MISSION 55 - WIENER-NEUSTADT AARs
318th BS (LEAD)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Reached target but did not bombed target due to jammed bomb bay doors. Returned with bomb bay doors jammed, the #2 engine both waist guns, the starboard aileron inoperable and 3 casualties.
We had a good flight and thank God for our Little Friends. They kept the Jerries off us during this run. The Flak was another story. We took two bursts that jammed our bomb bay doors, took out #2 Engine, both waist guns, starboard aileron and left three of us bleeding during the return trip. It was with a little luck and a prayer I was able to land fully loaded. I waited until everyone was down of clear of the runway. I must of lost a good 10 lbs during that landing.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, Lead flight, left wingman
Formation abort - returned to base.
LUCKY 13, Lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Retuned with pilots’ compartment heating system, port elevator and bomb controls inoperable, damage to the tail compartment oxygen system, the rudder (67%) and one of the wing roots, superficial damage to the starboard aileron, tail, bomb bay (2), waist and pilots’ compartments, and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Fw-190s & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Holmes, 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Eastman, and 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Wait and Sgt. Lindy.
What a bust. Mission started out as a milk run. Didn’t see any anything until we reached the target. Then we got jumped by 6 Jerries, luckily we managed to avoid any damage.
Flak got us, overall light damage, except for Sgt. Hanes getting hit. However, this was enough to totally throw off our bomb run. Our bombs probably landed in France instead of Austria.
On the way home we were attacked by 11 enemy aircraft. Where were our Little Friends? We got tore up pretty bad, and almost had to drop out of formation due to the heater getting hit in the pilots’ compartment. Luckily we were close enough to home we could stay with our friends.
To summarize this mission provided target practice for the gunners. We destroyed or damaged 8 aircraft. Not sure it balances the wound Hanes got.
- 1st Lt. Kent Newsom, Pilot, Lucky 13, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
PALE RIDER, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with superficial damage to the port wing, starboard flaps, radio compartment and 1 casualty.
Finally the weather broke and has given us another chance to take the fight to the Germans. Today's target was an aircraft factory in Austria. The boys were raring to go, after the last mission.
After taking off and starting to head towards Austria we were rather quickly jumped by 4 Fw-190s. Thankfully the escorting P-47s drove off 1. One of the 190s dove down on us and hit the starboard wing causing some damage to the flap, but it didn't effect operation. On his second pass Kainer was able to drive him off with the turret guns.
The rest of the trip to Wiener-Neustadt was uneventful until we got in the vicinity of the target. Three Fw-190s jumped us, and again the escorts came to the rescue with the P-51s chasing off 2 of the 190s. The remaining 190 failed to do any damage and we failed to hit him.
The flak over the target wasn't too bad and we it through unscathed. McCarthy put the eggs on target again, this time plastering them for 60%.
Flying out from Wiener-Neustadt we were again jumped by two Fw-190s. The first we were able to force to break off his attack with the port cheek gun. The second hit the port wing causing superficial damage. On his second pass the nose gun forced him to break off his attack.
The flight was pretty quiet at this point until we were over the Adriatic. Three Fw-190s attacked us. One of them managed to hit the radio room, and lightly wounded Henley. Unfortunately our guns weren't on target today and we didn't get any kills.
After that encounter we landed safely at Foggia.
- 1st Lt. Mark Fowler, Pilot, Pale Rider
ONCE A KNIGHT, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the radio shot up, the starboard elevator, 1 aileron, tail guns inoperable, damage to the port wing root and the tail compartment's oxygen system, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-110 by SSgt. Cooter.
A rough first outing – One KIA, two WIA and 0% on target.
The crew of Once a Knight had an eventful introduction to the air war. Heading out on our first mission full of visions of glory, we were soon introduced to reality.
Over the coast of Yugoslavia, we were jumped by two Me-109s and an Me-110. Our gunners managed to score hits on all, but one of the 110s took out our starboard elevator. Almost immediately we were jumped by another five fighters. Our little friends chased two off, an our belly gunner hit one, but we were hit and lost both the tail gunner’s oxygen and the gun itself.
Soon after entering Austria six more fighters hit us. Frank in the radio room hit one, but Jim Frick in the waist was hit and our port wing took some major damage. The good news was Cooter got his first kill of the day when an FW-190 lined up perfectly in his sights.
Still heading into the target we were hit yet again, losing the radio. Cooter got a piece of another plane and then downed his second plane of the day, an ME-110.
The bomb run itself was uneventful, but a goose-egg for us as we were totally off target.
On the return trip, we were jumped again and Cooter’s and his turret were both hit. Despite the wounds, Cooter continued to assist the crew during the rest of the flight. John Frack in the waist wasn’t as lucky as he took a direct hit, killing him instantly. Victor Garber in the nose did get a piece of a 109, but the Jerry in turn took out our aileron.
The rest of the return flight consisted of tending to wounds and keeping Once a Knight flying. With a little help we were able to get her down in once piece.
What an introduction.
- 1st Lt. Buck Buds, Pilot, Once A Knight
CASE IN POINT, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #3 engine, flight deck heater, both elevators, port wing landing gear brakes all inoperable, the starboard inboard fuel tank (which sealed) holed, damage to the starboard wing root (40%), lesser damage to bomb bay, #4 engine, tail, waist and radio compartments (including oxygen system), and 4 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Brewster.
Our first mission with the 318th was a rough one, as we suffered 4 casualties and extensive damage to Case In Point. Just as we crossed the Yugoslavian coast, 3 fighters made a single pass at us - severely wounding the navigator (Lt. May), destroying the port landing gear brakes, and shooting up the radio compartment.
Things heated up as we passed into Austria and neared the target zone. Just prior to beginning the bomb run, we were attacked by 8 fighters (not accurate nor very determined) and rocked by 3 flak hits. This caused our bombing run to be off target, with zero percent of our bombs hitting the target.
As we turned away from the target and headed home, we were attacked by 11 more fighters, whose pilots were much more accurate and determined to press home their attacks. Even though our gunners destroyed one and damaged 2 others, these fighters shot out the #3 engine, which eventually forced us out of formation and down to 10,000 ft., killed one of the waist gunners (Sgt. Weeks), and wounded the radio operator and tail gunner before breaking off their attacks as we passed into Yugoslavia.
Over Yugoslavia some light flak hit the plane, causing slight damage to Case In Point and lightly wounding the tail gunner again. But thankfully we encountered no more fighters the rest of the flight home. I was lucky to land without incident, as both rudders were no longer functional and the port side brakes were shot out.
- 1st Lt. Thomas Behrens, Pilot, Case in Point
316th BS (High)
OLD YARD DOG, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Formation abort - returned to base.
SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties.
A long run into Austria and back for the Satin Doll. We didn't encounter any E/A until halfway across Yugoslavia. Fortunately, other ships in the formation drove them off before they could form their attack. Nearing the target area the combined fire power of our squadron mates kept the Jerries at bay.
Flak over the target was medium thick, but not too accurate, allowing Capt. Morris to put 30% of the load into the factory complex.
Rallying off target, a lone Me-109 swung in at us from 12 high but was blasted in two by a P-51. No E/A got close to us the rest of the way home and we landed without incident.
- 1st Lt. William M. Patrick, Pilot, A/C 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
NORTHERN DREAM, Lead flight, right wingman
Aborted mission zone-4 outbound. Dropped from formation and returned alone. Landed with pilots' compartment heating system and port elevator inoperable, minor damage to the #3 engine, some superficial damage and 1 casualty.
We hardly got into this mission before we were hit by a solitary Fw-190 coming out of the sun in a straight vertical dive on us. We were not far from the Zagreb Airfield when we were jumped. The top turret had a shot as did the radioman but no joy.
The first pass by the Fw-190 knocked out the heating in pilot's compartment and did some damage on the tail plane.
Second pass again we scored no hits against the Fw-190 which had now taken up a position on our six! He again scored hits this time damaging Engine #3 which fortunately self-sealed and also shooting up the waist section badly wounding Peterson in the process.
His third pass and we again scored no hits against him and this time he failed to land a blow and left us alone.
Given the damage and lack of heat in the pilots' compartment the decision was made to abort the mission. We turned for home. Lucky for us we did not encounter any other enemy aircraft home bound and were able to put the ship down without too much bother. Peterson was seriously wounded, medics say he'll be out for the next few missions but should be fine after that. Lucky to get back on this one!
- 1st Lt. Calder, Pilot, Northern Dream, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
LUCKY NICKEL, Second flight, lead aircraft
Aborted zone 4 outbound due to jammed bomb bay doors. Left formation and returned alone. Landed with bomb bay doors jammed, superficial damage to the nose, tail, radio room and pilots' compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Sawyer.
We got to Yugoslavia (zone 3) with little problem but midway through Yugoslavia (zone 4) a lone Fw-190 had walking hits on plane. Radio room and tail were hit with superficial damage. Pilot and nose compartments were hit again with superficial damage although I a think the control panel might have to be checked as a few of the gauges were broken. The bombs in the bomb bay had not been armed but the door is jammed shut with damage to the cables as well as operation mech. So even the doors could not be manually opened. I decided to pullout and return to base. On the way home a lone Me-109 tried to sneak up on to our tail but my Ace gunner got him.
Not a great first flight, but we brought 'em all home in one piece.
- Capt. Felix Johnson, Pilot, Lucky Nickel, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Second flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with ball turret hatch blown off and jammed turret, rafts destroyed, starboard wing flap shot out, damaged to the starboard wing root (20%), eight large holes of no critical effect (103 damage pts per Peckham's damage chart), and 4 casualties. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by Sgt. Piano, 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Ohm & Sgt. Inocencio.
Took off was at 0755 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 0958 o'clock.
Around 1005 hours (zone 5) we saw our first enemy squadron. Three Messerschmitt 109s turned their attention to our ship. This is when four P-51s intervened, driving off two Germen fighters. Lt. Newill severely damaged the last Me-109, diverting his shot.
When we approached the IP we were confronted by three waves of enemy fighters. SSgt. Jenkins and SSgt. Sawyer form the "LUCKY NICKEL" chased off a lone Me-109 making a pass at us. The second squadron of Me-110s were chased of by our P-51 fighter boys. Our little friends in their P-51s drove off three of the four Focke-Wulf 190s. The one that made it through the fighter screen seriously wounded TSgt. Zimmerman and did some minor damage to the plane.
After the fighters broke off we were peppered with flak. This did a majority of our damage today. Knocking the hatch off the ball turret as well as hitting the aileron and disabling one flap. This was enough to knock off our drop causing to just miss doing any damage to the target.
Coming off the drop zone we were approached by a wave of Me-110s. Our ship to the right was able to get a shot at them before they attacked diverting their attack.
From here on home we were harassed by fighter wave after fighter wave till just before the base. Four Me-109s attacked at about 1130 hours from the front and both sides. MSgt. Ohm and Sgt. Inocencio both shot down a Me-109 each. Only one of the other two hit our ship, lightly wounding Sgt. Yasuda. On his return attack Lt. Torbett severely damaged the fighter.
Back under our fighter cover, we benefited by a P-51 chasing off one Me-109. This left one Me-109 and a Me-110 to attempt a shot. Lt. Newill severely damaged the Me-109 causing him to miss as well the other fighter missed too.
Around 1210 hours four more FW-190s made a run on us. This time our fighter cover was busy helping another bomber group as they didn't give us any relief from the Germans attack. Sgt. Piano destroyed one Focke-Wulf on its first attack. Two of the remaining German fighters managed to hit us, damaging our starboard wing root and wounding both Lt. Newill and Lt. Torbett lightly. On their return attack Lt. Newill exacted revenge by severely damaging one fighter and Sgt. Piano destroyed his second fighter in about five minutes.
We had another flight of four Focke-Wulfs attempt to engage our ship. This time the gunners on the "Shimizu" chassed them off before the Germans could shoot. We are indebted to our wing mates for keeping at least eight fighters off or ship. As well as the fighter jockeys also driving off eight German fighters.
Our gunners shot down four (4) enemy aircraft and claimed to have damaged at least four (4) more.
Twenty-one enemy aircraft encountered.
8 Driven off by our fighters
SSgt. R. Ohm - 1 Me-109 Destroyed
Sgt. D. Piano - 2 FW-190s Destroyed
Sgt. G. Inocencio - 1 Me-109 Destroyed
Lt. C. Newill - 2 Me-109s Probable and 1 FW-190 Probable
Lt. D. Torbett - 1 Me-109 Probable
- 2nd Lt. Gary Tines, Pilot, Vengeful Harlot, B17G-10-VE 43-8870, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CUTTING EDGE, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with intercom, bomb bay doors, ball & tail turrets inoperable, rubber rafts destroyed, superficial damage to the nose, waist, tail, bomb bay & pilots’ compartments, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd. Lt. Young.
After two scrubbed missions I got to admit that nerves were getting stretched. You go through all the stress of going out on a mission and then come back with nothing to show for it. We were half expecting another SNAFU as we set off on this ‘mission’.
We got jumped just as we crossed the Yugoslav coast. A gaggle of FW-190s overwhelmed the local escorts, of whom there were worryingly few, and four of them picked on us. To my surprise David managed to bring one of the fighters down with his cheek gun and Matt rattled another so that it broke away smoking. However no one managed to nail the one in the vertical dive who chewed us up from stem to stern. Bill in the radio room took a glancing hit but said he was okay. However Pete took a slug between his shoulder and neck, he was in a bad way. How bad I didn’t know because that damned fighter came in for another bite. Art managed to put in a few hits and that put him off his aim and he disappeared. Fortunately no further fighters appeared and Dave came up to see what he could do for Pete. The damage report showed that Phil’s oxygen has taken a hit and we had a few more holes that we hadn’t started off with so we kept going. So long as we stayed in formation I would risk Dave looking after Pete. So we made Pete as comfortable as we could with Dave looking after him until we got back home.
As we crossed the border into Austria the fun really began two Me-109s came after us. Our escorts nailed one but the other one got through. Despite a fierce exchange of fire no hits were obtained on either side and the enemy fighter dived away after his attack. Once over the target enemy resistance was fierce. Were it not for the close formation held and protective fire of the other B-17s we would have been subjected to twice as many attacks then we did. Only one enemy attack got through but our little friends stripped two fighters away from it so that of the three coming after us only the one coming in from 12 high got through. Again Art managed to nick the fighter with his twin fifties which caused the attacker to miss us. Beyond the IP the flak was heavy but poorly coordinated leaving large gaps and we received no hits as we ran in on the target. Our bomb run nevertheless was poor and no hits in the target area were observed.
Coming away from the target the concentration of enemy fighters appeared to be much higher and we suffered three separate attacks. In all cases our little friends were effective in blunting these attacks. Only one Me-110 managed to get through in the first attack with a vertical climb but after Charlie had knocked out his port engine he got the message and broke away. In the second attack only one Me-109 managed to get in a broadside attack on our port side. This time Tom managed to spatter the fighter’s cockpit with shells causing the fighter to veer away suddenly. The last attack resolved into a two pronged attack by two 110s low to the front and rear. Once again Charlie managed to get a good set of hits in but not before the return fire came ripping into us down the fuselage in another succession of hits. The damage done took some time to access as the intercom was knocked out. Paul came up from the tail reporting that the tail turret had been knocked out and Tom and Matt were trying to get Charlie out of the ball turret which was jammed. He also reported that our rubber rafts were shredded in the bomb bay. I sent him up to the nose to see what the damage was there. He soon came back - Ambrose had been badly hit by shell fragments and Dave went forward to see what he could do for him. Dave spent the rest of the mission moving between Pete and Ambrose doing everything that he could for them. In the meantime I sent Paul to man the nose gun.
Over Yugoslavia we never saw another enemy fighter, our escorts were tight and numerous and it looked like we were going to make it but just as we were approaching the Yugoslav coast we got caught by four Fw-190s just as the P51s were breaking off and just before the P47s arrived. The FWs hit us from all directions. With so many turrets out of action and our intercom out our defensive fire was ineffective and we were only saved by the poor shooting of our opponents. Only one of the four managed to hit us, the first time without doing any significant damage. This fighter must have been the leader as he made two further passes. Fortunately all he managed to do was jam the bomb bay doors and put further holes in the fuselage. Having expended his ammunition the FW returned whence he came.
No further attacks were experienced once we crossed the Adriatic coast and a safe landing was made on arrival at base. Ambrose and Pete have been rushed away in an ambulance status unknown Bill will be okay and ready for the next mission.
- 1st Lt. John Caldwell, Pilot, Cutting Edge, 316th Bomb Squadron
317th BS (High)
TULE LAKE SAMURAI II, Third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 40%. Aircraft ditched from
fuel exhaustion before reaching base and sank in the Adriatic Sea. 10
crewmembers rescued, with 2 wounded. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Hayashi.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
At checkpoint 2 we encountered two (2) ME-109s. One coming was driven off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group while the other one from 12 level missed the plane and didn’t return.
About five (5) miles from checkpoint 4 we encountered four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12 o’clock high, level and low with another from 6 LOW. The one was chased away by fighters from the 325th. The one coming in from 12 level was hit by 2nd Lt. Joe Hiromine, which caused it to miss and not return. The other two missed the plane and didn’t return.
Ten (10) miles after we left checkpoint 5 we encountered a lone FW-190 coming in from 10:30 high but it was chased off by fighters from the 325th before is was able to get to the bomb group.
Near the bomb site we encountered three (3) waves. The first wave consisted of three (3) FW-190s coming in from 12:00 HIGH, 3:00 LEVEL, and 3:00 HIGH. The one coming in from 3:00 HIGH, chased off by fighters from the 325th. The one coming in from 12:00 HIGH missed the plane and wasn’t able to return. The one coming in from 3:00 LEVEL was able to hit the plane once in the fuselage and once in the starboard wing. The hit to the fuselage was superficial, while the hit to the starboard wing damaged the aileron making it inoperable. The plane was able to return, coming in from 6:00 LEVEL. The plane was chased away by the 325th before is was able to attack and wasn’t able to return. The second wave bogies were spotted at 12:00 HIGH and was chased away by fighters from the 325th. The third wave consisted of three (3) FW-190s coming in from coming in from 12:00 HIGH, 3:00 LEVEL, and 3:00 HIGH. The one coming in from 3:00 LEVEL and 3:00 HIGH were chased off by fighters from the 325th. The one coming in from 12:00 HIGH was able to hit the plane once each in the port wing, nose and pilot’s compartment. The port wing hit caused superficial damage to the #1 engine. The hit to the nose caused superficial wound to bombardier 2nd Lt. Hiromine. The hit to the pilots’ compartment caused superficial damage. The plane was able to return attacking at 12:00 LEVEL. Before it was able to line up for attack the enemy fighter was shot down by fighters from the 325th.
We encountered medium flak and was hit two times, once in the starboard wing and in the waist. The hit to the wing made the flaps inoperable. The hit to the waist caused the starboard gunner’s heater to go out.
Even being injured and with all the flak 2nd Lt. Hiromine was still able to line up the plane and put 40% of the bomb load on target.
On the turn around we encountered two (2) wave of fighters. The first wave consisted of bogies coming in from 1:30 LEVEL and was chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group. The second wave consisted of three (3) ME-109s coming in from 12:00 LEVEL, 12:00 HIGH, 10:30 LEVEL and one (1) FW-190 coming in from 12:00 LOW. Fighters from the 31st Fighter Group was able to chase three of the fighters. The FW-190, and two (2) ME-109s coming in from 12:00 HIGH and 10:30 LEVEL. The ME-109 coming in from 12:00 LEVEL was able to hit the starboard wing causing leakage to the inboard tank.
It was estimated that we only had enough fuel to ditch in the Adriatic, so it was decided to go down to 10,000 feet since Sgt. Hayashi’s suit was out.
At checkpoint 5 we again encountered five (5)
ME-109s coming in from 12:00 HIGH (2), 12:00 LEVEL, 12:00 LOW and 9:00 HIGH. One
coming in from 12:00 HIGH, chased off by fighters from the 31st. One coming in
from 12:00 HIGH was able to hit the plane twice. Once in the pilots’ compartment
and once in the starboard wing. Both hits were superficial in nature. The planes
were able to return two coming in from 12:00 LEVEL and from 9:00 LEVEL and 3:00
HIGH. One of the planes coming in from 12:00 LEVEL was able to hit the plane
twice once in the port wing and once in the fuselage. The one coming in from
3:00 HIGH also was able to hit the plane three times. Once in the bomb bay,
radio room and port wing. The hits to the port wing, bomb bay, radio room and
fuselage were superficial in nature. The planes were again able to return coming
in from 12:00 LEVEL, 9:00 HIGH, 3:00 LEVEL, and 10:30 LEVEL. The one coming in
from 9:00 HIGH was chased off by fighters from the 31st. The plane coming in
from 12:00 LEVEL was able to hit the plane twice once in the nose and in the
fuselage. The hit to the fuselage was superficial while the hit to the nose
damaged the nose gun making it inoperable.
At checkpoint 4 we encountered one wave of fighters consisting of four (4) ME-109s two (2) coming in from 12:00 LEVEL, 1:30 LEVEL, and 3:00 LEVEL. Two fighters were driven off by fighters from the 31st fighter group and they didn’t return. The last one coming in from 3:00 level was shot down by the starboard waist gunner Sgt. Sam Hayashi. The other ME-109 coming in from 1w level was able to hit the plane twice, once in the port wing and pilots’ compartment. The hit to the port wing hit the inboard tank and caused it to also leak. The hit to the pilot’s compartment caused a superficial wound to 1st Lt. Shimizu. The lone plane was able to return but was chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group before it was able to attack.
At checkpoint 2 we spotted bogies coming in from ahead but fighters from the 31st Fighter Group intercepted them before they were able to get to our plane.
With fuel running out we sent out an SOS with our position and ditched the plane. With all four engines we were able to ditch the plane without any injuries to the crew. We were able to get out of the plane before it sank and was rescued by patrol boats in the area.
- 1st Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II
TALLEST CROW, Third flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Fell out-of-formation and returned alone with the #3 engine, cockpit oxygen system, starboard aileron, radio, tail turret inoperable, a holed fuel tank, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Gorman and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Pipien. Both claims later confirmed by S-2.
We coasted home. It was the luck of the gods, I swear, that this plane held together. We can repair it; we have the technology. But this plane will be nearly brand new when we're done. No one got hurt, I got it down, and we're thankful. And as a bonus, we got 50% of the target on our run, which isn't bad, considering what we went through. Fighter cover helped us out sporadically, and the beginning was especially good. Then it happened on the way to the target: Gorman damaged a 190, and Ford and Rich Robinson each damaged a 110 . . . and we lost the tail turret right after that. Then Colt damaged a 190 . . . and our starboard aileron got shot out. It was tit for tat . . . and that wasn't all. Beautiful target run . . . 50% . . . and we lost our radio to a flak shot. Then they hit my oxygen, but it still worked . . . and we had a leak to the inboard fuel tank, but had enough to make it home . . . and Pipien shot down a 109. Next, Gorman shot down a 190 . . . then the #3 engine got an oil tank leak, so I only had a bit more to go with that . . . so we dropped out of formation. It got hit again, and the prop wasn't feathered . . . bad news. Then our oxygen was shot out . . . mine, Chris Robinson's, Colt's . . . and there was a fire. We got that taken care of, and the inboard fuel tank took another hit, but that leak self-sealed. We had to descend to 10,000 feet. I was wondering if we'd make it home. But we did. We still had landing gear . . . and some windows . . . and I do believe the navigator's equipment was untouched. That's about it, so it seems. But it's all reparable. We'll need a new tank, a new #3 engine, almost certainly . . . a new tail gun, and a new oxygen system on the flight deck . . . that's all doable. We're glad we made it home unhurt, and with a successful mission.
- 1st Lt. Trey Azagthoth, Pilot, Tallest Crow
BACALL'S BOXER, Third flight, left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by TSgt. Berwick.
The mission began with a lump in the gut when we got jumped over the Adriatic and the Jerry fighters kept coming back – We have someone to thank that no hits were scored.
The rest of the way to the target the boys of the 325th and 31st FGs kept the Hun at bay.
As we approached the target the weather was clear as a bell. Nate at the Norden was sure we would get ‘em in the pickle barrel this time around. The 31st kept the Bosch busy but an ME-109 snuck through the back door and got of a ragged burst as our fire drove him off.
The flak stared bursting around as we locked onto the final bomb run. Believe you me I was calling out to “slim” to get us through this one! The Krauts must have been targeting the lower squadrons because all the flak missed us. As soon as we laid our eggs we made our turn for home.
When we crossed into Yugoslavia a single FW-190 burst through the fighter screen in a vertical dive. SSgt. Johnston and “Sparks” let go with all they had. “Sparks” was yelling something over the intercom about being a “trained technician and not a gunner,” when Paul in the top turret told him to shut up, “you just flamed a FW-190. What a waste of all that technical training!”
The Adriatic was large on the horizon when a FW 190 came screaming at us for a head on attack. A few bursts were all it took to convince him to head for home.
Sterparone was looking mighty fine as we took up
our position in the landing pattern.
- 1st Lt. John Stryker, Pilot, Bacall's Boxer, 316th Bomb Squadron
399th BS (LOW)
LUCY QUIPMENT, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the #3 engine oil tank fire (extinguished), bomb bay doors inoperable, rafts destroyed, tail guns jammed, damage to the rudder and starboard wing root, superficial damage the nose, flight deck (3), bomb bay, radio room (3) and waist (4) compartments, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Fargo, 1 Me-109 by Lt. Jacob, 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Thompson
The 399th took off and formed up without any problems with our ship in the lead. While we had good fighter coverage most of the trip, the Jerries came at us like gang busters. While they shot us up pretty good, but the boys did an outstanding job of dishing it out too. MSgt. Fargo is to be commended for his excellent gunnery in defense of the aircraft and crew. Despite the heavy resistance from German fighters and the flak over the target, Lt. Edwards place 20% of our bomb load in the target area.
The enemy fighters continued to come at us shooting up the waist, radio room and tail repeatedly. The enemy fighters did not break off until we neared the Italian coast. I regret to report that we lost SSgt. Blanchard, one of my original crew members this mission during these attacks. After looking at the waist, I am not sure how SSgt. Burrows manage to get off with a minor wound to his left foot.
- Major Art Defilippo, Pilot, Lucy Quipment, 399th Bomb Squadron
RIVER CITY RAIDER, Lead flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with superficial damage to tail and starboard wing, and no casualties.
Take off and form up went without incident. The trip was quiet for us, except for a few superficial holes in our tail and starboard wing, and a few near hits with the flak, there is not much to say about our mission. My boys missed every Jerry that flew close to us, and we clean missed the target with our load.
Landing was safe and uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Frank Kellogg, Pilot, River City Raider, 399th Bomb Squadron
LAURALEE, Lead flight, right wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the top turret guns and Navigator's heating system inoperable; lots of holes in wings and fuselage and 2 casualties and 1 case of frostbite.
We saw the first enemy a/c when we hit the Yugoslav coast. A couple 190s made a run at us from the front. One raked the fuselage, wounding Tom and Les--and knocking out Les' heat--shooting out the top turret and wounding Andy as well. After that, the fighter cover (thank goodness for the new Mustangs!) seemed to stiffen, and no Krauts attacked us until we got to target. Even then, only a couple made runs at us. Despite his wound, Tom was able to hit the target.
Only a few more planes got through the fighter cover on the way back home, but they put lots of holes in the plane and hit Les again. He stayed at his guns though, and we got home safe. I hope we get the Mustangs again.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Laurelee, 399th Bomb Squadron
THUNDERMUG, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with the autopilot, starboard flaps and tail turret guns inoperable, ball turret jammed, and superficial damage to radio, bomb bay and pilot's compartments, and 1 casualty.
Take off and assembly went fine.
We didn't get hit until just before the bomb run, and then the Krauts stayed on us until we were about 75 miles past the target. We came under repeated head-on attacks. One Me-109 walked hits down the fuselage, slightly wounding Lt. Hearn, jamming the ball turret, knocked out the tail guns, and put lots of holes all over the ship. Escorts got him before he could make another pass. A second 109 came in and knocked the autopilot out. There was plenty of flak but we caught a break and got through untouched. Hearn unloaded on the target despite his wound and the autopilot being out. I think he wanted to pay the Krauts back for his wound.
More fighters after the target knocked out the starboard flaps but we stayed tight in formation -- after about 100 miles on the return leg the fighter attacks tapered off . . . Landed okay.
- Capt. Jerry Logan, Pilot, Thundermug
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 75%. Returned with heavy
damage to waist compartment, moderate damage to flight deck, heat out; both
inboard fuel tanks holed but self-sealed and 4 casualties. Claims: Me-109
by Sgt. Kramer and 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Vetter.
A rough mission . . . two killed, again in that damned waist section. Can't seem to convince any of the veterans to join our "jinxed" waist crew, so we recruited 2 greenies fresh off the transport.
- 2nd Lt. Clarence McCarthy, Pilot, Mawimazo
MYSTERY SHIP, Second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 40%. Fell out-of-formation after bomb run. Returned with port waist gunner’s heat out, damage to the flight engineer’s oxygen system and to the tail wheel, numerous superficial hits, and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Thompson and 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Swanson, Sgts. Anderson and Watford.
We had lots of help from our Little Friends on the route out, but as we neared the IP the fighters began to attack the formation. We took a few hits over the target. That’s when Sgt. Donahue’s heater was damaged.
We were over the target so we bombed before leaving the formation on the return route. There was good fighter cover so I decided to leave right after bombs away.
The Little Friends got busy again right after we had left and drove off at least 4 fighters, 110s and 109s.
- 2nd Lt. Jeff Sparkman, Pilot, Mawimazo
Return to Sterparone Field