MISSION 83 - BUDAPEST AARs
318th BS (LEAD)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard flaps inoperable (32 Peckham damage points) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109 by by SSgt. Stallard, 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Miles, and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Owens.
The mission was one lucky one for Zebra's Revenge. We saw a few bandits during our run in and Miles got a 190 and Clemons sent one home smoking badly.
Just before we hit the flak FIVE of the guys jumped us. Our fighter cover was able to drive one away but that still left four coming at us from almost around the clock. Things were tense and we only took one hit which took out our starboard flaps. Stallard got his first of two on this run as a 109 went spinning to the deck. Owens smoked another one and Miles winged one and Owens sent him home to the Fatherland in a big way on his second pass. Saw a couple more bandits on the way home but no hits on either side.
Landing was right-on.
- Major Mick Mikula, CO, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
AUSTIN NIGHTS, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with several superficial holes to the tail plane, to the nose and radio compartments and 2 light casualties.
We did get attacked by a 190 on the way to the target (zone-6) where 2nd Lt. Michalak received a light wound to his left shoulder. Over the target we did take a couple of flak hits with superficial damage to tail plane and TSgt. Unruh received a light wound to his lower left leg. Even with the flak damage, the bomb run was on target with 30% in target area. Thanks to the fighter coverage, we didn’t have any attacks by fighters on the way back to base.
- 1st Lt. Gary Hertel, Pilot, Austin Nights, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
JOLLIE ROGER, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with ball turret inoperable, damage to the control cables and radio room oxygen system, port inboard tank holed, structural damage the port tail plane root, superficial damage to the bomb bay section (105 Peckham damage points) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Holmes, 1 Fw-190 apiece by TSgt. Starkey & Sgt. Brier, 1 Me-109 by Lt. W. Havens.
Take off was routine.
While we were engaged by a large number of Jerry fighters on the way to the target, only one caused any damage. The one that got to us put some holes in the bomb bay, dinged some control cables in the tail and knocked out the ball turret guns. Sgt. Fitzgerald had the dickens scared out of him in the ball when that shell took out his guns but he was okay. Happy to note that Sgt. Brier in the port waist got off to a great start with his first kill and this being only his first mission.
On the bomb run we took some flak most of which was insignificant. Biggest scare was the piece of metal that hit our port inboard fuel tank. We felt the hit and thought we saw some smoke and flame. But, we either imagined it or the fire went out. Tank started leaking quite heavily but then slowed. As can be seen we had enough fuel to get home. Great job by the crew to transfer the fuel to other tanks.
Lt. Havens did a good job lining us up for the bomb drop and he estimates that almost half the bombs hit the target.
Ride home was relatively quiet with a few more Gerry fighters chasing after us. We took no damage from any of them.
Landing was spot on.
Plane and crew will be ready for the next mission.
- 1st Lt. Jeff Dodge, Pilot, Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
IRON LADY, Second flight, Leed aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with rafts shredded, superficial damage to the fuselage and bomb bay section and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Gilmore.
We took off and formed up with the rest of the squadron. Didn’t see any enemy aircraft until we were well into Yugoslavian airspace and even then our escorts did a fine job seeing off anything that tried to get near us. The first serious attack was just prior to us starting our bombing run; 3 Me-109s skipped past our fighters and pressed home on us. Lt. Gilmore got a piece of one (FBOA-2) with the starboard cheek and that put the 109’s aim off and he missed. The other two got hits on us but they were all really superficial and didn’t hit anything important. The two remaining 109s came back round for a second go and Lt. Gilmore knocked one for dead and it exploded in a ball of flames. The other fired at long range, missed, and broke off.
The flak over the target was plentiful but we seemed to lead a charmed life and none of it came our way. Lt. Franchetti got a good visual on the target and we reckon that about 60% of our load fell on the refinery.
We headed for home and had just crossed the border back into Yugoslavia when we got bounced by 3 Me-110s. The P-38s got two but one slipped through and put a pile of shells into the bomb bay. Thank the Lord we had already hit the target otherwise I dread to think . . .
As it was the rafts got ripped to shreds. The 110 came back round for another go but got a bit too smart and got nailed by another of our escorts. That was the last enemy aircraft that we saw on the mission and we landed back at base without further trouble.
- Capt. Joe Di Agostino, Pilot, Iron Lady, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
GOLDEN GRIZZLY, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 75%. Returned with #2 engine feathered (non-combat event) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 apiece by 2nd Lt. Holmes & TSgt. Lorenzo, and 1 Fw-190 shared by Sgts. Denison and Wyndam.
This was our second mission and it wasn’t too bad. We saw a few more enemy fighters and did quite well with our bomb run, though we did have a minor glitch on the way back.
Our take off and formation assembly were routine, our trip was quiet until we were almost through Yugoslavia where we were jumped by three 190s, Pedro damaged one, but all three continued their attack, fortunately all missed and headed away.
We were finally over Hungary when the flak opened up and we began our bomb run. We sailed through the flak and Johnny lined us up on the target and dropped our load. It looked good and we headed home.
We spotted two more 190s and the guns opened up on them. Alexander destroyed one and Wesley hit the other one, forcing it to break off. We got jumped right before we got to Yugoslavia and we took both of them out. Pedro got one 190 and Wesley and Victor ripped the other one apart.
We were almost out of Yugoslavia when our #2 engine failed, we were able to feather it and stay with the group. We had some tense moments with that engine and didn’t truly relax until we were on the ground.
I think I need to go talk to our maintenance supervisor.
- 2nd Lt. Ethan Sorensen, Pilot, Golden Grizzly, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
LUCKY LADY, Second flight, Right aircraft
Did not bomb target. Shot down by flak over target; 7 KIA and 3 POWs.
“It was a cold June morning as elements of the 88th Bomber Group (H) began their ascent for their 83rd mission of the ETO. Lucky Lady, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Charles Gibson rose with the group on her third mission. Her position in the formation was right wing, second flight, lead squadron of the 88th BG. Near 22,000 feet the 88th joined up with elements of the 301st and 463rd and took their position has the high bomber group. With the 463rd as lead group the attack force turned north by northwest out over into the Adriatic on course for their target, an oil refinery outside of Budapest, Hungary.”
“No enemy contact occurred while the formation flew over the Adriatic, however once the formation crossed into Yugoslavia the enemy began responding to the incursion. At first the escorts were able to intercept the attacks, but soon even they began overwhelmed and numerous enemy fighter made passes on the 318th Squadron with several directly against Lucky Lady. First her top turret guns fell silent as cannon fire damaged them. Miraculously the gunner was unhurt. Next pieces of the starboard wing were clipped away near the fuselage as well as damage to the aileron. The port wing also suffered some superficial damage from the same attack. A follow up attack then damaged the port wing ailerons as well. Nearing the target zone the plane because sluggish as the control cable linkage was severely damaged. Still Lucky Lady held her place in formation as the group neared the target area and the flak batteries near the refinery.”
“As the flak batteries open fire, burst after burst exploded near Lucky Lady, the black explosive residual sending out shards of shrapnel, each time only lightly brushing Lucky Lady. It seemed that fate would once again bestow her graces upon the crew, but alas luck is a fickle creature and today it ran out for Lucky Lady and her crew. A burst near the port wing crumpled the wing and Lucky Lady began her uncontrolled death spiral to earth. Her gallant crew tried to escape but in the end only three could get to an exit and leap into the vast expanse to parachute safely down to earth and capture by the Axis forces near Budapest.”
- Excerpt from B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 15th Air Force/5th Bomb Wing in World War II, A Schiffer Military History Book, 2011
317th BS (Middle)
AC# 43-8941, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the starboard aileron and #2 engine inoperable, structural damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to the fuselage, starboard wing, and tail area and no casualties. Claims: 2 Me-109s by 2nd Lt. Yamamoto and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Nagagiri.
West of Brod, Yugoslavia (Checkpoint 4) - Saw bogies coming in from 12:00 high; were chased off by a combination of fighter cover by the 332 Fighter Group and machine gun fire from the bomber formation.
Yugoslav/Hungarian border (Checkpoint 5) - One (1) ME-109 attacked the formation coming in from 3:00 low; plane was chased away by the 332 Fighter Group before it was able to attack.
Over target - Three (3) ME-109s came in from 12:00 high, 9:00 high, and 9:00 level. The one coming in from 12:00 high was chased away by the 14th Fighter Group before it was able to attack. The one coming in from 9:00 high was able to hit the plane doing a walking hit on both wings. The hit to the port wing caused the #2 engine to be knocked out. The hit to the starboard wing caused the aileron to be inoperable and hitting the root of the starboard wing. The fighter was able to come back and attack the bomber at 12:00 level. The bombardier (2nd Lt. Yamamoto) was able to hit the ME-109 and destroying it before it was able to attack. Flak wasn't to heavy but we did sustain a hit to the tail causing superficial damage. Even with the hit 2nd Lt. Yamamoto was able to get 20% of the bomb load on target.
Rally Point (Checkpoint 6) - Encountered 2
(two) wave of fighters. The first wave consisted of bogies coming in from the
post side were chased away by machine gun fire by the bomb group before they
were able to attack. The second wave consisted of two (2) ME-109s coming in from
12:00 and 3:00 level. The one coming in from 12:00 was shot down by 2nd Lt.
Yamamoto before it was able to attack. The second one coming in from 3:00 was
shot down by the ball gunner, Sgt. Nagagiri.
Hungarian/Yugoslav border (Checkpoint 5) - Two (2) fighter formations attack the bomb group. The first were boggies coming in from head-on but were chased off by machine gun fire from the bomber formation before they were able to attack. The second group consisted of two (2) ME-109s coming in from 10:30 high and 3:00 level. The one coming in from 10:30 missed the bomber and didn’t return. The one coming in from 3:00 was hit by the ball turret (Sgt. Nagagiri) causing damage to the fighter but it was still able to hit the bomber two (2) times, causing superficial damage to the fuselage and the starboard wing. The fighter was able to return coming in at 10:30 level, but it missed the plane and didn’t return.
West of Brod (Checkpoint 4) - Bogies were spotted at 9:00 high but did not attack the formation.
West of Mostar (Checkpoint 3) - one (1) ME-109 came in from 10:30 high but it was chased off by fighters from the 14th Fighter group before it was able to attack.
Was able to land the plane safely with any problem at Foggia.
- 2nd Lt. Harry Y. Honda, Pilot, AC# 43-8941, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
DAKOTA QUEEN, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the radio destroyed and cockpit windows shattered, damage to the rudder, superficial damage to both wings, bomb bay doors, waist and tail compartments (32 Peckham damage points), and 1 casualty. Claims: Me-110 by SSgt. Crisp and 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Fred Hagman.
Take off was at 6:00 AM without incident. We formed up at 4000 feet before climbing to 22000 for the flight to Budapest. The rendezvous with the 301st and 463rd Bomber groups was uneventful.
We encountered no enemy fighters until we entered Hungary when we were attacked by a single ME-109 coming at us in a vertical dive. Our top turret and radio guns both missed as did the German.
As we entered the target zone, we were attacked by a ME-110 from 1:30 low. Lt. Hagman fired the starboard cheek gun and caused sufficient damage to force the fighter to break off his attack. A ME-109 from the 3 o’clock low position was fired upon by the ball turret and the starboard waist gunners and they both missed. The German fighter hit our ship causing minor damage to the starboard wing. He then turned and got in behind us and attacked from the 6 o'clock high position. Our tail and radio guns fired and missed, but SSgt. Crisp in the top turret hit the fighter with enough lead to cause him to break of his attack. Unfortunately, the Messerschmitt got off a burst that hit port waist gunner Sgt. Rolf Hovey, seriously wounding him in the head.
Flak over the target was medium and accurate. We took two shell hits. Both caused only superficial damage, one to the windshield and one to the port wing. We dropped our bombs on target and estimate 20% were within the target zone.
As we turned and headed for home, we were jumped by four enemy aircraft. A ME-109 came at us from 1:30 low and was shot down by Lt. Hagman. A FW-190 came at us from 12 o’clock low and was fired upon by Sgt. Cotton. Both his fire and the shot from the German missed their mark. Another FW-190 came at us from 12 o’clock high. Sgt. Crisp missed the enemy aircraft from the top turret position. Fortunately, the German also missed. A ME-110 attacked us from the 6 o’clock low position. Our tail gunner, who was uncannily accurate during our last mission, missed. The Messerschmitt pressed home the attack and caused superficial damage to the tail, bomb bay doors, port wing and rudder. Our radio was also shot out at this time. The Me-110 subsequently attacked from 6 o’clock high and was shot down by SSgt. Crisp.
As we continued to fly on over Hungary, Lt. Hagman moved to attend the wound of Sgt. Hovey in the waist of the plane. Hagmman was able to stop the bleeding and bandage up Hovey sufficiently to keep him alive until we landed. We encountered no more enemy aircraft on the return trip.
As we approached the base, I ordered a flare to be fired from the craft to let the ground crews know we had a severely wounded crewman aboard. We landed without incident, and Hovey was immediately taken to hospital for surgery. He will make a recovery, but his fighting days are over. I am requesting Sgt. Clayton Alexander be assigned to our crew to replace Hovey.
- 2nd Lt. Steve Murphy, Pilot, Dakota Queen, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
PROWLING PANTHER, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with tail turret inoperable, structural damage to the starboard ailerons & rudder, superficial damage to the fuselage (2), nose and Pilots’ Compartment (52 Peckham damage points) and 3 casualties.
“I just don’t know what to say. A couple more new guys show up for their first mission with us and both of them got hit real bad. One doesn’t make it . . . the other goes home. Geez . . . I didn’t even know their first names. Plus Bobby Long gets shot up and gets a ticket home. While it’s good that he made it . . . and he’s getting out of there . . . he’s gonna be sorely missed by us original crew dogs. Damn! There’s only four of us left. But Bobby . . . I mean . . . heck . . . he was always so steady and calm.”
“Anyway . . . our missions seem to be real weird. I’m not sure if it’s the same for everybody . . . but it seems we cruise along for the most part with no problem . . . and then one or two attacks later we have people bleeding and dying. Today we never even saw a Kraut fighter except over the target . . . both in and out. They shoot up the ol’ Panther . . . hurt some of our guys . . . and disappear. Then we fly home. I’m not really sure what to think about things these days. Everybody wonders when their number will come up . . . but nobody talks about it. One thing I do know . . . the Prowling Panther keeps taking hits and keeps us in the air. I have to really say thanks to all those ground boys who patch her up every time. Whatever they are doing . . . I just hope they keep doing it.”
- Sgt. Gary Collier, Tail Gunner, Prowling Panther, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
316th BS (HIGH)
FOUR-OF-A-KIND, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 10%. Returned with radio destroyed, radio room heating system inoperable, superficial damage to the starboard aileron, to the fuselage, nose, radio and tail compartments, and 1 case of frostbite. Claims: 2 Me-109s by Lt. Gilbert, 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by Sgt. Smith.
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned without damage of casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 shared by TSgt. Boyer & Sgt. Burmeister.
We were airborne by 0615 hours with a load of 3500 gallons of gasoline, 6 x 500 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 0642 hours.
There was limited enemy activity today. We saw a few aircraft just before the target that made half-hearted attacks.
Flak was as briefed yet very inaccurate. As was our bomb run. We didn’t put one bomb in the target area. Over the target we destroyed one Me-109, our fill in radio operator teamed up with Corey to destroy the Kraut.
Total of 5 fighters made attack runs. The P-38s drove off 2 Enemy Aircraft. Our gunners shot down 1 enemy aircraft and damaged another.
- 2nd Lt. Gary Tines, Pilot, B17G-10-VE 43-8870, Vengeful Harlot, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SHREVEPORT RANGERS, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Shot down by enemy fighters and crashed 2 miles SE of target; 8 POWs and 2 KIA.
“Well, this is what I saw, Lieutenant. It was just as we were leaving Budapest, right after the Rally Point. Lieutenant Wright was still with us as our right wingman despite taking lots of damage coming in, when they again came under heavy fighter attacks by 109s. Then their port wing caught fire, the inboard tank I think. Well, at that point they had it and Lieutenant Wright, I think it was the Lieutenant because I saw four come out from the nose hatch, pulled out of the formation to give his boys a better chance to escape . . . then his crew began to exit . . . I counted only nine but . . . one of the them coming out from the waist, his chute didn’t open at all . . . I didn’t, couldn’t, watch what happened to him and concentrated watching for the rest of the crew. Finally the ninth man left from the nose, which I assume it must have been Lieutenant Wright.”
- Debriefing report from Sgt. Carl Lea, Tail Gunner, Four-of-a-Kind, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
THE FLUFF, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Did not bomb target. Exploded mid-air 30 miles west of Baja, Hungary (zone-5) outbound after Fw-190 attack. No survivors.
SILVER BIRD, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard wing flap destroyed, prop feathering system and bomb release mechanism inoperable, structural damage to the starboard wing root, to the rudder, damage to the port ailerons, control cables, pilot oxygen system, and 3 casualties. Claims: 3 Me-109s by SSgt. Marlborough, 2 Me-109s by 2nd Lt. Croome, 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. McDowell, & 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Durkin.
First trip out to some place called Budapest, what they are calling a medium range oil target in the high formation. It not until we are almost in the target area that we the enemy first takes a interest in us a couple of twin-engine fighters nose in. One gets picked off by the P47s the other is engaged with the chin and ball turrets as well as the port cheek gun. All our guns fail to make an impression however we are not so lucky. We get cannon shots bursting on our underside as the fighter streaks beneath us. We get a running commentary from Shaun in the tail as the guy loops round to come in straight and level in our rear. Big mistake as he meets a hail of lead coming in the other direction. He doesn’t even get into firing range as he catches fire and goes down.
By the time we get into the target area the enemy fighters are buzzing around the formation. The P38s are doing their best but they are being overrun and the enemy fighters are coming in through the gaps. Before we even get to the target we get hit by a bunch of 109s one gets tagged by a P38 and disappears the other three hit us head-on. We open up a furious barrage from the top, chin and ball turrets but inflict no hits. Somehow we evade all of the incoming fire except that coming in from below. Our underside is peppered again but it appears to have done no damage. One 109 circles round for another pass the plane shakes again as the chin turret and cheek gun open up again. This time we see strikes against the fuselage of the fighter as the 109 fires on us again. This time he misses and dives away for the ground. As we watch this fighter disappear another 109 tries to sneak in from behind. The time the top and tail turrets speak with the additional chatter from the radio room gun ripping the enemy aircraft from the sky. We hit the turn point for the run in on the target and as the flak starts coming up the enemy fighters pull away.
There is a lot of flak great blotches of black puffs bursting in groups. None come near us as the gunners struggle to get our range. We line up over the target and release our bombs but nothing happens. As the rest of the formation start pulling away from us as we struggle to get the bombs out of the plane using the manual release. I t felt like hours but could only have been seconds before we dropped but any hopes of hitting the target are forlorn.
The enemy fighters pick us up again as we come out of the flak and a rolling fight ensues as we head home. There are a lot of fighters and none of them are P38s. Attacks come in from all directions and every gun seems to be firing the whole time. The intercom is abuzz with chatter as the gunners call in shots and warnings. Amazingly in one attack we manage to knock down two 109s with the starboard waist and chin guns, two of the remaining three 109s miss. The one from the rear rips into us putting shells into the waist, tail and starboard wing. That 109 over takes us and pulls ahead and Immelmans to take us head on only to have his cockpit crushed by shells from the twin fifties of the top turret. T hose were high moments as we don’t have a lot of time to celebrate. The low moments were when a large bunch of 190s latch onto us. A lot of cannon fire bores into us. The autopilot is shot away and both wings take a beating as a line of hits are stitched from wing tip-to-wing tip. Two of the 190s came round again for a second bite both level to starboard and to the rear. The tail guns knock out the 190 from the rear and ball turret sets the other smoking but he keeps on coming and splatters a load of hits against the fuselage before breaking away. Phil gets a splinter from one of the shells but again we seem to have got away with it. All the time we are getting closer to home and further away from the target the number of enemy fighters around seemed to be dropping. We get caught another big gaggle of 109s just as the few P38s near us get pulled away someplace else. The combined fire of the top and tail turrets with the radio room take down one 109. The other four just keep on coming. These guys must have been green as they had us after the first pass only one comes back for a second go and putting some more shells into us. He comes in again for a third try; this time between the cheek gun and the chin turret he gets nailed and breaks up before he can fire. By now the P38s are around in good numbers and the 3 109s that come for us are roughly handled by them. One of them gets close enough for us to fire at. There is an exchange of fire with the cheek and chin turrets and gain some holes in the nose. As the fighter breaks below us he gets picked up by the tail guns which hit his rear control surfaces as he dives and breaks away. As we are approaching the coast line a last set of 190s have a go at us. One is chased away by the P38s, one misses and the other two work us other. We gat a shell burst around us making a mess of the instrument panel and one that burst in the waist wounding both gunners before they finally disappear.
We got back to base and landed without incident. Phil and Mike have minor wounds and the doc says they will be on the flight line for the next mission. Kevin is more seriously injured. He’ll recover but won’t be flying any more missions. The Bird is shot to pieces but the crew chief says that she can be fixed up for the next mission. This was our first mission if the rest of our tour is going to be at this intensity I doubt very mush that we will make it.
- 2nd Lt. Andrew Young, Pilot, Silver Bird, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SATIN DOLL, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with Pilot and Copilot O2 regulator hit by 12.75mm shell fragment, superficial structural damage to the port wing, and no casualties. Claims: 2 Fw-190s by Sgt. Maust, 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Roundtree and 1 Fw-190 by TSgt. Davidson.
Things were fairly quiet for the Doll until we neared the Yugoslav border. A pair of FW-190s swung in on us from 12 level and 1:30 low. The low one received a warm reception from a Jug Jockey of the 332nd FG while SSgt. Rountree and Lt. Douglas hosed the sky with the top turret and nose guns. SSgt. Rountree scored a few hits on the Kraut, fouling up his aim, and he blew past us after firing an ineffective short burst.
Halfway across Yugoslavia, a trio of FW-190s clawed their way toward us. One of the boys from the 332nd took care of the 190 at 1:30 level. Sgt. Maust plastered the 190 at 12 low, and again, SSgt. Rountree and Lt. Douglas threw a wall of lead at the Hun at 12 high. Although they missed, they had the desired effect, and the Kraut broke off after spraying a short burst in our direction. A pair of Me-110s showed up shortly after we crossed into Hungary, and were quickly dispatched by a pair of P-47s.
Nearing the target, a lone 190 bore in from directly above. Both SSgt. Rountree and TSgt. Davidson missed with the top turret and radio guns, but the Jerry wasn't too intent on hitting us either and tore off for the lower squadrons. No sooner had he cleared, than all hell broke loose. Four (4) FW-190s broke through and came tearing after us. Ball Gunner Tim Maust blew the engine out of the one at 3 low. The tail guns peppered another at 6 high, but TSgt. Ray Davidson hammered the Kraut in his cockpit with the radio room gun. Although SSgt. Rountree scored a few hits on the one at 12 level, the Hun popped a few holes in the port wing and zinged a shell fragment of the cockpit oxygen crossover regulator. The greedy bugger swung around for another pass from 1:30 level, but was spooked off by Lt. Pete White’s starboard cheek gun.
Flak over the target was medium thick, but fortunately the gunners we were high enough that the gunners didn’t get a good fix on us. Lt. Douglas put 30% of the load into the target area. Sgt Maust. called in from the ball that we must have hit a camouflaged tank farm, because of the huge secondary explosions and fireballs that boiled up from below.
Rallying off the target, a lone Me-109 swooped down from 12 high, right into a hail of fire from SSgt. Rountree’s top turret guns that tore his left wing off at the root, sending him spinning crazily through the formation.
Again, nearing the Hungarian border a pair of Me-110s appeared below us and again they were dispatched, this time by a Fork-Tailed Angel of the 14th FG. We were almost out of Yugoslav airspace when it hit the fan again. A gaggle of 4 Me-109s bore in on us from directly ahead. The one at 10:30 high was blown out of the sky by a P-38 while the others pressed their attack. We put up wall of lead from the cheek, waist, top turret, and nose guns. The remaining 109s at 12 high, 130 high and 12 level likewise fired at us. Strangely, neither had any visible effect and the Jerrys broke off after this pass.
We made the rest of the trip home without further incident landed safely.
- 1st Lt. William M. Patrick, Pilot, Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
OLD YARD DOG, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with superficial damage to the port wing flaps, to the nose, cockpit and tail compartments (all from flak) and 1 light casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Garrett.
317th BS (HIGH)
THE BRAZEN HUSSY, Third flight, Left aircraft
Group Spare - took over High Squadron, Third Flight, Left Aircraft after formation abort. Bombed target, 60%. Returned with starboard brakes and port ailerons inoperable, damage to the tail section oxygen system, superficial damage to the #1 engine, starboard wing and tail compartment (all from flak) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Tolbert.
BROWN SUGAR, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with waist and tail oxygen systems and navigator’s equipment inoperable, rafts destroyed, tail wheel damaged, 1/3 of the rudder was shot away, control cables damaged and numerous other superficial holes over the aircraft and two casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109s apiece by Sgts. Ford and Baldwin.
Regular T/O and journey until mid-Adriatic Sea. After this point many attacks from enemy fighters; two of these were shoot down by our gunners. We took a little damage but it was superficial on the airplane.
Over the target we are hit from flak; an explosion near the airplane hits Perkins and Newman.
Returned with waist and tail oxygen systems out; rafts destroyed; navigator's equipment inoperable; tail wheel damaged; 1/3 of the rudder was shot away; control cables damaged and numerous other superficial holes over the aircraft.
Landing, with luck, was okay.
- 2nd Lt. Larry L. Borgarde, Pilot, Brown Sugar, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
399th BS (LOW)
LAURALEE II, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with port aileron inoperable, structural damage to the port wing root (1 hit), numerous holes in the waist and tail compartments and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-110 shot down shared by Sgt. Snowdon and SSgt. Ward.
Lauralee II led the 399th on the Budapest mission. We formed up as the low squadron of the group, and headed out over the Adriatic, where we picked up our escorts (the Jugs of the 332nd Fighter Group). The first enemy a/c were sighted after we crossed the Jugoslav coast. A couple broke through our fighter cover; one made a run at us, damaging our port wing and tail, and broke off.
After that the ride to target was uneventful until we crossed the Hungarian border. Then fighter opposition increased and stayed heavy until we egressed the target area. We saw at least seven enemy a/c trailing smoke and probably destroyed: SGTs Snowdon and Ward nailed a 110 coming up behind us. Fortunately, the Germans didn't do much damage to us--lots of holes, mostly. Flak was moderate, and wounded both our waist gunners. In spite of the heavy fighter opposition, we were able to hit the target.
Enemy opposition slackened a bit as we headed for home, and some of those attacked other bombers in our formation. Once the 38s picked us up, the journey was uneventful. We made it back safely, and both our wounded men are expected to recover.
- Captain Bill Hearn, Pilot, Lauralee II, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
PASSIONATE WITCH, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with structural damage to the port wing, tail and waist compartment and light 2 casualties.
Our take off was uneventful and so was the flight; we saw a large number of enemy Me-109s but they failed to score and hits. Our return fire was equally ineffective.
As we approached the target we came under fire from heavy and accurate flak. We suffered hits in both the tail and port wing; another hit wounded both Sgts. Baynes and Garcia the waist compartment. Despite being stuck repeatedly by flak, Lt. Hill managed to place 30% of our bombs in the target area.
On our trip home we again came under attack by a group of Me-109s. They failed to score and hits on our ship. Only SSgt. McLaughlin managed to damage one of the Jerry fighters. The remaining flight home our escorts did a good job and no additional enemy fighters were able to penetrate their screen.
The ship should be ready for the next mission and both Sgts. Baynes and Garcia should be released from the hospital after they recover from their wounds.
- 2nd Lt. Ralph Knight, Pilot, Passionate Witch, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
LADY LIGHT, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with structural damage to the starboard wing and port tail plane roots and 1 casualty.
Fairly peaceful flight until we hit Hungary. Sky full of Me-109s, but most failed to score any hits on us. Likewise, we didn’t shot down a single on of them either! Top turret gunner/engineer Sgt. Boudin hit two of them, but they were not seen to burn or crash.
Over Budapest, flak shook us up and wounded TSgt. O’Rilley. Even with getting bounced about by the flak, bombardier 2nd Lt. Boston brought us in on target and we hit the refinery with at least 30% of our bombs.
More Me-109s on the way home, but again, their shooting was as bad as ours. We made it home without further injury and landed safely. LADY LIGHT should be ready for the next mission.
I am told that TSgt. Xavier Bannerman will be replacing TSgt. O’Rilley.
- 1st Lt. Maurice Duncan, Pilot, Lady Light, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SQUEEZE PLAY, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 40%.
Returned with #1 engine, port wing brakes, top turret, bomb controls and Pilots’
compartment heating system inoperable, structural
damage to the starboard wing and starboard tail plane roots and 1 cast of
frostbite and 3 casualties. Claims: 3 Fw-190s, 2 Me-109s & 2 Me-110s by
Sgt. Manush, 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Aaron, and 1 Me-109 by SSgt.
Take off and flight in were uneventful. Didn’t
see any enemy aircraft ’till we crossed the
Hungarian border. We exchanged fire with a pair
of 190s before they broke off as we approached the flak towers.
The flak was accurate, taking out engine number one on the port wing, as well as the heat in the pilot compartment, causing frostbite to Co-Pilot Cecil Causey. Bombardier Hank Aaron dropped 40% of the bombs on the refinery, THEN things got bloody. Both waist gunners were killed as we pulled away from the area of the refineries. Tail gunner Sgt. Heinie Manush who has been telling everyone the benefits eating carrots has on one's eye sight downed a pair of 109's and a 190. Radio Op. Sgt. Mike Epstein was killed in the vicinity of the Hungarian/Yugoslovian border. Manush shot down two more 190s and a pair of 110s in the same exchange. The decreased air speed due to operating on three engines allowed the Germans to remain in continuous contact with us until we reached the Adriatic.
Landing was a little hairy without the use of the port wing brakes, but we landed safely.
- 2nd Lt. Buster Hoover, Pilot, Squeeze Play Light, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
BUFFALO GAL, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 5%. Returned with tail guns, port elevator, starboard landing gear inoperable, structural damage to the starboard wing root, superficial holes to the waist compartment and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Cross and Sgt. Hopewell.
The first enemy a/c spotted were before the target zone and came from our port side. These were dissuaded from making a real attack apparently by the heavy fire from our left-hand planes. Nearing the target zone two Me-110 attacked us: one missed on his initial pass and the other hit us but superficial damage only. When he came back for second pass 2nd Lt. Martin Cross put enough metal into him that his fire was off.
Flak was moderate (I’m told it was moderate, but on our first mission it looked heavy to us!). We took four hits which destroyed the port elevator and landing gear and took out the tail turret.
We managed to hit the target: difficult to estimate the damage due to smoke and fires, but probably 5%.
Leaving Budapest we were hit by two waves, the first included four 109s, three of which missed, but the fourth put some rounds into the wing root, hit both our waist gunners, severely wounding Sgt. del Rio and lightly wounding Sgt. Graziano. Sgt. Hopewell (ball gunner) managed to put rounds into him on his third pass which threw the Kraut’s aim off. The second Jerry wave seemed half-hearted as the attack never really closed and the couple hits were ineffectual.
Over Croatia we saw an attack developing but one of the Jerries was driven off by the fighters. The last wave consisted of two Me-109s both of which we shot down before they could touch us! Lt. Cross in the nose flamed the first and the second Hopewell [ball turret] exploded just as it passed over us. (Two Me-109s destroyed: Lt. Martin Cross and Sgt. Sandy Hopewell).
The landing was okay in spite of the gear.
Summary: Ultimately I feel it went well, especially as it was our first mission - and we made it home. It is a pity about Martin del Rio - we will miss him.
- 2nd Lt. Terry Brandt, Pilot, Buffalo Gal, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SNAFU III, Second flight, Left aircraft (Tail-End Charlie)
Bombed target, 0%. Shot down by enemy fighters 5 miles SW of Budapest; 1 KIA & 9 POWs. Claims: 2 Fw-190s and 2 Me-109s.
“After the Rally Point, AC#43-8918 came under attack by two enemy aircraft, one in a vertical dive attack and the other coming in high from 6 o’clock. Soon smoke and flames were seen in the cockpit and the aircraft fell out of formation. Nine chutes were seen.”
- Debriefing reports from returned 399th Bomb Squadron crews.
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