Friday, October 4, 2013

Oct

4

1943

USS Ranger planes attack German ships in Norway

A Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless of U.S. Navy bombing squadron VB-4 during Operation Leader , on 4 October 1943, flying from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4). The objective of the force was the Norwegian port of Bodø. The task force reached launch position off Vestfjord before dawn 4 October completely undetected. At 0618, Ranger launched 20 Dauntless dive bombers and an escort of eight Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters of VF-4. One division of dive bombers attacked the 8,000-ton freighter LaPlata, while the rest continued north to attack a small German convoy. They severely damaged a 10,000-ton tanker and a smaller troop transport. They also sank two of four small German merchantmen in the Bodø roadstead.

As I got closer and closer to the tanker, all the ship’s gunners stopped firing except one. The tracers that flashed by made a complete circle of the cockpit. Then, just before I pushed the bomb release over the ship, my engine took a direct hit. There was a small explosion with a brief flash of fire and smoke over the cockpit as I pushed the pickle releasing the two remaining bombs. One 500-pounder landed on the deck of the tanker. The ship exploded and ran aground as it burned.