MISSION 50 - VIENNA AARs
399th BS (LEAD)
CAROLINA LADY II, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Fell out of formation (zone-2 inbound) and returned alone with # 3 & #4 engines inoperable, radio destroyed, the starboard outer fuel tank holed, damage to the rudder and port wing root, superficial damage to the port wing (2 hits), to the starboard wing (1 hit), to the fuselage (3 hits), to the nose (2 hits) and waist compartments (1 hit), and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 1st Lt. Stein and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Barnes. SSgt. Barnes' claim later confirmed by S-2.
This was our first time leading the group and we wanted to do a good job. Takeoff and assembly went fine.
About 100 miles from the target we got hit by 4 Fw-190's and an Me-109. We managed to shoot down an FW (by Stein) and the ME (by Barnes). They hit the nose hard--I thought at first Lt. Orwing had bought it. A 20mm exploded next to him and knocked him down. He got up and resumed his position (lucky charm).
The flak during the bomb run was right on us and the nose took another hit--this time it was Stein who got blasted off his seat---he crawled back up and dropped on target! Luckily his flak jacket prevented any serious injuries (lucky charm). The flak must be radar controlled down there--after the bomb run they hit us again--this time in both wings, putting a large hole in the starboard outer fuel tank--in about 50 miles the fuel was gone and we had to shut down #4 engine.
The flight home was uneventful--until we were about 150 miles out. Barnes called out an Me-109 coming in from 12 high--nobody saw the 109 coming down vertically--he shot out #3 and we had to feather it. We applied full power to #1 and #2 and pushed in full left rudder----the group nearly ran us down and we fell out of formation and lost altitude at an alarming rate. All the while more Me-109's were lining up on us. In the next few minutes we took hits all over the ship: the rudder, the port wing root, control cables, the radio and lots of superficial damage---Sgt Hakama took a string of MG bullets and collapsed. Somehow we were able to fight through the swarm of E/A--maybe they were low on fuel. I know we used a lot of ammo. We landed okay and got Hakama out of the ship--doc says he's going home.
- Capt. Mark Choate, Pilot, Carolina Lady
LUCY QUIPMENT, lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to the port wing, to the nose, bomb bay, and radio compartments and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Goyer, 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Jacob, and 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Thompson. SSgt. Jacob's claim later confirmed by S-2.
This was my first mission as the pilot; we formed up without a hitch. Little Friends did a good job on the way to the target and the few enemy fighters that did mange to slip by were driven off by defensive fire by the other B-17s in our formation. Prior to reaching the target area the Jerry's came up in force, they stayed with us until after we left the target. The group was hit by multiple waves of enemy fighters, SSgt. Jacob, Sgts. Goyer and Thompson each managed to destroy a fighter each. In addition the boys scored hits on at least three others, forcing them to break off there attacks. We suffered mostly minor damage to the nose, radio room, bomb bay and port wing.
Flak over the target was accurate and just prior to bomb release we took a hit on the flight deck, which threw, off our aim. We completely missed the target according to Lt. Edwards. On the flight deck Lt. Ito was hit in the right leg, SSgt. Jacob managed to patch it up without any trouble.
As we were departing the target I saw that the group lead, Carolina Lady II was leaking fuel and she later had to shut down her #4 engine. The Jerry's seemed to pay special attention on the Carolina Lady II from then on.
- 1st Lt. Gibson, Pilot, Lucy Quipment, 399th Bomb Squadron
LAURALEE, lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with radio, tail turret guns, bombardier's heating system inoperable, navigator's equipment destroyed; damage to the control cables; superficial holes in the wings and fuselage, and 3 battle casualties and 1 case of frostbite.
Fairly quiet on the way in. Once again, the Checkertails did a good job keeping the Krauts off us, and those that did get through attacked other bombers, not us. The only one we saw was a lone a/c that made one firing pass at us then broke off. Another one dove down on us over target, but did only minor damage. The flak (both going and coming--we did not like that) missed, and we hit the target okay.
Then the Germans really hit us. They raked the fuselage, killing Paulie, wounding Frank and Chuck and Leon, knocking out the radio and tail guns, putting lots of holes in the plane. They got Frank's heat too, and it started getting really cold for him. Doc says he'll be okay though. We hit a few of them and saw them break away, smoking--don't know if we got any or not.
After that they left us alone, though they did keep hitting other planes--we saw Carolina Lady II get pounded, leaking fuel, and had to fall out of formation with two engines shot out. We got hit again when we were almost home, but made it back safely. A hairy ride.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Laurelee, 399th Bomb Group
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with intercom, radio and the radio room heating system inoperable, damage to the left wing root, and 1 case of frostbite. Claims: 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Petrocelli and 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Rance.
There were no fighters attacking until we were over the target. The first wave was driven off by the P-38s, but on the turn to the rally point three waves attacked. Although the P-38s disrupted their attacks some of the bandits got through and fired at us. We were hit a few times, but the damage was slight. However, TSgt. Sullivan got frostbitten due to a damaged heater in the radio room.
- 1st Lt. Paul Day, Pilot, Midnight Express
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard elevator inoperable, nose and tail compartments shot up, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Herndon & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Vetter.
Ballentine's gone. We haven't even finished celebrating that first swastika, that he earned for us, that we painted on the lady yesterday, and he's gone. And Grubby is gone, too. How did it all go wrong so fast? It seemed like a fairly smooth ride in, with only one 109 catching us out of the sun on a vertical dive over Yugoslavia, but Rusty and Kenny laid so much lead in his path that he clean missed us, although they missed too.
As we were lining up for our bombing run, all hell broke loose. Where the hell were the fighters?? First we got jumped by 4 Fw-190s, around the clock. Rusty nailed the Jerry coming in head on from the top turret, and I flew right over that bastard as it went tumbling to the earth in a trail of smoke. The attacker from 1:30 level slipped past the barrage laid down by Ballentine and Alexander, and rattled some fragments around the pilot compartment with no damage done. The bastard from 3 low laid a bunch of shells into the tail, but it was all superficial damage, although it rattled Grubby up pretty good. The guy at 9 high traded shots with Scheller, and then we didn't see him again. Two of those Jerries came at us again, head on, and Rusty threw a few rounds into the top flier, knocking him off his aim and sending him running home with smoke streaming. Ballentine hit the other guy, dammit it, looked like he hit him good, but he kept coming and he blew the hell out of the nose compartment. I called Ballentine to make sure he was okay, but he didn't respond. The bastard was coming around on us again, this time from 10:30 level, so Alexander had to fire at him and couldn't check on Ballentine, but it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference. That Jerry swapped lead with Alexander and then skedaddled, probably to get more ammo to replace all the rounds he shot into our fortress. As Alexander went to check on Ballentine, we got jumped by another pair of fighters, this time a 109 and a 100 that snuck up through the formation and tried to hit us from 3 low (Vetter knocked that guy right out of the sky from the ball turret) and 1:30 low, but they missed and then we hit the flak.
We took some more damage to the nose from a flak hit, and Alexander was able to drop the bombs as Ballentine directed him but it was a total miss. Alexander started trying to help Ballentine while keeping an eye on the chin guns, and as we turned for home we took another flak hit, this time in the waist. Scheller radio'd that Castor was hit pretty bad, looked like a gut shot and he started rendering first aid while watching the waist guns. The little friends finally showed up, and they drove off half of a quartet of fighters that jumped us. Vetter chased off the 190 that was coming in from 12 low, and later he told me that he thought that Grubby had nailed that 110 that was coming up from 6 low, but that Kraut bastard kept coming on, and he basically blew Grubby to pieces, scoring three direct hits on him in the tail, and knocking out the starboard elevator. He peeled off trailing smoke, but the damage had been done.
As we limped back home, the fighter kept us safe the rest of the way, and Clark took over the waist guns while Scheller went back to try and help Grubby, but he was already dead. We fired our flares and got a priority landing, but it was too late for Ballentine as he died of his wounds on the way to the infirmary. Turns out that Castor wasn't gut shot, and the docs tell me he will be back to flight duty in a couple of weeks. I hope we're still here when he comes back . . .
- 1st Lt. Todd Fairbanks, Pilot, Mawimazo
COLORADO GOLD, second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. McGuire & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Spencer.
No matter how much we had thought ourselves prepared, I don't think any of us got a good nights sleep before the mission. Take off went smoothly and we got into formation on time. No enemy fighters came near us until we entered the target zone.
Three Me-110s came in from 12 low, 10:30 level, and 6 low. The little friends drove off the 110 at 12 low before he got in range. The one from 10:30 level fired at us as he passed by but missed. Sgt. Spencer hit the 110 at 6 low causing it to burst into flames and head down. The chatter over the intercom got a little carried away as the crew celebrated the Gold's first kill. As I was telling them to pipe down the flak started up. That sure caused us to re-focus on what we were doing.
There were quite a few flak bursts around us but we got through it without being hit. 2nd Lt. Montague dropped the bombs on target. The flak coming up in the target zone on the way back was lighter and we got through it again without being hit.
After the flak let up a 190 came at us from 12 low accompanied by 3 109s at 12 level, 12 high, and 10:30 level. Our escorts came through for us again, driving off the 109 at 12 level. SSgt. McGuire, flight engineer, got his sights on the 109 at 12 high, catching him on the right engine. The 109 caught fire and barrel-rolled right over our port wing and headed towards the ground. The other 109 and the 190 missed us and didn't come back.
As we left the target zone we thought we were out of the worst danger. Boy, were we wrong. We saw four 190s coming at us. As the boys were calling out the bandits coming in our escort fighters came out of no where driving off 3 of them! The 190 that was left, 12 level, missed as he came past us and didn't come back.
The rest of the flight back was uneventful. We had no more encounters with enemy fighters.
Our first mission is out of the way and I think the crew performed well.
- 1st Lt. Daryl Evans, Pilot, Colorado Gold
CIVIC DUTY III, Third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Fell out-of-formation
after bomb run and returned alone. Landed with fire damage to radio room,
#4 engine out, radio & rudder inoperable, numerous superficial hits both wings
and the tail, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Lt. Torrey and
SSgt. Benham and 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Noakes.
Take off and form up went without incident. The trip was relatively quiet until we reached Austria. Once in Austria we were attacked by countless waves of 190s and 109s. They must have been pretty green because they missed us completely on their passes. My crew missed the majority of them, but Lt. Torrey did manage to down a 109 with the cheek gun.
The flak on the way in was brutal. We took 6 separate hits to our tail, three hits to our radio room, and three more to our wings. The tail rudder was knocked out, our #4 engine was knocked out, and the hits to the radio room knocked out the oxygen system, started a fire, and killed the radio.
Our bomb run was off, and our load missed the target completely. After we turned for home I was forced to drop from formation. Sgt. Milan managed to get the fire out, but the smoke billowing from our waist area seemed to attract every jerry in the country. Our escorts did what they could for us, but they couldn't get them all. We took several more hits to our wings, but luckily there was no real damage. Sgt. Benham managed to down a 109 with the top turret, and Sgt. Egger peppered his wingman as he passed, but they still kept coming.
As we entered Yugoslavia things lightened up, and Sgt. Noakes downed the last jerry we saw on this mission; a lone 110 that came in from directly below us.
Landing was safe and uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Glen Short, Pilot, Civic Duty III, 399th Bomb Squadron
316th BS (Middle)
ROUGH TIMES, Third flight, left wingman
Reached target but aircraft took a flak BIP in waist and bombs jettisoned. Returned alone out of formation and crashed landed at base with 10 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by 2nd Lt. Geist, 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Blanco, and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Simien. Aircraft later declared as Category E - damaged beyond economical repair.
Our trip to Vienna was quit ’till we reached the target. At this time three waves of fighter lined up to attack. The first wave was two Focke-Wulf 190's which our little friends drove off. Shorts’ crew in "Civic Duty II" disrupted the second waves attack and they diverted to a lower bombardment group. Three Focke-Wulf 190s followed them, with two being shot down by the P38s escorting us. Lt. Geist damaged the third enemy aircraft throwing off his attack.
That’s when all hell broke loose. We had turned over control of the ship to Lieutenant Geist to execute our bomb run. But with accurate 88’s fire we were nailed in the waist with a direct hit. The burst killed Sgts. Kelemen, Arcuri and Moffit outright. From the force of the blast Geist toggled the bombs early as we dropped violently out of formation. After dropping five to seven thousand feet Lt. Huffaker and I regained control of the ship. SSgt. Branco went rear and evaluated our damage and we formulated our plan home. We began climbing to avoid any more flak, but it didn’t help. We were harassed by light inaccurate flak on more than one occasion.
During our return the German Air force descended upon us like wolves. Immediately after the first flak had cleared two Fw-190s and a Me-109 jumped us. This started a flurry of enemy activity till we reached Zagreb, Yugoslavia. This resulted in the enemy chewing up our plane even hitting our port wing root. They also seriously wounded SSgt. Branco.
As we approached the Yugoslavian coast four Me-109s renewed the attacks. These fighters must have been piloted by green pilots in training as only one aircraft pushed the attack till Lt. Geist severally damaged his plane. With Sgt. Simien destroyed one on their last pass. This attack was followed up by five Fw-190s and two Me-109s. These enemy fighters knocked out Sgt. Simien’s tail guns and our tail wheel along with taking out number one engine. Moments later they seriously wounding Sgt. Simien’s who was making his way to the top turret to man those guns. This was the last we saw of any enemy fighter activity.
Upon landing we shot of multiple flares to inform the ground crews of out plight. Lt. Huffaker and I fought the plane as we were under powered and extremely beat up. We touched down rough two or three times and set down the tail to find out there was no wheel down to soften the blow. That is when the port wing collapsed and we spun around on the tarmac. We then skidded onto the grass which retarded our momentum and this is when we all slammed into the plane. Evidently Lt. Huffaker’s seatbelt was damaged as it failed and he hit hard on the column with his chest. He didn't survive this injury. Due to the extra time it took to return to base we also lost SSgt. Bronco and Sgt. Simien who both died of their wounds.
If I never have another mission like this it would be too soon!
Crew Status: 4 Lightly wounded, 3 KIA and 3 killed in crash.
Aircraft Status: Category-E; (546 damage points per Peckham's damage chart)
Claims: Fifteen enemy aircraft encountered, 30 driven off by our fighters.
2nd Lt. F. Geist, 1-Me109 & 1-Me110 Destroyed, 1-Me110 Damaged & 2-FW190 Probables
2nd Lt. G.Winans 1-Me109 Probable (while manning top turret).
SSgt. R. Branco, 1 Fw-190 Destroyed, 1 Fw-190 damaged and 1 Me-110 damaged.
Sgt. R. Simien, 1 Me-109 Destroyed, 1 Fw-190 probable & 1 Fw-190 damaged.
- 1st Lt. Peter Windley, Pilot, B-17G 43-7229 Rough Times, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
317th BS (Middle)
ARMADILLO, Third flight, right wingman
Shot down by fighters when bombs exploded on outbound leg to target over Yugoslavia (zone-3).
An Fw-190 attacked from 6 high, hitting the bombs exploding the Armadillo killing all ten crewmen.
- From debriefing reports of returning aircrews
318th BS (High)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with minor flak damage (20 damage pts.) and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-110s by Sgt. Stallard, 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Mitchell and 1 Me-190 apiece by SSgt. Chisman and Sgt. Miles.
Take off and form-up went along without incident. We saw no action until we started inbound from the final IP. On the approach to the target we saw two 110s and one 109. Excellent gunning sent all three down in flames.
We got hit by flak over the target but still managed to do some damage (30%). We were able to avoid the second exposure to FLAK and our luck continued when we saw one more 110 and one more 109 and were able to flame both.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge
QUIEN SABE, Lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with top turret inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. De Lavier.
A relatively trouble free flight, saw loads of bandits getting chased off by our fighter boys. De Lavier claimed 2 kills in the little action we saw and we damaged 3 aircraft as well. Our only scare was a 109 diving out of the sun that took out the guns in the top turret.
No wounded today - for once!!!!
- 1st Lt. Gary Johnstone, Pilot, Quien Sabe
8-BALL, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with tail guns inoperable and several superficial fuselage hits and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Hoag.
We didn't run into any enemy fighters until we reached the target area when we were attacked by three 190s (2 removed by the escorts). Then we were attacked by four 109s. One of the 109s knocked out the tail guns while another 109 was damaged by the ball gunner.
We didn't take any flak damage over the target. In spite of no flak damage, we did not get any of our bombs on target.
Leaving the target area Sgt. Hoag shot down a 109. In a attack by a 110, Lt. Tomas received a light wound to the right shoulder.
We didn’t run into any more enemy fighters on the way home and our landing was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. James Dolph, Pilot, 8-Ball, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
BAWLMER BETTY, Second flight, lead aircraft
Reached target area and jettisoned bombed due to damage of the #4 engine. Aircraft shot down over the Adriatic Sea (zone-2) by fighters, no survivors.
On the approach to Vienna, the B-17G known as Bawlmer Betty (Serial # 42-14186) was hit by flak in the #4 engine. Unable to feather their damaged prop, the crew jettisoned their bombs clear of the target and dropped out of formation. As they turned away from Vienna, Bawlmer Betty was immediately attacked by enemy fighters. Slowed by the unfeathered prop, the ship endured repeated assaults by wave upon wave of FW-190s, ME-109s and 110s all of the way back to the Adriatic. Escorting P-38s tried their best to defend the wounded ship, but the amount and severity of its damage steadily increased. The crew fought back and destroyed at least six of their attackers and damaged several others during their ordeal.
Over the Adriatic, a wave of 3 FW-190s slipped by the accompanying escorts and managed to score repeated walking hits along both sides of Balwmer Betty. Several of these hits heavily damaged the pilot's compartment of the ship. Immediately thereafter, the B-17 nosed over and plunged into the sea. No parachutes were seen and all members of Bawlmer Betty's crew are presumed to have been killed upon impact with the water.
-- Report assembled from 1st FG pilots' debriefings
UNCLE SAM'S $$, Second flight, left aircraft
Aborted mission zone-3 outbound due to loss of an engine and intercom system. Returned alone with #2 engine out (prop feathered); port elevator and intercom inoperable; damage to starboard wing root (1 hit), superficial damage to radio room and starboard wing, and no casualties.
After missing the last mission, the boys were really anxious to have at Jerry, but we missed out again! We saw one lone fighter coming at our formation over the water, but he didn't get through our own fighters, but things got hot as we approached the coast -- we got hit with 4(!) Fw-190s coming at us from all points of the clock. We held most of them off but one guy nailed us from 3 Low, which knocked out our #2 engine -- fortunately, we managed to feather the prop. We quickly discovered that our interphone system was not working, and I made the decision to drop the bombs over the water and head for home. I'm not sure how popular I am with these guys for that decision right now, heh-heh, but I felt we had too far to go without good internal communications.
The Krauts kept us busy on the way home, but we did get some help from our little friends, and we helped ourselves even more with some good shooting. No kills, but we definitely sent some of those pilots home with their tails between their legs. By the way, you may want to look at where the Jerry's are hiding out, they had a whole mess of fighters -- 190s -- right near our base. It may make it tough for the rest of the group when they come back.
- 1st Lt. Ralph Henderson, Pilot, Uncle Sam's $$
GOLDEN REVENGE, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Shot down by enemy fighters over Yugoslavia (zone-4) on return leg of mission; 9 chutes seen. Aircraft crashed 10 miles west of Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
It was lousy first mission for the Golden Revenge. Fifty miles from base, an Me-109 made a vertical dive and walked hits down the fuselage, knocking out both the nose and tail guns as well as the autopilot mechanism. The remainder of the trip to the target was fairly easy and the rookie bombardier almost managed a hit despite the autopilot problem and extra flak hit.
Turning for home the plane was jumped by two waves of Jerries, and one hit disabled the oxygen system. Dropping out of formation with two of their twin guns it was a miracle they managed to make it near Zagreb (zone 4) before a fire in #1 engine forced the crew to bailout out over Yugoslavia. Nine chutes were seen leaving the plane.
316th BS (HIGH)
LUCKY NICKEL, Third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with the starboard inboard engine (#3), the radio, the port waist .50 cal inoperable, rubber rafts shot up and holed, damage to the rudder and to the starboard aileron, and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s apiece by Capt. Hamilton & MSgt. Allison, 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgts. Jenkins & Watkins.
Virtually no enemy until just before the target area, most were chased away by fighters or other B-17's.
Flak was massive both in and out of area. All damage was done by these chunks of flying metal.
After we exited the area, fighters seems to swarm, perhaps to pick up the damaged guys. We fought off 4 waves of fighters over the next two areas and then we got hit by single fighters back to base.
Both MSgt. Allison and SSgt. Jenkins were both lucky this trip to avoid any serious injuries. Allison’s steel helmet defected a bullet from an Fw-190 and flak shrapnel barely missed Jenkins’ left leg after we turned around after the bomb run (Allison and Jenkins both used their lucky charms to prevent injury).
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SATIN DOLL, Third flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with navigator's equipment destroyed by 20mm shell, superficial damage to the starboard wing, nose, and cockpit from 20mm & 13mm shells, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 each by Capt. Morris and MSgt. Turner. Capt. Morris' claims later confirmed by S-2.
The trip to Vienna had its moments. The Satin Doll was slotted on Lucky Nickel's right wing in the high squadron, with Nightwing in the right slot. Thanks to the escort and the rest of the A/C in the formation, we didn't receive any attention from the Krauts until we crossed the Austrian border. Four Me-109s barreled in straight for us. A Jug jockey scored one from 9 high, while Turner and Morris plastered the ones at 12 high and 12 level. Blankenship peppered his at 12 low, causing him to break off trailing black smoke. Again, supporting firepower from the rest of the formation kept the Huns away as we entered the target area.
Flak was medium thick as briefed. We saw Griff get bounced around a bit, and then the Kraut gunners bracketed Nightwing. Her starboard wing was wrapped in flame and as she started to drop from formation, the wing collapsed and she broke up. Blankenship called in that he only saw one chute. Miraculously, the Kraut gunners missed us completely, allowing PJ to get a good line on the target and drop 30% of the load into the main factory complex.
Rallying off target, lighter flak was thrown up at us, but again, we came through without a scratch. Just after clearing 'Flak Alley', a lone 190 swung around from 10:30 level, only to meet up with a P-38 that flamed him.
Crossing into Yugoslavia, two 109's swept in, and were chased off by our Fork-Tailed Angels.
Halfway to the coast, three 190's set up off our nose and these too met with a P-38 reception.
Crossing the coast, three 190's tore into us from
12 high, 12 low, and 1:30 level. Turner got his at 12 high with his top
turret twin .50's. Blankenship, PJ and Wally filled the skies at 12 low
and 1:30 level with lead, but with no effect. Both Krauts scored a couple
of hits on us. The one from 12 low put a few superficial holes in the starboard
wing while his Kamerade from 1:30 level holed the cockpit and nose. Both
returned for another pass. PJ plastered the one at 12 level, shattering the
canopy and drilling the pilot into his seat. Wally missed his at 10:30
level, but the Kraut didn't have the stomach to press his luck, and broke off
after shooting wildly past us. When things settled down, Wally called in
bitching that he was going to bill the Krauts for a new set of navigation
instruments, a 20mm shell in the last attack had trashed his. Jokingly, PJ
replied that it didn't matter, Wally wasn't that good a navigator anyway.
This started a torrent of hoots, catcalls and banter that lasted the rest of the
way home. Letting the boys cut-up a little helped ease the tension of just
watching nine guys buy the farm.
A/C 42-12231 Nightwing observed hit by flak on bomb run. A/C broke up shortly thereafter; one parachute seen.
- Capt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
NIGHTWING, Third flight, left wingman
Shot down by fuel tank fire as a result of flak approaching target, 9 KIA and 1 survivor. Aircraft crashed 2 miles south of Vienna.
“I was behind and above the high formation of the low group as they went into their bomb run. The trailing B17’s starboard side got caught by two accurate clusters of flak one to port and one to starboard. The starboard wing burst into flame and then as the plane’s nose went down the starboard wing folded between the two engines and then the whole plane span and broke up. There was only one chute.”
- From the De-briefing of 1st Lieutenant Danny O’Sullivan, 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group
317th BS (Low)
THE BRAZEN HUSSY, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bombardier controls and tail guns inoperable, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Lt. Wittstock and Sgt. MacDonald. Sgt. MacDonald's claim later confirmed by S-2.
We didn’t get anywhere close to hitting the target. Damned flak took out Wittstock’s controls, and that was it. It was a nerve-wracking trip home too, cos a 190 hit us from our 6 and knocked out our tail guns. Luckily they didn’t spot it and left us alone most of the way home.
- Major Neal Amoore, Neal Amoore, Pilot, The Brazen Hussy, CO, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
FLAK CITY, Lead flight, right wingman
- 1st Lt. Adams, Pilot, Flak City
NATURE'S MISFITS, Lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with navigation instruments, radio, port aileron, both flaps, rudder inoperable, and 3 casualties. Plane ready for colander status. Claims: 2 Me-109 by SSgt. Wrench, 2 Me-109s by Sgt. Packer, 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Span.
Man, what a mission! The fighters were on us from the start like flies on . . . well, you know. We beat off wave after wave but didn’t seem to get hit too badly. Lots of superficials and a loss of a flap or aileron. The gunners did a sterling job. The fighter cover was just overwhelmed with the number of enemy planes. We got to the target all right and managed to get some of the eggs in the basket. The flak in was manageable and we were expecting some light stuff on egress.
Well, the ‘light’ flak managed to hit us pretty good. The nav and radio op got winged and their compartments shot up. We lost the nav’s instruments and the radio so we were definitely staying in formation! Anybody gets cold and they’re gonna have to live with otherwise none of us would be breathing much longer. The trip home wasn’t too bad until just before friendly airspace when a lone 190 got in behind us and peppered the tail gunner. He wasn’t hit too badly but the rudder got well and truly nailed. We’d taken a couple of hits before but he just finished it off really well. The right waist gunner got him on his second pass.
We landed a little hard but okay. The doc says the wounds are scratches and that the guys should stop acting like babies. He of the non-combatant or flying description. What a toss.
- 2nd Lt. T. Feather, Pilot, Nature's Misfits
MORBID ANGEL, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with minor superficial damage and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Rutan & Sgt. Asheim, 1 Me-110 apiece by 1st Lt. Sandoval and Sgt. Mazurkiewicz.
Most of our action was on the way to the target this time. Ah, Vienna in spring! We took nothing but superficial damage to the plane the entire time . . . and that was from flak, planes, the whole bit. We got hit a few times . . . but we were very lucky. Plane is okay, the crew without a scratch.
We were on target, and on the way back, we had some bandits chased off by other B-17s . . . but that was it . . . quiet as a mouse the rest of the way home!
We do have some good shooting to report, though. Our relatively new port waist gunner, Sgt. Asheim, shot down a 109. Our bombardier, Sandoval, shot down a 110, and damaged a 109 that broke off its attack. Sgt. Mazurkiewicz damaged a 109, and shot down his third enemy in as many missions with us, a 110. Norman, the ball gunner, damaged a 110, chasing it away, and Rutan, our engineer, shot down a 109 that was in a vertical dive over the Angel. That is, I believe, his 8th confirmed kill. I hope we can have some more missions like this . . . a success, all the way across the board!
- Capt. David Vincent, Pilot, Morbid Angel
TULE LAKE SAMURAI II , Second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with minor damage to the fuselage, nose compartment, to the port wing root and aileron, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Takai, SSgt. Takemoto & Sgt. Ono.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About ten (10) miles from checkpoint 2 we encountered bogies from the east but they were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group.
At checkpoint 3 we spotted bogies coming in from ahead but they retreated and didn’t attack.
Ten (10) miles from checkpoint 4 we encountered two (2) waves of fighters. The first wave was a lone ME-109 doing a vertical dive. SSgt. Takemoto was able to get a bead on the fighter and destroy it before it was able to shoot at the bomber. The second wave was again a lone ME-109 that was repulsed by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group.
Fifteen (15) miles from checkpoint 5 we encountered two waves. The first wave consisted of four (4) ME-109s; 3 were chased away by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group. The remaining one from 12 high missed the bomber and didn’t return. The second wave consisted of, one (1) FW-190 and three (3) ME-109. Again the 325th Fighter Group was able to chase away three (3) fighters. The remaining fighter came in from 12 high missed the bomber and didn’t return.
Just before we reached the target we encountered three (3) waves of fighters. The first wave consisted of a lone ME-109 coming in from 6 high; this plane was chased away by fighters of the 1st Fighter Group before it was able to get to the bomber. The second wave consisted of five (5) ME-109s coming in from 12 level, 3, 1:30 & 6 high, and one doing a VERTICAL DIVE. The one coming in from 6 high was chased away by fighters of the 1st Fighter Group. The one coming in from 1:30 high was shot down by 2nd Lt. Ben Takai before it was able to shoot at the bomber. The ones coming in from 12 level and the one doing a vertical dive missed the plane and didn’t return. The one coming in from 3 high was able to hit the plane twice, once in the port wing and once to the fuselage. The hit to the fuselage was superficial in nature while the hit to the aileron was minor. The plane was able to return at 6 high. Sgt. John Ono manning the tail gun was able to get a bead on the fighter and shot it down before it was able to attack the plane. The last wave consisted of two (2) ME-110s coming in from 12 and 10:30, both low. The one coming in from ahead was damaged by ball gunner Sgt. Paul Yoshimura which caused it to miss the bomber and not return. The one coming in from 10:30 missed the plane and was chased away by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group.
We encountered medium flak which missed the plane. But because of cloud cover over the target we were not able to line up the bomber resulting in the bomb load missing the target.
On the turn around we encountered flak and was hit twice, once in the port wing and once in the nose. The hit to the port wing hit the root area while the hit to the nose was superficial in nature. We were also attacked by two (2) wave of fighters. The first wave consisted of three (3) ME-110’s coming in from 12 low, 10:30 level, and 6 low. Two were chased away by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group, while the ME-110 from 12 low missed the plane and didn’t return. The second wave consisted of two (2) ME-110s. The one coming in from 10:30 low was chased away by fighters of the 1st while the one coming in from 12 low was hit by the bombardier 2nd Lt. Joe Hiromeni causing heavy damage to the fighter and causing it to miss the bomber and not return.
About five (5) miles from checkpoint 5 we encountered two (2) wave of fighters, the first wave consisted of three (3) FW-190s; the ones coming in from 3 level and high were chased away by fighters from the 1st. The other one coming in from 12 high missed the plane and was chased away by machine gun fire from the bomb group. The second wave consisted of a lone ME-109 coming in from 6 high but that was chased away by fighters of the 1st before it was even close to the bomb group.
About twenty (20) miles from checkpoint 4 we encountered a wave of three (3) ME-109s coming in from 12 o’clock high, level and low. All three were driven off by fighters of the 1st Fighter group.
At checkpoint 3 we spotted bogies coming in from 6 high which didn’t get any closer to be recognized either as friend or foe.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without incident.
- 1st Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II
DELTA BLUES, Second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with navigation, tail turret and control cables inoperable, rubber rafts destroyed, superficial damage to the starboard wing, to the nose, pilots’ waist and tail compartments, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Sgts. O’Reilly, Johnson and Schwartz.
As I strapped in and performed the flight check with Jennings, the nature of our mission hit me like a ton of bricks: 20,000 feet above Vienna with me at 'Tail-End Charlie!' I was going to have to spend extra attention on keeping the formation tight, and would have to inform the other pilots to straighten up from time to time. Top that with being exposed to outside Kraut attacks, I was feeling sultry; in no small part to the last night’s indulgences. Without warning, the eggs, bags of mystery and battery acid came up in wave after wave. Jennings over heard it all and started rattling off his descriptive and most times funny string of profanities. “Too much fun last night sir?” he asked. I just shook my head as I was in no mood for small talk. He fished through his pockets, and said, “Here you go, you gotta have something to calm that knot in your stomach,” as he gave me some jerky. “Builds fly boy character,” he added, again slapping me on the back. Gibbins just went through the checklist as if nothing happened.
We formed up after take off and were flying tight. The other pilots were pretty quiet on the squawk box, and even my boys were unusually silent. I guess the nature of our mission and our position in the formation was heavy on their minds.
As 'Tail-End Charlie', you get a completely different perspective on the mission. At first, I was deeply impressed by the shear magnitude of the sight: all these beautiful bombers flying in such precise and close proximity; and with all this munitions tonnage in route to Vienna. What a spectacle! Then as we hit altitude, I began to get a sense of single-minded purpose from the spectacle of our bombers. The way we would roll through a cross wind, and redress our pattern, it almost seemed like we were a living thing. I looked at Gibbins and he looked at me. We both felt it – we’re deep in the sh*t today.
Anyway, the CO was right about the mission. There were no shortages of sorties. And the flak was especially harsh, both inbound and outbound. Early on, we saw a lot of activities from our little friends, the P-38s. Entering Yugoslavia (zone 3 out), they forced off a couple of 109s at 10:30 high and 3 level. Then two managed to get past our air coverage, coming in at 10:30 and 12 level. Sgt. Johnson managed to kill one, but not before the fighter caused superficial damage to the pilots’ compartment. Sgt. Franklin took a hit to his left foot, and at some time, he claimed a 109 as well. We also witnessed the Armadillo apparently take one in the bomb bay as she lit up like a firecracker. It was terrifying, and we saw no chutes deploy.
Often times I either heard or saw that our bombers were wreaking havoc on the Krauts as well. At times, it looked like they were shooting fish in a barrel. I heard several radio reports of approaching enemy aircraft at our position, only to see that other bombers had taken them out before they got in too close. Lt. Gibbins was busy treating Sgt. Franklin until we started approaching the target zone. By the time he strapped back in, the flak was hot and heavy. We took three bursts before it was over; one hit us in the nose, the other took out our control cables in the radio room. Our bomb run was delivered at 30%. But not before we were narrowly saved once again by our wingman from another German fighter. It was then I noticed Nightwing. She seemed stalled in mid-air, and then just broke apart. As she plummeted to the ground, we only saw one chute open.
As we made the turn and started to form up for our return run towards the airfield, I radioed to several of our planes to tighten up the formation. We were all a bit rattled after the flak. Then the flak was back. This time we took two bursts; one rattled our bomb bay, and the other was head on to our nose. The nose was a bit charred, but it seemed no major damage was inflicted. I dispatched TSgt. Girardi operator to investigate the bomb bay and he reported our rubber rafts looked like Swiss cheese. I swore, just hoping we wouldn’t have to ditch over water.
Once we were out of the flak zone, we were attacked by 109s at 1:30 high and 9 low. The Kraut at 9 pounded our tail, and Sgt. O’Reilly was hit in his right hand (LW). Our tail turret mechanical was inoperable, and I could feel it in Delta. She just didn’t want to respond to my controls, but I managed to keep her somewhat in formation. I felt if we didn’t suffer any more substantial damage, I could keep her tight and bring her home. Then we were hit at 3 level to the tail once more. This time Sgt. O’Reilly suffered a grievous wound to his chest, but no further damage to the plane. Before he passed out, he flamed the 109. I dispatched Lt. Gibbins to do the best he could.
As we headed back to the eagle’s nest, twice we were surprised by vertical dives from a 109. Both times, we took damage to the nose. The second time our navigation was knocked out as well and I took some flying shotgun myself. I was getting light headed, so I let Gibbins take charge as I felt pretty shook up and rattled. Then on the second pass, Sgt. Schwartz took him out. As Gibbins was at the control, I managed to watch the Carolina Lady fall out of formation. It was then I slipped out of consciousness. I later learned on the stretcher that Gibby brought us all home, but not before, we were hit by a 109 at 6 high and sustained more superficial damage once again to our tail.
- 1st Lt. Steve Hartline, Pilot, Delta Blues
Return to Sterparone Field