MISSION 61 - BRASOV AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
TULE LAKE SAMURAI III, Lead flight, lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with port wing flaps, bomb controls and chin turret inoperable, wing root damage to the starboard tail plane, the starboard inboard fuel holed, superficial damage to the #4 engine, to the fuselage, to the tail, waist, pilots', bomb bay compartments and 4 lightly wounded crewmen. Claims: 2 Me-109s, 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Hiromi and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Kitano.
Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.
At checkpoint 3 we encountered two (2) ME-109s coming in from 12 o’clock high and both were chased away by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group before they were able to attack the bomber.
Five (5) miles from checkpoint 4 we encountered three (3) FW-190s and one (1) ME-109. The ME-109 and the two FW-190s were chased away again by fighters from the 325th Fighter Group. The other FW-190 coming in from 3 level was destroyed by Sgt. Hiromi manning the ball turret.
Nine (9) miles from checkpoint 7 we were attacked by five (5) ME-109s coming in from 12 o’clock high (two planes), level, low and 9 high. The one coming in from 9 high was damaged by the port waist manned by Sgt. Minaga along with the one coming in from 12 high which was damaged by SSgt. Kitano. The one coming in from 12 low was destroyed by Sgt. Hiromi and the other ME-109 coming in from 12 high hit the plane four (4) times, once in the port wing, pilot compartment, tail and waist. The hits to the tail and waist hit SGT. Sakamoto and Sgt. Minaga causing superficial wounds to both. The hit to the port wing damaged the flap making it inoperable. The plane was chased away by fighters from the 325th before it was able to attack the bomber again.
Over the target we encountered three (3) waves of fighters. The first consisting of three (3) FW-190s coming in from 12 high, 3 level and high, and one (1) ME-109 coming in from 12 high. The ME-109 was heavily damaged by SSgt. Kitano which caused it to miss the bomber and not return. The two FW-190s coming in from 3 o’clock missed the plan and didn’t return. The FW coming in from 12 high hit the nose of the plane destroying the bomb controls. The plane returned at 9 high and is hit by SSgt. Kitano causing it to miss the plane and not return. The second wave consisted of two (2) FW-190s and (1) ME-109 coming in from head-on. One FW-190 coming was driven off by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group. The ME-109 is destroyed by SSGT. Kitano before it was able to hit the plane. The last FW-190 coming in from 1:30 high was able to do a walking hit striking the nose, pilot’s compartment, radio room, bomb bay, waist, and tail. The hits to the radio room and waist hit TSgt. Kashiwagi and Sgt. Soma causing both to sustain superficial wounds. The hits to the bomb bay and pilots’ compartment were superficial in nature while the hits to the nose and tail damaged the chin turret and starboard tail plane. The plane came back at 12 high, missed the plane and did not return. The final wave consisted of bogies that driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb group.
We encountered light flak over the bomb target and even with the bomb controls out, 2nd Lt. Himomeni was able to line up the bomber and put 20% of the bomb load on target.
On the turnaround we encountered one (1) FW-190s coming in from 10:30 high, one (1) ME-110 doing a vertical climb and one (1) ME-109 at 12 high. The ME-110 was destroyed by the ball turret guns manned by Sgt. Hiromi. The FW-190 missed the plane and didn’t return. The ME-109 hit the pilots’ compartment causing superficial damage. This plane returned at 10:30 level, missed and didn’t return.
At checkpoint 7 we encountered three (3) ME-109s coming in from 9 level, 12 and 1:30 high. The one fighter was driven off by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group. The one coming in from 1:30 high missed the plane and didn’t return. The last one coming in from 9 level was damaged by SSgt. Kitano but it was still able to hit the plane three times, twice in the fuselage and once in the bomb bay area which were all superficial in nature. The plane returned at 12 level and was hit again by the top turret manned by SSgt. Kitano which caused heavy damage to the fighter. This action caused it to miss the bomber and not to return.
About five (5) miles away from checkpoint 5 we encountered three (3) ME-109s, two from ahead and one from the port side. The one coming in from 12 high was driven off by fighters of the 14th Fighter Squadron, while the other two missed the plane and didn’t return.
At checkpoint 4 we encountered four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12 high (two planes), and 12 and 1:30 level. The ones coming in from 12 high and level missed the plane and didn’t return. The one coming in from 1:30 level was able to hit the plane twice in the starboard wing. These hits caused the #3 engine fuel tank to leak and hit the #4 engine causing superficial damage. The plane attempted to return at 10:30 level but was chased away by the fighters from the 14th Fighter group.
Reached Sterparone Field and landed without incident.
- Capt. Ken Shimizui, Tule Lake Samurai III
BACALL'S BOXER, Lead flight, Left Wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Fell-out-of-formation during return journey and landed alone with aircraft oxygen system inoperable, superficial damage to both wings and no casualties. Claims: 1 FW-190 apiece by SSgt. Gordon and Sgt. Kearney.
Take off and group form up was SOP. As we flew through clear skies to the target our little friends and group defensive fire kept the Hun at bay.
As we began to approach the IP a gaggle a Germans came in at us in a nose attack. Friendly defensive fire and fighters easily drove them off. The enemy flak was ineffective and our bombs were on target.
Approximately half way back to base another group of German fighters came at us. Our fighters got their licks in but a single FW-190 snuck by. We filled the sky with burning .50 slugs but he kept on coming, cannon blazing. I saw small bits of metal fly off the wings when suddenly the cockpit rocked and filled with smoke. A 20mm Cannon shell had torn through the side of the cockpit and into the instrument panel. I called for the crew to check in as I assed the damage. Everything seemed fine -– at the same instant I was looking at the oxygen system instrumentation the crew was reporting oxygen out through out the ship. With oxygen out I had no choice but to fall out of formation and drop below 10,000 feet.
We were thinking that we would get back unmolested
when we got hit with another nose attack. Kearny in the ball turret let
loose with a stream of lead and smoke started pouring out of a FW-190’s engine.
He kept it up and the plane burst into flames and went into an endless dive.
That seemed to shake up the rest of the Germans. They kept coming around
but they did seem to be pressing home their attacks.
The base was so close we could feel it when we got it again. The guns were pumping out fire and the Krauts paid the price. Gordon in the top turret let out a yell as he flamed a FW-190.
We took up our position in the pattern and landed with out incident.
- 1st Lt. John Stryker, Pilot, Bacall's Boxer
JAZZ SHACK, Lead flight, Right Wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Shot down by enemy fighters 1 mile SE of Brasov; 2 KIA and 8 POWs. Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Spencer.
I knew it was too easy when we made it all the way to the target zone without firing a shot. We saw some fighters in Zone 5 outbound but they were driven off by other B-17s before they got close to us. When we entered the outskirts of Brasov (zone 8) things changed quickly. Our fighter cover seemed to disappear and we were jumped by five 190s. Before we got rid of them the autopilot mechanism was destroyed, the new guy Knott in the waist section was KIA, our Engineer McGuire was KIA, and the outboard tank on the port wing was on fire. Our new Captain, 1st Ito, told us that the extinguishers didn't work and he had to dive to try to put out the flames. That didn't work, but the flames didn't spread either. Then three 110s and a 109 came at us. I was able to get a 110 and a 109 and we took no further serious damage before the other two broke off. Once again out we didn't see our fighter cover anywhere around. The fire hadn't spread and we were over target so we took the opportunity to drop our bombs but Klien the Bombardier said we were way off. We turned around and tried to climb so we could dive again to try to put out the flames. We never made it though. The flames quickly spread and Ito leveled the plane out and told us to jump. I was able to get Knott's dog tags before jumping. I landed in a small village outside of Brasov, I think its called Sirnea. I was quickly cornered by what must pass for a policeman in those parts. He brought me to the local city hall where I met up with Olsen and Gilbert. I haven't seen the others yet but was able to count 8 shoots after I jumped. The next morning some German MP types came for us and took us to one of the local Luftwaffe bases for processing. For the three of us taken away, at least the the war was over.
- Excerpts from Sgt. John Spencer's diary while a POW, Tail Gunner, Jazz Shack
TALLEST CROW, Second flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with port waist MG inoperable, damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to cockpit, nose and radio compartments, and 3 light casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Colt and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. R. Robinson.
On the way out, it was great . . . we took nothing but some superficial damage, and we dealt some damage back. Gorman and R. Robinson damaged a 190 each, and Colt shot one down. Then Colt and Ford each damaged a 109. Not bad . . . and then we were on target with 30% of our bombs.
The way back, a bit rougher, but we made it. First, they took out our port waist MG, and hit our starboard wing root. Then Colt shot down a 109, and we felt like we were back on a roll. R. Robinson shot down a 109, and the confidence hit an all-time high . . . and that's when we started getting hit. Not the plane, so much . . . but us! First it was Dorsey, then Gorman and Nobel . . . but all are okay. Scratches, really. R. Robinson hit and damaged a 109 for his brother, but then it got really quiet, and we had clear sailing home. Scary for a moment or two, but we made it back in relatively good shape. Both the men and the plane will be ready for the next mission.
- 1st Lt. Trey Azagthoth, Pilot, Tallest Crow
JERSEY GIRL, Second flight, Left Wingman
Runway abort; did not take off and participate on mission.
WEASEL, Second flight, Left Wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Shot down by enemy fighters 52 miles SW from Brasov; 3 KIA & 7 POWs.
Smooth flight out, port gunner lost his heat and developed frostbite. No flak hits over target but we were off 0%. Coming back the radio operator’s oxygen system started burning. Three attempts at extinguish failed. Seven crewmen bailed out okay and were captured in Romania.
318th BS (MIDDLE)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Third flight, Lead wingman
Aborted mission due to battle damage. Returned to base alone with bomb bay controls destroyed and no casualties.
No luck on this mission. First and only wave of fighters took out the bomb bay controls. Since we could not drop the bombs. Aborted the flight. Made it back without incident.
- Major Mick Mikula, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, CO 318th Bomb Squadron
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, Third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 15%. Returned with the port wing inboard fuel tank holed (self-sealed), tail guns inoperable, several superficial fuselage hit, and no casualties.
We were hit by flak over the target and leaked fuel from the port wing inboard fuel tank. In spite of that we were able to get 15% of our bombs on target.
After the bombing run, a 109 damaged the knocked out our tail guns. We were not able to damage any enemy aircraft.
Landing back at base was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. David Belden, Pilot, Midnight Express, 318th Bomb Squadron
ONCE A KNIGHT II, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Shot down by enemy fighters over Bulgaria (zone-6) during return journey with 4 KIAs and 6 POWs. Claims: 1 Enemy fighter.
Once a Knight II was fine until the target, where it lost an engine, probably due to flak. They stayed with the formation until just about entering Bulgaria (zone-6) when they were jumped by fighters. The tail got one fighters, but the wing was hit and started to burn. We saw six chutes.
- From other crews' debriefing reports
399th BS (HIGH)
LUCY QUIPMENT, Lead flight, Lead Wingman
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with damage to the port tail plane (2), the rudder (1), along with superficial damage to the starboard wing (1), to the flight deck (2), bomb bay (1), nose (1), tail (1) compartments, and two casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by MSgt. Fargo & SSgt. Goyer.
Our departure from base and the forming up went without any problems, we did not encounter any enemy fighters until we were some distance into Yugoslavia. Two fighters managed to slip by our escorts, SSgt. Goyer got a bead on an Me-109 and repeatedly hit the aircraft until the port wing separated.
The next group of enemy fighters came as we approached Romania, but the defensive fire from our formation drove them off.
Everything was quite until we approached the target and the we found the hornet's nest. The first wave of fighters came in guns blazing, SSgt. Goyer managed another kill on an Fw-190 coming in from 12 o'clock low. Jerry seemed pretty rattled by our defensive fire and they failed to hit us. They were followed by a wave of Me-109s. They managed to cause minor damage to the flight deck and port wing. Lt. Phelps (FCA) and SSgt. Burrows (FBOA) manage to damage one each and MSgt. Fargo knocked one out of the sky.
While flak was light over the target we suffered a hit to the tail rudder. We managed to put 20% of our bomb load in the target area.
After we cleared the flak, Jerry return to the party, a group of Fw-190s came at us. SSgt. Goyer managed to damage (FBOA) one and Sgt Thompson hit one as he flew past the tail. We took minor damage to the starboard wing and flight deck. The FWs stayed and continued to follow us and made another attack as we approached the border of Romania. Two slipped past our fighter support and one walked hits from the nose-to-the-tail, wounding TSgt. Noeskin and SSgt Goyer. MSgt. Fargo manage to wing the other fighter, as soon as they left another group came in. We suffered hits in the radio room, waist and tail. MSgt. Fargo (FBOA) and Sgt. Dobson (FBOA) returned the favor. After that no enemy fighters managed to slip by our escorts.
According to the flight surgeon TSgt. Doeskin will recover from his multiple wounds, but his flying days are over, he will be returning home. SSgt. Goyer should recover from his shoulder wound and return to duty in several days.
- Major Art DiFilippo, Pilot, Lucy Quipment, 399th Bomb Squadron
HOLY HAMMER, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Shot down by enemy fighters prior to bomb run. 2 KIAs and 8 POWs.
The HOLY HAMMER flew to the target zone with very little interference from the enemy. However, upon reaching the target zone in Romania, we were hit by two waves of Fw-190s and Me-109s. One of the '109's in the second wave was very deadly . . . he shot us down. On his first pass, he raked us with walking hits that KIA 2nd Lt. Ravebrook, SW Bombardier 2nd Lt. Campagna, and inflicted LWs to Pilot 1st Lt. LaSalle and Navigator 2nd Lt. Tellsman. On the Nazi's third pass, he shot up our number three engine, causing it to runaway. 1st Lt. LaSalle was not able to feather this prop, and the surviving crewmen had to bail out. The eight crewmen who were able to bail out of the HOLY HAMMER were captured by Axis ground forces.
LAURALEE II, Lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with the #3 engine feathered, the chin turret inoperable, damage to the control cables, cockpit windows hit; lots of holes all over a/c, and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Ross and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Snowdon.
This mission started out like the last one--quiet. We saw the first enemy a/c climbing up to meet us as we crossed the Yugoslav coast, and the Checkertail Jugs and Mustangs kept them off us all the way to Brasov. Then all hell broke loose.
Over target, we got hit hard by a large number of enemy fighters--109s, mostly. Three separate waves came at us, overwhelming the fighter cover. We saw Holy Hammer, across from us in the formation, hit by multiple attacks, falling out of formation, an engine aflame. We counted eight chutes. Andy got one of the Krauts, and Jason nailed another before one of them, coming at us from the right side, knocked out his turret and holed our #3 engine--I had to shut it down and feather the prop.
We even took flak damage too--Frank was very nearly hit by a flak splinter, but it just dented his flak helmet. He was white as a sheet. Losing his turret made Jason mad, and he made sure he hit the target this time.
We turned and headed for home, continually attacked by German fighters, who damaged the control cables and smashed part of the cockpit window.
Once we left the target area, it was quiet again all the way home, even when the Lightnings took over for the Mustangs. Out over the Adriatic, another formation of 109s hit us, putting some holes in the plane; Andy flamed another one, and Tony got one coming up from behind.
We made it back safely, and once repaired, will be ready for further operations. Andy hopes S-2 confirms at least one of the Krauts he got.
- 1st Lt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, Lauralee, 399th Bomb Squadron
THUNDERMUG, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with Autopilot
inoperable, superficial damage to the fuselage (1 hit), to the nose compartment
(2 hits), radio room (2 hits), and the bomb bay (2 hits), and no casualties.
Claims: 2 ME-109 & 1 FW-190 by MSgt. Bowdrie (one of MSgt. Bowdrie's ME-109
claim was later confirmed by S-2), 1 Fw-190 & 1 ME-110 apiece by Sgts.
Smitley & Holly.
Everybody was quiet when the curtain got pulled back during briefing. Every time we go to the Ploesti area something bad happens. We used up the entire runway during takeoff--I almost didn't get into the air--it took some time to get some altitude.
Once we made formation we were okay. The Krauts hit us about 50 miles west of Nis and stayed with us all the way to the target and most of the way home--13 waves in all, 5 of them in the target area. Our escorts kept some off of us, but we were in a running shoot out most of the way. The only new thing we saw were ME-110s trying to launch rockets on us--Sgt Holly got one at about 300 yds coming up level behind the formation.
We bombed okay--flak was light, but the Germans were all over the formation at this point. During this whole fight we shot down 7 E/A. MSgt. Bowdrie got three in about a 15 minute time span.
By the time we landed we had used up 75% of our .50 cal ammo--the Thundermug had holes all over, but nobody was hurt and damage was minimal--you could see the relief in our crew chiefs face when we pulled into the hardstand--I know I'm glad to be back.
- Capt. Logan, Pilot, Thundermug, 399th Bomb Squadron
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, Left aircraft
Runway abort; did not take off and participate on mission.
GRIN 'N BARE IT, Second flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with tail gun turret inoperable, some superficial damage to the nose compartment and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Hooper.
The first part of our first mission went very well. We had no problems during take off or the assembly.
We crossed the sea and made landfall over Split. A single 109 attacked from 12 high but was driven off by the P-47s. We continued on meeting no opposition until we had crossed the Romanian border. Four 190 attacked; two were driven off, one shot down and the other missed us and left.
The Little Friends continued to do a very good job. They drove off another 190 about 50 miles west of the IP.
Over the target we were met with first a small force of fighters which was driven off by the formation. Flak was light but we got hit as we were leaving the area. When the flak ceased three fighter waves appeared, but all but three fighters of the last wave were driven off by the Little Friends. These three 190s fired at us, but missed and left. We were finished here now and set course for home.
The same unit that attacked us after we had
crossed the Romanian border attacked again in the same area, but this time on
the Yugoslavian side. Four 109s attacked; one was driven off, and one
left. The two remaining krauts both hit and came around for a second
attack. Our defensive was successful and drove them off.
Unfortunately 2nd Lt. Simon Hooper was Killed-in-Action during their first pass.
Another lone 190 attacked 100 miles later, but was driven of by the P-38s.
We landed safely.
- 1st Lt. Ignatious Ellsworth, Pilot, Grin 'N Bare It, 399th Bomb Squadron
SNAFU, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with out-of-formation and returned alone, making a successful belly-landing with 6 casualties. Aircraft later classified as Category 'E', beyond economical repair. Claims: 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Tolby.
Take off and form up went without incident. The trip was quiet for us until we entered Romania. Up to that point our escorts kept the Jerries off of us.
Once over Romania there were just too many inbound fighters for them to fend off. We were hit by wave after wave of 109s and 190s, they were mostly ineffective, but they still managed to rattle the crew and put some new holes in the waist and nose.
FLAK was light and off the mark, and Lt. Peterson reports our bomb run was on, with 50% of our bombs on target.
The trip home was quite a bit harder we faced 13 fighters alone, just leaving Brasov. Several of fighters shot up the radio room, and others raked the plane from nose-to-tail. Knocking out our rudder, the oxygen supply in my compartment, and injuring all four gunners in the waist and tail. We were forced to drop from formation just before we entered Bulgaria.
Away from the rest of the formation we looked like an easy target and we saw a constant barrage of inbound enemy fighters. They peppered our starboard wing until our #4 engine went up (luckily we were able extinguish the flames), shot up the nose (knocking out the starboard cheek gun and wounding Lt. Peterson), shredded our rafts, holed our port fuel tank (self-sealed), and knocked our our landing gear.
The belly landing was as good as they get.
- 2nd Lt. Bailer, Pilot, SNAFU, 399th Bomb Squadron
318th BS (HIGH)
GERTRUDE, Third flight, left wingman
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the port ailerons, top turret guns, the starboard waist gun and the nose compartment heating system inoperable, the starboard wing inboard fuel tank holed (self-sealed), damage to the port wing root and the bombardier oxygen system, superficial damage to both wings, to the fuselage (5), the #1 Engine, to the radio, waist and tail compartments, and with 4 casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. O'Rourke, 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Sears; Sgt. Sears' Me-109 claim was later confirmed by S-2.
Got jumped by Jerrys right out of the gate. Luckily no damage resulted.
Things were quiet until just before the target (zone-7), around 6 enemy fighters got through and dinged up the paint job pretty good.
Over the target (zone-8) we were jumped by 8 enemy fighters and they took out one of our ailerons, the nose compartment heat, the waist gun and killed both the Bombardier and Waist Gunner. Obviously without the bombardier we did not hit the target, I am not even sure that the bombs landed in Romania!! The only bright spot over the target was that no flak found us.
On the way home it was more fighters, luckily they did not cause us much trouble until we were leaving Yugoslavia (zone-3). Three 190s that just wouldn't go away knocked out the top turret, damaged the port Wing, damaged the Nose and wounded both the navigator and the radio operator. Fortunately we landed without incident. Only 49 more to go . . .
- 1st Lt. Jack Keen, Pilot, Gertrude, 318th Bomb Squadron
PALE RIDER, Third flight, Right aircraft
Runway abort; did not take off and participate on mission.
316th BS (LOW)
OLD YARD DOG, Lead flight, Lead Aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Fell-out-of-formation after bomb run and returned alone with oxygen system, top turret guns, starboard wing ailerons, port waist gunner's heating system inoperable, superficial damage to the both wings, to the #4 engine, to the bomb bay doors, to the fuselage (5), to the nose, bomb bay (2) and waist compartments, and 2 light casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Capt. Bonner.
The crew of the Captain Chase's crew were assigned as the squadron spare and we were all surprised when Major Tanner told Captain Chase to stand down and he'd be taking his ship to lead the squadron because his own ship was not yet repaired from yesterday's mission.
We first met up with the enemy as soon as we crossed into Yugoslavia when two waves of 109s and 190s appeared. We got off easy; all that was hit was Captain Bonner's oxygen system.
The next encounter happened just before the Yugoslavian/Bulgarian border. This attack knocked out the top turret guns and the starboard ailerons. This attack also wounded Lt. Wiggins, our bombardier, and barely missed hitting Captain Bonner (lucky charm used).
The skies were quiet until we neared Brasov and during this lull, I helped patch up Lt. Wiggins. His wounds looked worst than they were and Lt. Wiggins told me he was alright and he could still able to perform his duties.
During the run to Brasov, more fighters appeared and this time the damage was bad, really bad. The ship's oxygen system was shot up we were losing oxygen and fast. We would soon have to drop out of formation after the bomb run. Also, Captain Bonner and Sgt. Riddell stationed in the waist compartment reported that shell hits barely missed hitting them (more lucky charms used up).
Flak was inaccurate and I'm surprised Lt. Wiggins, bothered by his wounds, was able to put some of the bombs within the target area.
Major Tanner then put the Dog into a shallow dive and we were on our own. The CO then came on the intercom to inform the crew that we had a long way to go but not to panic because he'll use every bit of his flying skill to get us all home. We were all a veteran crew by now, all of us with over 25 missions, and we had the highest confidence in the CO and put our faith in him.
As a straggler, the enemy soon pounced upon us but the CO put the Dog into a series of evasive maneuvers. The enemy missed us while the crew shot down one 109 and damaged another.
As we made our way across Romania, a flight of four Me-109s were right behind us. Again the CO did things with a B-17 that I didn't think were possible and we came out of this battle without any damage again.
Then things calmed down for about 30-to-40 minutes while we made our way over western Romania, through Bulgaria and back into Yugoslavia. All this time, enemy flak batteries kept shooting at us but the CO continued to jinx and juke the Dog through that flak and we came through without being hit.
Midway over Yugoslavia, a trio of enemy fighters saw and came after us. These guys were good and despite of the CO's evasive flying, they hit us but luckily we suffered only superficial damage and Sgt. Riddell was lightly wounded in his right forearm. Eventually they must have ran out of ammo and they left us alone.
From this point on, it was clear flying back across the Adriatic and back to base.
I didn't think we had a ghost of a chance back there on getting home but the Skipper was good on his word and got us all home safely. I'd fly with the CO anytime.
- MSgt. Norman Post, Flight Engineer, Old Yard Dog, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, left aircraft
Did not bomb target, jettison bomb load early. Returned with group with the #4 engine shut down from an oil leak, radio destroyed, both wings with 20% root damage, tail oxygen system damaged, and multiple superficial holes of various caliber sizes. (201 Damage points per Peckham's damage chart). Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Ohm, 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Tolbert, 1 Fw-190 shared by SSgt. Ohm & TSgt. Cormack, 1 Fw-190 shared by Sgts. Burmeister & Meier, 1 Me-109 shared by Sgts. Piano & Snyder, 1 Me-110 shared by Sgts. Piano & Burmeister.
We were airborne by 0815 hours with a load of 2300
gallons of gasoline, 4000 pounds of M-43, 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 0930 hours.
This mission was a similar in some respects and completely different in others. We made it to the target but we didn't bomb it. We took casualties but no one died. We had to jettison our bomb load, but we refused to abort this mission.
Following the frustration of the last mission, just minutes out we were done, we vowed not to be forced out of a mission again. But Jerry had different ideas. We got jumped at 1045 hours by four Focke-Wulfs from all around. Cory, our tail gunner, downed one of the Nazis with his twin 50s. And one of our little friends took care of a second. The other two punched holes in our wings and forward section of the fuselage. Upon their return attack, one Nazi further damaged our starboard wing and taking out our #4 engine. Cory again dissuaded the fighter from returning by scoring a probable as Jerry passed by the tail of our ship. Randy in the top gun turret destroyed the second Focke-Wulf as he approached from the port side.
After this wave was done, a second one jumped in.
This was a wave of two Focke-Wulfs that our little friends drove off one and
the wingman. After this wave we had to jettison our bomb load in order to keep up with the formation. As bombs were away I took a
quick poll of the crew and to a man we decided to keep with the squadron.
Now around 1120 hours we encountered two more enemy waves of fighters. Again our little friends drove off the first wave. But the second wave, four off five Focke-Wulfs made it through our fighters. Two of them hit us hard, damaging out wings and damaging our tail oxygen. Our boys in back had roughed up these fighters pretty good on their way in and they decided to call it a day and boogied out. A half hour later we encountered two Me-109s that our fighters looked to shoot down.
As we arrived at the IP, Lt. Vandergrift and I
reasoned we should stay with the squadron to the target so as not to become
meant we would have to endure the flak. Briefing stated it would be light and that is just what it was, though the Jerry fighter opposition was heavy. We had very minimal friendly fighter cover yet we saw at least ten to fifteen Me-109s. Our boys in the back damaged three and destroyed one, with our little friends getting one also. Luckily the Jerry's were uncoordinated and green as only two of these adversary hit us. Furthermore the only real damage was a nick on my calf from the whole ordeal.
Obviously we didn't drop any bombs so we just went
in for the ride. On the other side of the drop zone we ran back into the
JG we encountered coming in. However several of them must have exhausted their
ammo or fuel as we didn't see them in the same numbers as
before. We destroyed one of the five that attempted an attack and the rest just plain missed.
During the next half hour or so thing were quiet
as the only action we encountered was a hit to our wing root from a gunner on
Lt. Caldwell's crew in "Cutting Edge". This all ended as we had a running
fight all the way home. We destroyed a further three enemy fighters
and damaged another two on top of that. The only damage inflicted was to systems that were already out.
Upon landing we found out that Lt. Fimbres heat
had been shot out and he had frost bite to his hands and feet. This must have
prior to landing as doc said he will recover from the frostbite, but doc thinks he will be going home from the wound to the lower right
arm. Fimbres may never regain proper use of that arm according to doc. Too bad.
Our gunners shot down 7 enemy aircraft and damaged a further 11 enemy aircraft.
LW - 1st Lt. Greg Tines (right calf)
LW - Sgt. Karl Meier (right calf)
SW - 2nd Lt. Corey Fimbres (lower right arm) & Frostbite-Recovers (Invalidated).
2nd Lt. Walter Hampton, Brooklyn, NY
Damage repairable by morning
Replace #4 engine
Replace tail compartment oxygen system
Repair starboard & port wing root
2nd Lt. D. Torbett: 1 FW-190 KIA, 3 Me-109s Probables & 2 FW-190s damaged
SSgt. R. Ohm: 2 Me-109s KIA, 0.5 FW-190 KIA & 1 FW-190 Probable
TSgt. A. Cormack: 0.5 FW-190 KIA & 1 FW-190 Probable
Sgt. D. Piano: 0.5 Me-109 KIA, 0.5 Me-110 KIA & 1 FW-190 Probable
Sgt. F. Snider: 0.5 Me-109 KIA
Sgt. G. Inocencio: 0.5 FW-190 KIA & 1 Me-109 Probable
Sgt. C. Burmeister: 0.5 Me-110 KIA, 0.5 FW-190 KIA & 2 Me-109s Probable
- 1st Lt. Tines, Pilot, Vengeful Harlot, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CUTTING EDGE, Lead flight, right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Shot down by enemy fighters 5 miles SW of Brasov; 7 KIAs & 3 POWs.
“We were in pursuit of a pair of FW-190s that were attacking a B-17 along with three others just past Brasov. We saw the B-17 sustain a large number of strikes from the FW-190 on both wings and fuselage. Initially there appeared to be no effect from the hits then the starboard inner engine appeared to disintegrate and the port outer appeared to runaway. By that time I was close enough to see the propeller detach. Within seconds the starboard wing exploded into flames as well. The plane then pitched down violently and yawed to starboard burning fiercely and disappeared from my sight. This must have taken all of ten seconds from the hits being registered to losing sight of the plane. The FWs got away.”
- From after action report of 1st Lt. Paul Hill, 31st Fighter Group. From this and other reports and the distinctive set of events, we believe that the B-17 was the Cutting Edge from the 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H).
CABALLERO, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Aborted mission zone-5 and returned alone. Landed with cockpit windows smashed, superficial damage to the port wing flaps, to the nose and waist compartments, and two casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Simeon, Sgts. Bristoe and Vincent.
Just before reaching the Yugoslavian/Bulgarian border, we came under attack which smashed up the cockpit windows and killed Sgt. Cohen and wounded 2nd Lt. Davenport. With the pilots' compartment losing heat fast, I decided to jettison the bombs and turn back to Italy.
As we broke away from the group, a single Me-109 followed up but after making one pass that shot up the port flaps, Sgt. Bristoe shot him down as he flew by the tail.
After we descended to 9,000 feet, the last enemy encounter occurred just before we reached the Adriatic Sea where 4 Me-109s attacked. I took evasive action and we suffered no damage while SSgt. Simeon shot down one of the attackers.
We made it back to base without further incident.
- 1st Lt. John McPherson, Pilot, Caballero, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
NORTHERN DREAM, Second flight, Right aircraft
Aborted during squadron formation. Returned to base and did not participate on mission.
SNAKE EYES, Second flight, Left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Aborted mission (zone-5) from loss of an engine. Jettisoned bombs and returned to base alone with the #4 engine knocked out, minor superficial damage to the starboard wing, to the nose, tail, and radio compartments, and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 ME-109s by 2nd Lt. McClain (one of Lt. McClain's claim was later confirmed by S-2), 2 ME-109s by SSgt Sikorsky, and 1 ME-109 by Arledge (Sgt. Arledge's claim was later confirmed by S-2).
Needless to say, I was extremely concerned about flying this long mission as “Tail-end Charlie.” Take off was routine, and the group formed up without incident.
Two waves of fighters attacked our formation about 150 miles out from base. The first wave was driven off by accurate fire from the lead B-17s in our formation. The second wave got through, with three ME-109s attacking our ship. Lt. McClain and Sgt. Arledge each shot down one of these planes; the third 109 passed without hitting us and disappeared.
Twenty minutes later, we were attacked by two more fighters. Sgt. Sikorsky shot down the 109 on our tail, but an FW-190 executed an overhead pass, knocking out our number 4 engine.
After feathering the propeller on #4, I decided to abort the mission as we were scarcely halfway to the target. I had Lt. McClain jettison the bombs and we left the formation, heading for home.
We were immediately attacked by four fighters upon leaving the formation. Sgt. Sikorsky shot down one of these 109s, and two others were definitely damaged by our other gunners. But one ME-109 hit our radio compartment, seriously wounding Tech. Sgt. Clellan in the hand.
Just fifty miles from Sterparone we were jumped by three more 109s. The fighters pressed home their attacks repeatedly but thankfully did little damaged to us, and they gave up after Lt. McClain shot one of them down, his third claim in just four missions.
We landed safely at Sterparone without further incident.
- 1st Lt. Harold Snakenburg, Pilot, Snake Eyes, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
Return to Sterparone Field