MISSION 6 - FERRARA AARs

399th BS (LEAD)

FELL TO EARTH, Lead flight, Lead aircraft, Mission Commander

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with repairable damage and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Parry & 1 Me-109 (shared) by SSgt. Smithson & Sgt. Barringer.

 

Mission Narrative:

To follow.

 

- 1st Lt. Timothy Fell, Pilot, Fell to Earth


RAW DEAL, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with tail guns damaged and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

A relatively quiet but disappointing mission.

 

Thankfully, no enemy aircraft were sighted until we were approaching the target.  Three Fw-190s came in from the front.   Apparently they were looking forward to celebrating the New Year intact and all three made desultory passes before disengaging.

 

Flak over the target was rough and we took a burst at the tail that rendered the rear guns inoperable.  Sgt. Irons reported that the feed mechanism was destroyed and the gun mount itself was severely damaged.  It did make for a nervous return trip.  Lt. Shelleyís bombs once again were all off target.  Disappointing considering the relatively easy ride in.

 

While exiting the target area no fighter came close to us, and a flight that seemed interested was discouraged by other guns of the flight.

 

There was no further enemy contact and we landed without incident.

 

-1st Lt. Henry Mershon, Pilot, Raw Deal


HEART OF TEXAS, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with the #4 engine's oil tank damaged from flak shrapnel, some superficial flak damage to the starboard wing, & 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by Sgts. Toney & Kussel.

 

Mission Narrative:

The outbound flight was uneventful until over target.  We were attacked by 3 FW-190s while the P-38 escorts drove off a fourth FW-190.  Sgt Kussel and Sgt. Toney each claimed one 190 and Sgt. Ramos' effective fire drove off the remaining 190.

 

Flak over target was accurate with a couple of shells exploding off our starboard side.  Sgt. Stevenson was wounded in the hand from one of the bursts and he is currently getting it checked out, but I suspect he will be ready to fly by tomorrow.

 

Our inbound flight was also uneventful.

 

-1st Lt. David Kuehn, Pilot, Heart of Texas


FATEFUL AMY, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 10%.  Returned with port wing flap inoperable, starboard wing & tail plane roots (1 hit each), tail wheel damaged, engine #2 out, control cables damaged, nose gun out, radio room oxygen system damaged and 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

All damage to Fateful Amy received over the target, she took 6 hits from the heavy flak over the area, fortunately the engine hit being over Ferrara, did not require us falling out of formation.

 

The Bomb Run was off target, but still managed 10% success.  Our navigator, Ray Coates, took a round in his left knee.  He was treated for at the infirmary for a minor scratch wound but shouldn't be inactive for too long. 

 

- 1st Lt. Bill Wilson, Co-Pilot, Fateful Amy


THE CICERO BOYS, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Took two none-to-tail walking hits.  Returned with damaged top turret & port waist heater.  No casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take-off and form-up accomplished with no incidents.  About halfway to the target, our gunners began calling out fighters.  Most of them, however, were being molested by our escorts.

 

About 15 minutes prior to target, a lone 109 made a climbing turn toward our 3 oíclock.  Both our ball gunner, Sgt. Folger, and starboard waist gunner, SGT Maher, engaged him.  One or both got pieces of him, and Sgt. Folger reported that Fateful Amy or Sky Rat may have damaged him as well.  In any event, his rounds missed us low as he Split-S'ed.

 

On the bomb run, just after the IP, another lone 109 made a run against our tail.  Sgt. Lemish failed to spot him until the last moment.  Our top turret, radio gunner, and Sgt. Lemish engaged with no success.  The German gave us a long, sweeping burst that walked up the airframe from tail to nose.  No serious damage reported.

 

Heavy flak over the target, but none damaged us.

 

Lt. Truman reported good hits in the marshalling yard (he approximates 30% bombs within the CEP).

 

As we made our turn south, a single Fw-190 dove down through the formation, singling us out for attention.  Cannon fire again raked us, this time from nose to tail.  Sgt. Vorstatdler reported the cabling for his heater was severed, and had to avoid stepping in the hole in the floor left by the cannon fire.  SSgt. Munston reported his turret was jammed in the aft position and could not swivel, only elevate.  This 190 made a climbing right turn and approached our formation from 3 oíclock high.  Again Sgt. Maher engaged and reported good hits.  The 190ís cannon shells barely missed us and he dove out of sight.

 

Sgt. Vorstatdler was able to remain at his station despite the cold, and was no worse for wear upon an uneventful landing (75 damage points).

 

- 1st Lt. Anthony Dimiano, Pilot, The Cicero Boys


SKY RAT, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Reached target but unable to drop bombs due to jammed bomb bay doors.  Returned with no casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Strickland.

 

Mission Narrative:

The mission was the basically the kind you pray for . . . we took off from base headed outbound and didn't see any enemy fighters until just before we entered Ferrara.  The lone 109 came at us from 12 high.  He got past our defensive fire and hit us in the bomb bay (a very scary place to take a hit when you still have the eggs aboard) and the hit disabled our bomb bay doors.  The 109 came back around for a second pass, and was blown to bits by Sgt Strickland in the top turret.

 

We stayed in formation and resigned ourselves to the fact that the only good we could do this mission was to shoot down anything else that got too close to us.  The flak in Ferrara was heavy, as expected.  It looked like they were throwing everything they had at us.  The flak missed us completely, and we never saw another fighter for the rest of the mission.

 

Lt. Makowski (bombardier) took this mission hard, after the less than satisfactory results of our last run during the last mission he was hoping to prove himself this time around.
 

- 1st Lt. Todd Oswald, Pilot, Sky Rat


316th Aircraft Assigned to fly with the 399th BS formation (Middle)

FLAK TRAP, third flight, lead aircraft 

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 75%.  Returned with superficial flak damage to the nose compartment, #3 engine and 1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

Flak Trapís first mission was considered by many in the 316th to be a milk run.  No enemy action was encountered until we were on the bomb run.  A 109 slipped through the fighter cover and attacked us in a vertical dive.  Our top turret and radio room guns both missed this guy and luckily he missed us too.

 

Flak was heavy over the target and one minute before bombs away we took 3 flak hits.  Two were superficial damage to the nose and #3 engine and the other one inflicted a light wound to our navigator Frank Brody.  Even hit by flak, our bombardier, Bob Martin, managed to place 75% of our bombs in the marshalling yards at Ferrara.  I considered this to be a great start for our first mission as we turned off target and I congratulated Bob on the great bombing accuracy.

 

Three ME-109ís attacked us in zone 4 back and our P-38 fighter cover managed to drive two away.  Engineer Matt Sears damaged the other which foiled its attack. It was last seen doing a split s and diving away.  No more enemy action was encountered after that.

 

- 1st Lt. Joe Daves, Pilot, Sky Rat


317th BS (LOW)

BEWITCHED, first flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Returned with #3 Engine out, tail guns, starboard ailerons & port elevator inoperable; 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by SSgt. Simons & Sgt. Harris.

 

Mission Narrative:

Got bounced a bit by Jerry on the way in but the top and tail swatted them off without too much problem.  The little friends kept the rest away.

 

Flak was pretty intense and we took hits in the # 3 engine, the tail which also got the gunner, and the wings.  Got a good drop and then headed home.

 

Not much in the way of fighters going home.  Just one idiot (Fw-190) who came boring in from the front and got his windscreen shattered for his trouble.  He missed and scrammed.

 

Landed clean and hit the bar.  Pity, Forrest is still here.

 

- Capt. Shamus Montague, Pilot, Bewitched


MEMPHIS GAL, first flight, left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned on 3 engines, no brakes and flaps; 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by Lt. Simms and 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Almeda.

 

Mission Narrative:

We didn't see much German opposition in the way of fighters, the flak however was another story.  We lost an engine while on the bomb run, Lt. Simms, the navigator was lightly wounded but stuck to his task until we had completed the bomb run, only then did he allow Lt. Nimble to look at his head wound.  We put a good percentage of our bombs on target, which makes up for our poor performance last time round.

 

Donald and I had a tricky landing, since our brakes were inoperable along with our flaps.  We brought her in on 3 engines just above stalling speed and set her down using the entire length of the runway, we did overshoot but luckily the mud and slush slowed us down sufficiently before we could run into anything serious enough to make the crew chief cry.  The crew chief did arrive accompanied by the clanging of a bell on a fire tender no less, that was on standby in the event that our 'landing' resulted in a ball of fire and twisted metal.  The chief hardly greeted us instead he fussed about 'his' aircraft like some fretting mother hen muttering dark curses.  We are lucky to be in such good hands.  Donald and I escorted our navigator to the base infirmary (he refused a ride in the ambulance) where he was stitched up.

 

-1st Lt. Ralph Flynn, Pilot, Memphis Gal


SILVER SPOON, first flight, right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with intercom and starboard aileron inoperable; no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We encountered stiff resistance all the way to the target and back.  Thank God for our little friends!  They must have chased off a dozen Krauts, but there were still plenty to take their place!  We were within sight of the target when the instrument panel shattered, our intercom was out but little else was wrong.  We could have aborted, but there was little point with the target so close.  Besides, Iíd rather we took our chances in the safety of the formation than go home alone without comms.

 

Flak was okay, but more metal whizzed around the pilot compartment.  My new co-pilot knows what war is now.  We seemed to hit near enough the target, and turned for home.

 

The Krauts were waiting for us, but the little buddies did their stuff again and we landed with little more than a shot-out aileron and a few holes.

 

-1st Lt. Milton B Forrest III, Pilot, Silver Spoon


FRISCO KID, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with minor flak damage to port wing and no casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Swanson & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Wilson.

 

Mission Narrative:

Very quiet.  Saw no enemy a/c until we hit the Italian coast near Rimini, but Little Friends engaged most of them, so we were not attacked.

 

Lots of enemy a/c sighted over target.  We were attacked by two groups of 109s, both of which came at us from the front.  Lt. Swanson nailed one in the first wave, and none of them were able to score any hits on us.  Flak heavy over target, but we took only minor damage to port wing.  Target hit with 60% accuracy.

 

Attacked again after we turned around over target, but fighter cover seemed to stiffen, so only one 190 attacked us directly, and SSgt. Wilson flamed it.  Flight home uneventful, and we landed safely with all hands.

 

- 1st Lt. David Moody, Pilot, Frisco Kid


DARKWATCH, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with ball turret compartment heat out, port aileron inoperable, #1 engine out and superficial damage to nose, tail, and starboard wing.  2 Casualties.  Claims: 2 Fw-190 by SSgt. Poulous.

 

Mission Narrative:

Saw a lot of action this trip.  Poulous claimed a couple FWs, but no one else was shooting straight.  Lt. Cuevas took one in the chest from a head-on pass by one of the FWs, and was incapacitated for the balance of the mission.

 

Flak was Hell for the second mission in a row, after we'd been lucky enough to avoid it up to that point.  We were hit by two bursts, knocking out MacCabe's suit heater, and shorting out the heat in Disbrow's ball turret.  We also lost an engine, but I got it feathered and we dropped our bombs on target and so didn't have to drop out of formation.

 

With my Navigator incapacitated and the sky full of bandits (we must have been shot at by more than a dozen fighters this trip), I elected to remain with the formation on the return trip (the formation was very tight this trip, by the way, offering excellent defensive support).  Unfortunately this resulted in frostbite for Sgt. Disbrow.  They tell me he'll lose some fingers, and that his war is over.

 

Compared to Cuevas, he got off lucky.  My Navigator died of wounds in the base hospital.

 

The crew is standing down, now, so I expect we'll all get stinking drunk.

 

- 1st Lt. Paul OĻConnor, Pilot, Darkwatch


CARDINAL EXPRESS, second flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with engine extinguishers knocked out, pilot compartment heat out, rudder damage, 5 superficial hits & 1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 each by 2nd Lt. Landeau & Sgt. Clark.

 

Mission Narrative:

We took heavy flak damaged approaching the target and more damage from a 190 on the way back in.  The engine extinguishers were knocked out but luckily no engine fires and Sgt. Tinch was lightly wounded.  The pilot & co-pilot heat was lost after the bomb run but amazingly no frostbite through 2 zones.  I would rather take the chance than drop out of formation.

 

-1st Lt. Bob Peterson, Pilot, Cardinal Express


GO FOR BROKE, third flight, lead aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned starboard wing flap inoperable, navigation equipment out, intercom system out, rudder damaged, superficial damage to the port wing, pilot compartment, bomb bay, waist and tail sections, with 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Muraki.

 

Mission Narrative:

Took off from Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without any problems or malfunctions.

 

About 60 miles from target we encountered four (4) enemy aircraft consisting of one (1) Me-109 coming in from 6 high and three (3) Fw-190s coming in from 12 high, 1:30 high, and 3 high.  Fighter cover was able to drive off the planes coming in from 1:30 high and 3 high.  The fighter coming in from 6 high was shot down by Sgt. Yamashita and the one coming in from 12 high was shot down my 2nd Lt. Osa.

 

About 20 miles from target we again encountered more fighters this time in two waves.  The first wave consisted of four (4) Me-109s coming in from 6 high, 12 level, 12 high, and 1:30 low.  The one that came in from 6 high was damaged and it broke off before firing.  The ones coming in from 12 level and high missed the plane and were driven off.  The one coming in from 1:30 low was able to hit the nose of the plane and hit 2nd Lt. Osa.  The second burst also hit him in the chest and torso causing his fatal wounds.  The plane was came back at 12 level and we were able to drive him away from the plane.

 

The second wave consisted of four (4) Fw-190s coming in from 3, 6, 9 and 12, all high.  There also was one (1) Me-109 that came in from 6 high.  The Me-109 missed the plane and disappeared.  The Fw-190ís coming in from 9 high was damaged by Sgt. Yano, while the one from 12 high missed the plane and both e/a didnít return.  The Fw-190 from 6 high hit both the bomb bay doors and port wing but only caused superficial damage to these areas.  The one from 3 high also hit the plane in the waist but it only caused superficial damage to the waist area.

 

The two (2) FW-190s returned, coming in from 1:30 and 12 low.  The one from 1:30 low missed the plane and it was driven off by machine gun fire from the formation.  The one from 12 low hit the pilotís compartment that destroyed the intercom system and in the nose of the plane which destroyed the navigation equipment.  This plane returned, this time from 3 low.  Again this plane hit us, this time in the tail which caused extensive damage to the rudder.  The damage was severe enough that it made handling of the plane a little harder for both me and the Co-Pilot.

 

Over target we encountered heavy flak and we were only hit once in the waist which didnít cause any damage to the plane.  With 2nd Lt. Osa KIA, 2nd Lt. Muraki took over and tried to put the bombs on target but he was unsuccessful in finding the target and all of the bombs missed the rail yards.

 

On the turn around, we again encountered two waves of fighters.  The first wave was driven off by the escort fighters before they were able to reach out formation.

 

The other wave on was able to reach us and it consisted of five (5) Me-109s coming in high from 6, 12, 10:30, 1:30, and one at 12 level.  The one from 12 high was driven off by fighter cover while the ones from both 6 (shot by Sgt. Yamashita) and 10:30 high (shot by Sgt. Yano) were damaged and did not return.  The one that came in from 12 level missed the plane and also was driven off. The one from 1:30 high hit the plane for only superficial damage to the bomb bay area of the plane.  This plane returned at 10:30 level and was driven away from machine gun fire from the formation.

 

About 100 miles away from the target we encountered more enemy fighters, again consisting of five (5) Me-109s coming in high from 6, 12, 10:30, 1:30 and 12 low.  The 6 high was damaged by Sgt. Yamashita and didnít return.  The one from 12 high was shot down by SSGT. Mukai.  The one from 10:30 high missed the plane and was driven off.  The ones that came in from 12 low and 1:30 high hit the plane in the nose, pilot compartment, bomb bay, and waist areas of the plane.  All of the hits caused superficial damage except the one that hit the pilotís compartment where shrapnel from the bullet hit 2nd Lt. Uyeda in the shoulder.  The two planes returned, this time coming in low from 10:30 and 12 but both missed the plane and escaped from view.

 

Reached Sterparone Field and was able to land without incident.

 

-1st Lt. Mark Yoshikawa, Pilot, Go for Broke


318th BS (High)

GOLD DRAGON, lead flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20 %.  Dropped out of formation 50 miles from base.  Returned with port aileron and radio room heat inoperable and superficial damage to the starboard wing.  1 casualty.

 

Mission Narrative:

The take off and flight to Ferrara was uneventful we saw no enemy fighters.

 

As we passed our final IP we were jumped by a lone 109.  This sucker was determined and made three passes hitting us on each one.  Our gunners sent a lot of shell his was but did no apparent damage.  We lost the port aileron and our port waist gunner, Elliot Mason, suffered a wound when a piece of our airframe hit him in the leg.  He was able to continue on throughout the remainder of the flight.  We are waiting to hear from the Doc as to when he will be able to return to duty.

 

We completed the bomb run and dropped our bombs on target (20%).  After we crossed feet-wet, we saw a 190 make a vertical dive pass us.  He put a couple of shell in our starboard wing and one shell took out the heat in the radio room.  I was glad we were close to home when we had to drop out of formation.  I believe that same 190 came around for another pass but everyone missed and that was the last enemy aircraft we saw.

 

After an uneventful landing and post flight inspection we noticed 82 damage points.

 

- Capt. Joe Smith, Pilot, Gold Dragon


THE RUSSIAN LADY, lead flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0 %.  Returned with a fuel leak in port inboard wing tank; minor damage to starboard wing root, superficial damage to starboard and port wing, tail, bomb bay areas, and no casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Meyers.

 

Mission Narrative:

We didn't really get any action until we crossed the coast into Italy.  There, we got jumped right away by a flight of 190's, but our fighters drove off two of them, the other made a pass and then left us to bother someone else.  When we reached the IP a single 109 got through the formation and came at us from 6 high.  He didn't do any real damage, but was encouraged enough to come back from 9 level.  He should have left us alone, 'Twitchy' knocked his wing off and he was last seen spinning down in a big ball of flame.

 

As we got over the target, we ran into flak you could walk on. It was heavy and accurate.  We got bounced around so badly that Lt. Vachon's bombs missed completely.  He was cursing the whole way home and was looking to make some German pilots pay, but we really didn't have any trouble.  Between the tight formation and our 'little friends' we had an easy flight home.  The flak spoiled the whole trip, but I'm glad no one on our crew got hurt this time out.

 

- 1st Lt. Frank Andrews, Pilot, The Russian Lady


OLD CROW EXPRESS, lead flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 5%.  Fell out-of-formation after bomb run from a fire to the oxygen system and a loss of cockpit heating.  Damage to radio, intercom, aileron instrument controls, port wing root damaged & inboard fuel tank holed.  Returned alone with 3 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by Sgt. Carter and SSgt. O'Reilly.

 

Mission Narrative:

We took a lot of damage on this mission.  The nose has more holes than Swiss cheese.  Both 2nd Lt. Peterson and 2nd Lt. Thornhill got hit two times.  Both were light and were able to continue with their duties.  My co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Sapp, got hit in the leg and it was too serious that he could not continue with his duty.  There was a fire in the pilot compartment that Fredrick was able to put out and a fire in the waist that we were also able to put out.  The intercom and radio got hit.

 

This was not just our day, we after bombing the target with only 5% of the payload hitting the yards.  We had to drop out of formation or risk getting frost bitten because of the heat in the pilot compartment getting knocked out.  And on top of that we were flying blind do to the fact that our navigator equipment got hit.  This is the second time in a row that that place got hit, it must be bad luck.

 

But finally after arriving late we were able to put her down safely, not a lieutenants landing but we made it safe.  Jimmy Sapp lost his leg and will be going home, I still havenít heard who we will be getting to replace him.

 

-1st Lt. Fred Anderson, Pilot, Old Crow Express


GOLDEN SPIKE, second flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with 11 hits from fighters, NO FLAK.  Rubber rafts destroyed, tail guns & ball turret inoperable.  1 casualty.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Garnutt; 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Lawton & Sgt. Archibald.

 

Mission Narrative:

Anytime the crew makes it back in one piece is a good mission.  We had expected heavy flak but instead it was enemy fighters that caused problems for us.  We drew our first of six waves in zone 2 on the way out.  Good formation flying cut the attacks by a third, but poor escort cover only chased off two of twelve bandits.  We lost our tail guns about 100 miles out, and 50 miles later, we lost the ball guns too.  Luckily the new nose guns provided some nice covering fire and the crew claimed another three bandits.

 

On the approach run the sky filled with flak but the new plane seemed well protected . . . not one hit!  Unfortunately our "new" bombardier missed the target for the THIRD time in a row.  (The crew is getting frustrated -- putting their butts on the line but not getting the job done.  I'll have a talk with him later).   We didn't get anymore hits on the way home, and touching down on the runway was a lot nicer than ditching in the water, like the last flight.

 

-1st Lt. Todd Wilson, Pilot, Lucky Laurel


IRON LADY, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Fell out-of-formation half way home after hitting target due to lost of heat in nose compartment.  Returned with ball turret Guns inoperable, 2 P. wing root hits, 1 S. wing root hit, 1 tail plane hit, 2 rudder hits, numerous superficial hits to the nose, radio room, waist, tail.  4 Casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Foster, 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Peterson.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and form up with rest of group was uneventful.

 

I had just told the crew to keep their eyes peeled as we were crossing the coast when we were bounced by 4 Fw-190s.  The P-38 fighters managed to intercept two of them but the other two kept on coming.  The first from 6 high jinked to avoid a burst of fire from the Radio Op but just managed to run right into Richie Petersons tail guns and exploded in a ball of fire.  The explosion seemed to distract the crew as both the top turret and port waist guns missed the fighter that attacked us from 9 o'clock high.  He scored hits on the radio room, the port wing and the fuselage, although when I called for damage reports everybody called in that it seemed to be superficial.  The Fw-190 tried to get round for another go but was driven off by our escorts.

 

As the formation continued up the coast the P-38's were running good interference today, thank god.

 

As we approached the target area the Germans seemed to have organized their fighters better than I'd hoped.  We were hit, firstly, by 2 Me-109s; the first was driven off again by the P-38s although the second from 1:30 high was missed by the top turrets but hit by Sgt. Roberts with the starboard waist guns.  It pressed home its attack, missed and broke off trailing smoke.  The second wave was kept away by excellent defensive fire from the squadron.  Then about thirty miles short of the target a little friend drove off another Fw-190 although the second sneaked in from 3 o'clock.  It was missed by the ball turret, whilst Sgt. Roberts clipped it and SSgt. Foster got good solid hits on it with the top turret.  However this was after it had riddled us with shells.  As it fell away with pieces dropping off I called around for damage reports.  Heating was gone for the Bombardier, Richie Peterson had a couple of light nicks, Sgt. Endleman was screaming that he couldn't get his turret to move or his guns to fire after a shell had smashed into it.  The worst news came from Hank Foster that Sgt. Zabizi had taken a head shot in the radio room and looked to have been killed instantly.

 

Then as we started our bomb run all hell broke loose.  I had just handed control of the Lady over to Lt. O'Donnell when we hit the flak zone.  I knew it was going to be heavy, just not so heavy I could walk on it.  We took hits in the tail, nose, stbd. wing root, tail plane root, stbd. wing, waist, rudder, tail (again) and the radio room.  We lost Richie Peterson to a shell burst right outside his turret.  Sgt. Mick O'Neill was killed in the waist and Sgt Roberts was lightly wounded in the same area.  It looks as if Sgt. O'Neill took the full blast and shielded Paul Roberts.  To add insult to injury Sgt. Zabizi's body was shredded in the Radio Room.  Amidst all this Phil O'Donnell managed to nail the target with about 40% accuracy.

 

As we cleared the target area I was going to drop down so that Lt. O'Donnell wouldn't freeze to death but he said he could manage a few more miles more.  Just as well! Two Me-109s tried to sneak in on us but the boys of the 14th, 82nd and God were still watching out for us and they were downed before they got near.  In the meantime Sgt. Endleman finally managed to get out of the useless ball turret and manned the tail guns.  Sgt. Peterson didn't have a mark on him.  It must have been the blast shock that killed him.

 

After we had got past Rimini, I dropped out of formation as I didn't want to lose my Bombardier as well.  I got a heartfelt thanks over the intercom that said it all.  Our Fighter escorts kept any enemy aircraft well away from us although I may have dropped too low as we took a couple of hits from flak in the nose and the rudder.  (Need to get the Maintenance boys to check out the altimeter).

 

The crew were getting tired with the seemingly constant threats and just as I felt we were almost there we were jumped again.  Fortunately, marauding P-38s killed 2 Me-109s but the other two got past them.  The first ran straight into fire from Sgt. Foster in the top turret and went nose straight down.  I hope the P-38s can confirm that one as it was an excellent piece of firing.  The second one came in only half-heartedly, missed us, we missed him and was destroyed by our fighters.

 

The rest of the mission passed of quietly and we managed to land safely back at base.  I am writing up Lt. O'Donnell for his performance today.  It was quite exceptional considering it was his first sortie.  Just Have to wait and see!!


-1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady


BOUNCIN' BETTY, second flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with no damage or casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Well this mission turned out to be a milk run for us.  Thanks to defensive fire of other B-17s only 1 fighter managed to come in on us, and Sgt. Kelsey was able to damaged the 190 and causing it to break off its attack.  In spite of heavy flak over the target, we did not take any flak hits.  I guess that all the flak must have rattled 2nd Lt. Persons because the bombs were off target, with 0% of bombs in the target area.  The Landing was uneventful.

 

-1st Lt. Eric Wright, Pilot, Bouncin' Betty


316th BS (High)

LUCKY PENNY, third flight, lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with starboard & port tail plane root damaged, rudder damaged, wing root (1 hit), starboard wing flap inoperable, starboard waist gun & gun area destroyed.  2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Allison.

 

Mission Narrative:

Mission 6 started out pretty good.  The trip up to the target area (zones 2 & 3) were free of enemy fighters.

 

When we reached the target zone, the first enemy wave failed to attack, so things were looking up.  (Received a lucky rabbit's foot on random events as one of our fighter waves).  The 2nd wave of fighters were four 190's.  Our friendly fighter cover was busy with other groups and were possibly wary of the flak seen in the area.  Our tail gunner heavily damaged (scored a -2 dmg) on the 6 o'clock high guy.  Enemy fighters at 9 low and a vertical dive missed but the 12 high and the 6 high fighters scored hits back.  The rudder was damaged (1 hit) and a tail plane was hit causing minor damage before the enemy flew off and left us to the dreaded FLAK.

 

Heavy flak is no picnic.  We received a total of 6 hits one in each wing, tail, 2 in the waist and bomb bay.  Wing hits were minor wing root hits, the tail hit was in the tail plane.  The waist hits were disaster for us.  First, the gunner was (we later surmised) killed outright when the compartment seemed to explode as both the gunner and gun itself were hit.  Jones attempted to rush over to Harper, as he was hanging half out of the plane but when Jones attempted to pulled Harper back into the body of the plane, only the waist up was left of the gunner.  In horror, Jones fell back and the rush of air sucked the rest of the body of gunner Harper out of the plane.  (The captain made the tough call NOT to use the rabbit's foot as the bomb bay result was not known.  However,
the damage to bomb bay was superficial).

 

Bombs appeared to be on target, but upon heading for home we were again jumped by four 109's at 12 high, 3 high, 9 high & level. Friendly Fighters drove off the 9 level and the 12 high missed us as we missed all of the enemy on the first wave.  Damage was taken in the starboard wing flap and our pilot, Griffin, received a facial wound (a minor scratch I was suppose to say).  On his 2nd pass, the 3 & 9 fighters switched positions and our new engineer managed to kill the 3 high fighter while the other one missed and moved off.

 

I managed to land the plane fine and so we will again seek another replacement crewman.

 

- 2nd Lt. Johnson, co-pilot, Lucky Penny for 1st Lt. Paul Griffin, Pilot, Lucky Penny


SATIN DOLL, third flight, left wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with superficial flak damage to radio room, waist, and tail sections.  No casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Wheeler and 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Turner.

 

Mission Narrative:

We didn't see any enemy fighters until we neared the coast in Zone 3.  I saw 3 Me-109s stacked up at 12 high, 12 level, and 12 low, then Sgt. Blankenship called out another at 6 low.  The P-38s drilled the ones at 12 level & low, and SSgt. George Turner pasted the 109 at 12 high.  Then Sgt. Blankenship called in that he'd blasted the cockpit out of the one trying to slip up under us from behind.

 

Heading toward the target, we drew a little bit of luck and didn't run into any fighters.  They must've been spooked by the flak.  The first hit peppered the tail, then the waist, that's when Sgt. Hal Jackson found out that his flak helmet was issued for a reason.  If he hadn't been wearing it, that chunk of flak that grazed him would've done more than messed up his haircut!  I knew they had us zeroed in good now, that's when they hit the radio room and the bomb bay.  I just knew that the bombs were hit and waited for them to blow but luckily the bombs didn't detonate.  Even with the extra bouncing around, 2nd Lt. P.J. Morris put 30% on the mark.

 

We were turning off the target and a lone 109 set up a pass from 3 low.  He never even got off a shot, as a P-38 plastered him  all over the sky.

 

Nearing the coast again, an FW-190 tried to take a run at us from 10:30 high but it got drilled by SSgt. Turner's .50s.  The rest of the way home was pretty quiet for us.

 

-1st Lt. J.P. McConnell, Pilot, Satin Doll


ROCK 'EM & SOCK 'EM, third flight, right wingman

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 10%.  Returned with port cheek guns, tail guns, radio, port ailerons out; tail wheel shot off, major fuel leak port wing, rudder damaged, waist area shot up, many small superficial hits throughout the aircraft; flak damage in tail area.

 

Mission Narrative:

We had a clear run out to the bomb run and didn't see many fighters.

 

Over the target before the bomb run we got pounced on by 4 or 5 Fw190s, one of which got walking hits up and down the plane causing minor damage over the entire ship.  We approached closer on the target and that heavy flak and got hit a few times in the tail area, destroying the rear guns and scaring our tail gunner pretty bad.  Missed the target just, just clipped the edge I would say.

 

Banked out to the rally point got jumped by an Me-109 from the rear; our guns were out and we just couldn't fire back.  Nothing we could do, nothing.  He hosed us good, killing Sgt. Espondia and wounding Sgt. Greenstone badly; the kid just got out of hospital but he is going home now for sure.  The guy also gave us a major fuel leak in the port wing; lucky for us its was a short hop mission.

 

After that guy banked off us we it was straight back to base and luckily with all that fuel pouring out too.  Not a good mission for me
and my crew . . . Not good at all.

 

-2nd Lt. Coleridge, Pilot, Rock 'em & Sock 'em


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