MISSION 77 - BELGRADE AARs
317th BS (LEAD)
THE BRAZEN HUSSEY, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with auto-pilot inoperable, superficial damage to the port wing (2 hits), to the nose and tail compartments and 1 casualty.
Colonel Lamb was along in the right hand seat to lead this mission to Belgrade. We would be the only group going to Belgrade today, with the four other groups in Russia. Group formation went well and we headed out for Belgrade.
There was no enemy fighter attacks while we crossed the Adriatic but once we crossed into Yugoslavia, between Split and Dubrovnik, a formation of Me-109s and Fw-109s appeared. Three fighters made a head-on attack on us and our port wing took a 20 mm shell hit; luckily, the hit looked superficial. After that one pass, they were gone as our P-38 little friends chased them away.
Enemy fighters left us alone and concentrated on the other squadrons and they soon left the area as we reached the flak area. Flak was light but accurate as we took some flak damage to the port wing, the nose compartment and in the tail section. I heard on the intercom from Lt. Whitstock that Lt. Norris was hit by flak shrapnel and was bleeding badly. I was ordered to the nose to administer first-aid. After I made my way to the nose, I patched up Lt. Norris as best as I could and gave him a shot of morpheme for the pain. I heard Lt. Whitstock talking to himself that the auto-pilot wasn’t working and he had to drop manually. After bombs away and after hearing him swear, I knew that he missed the target.
There was nothing more I could do for Lt. Norris and Lt. Whitstock said he'd watch over him, so I returned to the radio room. As the group made its withdrawal from Belgrade, another group of enemy Me-109s were waiting for us. The P-38s kept most of them away but a pair of Me-109s attacked us head-on. Lt. Whitstock damaged one while the enemy completely missed us and they were gone after one pass.
Enemy activity decreased as we made our way home and we had no further attacks. Halfway across the Adriatic, I heard on the radio that American, British and Canadian forces had crossed the Channel and landed somewhere called Normandy in northwestern France. I informed the Colonel and he had me let everyone on the Hussey listen to the news reports about D-day and the starting of the second front. So it finally happened.
Normally as the lead plane, we would wait while the other planes landed first with their own wounded. But with Lt. Norris seriously wounded, the Hussey was the first to land. Even before we reach the hardstand, an ambulance took Lt. Norris to the infirmary. Doc MacDonald said he'd recovery but he had a 'million-dollar wound' and would be going stateside.
After a quick debriefing, everyone was found near radios listening for reports on how well the invasion was going. I found a place in the squadron operations room along with rest of the Hussey crew hearing about the early morning landings by American and British airborne divisions and the massive naval bombardment that preceded the landings. Everyone in the room gave a loud cheer when we heard on how the allies air forces had achieved complete air superiority over Normandy. After that reports on how well the landings went were very sparse. As the reports kept repeating the same things over and over again at regular intervals, I give up and went to chow.
- TSgt. Ray Morehart, Radio Operator, The Brazen Hussey, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
TAILS A'DRAGGIN', Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned without damage or casualties.
We took off and formed up with the group with out incident. The flight to the target was smooth as silk – Except for clearing their guns the gunners didn’t fire their guns for the entire trip.
Over the target our little friends kept the Hun at bay and the flak was light and ineffectual. We dropped our bombs and made the turn for home.
The return trip was uneventful as the way in. We landed without incident. After Ploesti I’d call this a milk run.
- 1st Lt. Harry Flashman, Pilot, Tails A'draggin', 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SECRET VICTORY, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with minor superficial damage (1 hit) and no casualties.
Secret Victory and crew took to the air in what was a really beautiful flight. We weren’t the lead plane but it seemed as if we where in front of almost everyone as I didn’t see anything out of my front windows the whole flight but our little friends and the bad guys and some flak. I am not sure if I have a bombardier or a gunner on board but hopefully we can make up for it in our next mission. Seems like as we get near the bomb run we are either hit by flak or enemy planes come from the 12’ o’clock position. ’Till next time, nothing really important to report.
- 2nd Lt. Earl Schultz, Pilot, Secret Victory, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SPECIAL K, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Greenwalt.
The ride in was a cake walk - they must not have known we were coming! Some 109s got close as we approached the target, but the escorts chased them away before we even broke a sweat. Have the crew chief check out that bomb sight - two poor drops in a row in good weather with relatively undefended targets!
The bombs must have woken up the air crews on the ground because as we were
regrouping after our turn toward base we got jumped by two waves. The
first wave was 109s again and the escorts had no trouble keeping them away.
The second wave was a trio of 190s and the one at 3 o’clock level didn’t get picked up by the escort screen. We had his number though -
both SSgt Greenawalt in the top turret and Sgt. Richter in the ball turret called out hits - they’ll have to settle out bragging rights between themselves, but the 190 went down in a ball of flame before its tracers even got close.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed without incident.
- 1st Lt. Alison Seth, Pilot, Special K, 317th Bomb Squadron
GO FOR BROKE, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with auto-pilot inoperable and minor damage to the bomb bay compartment and no casualties.
CHECKPOINT 4 (zone-4) - Encountered two (2) ME-109s coming in high from head-on; both were driven off by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group before they were able to attack the bomber formation.
Approaching Target Zone (zone-5) - Encountered TWO (2) wave of fighters. The first consisting of two (2) ME-109s but fighters from the 1st Fighter Group were able to drive off both fighters before they were able to attack the bomb formation. The second wave of fighters consisted of two (2) ME-09s coming in from head-on. Fighters from the 1st Fighter Group were able to drive away the fighter coming in from 1:30 high. The one coming in from 12 high was hit by both the chin and top turrets causing major damage to the fighter. The ME-109 was still able to hit the plane twice (2), once in the bomb bay and once in the tail: the shots to the bomb bay area caused superficial damage but the shots to the tail damaged the autopilot making it inoperable. The fighter didn’t press it's attack and was seen leaving the formation.
OVER TARGET (zone-5) - We encountered light flak which didn't hit the plane. Because of the damage to the autopilot, Lt. Yamamoto wasn't able to get a lock on the target and wasn't able to put any of the bombs on railroad yards.
Leaving Target Zone (zone-5) - On the turnaround we encountered TWO (2) waves of fighters. The first wave consisted of at least two (2) ME-109s coming to the formation but was driven off by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group before they were able to attack the bomb formation. The second wave consisted of at least two (2) ME-109s coming in from 12 high, but they were driven off by machine gun fire from the bomb formation before they were able to press there attack.
Able to reach base without any more attack and safely land.
- 2nd Lt. Roy Hayashi, Pilot, Go for Broke, 317th Bomb Squadron
PROWLING PANTHER, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with structural damage to the port wing root (1 hit), superficial damage to the starboard aileron (1 hit), to the fuselage (2 hits), to the pilot and waist compartments (43 Damage points per Peckham’s damage chart) and 4 casualties.
For our second mission together we were feeling pretty good. The first one was a milk run that had really given us a good boost of confidence and allowed us to get over (we thought) our unspoken fear of combat.
The squadron formed up nicely and we pointed the nose towards Belgrade. The weather seemed great and there appeared to be a good number of our fighter buddies hanging around. We made landfall without incident but eventually some bad guys showed up. Well . . . at least we heard on the radio they were around. Through all the chatter we figured all the bandits had been taken care of since we never saw one. We were feeling good. I had to tell the guys to knock off the chit-chat and concentrate on the mission.
As we entered the target area . . . seemingly all heck broke loose as four 190s started buzzing all around the place. The P-38s got three of them . . . but a fourth seemed intent on making us his personal target. The bantering about on the intercom was quickly replaced by the sounds of guns firing . . . and what confidence we had was shattered. Reality hit us hard. Although our tail gunner Gary was screaming he had hit that 190 boring in on us . . . he says he saw pieces coming off . . . that pilot just kept coming with cannons blazing.
Next thing I know I'm bleeding with a wound to my shoulder . . . I look over at Paul and he’s bleeding. I’ve never felt so scared in all my life. But it seemed both of us were able to keep flying . . . and training kicked in and I called for a station check. Everybody seemed shaken . . . but Don the starboard gunner was yelling he was hit and that he thinks Art the port gunner was dead. I was able to calm him down since we were now on the bomb run and all I could do was sit there and wait it out. But my insides were a shambles . . . man . . . Art dead? I knew his wife . . .
Suddenly we saw some black puffs and realized it was some flak . . . but nothing came close and the bombs were dropped and we turned for home.
Along the way we encountered a couple more enemy fighters . . . one got through
and put a few holes in the aircraft . . . but nothing too serious. We finally
arrived over base and made a good landing. As soon as the plane was
stopped the medical crew took Art out on a stretcher . . . and it was then I
realized he was not dead . . . but was in bad shape. They also took the
three of us who were hit to the infirmary. On the ride there . . . I just
knew that I was not alone in thinking that our confidence after the first
mission would have to be restored in order to become an effective combat
aircraft. I hoped I had what it took to command this group of men who were
counting on me. But the fear was back . . . and I wondered if all the veterans
felt that way every time they went wheels up.
- 2nd James White, Pilot, Prowling Panther, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
318th BS (MIDDLE)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard wing fuel tank holed (self-sealed) and no casualties.
These were a great change of pace. Saw on one bandit on the way home from the last mission and took some hits in the starboard fuel tank hit, which sealed itself.
- 1st Lt. Carter Ficklen, Pilot, Zebra's Revenge, 318th Bomb Squadron
AUSTIN NIGHTS, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned without damage or casualties.
This mission was a milk run for the crew of Austin Nights. We did have a 109 come in on us on the way to the target (zone-5), but was driven off by the fighter coverage.
Flak around the target was light and we did not take any flak hits. The bomb run was on target with 20% in the target area.
We were attacked on
the way bake to base (zone-3) by a 110 which missed on his attack.
Landing at base was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Gary Hertel, Pilot, Austin Nights, 318th Bomb Squadron
ACES & EIGHTS, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. O’Conner.
Took off at 0600, we were assigned as part of a three plane element from the 318th to the Lead squadron (317th) today. After takeoff our planes meet up with the elements of the 317th and took our assigned position as the third flight. After the group had formed up Colonel Lamb led us up to 21,000 feet and to our first check point at San Marcos. From there we headed out over the Adriatic.
Things we quiet until we got close to the Yugoslavian coastline then the crew began reporting multiple bandit contacts. Scores of enemy fighters made passes at the squadron but were driven off by the other planes. As we crossed the coastline another grouping of fighters jumped the squadron. Fortunately the escorts were on top of it and bounced most of the enemy aircraft. One lone Fw-190 made a direct pass on us from 12 o’clock high, but Smalley laid down some accurate fire from the chin turret and threw off the Jerry's aim. Guess he had enough with us as Sgt. Geers in the tail gave him a parting burst. Geers reported that the pilot flipped over and dove for the low squadron.
O’Conner reported that the squadron was nearing the run in point when more calls of bandits began coming over the intercom. The escorts did their best but this time three Fw-190s got through. Again Smalley with that chin turret took care of a bandit at 12 o’clock high, plastering the 190 with good ole 50 caliber. Olenik and Packer in the waist reported that the 190s coming in from 3 o’clock low and 9 o’clock broke off their attacks when they saw the amount of tracers coming from our plane.
O’Conner reported that we were at the run-in point and I turned the plane over to Smalley. Flak was light as we ran in, Smalley reported "Bombs Away" and I took back control of the plane and began my banking with the rest of the squadron to the rally point. Remnants of the earlier enemy attack made a few passes at the group as we formed up, but the other planes in the squadron took care of any threats. Ballard in the ball turret is reporting a decent pattern. Looks like we put 30% on target.
As we traveled southwest across Yugoslavia the Jerries were waiting again for us. This time it was a pack of Me-109s that hit us. Fighter escorts bounced a few away, but two 109s took a personal interest in ole Aces and Eights. One came in from 12 o’clock high that seemed to be coming right at me. Fortunately Smalley in the nose and Dodge in the top turret caused that bandit to jinx and swerve a bit throwing off his aim. During this engagement O’Conner is claiming a kill in a 109 while firing from the starboard cheek.
The rest of the flight home was uneventful. None of the men reported bandit contacts, perhaps the presence of the escorts kept the bad guys at bay while we made our return.
- 2nd Lt. James Deed, Pilot, Aces & Eights, 318th Bomb Squadron
399th BS (HIGH)
LUCY QUIPMENT, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%.
Returned with tail turret
inoperable, damage to the rudder and no
casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Newlin (claim was later confirmed by S-2).
The mission was uneventful until we reached the IP, then two groups of came at us. Our escorts intercepted the fighters and drove them off.
Over the target we were hit twice by flak hitting the tail section and knocking out the tail guns. Lt. Phelps missed the target due to the hit on the ship.
After departing the target we came under attack one again, Lt. Phelps shot up an Fw-190 coming in from 12 o'clock and Sgt Newlin shot down a Me-109 coming in from 3 o’clock.
The remainder of the flight home went without any other problems.
- Major Art DeFilippo, Pilot, B-17G Lucy Quipment, 399th Bomb Squadron
GRIN 'N BARE IT, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%.
Returned without damage or
We were 50 miles from Belgrade three 109s attacked. One was driven off and the other two fired, missed and disappeared.
No more action on this mission.
- 1st Lt. Ignatious Ellsworth, Pilot, B-17G Grin 'N Bare It, 399th Bomb Squadron
EL TORO, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%.
reaching target (zone-5 outbound) after losing oxygen system.
Returned alone with rafts destroyed, cockpit windows shattered, Engine #3, nose
compartment heating system, top turret oxygen system, port wing flaps, starboard
waist MG, radio and rudder all inoperable, damage to oxygen supply system,
structural damage to both port and starboard wings and tail plane roots and 6
casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by 2nd Lt. Boston by SSgt. Boudin and
1 Me-109s apiece by Sgts. Bruce & Washington.
We were hit hard as we neared the coast of Yugoslavia. Fw-190s seemed to take a particular interest in us, putting numerous cannon and machine gun bullet holes into us and killing Navigator 2nd Lt. Percell. We lost heat in the nose compartment, so we dropped to 10,000 elevation to try to ensure bombardier 2nd Lt. Boston could bring us in on target (Lt. Boston is to be commended for his work on this mission. He shot down one Fw-190 and damaged several enemy fighters with his nose mg, and even with the remains of Lt. Percell’s face all over the nose compartment, brought us in on target and bombed our designated target).
Over Belgrade, we were hit again by enemy fighters. Sgt. O’Brien, port waist gunner, had his left foot blown off by a 20mm shell from a 190. We were not hit by any flak, but with heat out in the nose compartment and no oxygen for SSgt. Boudin in the top turret, we flew home at 10,000. We made it, but El Toro is full of holes and has numerous repairs to be made.
I heard that our new navigator will be 2nd Lt. Michael Surry and our new waist gunner will be Sgt. Ron DeVoy.
- 1st Lt. Fernando Del Madrid, Pilot, B-17G EL Toro, 399th Bomb Squadron
LAURALEE II, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with minor superficial damage to the fuselage (1 hit) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Ross.
Another milk run--nice to come back from leave and fly a couple easy missions. We didn’t see any German fighters until we crossed into Yugoslavia, and even then, between the 38s and the other Forts, none attacked us. A lone 109 finally came at us from 12 o’clock high, but Andy pasted him. We saw him falling away, trailing smoke.
Beautiful weather over target, and once again the Little Friends gave us good cover. Just one German plane, a 190, attacked us, diving on us from above. We didn’t hit him and he didn’t hit us.
Flak was very light, and we hit the target pretty good, from what we could see.
Another enemy fighter came head on at us after we turned for home. He hit us, putting some holes in us, but nothing major. The 38s covered us all the way home, and we made it back safely, no major damage or casualties. We wish they could all be like this.
And special thanks to the fighter jocks in 1st FG--good job!
- Capt. Bill Hearn, Pilot, B-17G Lauralee II, 399th Bomb Squadron
MAWIMAZO, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with minor superficial damage to the fuselage (1 hit) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Alexander.
We had a pretty uneventful mission, as we enjoyed the protection of the fighter escort and the formation for most of the journey. Over the Adriatic we thought we were going to get hit by a 190 that was diving straight down on us, but the little friends took it off our hands for us. We tangled with a couple of 109s during our initial entry into Yugoslavia, but between the formation and our own guns, they were driven off without incident.
As we approached the target zone, we got jumped by 3 Fw-190s, one of which was quickly run off by our fighters. The other 2 came at us head-on, high and low, but Westell clipped one of them as it laced a couple of shells through our fuselage, and that rattled the other one enough to throw off his aim as well. Westell clipped that 190 again as Jerry came back for a second go, and Jerry flew off trailing smoke after another miss.
Unfortunately, Westell’s aim wasn’t as good over the target zone and we're pretty sure we totally missed the target.
As we banked for home, the formation gave us good cover until we were back over the Adriatic. We got hit by 3 more 190s, but Alexander hit one perfectly with his cheek gun, turning it into a fireball, and the other 2 missed and didn’t come back.
- 2nd Lt. Joe McCarty, Pilot, B-17G Mawimazo, 399th Bomb Squadron
HEART OF TEXAS, Second flight, Right aircraft (Group Spare - took place of Iron Lady)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with bombardier heating system inoperable, superficial damage to the starboard wing and to the fuselage (1 hit each) and no casualties.
318th BS (HIGH)
JOLLIE ROGER, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with minor structural damage to the starboard wing root (1 hit) and superficial damage to the fuselage (1 hit - 32 damage points) and 1 casualty.
Well another milk run for us. Take off and getting into formation were uneventful.
A couple of Jerries made a run at us just before we crossed the coast into Yugoslavia, but the P-38s chased one away and the other just zipped right past us with doing any damage.
Once we made landfall, we did not encounter any enemy aircraft until we were in the target zone. A group of 3 Fw-190s came towards us but they were ambushed by the 38s and at least one went down. They never made anywhere near us.
Flak was light in the target zone but a burst managed to get close to us. That is when Lt. Olsen got nicked. Despite the discomfort from his wound, Lt. Olsen was still able to put us on target.
After we turned for home we were jumped by an entire Schwarm of 190s, but like before the fighter cover drove off all but one, and the remaining one dove straight past us with out firing a shot.
The rest of the mission was uneventful as we were never were engaged by enemy fighters again.
I have to give credit
to Lt. Olsen for not letting that wound keep him from hitting the target.
Can’t ask for more than that. Fighter cover did an excellent job this
mission. Please pass my regards to the 1st Fighter Group.
The last three missions have been a nice break, of course I am sure that means we are about to get hit with a big one.
- 1st Lt. Jeff Dodge, Pilot, B-17G Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
TOUGH TIMES, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Wilson (1 Me-109 was later confirmed by S-2).
Took off and joined formation heading for target.
On entering Yugoslavia attacked by a wave of four 109s; 1st FG took care of two of them for us starboard waist gunner damaged one and top turret dispatched one the remaining fighter missed and never returned.
Over (the) target, an Fw-190 attacked us but didn’t get far as top gunner got him first. We got through flak without any damage and bombardier put load on target.
Just before leaving Yugoslavia attacked by four 109s again; only two got through to us--the chin gun and starboard cheek guns both hit one causing the 109 to leave without hitting us.
SSgt. Wilson again destroyed the other 109 (his third this mission). He certainly saved the U.S. Government some repair bills there.
Landed safe after an easy raid.
- 2nd Lt. Hank Roberts, Pilot, B-17G Tough Time, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
IRON LADY, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Runway abort. Did not participate in mission.
316th BS (LOW)
OLD YARD DOG, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned and made successful wheels up landing with port aileron inoperable, port waist MG destroyed, fire damage to the #2 engine, main landing gear inoperable, 2 superficial damage holes to the fuselage, and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by Sgt. Thomas and 1 Me-109 & 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Walker.
LADY B, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the radio, starboard flaps and port elevator inoperable and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Jackson and 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. James.
Take off and forming up were carried out with no major issues. No. 2 engine was running a bit rough but smoothed out when we got to altitude. We were all quite keyed up as this was our third mission but we had not as yet seen any enemy fighters and the intel report was that the enemy would be there to meet us.
The tension was mounting as we crossed the Adriatic without any enemy aircraft being visible. Radio chatter indicated that the enemy fighters were around but none came near us. Once we had crossed the coast the situation changed and we began to see enemy fighters. None of which could get in an attack against us through the terrific work that the P38s were doing. This continued all the way to the target with ever more fighters appearing. Inevitably some of the enemy began to leak through the fighter defenses. Two 109s got through on one pass, Bob winged one with the top turret guns as they came in, and we took no hits. The fighters were last seen diving for the deck. We then got bounced by a lone 190. I don’t know if he was breaking away or carrying out a deliberate attack. We snapped off some shots at him with no visible effect and he missed us. T he last attack was a head on by another 190, which was nailed by both the chin and top turret. As we turned on the final IP and carried out the bomb run the flak came up, what there was of was inaccurate and ineffectual. It would almost have been nice to have been hit by it to explain why we missed the target.
Turning for home we ran straight into the bundle of fighters that had tried to stop us coming in. Some looked to be coming for us but got snagged on the rest of the formation, two 190s got picked up by our P38 escorts and two 109s got through but were hurried, again, by our P38s and broke away without doing any damage.
As we approached the Adriatic coast the enemy fighters started disappearing and
we got no further attacks. Once over the Adriatic our P38s started to
disappear as well as they headed for home. I don’t know if this was by
luck or careful planning but it was at this point that we got jumped by two lots
of enemy fighters in quick succession. Two 109s came in from the forward
arc, somehow Ken managed to drive one off with the port cheek gun, while the
other one went the same way as the 190 shredded by both the chin and top turret.
The last attack was a complete finger four of 109s, who carried out beam attacks
from both sides as well as a single head on attack. Scotty got one with
the ball turret guns that broke away smoking. The other three all laid
into us. We lost the radio and the starboard wing flap on that pass.
They came back and tried to hit us from all directions with head on, tail and
beam attacks. The beam attack was driven off, the head on attacked missed
and disappeared, and the rear attack knocked out the port elevator. That
109 came in for one last head on attack, dodging everything that we could throw
at him, but in the process missing us as well. That was the last that we
saw of the enemy we landed without further incident.
- 2nd Lt. John Tresise, Pilot, LADY B, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by SSgt. Roundtree, 1 Me-109 apiece by 1st Lt. Douglas, Sgts. Walker & Maust.
We first met the enemy nearing the Yugoslavian coast where a lone Fw-190 broke through the escort. Sweeping in from 10:30 high, he was met by the combined fire of Sgt Rountree’s top turret, Lt. White’s port cheek gun, and Sgt Mason’s port waist gun. Mason scored several hits on the Jerry, causing him to break off his run and head for the deck streaming heavy black smoke.
Shortly after crossing into Yugoslavia, another FW tried the same attack, but was swatted from the sky by one of the fork-tailed angels covering us.
Nearing the target, two separate waves of E/A swooped down on us, the first a gaggle of 4 Fw-190s. The ones at 12 high and 9 level were plastered by P-38s. One at 6 high kept Sgts. Davidson & Walker’s radio & tail guns busy. Fortunately, Walker tore some chunks off the kraut's nose, fouling up his aim, and sending him away licking his wounds. His "kamerade" in a vertical dive fired a quick, ineffective burst and sped straight through the formation. Right on their heels came 4 Me-109s. The escort took out the 109 at 12 level, while Lt. Douglas creamed his at 12 high with the nose gun. Sgt Rountree poured a steady stream of lead from hid top turret into the 109 at 10:30 high, breaking a wing off at the root, sending him careening wildly out of the sky. Sgt Tibbs missed the Heinie at 1:30 high with his starboard waist gun, but the Jerry’s aim was no better and he broke off after a quick pass.
Flak over the target was fairly light and ineffective. That coupled with good weather conditions allowed Lt Douglas to put 40% of the load into a shop complex in the heart of the marshalling yards.
Rallying off the target, the tight formation provided a wall of lead through which passed no E/A.
Halfway to the coast, a lone Me-109 swept in on our 6, meeting the full fury of Sgt Walker’s tail guns. Sgt Maust called in from the ball turret that the Kraut bailed out as he passed beneath us.
Nearing the coast, the Jerries made one last run at the Doll. Sgt Rountree blasted the one at 12 level in half, while Sgt Maust tore the nose off the one at 10:30 level.
The rest of the flight was quiet, and we landed with no damage/no casualties.
- 1st Lt. William Patrick, Pilot, Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
GINGER SNAP, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #4 engine feathered and 1 casualty. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by 1st Lt. McClain (1 Fw-190 was later confirmed by S-2) and 1 Me-109 shared by 1st Eastburn & Sgt. Arledge.
We faced constant fighter opposition the entire mission, but our excellent fighter cover drove the vast majority of these fighters away. Turning away from the target, one fighter did get through and made an effective firing pass before our gunners drove it away. We lost our #4 engine (which we were able to feather) and our port waist gunner was wounded in this attack.
Weather over the target was good, flak was light and inaccurate. But the usually reliable Lt. McClain’s aim was off and our bomb load appeared to be off target.
Landing was routine.
- Capt. Lt. Harold Snakenburg, Pilot, GINGER SNAP, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
THE FLUFF, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned without damage or casualties.
A Milk Run. Three Fw-190s hit over Yugoslavia just inland. Fighters chased two away; top & chin ripped meaty chunks out of third, it broke off and didn’t try to re-engage. It was shot down by fighter while withdrawing. Three waves hit us over Belgrade; fighters drove off 5 Me-109s. Some others zoomed us but box fire chased them off.
Flak was light but suffered two near misses, The Fluff lost some paint; guess I should have stuck with newfangled natural metal.
Two 190s pounced us after flattening target but fighters chased them off.
As (we) approached coast some fighters nosed in but box again drove off.
No further contact once over sea.
- 1st Lt. Steve Cable, Pilot, THE FLUFF, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with structural damage to the port wing root, minor superficial damage to the port wing flap and fuselage (31 Damage points per Peckham’s damage chart) and no casualties. Claims: 2 Fw-109 by Sgt. Burmiester.
We were airborne by 0617 hours with a load of 3500 gallons of gasoline, 5000 pounds of M43, 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 0638 hours.
Again we crossed into Yugoslavia north of Split. We didn’t see a single enemy fighter till we were into Yugoslavia. Then a flight of Fw-190s approached us from the south. They attempted to make frontal attacks but our little friends chassed them away. We had P-38s from the first Fighter Group. We counted two butcherbirds fall to the Lightnings. That was the end of enemy action till we made the IP. That is when the whole of the German air force descended upon our squadron. We were attacked by three waves of Fw-190s. The first was completely driven by our P-38s. Half of the four that converged on use in the second wave were chased away by those blessed Lightnings. Of the two that made it through one hit home causing very minor damage. This fighter tried to make a second run on us but Burmeister flamed him on a passing shot.
The third wave consisted of Me-109s, but again the P-38s were on the ball driving all but one away and distracting the one that made it through enough to make him miss.
Flak was lighter than expected and we made it though to the target in one piece. Our drop was fair with around 20% in the drop zone.
Coming off the target a rage tag flight of three Fw-190s targeted our ship with one being chased off by a lone P-38. The other two pressed the attack costing a second Kraut his life to Burmeister’s guns. The Sergeant bagged two this mission. After this pass there were no other encounters on the way home.
Total of 15 fighters made attack runs; 10 were driven of by our P-38s; our gunners shot down 2 enemy aircraft and damaged a further 3 aircraft.
- 1st Lt. Lieutenant Gary Tines, Pilot, Vengeful Harlot, 316th BS/88th Bomb Group (H)
SHREVEPORT RANGER, Third flight, Lead aircraft (Tail-End Charlie)
Bombed target, 0%. Returned bomb controls and the radio inoperable, superficial damage to the fuselage, to the cockpit, nose, radio, waist and tail compartments, and 4 casualties (77 Damage points per Peckham’s damage chart).
Over the target (zone-5 outbound), we encountered the enemy, all Me-109s. Four enemy fighters attacked. The P38s chased 2 of them off. One Me-109 from 12 high missed us as we did him; the other one from 6 high got 4 hits into us . . . with us failing to hit him. It was a walking hit causing serious wounds to the co-pilot and radio operator, a light wound to the port gunner, caused the bombs to be dropped manually, and started a fire in the tail compartment, but it was extinguished! The 109 came around for another pass hit us with superficial damage, and he tried to come back for more fun, but he was driven off by the P38s.
During the Bomb run, no hits by flak, and NO hits on the target with the pay load.
After the rally point (zone-5 Inbound) another batch of fighters showed, this time 3 Me-109s. The nose gunner got a piece of one, but he barreled in for a hit that caused superficial damage. The P-38s were occupied elsewhere this trip . . . One of the fighters missed, the other two caused more damage . . . One of Me-109s chewed us up pretty good: killing the the ball turret gunner, and seriously wounding the navigator, and shot up the radio. Two of the Huns came back for more fun, but were driven off by the P-38s.
No further 'fun' for the rest of the trip.
- 2nd Lt. Richard Wright, Pilot, B-17G Shreveport Rangers, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
Return to Sterparone Field