can't praise the Checkertails highly enough for keeping the Germans off us. We didn't see any until we we over the Alps, and then they didn't attack us personally.
Over target, the 38s kept up the good work for a while, but there were so many enemy a/c they were bound to get through. One shot out the heat in the cockpit and put some holes in our port wing--we saw the gas leak out before the tanks sealed. Flak was really really heavy--so thick I thought we could land on it--and it messed up out port wing even more and threw our aim off. Frank claims he hit something, though.
The way home was likewise pretty quiet, though it started to get real cold in the cockpit. Then over the Adriatic the fun started. A bunch of Germans made it through the fighter cover and seemed to zero in on us. They shot up the port wing even more, got Carl and Bob and Bill, and we had a devil of a time driving them off.
Landing was an adventure, what with the port gear shot up by the Krauts and me with the frostbite, but we got down okay. The new copilot got his ticket home, along with Carl and Bill. Bob didn't make it.
- 2nd Lt. Bill Hern, Pilot, Missoula Express
CAROLINA LADY II, Second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with starboard aileron inoperable, damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, superficial damage to pilots' compartment, fuselage, and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by Lt. Stein (1 claim was later confirmed by S-2)
We had an uneventful flight until 50 miles from the target; jumped by Fw-190s--we drove them off, Lt. Stein shooting down an Fw making a head-on attack.
Flak was heavy and accurate--Sgt. Clare in the tail was hit badly by shrapnel and the PC also got some new holes in it. Stein was on target and dumped 50% of our bombs on the target.
The waist gunners did first aid on Clare during the bomb run. After the turn for home we got hit by 3 more waves of Fw's and Me- 109s. During this fight Stein got another FW and the top turret damaged a second. Suddenly they were gone and we a had a quiet trip home. Clare got taken away in an ambulance--the group surgeon says he's going home.
- 1st Lt. Mark Choate, Pilot, Carolina Lady II
MISTER WRECKTED, Second flight, right aircraft
Shot down outbound over Yugoslavia (zone-4) by enemy fighters. 1 survivor.
Sorry to report that the Mister Wreckted was lost over Yugoslavia on today's mission. I was part of the escort group, but we had a helluva time getting organized, and there were a lot of fighters swarming all over the formations. Mister Wreckted got hit by three 190s, who were in the process of chewing her up pretty good when they scored a series of cannon hits on the outboard engine on the port side. The engine blew pretty quick, and I only saw one chute, and honestly I was surprised to see that one.
- 1st. Lt. Roy Harwell, 319th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group
CIVIC DUTY, Second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned out-of-formation and made belly landing at base. Status: starboard landing gear inoperable, #1 engine feathered, chin and tail guns inoperable, port wing tank holed (self sealed), nose compartment heating system inoperable, bomb sight damaged, and 5 casualties. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by SSgt. Benham.
The outbound leg was quiet until we entered Yugoslavia; then we were targeted by 4 109s. My boys missed them as they dove in, but they missed us on their passes.
As we entered Steyr the other forts took the brunt of the Luft's force. They never made a pass at us, but we could see them hounding the rest of the formation.
The flak was unbelievably heavy, we took hits all over the aircraft. Our port wing tank was holed (self sealed), the chin turret disabled, Engine #1 damaged (feathered and out), Sgt. Egger our tail gunner was hit, and we took superficial hits to almost everywhere else.
The Bomb run was off target and Lt. Hollabaugh reports he missed the target completely.
Just before we hit the Alps on the way back home we were hit by 190s and 109s. The P-38s did a good job peeling some of them off of us, but there were plenty to go around. Sgt. Bailey damaged one 190 coming in from our 1 and made him peel off, but the remaining Jerries raked us. We took superficial damage to both wings, nose and radio room, Lt. Shoup was hit in the foot by a round, and they knocked out our tail gun. As they came back around SSgt. Benham downed on of the 190s, the rest missed us and left.
Once we cleared the Alps I was forced to drop from formation to keep my nose crew from freezing.
As we headed out of the water from Yugoslavia we were hit by three 190s. SSgt. Benham downed his second 190 of the day, the other 190s did superficial damage to the wings and missed on their second pass.
Due to the starboard side landing gear not functioning on our approach I was forced to make a belly landing. The plane is pretty torn up, but the ground crew says its not a lost cause.
- 1st Lt. Glen Short, Pilot, Civic Duty
318th BS (HIGH)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with radio and elevator instruments inoperable, damage to the rudder, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Owens and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Dodge.
We had a relatively smooth mission up until we got to the target. A couple of Jerries jumped us going in but we smoked two and sent the other two home missing a few parts.
We were hit by FLAK twice, losing our radio and my elevator instruments. Post-mission inspection also showed a rudder hit, luckily it was only one. Donnie is getting better as we did hit the target for 20%.
We saw a few Jerries on the return but no damage was suffered. Our landing was uneventful.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge
EASY DOES IT, Third flight, right aircraft
Reached target but did not bomb due battle damage. Returned with the bomb release mechanism and bomb bay doors inoperable; port landing gear inoperable; autopilot mechanism inoperable; outboard fuel tank, starboard wing--holed (self-sealed); radio room heating system inoperable, wing root damage to the port wing, and 5 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-109s apiece by Sgts. Jaeger & Carson.
These missions just keep getting worse and worse. We got jumped over the water by four 190s, but our shooting was hot initially, with Jaeger and Carson knocking two of them down. We got a scare when one of the ones that got through put a round into the bomb bay, damaging the release mechanism. Another put a round into Sgt. Jaeger's arm, but he was okay.
It got quiet until over Steyr, when we got hit with five 190s coming from all over the place. Sgt. Rincon got hit once, and then got hit again, killing him. Another Kraut got us from 6 high and ran hits right down the fuselage, wounding Stallings, McCardell, and Villeneux, and damaged the bomb bay doors. I stuck with the formation, even though it brought us through the worst flak we've seen yet.
The flak chewed up our wings and (we found out later) damaged our port side landing gear and knocking out the heat in the radio room. With so many wounded on board, I made the decision to keep us in formation; unfortunately, Sgt. Villeneux has paid for my decision with his fingers.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, and I managed to land the plane with a belly full of bombs and the portside gear out, thanks to the help of Sgt. Jaeger.
- 2nd Lt. Dale Hammond, Co-pilot, Easy Does It
QUIEN SABE, Third flight, left wingman
Aborted zone-3 outbound from damage from enemy fighters. Returned out of formation alone with the intercom, elevator controls, nose compartment heating system, top turret inoperable, the navigator's control destroyed, damage to the oxygen systems in the waist and tail compartments, tail plane, both wing roots, to the rudder and 2 casualties.
We didn't even get a view of the Alps on this one. We were jumped by 3 Me-109s that caused havoc to our aircraft. We lost our intercom, the elevator controls, the heat up front in the bombardiers/navigators compartment, the navigator controls, the top turret guns and hits to the tail plane, wing roots and rudder as well as hits to the oxygen in the tail and starboard waist!!!
I took the decision to abort as we would have to drop out of formation to keep everyone conscious and our ship was in no condition to protect herself. Techy Armstrong and Sgt. Jones received bullet wounds, but will be patched up in time for our next bash.
- 1st Lt. Gary Johnstone, Pilot, Quien Sabe
316th BS (Low)
SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with starboard brake lines cut by flak fragments, port tail plane root hit by flak, superficial damage in nose compartment from 20mm shells and flak. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Wheeler & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Jackson.
Satin Doll came through the trip to Steyr with only a few minor scratches. We encountered our first E/A about 75 miles out. One of the Jug Jockeys plastered the Kraut at 1:30 level, while George fired a couple ineffective bursts at the Hun at 12 high. This one connected with the nose, putting in some new ventilation right over PJ's station. PJ shot up the one at 12 level pretty well, and he broke off for the deck trailing black smoke. The Kraut that holed PJ's office swung around to 6 high and met PeeWee's tail stingers. Blankenship called in to report that the he watched the 109 go straight into the ground, and that he didn't see a chute.
The rest of the flight, the Krauts left us alone, but the boys stayed busy firing at the swarms that attacked the rest of the formation.
Nearing the target area, Griff's crew kept two waves of Jerries off us, but drew them into Lucky Nickel. The third wave swept in, and we opened up before they could get to Griff and his boys. Two of them broke off, and came after us. A P-38 driver gets credit for eliminating an Fw-190 at 10:30 high, and Hal Jackson hammered his FW at 3 level, blowing his fuel tank.
Flak over the target was as briefed, thick and accurate. We had two shells blow really close, and fortunately we sustained only superficial damage to the nose, a hit in the port tail plane root, and scattered fragments in the starboard wing. Even with the old girl bouncing around a bit, PJ still got 40% of the load on target.
Rallying off the target, we saw more little black specks with flashing noses and wings heading our way, but the rest of the formation drove them off. This was the pattern for the rest of the trip home. A wave would form up, and either pass us by or get driven off by our squadron mates or Little Friends.
The landing went smoothly, until I hit the brakes to slow our rollout. The port brakes took up fine, but the starboard brakes did nothing. I let up off the brakes and Hank called back to the waist and had the gunners strap their chutes to the gun mounts and pull the ripcords. We hadn't seen this trick since our early training back in Walla Walla. It worked fairly well and we finally got the Doll stopped just before she rolled off the end of the main strip. It seems that the brake lines on the starboard gear were severed by flak.
- Capt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th BS, 88th BG (H)
LUCKY NICKEL, Lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 95%. Returned with damage to the starboard wing root, minor damage to starboard aileron, superficial damage to the both wings, to the radio room, bomb bay, waist and tail compartments, and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Me-109s by Capt. Collins, 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgts. Watkins & Edmond.
So much for my last log entry of enemy fighters being scarce. This flight we were swarmed. Without our fighter cover I'm sure we would have taken much more damage then we did.
Right off the bat we were hit by 4 Me-109s, coming in at 12 & 6. Bombardier killed one right off, one missed but the 12 high guy hit the radio room nicking our guy in the heel of his boot. The 6 guy got hits on radio room, bomb bays & waist but all were superficial. These two guys swung around now coming in at 6 & 3. The tail gunner got the 6 guy and the 3 guy again hit for superficial on our starboard wing. He came around for time# 3 at the 12 level but was met by 'dead-eye' as the bombardier scored his 2nd kill.
As we flew into the next zone, another three Me-109s came at us; one missed, one was driven off by friendly and the third got shot out of the sky by the waist gunner.
Even over the Alps, we were chased by enemy fighters (three Me-109s) but each of us missed the other.
Over target, it really got hot. First we were hit by 3 waves of fighters. Wave #1 had Fw-190 fighters at 12, 1:30, 3 & 9. Two were driven off by friendly fighters, 1 missed and the final guy at 3 o'clock was hit by starboard waist for damage so he missed. Wave #2 was 3 Fw-190s at 12, 3 low & high. Two were again driven off and starboard waist gunner again damaged him so he missed. Finally wave #3 was driven off by other B-17's in the group.
Flak was very heavy. We took hits on the port wing and tail. The wing hit was superficial with just some fist size holes. The tail gunner got, what we thought was a massive hit as he was screaming there was "blood all over", but he must have used a rabbit's foot as the 'blood' was a smuggled ketchup bottle that had shattered as he was thrown against the side of the compartment from shockwave of the flak . . . I've warned him before about taking snacks on this flight . . .
Anyway, the Flak did not seem to faze our bombardier, in fact, he said the shot in the rear pushed the plane "right over the target" with an amazing 95% drop. As we swung around, we again were faced with 3 Me-109s all at the front position but all were driven off by our fighters.
Again, over the Alps we thought we had a fighter on vertical climb but he must have run out of power in the thin air and never made it up to us.
Just as we came out of the Alps, we were struck by 2 waves of 3 Me-109s and 3 Fw-190s. Both waves were driven off by the massive P-38 fighter cover. We began to relax as we approached base but one last group of Fw-190s came at us but they did not press the attack too aggressively and we must have been too tired as all our shots when wide.
We finally landed, the crew and myself were so tired we collapsed upon coming out of the aircraft and had to wait for the jeep to bring us back as nobody had any strength left to even move. Not quite what I envisioned on our last few flights. Hopefully this is the last "long one" we will have to go through.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny
LUCKY SEVEN, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Fell out-of-formation after taking flak BIP to the nose compartment. Returned to base alone with 3 casualties. Aircraft classified as Category E: damaged beyond economical repair. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Rhodes and Sgt. Lis.
What a nightmare! Everything was going normal, just as our first fourteen missions. We only saw two waves during the outbound leg, seeing a total of five enemy fighters up to the IP. Lt. Radfordson and SSgt. Rhodes both damaged one fighter each. All five enemy fighters missed their mark and left us alone after one pass.
Then as we approached the target we encountered the normal welcoming committee. This group of fighters was driven off by our twin checkered tailed friends.
As we saw the target city coming up, the enemy fighters high tailed it out and the 88's opened up. This is when all hell broke loose. Their first burst achieved multiple hits on us damaging the tail, port wing aileron and the inboard port fuel tank. This fuel tank hit developed into a small fire that we were able to put out with a shallow dive. Just as we pulled out of the dive I radioed our lead to see if we could go around this soup when, BANG! We took a solid burst to the nose. The 'Lucky Seven' felt as if she had stopped dead in her tracks. When TSgt. Rhodes investigated, he reported that the Kraut 88's had BIP'ed our nose, killing Lieutenant Grams and Lieutenant Radfordson instantly. This knocked the hell out of everything. The plane became a beast to handle and we lost speed instantly. I had to drop us out of formation and TSgt. Rhodes dropped our eggs from the bomb bay. Sgt. Fidone thinks a couple of them may have hit the target, but I seriously doubt it. From here on out it seamed to take forever to make any headway. The Krauts took advantage of this as they descended upon us like the vultures they are.
Thank God for the Red Tail Squadron. After the twin-tails left us to keep up with the main force, a handful of Red Tails came up from below and chased off many enemy fighters. If it wasn't for them we would have surly perished today. Still, many Krauts snuck through, hitting us non-stop. With the Alps in sight, one Fw-190 took out our radio, tail guns and damaged Sgt. Lis' oxygen respirator. The enemy pilot also managed to give me a nick in the head.
After we cleared the Alps more enemy fighters jumped us. Once they committed to the attack they wouldn't break off 'till their fighters were on fumes. Our luck did hold up though, as either the enemy fighters aim was off or our little friends drove them off. This minimized our damage sustained and we only sustained damage to our starboard wing flap, it was rendered inoperable.
We did get one last scare as we approached the Italian coast though. A lone Me-109 took advantage of our battered bird and attempted a 12 o'clock level attack. But just before he opened fire a Red Tail slotted in behind him and blew the Kraut to smithereens.
Crew Status: 1st Lieutenant Mark Grams, KIA flak burst in nose; 1st Lieutenant Mathew Radfordson, KIA flak burst in nose; Captain Jamie Jameson, LW to head. Flight status is per doctor's recommendation.
Aircraft Status: Category E, Damage to air frame is too extensive for repair. (342 Damage pts - Peckham's Chart)
Claims: 24 enemy aircraft encountered with 13 driven off by our fighters.
- Capt. Jamie Jameson, Pilot, Lucky Seven
OLD YARD DOG, Second flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with a leaking inboard fuel tank on the port wing, dropped bomb bay doors, rudder controls and starboard ailerons inoperable, damage to the oxygen system in the tail compartment, superficial damage to both wings, the fuselage, bomb bay compartment and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by 2nd Lt. Forrest, Sgt. Thomas, Sgt. Riddell.
Low squadron again. At least we were not the "Tail-end Charlie". I have seen too many planes go down back there. We ran into 190s all day today. Those big nasty buzzards are trouble. Five at least came after us on the way to the target and we even had one come at us while humping the Alps! Most hits were superficial thank goodness.
Flak was heavy as advertised and we took a hit in the bomb bay and both wings. The bomb bay hits damaged the doors but they held up and opened on command. Luckily our ailerons held on as well. Losing both would have made landing touchy. Our veteran bombardier stayed on target and put 20% on target.
Turning for home 6 more 190s blasted at us. My bombardier got one and he went down smoking. The rest finally put paid on the starboard aileron and the bomb bay doors. They dropped open and made for a cold ride home for the rear of the plane. My ball gunner called out after that pass he got a 190 as well. I think the tail gunner can confirm the kill.
We bundled up as best we could over the Alps with our doors open and made it with no trouble. As we began to nearer home waters, a further gaggle of 190s took an interest in us. My port waist took one out with a long burst but not before our rudder instruments were shot away as well as the oxygen in the tail. Much more dangerous was the fuel leak from the inboard tank with #2 engine. My engineer figured it had about 100 miles left in it so we began rehearsing the shut down procedures. We landed heavily with #2 out but we got down. That is what counts . . .
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog
CABALLERO, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Returned with damage to the port tail plane root, superficial damage to both wings, the fuselage, to the nose and waist compartments. No casualties.
FIRE PIGEON'S RAINBOW, Second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned out-of-formation after re-crossing the Alps (zone-3) and returned alone with radio room heating system, port waist machine gun inoperable, damage to the rudder and control cables, superficial damage to the starboard wing, waist, bomb bay and pilots' compartments and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Solo and 2 Me-109s by Sgt. Frank.
This was our first one, just out of the training in the USA and only after arriving here in Italy, we where to go over the Alps and straight at Austria. The take-off was made by the book and after getting into position as "Tail-End Charlie" of the formation, and we were off.
A little short of the Yugoslavian coast we where met by 2 boogies, one of them right in our 6 high as by the book and also by the book our Sgt. Frank, George just wiped it out of the sky. The other one (an Fw-190 I was told) just made a vertical dive and no one was able to stop it, but we where with some luck because that one just passed us by without landing us any hit. When we where 15 minutes onto Yugoslavia we had another welcome committee of 4 Me-109s that were converging on us from all around the clock, when finally, our little friends decided to drop a eye on the back end of the formation and where able to drive one of those bastards out!! The other 3 just keep coming, blazing away with everything as we where also. We didn't hit any but two of them scratched a little paint on several points. When those 2 were made a comeback, one of them decided to get us from the 6 high for the pleasure of our Sgt. Frank, George that did service it with a beautiful fireball!! The other one came back from 12 low but missed us completely (as we repaid him with the same money).
Over the Alps the weather was great just like the weather guys told us, with no one in sight, but as soon as we entered the approach to the target zone we where met by 3 Me-109s that our Little Friends came over them so that only 1 of them was able to pass by trading shots with us but without any hits to any side. With our confidence in high mark we arrived in the target zone and then everything started to go down the toilet. First, the heavy flak just keep pounding our plane, hitting the tail control cables and causing superficial damage on the starboard wing. I was lightly wounded when a shrapnel piece bruised me on my left hand, but the worst of all was poor Radioman Tech-Sgt. Morse, David, who was severely wounded on the right shoulder, and in the heat of the moment we only knew it on the way back. With so many flak hits we where a little shaken from our flight path and for all I know, the bombs were all dropped out of the target with 0 accuracy.
When we started to turn back home we where hit by 3 consecutive waves totaling 9 fighters that hit us from everywhere. That where 3 minutes of complete hell aboard, and I can only sum up the overall impression of that hell and the after effects: Flight Eng. SSgt. Holo, Hans was able to kill 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109, tail gunner Sgt. Frank, George was able to drive off another Me-109. On the bad side we where hit several times, bombardier 2nd Lt. Fallen, Ferdinand was lightly hit on the right foot, my compartment was also superficially hit as were the bomb bay area (we had already dropped our load!), the port waist gun was taken out (port waist gunner Sgt. Pick, Brad is now in the base chapel praying to some saint that protected him in that one!!), we also took a hit to the rudder but it was still operable, and on the radio room the heat system was put out of commission. It was when we where re-crossing the Alps that we checked on Radioman Tech-Sgt. Morse's condition and saw that the heat system was out. Even taking into account the Tech-Sgt.'s condition and the danger for him to getting frostbitten, I decided to keep us in the formation across Yugoslavia where we where expected by no more then 5 Me-109s, but with some help from our Little Friends no harm was done.
As soon as we got to the sea I dropped the plane out of formation and bellow 10,000 feet so that Tech-Sgt. Morse would not be exposed to the frozen conditions of high altitude. From here to the base nothing more appeared to us and we landed without problems.
- 1st Lt. Manuel Pombeiro, Pilot, Firepigeon's Rainbow
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