MISSION 60 - PLOESTI AARs
316th BS (LEAD)
FOUR OF A KIND, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with 60% damage to the starboard wing root, damage to the port tail plane root, radio room and port waist MGs jammed, starboard inner fuel tank holed (self-sealed), superficial damage to the port wing flaps, fuselage (3), to the nose, pilots', bomb bay (2), waist (2) and tail compartments, with 2 lightly wounded crew members. Claims: 5 Me-109s by SSgt. Sherwin, 2 Me-109s by 2nd Lt. Gilbert, 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Smith.
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, Left Aircraft
Did not bomb. Aborted mission (zone-2) due to battle damage. Returned alone with #1 engine inoperable, rafts destroyed, damage to the #3 engine, and waist compartment shot up (67 Peckham damage pts) and 2 casualties (1 KIA & 1 lt. wound).
We were airborne by 0905 hours with a load of 2300 gallons of gasoline, 4000 pounds of GP-HE bombs, full load of ammunition, and the usual weight of men and equipment. Everything on plane was in operational order. We joined the group formation at 1010 hours.
Around 1046 hours (zone-2) three FW-190s attacked our aircraft. Our little friends drove the two up front away. MSgt. Ohm's and Sgt. Inocencio had a go at the one from three o'clock high. They both missed, but the German didn't. He raked our mid section as well as our wings. The racket made by the 20mm shells is still rings in my ears. In one pass the Kraut destroyed the rafts, knocked out our number three engine and damaged number one too. Lieutenant Vandergrift immediately feather number three and the number one engine continued to run rough with much smoke. The call then came in from SSgt. Cormack that we had wounded. It turns out that the new guy in the port waist bought it and Sgt. Inocencio had a nasty shoulder wound. The fighter boys came back and drove off this FW.
With the loss of our engine we could not keep up and keep our bombs. We decided to jettison our load and headed home. This way we could get our wounded attended to.
We returned at 1137 hours without any further incidents.
Our gunners shot down no (0) enemy aircraft.
- 2nd Lt. Gary Tines, Pilot, Vengeful Harlot, B17G-10-VE 43-8870, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, Right Aircraft
Runway abort. Did not take off and participate on mission.
CUTTING EDGE, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. After bombing target, left formation and returned alone and landed with the brakes, tail turret, radio room heating system Inoperable, damage to 2/3 of the rudder, 11 other hits throughout the aircraft for superficial damage, and 3 light casualties.
We were going to visit Ploesti for the second or third time and I had mixed feelings. While not as dangerous in my opinion as Wiener-Neudstadt it is the longest mission we have to fly and the most exhausting. When you have action the whole time it is easy to maintain concentration, those that don’t tend to get picked off. Ploesti has highs and lows and staying alert is a real problem. By the end of the mission you are so exhausted that you need assistance to get out of your seat, let alone the plane. Last visit we had to bring our bombs back because the bomb bay doors got jammed none of us want to go through that again.
Major Tanner has a new bird, a G with a chin turret, and is leading the mission with us as deputy. If anything happened to the lead ship then we were it. I guess as a crew we are the most experienced, although in Patrick’s crew (Vengeful Harlot) there are some veterans who have more missions then the whole of our crew put together. It’s added responsibility and added pressure, guess none of us want to screw up.
Bright sunshine and clear skies greeted us as pulled away from Sterparonne Field. You could watch the whole of the 88th coming up in long slow climbing turns like silver shards in a special spiraling dance flattening out on top and coming out into tight formations and heading with resolute purpose north of east. Beautiful, yet somehow sinister.
It was almost with a sense of anti climax that we crossed the Adriatic and most of Yugoslavia before anything stirred in our direction. We thought we were pretty safe with a large number of fighters in our area when a finger four of Me-109s came after us. All of a sudden all our little friends, apart from two had disappeared, they took away one of the 109s and then it was up to us. Gun discipline was excellent, accuracy was not. I don’t think we even came close with anything. The 109 slashing in level on the starboard side must have misjudged the deflection and in trying to correct made it only worse so that he could no longer get round to attack us again. The head-on team coming in low and level both managed to hit, what and where I don’t know but we knew they hit. They came ’round again one tried to come in head-on again but could not quite manage it and came in 10:30 level. The other must have thought he had got our tail guns because he came in level behind. That cost him a paint job but didn’t stop him getting to firing range. Fortunately both missed this time and went looking elsewhere. Then it went quiet again. Nothing came near us again until we got to the target. We got one pass made at us by some 190s but they never got within shooting range. Someone else may well have got a piece of them on their way in causing them to break off.
The flak was the worst I have ever seen not only was it heavy but also very accurate. We got hit by two separate bursts on the run in from the IP. We seemed to be right in the middle of the first burst which seemed to grab the plane by both wings and the tail and hurl it upwards. The second burst hit about the waist and tail again causing a violent roll and riddling Matt’s left arm with needle like shrapnel as he manned the starboard waist gun. Needless to say with the plane heaving and yawing our bombs went everywhere. We might have got lucky and put one on the target but I would be surprised.
On the other side of the target there were a lot more fighters, two sets lined up on us but the first chickened out. The second was made of sterner stuff, a P-51 got the attention of one of them but the other two, a 109 coming in ahead and starboard level and a 190 ahead and high, kept right on coming. Once again our defensive fire was totally ineffective. Fortunately their shells missed us as well.
As we left the target area we seem to have lost our escorts, I don’t know if they had had to break for home because of fuel problems but when four FWs turned up we were very much on our own. Tim managed to hit the FW coming head on but it just seemed to shrug off the attack although its return fire sailed high above us. Not so its partner coming in level ahead and starboard nor the one coming in high on the port side. Fortunately the one coming in low on the starboard side missed. The guy up front hit the starboard wing but not much else that we could see, the guy on the port side seemed to have sprayed his fire all over wounding both Tim and Dave in the nose, putting the heat out in the radio room and slamming the rudder so hard it took a moment to find the pedals again. Both FWs came back side by side head-on and level. Our fire war ineffective again as the starboard wing got hit again. One of the FWs broke away but the other one came in for another pass, again head on and high. In evading our fire he managed to evade us and disappeared.
We now had a tough call all the enemy fighters had now disappeared as had the P-51s, Bill was all for staying in formation but we were now entering Yugoslavia, so we opted to drop out and try and make it alone. Initially the P-47s stayed with us but then they disappeared. We managed to cross the whole of Yugoslavia getting shot at by lots of light flak. We thought we had made it when we got to the Adriatic and were on the last leg home when we got jumped by three 109s. The bad news was, for them, the four P-38s who they didn’t see coming out of the sun. The P-38s shot down two of the 109s. The last 109 came straight for us with the 38s coming round to get him. Frustratingly our fire was once again off target, the 109 managed to crash some 20mm shells into the tail turret rendering it inoperable. The 109’s joy was short lived as the 38s were now right behind him. The 109 rolled and dived for the deck and disappeared heading for Yugoslavia.
We had gambled and it had paid off. Few could complain at the quality of our landing, we were late having flown out of formation and having to make additional detours to avoid flak over Yugoslavia. The problem was when we tried to stop. Somewhere along the line our brakes had been shot away and although we came awful close to doing some real damage. Cutting Edge eventually trundled to a halt with only worried faces to show for it.
In all we fired 28 boxes of 50 caliber and only got two hits. All the guns and sights are going back to the armorers for an overhaul before we fly our next mission.
- 1st Lt. John Caldwell, Pilot, Cutting Edge, 316th Bomb Squadron
SNAKE EYES, Second Flight, Right Aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with Autopilot, port elevator, starboard aileron, nose gun & tail guns inoperable, control cables damaged, superficial damage to the tail, starboard wind, and pilot compartment and 1 casualty (lt. wound). Claims: 1 ME-109 & 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Erskine.
Take off and formed up on formation without incident. The only enemy fighters encountered during outbound flight sighted about 150 miles from target; they were driven off by other B-17s in formation.
Encountered heavy, accurate flak over the target. Four flak hits knocked out the autopilot mechanism, nose gun, and tail guns, plus damaged control cables. Sgt. Erskine destroyed a Me-110 attempting a climbing attack on our ship just before Lt. McClain toggled the bombs. Lt. McClain put the bombs on target again, despite the flak hits over the target and the damaged autopilot mechanism. Lt. McClain is already proving to be one of the better bombardiers in the 316th.
Two Me-109s made a successful run on us just after we released our bombs, scoring hits that damaged the port elevator and slightly wounding one of the waist gunners (Sgt. Zanders) in the foot. (Zanders refused treatment and remained at his post throughout the entire mission.) Sgt. Erskine shot down one of these 109’s when it banked around for another pass. A second wave of fighters formed up for an attack but were driven off by fire from other B-17s in the formation. With Colonel Lamb flying lead this mission the guys were really keeping a tight formation, and I guess it paid off.
Over Yugoslavia we were jumped by four 190s, simultaneously hitting us from several different directions. P-38s chased one off, but the others managed to put some rounds into us, knocking out the starboard aileron and sending fragments into the pilot compartment, causing minor damage.
We landed at Sterparone field without incident.
- 1st Lt. Harold Snakenberg, Pilot, Snake Eyes
NORTHERN DREAM, Second flight, Right aircraft
Aborted during squadron formation. Returned to base and did not participate on mission.
399th BS (MIDDLE)
LUCY QUIPMENT, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with rafts destroyed, superficial damage to the port wing, and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s apiece by MSgt. Fargo & Sgt. Thompson.
Our takeoff and form up went well and our escorts did a splendid job.
We were not attacked until we neared the target and they followed after we left the target are. Then we encountered several groups of Me-109s, both MSgt. Fargo and Sgt. Thompson accounted for two destroyed each. Lt. Phelps and Sgt. Dobson each managed to damage a enemy fight also. Aside from the loss of our raft and some minor hits on the port wing, this was a milk run for us.
- Major Art Defilippo, Pilot, Lucy Quipment, CO, 399th Bomb Squadron
THUNDERMUG, Third flight, Left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the Norden bombsight destroyed, radio out, damage to the port wing root, superficial damage to the nose and waist compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by Lt. Bristol, 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Black, 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Holly and 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Smitley; Sgt. Smitley's claim was later confirmed by S-2.
Take off and assembly went fine. We got bounced by a gaggle of Me-109s south of Mostor. One came down from 3 high and shot us up--Orwing came up from the nose to announce that the Norden was now a heap of scrap--about the same time Sgt. Chantry came on the intercom to tell me that the radio had a large hole where the transmitter used to be. The 109s came around again--This time Lt. Bristol blew the wing off a Messerschmidt coming straight at us. Lt. Flint and I discussed our options--I decided that we were better off staying in formation--Lt Bristol said he could toggle when the lead ship dropped.
About the time we reached the Yugo/Rumanian/Bulgarian border are we came under sustained fighter attacks all the way to the target and almost all the way back to the Adriatic coast. During this running battle our fighter escorts kept most of the E/A off of us--We scored pretty good ourselves--Bristol got another Me-109 and an Fw-190, Smitley in the ball turret got a 110, Sgt. Black shot down a 190 coming from 9 level and Sgt. Holly got a 109 with a passing shot.
Over Ploesti flak was heavy--we collected some holes but no serious damage. Bristol dropped when the lead did but I don't think we hit anything.
- Capt. Jerry Logan, Pilot, Thundermug
LAURALEE II, Third flight, Right wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with damage to the starboard main wing and tail plane root, to the tail compartment oxygen system, numerous holes all over a/c, and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by 2nd Lt. Pipes.
Pretty quiet all the way in--the Jugs and Mustangs did a good job of keeping the Krauts off us until we got to Ploesti. Then we got attacked by a mix of 109s and 110s. One 109 dove on us from above and put some holes in the tail, but no major damage. The new bombardier, Pipes, got one of the 109s with the chin turret, and we saw one of the 110s break off training smoke.
Flak was heavy, and we took further hits from that, but again nothing big. The flak did throw us off target, however; Pipes isn't sure what he it, what with all the flak and the Germans laying a smoke screen.
We got attacked by even more 110s after we turned for home--Pipes made up for missing the target by getting another one. One came up behind us and Tony shot him up good.
After that we saw no enemy a/c until we hit the Jugoslav border, and three 109s came at us. We shot one of them up good, and they put some holes in us and wounded Parkinson, the new waist gunner. Just nicked him though.
We weren't attacked again until some Focke-Wulfs hit us over the Adriatic. One came at us from above. They did not damage us, nor we they, and we touched down safely.
The new ship did well. I think she'll do.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Lauralee II, 399th Bomb Squadron
317th BS (HIGH)
TULE LAKE SAMURAI III, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with bomb bay doors inoperable, rafts destroyed, damage to the Norden bombsight, to the oxygen system for the navigator and port waist gunner, port wing root, superficial damage to the bomb bay, starboard wing, tail, fuselage, and 5 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by 2nd Lt. Hiromeni and Sgt. Ono.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
Over checkpoint four we encountered bogies coming in from 3 o’clock but they were to far away and didn’t attack the formation.
About fifteen (15) miles from checkpoint 5 we encountered one wave of fighters consisting of five (5) FW-190s coming in from all corners. One fighter coming in from 3 o’clock was driven off by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group. Another plane coming in from 6 o’clock high was hit and destroyed by the tail gun manned by Sgt. John Ono. One FW coming in from 9 o’clock level was damaged by the port waist gunner Sgt. Mifune causing the fighter to miss and not return. Two others coming in from 12 and 1:30 high missed the plane and didn’t return.
fAt checkpoint 6 we encountered two (2) waves. The first one consisted of four (4) ME-109s coming in from head-on. Two fighters were chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group. The fighter coming in from 10:30 o’clock high was hit by the bombardier 2nd Lt. Takai causing it to miss the bomber and not return. The other coming in from 12 o’clock high also missed the bomber and didn’t return. The second wave consisted of two (2) ME-110s coming in from low at 12 and 10:30 were both were chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group.
At checkpoint 7 we encountered bogies coming in from 9 o’clock but they were chased away by machine gun fire from the bomb group before they were able to attack. They did not return after being chased away.
Just before we reached target we encountered a wave of fighters consisting of three (3) ME 110s coming in low from at 12 and 6 o’clock, and from 10:30 level. The one attacking from 10:30 missed the plane and didn’t return. The other two were able to hit the plane: the one coming in from 12 o’clock hit twice in the nose and once in the bomb bay and the one coming in from 6 o’clock hit us twice in the port wing, once each in the starboard wing, tail and waist. The damage to the nose hit the Norden bombsight so 2nd Lt. Hiromeni had to hit the target manually. The hit to the bomb bay was luckily superficial in nature. The hits to the port wing hit the wing root and caused slight damage to the wing while the hit to the starboard wing was superficial in nature. The hit to the tail was superficial while the hit to the waist hit the oxygen supply to the port gunner. The damage wasn’t severe enough to cause it to go out. The two fighters returned at 10:30 and 3 level. The one coming in from 10:30 missed the plane and didn’t return. The one coming in from 3 o’clock hit the plane three (3) times, twice in the fuselage and once in the nose, all of the hits were superficial in nature. The plane was able to return again, this time coming in from 9 o’clock level. The fighter missed the bomber and didn’t return.
We encountered heavy flak over the target and somehow they all missed the plane.
Because of the bombsite being out of order 2nd Lt. Hiromeni had to target the site manually. This caused our bombs to be off target, but still we were able to put 5% of the load on the target.
On the turn around we encountered two (2) ME-110s coming in from 12 and 10:30 o’clock low. One coming was chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group and the one from 12 o’clock low missed the plane and didn’t return.
About five (5) miles after checkpoint 7 we encountered one (1) ME-109 doing a VERTICAL DIVE. It hit the plane once in the tail causing superficial damage to the tail plane. The fighter re-attacked from 10:30 o’clock level but fighters from the 31st Fighter Group were able to chase it away before it was able to attack.
Right after checkpoint 6 we again encountered a wave of fighters of five (5) FW-190s. Four of the enemy missed the plane and didn’t return. One coming in from 6 o’clock high was damaged by TSgt. Kashiwagi manning the gun in the radio room but was still able to hit the bomber doing a walking hit into the nose, pilot compartment, bomb bay, radio room, waist, and tail. The hit to the nose caused damage to the oxygen supply system to the navigator. The damage wasn’t enough to cause it to fail. The hit to the pilot compartment hit 2nd Lt. Allen Honda in the chest killing him instantly. The hit to the bomb bay damaged the doors. The hit to the radio room caused a superficial wound to TSgt. Kashiwagi. The hit to the waist killed Sgt. Mifune and gave Sgt. Kishi a superficial wound. The hit to the tail seriously wounded Sgt. Ono. The plane returned at 1:30 o’clock level and was hit by 2nd Lt. Hiromeni and destroyed.
At checkpoint 5 we encountered one (1) ME-109 coming in at 12 o’clock high but before it was able to attack it was chased away by fighters from the 82nd Fighter Group.
About ten (10) miles from checkpoint 4 we encountered two (2) ME-109s coming in from head-on. The one coming in from 1:30 o’clock high missed the bomber and didn’t return and the other from 12 o’clock level hit the plane twice in the waist, causing superficial damage to the fuselage and seriously wounding Sgt. Kishi. The plane returned from 12 o’clock level and hit the plane again, this time it hit the radio room and tail area; both hits were superficial. The plane again returned coming in from 10:30 o’clock level and this time it missed the bomber and didn’t return.
At checkpoint 3 we were attacked by a lone plane. A FW-190 doing a VERTICAL DIVE was hit by the top turret manned by SSgt. Kitano. The fighter was still able to hit the plane once in the bomb bay area damaging the rafts in the area making them inoperable. The plane for some reason didn’t return.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without incident.
- Capt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai III
BACALL's BOXER, Lead flight, Left Aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the intercom and radio inoperable with no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 apiece by SSGT. Gordon & Sgt. Kellerman, and 1 ME-110 by Sgt. Cumberland.
We took off and formed up without incident. We were barely on our way to the target when 4 ME-109s came at us in a nose attack. Our little friends were nowhere in sight and our defensive fire was ineffective. Fortunately for us the Germans were bad shots too. Only one fighter hit us in the radio room. After that the intercom was silent. I sent Huntley back to see what was going on and he reported back that the intercom was shot to hell. I decided to head for the target. With the intercom out I had no way of knowing what was going on behind the cockpit. The crewmembers involved will report any relative action.
SSgt. Gordon – “We were a little more than half way to the target when 3 ME-109s came at us in a nose attack and 1 ME-109 hit us on the starboard side. I chose a 109 out in front and led him into a wall .50 caliber slugs. The plane burst into flames and went into a dive.”
Sgt Cumberland – “Over the target a single ME-110 came in at us, cannon blazing. He seemed to be moving in slow motion as I poured it on him. Suddenly his port wing folded at the root and we went into a dive. I saw no parachutes.”
“At this point we flew into a very heavy flak concentration. We rocked from at least 2 hits. Once again I sent Huntley back to check on things. We were very lucky, the only damage was once again to the radio room. This time it was the radio that took the hit. We were off target on the bomb run and it looked like we missed the rail yards completely.”
Sgt. Kellerman – “We had just left the target When an FW-190 came rolling in at us. I held the trigger down and sprayed the area with lead. As he rolled under us I saw flames erupt from his engine and the plane just kept on diving.”
“We made it back to base and landed without incident.”
- 1st Lt. John Stryker, Pilot, Bacall's Boxer, 317th Bomb Squadron
COLORADO GOLD, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Aircraft took BIP hit in waist and fell out of formation and returned alone. The aircraft was unable to land due to battle damage and having both pilots KIA. Flight engineer flew the plane back to base where the 4 surviving crewmembers jumped successfully. Aircraft pointed towards the sea with 6 KIA on board. Claims: 2 Me-109s, 2 Me-110s & 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Spencer, 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by Lt. O’Hara, 2 Me-109s by Lt. Olsen.
Our first contact was over the Adriatic (zone 3 outbound). We were jumped by four 190s. The tail guns, ball guns, and top turret all managed to scores hits, damaging 3 different 190s. They missed on their first run at us and didn’t come back.
(Zone-6 outbound) We saw a single 109 at 6 high but he was driven off by fighter cover.
Approaching the target (zone-8 outbound) three 190s came at us. One was driven off by fighter cover. The nose guns and top turret scored hits on the other two causing them to break contact.
As we got into position for our bomb run the skies filled with flak. A load explosion sounded from behind me and I thought we were going to go down. I still cant believe that we stayed in the air. A flak round burst inside (BIP) the waist section of the plane killing SSgt Padderick (ball gunner), Terelak (port waist gunner), and Debruex (starboard waist gunner). We could feel the air drag caused by the gaping hole that was the waist section. 2nd Lt. O’Hara our bombardier was able to put his load on target despite the terrible circumstances we were under. He estimated 20% fell on target.
As we turned for home (zone 8-1st half inbound) 1st Lt. Evans told us over the intercom that we had to drop out of formation due to the wind drag caused by the massive damage in the middle of the plane. We knew that it was going to take us twice as long to get back. We could see flights of little friends begin to gather around us. Three 109s came at us and they were driven off. A single 109 and a 110 were next to try to get at us and they also were driven off. Three 109s followed and 2 were driven off leaving a single 109 coming in at 12 level. 2nd Lt. Montague (bombardier) shot him down.
Zone 8 2nd half (inbound) 2 110s were driven off by those beautiful little friends.
Zone 7 2nd half (inbound) a 190 and 2 109s attacked. One 109 was driven off. The 190 came in at 12 high and riddled us with bullets. 1st Lt. Evans (pilot) was killed instantly with a head wound. 2nd Lt. Summerville (co-pilot) suffered a shoulder wound but was able to stay at his post. As the 190 passed us over Sgt. Spencer was able to shoot him down using the passing shot technique. The 109 that was left had caused some superficial damage and came around for another try at us from 6 high. Sgt. Spencer engaged and destroyed him before he was able to hit us again.
Zone 6 1st half (inbound) Two 110s and a 109 this time. Sergeant Spencer was firing like a man possessed, knocking down the first 110 for his third kill. The other 110 and 109 both scored hits and came around at us again. I was able to shoot down the 109 with the port cheek gun as he came at us from 10:30 level The 110 came over at 12:00 and missed. Sergeant Spencer (tail gunner) got him with another passing shot for his 4th kill of the day.
Over Bulgaria (zone-6 2nd half inbound) and entering Yugoslavia (zone-5 1st half inbound) the enemy fighters were driven off by great fighter cover.
Zone 5 2nd half 2 110s and a 109 this time. 2nd Lt. O’Hara on the nose gun shot down a 110 and Sergeant Spencer (tail gunner) got the 109 with yet another passing shot. The remaining 110 came in for another attack and 2Lt Summerville (co-pilot) suffered a more serious wound this time. He was able to get out that he was hit again over the intercom before he stopped talking. SSgt. McGuire left the top turret and went to check on him. Moments later SSgt. McGuire Told us over the Intercom that 2nd Lt. Summerville was dead and he was taking over piloting duties.
Zone 4 1st half (inbound) the Germans weren’t giving us much time to worry about staying in the air. They kept coming at us. We must have looked like a ripe target to them as we limped through the sky. They didn’t count on our fantastic fighter cover and our hot guns. 3 190s and a 109 came in for an attack. The 109 and one of the 190s were driven off. The 190 hit us in the wings and bomb bay (I imagine our rafts must have been gone at this point). We were still flying as they peeled off their last attack.
Zone 4 2nd half (inbound) 4 109s this time. One of the 109s was driven off by fighter cover. On their first pass 2nd Lt. O’Hara damaged a 109 good enough for him to head for home. I got the other 109 with the starboard cheek gun. The last 109 came in from 12 level and shot up the nose of the plane. I didn’t see it happen but when I looked at 2nd Lt O’Hara in the bombardier position I saw the he had taken multiple shots to the body. I gave him a quick look but there was nothing I could do. The 109 must have been driven off because we had a few minutes of peace.
Zone 3, 2nd half (inbound) a 190 and a 109 started to circle towards us but the little friends took care of them.
Over the Adriatic (zone-2 1st half inbound) a 190 and a 109 headed our way but the little friends were not going to let us down this close to home and chased them away.
We circled over base dropping smoke to indicate that we could not land. SSgt. McGuire pointed the Colorado Gold out to sea and the four of us that were left jumped, land safely. If anyone at the base was able to get a picture of her I would be grateful for a copy.
- 2nd Lt. J. Olsen, Navigator, Colorado Gold, 317th Bomb Squadron
TALLEST CROW, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with the radio, intercom and port flaps inoperable, damage to the rudder, superficial damage to the radio compartment and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 ME-109s & 1 FW-190 by SSgt. Colt.
This was no milk run. We saw a lot of fighters. Fighter cover helped us out a little bit, especially on the way home, but we had to fight off quite a bit of resistance. At least we were successful, and we hit the target. Colt shot down a 109 and then a 190, and Rich Robinson damaged a 190. Then Colt shot down another 190 . . . then we started to get hit. It was pretty late on the way over there. We lost our radio first, then the port wing flap was shot out. We were still okay, though . . . then we hit the target with 30% accuracy.
Quiet for a while, then it started up again. Gorman damaged a 190, Ford damaged a 110 . . . then Page was hit. We knew it was one of those things that we had to land with, soon. Had he been hit on the way there, I wonder if we'd have lost him to the bleeding. But he's going to be okay, according to the doc. They hit the tail rudder, and took out the intercom . . . at least with no radio operator that could really do much, we didn't need the stuff anyway.
That was it, though . . . we just flew back, and fighter cover saved us the rest of the way.
We landed safe, and with some minor repairs, we'll be ready to fly again soon.
- 1st Lt. Trey Azagthoth, Pilot, Tallest Crow
WEASEL, Third flight, Left Aircraft
Aborted mission (zone-3) due to loss of heat in nose compartment. Returned alone with nose compartment heating system inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Brain & Sgt. Mooring.
After entering Yugoslavia (zone-3) the bombardier lost his heat and we turned back. The enemies attacked twice but we took two down.
- 1st Lt. Balsamo, Pilot, Weasel, 317th Bomb Squadron
399th BS (HIGH)
MYSTERY SHIP, Second flight, Right wingman
Bombed target, 30%. Shot down by fighters (zone-7 inbound); 6 POWs & 4 KIA.
"Sparkman's plane was hit by a flak burst in the nose compartment while the over the target, right after the bomb run. Then the Mystery Ship was swarmed by fighters and took a hit in #3 engine which ran away. The crew had no choice but to abandon the plane."
- Reported by 399th Bomb Squadron crews at de-briefing
RIVER CITY RAIDER, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Shot down by fighters before bomb run (zone-8); 10 KIA.
Shortly before entering Ploesti, River City Raider was seen dropping from formation; without any radio traffic. Her #2 and #3 engines were smoking, and out, and there was extensive damage to the nose and waist section. As she dropped from formation she was followed by 5-190s, who continued to savage her as she sank from sight.
Unconfirmed reports will later detail, debris and the a large piece of the tail section being found on a farm outside of the city . . .
- 88th Bomb Group Missing Aircraft Report for B-17G, 43-7260
MAWIMAZO, Lead flight, right wingman
Aircraft took off but soon retuned to base due to mechanical difficulties to the #3 engine supercharger.
HOLY HAMMER, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with port wing brakes and nose compartment heating system inoperable, navigation equipment destroyed, fire damage to the radio compartment oxygen system, damage to control cables, bomb bay doors, to the starboard wing root, and 2 casualties and 1 case of frostbite.
The HOLY HAMMER encountered very few enemy aircraft as we flew to Ploesti. However, we were hit by flak on approach to our target, and our navigation equipment was destroyed. We hit the target with an estimated 30% of our bomb load.
However, as we turned to return to Italy, we were jumped by a flight of Fw-190s. Gun and cannon fire from the enemy hit our control cables, bomb bay doors, port wing brakes, starboard wing root, took out the nose compartment heat and started an oxygen fire in the radio room. The fire was extinguished due to fast action by TSgt. Donatello. Our bombardier, 2nd Lt. Goldstein was seriously wounded.
As we flew into Yugoslavia, we were again jumped by Fw-190s. In our running fight with these enemy aircraft, 2nd Lts. Goldstein and Cashman, our co-pilot, were killed. Navigator 2nd Lt. Tellsman suffered from frostbite, but will soon recover and be able to return to his duties.
Our Crew Chief, dismayed with the great number of holes in his new bomber, reports that the HOLY HAMMER should be repaired and back in service in time for the next mission.
- 1st Lt. A. P. LaSalle, Pilot, Holy Hammer, 399th Bomb Squadron
318th BS (LOW)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with some minor flak damage (30 damage pts) and no casualties. Claims: 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Chrisman.
We were very thankful for our “little buddies” on this run. They sure kept the majority of the Jerries away from us. We saw a couple of waves of 109s with no damage on our end and one of the 109s lost his tail thanks to Chisman’s good aim (#10 for Tommy).
The FLAK was a problem as we got took a few hits. Nothing major. Donnie was still able to put 40% of our load on target.
Thanks to some really tight formation flying and again thanks to our little friends the trip home was uneventful. For being a the bottom of the pile we were lucky on this trip.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, Lead flight, left wingman
Runway abort; did not participate on mission.
LUCKY 13, Lead flight, Right wingman
Bombed target, 91%. Returned to base and crashed landed with 4 KIA and 6 WIA. Aircraft destroyed on landing and written off. Claims: 2 ME-109s apiece by 2nd Lt. Olsen & SSgt. Holmes, and 1 ME-109 apiece by TSgt. Turn and Sgt. Nelson. One of Lt. Olsen's claims was later confirmed.
Not sure where to start. Sure wish the skipper made it, he could do this much better than me.
Jerries jumped us as soon as we got over the Adriatic (zone-2). We took no damage and Staff Sgt. Holmes got his 5th kill, our very first Ace.
We were jumped again when we made landfall (zone-3); luckily we took no damage. It was quiet for a while and then we were attacked by another couple of groups (Zones-5 & 6); again we got through with no damage.
Over the target (zone-8) there were swarms of Jerry fighters we were hit with 3 waves on the way in and another three on the way out. Both waist gunners were wounded, the port waist gun was destroyed and the heat was knocked out for the starboard waist gunner during these attacks. Took some other damage but it was minor. I was able to guide the plane right over the target and plastered it. It helped that the Ack-Ack was directed at everybody but us and our plane wasn't touched.
Just as we crossed into Yugoslavia (zone-5) is when we got plastered. This Jerry came straight down on us, we never even knew it was there until we started taking hits. It stitched us from one end to the other. Both waist gunners were hit again, this time Sgt. Lopez took a serious hit and was put out of action. Lt. Newsom was seriously wounded and Lt. Swatkowski was killed, both of our pilots out of action. Staff Sgt. Holmes jumped in the pilot seat and took over.
Sgt. Holmes fought with the old girl all the way home. He had no choice but to try and land it as we had 2 seriously wounded crew members that couldn't bail out. Sgt. Holmes managed to get us on the ground. Unfortunately, the plane didn't hold together and Lt. Newsom, Sgt. Lopez, and Sgt. West didn't make it. The rest off us were suffered serious and light wounds. The plane is a total loss.
Staff Sgt. Holmes is pretty shook up right now, not only is he wounded but he thinks it is his fault that the landing was so hard. I tried to tell him that he did the best he could and has nothing to be ashamed of. Only time will tell if he will forgive himself.
- 2nd Lt. Lars Olsen, Bombardier, Lucky 13
ONCE A KNIGHT, Second flight, left wingman (TAIL-END CHARLIE#1)
Bombed target, 0%. Aircraft returned but scrapped due to excessive damage (408 Peckham Damage pts.); 8 casualties: 3 KIA, 5 WIA. Claims: 4 Me-109s by SSgt. Cooter, 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Williams, & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Rudy.
Mission started off great. Cooter got three 109 kills on the way to the target and Karl killed one as well. However, we took some hits from fighters which wounded Karl and knocked out the radio. Almost immediately after that the #1 engine was hit badly and we had to shut it down. James Frick in the waist was hit in the same pass. Sean in the ball turret got an Me-110 passing low but a 109 snuck in hit Frank in the radio room.
Over the target we took a series of bad flak hits which wounded Victor right before bombs away which resulted in an off-target run with 0% landing within the strike zone. Leaving the target zone Cooter got another 109.
Soon thereafter we were hit by an 190 which wounded the co-pilot, the engineer and navigator. A second pass took out intercom and our control cables and damaged the rudder. Two more 190s hit us after that, killing James in the waist. A 109 followed up that attack and killed both Cooter and Rudy. The attacks continued destroying our rafts and knocking out Karl’s oxygen. We had to descend to 10,000 feet where a few more attacks happened, but we were able to nurse the plane home.
A safe landing, but the crew chief just cried on seeing the wreck that greeted him.
- 2nd Lt. Sam Crawford, Pilot, Once A Knight
Return to Sterparone Field