MISSION 73 - ZAGREB AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
TULE LAKE SAMURAI III, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with damaged control cables, superficial damage to the nose compartment and port wing, and 1 lightly wounded crewman. Claims: 1 ME-109 by Sgt. Hiromi.
Nearing the coast of Yugoslavia (zone-2) five (5) ME-109s attacked from head-on. Fighter cover chased away one ME-109 coming in from 12 level; another coming in from 12 low was shot down by the ball turret gunner; and two others, both coming in at 12 high, missed plane and didn't return. The last one from 10:30 level hit the plane three times; once each in the nose, pilot compartment and port wing. Damage to the nose was superficially damaged, the hit to the pilot's compartment damaged the control cables but they were still operational and the hit to the port wing caused superficial damage.
The 109 returned at 9 high but the top turret was able to hit the fighter. Smoke was seen coming out of the engine as it missed the bomber and it (the fighter) dove out of the formation.
Just before target (zone-4) we were attacked by two ME-109s. Fighter cover was able to chase away the plane coming in from 3 low and the fighter coming in from 12 high missed the plane and didn't return.
Encountered light flak but sustained one hit to the nose, which resulted in minor damage. Bombardier was still able to keep plane on target and put 30% of bomb load on the target.
On the turn around two fighters attacked the bomber from head-on and both were chased away by fighter cover before they were able to attack the plane.
No further enemy aircraft appeared and we landed at Sterparone Field, Foggia, Italy without incident.
- Capt. Lt. Ken Shimizu, Pilot, Tule Lake Samurai II
TAILS A'DRAGGIN', Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Moved into lead fight when Special K failed to appear. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Erik Falkenhayn.
Take off and form up was SOP. The flight to the target was uneventful and we saw no enemy A/C.
As we approached the IP a gaggle of Me-109s came at us in a nose attack. I saw angry orange flashes streaking by the cockpit but felt no hits. With all of our forward firing guns blazing I was sure some lead would hit home. But only Summerville in the ball turret managed to score a hit and then he only managed to nick one of the 109s. At least our deluge of fire managed to put the Germans off their aim as they all missed us.
While I was focused on the forward attack a couple of FW-190s came at us from the side. Cambridge hosed the starboard side with .50 cal slugs and the Hun turned away without firing. The remaining 190 fired and missed. It was looking pretty good for Tails A’ Draggin’ this day.
Over the target the flak was ineffective and we put our eggs on target. We made our turn for home and kept our fingers crossed. As we took our new heading again the Germans came in on the nose. Falkenhayn in the top turret was the first to report “Fighters 12 o’clock” The lead was flying when he calmly reported, “Scratch one” as a 109 went down in flames. The remaining Germans all missed and were not seen again.
The return flight was as uneventful as the trip in. We landed at base without incident.
- 1st Lt. Harry Flashman, Pilot, Tails A'draggin', 317th Bomb Squadron
316th BS (MIDDLE)
CABALLERO, Lead flight, Left aircraft (Formation Spare)
Bombed target, 30%. Group spare that joined formation over base after 317th aircraft failed to appear during group formation. Returned without damage or casualties.
We took off and began our wait over the base. We didn't have to wait long as Hoover's plane broke off and headed back down. Before we could take his place in the low squadron, the other group spare from the 318th moved in. Well, if they wanted to see combat that much, I wasn't going to argue. Well, that respite didn't last long as three 317th aircraft were missing. I moved into as the left wingman of the group leader Captain Shimizu. And the three 318th planes that would have made up the third flight became the second flight, with one extra crew taking up position as the only aircraft of the "new" third flight.
It was an uneventful flight until the group reached Zagreb. Four Me-109s attacked but they must have been inexperienced as they missed up completely while we damaged two of them.
During the bomb run flak was light and inaccurate and it didn't hinder Lt. Geist's bomb run at all.
After the group reformed at the rally point, the enemy was waiting for us. This time we had a little help from our escorts but 3 Me-109s still managed to attack us head-on. It was over very quickly as they made only one ineffective pass and were soon out of sight.
The inbound trip was as unexciting as our outbound leg; no enemy aircraft attacked the lead flight. Landing at base was also uneventful.
- 1st Lt. John McPherson, Pilot, Caballero, 316th Bomb Squadron
TALLEST CROW, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Aborted during group formation due to loss of supercharger on #3 engine. Returned to base and did not participate on mission.
THE BRAZEN HUSSEY, First flight, Left aircraft
Aborted during taxiing due blown port main landing gear tire. Did not participate on mission.
SPECIAL K, First flight, Right aircraft
Aborted during engine start-up; #1 engine would not turn over. Did not participate on mission.
318th BS (MIDDLE)
JOLLIE ROGER, Second flight, Lead aircraft (Moved up to second flight from third flight, lead aircraft during group forming up)
Bombed target, 95%. Returned to base without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Holmes and 1 Me-109 by Havens.
Overall mission pretty quiet. Encountered no enemy fighters until we reached the target. Even then only one Me-109 got through the groups defensive fire. That Jerry wishes he had stayed in bed today as Sgt. Havens blasted his ride out from under him from the tai.
Lt. Olsen nailed the target, estimating 90-95% of bombs on target, and this with him complaining of the target being almost obscured just before he released the bombs. Great job!!
On the way home we ran into some more fighters just after leaving the target. Sgt. Bauer in the waist saw one of the 82nd's fighter pilots take out a 190 that was looking our way. SSgt. Holmes blasted his eighth Jerry, man that guy is good. Another 190 made a one run at us then disappeared. As far as we can tell we took no damage from him.
Encountered no further fighters the rest of the way home and landing was routine.
Wish all the missions could be like this.
- 1st Lt. Jeff Dodge, Pilot, B-17G Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SHREVEPORT RANGERS, Second flight, Left aircraft (Moved up to second flight from third flight, left aircraft during group forming up)
Bombed target, 50%. Returned to base with damage to the nose compartment oxygen system, superficial damage to the waist compartment and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Mayberry.
The flight mechanics did their jobs well as I found nothing in the pre-flight 'walk-around' checks before I got into the bird. Our first real mission and I was excited. Gord (Gordon McKellick, co-pilot) leaned over to me and simply put his hand on mine as I was reviving the engines . . . and smiled.
We got into the air in a pretty tight formation over Foggia. Our squadron being split-up, but I recognized the Jollie Roger and Tough Times and got-in real tight with them. Spotted our fighter escort off to our port . . . P-38s. Sure hoped that they would keep the Jerries off of us. Hate to not make it thru the first one.
Didn't see any enemy planes as we approached the mountains of Yugo . . . lucky they didn't see us coming in. But that all changed when we got near the target! Before the flak started coming-up, we got hit by 2 FWs, one from 10:30 high and another from 3 level. Man, were the guys whooping when ole Top, SSgt. Mayberry (we called him 'Top'), blasted the high bird right out of the sky while Little Johnny (John Callahan's brother) popped the other plane and drove him off. Had to scold them to stay off the comm.
Flak didn't come near us, but just the same it was pretty un-nerving to see those black puffs forming on our starboard wing . . . Got over the target and let THE ROMAN (John Ricci) take us in for the bomb run . . . and he NAILED it! That's my boy, John! He was one of the best bombardiers at school . . . glad he was in our crew . . . besides being just an all around swell guy.
Coming out of the run, all hell broke loose! We got jumped by 2 waves of FWs! The first wave came in off to our port and were driven off by our comrades, but the 2nd wave really pasted us. There were 4 of them! Were the hell were those P-38s!!! We didn't get a hit on any of them. Only the one from 6 high got some rounds into us . . . They got John. While he didn't feel a thing as that Nazi pretty well shot-up (the) port waist position, I was not looking forward to consoling his brother (the ball gunner - Little Johnny) about the affair. Rellly (Relihan the Navigator) & Roman (Bombardier) got the scare of the lives on this first run by having their O2 blown right out from under them . . . they got more O2, but pretty scary just the same. Man, I'm going miss Callahan, but can't think of that right now . . . need to get the rest of the fellas home . . . safe and sound.
I thought it was all over when Horan yelled into the com that the guy who just got a piece of us was coming back around for another pass at us. Top saw him . . . and waited for the last moment as he came in from 12 level . . . looked pretty damned close to me . . . before ole Top opened-up and got him . . . the bastard peeled off to our starboard, smoking.
We didn't encounter any more enemy fighters in our sector of the box on the way back, but got reports from Jimmy (Tail Gunner) that he saw a bunch hitting our rear formation . . . hope those guys are okay. When we got over the base and started to prep for landing, I gave the helm to Gordy and went back to see how Johnny was holding-up. Wiley was hit when Callahan got it. He said it was only superficial and didn't want me to worry about him . . . just like him . . . and told him to not keep that stuff to himself. Needed to know how everyone was doing . . . he said it wouldn't happen again . . . and went back to trying to make Johnny and his brother more comfortable. Neither my embrace nor my encouraging words failed to stop the tears flowing from his face as he held his brother in his arms. Tonight will not be a good nite . . .
Gordy landed the plane just fine . . . I always felt that he was a better pilot than I, anyways . . . he just didn't want the responsibility. Helluva way to end the first mission.
- 2nd Lt. Richard Wright, Pilot, B-17G Shreveport Rangers, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
TOUGH TIME, Second flight, Right aircraft (Moved up to second flight from third flight, left aircraft during group forming up)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties.
Set off and joined formation as ordered saw no enemy activity near us until over target area where a P-38 took out a 190 heading our way.
No flak damage and bombs (were) on target .
No attacks on way out of target but as we got over the sea we saw a 109 being chased away again by fighter cover .
Landed safe after an uneventful raid.
- 2nd Lt. Hank Roberts, Pilot, B-17G Tough Time, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
IRON LADY, Third flight, Lead aircraft (Moved to third flight from second flight, left aircraft during group forming up)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by 2nd Lt. Franchetti and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Flathery (Flathery's claim later confirmed by S-2).
We took off and formed up with the rest of the boys no problem. We didn't see any trouble until just prior to starting our bombing run when 4 Me-109s got past our escort. One attacked from 10:30 high and although Lt. Gilmore missed him with his port cheek, it drove him into Jack Zimmer's line of fire in the waist and he hosed it good, leaving it trailing away thick black smoke (FBOA-2). The second bandit hit us from 1:30 high but the bombardier and the new boy Flaherty double-teamed it, Lt. Franchetti scaring it and Flaherty exploded it into a smoking ball of flame. The other two hit us but only caused superficial holes in the nose. That just riled Paul Franchetti up cause as they came in for a second go he stitched one good and proper and it dropped like a stone. Steve Endelman said he saw the pilot get out but his parachute burned up and from the ball turret he looked like a roman candle. That seemed to put off the last 109 as he hardly put in a pass worth the name.
We started our bomb run and the flak, although light, jostled us about a bit causing our bombs to go way off target (0%). As we turned for home we were bounced by another three 109s, although on this occasion the cavalry in the form of the 82nd Fighter Group arrived dispatching 2 of them before they could bother us. The last one came screaming down on us in a vertical dive but had obviously misjudged his attack and went past us without getting a shot off. We didn't see him after that.
Just as we crossed the coast heading for home we got jumped again by 3 Me-109s. The ball and port waist gunners scared off the first one from 9 level without actually hitting it. Paul Franchetti and Hank Foster double-teamed on the one from 12 high, Foster chasing it into Franchetti's line of fire and he partly made up for his poor bomb run by dispatching it in double quick time. The third we couldn't get a bead on as it came down on us in a vertical dive but missed us going down through the formation on our port side.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and we landed back on the field without further trouble.
- 1st Lt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady, 318th Bomb Squadron
399th BS (HIGH)
LUCY QUIPMENT, First flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with rafts destroyed, superficial damage to the nose, radio and waist compartments and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by MSgt. Fargo.
Takeoff and assembly went well; no enemy aircraft were encountered until we arrived in the target area. Prior to our bomb run we saw an Fw-190 and he was driven off by one of our escorts. The flak over the target was ineffective and 1st Lt. Phelps dropped 30% of our bombs in the target area.
As we started home a group of Me-109s attacked us with three coming from 12 o'clock. Only one managed to hit us and he shot up the nose, radio room and waist area. Sgt. Newlin suffered a light wound to his left leg. All of our return fire was ineffective except for Sgt. Fargo who managed to hit one of the Jerries and destroyed the aircraft.
The rest of our homeward leg was uneventful.
This was the 50th mission for 1st Lt. Gibson, MSgt. Fargo and SSgt. Burrows.
They have been with me since training an will be missed. The flight
surgeon said Sgt. Newlin should be fit for duty in a few days.
- Major Art DeFilippo, Pilot, Lucy Quipment, 399th Bomb Squadron
GRIN 'N BARE IT, First flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with #1 engine inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Lt. Kearns and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Brooks.
A quiet trip to the target. Over Zagreb a 190 attacked from 10:30; it was shot down by my navigator.
Bomb run was on target. Flak hit and knocked out our #1 engine.
Leaving the target area three waves of fighters attacked. Two fighters were driven off by the escorts but four 109s still attacked in the first wave. One of them was shot down by the tail gunner and another was damaged by the bombardier. Fighters drove off the other bandits in the other waves.
A lone 109 attacked over the Adriatic but it was driven off. No further action occurred on this mission.
- 1st Lt. Ignatious Ellsworth, Pilot, Grin 'N Bare It, 399th Bomb Squadron
EL TORO, First flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with #3 engine inoperable, superficial damage to the waist and tail compartments and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 each by Sgts. Grundermansen, O'Rilley and Washington (Washington's claim was later confirmed by S-2) and 1 Me-109 by Lt. Percell.
El Toro took off and flew to the target zone without problem or being attacked by Jerry.
Over the target, a mix of 109s and 190s hit us, knocking out our no. 3 engine. Sgt. Grundermansen, starboard waist gunner, flamed on of the 190s. One of the Jerries came around again from 9 level and was blasted by ball turret gunner, Sgt. Washington.
Bombardier Lt. Boston, on his first mission, brought us in on target and laid at least 40% of our bombs on the marshalling yards.
We turned for Italy and were met by a bunch more Jerry fighters, several of whom were chased away by our little friends. Lt. Percell, navigator, firing his cheek gun, shot down an attacking 109. Jerry put some more holes in us, and got two of our crew; Sgt. Wyatt, our tail gunner, was killed (head), and Jerry bullets tore a big hole outta S. Waist gunner Sgt. Grundermansen's right arm. Sgt. O'Brian quickly applied a tourniquet to stem the bleeding, but I doubt Sgt. Grundermansen will be able to fly with us again. Sgt O'Rilley reported that nothing could be done for Sgt. Wyatt, he was killed instantly.
Jerry seemed to zero in on us; as we cleared the coast of Yugoslavia, four 190's came at us. Radio operator Sgt. O'Rilley nailed one with his gun, Jerry fired at us but failed to hit. The remaining three 190's flew away and we did not see any more of Jerry.
Note: Lt. Boston, apparently not content with blasting Jerry with our bombs, proceeded to damage two 109's and an Fw-190 that were coming at us head-on.
- 1st Lt. Fernando Del Madrid, Pilot, El Toro, 399th Bomb Squadron
LAURALEE II, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with navigator's equipment destroyed, superficial damage to the nose and waist compartments, and 2 casualties. Claims 1 Fw-190 by 1st Lt. Pipes.
A quiet ride until we got to target. Four Me-109s attacked us from the front, shooting us up pretty good in one firing pass. They got Andy--killed instantly--and nicked Chuck up in the nose. Flak thankfully was light, and Pipes laid our eggs on the target.
As we egresses the target area, a lone 190 came at us from 10:30 high and nearly got Chuck a second time. It did shoot out his equipment though--he was sore about that. The Kraut lined up on us again, from the same angle, but a little lower. T his time Pipes got him with the chin turret; we observed him falling away in flames. Then four more 109s hit us, three stacked up right on the nose while one came at us from behind. None managed to hit us, and we must have hit two of them hard, for they appeared to be trailing smoke as they broke off.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, and we made it back safely to base.
- 2nd Lt. Shaun Hill, Pilot, Lauralee II, 399th Bomb Squadron
SECRET VICTORY, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Bombed target and dropped out-of-formation (zone-3 inbound) with tail section heating system inoperable, superficial damage the fuselage (4) and port wing (2) and no casualties. Claims 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Trumbull and 1 Me-109 shared by SSgt. J. Lipps and Sgt. B. Lipps.
The virgin crew of Secret Victory is able to report that they have flown their first mission and after getting over the fact that we are in Italy and not England are able to provide the following report of our flight to Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
Had heard of it in training but never experienced it till our first run it with an Fw-190 that did a vertical dive us on taking us by complete surprise and lucky for us he must have been new as well as he missed us to.
Prior to entering the target (zone-4) the tail and top turret gunners ganged up on an Me-109 to shot it out of the sky before he could make a run in on us.
Was able to follow the lead plane and make a good run on the target; our Bombardier claimed we got about 40% of our bombs on target during the bomb run. Bombardier not only dropped his bombs on the target but was able to claim a kill on an Me-109 making a run on him. During this attack coming out of the bomb run our tail gunner lost hit to his suit.
Over Yugoslavia (zone-3) we still kept up with the formation.
Over the Adriatic (zone-2), we had to drop out-of-formation or risk losing our tail gunner to frostbite and that was when we got jumped by 3 aircraft in 3 waves that seemed to go on forever.
We managed to damage one of the Fw-190 and even though the sky was heavy with lead flying in both directions that seemed to be the only big damage done.
Approached the airfield and got the wheels down with no problems and even though I had felt the plane buck in my hands a few times and the Engineer thinks our port wing took a few hits as well got down to earth with the plane more or less intact but not looking as new as it was a few hours ago and me and my guys are no longer virgins in this conflict and look forward or our plane bringing victory to this theater.
- 2nd Lt. Earl Schultz, Pilot, Secret Victory, 399th Bomb Squadron
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with auto-pilot and port aileron inoperable, superficial damage to the waist section and 2 casualties. Claims 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Westell.
Happy to report that we had relatively smooth sailing on this mission. We encountered four 190s on the way out (zone-3), and they shot up our port wing, knocking out the aileron and injuring Sgt. Vetter in the ball turret. There was a lot of lead flying over the drop zone, but everyone missed, except for Lt. Westell who managed to put 30% of the bombs on target.
We got jumped again on the way back (zone-3), and Sgt. Kramer got hit and our auto-pilot was knocked out, but overall it was a fairly easy mission.
- 2nd Lt. Joe McCarty, Pilot, Mawimazo, 399th Bomb Squadron
SNAFU II, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned without damage or casualties.
Take off and form up went without incident.
Mission was quiet for our part. We saw a few inbound fighters, a few buzzed past, but none came after us, and none really got close enough to shoot at. We dropped our bombs and got about 50% of them on target.
The trip back was the same as the way out, quiet and uneventful.
Landing was uneventful and aircraft is ready to go.
- 1st Lt. Benjamin Bailer, Pilot, SNAFU II, 399th Bomb Squadron
318th BS (HIGH)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with superficial damage (75 damage pts.) to the bomb bay and nose compartment and 1 casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Durst.
Take off and form-up went off without a hitch. The flight to the target was smooth sailing. We did see our little buddies busy up there and was glad they kept those bandits off our tail.
One 190 came at us just before I turned the plane over to Robins. Durst (filing in for Miles) sent that 190 spinning away without it’s port wing. 'Good shooting'. We were bumped around a bit during our bombing run but we kept it together enough to hit the target. As we turned toward heading home three 190s broke thru the fighter screen and we had our hands full.
The three 190s came at us high and from all around the clock. One of the 190s made a single pass and left. Luckily for us no damage. The second one made two passes and left us with nothing but superficial damage. Now number three was a major pain. He really peppered us with holes and according to Robins we were very luck our load had already been dropped or we might have lit up the sky. When all the excitement was over and this had finished his third pass and headed home we were left with a few more holes and Brame had been hit by some flying pieces of equipment as one shell passed right thru his section and missed him by inches. I suspect he will be fine and it looks like only a few stitches and back in the saddle for him.
Approach and landing went off perfectly and now it’s to buy a few for Sgt. Durst.
- 1st Lt. Carter Ficklen, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, 318th Bomb Squadron
AUSTIN NIGHTS, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with radio damaged and several superficial hits and no casualties.
Outbound over the Adriatic Sea (zone-2), a single 109 appeared and knocked out the radio before breaking off his attack.
Ran into 3 more 109s over the target area but we were lucky and made it through without any serious damage. Flak over the target was light and we didn’t receive any damage. The bomb run was on target with 30% in the target area.
We ran into 3 more 109s--two were damaged and the other broke off his attack. Both Sgts. Sales and Valverde damaged the 109s.
The landing back at base was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Gary Hertel, Pilot, Austin Nights, 318th Bomb Squadron
316th BS (LOW)
GINGER SNAP, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Left formation homebound (zone-3) and returned with rafts destroyed, intercom system, bomb release controls and waist compartment heating system inoperable, damaged to the control cables, tail plane root, and superficial damage to bomb bay, nose, pilot, radio, waist and tail compartments, and starboard wing and 1 light casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 each by SSgt. Sikorsky and Sgt. Arledge.
Leading the low squadron, we were attacked by fighters over the Adriatic Sea and had to fight all the way to the target. The P-38 escort seemed practically non-existent.
Over the target, damage from persistent fighter attacks knocked out the bomb release mechanism, forcing Lt. McClain to release the bombs manually. And as a result our bomb load missed the target.
Even more fighters hit us as we turned away from the target. The intercom was shot out and one of the waist gunners lost his suit heating element due to battle damage, so once over the Adriatic we left formation and descended to 10,000 feet for the remainder of the flight.
Just before reaching the Italian peninsula we were jumped by 2 enemy fighters. During this fight, Sgt. Arledge was wounded. After landing the surgeon informed me that Sgt. Arledge’s wounds would required that he be kept in the infirmary for a few days.
- Capt. Harold Snakenburg, Pilot, Ginger Snap, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
ASH CAN, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #3 engine, port flaps, tail turret destroyed, superficial holes in the fuselage, nose, waist and tail compartments, and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Weltsch and 1 Me-109 shared by SSgt. Henriques
Take off and trip over water uneventful. Hitting land though saw four Me-109s hit us. Lightnings lit up two, but 2 chopped us up. One after his head-on pulled a split-s and re-attacked then an Immelmann and a wing over for a 3rd pass! The bombardier took a light wound to face, tail guns destroyed and fuselage look like termites got inside. Navigator damaged a 109. P-38s finally drove off the last fighters.
Once over the target 3 Me-109s hit us as well as a 190 in a vertical dive. The chin and top guns tore up a 109, it exploded. I think top got the critical hit, quite a show head-on.
Flak opened up and we got hit on both wings: losing engine #3, which I feathered and port flap. Our bombs missed completely.
After turn around 3 Me-109s followed by 3 Fw-190s plastered us good. The navigator got a great kill on a Fw-190 putting M-2 ball into cockpit which windshield then spattered red, think his head exploded like a pumpkin. Tail gunner was lightly wounded in foot only damage received along with more bullet holes, but they kept missing critical parts!
Just before the coast 4 FWs hit us, and seriously wound the Starboard waist gunner and put yet more holes in the plane.
Landed without incident. Fired flares and was met by ambulance which took off three wounded.
- 1st Lt. Steve Cable, Pilot, ASH CAN, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned to base with the radio destroyed, starboard flaps inoperable, superficial damage to the starboard wing, fuselage, nose, bomb bay, pilots' compartments, radio room and 2 casualties (57 Damage points per Peckham's damage chart). Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Burmeister (Fw-190 claim later confirmed by S-2), 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Ohm, 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Flynn, 1 Me-109 shared by 2nd Lt. Flynn and Sgt. Piano.
We were airborne by 1017 hours with a load of 3500 gallons of gasoline, 5000 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 1035 hours.
Again when we crossed into Yugoslavia, around Zara, a flight of Me-109s lined up for an attack. All I could think of was not again but that 318th crew that took Hoover's place during group formation drove off the three Jerries. Though we were warmly greeted as we made the IP. Again Me-109s came up to engage our group, about 25 enemy fighters. Of this number four targeted our ship. There were no P-38s in our section so we didn't benefit from their cover. Yet our own gunners were spot on. Burmeister took one down after the Krauts run on us and Ohm and Piano took a second down as he made his second attack. Even so we took hits from three of the four Germans concentrating on the Harlot's front section, starboard wing and center section. Hogue and Zurn both took wounds, Hogue was hit hard in the left upper arm. Doc says he will be going home. We had a scary moment as the Me-109 from 12 o'clock high concentrated its shot in the bomb bay. Randy screamed out as he watched the Krauts rounds walk through the fuselage behind his position. It was a few minutes before we heard anything from him.
Flak over the target was light but at times accurate. We took three hits from a single burst that explodes behind the starboard wing. Fragments of shell taking out our starboard flap and putting holes in the wing and radio room. This hit jostled the Harlot violently enough to interfere with Conrad's aim and we didn't place anything in the target zone.
As we were forming back up for the trip home we were attacked by a pursuing group of Fw-190s. Two German fighters picked our ship out as their prey. Again Burmeister was on and destroyed the fighter from six o'clock. Ohm also severely damaged claiming a probable on the second fighter.
As we approached the Yugoslavian coast we were attacked again by Fw-190s. This time Flynn shot down one fighter and the other made a halfhearted shot and broke off. There was one Me-109 over the Adriatic that holed out starboard wing just prior to Ohm and Flynn sawing his aircraft in half, literally. That was the last enemy activity we experienced this trip.
Our gunners shot down 5 enemy aircraft and damaged a further 1 aircraft.
- 2nd Lt. Lieutenant Gary Tines, Pilot, Vengeful Harlot, 316th BS/88th Bomb Group (H)
OLD YARD DOG, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Formation abort due to top turret malfunction. Returned to base and did not participate in mission.
318th BS (LOW)
LOADED DICE, Second Flight, Lead aircraft (Formation Spare)
Bombed target, 0%. Group spare that joined formation over base after Old Yard Dog aborted during group formation. Returned with the port and starboard ailerons inoperable, bomb release controls damaged, damage to port inboard fuel tank and starboard inboard fuel tank, structural damage to tail root, port elevator inoperable, 2 holes in the rudder, superficial damage to the radio and waist compartments, and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Lt. Colin and 1 Fw-190 shared by SSgt. Lapointe and TSgt. Bohannon.
Originally slotted as group spare for today's mission but the 316th had a plane abort so command ordered us to fill the slot. We took up the position as Second flight lead in the low squadron. My wingman were a little loose on formation, probably due to not knowing my abilities as a lead pilot. I don't blame them. Heck this was my first time in the left seat, I wasn't overly confident myself.
The group headed northeast over the Adriatic and into Yugoslavia. Our squadron formation seemed to draw the attention of the enemy and the planes in the lead flight seemed to be hit pretty hard. We didn't have any attack runs made on us until we reached the target zone. No less than three waves of enemy fighters, all Focke-Wulf 190s, made their runs on us before we hit the run in point and the flak defenses. Compared to the fighter response, the flak defenses seem to concentrate around the lead flight and no bursts appeared near to us. Lt. Greiner reported bombs away and we turned with the group to the rally point. Sgt. Placencia in the ball torrent reported that the bomb run was a bust. He thinks we completely missed the target.
Enemy fighters were waiting for us at the rally point. Again three waves made direct runs on us, this time they were Messerschmitt 109s. Crew reports that the P-38s in support drove off some of the enemy but enough got through to make runs on us. Fighter attacks continued until we left Yugoslavia.
Crew reported in damage and casualties. Sgt. Bohannon reported being slightly injured when enemy fire passed through the radio compartment and sent some sheet metal flying at his face. Sgt. Wicker reported in that Sgt. Brooks had been hit pretty bad in the abdomen and was losing a lot of blood. Sgt. Lapointe reported that the port wing was pretty chewed up and the starboard wing had some damage. I was having trouble keeping the plane trim at this point, so I suspected the ailerons were damaged. Lt. Jansen reported that fuel pressure in the inboard port tank was dropping slightly but shouldn't be a concern. Lt. Greiner reports the bomb control linkage was damaged during the battle with the ME109s. All other positions reported no damage and no casualties.
Sgt. Lapointe reported that he believed he got one FW and damaged another. Sgt. Bohannon reported a kill on an FW. Lt. Colin also reported a kill on an Me-109 as we were rallying up.
I thought the worst was behind us, but once we cleared Yugoslavia we encountered another band of bandits. These were Fw-190s again. They only made one pass at us, maybe due to fuel shortages. Lt. Greiner reported more damage to the bomb control linkage but also noted that our crew chief won't be the only one making repairs late tonight, that some German mechanic will be working on that FW because, “I shot him up pretty good!”. After the engagement our squadron leader, Capt. Snakenburg, reported he had lost some compartment heat and was dropping down and out from the formation. Hopefully he got some escort and made it back okay.
Later over the water, we got one more pass from some Fw-190s. Escorts picked up most of them, but still two planes made direct runs on us. But their fire was ineffective and they dove for the deck after making their pass. Lt. Greiner got on the comm again and proudly stated, “That German mechanic is gonna have at least two birds to work on tonight. I think I got a piece of his fuselage that time!”. Sgt. Withrow gave the boys a chuckle when he quipped over the intercom, “Gee Lieutenant, think ya can give me lessons back here, I can't seem to hit the broadside of a barn!”
The rest of the ride home was uneventful, on approach I had Lt. Jansen fire a red flare to alert the medics that we had wounded on board. The landing was a bit bouncy probably due to wing and tail damage as noted by the crew when we deplaned. Sgt. Bohannon was checked out, cleared and released, but told us that Sgt. Brooks had died from his wounds. After an inspection our crew chief MSgt. Brown believes LOADED DICE will be operational for the next mission.
- 2nd Lt. Randy Martinson, Co-Pilot, Loaded Dice, 318th Bomb Squadron/88th Bomb Group (H)
316th BS (LOW)
SATIN DOLL, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties.
The Zagreb mission turned out to be a real milk run for Satin Doll. While everybody else was being pummeled by E/A, none got close to us until just before the IP. Three FW-190s formed up ahead and to our 3 o'clock positions. As they started their runs, they were met with a hail of .50 cal & 20mm rounds from the P-38s. A pair of Me-109s got through the escort and came at us from 10:30 level and 12 level. Fortunately, their shooting was no better than ours, and they broke off after one quick ineffective pass.
Flak over the target was light and Lt. Douglas was able to put 40% of the load into the main switching ladder of the marshalling yards, destroying a good amount of rolling stock.
Rallying off target, Lady Luck smiled on the Doll again. The enemy formations appeared disorganized as they made a few uncoordinated passes at the formation. It was as though they had no communications with each other.
Halfway home, a lone Me-109 dove on us from 12 high, only to be flamed by one of the Lightnings.
The rest of our flight was uneventful, and we landed with no damage/no casualties.
- 1st Lt. William M. Patrick, Pilot, B-17F 42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron/88th Bomb Group (H)
BALTIMORE QUEEN, Second flight, Left aircraft (TAIL-END CHARLIE)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with #2 engine, auto-pilot, bomb controls, tail turret inoperable, bomb sight, radio and rafts destroyed, damage to the windshield, structural damage to starboard wing root, port wing fuel tank holed (self-sealed), numerous superficial damage throughout the aircraft and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. McCulloch, and 1 Me-109 by Lt. Sweeney.
Despite all the rumors going round that it was going to be Ploesti we ended up going to the marshalling yards at Zagreb. This was quite a relief as this was a short hop by comparison and we had drawn purple heart corner for this mission. Take off and forming up was a breeze as there was no one wanting to take up our position in the formation. We climbed to operational height tested our guns and headed for the target.
Someone must have posted our mission to the Luftwaffe as we had no sooner got over the Adriatic when we got jumped. The P38s were some where with the lead bombers there was nothing near us except for four Fw-190s and an Me-109. The whole ship shook as all guns except the cheek guns opened up. All the gunners were yelling at the same time for me to jink as the fighters were coming in. It sounded like we got the 109. One FW flashed so close over the top of us I thought he was going to ram. I saw holes appearing in the port wing, and there were bangs and thuds coming from both ahead and behind me as cannon shells ripped into the Queen. Two of the FWs came round again one dead ahead and one trying a tail attack. The one in the rear didn’t make it and the one ahead fired missed and broke away. A quick sit rep showed that apart from a lot of holes in both wings and the fuselage the only casualty was the radio and Watty’s nerves. For that Phil was sure that he got both an FW and an Me-109 as they both attempted stern attacks. This discussion was interrupted by another set of fighters coming at us. However by the time they got to us after diving through the formation they were more interested in getting home then attacking us.
By now we had got to the target vicinity and were set upon by another gaggle of fighters. Once again the P-38s were up front looking after the lead bombers. Phil managed to chew up the 109 coming in high behind enough to get him to break away the other four FWs just kept on coming. Two we know missed. The head-on attack knocked out the tail guns and the attack from the port side stitched a line of hits from nose to tail. How badly we were hit was unclear as these two came in again before we could work it out. This time they both came in head on in a diving attack. Both missed but Phil got a piece of one of them. We were still working out what was happening as we started our bomb run. By comparison it was almost a relief to be in the flak which was light and inaccurate and allowed us to put our bombs on target. As we came away from the target the enemy fighters were lining up to say goodbye.
The good news was that Bob spotted a bunch of Me-110s heading our way. Bob’s skill is in navigating – give him a map and a compass and he’ll get you where you want to go – aircraft recognition is not his strength. The 110s turned out to be P-38s a few seconds later. They jumped into the midst of a group of 109s that were waiting for us. Three 109s got through, one fell to Sweeney’s chin guns, Phil chased off the 109 coming up behind. The one coming in level on the port side took out our number two engine before disappearing with a P38 on it’s tail. We managed to feather the prop just before the next wave of fighters hit. This time it was another bunch of Me-109s; worse still, our friendly "110s" were chasing other 109s and we got no cover. As they bore in Phil got another 109 but the other four got through unscathed. Two hit us putting another set of holes in the fuselage and blowing away the Norden. They came round again in classic head on attacks. Bob managed to wing one with the cheek guns which caused it to miss and Phil chewed up another 109 so that it broke away rather then attack. A third wave tried to attack us but gave up when it had only got half way discouraged by the amount of lead been thrown at them by the rest of the formation.
As we left the coast the enemy fighters continued to pursue us the Focke-Wulfs were back. They picked their time well all our P38s were AWOL and without a radio we could not call for help. We got hit from all angles by a group of four and one Me-109. Sweeney ripped the engine cowling off one of head on attacks causing him to shear off. Phil damaged another coming in from behind. One of the FWs got a hit which splattered the windshield and the 109 ripped a hole over the outboard tank in the port wing but did not appear to do any other damage he also hit the auto pilot mechanism in the tail. They came around again for a head on attack somehow managing to dodge all of the fire we put up. The FW missed and broke away to port. The 109 took another chunk out of the port wing before coming back for one last try head-on. Once again he led a charmed life and everybody missed him. But he did not miss us putting a shell into the nose blowing away what was left of the Norden and shattering the bomb controls. As we were pulling ourselves together as another 190 and 109 turned up and attacked us. By this time our gunners must have been getting tired as none of our fire came close. The Focke-Wulf was not interested or short of ammo as he gave us a short burst and heady away. The Me-109 took his time and put a long burst into us. Hitting the tail, and radio room multiple times. He made sure of both the radio and tail guns but did nothing else except add more holes in the fuselage. As there were no P38s around he came around again for a head-on attack. Sweeney had managed to get himself back onto the chin turret and managed to put some hits into this 109 which broke away smoking.
As the Italian coast turned up the enemy gave up and we came down exhausted by our short hop but happy to have survived. Phil’s gunnery had been outstanding claiming three kills, three probables and one possible. We were very lucky it could have been a lot worse. On examining the Queen after we had landed we found the bomb bay a lattice work of metal the rubber rafts had been shredded the starboard wing had a chunk bitten out of its root and the plane was peppered with holes from wing tip to wing tip and from nose to tail.
- 1st Lt. Gary Sanderson, Pilot, Baltimore Queen, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
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