MISSION 84 - VIENNA AARs
316th BS (LEAD)
FOUR-OF-A-KIND, Lead flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with #1 engine and elevator controls inoperable, starboard elevator damaged, superficial damage to the port wing, to the nose and pilot’s compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Smith.
VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with tail turret destroyed, radio damaged beyond repair and pilots window damaged, 5 holes of superficial nature and no casualties.
We were airborne by 0605 hours with a load of 3500 gallons of gasoline, 8 x 500
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 0642 hours.
As we approached the Austrian air space the German resistance picked up. Three Me-109s, two of which were chased off by the P-51s, leaving one lone German to attack, tested our guns. He missed and disengaged the attack. A short time later another wave of German fighters attacked with two singling us out as their target. The crack P-51 pilots shot one down and the second German pressed the attack on our ship, taking a shot that did minimum damage to our Fortress.
Flak was as briefed and extremely inaccurate. From what we heard of the last trip here we expected to take considerable damage from the flak. As luck would have it we didn’t take a scratch. Bomb run was much better this time out. Lt. Flynn put yesterday’s time off to good use at the training facilities. We placed 40% of our eggs on the target area.
Coming off the target we were greeted with more inaccurate flak and some determined Focke-Wulfs. Two waves of Butcher Birds attacked about 20 minutes apart. The first wave of about fifty planes came racing through the groups about 15 minutes after bombs away. Only four chose to attack our ship and two were driven off by the P-51s. The remaining two made concerted attacks both hitting our wings. Again luck was on our side as these attacks lead to no long-term issues. As we watched the battle rage on above and below our plane we waited for it to turn to our squadron again. Our turn came from above with a screaming Focke-Wulf in a vertical dive. The whole Fortress shook as the 20mm exploding shells ripped through the fuselage. He turned around as he saw large fragments of aluminum come off the Fort. Noticing that the rear turret looked damaged he came in for one more attack directly from the rear. Missing every thing as he raced by. Luckily one of our sharp-eyed fighter pilots came in and chased the German away. That was the last attack on our ship during the trip.
Total of 10 fighters made attack runs. The P-51s drove off 6 Enemy Aircraft. Our gunners shot down no enemy aircraft and damaged four enemy fighters.
- 1st Lt. Loren Zurn, Pilot, B17G-10-VE 43-8870, Vengeful Harlot, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SILVER BIRD, Lead flight, Right aircraft
Did not bomb. Shot down by fighters 2 miles west of Vienna; 9 KIA and 1 POW. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Croome.
“Aircraft SN# 43-8961, Silver Bird, went down in flames just short of the IP over the target. Only one parachute was seen. The International Red Cross later confirmed that Jeff Fry (Sgt.) had been captured and was a POW.”
- Missing Aircraft Report submitted by the 88th Bomb Group Intelligence Officer, Major James Jefferson
SATIN DOLL, Second flight, Leed aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with flak damage to the starboard wing inboard fuel tank holed, structural damage to the rudder (2 hits) and to the port wing root (2 hits), superficial damage to the starboard wing, the #4 engine cowling, to both tail planes, and to the nose and tail compartments and 1 casualty.
The Doll settled into her slot as lead ship of the second element, lead squadron. While the action was pretty hot around us, the other ships and little friends kept Jerry at bay until we got near Vienna.
Nearing the target the sky was full of Krauts. A gaggle of four FW-190s tore through the formation at us. The Mustang jockeys of the 31st FG swatted two of them from the sky. SSgt. Mason peppered the FW at 9 high, sending him peeling off trailing smoke from his cowling. While Sgt. Maust scored a few hits on his Kraut at 3 low, the Hun managed to score some of his own on our #4 engine, and both wings. A quick check showed that there was no serious damage. As he swung around for another pass, one of the escorts took him out of the game. No sooner had he cleared, then Maust called in that a Me-110 that was climbing up beneath us had just had its flight plan cancelled by another of the Mustang Jockeys. It was then that we saw Silver Bird in the lead element, pitch up, and trailing flames, roll over into a flat spin. Sgt. Walker called in from the tail that he saw one chute.
Just before the AP, the Kraut gunners threw up a wall of flak. Chunks of hot iron tore into the tail, both wings, and the nose. TSgt. Davidson called in from radio room that the rudder had a couple of large holes in it, as well as some new holes in the tail planes. SSgt. Rountree called in that we were losing fuel from the starboard inboard wing tank. Navigator Pete White called in that the nose had some new ventilation but no major damage had been done. Despite the bouncing around, Lt. Douglas put 40% of the load into the target area. Sgt. Maust called in from the ball that it was a good drop with multiple secondary explosions and fireballs roiling up from below.
The Jerry Flak gunners were persistent, and threw up a medium barrage at us as we were rallying off the target area. Sgt. Walker called in that the port tail plane root had been hit again, and that a chunk of flak had bounced off his seat and grazed his right calf. After we cleared the flak cloud, a lone FW-190 dove in from directly above. TSgt. Davidson poured a steady stream of lead into his cockpit with the radio room gun. The Kraut snapped off a short, ineffective burst, and broke for the deck.
Nearing the Austrian/Yugoslav border, a pair of Me-109s swung in at us, but were greeted by a pair of Mustangs from the 52nd FG. That was the last time any E/A got close too us for the rest of the trip. Despite the sluggish rudder response and the crappy weather conditions, we made a fairly reasonable landing. Pops Hardison says his boys will have the Doll patched up and ready to go in time for the next run.
- 1st Lt. William M. Patrick, Pilot, B-17F AC#42-11806 Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
ST. LOUIS BELLE, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with flak damage to the starboard wing outboard fuel tank holed, damage to the main oxygen supply lines, superficial damage to the port aileron (90 damage points) and 1 casualty.
No sooner got into the air and comfy, got hit by a Vertical Diving Me-109 over Yugoslavia (in zone-3)! We missed him and he missed us, whew! The new crew members and pilot Clebunre thought this might be a milk run till we got to the target. While the P-51s drove off the two attacking Me-109s, the flak took its toll. Hit 5 times and just rocked the bomber . . . when one of the shell hits hit the O2 supply we all gave a sigh of relief that no fires were started . . . a hit in the outboard starboard wing tank! Love those boys back at Boeing . . . the sucker self-sealed just as it was supposed to! Al Phillips nailed the target over the bomb run . . . and we left the area thinking that the worst was over . . . NOT! We again were hit by 5 flak hits but this time only superficial damage except a hole made in the port aileron . . . then the fighters came! There were two waves . . . first one was an Me-109 from 6 high that the ‘little birds’ took care of, but then the 2nd wave jumped us and one of the 3 Fw-190s broke thru the fighter screen . . . from 12 high . . . again we missed him as he missed us! Lucky Belle took us thru it again!
We were livin’ a charmed life as we remained on our toes coming out of Austria . . . and were ready for the fighters that hit us (in zone-5) . . . we didn't have to use any ammo as the boys from the 52nd FG drove them off . . . beers are going to those fellas tonight.
Landing was uneventful, but the 'flak' we got from Don Spinks (our crew chief) was something we really didn’t want to cope with. “What did you do to my bomber!!???”, he said. That (90 damage points) was enuf to get him into a ‘stew’ . . . left him muttering as I sought to calming the jittery nerves of the crew from their first mission. We done good . . . we got back to base as well as hitting the target!
Got to get to writing that letter to Windsor Cho’s family (Cho was killed on the way in to the target by flak, never knew what hit him) . . . but not till I have a few beers with those boys who saved our bacon on this one.
- 2nd Lt. Scott Holder, Co-Pilot, St. Louis Belle, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SLEDGEHAMMER, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with engine #4 feathered, radio destroyed, port flaps inoperable, structural damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to the nose compartment and 1 casualty.
Mission #84 started off as a milk run, but the milk quickly became sour. There was no opposition at all until Sledgehammer approached the target, and then all hell broke loose as swarms of Bf-109s appeared. Although most were driven off by our excellent fighter cover, one managed to penetrate to our box and gave our navigator a cannon hit to the left leg, removing it below the knee. Fortunately the co-pilot was able to apply a tourniquet in time to save his life.
After that fighter pass, heavy flak zeroed in on our formation and we took hits to our tail and also lost our radio. Our bombing seemed to be off target but with all the flak buffeting the plane, we felt lucky just to get the bombs away.
On the egress from the bomb run, more flak appeared, and our bomber was rocked by 4 very close hits. The port wing flap became inoperable, we lost the #4 engine, and the starboard wing took some structural damage. Fortunately, the pilot was able to feather the prop and we stayed in formation for the trip home.
Despite the damage AND poor weather, the landing was perfect.
- 2nd Lt. Mike Mundell, Pilot, Sledgehammer, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
399th BS (Middle)
LADY LIGHT, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Fell-out-of-formation after bomb run (zone-6) and returned alone. Landed with fire damage to the tail oxygen system, damage to the port outboard fuel tank (self-sealed), structural damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to the fuselage and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 1st Lt. Boston.
Lady Light returned to Italy after flying to Vienna. On our flight to Austria we encountered several enemy aircraft, one of which was shot down by our bombardier, Lt. Boston (Fw-190). We were hit numerous times, but no serious damage was done to our aircraft. Sgt. Martinez, our starboard waist gunner, was slightly wounded by enemy gunfire. We saw more enemy fighters as we approached Vienna, but they were driven off by formation gunfire.
However, over Vienna, we were hit hard by flak; tail gunner Sgt. Coperniki was killed and we took hits to our starboard wing root and the port wing outboard fuel tank (fortunately, it self-sealed), and a fire started in the tail section. Intercom calls to Sgt. Coperniki went unanswered, but fortunately, Sgt. Webley, port waist gunner, saw the smoke and got the fire out. Sgt. Coperniki's body was partially incinerated by the fire.
Over target, we were off target and missed with our bombs. After our turn for home, we were again hit by flak, but no serious damage was done. We were hit by several enemy fighters, Me-110s; Lt. Boston was lightly wounded by enemy gunfire, but again, no serious damage was done to Lady Light. With oxygen out, we dropped out of formation and descended to 8,000 feet. Surprisingly, it was clear sailing from there, no enemy aircraft were encountered and we were not hit by any flak.
We landed safely. I understand Sgt. Coperniki will be replaced by Sgt. Josh Driffel.
- 1st Lt. Maurice Duncan, Pilot, Lady Light, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
PASSIONATE WITCH, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with the radio destroyed, port ailerons inoperable, structural damage to the port wing root, various superficial damage to the fuselage and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. McLaughlin.
We departed and formed up without any problems. We met our escorts and they did a fine job of all the way to the target.
As we approached the target two waves of Me-109s broke pass our escorts and came at us. SSgt. McLaughlin caught one fighter square on and he exploded in a ball of fire. Another Me-109 shot up the port wing as he passed by. The next group made a run at us and Sgt. Little scored several hits on an Me-109 driving him off before he could finish his attack run.
There was flak over the target but it failed to hit our ship. We were
lucky; two aircraft in our formation, Lady Light and Squeeze Play
hit hard by flak. Squeeze Play started to burn and we counted ten chutes; a short time later Lady Light dropped out-of-formation.
After leaving the target our escorts join us again and we had a safe flight home. After we were debriefed we heard that Lady Light and her crew made it home.
- 2nd Lt. Ralph W. Knight, Pilot, Passionate Witch, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
SQUEEZE PLAY, Third flight, Right aircraft
Did not bomb target. Shot down by flak during bomb run. Aircraft crashed 3 miles northwest of Vienna; 10 POWs.
“Aircraft SN# 43-8940, Squeeze Play, did not see any enemy fighters till somewhere above Maribor, Yugoslavia. The fighters were scared off by the defensive fire of the formation.”
“The very first flak burst as the bomber approached the refinery resulted in two
hits. The first hit the pilot compartment resulting in what
looked like minor wounds to pilot commander Buster Hoover and co-pilot Lieutenant Bill Otis, on his very first mission. The second hit set the fuel tank to engine number one on the starboard wing on fire, resulting in a prompt bailout. Everyone who saw the hit, confirmed seeing ten parachutes leave the plane. All ten airmen are presumed to have landed safely outside Vienna, and are likely in captivity.”
- Missing Aircraft Report submitted by the 88th Bomb Group Intelligence Officer, Major James Jefferson
317th BS (High)
AC#43-8941, First flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with the port aileron inoperable, cockpit windows shattered, superficial damage to the fuselage, port wing, radio room and tail area and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Furutani.
Entering Yugoslavia (Checkpoint 3) - One wave consisting of four (4) ME-109s came in head-on. The one coming in from 12 o’clock high was shot down by was shot down by 2nd Lt. Yamamoto before it was able to attack. The ones coming in from 10:30 high and 12:00 level were not able to hit the plane and didn’t return. The ones coming in from 1:30 high was hit the plane twice, once in the fuselage causing minor damage and once in the radio room causing superficial damage. The plane returned from 6 o’clock level and it hit the plane again, this time again in the fuselage causing minor damage and once in the tail also causing superficial damage. The plane was able to come in at 10:30 level and was hit by 2nd Lt. Yamamoto causing major damage to the ME-109. This caused the fighter to miss the bomber and not return.
Halfway through Yugoslavia (Checkpoint 4) - One wave of fighters attack the bomber; four (4) ME-109s came in from head-on again. SSgt. Furutani was able to hit the fighter coming in from 12 o’clock high causing superficial damage to the fighter but it was still able to hit the bomber. It was the only one out of the wave to hit the bomber twice, once in the port wing, and once in the fuselage causing minor damage to both areas. The fighter was able to return from 9 o’clock high but it missed the bomber and didn’t return.
Southern Austria (Checkpoint 5) - One wave of fighters consisting of five (5) FW-190s came high from 12 o’clock, 10:30, 1:30, 6 o’clock and one doing a vertical dive. Fighters from the 31st Fighter Group were able to chase away the ones coming in from 6 o’clock high and 1:30 high. One coming in from 10:00 high was the only one to hit the plane twice, both in the fuselage causing minor damage. The fighter was able to return coming in from 9 o’clock level and was chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group.
Over target - Two (2) waves of fighters attack the bomber. The first wave consisting of two (2) FW-190s coming in from 12 o’clock high and low, one (1) ME-109 coming in from 1:30 level, and one (1) ME-110 coming in from 6 o’clock low. Fighters from the 31st Fighter Group were able to chase away the two FW-190s and the ME-110 before they were able to attack the plane. The ME-109 missed the plane and didn’t return. The second wave consisted of four (4) ME-109s attacking head-on. Fighters from the 31st Fighter Group were able to chase away the fighters coming in from 12 o’clock and 10:30 high. One from 12 o’clock level was hit by SSgt. Furutani who was able to shoot it down before it was able to attack. The other one coming in from 1:30 high was able to hit the plane twice: in the Pilots’ compartment, the first hit was to the window causing some damage but didn’t blow it out. The second was superficial. The fighter tried to re-attack the plane, this time coming in from 6:00 high but was chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group before it was able to attack.
Flak was heavy and we took a hit in the port wing causing the aileron to be inoperable. Because of the hit to the port wing we were not able to put any of our bombs on the target.
Leaving target (Checkpoint 6) - Encountered flak when leaving the target, but was able to evade the flak without and damage to the plane or crew. Encountered three (3) waves of fighters. The first wave consisting of four (4) ME-109s coming in from 12 o’clock high, low and level, and one other at 9 o’clock high. Fighters from the 52nd Fighter Group were able to chase away 3 leaving one coming in from 12 o’clock low that missed the plane and didn’t return. The second wave consisted of an ME-109 coming in from 3 o’clock low and an ME-110 coming in from 1:30 low. Again the fighters from the 52nd Fighter group were able to chase away the fighter coming in from 3 o’clock low. The Me-110 missed and didn’t return. The final wave consisted of two (2) ME-109s coming in from 10:30 and 12 o’clock level and one (1) ME-110 coming in from 10:30 low. The Me-110 was chased away by fighters from the 52nd Fighter Group. And again the remaining planes were not able to hit the bomber and didn't return.
Yugoslav/Austrian border (Checkpoint 4) - One (1) wave of bogies seen at 9 o’clock high but were driven off before they were able to attack by a combination of machine gun fire from the bomber formation and fighter escort.
Yugoslavia coastline (Checkpoint 3) - one (1) ME-109 doing a vertical dive attacked the bomber. But it missed the bomber and didn’t return.
Was able to land the plane safely with any problem at Foggia.
- 1st Lt. Harry Y. Honda, Pilot, AC# 43-8941, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
PROWLING PANTHER, First flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Exploded due to fuel tank explosion over Yugoslavia (Zone-3 Inbound - 204 Peckham Damage Points prior to explosion) as a result of enemy fighter attacks; 9 KIA, 1 MIA (Evader).
“It’s been awhile since the crash but here’s how I remember it.”
“We all knew this would be a tough mission but we were ready . . . including the new guys. Takeoff was uneventful . . . we formed up and headed outbound. We saw about a half-dozen fighters on the way to the target . . . some got through to us and punched a few holes in things . . . but nothing too serious. Although one Jerry stitched us from front-to-back but all those shells just cracked a cockpit window, destroyed our rafts . . . and, oh yeah, . . . I think the starboard elevator was fouled up. I remember Lieutenant White bitching about the cracked window though. Strange how some things are so vivid.”
“Anyway . . . we got to the target . . . and I remember one of our waist guys hollering that he had sent a 109 down in flames . . . although I couldn’t see it. The fighters were driving off everything else . . . but one damn 110 got through and shot up the Panther’s nose. I remember Bill Geary saying that Tom Turner was dead or really shot up bad. He never did answer on the intercom even though we were heading into our bomb run. That’s when the flak starting popping all around. Man, I can see it like it just happened. All of a sudden the plane shuddered real bad and kind of fell off to the right a bit. Lieutenant White said the #4 . . . I think . . . engine was out and they were having trouble feathering the prop. About that time a round passed right through my section and right out the top of the plane. It didn’t hit anything important . . . and it didn’t hit me. Kind of took my mind off the engine problem we were having for a minute. About that time I could feel the bombs let go which helped us go with the engine out . . . but we seemed to be falling behind the other planes in the formation.”
“As we turned for home it was quite apparent the prop was dragging on us and soon we were all alone . . . except some of those great fighter guys tried to hang around the best they could to help us. I think we took another flak hit on the way out. Oh right . . . that one did some damage to my oxygen system . . . thank God it didn’t catch fire though. Some Jerry’s started buzzing around us . . . most were driven off though . . . but another dang 110 got through and again we got raked from nose-to-tail. This time though we took some damage. I think Bill Geary and Tom Miles said they were hit and our new engineer ended up with his top turret out of action. Oh that’s right . . . his guns were out of action because I remember later on he went ahead up to the chin gun to take over there.”
“As we left the target behind the enemy fighters left us alone for a little while . . . even though we were slow as hell. But then a couple of 190s got through and knocked out the heat up in the nose. Lieutenant White decided to drop down to 10,000 as we neared the continental coast to help the guys warm up. We were just about there when one 109 made a run at us from the starboard side. I remember Tom screaming there’s a fire in the waist. But he never stopped firing. Jim Henderson on the port side said he had grabbed an extinguisher and had snuffed out the fire. You know what . . . I seem to recall thinking the ol’ Panther was gonna get us home again.”
“But that same Jerry turned for another pass and his shells ripped into our starboard wing. Lieutenant White said we had a fuel tank fire and to prepare to bail out. Well . . . as everybody started unhooking and as I was just getting into the waist there was a huge explosion and something ripped right through the side of the plane and I’m looking out into nothing but sky. It seemed that maybe the gunners were hurt or dead . . . I couldn’t tell. But I as I tried to help them the aircraft began spiraling and I was just sucked out that hole. My parachute opened and I just watched the plane as long as I could praying I would see some other ’chutes.”
“I never did.”
“Can we talk about the rest of this stuff a little later?”
- Debriefing of Sgt. Gary Collier, Tail Gunner, Prowling Panther, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H) after returning to Italy after being saved by Yugoslavian Partisans, 7 September 1944
DAKOTA QUEEN, First flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard flaps inoperable, superficial damage to the both wings and to the waist compartment (27 Peckham Damage Points) and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Janusiak.
Take off was at 6:00AM without incident. We formed up at 4000 feet before climbing to 23000 for the flight to Vienna. The rendezvous with the 301st and 463rd Bomber Groups over San Marcos was uneventful.
We encountered no enemy fighters until we were over the target. I credit the 31st FG for keeping the Jerrys at bay. As we entered the target area, we were jumped by a ME-109 coming at us from 10:30 level, a ME-109 from 12 level and a ME-110 from 10:30 low. The e/a from 10:30 level was driven off by the "little friends" of the 31st FG. The ME-110 from 10:30 low was hit by Lt. Hagman manning the port cheek gun sufficiently to cause him to break off his attack. The ME-109 from 12 level was fired upon by our nose and top turrets, both of which missed. The German hit us causing superficial damage to the port wing. He then came at us again from 12 level and our gunners again missed and the fighter also missed. Sgt Janusiak in the tail turret then took a passing shot and shot him down.
We were then attacked by another wave of fighters, three FW-190s. Two were driven off by our fighters. The third came at us from 3 o'clock high. He must have been a little green as he came straight in and SSgt. Crisp got a good bead on him from the top turret. A couple good bursts from those .50 calibers and the German broke off his attack without firing a shot. The third wave of enemy aircraft consisted of two FW-190s. Once again the 31st FG saved our bacon and drove them both off.
As we lined up for our bomb run, we could see the shell bursts from the flak. Intelligence was sure right this time as the flak was both heavy and accurate. We were hit by seven separate flak shells, mostly causing superficial damage. The shell hits seemed to be uncannily concentrating on the mid-section of our craft. It was the flak that caused the light wound to ball gunner Sgt. Cotton’s knee. A piece of shrapnel also hit starboard waist gunner Sgt. Saabe in the lower abdomen, causing him to bleed profusely and lose consciousness. Port waist gunner Sgt. Alexander, flying his first mission, was also hit by three separate pieces of shrapnel, and was knocked out. We had good weather over the target and, despite the flak hits, Lt. Dagel estimates that 30% of our bombs were on target. As we turned for home, we noticed White’s crew in the Prowling Panther was falling behind. It looked as if they had one engine out and quite a bit of damage to the nose section. We all said a silent prayer for them, knowing they faced a tough flight home alone.
We received no flak hits on our way out of the target area. I think the gunners were concentrating on the stragglers. Poor bastards. As if they don't have enough problems just trying to fly those busted up planes. Lt. Hagman moved to the waist section of the plane to tend to our more severely wounded. He managed to patch them up enough to keep them alive for the ride home. We encountered no other enemy aircraft on the flight home.
Despite poor weather, our landing was uneventful. Ambulances met our plane once we landed and Sgts. Alexander and Saabe were taken to hospital. Both are expected to survive, but will in all likelihood will be shipped stateside once they have recovered sufficiently. I am requesting Sgts. Jack Stivetts and William Munson be assigned to our crew as waist gunners.
- 2nd Lt. Steve Murphy, Pilot, Dakota Queen, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
TAILS A'DRAGGIN Second flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with the tail turret and rudder control instruments inoperable, navigator's equipment destroyed, structural damage to the rudder, superficial damage to port wing, to the fuselage, to the nose (2 hits), cockpit, bomb bay (4 hits), radio (3 hits), waist and tail (2 hits) compartments, and 1 casualty.
SALLY WRAITH, Second flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with the starboard elevator and port flaps inoperable, structural damage to the starboard tail plane root and rudder, superficial damage to both wings, to the fuselage (3 hits), to the nose (2 hits), cockpit, and tail compartments, and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 2nd Lt. Whitaker and SSgt. Brunanski.
BROWN SUGAR, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 20%. Returned with tail turret inoperable, superficial damage to the starboard wing, to the fuselage, to the nose, radio room and tail compartments, and 1 light casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Caan, 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Newman, and 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Perkins.
Regular T/O with the crew happy and very motivated for this fourth mission. After we formed up over the base we proceeded to 23000 and rendezvoused with the 301st and 463rd groups over San Marcos.
Our flight was okay across the Adriatic (zone-2) but entering Yugoslavia (zone-3) we were under attack from waves of enemy fighters. A Fw-190 hit on starboard wing without any major damage but the Fw-190 was damaged. In the next attack, the Fw-190 was shot down by Caan. Then another attack from Me-109s: One fighter was damaged and aborted its attack, while the top turret (Newman) hit and shot down another Me-109.
In other attacks, fighters hit the fuselage (superficial damage) and the starboard wing. Other attacks over Yugoslavia (zone-4): a Fw-190 hit us for superficial damage, but the navigator (Bronson) took a light wound. Over Austria (zone-5) we had two kills: an Fw-190 by Perkins and a Me-109 by Newman. The tail of one of the attackers was damaged.
Over the target, flak was heavy and we were hit from many shrapnel causing various damage: in the radio room and on the tail but all were superficial damage but the tail turret became inoperative from a hit. At this moment we seen our “little friends” become more aggressive versus enemy fighters. The bomb run had quite good results.
Inbound leg is without attacks from enemy fighters, many thanks to “little friends” . . . We landing with rain and heavy clouds but all safely.
- 2nd Lt. Larry L. Borgarde, Pilot, Brown Sugar, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
399th BS (HIGH)
LAURALEE II, Third flight, Lead aircraft
Did not bomb target. Aborted (zone-4) after loss of engine#1 and returned alone with engine #1 and the starboard aileron inoperable, the starboard wing inboard fuel tank holed, a damage tail wheel, structural damage to the port tail plane root (1 hit), superficial damage to wings and fuselage and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 Me-109 by Capt. Pipes, 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Snowden, 1 Fw-190 shared by Sgt. Snowden and TSgt. Vega.
The Germans were waiting for us this time--they hit us soon after we crossed the Yugoslav coast and didn't let up. Captain Pipes got one coming at us head on, and Sgt. Snowdon nailed a 109 as it passed behind us, but they kept coming.
The attacks continued as we proceeded over Yugoslavia. Sgts. Snowdon and Vega got another one coming up behind us, but another German shot out our #1 engine. We lost control of it for a time, but Lt. Washburn and I managed to shut it down and feather the prop. Since we were so far from the target, I made the decision to jettison our bombs and turn for home.
A trio of 109s chased us partway home--Captain Pipes nailed another one, but one of them put a hole in our inboard port fuel tank. Some anxious moments--we’ve heard of wing fires bringing down a lot of Forts--but it was just a leakage and we still had sufficient fuel to return to base.
At that point a couple P-51s, with the red stripes of the 31st FG, chased away the Germans and formed up on us, escorting us most of the rest of the way home. We made it safely back, despite our damaged tail wheel and the bad weather.
- 1st Lt. Shaun Hill, Pilot, B-17G Lauralee II, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
CROSSTOWN BUS, Third flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with superficial damage to pilots’ compartment, bomb bay, radio room, tail and port wing and 2 casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Rockowitz.
We had recently joined the group after flying from the states to our new base in Italy. I don’t think the engines had even stopped spinning before we took the place of another aircraft, Buffalo Gal, shortly before the mission started. This was to be our first. We were attached to the 399th Squadron.
The flight was uneventful until we neared the target. As we approached Austria, the first fighter that attacked us was an Me-109 that dove straight down on us scoring some hits in the port wing, but nothing critical. When it came back around it wasn’t as fortunate, or maybe we were, and shot past us without any further damage. Another Me-109 slipped past the escorts, but this time our Engineer SSgt. Rockowitz drew first blood for the ship by downing the fighter.
The target was another eye opener. Going in, we were greeted by a Fw-190, again dropping out of the sky from above. He hit us in the tail section wounding Sgt. Lawrence the gunner in the forearm and putting a few rounds through the pilots’ compartment. Most other aircraft were handled by the escorts. Flak was as advertised and we took a few hits in the bomb bay before were could release the bombs, but good luck there as it was light damage. Real good luck. The port wing took more hits going in and out. The aileron was damaged, but was still operable. The radio room took some hits with Sgt. Barelli, our Radioman, getting seriously wounded.
The way home was smoother as the P-51s in escort provided a clear path. Weather was a bit nasty on landing. No problems though. Welcome to Italy.
- 2nd Lt. George Fishman, Pilot, B-17G Crosstown Bus, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
THUNDERMUG, Third flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 30%. Shot down by fighters 8 miles SE of Vienna; 10 KIA.
“Aircraft SN# 43-7261, Thundermug, came under heavy enemy fighter attack leaving target. The port inboard fuel tank was in flames and the aircraft dropped out-of-formation. Seconds later, the aircraft exploded and the port wing snapped off at the fuselage. There were no chutes seen and it is very likely 2nd Lt. John Evans and his entire crew was killed.”
- Missing Aircraft Report submitted by the 88th Bomb Group Intelligence Officer, Major James Jefferson
318th BS (LOW)
ZEBRA'S REVENGE, First flight, Lead aircraft
Bombed target, 50%. Returned with navigator's equipment destroyed (10 Peckham Damage Points) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 Sgt. Owens.
This mission was without major incident. We didn’t see any Jerrys until just before entering the flak cloud over Vienna. One 109 came at us from 3 o’clock level. SSgt. Owens hit him square in the cockpit which exploded and he spun out-of-sight. The flak really peppered the sky. We shook some but no damage. Hit the target 50%. The flak on exiting the target area took out all our Nav controls; glad we stayed with the group the rest of the way home.
We saw only one 190 which SSgt. Stallard peppered him good and he was smoking very badly as he left after his pass. The rest of the trip home was without incident.
- Major Mick Mikula, CO, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
JOLLIE ROGER, First flight, Left aircraft
Bombed target, 40%. Returned with damage to the rudder (1 hit), superficial damage to Engine #1, to the fuselage, waist and tail compartments (57 Peckham Damage Points) and 1 light casualty. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 1st Lt. Olsen, SSgt. Holmes and Sgt. Havens.
Take-off was routine.
Trip outbound was pretty uneventful. While we saw some enemy aircraft none got through the fighter screen until we were in Austria lining up for our bomb run. Two 109s got through the screen and made a run at us, Lt. Olsen got his 5th kill and the other Jerry did not leave a scratch.
Flak was dense over the target and one of the gunners in the waist was hit. All other hits were superficial and did not impede our bomb run.
Lt. Olsen brought us right on to the target and we successfully dropped our bombs.
Immediately after leaving the target we ran into another bunch of flak. Lost a big chunk of rudder but otherwise no damage. Intelligence needs to get to work so we don’t get routed over extra flak.
On the ride home fighter cover kept almost everything off us and those Jerry planes that did get through either did not hit us or did only superficial damage. Sgt. Havens got his 4th kill with a passing shot up the rear of a 109.
Landing was good.
Plane and crew will be ready for the next mission.
- 1st Lt. Jeff Dodge, Pilot, B-17G Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
AUSTIN NIGHTS, First flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 60%. Returned with the starboard flaps inoperable, superficial damage to the radio (2 hits), bomb bay (1 hit) and tail (1 hit) compartments and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 apiece by 1st Lt. Seal and SSgt. Wexler.
We saw plenty of flak on the way and over the target, but only had superficial damage to radio room. We didn’t run into any enemy fighters on the way to the target. In spite of heavy flak we were on target with the bomb run with 60% in the target area.
Then we ran into five 109s. Two 109s were shot down one by SSgt. Wexler and Lt. Seal while another was damaged by TSgt. Unruh. One of the 109s damaged the starboard wing flap (inop) and superficial damage to the tail and bomb bay sections. Then we were attacked by a 190 with superficial damage to the radio room.
The landing at the base was uneventful.
- 1st Lt. Gary Hertel, Pilot, Austin Nights, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
IRON LADY, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Runway abort. Did not participate on mission.
CABALLERO, Second flight, Lead aircraft
Group Spare. Took place of Iron Lady, low squadron, second flight, lead aircraft. Returned with tail turret inoperable, Norden bombsight destroyed, radio room and port waist oxygen system damaged, superficial damage to the fuselage (3 hits), port flaps, starboard wing (3 hits), cockpit (2 hits), bomb bay, waist, tail compartments and 3 casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by MSgt. Simeon and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Davidson.
HOWLING MAD, Second flight, Right aircraft
Bombed target, 0%. Returned with starboard inboard fuel take damaged, superficial damage to both wings (2 hits on port, 1 on starboard) and the tail compartment (1 hit) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Fw-190 by 2nd Lt. Sanchez.
Take off was at 0600 hours for the 318th Bomber Squadron. The squadron formed up at 4000 feet with other squadrons of the 88th BG (H) participating in today’s raid on an oil refinery near Vienna, Austria. Rendezvoused with the 301st BG and 463rd BG and our group took its place as lead group. The 318th filled the low squadron position of the lead group.
Encountered enemy aircraft once we crossed into Yugoslavia. Numerous attacks were made against the 318th going in, but the squadron’s combined guns and the tenacity of our escorts (P-51s from the 31st Fighter Group) kept the enemy fighters at bay. The crew reported no direct runs made against HOWLING MAD and very little defensive fire against the enemy.
As we approached the run in point, our escorts broke away and headed elsewhere.
One ME-110 tried to sneak in a shot at us before the flak
batteries opened fire, but Sgt. Morris in the ball turret threw enough lead at him and reported that he took some skin off that plane.
Intelligence had warned us that Vienna was one of the more heavily defended cities in occupied Europe and the flak batteries began pounding away at us. The amount of bursts that I could see confirmed the intel. Fortunately HOWLING MAD made it through the storm relatively unscathed. Sgt. Stephens reported some shrapnel damage to the wings and Lt. Davis reported a momentary drop in fuel pressure in our inboard starboard fuel tank, but that seemed to be it.
Unfortunately the flak burst threw off our bomb run and Lt. Sanchez thinks our bombs drifted off the target and missed. Not a good way to start the war for us. We turned with the squadron and headed to the rally point. Again we were treated to a flak barrage, although not as dense as before. Sgt. Stephens reports some new holes in the port wing, but they appeared not to affect the performance of the aircraft. Sgt. Arnold in the tail reported that our escorts for the return trip (52nd fighter group in P-51s) were coming in at 6 o’clock high right on time.
The Germans were not to be denied their pound of flesh though and continued to harass us all the way home. The crew reported several bandit tallies and engaged in defensive fire quite frequently. The escorts did their best and bounced a few bandits, but the squadron had to fight through several attacks. Lt. Sanchez reported that he engaged a 109 and sent it home smoking as well as sending a 190 to its demise. The crew got a laugh when he reported over the intercom, “If I can’t hit ’em with my bombs, I’ll hit ’em with my 50s”. Once we reached the Adriatic the Germans lost interest in us and the rest of the flight was uneventful. Landing was successful, taxied back to the hardstand, disembarked and the crew reported to Debriefing.
- 2nd Lt. Keith Fisher, Pilot, Howling Mad, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
GOLDEN GRIZZLY, Second flight, Left aircraft (Tail-End Charlie)
Bombed target, 30%. Returned with starboard main landing gear up, port brakes inoperable, damage to the control cables, to the cockpit oxygen system, superficial damage to both wings, to the radio and tail compartments (52 Peckham Damage Points) and no casualties. Claims: 1 Me-109 by SSgt. Lorenzo.
Wow, Thank God for those Mustangs, if it wasn’t for those guys, I’m not sure we’d be here right now.
Our take off and formation assembly were routine, though we were the last one up since we got "Tail-End Charlie". Our trip was quiet until we were almost through Yugoslavia (zone-4) where we were jumped by two enemy fighters, we damaged both and they broke off their attacks fortunately. As we crossed from Yugoslavia into Austria (zone-5) we got jumped by five enemy fighters, but fortunately the escorts pulled a few off of us and we damaged one, the rest missed and fled.
We were finally over the target and the flak really opened up, we were hit at least 4 times, twice in both wings, but two of the hits were superficial while the one damaged the port landing gear break, and the other took out our starboard landing gear. We saw a lot of enemy fighters head in to attack us, but the escorts distracted them.
We were on target and estimated about 30% hits.
On our way out we got hit again by flak. One did superficial damage to the tail, while the second exploded in the pilot compartment, damaging our oxygen supply. Fortunately it didn’t go out and we were able to stay in formation. We also got hit by another ME-109, but SSgt. Lorenzo destroyed it. As we crossed over into Yugoslavia we got jumped by a few more, though only one actually did any damage hitting the radio room, damaging some of our flight controls.
We almost out of Yugoslavia when we saw our last fighters, though the escorts kept most of them busy, though at least one broke through; fortunately it missed us, of course we missed him too.
We finally got back to base and prepared for our landing. Between the weather and damage we had sustained, we were prepared for a rough landing. Fortunately we got the plane down in one piece with no injuries (Dice roll was 10 with -5 modifier). I just need to go and see what condition we’ll be in for the next mission.
- 2nd Lt. Ethan Sorensen, Pilot, Golden Grizzly, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)
Return to Sterparone Field