MISSION 53 - BELGRADE AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
THE BRAZEN HUSSEY, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with superficial damage to the tail compartment.
At the last minute before start-up, Colonel Lamb showed up at the hard-stand wearing his flight gear and replaced Lt. Sedgwick to lead the mission.
Take-off and formation didn't go off as planned. A couple of ships failed to join up during group formation. After taking up our position as the low group, we followed Colonel Frank Kurtz's 463rd into the Adriatic, where we experienced no attacks while over the Adriatic.
Once reaching Yugoslavia, our fighter escorts kept the enemy at bay.
Approaching Belgrade, a pair of 109s attacked from both the port and starboard sides. The gunners hit one of the attackers but the other one hit the tail compartment which hit the gunner, SSgt. MacDonald. Luckily, the bullet deflected off MacDonald's steel flak helmet, saving him from serious injury (personal lucky charm used).
Flak was light and inaccurate and this allowed Lt. Whitstock to make good drop on the designated target.
Leaving the target area, the Luffwaffe was back in force. The escorts kept most of them busy but a few made it through the escorts. A lone Fw-190 made an unsuccessful attack and the gunners damaged it. The next wave contained three Me-109s attacking from head-on. This trio appeared green as their tracers went wide. After making one pass, this wave took off for the safety of the lower altitudes.
No further enemy attacks were experienced as we made our way home re-crossing Yugoslavia and the Adriatic. Landing was routine and uneventful.
Major Daniel Tanner, Pilot, The Brazen Hussy
WOLVERINE, Lead flight, Left Wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned without damage or casualties.
Quiet out and back. Our escorts drove off 6 fighters and 3 fighters made one pass each (missing all three times). No fighters damaged and no crewmen wounded. Fortunately, we were on target for 20%.
- 1st Lt. Cody Fiscus, Pilot, Wolverine
TALLEST CROW, Lead flight, Right Wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with #2 engine feathered, damage to the tail compartment's oxygen system, 1 .50 cal gun destroyed, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Ford.
Well, the plane seemed to take a beating, but get it done . . . so everything's normal there. Fighter cover was remarkable until the zone just before the target . . . then we got some real business. Gorman damaged a 190 bad enough that he won't be back for a while . . . but then we got hit. The prop feathered, but #2 was taken out. Cease was hit pretty bad, but looks like he'll make it . . . might be a bit before we get to use him again, that's all. They also took out our starboard waist MG.
We hit the target, then on the way back, Ford shot down a 190. A little while later, we took some more hits. They took out my oxygen, and hit me in the thigh . . . flesh wound, but it stings a bit. Freed was also hit in the shoulder, but he's still completely mobile with it . . . he's pretty tough, anyway. Other than that, it was clear skies to the home landing.
- Sgt. Rich Robinson, Tail Gunner, Tallest Crow
TULE LAKE SAMURAI II, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with damage to the port side landing gear and the rudder, superficial damage to the superficial damage to the starboard wing and no casualties.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About ten (10) miles from checkpoint 2 we encountered two (2) ME-109s coming in from ahead but both were driven off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group.
At checkpoint 4 we encountered two (2) ME-109s coming in from ahead again and again, both were driven off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group.
About five (5) miles from Checkpoint 5 three (3) ME-109s coming in from dead ahead and all three were again driven off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group.
We encountered light flak and was hit twice (2), once in the tail and in the port wing. The damage to the port wing damaged the landing gear while the hit to the tail damaged the rudder. Because of the hits to the plane we were not able to line up the plane to the target and missed the factory.
On the turn abound we encountered two (2) ME-109s that attacked from head-on. One that came in from 12 high missed the plane and didn’t return. The other one came in from 1:30 high hit the starboard wing causing superficial damage to the wing. The plane returned at 9 level, missed and didn’t return.
About twenty (20) miles after reaching checkpoint 4 we encountered one wave of three (3) ME-109s. The ones that came in from 12 level and 3 high were driven off by the 14th Fighter Group, and the one doing a VERTICAL DIVE missed the bomber and didn’t return.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without incident.
- 1st Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II
DELTA BLUES, Second flight, Left Wingman
- 1st Lt. Steve Hartline, Pilot, Delta Blues
COLORADO GOLD, Second flight, Left Wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the port aileron inoperable, superficial flak damage to the nose compartment and 1 casualty.
Not much of a mission for the Gold. Our gunners didn't fire a single shot in anger. Approaching Belgrade (zone-5) we saw three 190s but they were driven off.
The flak didn't seem to heavy until we got hit by 2 pieces of shrapnel. The first piece took out the port wing aileron. The second piece entered the nose and caught Masterson on the forehead as he was looking into his Norden. It was a fairly superficial wound but it sure did bleed a lot. He was having trouble keeping the blood out of his eyes and perhaps that's why he dropped wide of the target.
Once we turned around we spotted some fighters coming at us but other B-17s put enough heat on them to make them break off. Just before leaving Yugoslavia (zone-4) we saw three 109s driven off by the little friends.
Approaching Italy (zone 2) other B-17s again laid the lead to Fritz before he got to close to us. We landed safely and hustled Masterson off to the Infirmary for a few stitches.
- 1st Lt. Ken Evans, Pilot, Colorado Gold
399th BS (HIGH)
LAURALEE, Lead flight, Lead Wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with top and tail turret guns inoperable, damage to the control cables, the tail compartment oxygen system and to the port wing root, lots of superficial holes in wings and fuselage and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by 1st Lt. Tom Winslow & SSgt. Ross.
A quiet ride into target--the Jugs did a good job of keeping the Krauts off us. That, or they must have been hitting the main strike. A couple of them made runs at us from head on as we approached the target, but did no damage--Winslow got one with the chin turret. Flak was light and ineffective, and Winslow laid our eggs on target.
It was on the return trip the fun started. One of the Krauts must have been an ace, because he kept coming back again and again, putting holes in us. He killed Tim and Hornacek, the replacement guy, and knocked out the tail guns. We winged him before he broke off, and Andy got one of his buddies.
Then three of them hit us over the Adriatic--that was scary because they got Andy's guns too. Fortunately, they didn't do a lot of damage, and we made it back safely.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Lauralee, 399th Bomb Squadron
THUNDERMUG, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 97%. Returned with #2 engine inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Smitley.
We had some trouble starting #2 engine . . . it belched out a huge oily cloud of smoke when we finally got it started. Take off went okay.
About 100 miles out we got hit head-on by a gaggle of Me-109s--the escorts cut most of them off. One guy came in from 12 low . . . Smitley in the ball turret hit him hard and went down on fire . . . no chute seen. During the flight we had to baby #2 . . . it kept smoking and running rough from time to time.
Over the target flak was negligible and Hearn dropped our whole load right on the MPI. After the first E/A we saw a few more bandits but the escorts kept them off us.
About 75 miles from the target #2 began to vibrate and we shut it down (random event #2).
Landed okay. Lt Hearn did a great job!
- Capt. Jerry Logan, Pilot, Thundermug
RIVER CITY RAIDER, Lead flight, right aircraft
- 1st Lt. Frank Kellogg, Pilot, River City Raider, 399th Bomb Squadron
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with tail gun &
bomb controls inoperable, moderate damage throughout the plane, and 2
casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Sgts. Herndon, Scheller & Kramer, 1
Me-110 by Sgt. Vetter.
I regret to inform you, sir, that Lt. Fairbanks was killed during our mission. Things started out smoothly enough, as we formed up without incident.
We were quickly jumped by three enemy a/c, and although one of them was driven off by the fighter cover, the other three got through and shot up the pilot compartment, chewing up Lt. Fairbanks really bad. I had to take over the flight, and we tried to minister to him when we could, but I don't think he really had a chance. Rusty had shot down one of the Jerries from the top turret, but everyone was pretty shook up by the loss of Lt. Fairbanks. We pressed on, and Vetter knocked down a 110 from the ball turret and we basically just swapped lead with the Jerries without much damage to either side. We had a lot of help from the tight formation, and I was working like hell to keep us steady and tight, but it wasn't any real surprise to any of us when we totally missed the target on the bomb run.
As we turned for home, we got hit by four fighters -- the fighters chased off two of them, and Scheller and Kramer knocked out the other two from the port waist and tail guns. We were feeling a little better until the second wave came, and a stinkin' turtle of a 110 slipped in and laid walking hits down the plane, knocking out the bomb controls, the tail gun and killing Frankie, our replacement waist gunner. That damn spot is jinxed!
Anyway, the fighters closed in and protected us the rest of the way home, and I was able to bring us down safely, but we are all pretty shaken up about losing the chief.
- 2nd Lt. Clarence (Clay) McCarthy, Co-pilot, Mawimazo, 399th Bomb Squadron
MYSTERY SHIP, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with ball turret and aileron control mechanical failures; radio out; radio room oxygen destroyed due to fire; damage to the starboard flap, and 2 casualties.
Five waves of enemy planes attacked. The first wave came in soon after we had crossed the Yugoslavian coast line, but the 325th drove off the majority of the fighters.
It seems that the P-38s scared the rest of the Luftwaffe away when they made rendezvous with us at the Rally Point. There were no fighters seen on the return leg.
- 2nd Lt. Jeff Sparkman, Pilot, Mystery Ship, 399th Bomb Squadron
318th BS (HIGH)
SAND HAWK, Second flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by 2nd Lt. Spencer.
Received excellent fighter cover all the way to the target, poor bomb run - no excuses - Spencer just needs more practice, this was his first mission with the real deal.
However his gunnery skills are okay - he destroyed an ME-109 with the chin guns whilst leaving the target area. A further 2 aircraft were destroyed on our return to base where we made a successful landing.
- 1st Lt. Martin Edwards, Pilot, Sand Hawk, 318th Bomb Squadron
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Owens.
Uneventful. Only saw one ME-109 and Owens took proper care of him. Hit the target for 60%.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron
GOLD AND BOLD, Third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with damage to the rudder, control cables, and one superficial hole hit to the fuselage. No casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109 by Lt. Jansen and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Lynton. Lt. Jensen's Fw-190 claim later confirmed by S-2.
This one was as easy as pie. We had a lot of help from our escorts as we headed to the target, and we downed another three Germans on our own. In total five waves challenged us before we bombed but not a single Jerry managed to hit us. After some light flak we dropped a fifth on target, finally breaking our dry spell, and turned for home.
On the way back three waves of Germans tried to interfere but without much success. A single FW-190 attacked from 6 o’clock high and he hit us a little and was quickly chased away by more escorts.
A safe landing and we were soon toasting our good fortune in the Officer’s Mess.
- 2nd Lt. Bryan Byette, Pilot, Gold And Bold
FOOL'S LUCK, Third flight, right wingman
Shot down while over the Adriatic Sea (zone-3) 10 miles from the Yugoslavian coastline by enemy fighters. 10 MIA.
Fool's Luck (318th BS) was seen going down in flames with its port outboard engine on fire (#1 Engine in zone 3). Ten chutes were seen.
- Debriefing reports for returned 318th Bomb Squadron crews
316th BS (LOW)
LUCKY NICKEL, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with radio inoperable, damage to the ball turret, to tail plane root, port wing aileron and flap, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by MSgt. Allison & SSgt. Watkins and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Sawyer.
Clouds of fighters hit us right after take-off but were driven away, then we flew through some bad weather but fighters still managed to find us knocking out the belly guns and shooting up the ball gunner - lucky (used his rabbit's foot) though, he only got a scratch but his guns took quite a licking.
Flak was medium but did some damage to the wing flaps and tail section. Bombs dropped on target with seemingly good results but coming back we again got a lot of fighter attention. Just outside of target area we got hit with 3 waves but most seemed to have little fight in them.
Radio room hit again. I think we've burned through about 10 of these guys (radio sets, not operators). Perhaps HQ could look into putting some armor or something around this thing as it seems every other mission it's knocked out.
A few of our guys managed to bag a few enemy fighters and some friendlies got through but not very many of our guys around this turn that we could see.
Still overall we did pretty good being in the
lower squadron. Almost ran out of ammo again, but most of our shots were
However, we still made it home again in one piece, or almost one piece.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
UNTAMED BEAUTY, Lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bomb controls, tail wheel inoperable, about 20% damage to the starboard wing, damage to the control cables and radio operators oxygen equipment damaged (1 hit each - 88 Damage points per Peckhams damage chart). Two casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 shared by SSgt. Herrada & Sgt. Markowski.
Took off at 0945 o'clock with a load of 2300 gallons of gasoline, 5000 pounds of bombs, full load of ammunition, and the usual weight of men and equipment. Everything on plane was in perfect working order. We joined the group formation at 1210 o'clock.
We first encountered enemy activity around 1324 o'clock. This is when three Messerschmitt 109s came in from the front. One German managed to land one shell in the nose, lightly wounding Lieutenant Geist in the right thigh. Sergeant Walker's passing shot severally damaged this fighter and it broke off its attack.
About twenty-five minutes, as we approached the IP, a flight of four Focke-Wulf 190s. These fighters came from all clock directions. One was driven off by our little friends, one missed and two hit us, one hit us hard. We figure ten hits from the 6 o'clock fighter and one from the vertical dive fighter. Luckily we took limited damage except for the serious wound to the new guy, Sgt. Stewart. Doc said he will be going home.
Upon their return attack MSgt. Herrada and Sgt. Markowski flamed one. The other Focke-Wulf took out Lieut. Geist's controls, hampering our bomb run. Sgt. Walker severely damaged this one as he made his escape.
We dropped our bombs at 1432 o'clock, and turned for home. From our own crews reports, we missed the target. On the egress four Messerschmitts were waiting. One 109 was chased away by our fighters and the others missed their mark and headed for home.
Other than Captain Chase's crew driving off a lone Me-109 boring in from the 6 o'clock position, we saw no other enemy activity.
At times we were forced to use 2400 R.P.M. and 40"
yet we had no ill effects from our encounter. Landing went well at around 1648
The gunners shot down one (1) enemy aircraft and claimed to have damaged at least three (3) more.
LW - Lt. Frank Geist.
SW - Sgt. Howard Stewart (Invalidated).
Sgt. Rick Hammel, Tuckerman AR (released from Infirmary)
Damage repairable by morning
Replace bomb controls
Replace tail wheel tire
Repair control cables
Replace radio room oxygen system
Repair starboard wing root
* Fifteen enemy aircraft encountered.
* 8 Driven off by our fighters.
MSgt. C.Herrada 1-FW190 Damaged (shared with Markowski) & 1-FW190 Probable
Sgt. T.Markowski 1-FW190 Destroyed (shared with Harrada)
Sgt. A.Walker 1-FW190 Damaged & 1-Me109 Probable
- 1st Lt. Peter Windley, Pilot, Untamed Beauty, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
NORTHERN DREAM, Lead flight, right aircraft
Aborted mission after losing Norden bombsight after enemy attack. Left formation and returned home alone. Landed with theh navigation equipment destroyed, the bombsight and landing gear instruments inoperable and no casualties.
Not too much to report today. We flew out toward the target but before we were long into the mission we were attacked by a couple of Me-109s. One was on us only for a short while while the other got in some good shots. Fortunately no one was hurt but the result of Jerry's attacks took out both our bombsight and landing gear instruments. Made the decision to go no further as we could not constructively add to the effort on the target. We turned for home and were lucky enough to make it back without any more action.
- 1st Lt. Jim Calder, Pilot, Northern Dream, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
OLD YARD DOG, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with navigator's heating system and port flaps inoperable, damage to the port ailerons, superficial damage to the nose compartment, port wing and fuselage, 1 casualty and 1 case of frostbite. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Post and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Beasley.
Here we go again leading the last flight of the low group. I guess we will need to pay our squadron commander some more beers to stay off this list!
Everything was relatively quiet and we stayed in tight with Untamed Beauty and Northern Dream. My tail gunner reported he could read the instruments from the Cutting Edge on our right rear. So we were tight. That probably saved us. The P-47s were active today and I could count at least 3 enemy planes that had to deal with them instead of us. We took a couple of pot shots at some 109s but nothing we could see hit anything.
Once over the target the Krauts took their shot. We lost the port wing flaps and took aileron damage as well. We racked up a lot of superficial damage over there as well. My navigator lost his heat in there somewhere but we stayed put in our formation. Friendly B-17s all around kept it from being worse I am sure. We plopped 40% on target and saw several secondary explosions so maybe we got something good.
Home was a lot busier than to the target as the P-38s just couldn’t rendezvous with us well it seemed. My engineer shot down a 190 on a pass from 3 o’clock. He burned brightly all the way down. We took some superficial hits on the plane when another 109 come from the front. I though we would be okay from then on but a last gasp by a 109 tore up the nose. Capt. Bonner and Lt. Forrest both cried out in pain. I had Turpin go check on them. Forrest was lightly wounded in the chest but Bonner took the worst of it. Later I found out Turpin had staunched the blood flow with the first aid kit like a pro (Bonner used a Lucky Charm to stay alive.) And Beasley in the tail claims he shot down that 109 that got Steve and Lt. Forrest.
- Capt. Michael Chase, Pilot, Old Yard Dog, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CUTTING EDGE, Third flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with a few minor flak holes in the waist compartment and 1 casualty.
Belgrade is just over half the distance to Ploesti so although it was by no means a milk run it was not going to be anywhere near as arduous as our last hop. We were slotted in right at the end of the formation with only Patrick in Satin Doll behind us. Patrick was new to the squadron and Satin Doll now had a mixture of new crew fresh out of training and grizzled veterans approaching their fiftieth mission and due to be rotated out. So as a team they were an unknown quantity. I was hoping that things would work out for them. If anything did happen to Satin Doll then we would end up as Tail-end Charlie - one of the most unenviable positions in the whole formation.
We saw our first enemy aircraft soon after crossing the Yugoslav coast. They made one pass at us from head-on but broke away due to persistent accurate fire from the rest of the formation ahead of us.
We were pretty much left alone until we reached the target area. One FW-190 tried to sneak in but got chased away by our little friends in the big jugs. Running in on the target there was not a lot of flak. But by the time they had finished firing at the rest of the formation and being a bit lower then almost everybody else we got rocked by a couple of near misses and then got bracketed with shell splinters tearing through the waist compartment. Tom Wilson on the port waist gun took a hit; fortunately for him the flak jacket he was wearing saved his life although he is going to be in a bit of pain for a while. Despite the flak Ambrose reckoned he hit the target pretty well, post mission checking showed that he actually put four of our ten bombs in the target area.
Surprisingly we encountered no enemy fighters coming away from the target or on any other part of the return flight. Apart from the flak hit we had not taken any damage or fired our guns.
- 1st Lt. John Caldwell, Pilot, Cutting Edge, 316th Bomb Squadron
SATIN DOLL, Second flight, left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 2 ME-109s by SSgt. Wheeler.
Our first mission and we draw "Tail-end Charlie". We first met the enemy nearing the Yugoslavian coast where three Me-109 fighters attacked. Thankfully, the P-47's took two off us and SSgt. Wheeler in the tail damaged the fighter at 6 high badly enough that he broke off his attack.
Once into Yugoslavia, another waves of three Me-109 fighters came at us. These were chased off by the P-47's. The rest of the formation kept the remaining fighters in the area away from us.
Nearing the IP, we saw many fighters attacking other aircraft in the formation but had none turn our way. Flak over the munitions plant was light and not very accurate, and 2nd Lt. Douglas dropped an estimated 20% of the bomb load on target.
Nearing the rally-point two Me-109s attacked from 12 high and 6 high. These were both shot down by the P-38 escort.
Halfway to the coast, an FW-190 and an Me-109 made attacks on us. The FW-190 was destroyed by a P-38 and SSgt. Wheeler shot down the Me-109 at 6 high. Another wave of three Me-109's attacked shortly afterward, with two being shot down by the P-38's and SSgt. Wheeler destroying the third.
The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we landed with no damage/no casualties. Hopefully these results will be a good omen for the new crew of the Satin Doll.
- 1st Lt. W. M. Patrick, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
Return to Sterparone Field