MISSION 54 - BELGRADE AARs
399th BS (LEAD)
MAWIMAZO, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Returned with moderate damage, with the tail turret and radio equipment inoperable, and 2 casualties.
I am pleased to report that we had a successful flight to Belgrade, with 10% of our ordinance on-target and minimal damage to our fortress.
We formed up without incident and didn't encounter any enemy aircraft until we were over Yugoslavia (zone 4), as the formation cover and the little friends kept the Jerries off of us.
About 100 miles out from the IP, a couple of Jerries slipped through and raked us over, hitting Sgt. Scheller with some fragments and doing some superficial damage in the radio room and on the starboard wing flap. Lt. McCarthy was telling me about how the waist position has been a veritable purple heart factory, and things were no different on this mission. Lt. McCarthy did a fine job flying and keeping us on target, and we got hit by another pair of fighters as we lined up for our bombing run. They rattled some more fragments around the waist, but no serious damage, but the flying was pretty rough. We didn't get hit by any flak over the target, but the fighters made it a real challenge and 2nd Lt. Wolfe did a fine job laying 10% of our ordinance on target.
As we turned for home, we got hit by another trio of fighters, and one of those damn FW-190s strafed us from nose to tail, knocking out our radio equipment, hitting Scheller again and also wounding Cox (although they both maintained their posts and refused to be relieved for any treatment) and knocking out our tail gun -- how Sgt. Kramer didn't get injured I have no idea. We had sporadic contact with Jerry fighters on the way back, but the fighters chased most of them off and we landed without incident.
While I do not question the bravery of the gunnery crew, I was displeased with their aerial gunnery, as the crew registered absolutely no hits or kills, and I am recommending target practice for them to hone their skills. Lt. McCarthy is an excellent pilot, and although Lt. Wolfe performed well I recommend some additional time in the simulator for him to work on his targeting skills.
- Col. Benjamin Whitehead, Task Force Leader, 5th Bomb Wing
THUNDERMUG, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 95%. Returned with superficial damage to the nose and radio room compartments and 1 casualty.
Takeoff and assembly went fine . . . No E/A encountered until target area . . . Before the bomb run 1 Fw-190 was driven off by the escorts.
The flak was off just enough to allow us to bomb unhindered. Lt. Hearn again placed 95% of our bombs on target--he walked them right across the yards. Secondary explosions seen by the tail and ball turret gunners.
After the turn for home another 190 came in from 10:30 high. All our gunners missed and he put holes in the nose and radio room and pinked Smitley in the ball turret.
About 80 miles from the target more E/A came at us but did not close due to heavy group defensive fire.
- Capt. Jerry Logan, Pilot, Thundermug
MYSTERY SHIP, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with rafts destroyed, both side landing gear breaks, intercom, cockpit oxygen system and radio inoperable, tail and ball turret guns out, starboard waist and cheek guns out, control cables severed, bomb bay doors jammed shut, damage to the starboard wing root hit, to the rudder, Norden bomb sight, and 7 casualties.
The P-47s drove off a wave 100 miles SW of Belgrade. More fighters attacked on the bomb run, but all of them were driven off by the Little Friends and some of the bombers in our squadron.
The flak was moderate as briefed but not very accurate.
After the bomb release and flak, four 190s appeared. One of them hit the instruments in the pilot compartment and destroyed the oxygen system so I had no choice but to leave the formation and dive to 10000 feet just before leaving Yugoslavia (zone 4). They shot us to pieces. Radio destroyed, wing root hit, crew men hit . . .
Another staffel of 109s had seen us and continued to hammer at us. We damaged several fighters but killed none.
- 2nd Lt. Jeff Sparkman, Pilot, Mystery Ship, 399th Bomb Squadron
LAURALEE, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Parker.
Back to Belgrade again today, and this time it was a milk run. We saw no enemy a/c until we got to target. A couple 109s made head-on passes at us. Andy in the top turret hit one, and it broke off, smoking. Flak was moderate, and we were not hit; we laid our eggs on the target without problems.
A couple more 109s came at us on the return trip. One came at us from the right side, and Parker, the new guy, hit it and shot it down.
The rest of the flight home was quiet, and we landed without incident. We wish they were all this easy.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Lauralee, 399th Bomb Squadron
LUCY QUIPMENT, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned without damage or casualties.
The Skipper (Major DeFilippo) is still on leave and I had the opportunity to fly another mission as the command pilot. This one, was a "Milk Run". Between the excellent defensive fire done by our group and the coverage provided by our fighter escorts, we had a charmed flight to and from the target. Flak over the target was light and we managed to place 20% of our bombs in the target area. I wish they were all this easy.
- 1st Lt. Gibson, Pilot, Lucy Quipment, 399th Bomb Squadron
318th BS (LEAD)
LUCKY 13, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with tail wheel inoperable, starboard wing outboard fuel tank holed (self-sealed), damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage holes to the fuselage, bomb bay, nose and pilots' compartments and 2 casualties.
Mission started off pretty easy I guess. No fighters bothered us at all on the way out. We saw a few but I guess the Little Friends and fire from the rest of the squadron kept them away.
Man, flak is nasty. The other pilots tried to describe it to me but it has got to be experienced. Of course, it is and experience I couldíve done without. Over the target we took some flak hits. Didnít appear to do anything major but it sure wasnít fun. Crew chief says that the flak got a fuel tank (the guy that thought up those self-sealing tanks ought to get a raise), the tail wheel and did something in the bomb bay. Sure glad nothing went wrong in the bomb bay, that could ruin a personís day.
Bomb run went pretty good. Lt. Wait did real good for his first time out.
Did the fighter cover get canceled for the return trip? I never saw any ďLittle FriendsĒ!! Anyway . . . we got jumped by at least 5 Jerry fighters.
One lone Jerry 190 came in at 10:30 high and Lt. Finch got a piece of him! Both me and Swat (Lt. Swatkowski) saw stuff fly off that plane, the Jerry made his pass but he sure didnít come back.
I thought that was bad until the next bunch of Jerryís jumped us. I am not sure but I think 3 attacked us and they all came in straight on. Lt. Wait got a piece of one of them, Finch confirmed before he got hit. Lt. Finch got busted up real bad . . . sure hope the Doc can patch him up. There sure was an awful lot of lead flying around, crew chief hasnít told me how many bullet holes he has to patch. SSgt. Holmes got hit too, luckily it seems to be pretty minor and he says heíll be back for the next mission.
While we all occupied up front, one Jerry snuck around the back . . . thought he was going to have his way with us. He didnít count on Sgt. Lindy, he blew the bastard clean out of the sky.
Learned a lot this mission and for a first one it didnít go to bad.
Only 49 more to go . . .
- 1st Lt. Kent Newsom, Pilot, Lucky 13, 318th Bomb Squadron
318th BS (HIGH)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Chisman (later confirmed by S-2).
Uneventful. Only saw one FW-190 and Tommy took proper care of him . . . Hit the target for 40% . . . We did see a few other Jerries but they seemed to concentrate on the other 17ís and left us alone.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned tail guns and radio inoperable; no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Sgts. True and McCarty.
Once over water we ran into three 109s. Sgts.
True and McCarty both shot down a 109. One of the 109ís knocked out the
radio and the tail guns. Once over Yugoslavia were attacked by three 190s
. . . We didnít see any more enemy fighters the rest of the
way to the target and home.
Flak over the target was medium, but we did not take any hits. Lt. Kelsey was able to get 30% of the bombs in the target area. The landing at base was safe and uneventful.
- 2nd Lt. David Belden, Pilot, Midnight Express
PALE RIDER, Lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with superficial damage to the fuselage and tail compartment, and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Kainer.
The guys were a bit nervous as this was their first mission even though everyone was calling it a 'milk run'.
The flight started out calmly enough as the formation made its way to Yugoslavia. Fighter activity started to pick up at this point, but luckily for the boys of Pale Rider the other planes in the squadron managed to drive them off.
As we made our approach into Belgrade we ran into more fighters and this time they made a run at us. Four Me-109s came at our ship. On the first pass, Kainer managed to hit and destroy a 109 dropping down on us from 12 high. A 109 coming from 12 low managed to hit our bird, but we sustained only superficial damage. As that 109 swung around and came in for another pass, Kainer again was on the money and splashed another 109.
The flak over the target wasn't too heavy and we managed to avoid getting hit. McCarthy didnít let first run jitters get to him, and was on target with the payload.
Coming back out we ran into a flight of three 190s. Kainer managed to pop another plane, but the pilot was determined and continued his attack, and fired some rounds into our tail section, lightly wounding Scaff. McCarthy also managed to hit one of the 190s, but it continued its attack. Luckily they weren't good shots and we avoided further harm.
After we got out the vicinity of Belgrade the rest of the flight was quiet and we made back to Foggia safely.
- 1st Lt. Mark Fowler, Pilot, Pale Rider
316th BS (HIGH)
LUCKY NICKEL, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with inboard port engine (#2 engine) feathered, bomb bay doors jammed, rafts destroyed, damage to a tail plane root and 3 casualties. Claims: 2 Fw-109s by SSgt. Jenkins and 1 Me-109 by MSgt. Allison. MSgt. Allison's claim was later confirmed by S-2.
We didn't run into enemy fighters until after the bomb run. Flak sends one burst into the nose hitting our navigator. We were then jumped by four 190s on the way out; one driven off by fighters, one was damaged by the tail gunner and missed, the third got hits on the tail and bomb bay with little damage but the last one got a walking hit. The radio operator took one in the shoulder and port gunner gets it on the left leg. Within 5 min. we are down 3 men. On the 2nd pass, the German missed and flies off.
Returning over Yugoslavia (zone-4) we were attacked by three 109s, our gunners get some minor damage on the enemy but their fighters all miss but one shot finds the bomb-bay doors and life rafts.
Over the Adriatic (zone-3) our engine was hit by two fighters; one was driven off by fighter cover or other B-17's, the other pressed home the attack and scored a hit. Smoke then fire began pouring out of inboard engine but we managed to put out and feather the prop.
A few of the guys also claimed planes but in all the confusion and smoke I did not see who did what. I wrote up the report with their additional shots but leave it up to GQ to sort out if hits were actually scored.
Upon Landing, the wounded were all rushed to hospital. This seemed to quite our celebration the crew had planned for me for #50.
Perhaps after I make sure all the guys are resting I'll join up with the men at the O club.
- Capt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Nickel, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
UNTAMED BEAUTY, Second flight, left aircraft
Lost in mid-air collision with damaged German fighter (BIP to Tail Section) over target area. 5 POWS and 5 KIA.
Reports from other crews within the Bombardment Group confirm earlier intelligence that a severely damaged German fighter colliding into the tail section of Lieutenant Windley's Fortress and in the process downing it. It has also been confirmed that five crewmembers survived, including Lieut. Windley, and have been taken prisoners of war by the Germans. We have no further information at this time.
Addendum: From a Red Cross official report, regarding aircraft B17G-15-VE 43-8864 known as the "Untamed Beauty" from 316th BS/88th BS (V). On the date of April seventeenth, nineteen hundred and forty-four around 11:45am the fore mentioned aircraft was brought down after colliding with a damaged German pursuit aircraft. As to the status of her crew, five men were lost with the aircraft and five men were taken prisoners by the German forces. The following members of the USAAF are listed as prisoners of war; Lieut. R.C. Abrams, Lieut. P. Windley, Lieut. M. Shadwick, Sgt. T. Markowitz and Sgt. R. Hammel. All others are listed as MIA.
- Missing Aircraft Report #100, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CUTTING EDGE, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with bomb controls destroyed, top turret inoperative, multiple minor damage to the nose and pilots' compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by Sgts. Duff & Wilson.
Maybe we had it too easy last mission as we are back to Belgrade again. This time hitting their Marshalling yards. Tail end of the high formation with Griffin and Windley from the 316th backing up the guys in the 318th. At the briefing we had been given the line that there was going to be so much action over Yugoslavia we could expect the defenses to be diluted so it should be another Milk Run. This being our fourth mission we had already wised up to the fact that nothing could predict what we would run into. So we prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.
Surprisingly we snagged a pair of Me-109s over the Adriatic. This is unusual as we rarely see any enemy fighters this close to base. It could be a new tactic the enemy is trying or just bad luck. These guys were pros. Whilst one 109 draw off our fighter cover the other closed in on us and came in where only the cheek gun could bear. Our fire was negligible whilst the return fire tore holes in the nose, fortunately not doing any serious damage. Our fighters being otherwise engaged this guy came in for another pass from head on. Our fire was once again ineffective. His fire was also off target and he broke away as more little friends showed up.
The ominous thing was we had no sooner crossed the Yugoslav coast when we got tangled up in the midst of a dog fight between our P47s and a bundle of Fw-190s. This went on for a little while at the back of the high formation and we were attacked ourselves by a couple of FWs which had become disengaged, temporarily, from the dog fight. Charlie knocked down one these with the ball turret guns. The other one hit the top turret with a 30mm shell which exploded on the turret ring smashing both it and the elevation mechanism rendering the whole turret useless. How Art managed to get out with only scratches I will never know. The FW tried another attack which was unsuccessful before disappearing into the melee. Whether there was any connection between our two sets of contacts can only be guessed at. My hope is that the enemy is not developing some new unpleasant tactic.
We suffered no further attention from the enemy until we had got to Belgrade. Here we got jumped by a couple of Fw-190s whilst our fighters were elsewhere. Despite our heavy fire we were hit by both enemy fighters. Their fire chewed up the nose frightening the life out of Dave and Ambrose and messing up the bomb controls they also put a big hole through the cockpit to no effect. Both fighters came back for another try. Tom in the port waist put a stream of fire into the one coming in high on the port side killing the pilot as the plane flipped and dived into the ground. The other Focke-Wolf fired a racking shot across our bows just missing and then disappeared. We could see another attack lining up on us but it got broken up trying to get past the 318th ahead of us. We were so busy that when things finally let up and we then looked around to see how everyone else was doing that we saw that Windley was gone. Charlie reported five parachutes below and behind us. We hadnít even seen what took them.
Considerably shaken by the sudden loss of our partner, Untamed Beauty was on her fourth mission as was Cutting Edge, we flew into the flak which was just beginning to blossom around us. The flak was not as heavy as we had seen round some targets but definitely not as light as in others. Somehow none of it hit us and as we set up for a manual bomb drop our thoughts were very much still with Windley and what had happened. With the best will in the world and Ambroseís efforts I do not believe that any of our bombs got anywhere near the target. As we came out of the flak we expected a lot of fighters on the other side of the target but strangely the skies were empty only a single Fw-190 made a half-hearted pass at us before disappearing.
Thinking that the worst was now over we saw another pair of Me-109s as we headed for home. These came sniffing by but were chased away by our P38s. We crossed the Adriatic coast and started to breath easier as we were now almost home. Our fighter cover had already started to break up as they started to line up for their bases when 3 Me-109s swept in directly ahead and starboard high. No fighters and now we really missed that top turret. However these guys did not seem very interested in us and did not press their attack. They made one pass and then disappeared. After that last hiccup we finally made it down to base.
- 1st Lt. John Caldwell, Pilot, Cutting Edge, 316th Bomb Squadron
317th BS (LOW)
THE BRAZEN HUSSEY, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with radio destroyed, various superficial damages to #2 engine, the port wing, fuselage, nose, cockpit, radio and waist compartments, 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Capt. Yablowski.
It was all quiet until the group neared the Yugoslavian coastline (zone-3) when a pair of Me-109s attacked from head-on. Capt. Yablowski shot down one of the attackers but the other one knocked out our radio, and wounded both of the waist gunners, Sgts. Compton and Pancetti.
Now over Yugoslavian air space (zone-4) a lone 109 made an unsuccessful attack.
Another lone 109 attacked and caused hits to the nose, cockpit, radio and waist compartments. Luckily, nothing vital was hit. Capt. Yablowski had a close call when he was hit square in the chest by a 13mm bullet. Fortunately for him, Capt. Yablowski had his flak jacket on and it prevented a serious injury (personal lucky charm used).
During the bomb run we took a flak burst under the nose and shrapnel hit the starboard wing, the #2 engine on the port side, and Capt. Yablowski in the left arm, nothing too serious. Lt. Sedgwick was prepared to feather #2 but it keep on running without a problem. He kept an eye on the RPMs just in case during the rest of the bomb run until the rally point. Lt. Whitstock reported a good drop and closed the bomb bay doors.
We encountered no further enemy attacks due to the defensive fire from other B-17s or from the escorts. Landing was routine and without incident.
Major Daniel Tanner, Pilot, The Brazen Hussy
WOLVERINE, Lead flight, Left Wingman
Bombed target, 10%. Returned with top turret and intercom inoperable; no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Gotcher and Sgt. Crapo. SSgt. Gotcher's claim was later confirmed by S-2.
We were attacked only twice. The first attack was one 190 just prior to bombing. The 190 passed once missing and left. The second and last attack was just before reaching the Adriatic on the way back (zone-4). Two E/A were killed and a third was damaged (took 1 damage). We lost our top turret gun and intercom system; nothing else damaged. Our bombing was off target but we fortunate to score a 10%.
- 1st Lt. Cody Fiscus, Pilot, Wolverine
TALLEST CROW, Lead flight, Right Wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard elevator inoperable, superficial damage to the radio room, and 1 casualty.
Yet another mission that begs the eternal question, "Why?" Lots of why questions, actually. We had good fighter cover . . . but we still saw a lot of fighters. The plane itself was damaged only superficially, except for the starboard elevator, which will have to be replaced. But Harsch is irreplaceable, as a man. He was older than most of us, and we all really liked him. It really hurts to lose a man like that. We can only hope his replacement is as good a soul. J. Richards (a replacement) damaged two 190s. Gorman and Ford also each damaged a 190, Ballard (a replacement) damaged a 109. Most of the fighters we saw were on the way back . . . we did the job right . . . but we still lost a great man . . . so again, I wonder why.
- 1st Lt. Trey Azagoth, Pilot, Tallest Crow
TULE LAKE SAMURAI II, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with radio, top turret guns damaged and turret inoperable, superficial damage to the tail elevator, port wing, starboard wing, #4 engine, to the nose, bomb bay, radio room, waist, and pilotsí compartments, and 4 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by 2nd Lt. Hiromeni and TSgt. Kashiwagi and 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Yoshimura.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
About 10 miles from checkpoint 2 we encountered enemy bogies coming in from 12 oíclock and were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group before they were able to attack the formation.
At checkpoint 4 we encountered bogies coming in from the east but they were driven off by both machine gun fire from the formation and fighters from the 325th Fighter Group.
Just before we reached the target we encountered two (2) waves of fighters. The first wave consisted of FOUR (4) Fw-190s coming in from 12, 3, 9 and 6 oíclock high. Three missed the plane and didnít return while the one from 6 high was heavily damaged by Sgt. Ono but was still able to do a walking hit on the plane hitting the nose, pilotsí compartment, bomb bay, radio room, waist, and tail areas. The hits to the nose, bomb bay area, and radio room were superficial in nature. But the other hits to the pilotsí compartment caused superficial injuries to 2nd Lt. Allen Honda, hits on the waist also caused injuries (serious) to Sgt. Hayashi and (superficial) Sgt. Yoshimura. And hits to tail section caused minor damage to the elevators. This plane didnít return. The second wave consisted of bogies coming in from 3 oíclock level were driven off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group and machine gun fire from the formation before they were able to attack.
We encountered medium flak which was able to hit
the plane in the port wing and twice in the starboard wing. The hit to the
port wing caused superficial damage while hits to the starboard wing caused
superficial damage to the #4 engine and to the leading edge of the starboard
wing. Even with the hits to the plane 2nd Lt. Hiromine was still able to
put 30% of the bomb load on the target.
On the turnaround we had two waves again. The first was a lone Fw-190 coming in from a VERTICAL DIVE was able to hit the plane once in the port wing again causing superficial damage to the wing. It returned at head-on but it was shot down by 2nd Lt. Hiromeni before it was able to attack the plane. The second wave consisted of three (3) Fw-190ís coming in from head-on. The one was driven off by fighters from the 82nd Fighter Group. One coming in from 12 low missed the plane and didnít return. The last one from 12 high hit the plane three times, once each in the port wing, pilotsí compartment and tail. The hit to the pilotsí compartment heavily damaged the top turret and caused serious injuries to Ssgt. Takemoto. The hit to the port wing was again superficial in nature. The hit to the tail damaged the oxygen supply to the tail gunner. The plane returned at 10:30 level but missed the plane and not return. The second wave consisted of four (4) Me-109s making head-on attacks. Two missed the plane and didnít return. Both the ones coming in from 12 and 10:30 high hit the plane, with the one at 12 high twice (2), once each on the port and starboard wings. The other one hit the plane four (4) times, twice in the port wing and once in the fuselage and radio room. The hits by the one from 12 high were superficial in nature while the hits by the other one caused damage to the port wing root, damaged the radio, and superficial damage to the nose. These planes returned; the one from 3 level was destroyed by the ball turret manned by Sgt. Yoshimura before it was able to attack. The one coming in from 12 level missed the plane and was slightly damaged by the tail gunner Sgt. Ono.
About ten (10) miles after checkpoint 4 we encountered a lone FW-190 doing a vertical dive. Radio operator Tsgt. Kashiwagi was able to destroy the fighter before it was able to attack the plane.
At checkpoint 3 a lone FW-190 attacked the bomber coming in from 10:30 high and it missed the plane and didnít return.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without incident.
- 1st Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II
COLORADO GOLD, Second flight, Left Wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with rudder controls inoperable, wing root damage to both wings, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Debruex, 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Olsen and Sgt. Spencer.
Nerves were an issue after we heard that we were going to be tail-end Charlie. Take-off and grouping went smoothly.
We encountered no enemy A/C until over the target. We were jumped by 5 fighters and our escorts drove 2 away. The starboard waist gunner took out a FW-190 at 3 oíclock level on his 2nd time around. The other two took out the rudder controls and damaged the starboard wing root before moving on.
The flak started up shortly after that and we got hit by 1 burst, damaging to the port wing root. This didnít seem to bother our fill-in bombardier OíHara as he dropped a nifty 30% on target.
We ran into 3 Fw-190s and an ME-109 after we turned for home. The tail gunner shot down the 109 at 6 high and we traded shots with the 190s with no hits from either side. The only other contact we had with E/A was three 109s. Fighter cover drove off 2 and the navigator knocked out the last one at 1:30 high.
The rest of the flight back was quiet for us. The crew came through without injuries and the Gold is ready to fly again with the next mission.
- 1st Lt. Ken Evans, Pilot, Colorado Gold
Return to Sterparone Field