MISSION 89 - BUDAPEST AARs

317th BS (LEAD)

THE BRAZEN HUSSY, First flight, Lead aircraft (GROUP LEADER)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Fell out-of-formation after bomb run due to radio room fire.  Returned alone and landed with rudder shot off, fire damage to the radio room oxygen system, starboard waist gunner heating system inoperable, post inboard tank holed and leaking, superficial damage to both wings (1 hit each), to the nose (1), cockpit (1), bomb bay (3) and waist (1) compartments and no casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Warren and 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. Wittstock.


DOUBLE TROUBLE, First flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with structural damage to the starboard tail plane root, navigators equipment destroyed/missing, superficial damage to the starboard wing and nose compartment, and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

We got all the way to the Yugoslav/Hungarian border (zone-4) before we saw any enemy aircraft and then before my boys could get off any shots everyone around us drove them off.  Back to fighting the weather as we approach our target.

 

Over the target, (zone-6) this time our little friends drive off an Me-109 who was approaching us from 3 o’clock low and another Me-110 coming at us from 1:30 low.  Heading into the flak around the target and turning the plane over to the bombardier for the bomb run if the cloud cover breaks.  Made it through the flak with what seemed like 3 solid hits but only took a little damage: In the tail section our starboard tail plane root takes a hit, while the engineer didn’t notice anything but some superficial damage in the starboard wing, and within the nose compartment we will have to hope for the best and stay up with the formation as the navigator reports his equipment has been either blown out the big hole in his area or ruined all his equipment making it inoperable.  Between the bad cloud cover over the target and the flak we took getting into position we failed to hit the target even though we attempted our best when we let them go.

 

Took over the controls and took up a heading back to base just in time for 2 Me-109s to form up for an attack at 1:30 high and 9 o’clock level. The engineer in the top turret claims that he really hit his Me-109 on his whole way in but he kept coming (-2) while the ball gunner down below is not sure how much if any damage he did on his target (-1).  It must have at least caused their aim to be off as we didn’t notice any damage on the pass they did while they came at us.

 

Rest of the flight home was just us versus the weather and being on the look out for anything coming at us from any direction but nothing was spotted.  No serious damage but weather is still a factor but manage to bring the Lady in for a safe landing.

 

Our first mission to reach the target and return.  Hopefully next time we will get to see our target as well.  But then again that means they will also see us . . .

 

- 2nd Lt. Paul Schultz Jr., Pilot, Double Trouble, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


CHARLENE, First flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with minor flak damage to the rudder and no casualties.   Claims: 1 Me-109s by Sgt. Pischke and 1 Fw-190 by TSgt. Behrens.

 

Mission Narrative:

This was an uneventful mission, with only a few enemy fighters encountered.  Take off and form up at 3000 feet went as planned.  We then flew to San Marcos to rendezvous with the 301 and the 463.

 

 We encountered no enemy fighters until we crossed into Yugoslavia when a single Fw-190 dived on us.  Both our gunners and the Jerry missed and he broke off his attack.

 

We continued on unmolested until we entered the target area.  A Me-109 attacked us from 6 high and was hit by Sgt. Carmody from the top turret.  Sgt. Pischke also hit the fighter from the rear turret and sent him flaming towards the ground.

 

We encountered medium flak over the target and took a hit to the rudder causing minor damage.  Due to the poor weather and flak hit, our bomb load missed the target.

 

As we left Budapest we were attacked by two Me-110s which were driven off by our fighter escorts.

 

We encountered no more enemy aircraft until we again approached the Yugoslav coast.  A single Fw-190 dived on us and was fired upon by the top turret and radio guns.  The top turret missed, but TSgt. Behrens manning the radio room gun scored a hit and sent the Hun down.

 

We continued to Sterparone Field and landed without incident.

 

- 1st Lt. Raymond Keller, Pilot, Charlene, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


AC# 43-8941, Second flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with starboard aileron inoperable, superficial damage to the fuselage and nose compartment and no casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Tanaka.

 

Mission Narrative:

Near the Yugoslav/Hungarian border (Checkpoint-3) - Boggies were spotted at 9 o’clock but didn’t attack formation.

 

Southern Hungary (Checkpoint-5) -  Encountered three (3) FW-190s.  One was chased away by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group and didn’t attack the formation.  The other fighters coming in from 12 o’clock high and 9 o’clock level missed the bomber and didn’t return to attack.

 

Over target area - Two (2) waves of fighters were seen.  The first wave consisted of two (2) ME-109s; both were chased off by fighters from the 31st Fighter Group before they were able to attack.  The second wave were four (4) FW-190s: One came in from 12 o’clock level was hit by SSgt. Furutani causing damage to the fighter and it didn’t return.  Another attacked from 3 o’clock low was shot down by Sgt. Tanaka before it was able to fire on the bomber.  A third one came in from 9 o’clock high missed the plane and didn’t return while the last one attacked from 1:30 level was able to hit the plane causing three hits to the nose, starboard wing and fuselage.  The hit to the fuselage and nose was superficial, while the hit to the wing damaged the starboard aileron making it inoperable.  Both planes were able to attack again.  One fighter returned from 12 o’clock level was hit by 2nd Lt. Yamamoto damaging it before it was able to attack the bomber; it didn’t return.  The other one attacked from 10:30 level and missed the bomber and didn’t return.

 

Flak wasn’t to heavy and the bomber didn’t suffer any hits.  But we missed the target and were not able to put any bombs on target.

 

Leaving target area - Encountered one (1) wave of fighters consisting of two (2) FW-190s trying to make a head-on attack, but both were chased away by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group before they were able to hit the plane.

 

Southern Hungary (Checkpoint 5) - One wave of two (2) ME-110s were spotted coming in from 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock but they were chased away by fighters from the 1st Fighter Group before they were able to hit the plane.

 

Because of bad weather the bomber made a rough landed and suffered additional minor damage when landing the plane in Foggia.

 

- 1st Lt. Harry Honda, Pilot, AC#43-8941, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


CARDINAL EXPRESS, Second flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with starboard elevator inoperable, structural damage to both wing roots (1 hit each), superficial damage to the fuselage (2 hits), nose (1) and bomb bay (1) compartments and 2 light casualties.


EAGLE ONE, Second flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with navigation equipment destroyed, cockpit oxygen system damaged, superficial damage to both wings, to the nose and pilots compartments and 1 light casualty.   Claims: 1 Me-109s by Sgt. Rettinger.

 

Mission Narrative:

It was relatively quiet with brief periods of chaos.  Either there were no enemy fighters around . . . or they attacked in bunches.  The first group of 4 109s managed to ding Lt. Gibson in the foot and damage the tail oxygen system.  Our bombardier did hit one pretty good and it was seen leaving the area trailing a lot of black smoke.  The second group was 4 190s near the target zone.  One of them got through and knocked out the navigation equipment . . . but our tail gunner put him down in flames with a great passing shot.

 

Over the target there was some flak . . . and it was kind of a bumpy ride . . . although we couldn’t tell if it was from the weather or getting hit.  After we landed we counted a half-dozen or so holes in the wings which had to have been from the flak.  We dropped the bombs and couldn't tell where the heck they hit . . . but hopefully they were somewhere close.

 

The ride home was totally uneventful.  We saw no enemy aircraft whatsoever.  The hardest part was the landing.  I set the Eagle down real hard because I darn near overshot the runway.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking some ribbing about that one.  It’s worth it though . . . since we are all back in one piece and the Eagle won’t take much to get it ready for our next mission.

 

- 2nd Lt. Tom Decker, Pilot, Eagle One, 317th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


318th BS (Middle)

AUSTIN NIGHTS, Third flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned without damage or casualties.  Claims: 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Wexler.

 

Mission Narrative:

We didn’t have any enemy fighters make it thru the fighter coverage on the way to the target.

 

Flak over the target was moderate, but we did not take any hit.  Thanks to the bad weather the bomb run was off target with 0% in the target area.

 

On the way back from the target we did have a 190 attack, but it was shot down by SSgt. Wexler.

 

The landing back at the base was uneventful.

 

- Capt. Gary Hertel, Pilot, Austin Nights, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


ZEBRA'S REVENGE, Third flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with bomb sight destroyed, superficial damage to the starboard wing (32 Peckham damage points), and 1 light casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-110 each by SSgts. Stallard and Mitchell.

 

Mission Narrative:

This mission rather light because of the weather and a lucky hit by Jerry’s flak.  Saw only two fighter attacks, one just as we reached our IP, the other as we turned for home after the run.  On both, the only hits scored were by SSgts. Stallard and Mitchell who got one kill apiece. The flak did some damage: took out our bomb sight, hit Owens in the leg (LW) and the starboard wing had a few extra holes.  Missed the target completely.

 

- Captain Carter Ficklen, Pilot, Zebra’s Revenge, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


LICKITY-SPLIT, Third flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with auto-pilot inoperable, structural damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to the fuselage,  and 4 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Boyd
 

Mission Narrative:

Took off and rendezvoused with squadron and group on schedule.  Lickity-Split was temporarily assigned to the 317th for this mission to bomb a railroad marshalling yard near Budapest.

 

The briefing report indicated poor weather over Yugoslavia and Hungary.  We were reminded that if the target is socked in, that the group leader is to seek out targets of opportunity and failing to find one, to drop our load into the ocean before returning to base.

 

As expected the cloud cover over the continent was unbroken as we ingressed.  A group of 109s hit the squadron as soon as we crossed into Yugoslavia.  The P-51s flying escort bounced several but not all.  The gunners were nervous and chatted too much on the intercom as they scanned the sky.  My flight engineer, SSgt. Burns, reminded them to keep follow protocol and keep the channel clear for bandit reports.  They soon settled down.  It seemed most of the other planes in the squadron were being engaged but Lickity-Split had yet to endure it’s baptism of fire, and then it happened.

“BANDIT 10 OCLOCK HIGH,” SSgt. Burns was tracking a German fighter that was making a run at us.  Suddenly the war became real and personal for me as my crew began fighting for our survival.  I trusted them to do their job as they trusted me to do mine which was to fly this plane and stay in formation.  Our first engagement was short though as one of my waist gunners reported that he hit the underside of that fighter as it passed over us.  We had drawn blood!  But it came with a small price. Lt. Banks, my navigator reported that he had been grazed by the shell fire as he had manned his machinegun.  Everyone else checked in that they were fine except for Lt. Romero in the
right seat.  I glanced over to Mark and saw that he was slightly bent over.  I quickly called for SSgt. Burns to drop down from the top turret to look Mark over.  But as soon as I made the call, Mark straightened up and looked over at me and shook his head and called Burns off.  “Co-pilot okay”.  I later learned that Mark had a shell graze his right leg and he had bent over to check the wound.  We now knew this was no longer training, this was real.

 

The crew kept a vigilant watch on the sky, but as we flew deeper onto the continent, no enemy fighters appeared.  I was just beginning to think that perhaps the cloud cover was hampering their efforts to find us.  And then they hit us again.  A big mass of enemy fighters were
coming at us from 12 o’clock.  Our P-51 escorts jumped forth and engaged this new threat.  This time it seemed as if no German fighters would get close enough to threaten us.  But that was just wishful thinking, as one uncovered enemy fighter made an strafing run on us from 12 o’clock.  SSgt. Burns reported hitting him with the twin 50s but it was Sgt. Boyd in the tail that reported, “chewing that bird with lead and knocking her down.”

 

At this time my bombardier Lt. Young reported that the cloud cover was breaking apart.  My radioman soon reported that the group lead navigator had placed our location and that our primary target was a go.  We turned with the squadron and began our run in to the target. Flak bursts began to appear ahead and it appeared we would have to fly right through it.  Burst after burst rocked the plane.  Sgt. Boyd reported that the German flak gunners enacted some revenge on him as he took some shrapnel in his arm.  But it was the following news that made all of us aware of our mortality.  Lt. Banks reported that while bent over the Norden, Lt. Young had been hit by shrapnel in the head and had been killed.  After a moment to reel from the shock of it, I ordered Lt. Banks to take over the position and prepare to toggle the bombs when we saw the squadron drop.  “NAVIGATOR TO PILOT, BOMBS AWAY.”  I doubt our bombs hit anything, but I sure wasn’t going to let them go to waste.

 

After we banked away from the flak and headed to the rally point the German fighters were again waiting for us.  Our P-51s had left us due to fuel issues as we entered the flak cloud, but our follow up escorts, P-38s, arrived on schedule and engaged the Germans.  This time not one single enemy fighter broke through the screen.

 

I think the Germans had had enough for the day.  The flight back to base was without incident, but those P-38s stayed with the group until we were safely out of range of enemy fighters.

 

The base was overcast and raining, but I was able to land the plane without incident.  The crew is off to the mission debriefing while I hang back to collect my thoughts and feelings over the day’s mission.

 

I’ve lost my first man under my command and our bombing results are expecting to be dismal.  I think to myself that I have to pull myself
together for the debriefing and because tonight I’ll be writing Lt. Young’s parents.

 

- 2nd Lt. William Hernandez, Pilot, Lickity-Split, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


399th BS (HIGH)

LAURALEE II, First flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with bomb control inoperable, superficial damage to the port ailerons, to both wings and fuselage and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by MSgt. Ross.

 

Mission Narrative:

On 27 June 1944, I led the 399th BS as the high squadron of the 88th BG on a mission to bomb the Rakos marshalling yards near Budapest, Hungary. We took off, formed up with the remainder of the group, and headed out across the Adriatic.

 

We did not have long to wait for enemy fighter opposition, as we were attacked soon after crossing the Yugoslav coast.  A lone Me-109 dove down on us from above; MSgt. Ross observed hits on it and it fell away in flames.  The pilot bailed out.  Another 109 came at us head on not long after; it broke off after one pass, and seemed to be trailing smoke.  The bad weather predicted in our briefing set in at that point; the squadron had trouble keeping formation, making us more vulnerable to enemy attack.

 

Over target, two groups of enemy planes attacked our ship.  The second group, two 190s from our 3 o’clock, hit us, seriously wounding 2nd Lt. Winslow, our bombardier, and damaging the bomb controls.  Sgt. Hooker, in the tail, suffered a light wound, and we sustained minor damage elsewhere on the a/c.  This damage forced us to drop our bombs both manually and unaimed; God knows what we hit.

 

Fortunately, the trip back to base was much less eventful.  We were able to reform more tightly after the bomb run, and I believe that a combination of that, the weather, and increased fighter escort, protected us from attack.  We returned safely, and the squadron stands ready for further action.

 

- Major Bill Hearn, CO, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


DIMESTORE GIRL, First flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with bomb control inoperable, structural damage to the port wing root and rudder, damage to the control cables, to the nose compartment oxygen system and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 FW-190 by Sgt. Niedermyer.
 

Mission Narrative:

In short, we flew to the Yugoslav - Hungarian frontier without encountering enemy opposition.  We were shot at by a Fw-190 and a Me-110, but they missed.

 

As we neared target city, we saw a number of enemy fighters tear through the formation, but none came close to us.  There was some flak, but none near us.  We hit target and turned for home.

 

Then we got bounced by a bunch of Fw-190s.  I don’t know where our fighter escorts were, we hardly saw them.  The 190s put some holes in us, but no one was hit.

 

More enemy fighters as we exited Hungary, but they did little damage before flying away in the rain.  However, over Yugoslavia, a mixed flight of Me-109s and Fw-190s came at us.  Sgt. Neidermyer got one 190 (he said, "Fritz just flew into my burst and I literally saw chunks of his aircraft fly off, his prop stopped, the plane seemed to come to a halt and as it began to fall away, Fritz popped his canopy and bailed. Crap! his chute deployed").  However, one of the 190s hit us hard, wounding Bombardier Lt. Vestnicki and killing Lt. Edmundson.  I had the controls, and "Irish" (Lt. O’Bannon, navigator) was hollering about Vestnicki spurting blood all over the nose sector from a head wounds that he couldn’t stop bleeding.  I couldn’t even look at Edmundson, slumped over with his chin on his chest, God, half his face was gone!

 

No more enemy encounters after that.  We came in a bit rough in the landing, with the bad weather, but most of us made it back.  Lt. Vestnicki was hauled away in an ambulance.  I heard later that he was dead before arriving at the hospital.

 

- 2nd Lt. Thomas Henry, Co-Pilot, Dimestore Girl, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


PASSIONATE WITCH, First flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Did not bomb target.  Aborted due to fuel leakage.  Returned alone with radio destroyed, starboard fuel tanks holed, superficial damage to starboard wing (2) and waist compartment (1) and 2 casualties.  Claims: 1 Me-109 by 2nd Lt. De La Cerda.
 

Mission Narrative:

Our takeoff and form up went well and we formed up later with our escorts.

 

After crossing the coast (zone-4) a group of enemy fighters managed to slip past our escorts and had a good run at us.  Lt. De La Cerda knocked on down coming at us from ahead.  Sgts. Garcia and Little both shot up a Me-109 during our run in with the Jerry fighters, we were forced to abort the mission due to the loss of fuel and dropped out of formation to make our way home alone.  Despite our best efforts we were not able to get Sgt. Baynes back to base for medical attention and he died of his wounds.  According to the flight surgeon Sgt. Garcia should be able to return to duty in a week or so.

 

- 2nd Lt. Ralph Knight, Pilot, Passionate Witch, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


HARDBALL HEROES, Second flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with superficial flak damage to the tail area and starboard wing, and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

NOBODY got hurt. They didn’t hurt us, we didn’t hurt them, and the bombs landed in a forest.  Lack of action and cloud cover made
for a boring and uneventful ride to the target.

 

Three 109s made one passing attack about sixty five miles outside of Budapest.  They missed, but tail gunner Ellis Kinder didn’t.  He damaged one 109, causing all three to break off their attack.

 

Just before approaching the target, a pack of fighters tried to get through to us, but were driven off by the other bombers.  We took two shell hits from flak, each causing only scratches to the tail and starboard wing.  I didn’t find out about the hit to the tail until after we landed.  The bombs were way off target due to the poor weather over the target.  Bombardier Mulcahy is fairly certain the bombs landed in a dense forest as we overshot the target.

 

Another pack of fighters tried to attack us before leaving Budapest, but were also driven off by the other fortresses.  No other fighters sighted on the return trip home.

 

The landing was safe and uneventful.  Hey, at least we did something right on this mission.  We’ll all be ready to go get ’em next time.

 

- 1st Lt. Ted Williams, Pilot, Hardball Heroes, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


CROSSTOWN BUS, Second flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with superficial damage to the starboard wing and radio room, and no casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

Take off and assembly was completed on time.  The flight to the target was uneventful for us until we began the last leg of the flight to the target.  An Me-109 made it’s way past the escorts and attacked from about three o’clock low.  Unfortunately neither Sgt. Stalhworth our starboard waist gunner nor Sgt. Garcia in the ball turret scored any hits.  On the bright side, neither did the enemy pilot.  No other aircraft came near us until after the bomb run.  Enemy flak was moderate.  No damage was done to the aircraft and Lt. Page was on target with about 30% of our load.

 

After making the turn away from the target and beginning the route home, we took more flak and again no damage.  Shortly afterwards four FW-190s jumped us.  Our escorts, a flight of P-38s drove all of the 190s off.  None got close enough to fire at us.

 

The rest of the flight was almost quite for us as both escorts and other aircraft defensive fire drove off any attackers.  Landing at the base was normal.

 

- 2nd Lt. George Fishman, Pilot, Crosstown Bus, 399th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


BUFFALO GAL, Second flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 30%.  Returned with elevator controls, ball turret and navigators heating system inoperable, superficial damage to the bomb bay, room and tail compartments and no casualties.  Claims: 2 Fw-190s by SSgt. Knightly.


318th BS (HIGH)

JOLLIE ROGER, Third flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Fell out-of-formation after bomb run (zone-6) due lost of 2 engines.  Returned home alone with Engines #1 & #2 feathered, bomb controls and tail turret inoperable, damage to the tail compartment oxygen & heating systems, damage to the rudder, superficial damage to both wings, starboard flaps, tailplane, the fuselage, nose, radio and tail compartments (150 Peckham Damage Points), and no casualty.  Claims: 2 ME-109 by Sgt. Holmes and 1 Me-109 by Lt. Olsen.

 

Mission Narrative:

Wow.  We weren’t sure were going to make it home from this one.

 

After going feet dry over Yugoslavia we saw one Jerry coming toward us but he was intercepted by fighter cover and driven off.

 

Further into Yugoslavia a 109 made a run at us, Sgt. Holmes got him with his twins in the top turret.

 

Things were quite in Hungary until we the approached the target.  A 190 got through the fighter cover and our defensive fire and took out Engine #2.  As he passed by us Havens in the tail took a potshot at him and sent him limping off in flames.

 

Flak started to get intense with us taking damage from two bursts.  The first burst destroyed the oil pump on Engine #1, but did not start a fire.  The second burst did some superficial damage to the starboard wing and flaps.  It put a big hole in the rudder and damaged the tail’s oxygen supply.

 

The poor visibility and flak obscured the target.  We dropped our bombs with the rest of the group but have no idea if the landed anywhere near the target.

 

After turning for home a two plane flight of 109s edged toward us but were quickly intercepted by some P-38s and turned away from us. From below a 110 tried sneaking through the fighter cover, but they found him before he got to us.

 

A short time later a group of three 190s broke through the fighter cover and made a pass at us.  Sgt. Holmes nicked one of the planes and we got away with only some minor damage to the radio compartment.  A single one of the planes turned back toward us.  Sgt. Holmes hit this 190 pretty good and smoke was starting to come from it’s engine.  At about the same time Sgt. Bauer in the starboard waist just let loose with a flurry of fire, spraying lead everywhere.  I guess this convinced the pilot to leave us alone.

 

After leaving the immediate target area Engine #1 started to seize and we had to shut it down.  All the oil leaked as a result of that hit over the target.  With two engines out we were no longer able to keep up with the bombers stream much less maintain altitude.  Settling down around 10,000 ft. we continued home.  Very slowly.  A number of 109s made a run at us with one doing some minor damage to plane. Sgt. Havens tagged another 109 as it passed by us and he saw it start to smoke.

 

As we crossed the last of Hungary we were dinged by some flak.  It took special pleasure in bothering the tail, scratching some paint on the tailplane and knocking out the suit heater controls in the tail.  Other scaring the pants off of Sgt. Havens this had no real affect.

 

We finally got a rest while crossing the first half of Yugoslavia.  No fighters and no flak.

 

We started to relax.  I mean we were well through Yugoslavia with good fighter cover and shouldn’t have had anything to worry about.  So that is when five 109s decided to pay us a visit.  Four of the 109s got through the covering Lightnings.  Lt. Olsen took one of them out from his position in the nose.  This pass resulted in minor damage to the port wing and tailplane.  It knocked out the bomb controls and destroyed the tail guns.  Two of the 109s decided to come back for more but we observed both of them getting smoked by the Lightnings.

 

Finally we could see the coast.  Of course the Jerry’s just couldn't let us go peacefully.  Four more planes moved towards us with two getting through fighter cover.  This was a bad idea for the Luftwaffe.  One of the attacking 109s was destroyed by Sgt. Holmes in the top turret. The other 109 was damaged by both Lt. Olsen in the nose and Sgt. Fitzgerald in the ball turret.  We took no damage

 

Other than it taking forever to cross the Adriatic with only two engines the rest of the mission was uneventful.  Our landing was perfect. The old gal is pretty dinged up but our crew chief assures us that she will be ready for the next mission.

 

I have to praise the fighter jocks.  More than half the enemy planes that made for us did not get through the fighter cover.  We really appreciated the way the P-38s with the 1st fighter group stayed with us all the way home.  Probably wouldn’t have made it without them.

 

Despite all the excitement nobody in the crew was hurt and that is the most important thing in my book.

 

- Capt. Jeff Dodge, Pilot, Jollie Roger, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


RAIDEN MAIDEN, Third flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Fell out-of-formation after successful bomb run (zone-6) due to starboard waist gunner heat out and returned alone.  Landed with starboard waist heating system inoperable, superficial damage to the both wings, tail section, fuselage, radio and waist compartments (40 Peckham Damage) and 1 severe casualty. Claims: 1 Fw-190 & 1 ME-109 by SSgt. Mathis and 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Harlan.

 

Mission Narrative:

Fred Gilbert has recovered enough from his hand wound to assume his position in the radio room.  We took off through thick cloud and successfully formed on the high squadron which was a composite of 399th and 318th.  We again formed at the tail of the formation. Everything on plane was in operational order.  Headed out toward Yugoslavia.

 

Just 30 minutes from the target, and despite miserable visibility, we were attacked by a group of 3-190s from 12 o’clock high in line formation.  Joe Mathis in the starboard waist hit the FW at 1:30 with a stream of tracers and it broke off and continued down in flames. The 2 others made successful passes on our bomber hitting the cockpit and radio room.  TSgt. Gilbert has no luck and gets hit for the second consecutive mission and is incapacitated by a cannon shell that passed through his right hip.  The same 2 remaining fighters returned for another pass and one in particular is a good pilot, and gets some additional hits on our ship, knocking out the port waist heater.  This same plane returns for one more pass but doesn’t hit us.  Just as we made the I/P we were attacked by a lone Me-109 in a vertical dive.  SSgt. Mathis managed to hit it in the cowl and saw the nose of the 109 disintegrate as it passes and explodes when it hit the ground below.

 

We hit moderate flak barrage over the target but were unharmed by the attack.  Lt. Pyle again successfully dropped on the lead plane and put 40% of the bombs on target.

 

We made the turn toward home and fell out-of-formation due to Sgt. Ferebee’s heater being out of commission.  The cloud cover would provide us fairly good cover as we flew alone back to home base.  Immediately after completing our turn and fell out of formation, we were attacked by pair of ME-109s from dead ahead.  They made an unsuccessful pass and were not seen again.  Again, 30 minutes from the Target we were again attacked by a Schwarm of 4 FWs and a lone 109.  Friendly fighters chased off the 109.  SSgt. Mathis plastered the FW at 3 o’clock high and watched him go down on fire.  The other 3 fighters made a single pass scoring several hits, but hitting no systems and turned for home.

 

We flew through very bad weather and successfully found some key landmarks to allow Lt. Swartzenbach to get us over our base.

 

Our landing was pretty good considering the poor weather.  Mission #2!

 

- 1st Lt. Mark Mathis, Pilot, Raiden Maiden, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


STORM RUNNER, Third flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 60%.  Returned with the starboard elevator, rudder, port cheek gun, top and tail turrets inoperable, damage to the rudder (2 hits) and port waist oxygen system, superficial damage to the pilots compartment (1 hit), bomb bay (3 hits), radio room (1 hit) and 2 casualties.

 

Mission Narrative:

“Wow, the first half of this mission was really deceiving.  We didn’t see any enemy fighters coming in and we quickly lined up on the target. The flak bounced us around a bit but we escaped with minor damage and Matt lined us up on target and let them fly.”

 

“As we turned we were immediately jumped a tons of fighters, our escorts managed to pull some of them off, but we got clobbered and there are holes everywhere (zone-6).  We lost our top turret, port cheek gun and tail gun within a few minutes; unfortunately Jake was killed immediately and Buchner was severely injured.  I’m not sure what else got hit.  At least two of the fighters came back several times before breaking off.  After that we were really on edge but only saw a few fighters over Yugoslavia (zone-4) and the escorts got them.”

 

“Even with all the damage we were able to safely land and Buchner was immediately rushed to the hospital, but it was too late.  I don’t know if the plane will be ready for the next mission.”

 

-  2nd Lt. Paul Stinson, Pilot, Storm Runner, 318th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


316th BS (LOW)

VENGEFUL HARLOT, Lead flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with port outboard fuel tank holed and leaking, port wing flaps and ailerons inoperable, fire damage to the nose oxygen system, radio destroyed, tail oxygen system and tail wheel damaged, structural damage to the port tail plane root (30%), ten 20mm shell holes throughout the aircraft (184 Peckham Damage Points) and 1 light casualty.  Claims: 1 Me-110 & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Piano, 1 Me-109 by MSgt. Ohm and 1 Me-109 by Sgt. Syde.

 

Mission Narrative:

We were airborne by 0819 hours with a load of 3500 gallons of gasoline, 8 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 0854 hours.

 

The Harlot was out to the test today.  She didn’t see any action running up to the target even though a few German fighters lobbed rockets at us with no effect.  Our little friends were able to keep the fighters from pressing an attack after they loosed these rockets.

 

When we were approaching the Initial Point a large formation of Focke-Wulf fighters organized a head-on attack, with a few fighters making obscure angled attacks to confound our gunners.  Of this group only five targeted our ship.  Of these attacks SSgt. Piano and MSgt. Ohm splashed one FW-190 from 10:30 low and Lt. Flynn damaged another one attacking from 12 o’clock high.  Though one fighter sneaking up from behind, 6 o’clock level was able to damage the Harlot.  This fighter was able to make three attacks and was concentrating on our wings.  Eventually puncturing the port outboard fuel cell.  Though there wasn’t lots of fuel pouring out of the wing it was a constant leakage.  Lt. Snyder franticly refigured our fuel consumption and ability to complete the mission.  Following this attack a single Me-109 made a half-hearted attack that produced no results.

 

Proceeding this we entered the flak fields of Budapest.  Today there was moderate concentration that was very accurate.  We took five fragments from two bursts that bracket the Harlot.  The only damage of concern would be the loss of the tail wheel.

 

Our bomb run was disrupted with all the activity putting of our drop.  We put nothing in the target zone.

 

Coming off the target a pair of enemy fighters worked their way to the front of the group to make a high frontal attack on the 88th low squadron.  But the gunners from Ficklen’s crew, in Zebra's Revenge, nicked the lead plane and the two fighters broke off their assault.

 

Around fifty miles from the drop point a flight of Me-109s and Me-110s attacked the 88th group.  Right of the bat two Me-109s and a Me-110 targeted our plane.  Sgt. Syed and SSgt. Piano both took out a Messerschmitt each.  Syed filled the cockpit of a Me-109 with .50 cal rounds and Piano shot the tail section off the lone Me-110 as it rolled over to break-off his attack.  The remaining Me-109 took out his revenge by filling the mid-section of the Harlot with 20mm shells.  But as luck would have it nothing of importance was damaged.  This fighter made the mistake of coming back alone and MSgt. Ohm scored his fifteenth kill buy sawing off the Kraut’s port wing off.  That completed the wave.

 

As there were short breaks in the action I would check in with Lt. Snyder to see how we were doing on fuel.  With just over 200 miles to go we were on the fine line to make it home.  But we didn’t have much time to ponder our chances as waves of 30 German fighters were organizing their attack.  Most of the Jerry’s attacked the high squadron with a few venturing a go on the low squadron.  One attempted to make a run on us but the ball gunner from Passionate Witch, Sgt. Bittle or Little I think, shot at him and he left the area.  Again we checked in on ore fuel situation and it hadn't changed since last time.

 

Continuing flying over Yugoslavia we thought it was easy going till Foggia.  But the Luftwaffe had other ideas.  Four Butcher Birds, FW-190s, out of a small group swung in our direction.  One was driven off by the P-38s of 1st fighter group.  Two others missed us and went on for other targets.  The last one hit us causing an oxygen fire in the nose section.  Lt. Snyder quickly extinguished the fire, but we had lost the system in the nose.  Right behind him another FW-190 zoomed by taking a pot shot that lightly wounded Sgt. Syed’s right foot as well as destroying our radio.  As quick as they came in it was over.  I dropped us down to 10,000 feet as we crossed the Yugoslavian coast and nursed or battered ship home.  Fuel was low but we shut down one engine and dumped everything other than the guns and one box of ammo each to extend our range.

 

Though our fuel had just about been used up or leaked out we did manage to make it home to the awful weather.  With the fuel situation and the damage to the Harlot we were on edge.  As we lined up to land we had a second engine sputter off.  The tough down was a tad rough but we got the old girl down.  But had to immediately pull off the runway to clear the way for the other Forts.  The last two engines sputtered off as we pulled clear of the runway.

 

- Captain Gary Tines, Pilot, B17G-10-VE 43-8870, Vengeful Harlot, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


SATIN DOLL, Lead flight, Left aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Returned with starboard ailerons inoperable, damage to the tail compartment oxygen system regulator, superficial damage to radio room and no casualties.  Claims:  1 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Roundtree, 1 Me-110 apiece by 1st Lt. Douglas and Sgt. Walker.

 

Mission Narrative:

The Doll first met the enemy after crossing the Yugoslavian coast.  A trio of FW-190s swept in from high and ahead of us.  A Mustang from the 31st FG blasted the one at 1030 high out of the sky.  We threw up a wall of lead with the nose, top turret, starboard cheek and starboard waist guns, scaring off the two remaining Krauts at 12 &130 high.

 

Things quieted down a little until we entered Hungary.  Again, a gaggle of three FW-190s came calling.  Two had their service cancelled by the P-51 boys, and SSgt. Rountree sawed the wing off the one at 3 high sending him spinning out of control.

 

Just before the IP, a kette of Me-110s tried to split our gunner’s attention.  The P-51s scored the one at 1030 level.  Lt. Douglas put a long burst from his nose gun into the cockpit of the 110 at 12 low.  It was seen falling off on one wing and spinning in.  Sgt. Walker hammered the 110 at 6 low with his tail .50s, blasting the port engine out of its mounts and rupturing the fuel tank.  Ball gunner Sgt. Maust called in that it exploded shortly afterwards.

 

Flak over the target area was medium thick and not too accurate.  It was accurate enough though, to foul up the starboard aileron, ventilate the radio room, and ding up Sgt Walker’s oxygen system regulator.  He called in that it was working O.K. but that the gauge was fluctuating.  Lt. Davis told him to keep his walk around bottle handy just in case.  Even with the crappy weather, and sluggish aileron response, Lt. Douglas managed to put 20% of the load into a switching ladder of the marshalling yards.

 

Rallying off the target, a trio of Hungarian AF Me-109s lead by a Jerry Fw-190 swept in on us.  Those Fork-Tailed Angels of the 1st FG scratched two of the 109s from the fray.  The third 109 at 12 high was plastered by SSgt. Rountree’s top turret .50s.  The FW lead slid in from 12 low.  Sgt. Maust opened up with the ball guns, while Lt. Douglas fed a steady stream from his nose .50.  The Kraut fired a short ineffective burst our way and broke off with no apparent damage.

 

The rest of the flight home was quiet for us.  Despite the bad weather conditions, and the unresponsive starboard aileron, we managed to get the Doll back on the ground in one piece.

 

- Capt. William M. Patrick, Pilot, AC# 42-11806, Satin Doll, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


MINNESOTA MINX, Lead flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 40%.  Returned with elevator controls inoperable, damage to the cockpit oxygen system, structural damage to the starboard wing root, superficial damage to the #2 engine, port wing, bomb bay doors and 1 casualty.  Claims: 2 Me-109s & 1 Fw-190 by SSgt. Wilkins, and 1 Me-109 & 1 Me-110 by 2nd Lt. Wilson.

 

Mission Narrative:

To be honest at the time of the briefing I thought that the weather being reported was somewhat optimistic.  The weather was already closing in here at the airfield which didn’t match what the briefing was saying so it made the target weather suspect as well.  Despite my reservations we took off into the gathering gloom of the lowering cloud base half expecting the mission to be scrubbed.

 

We were tucked in behind the Harlot, I don’t know if it is a trait of a veteran crew or that we were just unlucky but on the way to the target everything that seemed to be heading for the Harlot missed and went for us or for Snakenburg’s crew in the Snap behind us.  We had an almost constant procession of small groups of enemy fighters coming at us as we flew into the deteriorating weather.  We knocked down two of the trail of fighters that went after us an Me-109 with the top turret and a 110 with the chin gun.  The resistance solidified over the target and even the Harlot was getting hit.  From the reports I was getting from Davey the real hurt was being served up to the rear of the formation.

 

We got a 190 with the top turret on the run into the IP and then the flak came up and all the fighters disappeared.  There was not a lot of flak but what there was, was low but accurate.  We took several hits and lost control of our elevators.  Worse still the weather played havoc with our aiming, we were lucky we managed to find a hole in the clouds and bombed through that.

 

Turning away we lost Mundell’s crew I don’t know what happened to them but as we came away from the target we had lost our Tail-end Charlie.  The enemy fighters were still around in great numbers and we accounted for another two 109s one with the top turret and one with the chin in the target area.

 

The return flight saw the odd sporadic attacks by enemy fighters but not pressed home.  Despite this along the way we saw Cleburne’s crew had drop away.

 

In the end we managed to land successfully despite the best efforts of the weather which had closed in.  Mundell’s crew had not returned when we landed and we heard that Cleburne’s crew were down at Vis although their status was unknown.  It was a rough mission that should not have taken place.

 

- 2nd Lt. Jeff Dunlop, Pilot, Minnesota Minx, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


GINGER SNAP, Second flight, Lead aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Returned with minor superficial damage to the port wing, to the nose and radio compartments and no casualties.   Claims: 2 Me-109s by 1st Lt. McClain, 1 Me-109 and 1 Fw-190 by Sgt. Hodge, 1 Me-109 by 1st Lt. Eastburn and 1 Fw-190 shared by TSgt. Clellan & SSgt. Sikorsky.

 

Mission Narrative:

Enemy fighters attacked us in small groups from the moment we passed the Yugoslavian coast, and they continued to harass us all the way to the target.  None of these fighters were able to mount sustained attacks, as they were either chased off by our escorts or shot up by our gunners.

 

We were hit by flak as we started our bomb run, and combined with the heavy overcast it appeared that this was enough disruption to cause us to miss the target.  Flak damage - to our wing - was minimal.

 

German fighters continued to mount ineffectual attacks on the return leg until we left Hungarian airspace.

 

A difficult landing in atrocious weather brought this mission to an end.  Although our bomb load apparently missed the target, we made it home with no casualties and minimal damage to our ship.  Our gunners will claim six single-engine fighters destroyed, including two each for Lt. McClain and Sgt. Hodge.

 

- Captain H. Snakenburg, Pilot, Ginger Snap, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


ST. LOUIS BELLE, Second flight, Right aircraft

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 20%.  Ditched off island of Vis (zone-2) due to fuel leak.  10 crewmen rescued.

 

Mission Narrative:

Got hit pretty hard in over southern Hungary (zone-5) and then the massacre began.  Fuel leak outbound of the target (zone-6) sealed our fate to ditch . . . only 90 minutes (4 more zones) to empty tanks.  Ditched off island of Vis.

 

All okay - rescued by the boys at the Vis island base . . . wet, but okay.

 

- 2nd Lt. Patrick Cleburne, Pilot, St. Louis Belle, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


SLEDGEHAMMER, Second flight, Left aircraft (Tail-End Charlie)

 

Mission Synopsis:

Bombed target, 0%.  Fell out-out-formation during bomb run.  Bombed target and returned with pilots’ compartment oxygen system damaged by fire, the top turret and starboard flaps inoperable, the radio and both waist MGs destroyed, superficial damage to the cockpit, radio, waist and tail compartment and two casualties.  Claims: 2 Bf-109s by Sgt. Ledford, and 1 Fw-190 and 1 Bf-109 by Sgt. Winwood.

 

Mission Narrative:

Mission #89 started off with the crew in an apprehensive mood after the heavy casualties of last mission.  Their misgivings were to prove well founded.

 

Things were quite enough until just short of the target, when a Bf-109 raked Sledgehammer with MG fire, knocking out the oxygen system in the pilots’ compartment, starting a fire, and rendering the top turret inoperable.  Thankfully the fire was put out immediately.  Both the tail and ball gunners destroyed separate Bf-109s during this attack.  Lt. Mundell took the ship down to 10,000 feet and since we were already on final approach, decided we might as well drop our load.  Flak hit the ship just at the drop, throwing off our aim, and knocked out the port waist MG.

 

After dropping and turning for home, a FW-190 hit the ship, knocking out the starboard wing flap and destroying the starboard waist MG. With 3 defensive guns knocked out, and out-of-formation, we were feeling a bit vulnerable but at least we were homeward bound.  Two more FW-190s appeared and sprayed us, knocking out the radio and wounding Peter Gabriel before being driven off.  Finally, as we approached the water and exiting enemy territory, we were jumped by no less than 5 enemy aircraft.  The ball gunner bagged a Bf-109 and the tail gunner destroyed a FW-190, however, the tail gun fell silent during the next FW-190s pass, and we discovered that Steve Winwood lay dead at his post, hands still gripping the firing triggers.

 

Now extremely short on defensive firepower, we were relieved there was no more contact as we traveled the last miles (zones) home.

 

Despite the poor weather, the landing was uneventful.

 

- 2nd Lt. Tim WIlson, Co-Pilot, Sledgehammer, 316th Bomb Squadron, 88th Bomb Group (H)


RESULTS PENDING: None.


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