MISSION 52 - PLOESTI AARs
316th BS (LEAD)
STRAIGHT FLUSH, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with ball turret inoperable, navigation equipment destroyed, structural damage to the port wing root and rudder, superficial damage (13) to the fuselage (4), port wing (2), port aileron, #1 engine, bomb bay (2), pilots' (2) & radio compartments, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 FW-190 & 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Gilbert and 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Sherwin.
Colonel Lamb was the leading today's mission, resulting with my regular co-pilot, Lt. Fletcher, being bumped from his usual co-pilot seat. I don't think Fletcher was too sad being left behind considering the wing would be flying its longest mission into enemy territory, to Ploesti.
Our take off, that was followed by squadron, group and wing formations went without a hitch.
The first sign of enemy activity occurred just after crossing the Yugoslavian coastline (zone-3) when a pair of ME-109s flew pass the escorts and attacked us head-on, causing a hit to the starboard wing root.
The next attack occurred near the Yugoslavian-Bulgarian (zone-5) border. Our escorts were late at the rendezvous and a trio of ME-110, along with an ME-109, snuck pass the fighter escort. Two 110s missed and took off but the other ME-110 shot us up, hitting us with seven 20mm hits and the ME-109 hit once. Luckily, six were superficial hits while Sgt. Wesson was light wounded on his left foot and the navigation equipment were destroyed.
Over Bulgaria (zone-6) our escorts were busy and 2 FW-190s and a single ME-109 attacked and knocked out the ball turret, trapping Sgt. Smith until the end of the mission. This attack also slightly damaged the rudder and put holes throughout the fuselage and cockpit. 2nd Lt. Gilbert managed to shot down one attacking FW-190 during this engagement.
Approaching Ploesti (zone-8) again our fighters were elsewhere as 3 ME-109s attacked. Luckily, they all missed while Lt. Gilbert heavily damaged one of our attackers. Then a second wave swooped down on us. This wave caused a lot of bullets to zip pass the Colonel and myself but without hitting us. Before one of them could make a second attack, SSgt. Sherwin shot down that FW-190.
Flak was intense but inaccurate, at least it was for the leading flights. Some of the trailing flights behind us received hits as the enemy gunners found the range. Sgt. Wesson, back in the tail, reported seeing the leading aircraft of the squadron taking hits that caused a fire to the wing. Within seconds, 10 chutes were seen leaving the burning plane.
Leaving Ploesti behind, enemy attacks subsided with only a single ME-109 attacking from above us but it missed and it zoomed out of sight as it dove to lower altitudes.
As we made our way through Rumania (zone-7), again our escorts were no where to be seen, allowing another 3 enemy fighters to attack us head-on. They all missed and Sgt. Wesson sent an ME-109 away with its engine smoking.
We met light resistance over Yugoslavia (zones-5 & 3) as our escorts finally kept most of the Luftwaffe away as only two single ME-109 made attacks, with neither doing any damage. 2nd Lt. Gilbert claimed his second fighter of the day, an ME-109, during this hour over Yugoslavia.
The Adriatic Sea and the P-38s flying overhead was a welcome sight to the Colonel and me. No further enemy fighters were seen and landing back at base would be smooth and uneventful.
- Major Daniel Tanner, Pilot, Straight Flush
LUCKY NICKEL, Lead flight, left aircraft
Aborted mission due to enemy damage. Fell out-of-formation and returned alone. Landed with chin guns destroyed, Norden bomb sights inoperable, damage to the starboard outboard fuel tank and starboard wing root, and no casualties.
We got out of formation early into mission as one of the fuel tanks caught fire/leaked. We were able to seal/put out fire but then as we were out of formation, a lone FW-190 pounced on us and damaged the bombsite and destroyed the nose guns. Luckily, the both front gunners were not damaged, just shaken up.
With no nose guns, no bombsite, one damaged engine, we decided to turn for home . . . Our first no-show on a mission, returning to base with a full load.
One of the guys from the ground crew in the chow line said to our tail gunner that our crew was scared and the captain just turned for home to "save our tails" . . . Bobby let him have it square in the kisser and broke his hand . . . "But Captain, Ya should have seen the other guy," was all he could say other than muttering about I show them who's chicken.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
OLD YARD DOG, Lead flight, right wingman
Runway abort, did not take off and participate in the mission.
SATIN DOLL, Second Flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 92%. Returned with 200mm
shell damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to port wing, to the
nose and waist compartments from 20mm shells, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1
ME-110 apiece by Capt. Morris & SSgt. Blankenship. Capt. Morris' claim
was later confirmed by S-2.
Magic number 50, and of all places to draw,
Ploesti! The Krauts were on us right out of the chute. Nearing the
Yugoslav coast, a lone 190
swept in from 10:30 high. Thanks to a Hotshot in a Jug, he didn't get too close and was seen heading for the sea trailing smoke & flames.
Just after crossing the coast, another gaggle of E/A were seen forming up in front of the squadron. The combined volume of firepower of our squadron mates kept them away from the Doll.
We didn't have any more get close until just before the Bulgarian border. An FW-190 came tearing in from 10:30 high. Wally popped a few ineffective rounds at him with the port cheek gun, while George hammered away with the top turret and Brad Wall poured out a steady stream from the port waist gun. Brad's rounds found their mark and the 190 started smoking. The pilot fired a quick burst over us and peeled off for the deck. During this, an Me-110 tried to sneak up from below. Billy Boy plastered him with the ball turret guns, and sent the wreckage down tumbling.
The rest of the way to the IP, no E/A got within
range of our guns. Just before the IP, a pair of 110s roared in from 12
low and 10:30 low. PJ got some good hits with the nose gun on the one at 12, and
sent the Kraut limping for home minus an engine. His Kamerad fared a lot
better. His first pass sent rounds into the nose and port wing. The wing damage was minor but PJ let out a long stream of profanity at the
gunners as a 20mm round zinged him. On his second pass from 3 level, the Kraut scored a hit on the starboard wing root, and peppered the
waist area with holes. Emboldened by his success, the greedy bastard swung around for another pass, this time from 12 level. Shooting and
swearing the whole time, PJ let him have it right in the cockpit with the nose gun. The 110 flipped over on its back and spun in leaving a
corkscrew of smoke in the sky.
Flak was medium thick, but not too accurate, so we came through the barrage unscathed. Even with the aggravation of a minor grazing from the 110's round, PJ dropped 92% of the load right into the center of the yards, ruining a great deal of rolling stock.
Rallying off target, a pair of 109s made a run at us. The one at 1:30 high met up with a P-38. The 109 at 9 level was missed by Brad, George and Billy Boy, but was flustered by the hail of lead and broke off without putting a round anywhere close.
The rest of the trip home was thankfully
uneventful and we landed safely. Rolling up to the hardstand we were once
again greeted by Pops Hardison and his crew. They had a ladder and paint
can ready and waiting to paint the 50th bomb on the nose of the Satin Doll.
Enemy attacks ineffective and uncoordinated.
Outstanding bombing by Capt. Morris.
The following personnel have completed their tour of 50 missions:
Capt. John P. McConnell
1st Lt. Henry W. Johnson
MSgt. George F. Turner
TSgt. Eric A. Johansen
SSgt. William B. Blankenship
- Capt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
NORTHERN DREAM, Second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard flaps inoperable, navigator's equipment destroyed, superficial damage to the fuselage, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Miller.
Not far from Nis, Yugoslavia we encountered our first E/A; two FW-190s. One was bounced by little friends whilst the other was able to get in close. Fired off some rounds but were unable to bring him down. He fired upon us and scored some superficial hits and knocked out the starboard wing flap. Came back around again but was unable to cause us any further trouble.
Nothing else seen until over target where we picked up another pair of FW-190s but before they were able to cause us any problems little friends once again cleared them from our area.
Flak seemed quite heavy and we were hit by some of it causing damage in the nose compartment and making the navigation equipment U/S (useless). Consequently we were off target and missed the target completely.
On the way out we were jumped by an Me-109 coming out of the sun on a vertical dive. Couldn't hit him but luckily he misjudged his approach and shot past us and didn't bother us again.
A couple of zones further on and we encountered our first serious enemy action when an assortment of E/A took a shine to us. Two Fw-190s and an Me-109 were seen off by little friends leaving a solo Me-110 on our tail. Mike Holden in the ball turret and George Miller with the tail guns were able to plough some lead into him. Didn't manage to bring him down but it was enough to cause the Me-110 to leave.
Next zone on and this time we had four Me-109s for company again little friends took care of two and we managed to ding one pretty bad; again not enough to splash him but enough to cause them both to lose interest in us.
Over the Adriatic and a flight of four FW-190s targeted us. Once again two were driven off by fighter cover. A FW-190 on our tail lived to regret his approach as both Ken Ludwolf and George Miller filled him full of lead and sent him spiraling downward. It was George who got a confirmed kill. Saw the E/A pilot bail out; his chute opened and he descend away from us. Again a plane came in on a vertical dive and there was nothing we could do about it. He slammed a few shells into us but didn't cause us any undue problems. He came back around for another go but again we were able to make him think twice when Geoff Riddman opened up on the nose gun and tore chunks of his fuselage.
Finally made it home with no casualties and only very minor damage to the Northern Dream.
- 1st Lt. Jim Calder, Pilot, Northern Dream, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
UNTAMED BEAUTY, Second Flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with the top turret guns destroyed, both waist and tail turret guns inoperable, rudder gone and in need of replacement, major structural damage (20%) to the port wing root, minor damage to the #3 engine, multiple holes in aircraft (289 Damage points per Peckham's damage chart) and 7 casualties and 1 case of frostbite. Claims: 1 FW-190 by SSgt. MSgt. Herrada and 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Markowski.
This was another tough mission. Jerry didn't show up till over Rumania (zone-6). As we had issues forming up, we were loose in the formation. The German fighters took advantage of this and mulled us. Killing Jackson and King forcing us to go into the IP without out navigator or bombardier. Simonsen moved up front and attempted to drop the eggs, doing well for his first time. He put 5% on target. We saw wave after wave of FW-190s and ME-109s all the way back to reentering Yugoslavia (zone-5 inbound). Just glad to be back.
- 1st Lt. Peter Windley, Pilot, B-17G 43-8864 Untamed Beauty, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CUTTING EDGE, Third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to the radio room (1) and starboard wing (2) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Duff.
I thought that our last mission had been a long one for a first mission, what I had not realized was that it was just a warm up for this one. Ploesti was a long long way and had a reputation for being ferociously defended. When it came up on the briefing board you could almost feel the slump as the fact hit the crews. What was good to see was once the impact of the target location had passed it was all business as everyone stepped up to take on the challenge.
My biggest worry to start with was to get Cutting Edge off the ground safely, as we would be fully tanked up and loaded with bombs and extra ammunition. I talked it over with Maxie our crew chief just to see how hard I could push the engines to get us off the ground. If we lost an engine after the point of no return it would be a real short trip with no further missions afterwards. As it turned out we had a slight head wind which helped us take off without any problems and minimal fuel expenditure as we headed for the rendezvous point and then east and north over the Adriatic tucked in behind Calder and Windley at the back of the middle formation.
The first fighters that showed any interest in us turned up when we were half way across Yugoslavia. However we had lots of P-47 around to distract them so they never got close enough to attack. A tight formation then thwarted the next set of attacks as we crossed the Yugoslav boarder.
It was not until the P-47s broke off and we were waiting for the P-38s to turn up that we got hit by the first enemy aircraft. We thought they were a couple of P-38s at first but as they got closer we realized that they were Me110s. Charmers hit the one coming in directly behind us which put it off its aim and it dropped away. The other Me-110 tried a slash attack low on our port side. Again our fire was effective in distracting the pilot as he got no hits, however no strikes were observed from our fire.
Before we got to the IP we got jumped by two more waves. The first wave was another set of Me-110s trying to masquerade as P38s they didnít fool us or the P-38s as two of them got bounced by our fighter cover and looked like they would need some time in the repair hanger once the 38s had finished with them. One however slipped in low head-on. Charlie walked his twin 50ís down the 110ís fuselage from nose to tail. T he 110 just flipped and went straight down. Almost immediately after that a mixed group of a couple of Me-109s and an Me-110 came at us. One of the Me-109s broke away as he saw something in the shape of an oncoming P-38 that he didnít like. There was a ferocious exchange of tracer but no hits. The two fighters then disappeared and we didnít see them again.
Going through the flak we got caught by one salvo on our starboard side. Apart from giving us an immediate bank by raising the starboard wing no significant damage was sustained. The flak was effective in putting off or bomb run as we put nothing on the target area.
Turning away fro the target and picking up our escorts we found that the enemy had not gone home and we were once again attacked by two waves of fighters. One of these got caught in an effective cross fire from our formation and broke away before getting to us. The other, a lone Fw-190 got chased away by our little friends.
Coming away across Rumania we packed in close to the other planes of our formation so that it was really tight. It made my job a lot harder as I would need to be extra attentive to my formation flying but I hoped it would discourage the enemy from attacking us. It seemed to work nothing came near us until we had got half way across Yugoslavia when we got jumped by a mixed gaggle of a couple of FWs, a 109 and a 110. None of our gunners got any hits and only the FW at 12 low got hits on us, frightening the life out of Bill in the radio room as it gained a whole new set of ventilation points. This guy must have smelt blood because he whipped round in a sharp climbing turn and came after us again ahead and level on the port side. Again we could not get any hits, but this time neither could he and he broke away.
That was the last of the enemy activity aimed at us. We came in home and landed safely on what had been a very long day.
- 1st Lt. John Caldwell, Pilot, Cutting Edge, 316th Bomb Squadron
317th BS (High)
MORBID ANGEL, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Reached target zone but was shot down by flak after a fuel tank caught fire. 10 chutes reported seen leaving the aircraft.
TULE LAKE SAMURAI, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard cheek gun & radio inoperable, damage to both wing roots, minor damage to the nose compartment oxygen system, superficial damage to the fuselage, port wing, bomb bay, nose and pilotsí compartments, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Yoshimura.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
At checkpoint 5 we encountered two (2) waves of fighters. The first wave consisted three (3) ME-110s coming in from head-on. One fighter was driven off by fighters of the 14th Fighter Group. Another one from 1:30 level missed the plane and was driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group. The last one coming in from 12 high was able to hit the plane twice once, in the waist and once in the nose. The hit to the nose damaged the oxygen system to both the bombardier and navigator and the hit to the waist caused a superficial injury to the port waist gunner, Sgt. Wayne Kishi. The plane returned at 9 level and Sgt. Paul Yoshimura manning the ball turret was able to destroy the plane before it was able to reach the bomber. The second wave consisted of three (3) ME-109s coming in from 12 oíclock, one each at high, level and low. Only the one coming in from high was able to hit the plane twice on the fuselage resulting in minor damage to the plane.
Just before reaching target we encountered one (1) ME-109 attacking from 6 high. It was able to hit the plane three (3) times, once each in the bomb bay, tail and port wing. The hit to the tail damaged the root area of the port tail wing, the hit to the port wing was superficial in nature, and the hit to the bomb bay area was also superficial. The fighter was able to return coming in from 1:30 level but it missed the plane and didnít return.
Over target we encountered medium flax which didnít hit the plane. This enabled 2nd Lt. Hiromeni to line up the bomber and put 30% of the bomb load on the target.
On the turn around we encountered two (2) waves of fighters. The first wave consisting of four (4) FW-190. One was picked off by by fighter escorts of the 14th Fighter Group. One came in from 12 level was hit by the bombardier, 2nd LT. Joe Hiromeni, causing enough damage to prevent the fighter from hitting the bomber. Another from 1:30 level missed the plane and also didnít return. The last plane coming in from 3 low hit the plane twice once in the nose and once in the bomb bay. The hit to the nose damaged the starboard cheek gun making it ineffective. The hit to the bomb bay damaged the area, but since there wasnít any bombs in the area was superficial in nature. The plane returned at 12 level and it was able to hit the plane three (3) times, once in the port wing, nose and fuselage. All of the hits were superficial in nature. The plane then returned again, this time at 12 high and this time it missed the bomber and didnít return.
At checkpoint 7 we encountered again two (2) waves of fighters. The first wave consisted of one (1) ME-109 coming in from 3 oíclock low and one (1) ME-110 coming in from 1:30 low. The one Me-109 was hit by ball turret manned by Sgt. Yoshimura. But it was still able to hit the plane twice, once in the pilotsí compartment and once in the radio room. The hit to the pilotsí compartment was superficial while the hit to the radio room damaged the radio set. The ME-109 returned at 10:30 level -- Again it was able to hit the plane, once in the pilotsí compartment and once to the fuselage; both hits were minor. The plane was able to return again at 1:30 level, but this time it missed the bomber and didnít return. The second wave consisted of four (4) ME-109s. Two were driven off by fighters of the 14th Fighter Group. The one at 3 high was hit by the engineer, SSGT. Takemoto, and destroyed. The one coming in from 9 level was able to hit the plane twice, once to the port wing and to the tail. Again the damage was minor. The plane was able to return at 9 high and was driven away by fighters of the 14th Fighter Group.
About 10 miles after we reached checkpoint 6 we encountered two (2) waves of fighters again. The first wave consisted of bogies coming in from 9 oíclock but were driven off by fighters of the 14th Fighter Group before they were able to attack. The second wave consisted of four (4) fighters from head-on. The 14th Fighter Group was able to get three of them driven off before they were able to attack. The only one came in from 12 high, missed the plane and didnít return.
At checkpoint 5 we again was attacked by two waves. The first wave consisted of five (5) FW-190s all coming in high from all around the clock. Again the 14th Fighter Group was able to get three of them to go away before they were able to attack. The one that came in from 12 high missed the plane and the other one coming in from 1:30 high was able to hit the plane twice once in the radio room and once in the starboard wing. The plane returned again from 3 level and was driven again by the fighter escort. The second wave consisted of a lone ME-109 trying to attack from 12 high but this one was driven off by the fighter escort.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without incident.
- 1st Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II
FLAK CITY, Lead flight, right wingman
Runway abort, did not take off and participate in the mission.
399th BS (HIGH
CAROLINA LADY II, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Aircraft returned with both pilots incapacitated. Four men bailed out prior to Lts. Stein & Orwing attempting to land; aircraft crash-landeded, 3 killed in crash, 2 other survivors. Claims: 2 Me-109s each by 1st Lt. Stein and TSgt. Lipton, 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Holly, 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Smitley
Take off and assembly was fine --- About 200 miles from base the Krauts got on us. I counted 15 waves all together -- they stayed on us all the way to the target and back to the Adriatic coast. I've never seen so many enemy bandits! They continually blew past the escorts. The first time we got hit an Me-109 came down in a vertical dive and walked hits from nose to tail -- The pilots both got stunned when a 20 mm exploded between them (Lucky Charms). Then we got hit by head-on attacks that seemed to concentrate on the nose and pilots' compartments. SSgt. Barnes got knocked down by an exploding shell, but got up again (Lucky Charm). I managed to shoot down a 109 that came right at me.
Just before the target we got hit bad by more MEs coming in head-on -- I got another one, but the others -- there were 3 more-hit us hard -- both pilots got shot up and Barnes got killed. Holly shot one down with a passing shot. The plane began lurching all over the sky and Lt. Orwing went back to see what was going on. He managed to pull the Captain out of his seat, and Sgt. Black came up from the waist to help. It was awful crowded in there.
We ran into the flak belt and took some hits to the port wing and control cables. We managed to stay with the group and dropped the bombs somewhere over Ploesti. I dropped them very early. After the bomb doors closed they got Barnes out of the turret and the pilots back to the Radio room. Lipton took over the top guns -- just in time, too. We had a running fight all the way home -- during this time Lipton managed to shoot down two 109s that came at us from 12 high -- and Smitley got a 110 coming up from 6 low. The LADY had holes all over her-the port wing root took 3 hits and we were beginning to think the wing might come off.
Once we got over the Adriatic I came up from the nose to help fly. I ordered everyone else to jump when we got near the field. Sgt. Lipton said he wasn't leaving -- he stayed in radio contact with base, continually did first aid on the pilots and supervised the crew as they jumped. We hit too hard and the LADY broke up . . . the port wing snapped . . . Orwing and I got out but everybody else was dead.
- 1st Lt. Adam Stein, Bombardier, Carolina Lady II
LAURALEE, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with 1 window
damaged, lots of holes all over a/c wings and fuselage and 2 casualties. Claims:
1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Mauch, 1 Fw-190 shared by Sgts. Ward and McFarlane, 1 Me-109
shared by SSgt. Ross and Sgt. Mauch; 1 Me-109 shared by Sgts. Ward and
Ploesti was all we heard it would be--very dangerous. It was pretty quiet until we hit the Rumanian border (the Checkertail Jugs did a good job keeping the Germans off us). Then we got hit hard, all the way into target. Midnight Express blew up right across from us--their bombs must have gone up or something. We got lots of holes, but fortunately they didn't hit anything important, aside from messing up our window
Flak moderate over target, but we weren't hit and Frank hit the rail yards good.
The Germans left us alone most of the way home, until we were over Yugoslavia again. Then a couple 190s buzzed us. McCoy got hit in the seat next to me. Docs say he got his ticket home. And poor Frank, on his first mission back from the frostbite, got hit. Docs say he'll be okay.
We made it back, just in time to see Carolina Lady II crash land. What a mess. Our plane looks like Swiss Cheese, but at least it brought us home safe.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Lauralee, 399th Bomb Squadron
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, Lead flight, right aircraft
Shot down by enemy fighters (zone-6) outbound to target. No survivors.
When we were crossing the border between Yugoslavia and Rumania, we met heavy fighter opposition. Three or four 109s and a 190 went after Lt. Day. The tracers from a 109 at 6 high went into the radio room and the bomb bay and before it had passed Midnight Express blew up.
- Reported by the 399th Bomb Squadron at debriefing.
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Runway abort, did not take off and participate in the mission.
LUCY QUIPMENT, Second flight, left wingman
Took off but developed mechanical difficulties with the oxygen supply. Aborted formation and returned to base. Did not participate in mission.
QUEENIE, Second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Aircraft crashed-landed in Yugoslavia, 50 miles west of the Rumanian border during return journey. 8 POWs, 1 KIA, 1 MIA. Claims: 4 Me-109s destroyed, 3 Fw-190s, 1 Me-109 & 4 Me-110s damaged.
The B-17, 42-11839, known as Queenie left the formation 75 miles west of Ploesti (zone 7) after she had been hit several times.
Two P-38s stayed with her as she descended to 10,000 feet. They reported two leaks in the right wing. Light flak opened up and the Lightnings were driven off, but could see the B-17 belly land in Yugoslavia, 50 miles west of the Rumanian border (zone-5).
Lieutenant Higgins ordered the uninjured crew men to bail out, while was going to attempt a belly landing to try to save the seriously wounded crew men, but they refused his order and stayed on board to tend to the injured until rescued or captured.
After the B-17 had landed a group of partisans approached the wreck, but from the other direction, a small force of German infantry men hurried to the site. There was a fire fight and hand to hand combat. The only crew man that could be rescued was Lt. Higgins.
- Reported by the 399th Bomb Squadron at debriefing, 14th FG and a message from an OSS agent with the partisans.
318th BS (LOW)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with chin turret and port elevator inoperable, port outboard tank holed and leaking fuel, wing root damage to the port wing (120 damage pts) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Chisman, Sgts. Miles & Stallard.
This one got a little rough. We saw three waves of 109s on our trip to the target and luckily smoked three but we took some damage in return. We lost our chin turret before we reached the target. We also got rocked hard by some flak which took out our port elevator. Donnie did, however, manage to hit the target for 30%.
On the return trip we saw only one wave of 190s which left us leaking fuel out of the port wing. Lucky for us we were able to make the field safely.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron
GOLD AND BOLD, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with tail gunnerís heat system and bomb release mechanism inoperable, 4 superficial damage hits to the fuselage and nose, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Lt. Kennedy and 1 Me-110 by SSgt. Streich. SSgt. Streich's claim was later confirmed by S-2.
A big mission today, but thankfully most of us made it back safely. W e benefited from continuous fighter protection, poor German marksmanship, and extra tight, formation flying. On the way to the target four waves of bandits tried to get at us. They didnít do any damage but we rattled three of them.
Right before entering the target zone our formation became extra tight (random event in zone 7). Over the target a single Me-110 managed to hit us from a vertical climb Ė- knocking out our tail gunnerís suit heater. On the 110ís second pass SSgt. Streich blasted him right out of the sky. As soon as the enemy fighters left us alone, we took four flak hits which killed our bombardier, wounded the navigator, and jammed the bomb release mechanism. Needless to say we didnít get close to the target, but with luck we killed some Jerries manning the flak batteries.
The benefits of remaining in formation outweighed Sgt. Lyntonís loss of heat, and he was the first to admit we should stay with the group. On the way home our luck returned and we only saw four more groups of bandits and our little buddies chased most away. During a quiet moment Sgt. Lynton moved into the nose to stay warm.
The landing was uneventful, and we were all glad to be home. Considering the number of planes that didnít return we were truly blessed.
- 2nd Lt. Bryan Byette, Pilot, Gold And Bold, 318th Bomb Squadron
8-BALL, Lead flight, right wingman
Aircraft exploded on the way to the target (zone-5). No chutes were seen.
HEAVEN CAN WAIT, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Aircraft returned out of formation at 10,000 feet due to loss of heat to tail and pilot compartment, co-pilot Edwards landed the aircraft single handed with pilot Johnstone seriously wounded and the remaining 4 survivors bailing out over base, due to the starboard landing gear being inoperable. The plane is beyond repair even though 1st Lt. Edwards brought her back to earth without further casualties. Claims 2 ME-109s & 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Forsythe and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. De Lavier, 1 ME-110 apiece by 2nd Lt. Schenz and Sgt. De Lavier. A further 7 aircraft were damaged. One of SSgt. Forsythe's Me-109 and Sgt. De Lavier's Me-110 claims were later confirmed by S-2.
This flight went on forever and we lost half our crew and reduced Heaven Can Wait to spares.
Sgt De Lavier in the Tail and SSgt. Forsythe claimed 5 aircraft between them, the first 2 claimed as we left friendly (thatís a joke) airspace. Into heavily defended enemy territory De Lavier claimed his 2nd kill and Henry Schenz (Navigator) claimed an ME-110 via the port cheek guns -- Allen in the Ball and Acton "up front" got a bit of target practice too.
Fifty miles prior to the target the formation got loose around us and we became more vulnerable, we were picking off the enemy at will but our luck would only last so long.
As we reached the target we hit flak -- and it hit us -- we lost heat to the tail, our bomb run was off target and De Lavier was soon complaining of frostbite.
We turned for home in our loose formation, still giving as good as we were getting, then we lost the heat to the pilot compartment, Acton and Schenz in the front got a pasting and complained of shrapnel wounds in the nose section, and Froner lost his waist gun, then an ME-110 came in and injured Froner and to a more serious extent Dyer in the port waist section, but we were still keeping the majority of the bandits at bay. Forsythe claimed another ME-109, before his wingman riddled the waist and killed the already wounded Dyer.
As we lost heat, and due to the formation of our flight, we dropped to 10,000 to be safe, but immediately we had a flight of FW-190s to ourselves, Froner lost his life to one, and as soon as we realized that we'd lost our landing gear on the starboard side we all fell silent. One of the 190s scored walking hits down the fuselage, seriously wounding our leader, Pilot Johnstone, killing our Navigator, Schenz, and knocking out the radio and the tail guns. Then a fire broke out in the pilot compartment but Forsythe put this out at the first attempt whilst Edwards struggled to stabilize the aircraft. The ball gunner, Allen, received a light wound.
As the Fw-190s buzzed us for an eternity Forsythe claimed his 3rd kill, but then another slipped through and killed Acton in the nose compartment and it was then that we lost both ailerons from a FW-190 that raked our wings.
We then got some fantastic fighter cover as we approached home to give us some respite.
Nearly there and we lost the navigator equipment and Forsythe and Armstrong also got lightly wounded from an FW-190 in a vertical dive, then 50 miles from base we lost the top turret guns.
I gave the instruction to jump when we reached home and Forsythe, Armstrong, Allen and De Lavier obliged -- the ground crew told us that to see only 4 chutes opening was a sobering sight.
I brought her down the best I could with no ailerons and only half the landing gear -- I think if I'd have both sets of gear to use Heaven Can Wait would've been out of action for a while anyway.
Thankfully the doc says that Capt. Johnstone should recover from his wounds and De Lavier will be okay from his frostbite, I feel bad cause I don't have a scratch on me, I'm sleeping with my bible under my pillow tonight.
Going to feel a bit weird entering the O Club by myself?
- 2nd Lt. Edwards, Co-pilot, Heaven Can Wait
QUIEN SABE, Second flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 50%. Fell out-of-formation on return leg over Adriatic (zone-3) after losing second engine. Lost third engine 25 miles out from Italy (zone-2). Crew lighten ship and threw everything overboard to extend time in air. Arrived at base, 5 men bailed out, leaving pilot and flight engineer to land plane with seriously wounded radioman on board. Plane attempted belly-landing and plane crashed attempting to land. Pilot and flight engineer survived crash with minor injuries but radioman was killed in crash.
WOLVERINE, Second flight, left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with slight damage and 2 casualties. Claims: 4 ME-109s by SSgt. Gotcher, 1 ME-109 apiece by TSgt. Cottman & Sgt. Swayne. One of SSgt. Gotcher's claims was confirmed by S-2.
Heavy action there and back; however, only slight damage to B-17. Gotcher killed 4 ME-109s.
- 1st Lt. Cody Fiscus, Pilot, Wolverine
Return to Sterparone Field