bombers

Dec

28

1943

Disaster on Vicenza ‘milk run’ for a B-24 Liberator


28th December 1943: Disaster on Vicenza ‘milk run’ for a B-24 Liberator crew

As Jefferies pulled the red handle to salvo the bombs, I banked the plane to the right and left the formation, at the same time giving the order on interphone to the crew to bail out, and ringing the alarm bell. There was another fire under the co-pilot and one in the nose wheel cornpartnent and the cock pit was fast filling with smoke. The number three engine was smashed and there was another fire in the rear of the ship forward of the ball turret

Dec

26

1943

The Scharnhorst is sunk in ‘Battle of the North Cape’


26th December 1943: The Scharnhorst is sunk at Battle of North Cape

We were thus able to watch as Duke of York came up, reducing speed and at 1901 fired a broadside at an easy target. It was an awe-inspiring sight. At five miles, the trajectory was comparatively flat and the 14 inch ‘tracer’ shells leaped across the sea and all of them appeared to smash into her in a colossal explosion. Some of them may have gone over and hit the sea some miles further on, but they were not visible.

Dec

20

1943

Damaged B-17 spared by German Me-109 pilot


20th December 1943: Damaged B-17 spared by German Me-109 pilot

The German pilot nodded but Pinky and I were in a state of shock and did not return the greeting. Although the German pilot appeared relaxed, I was most uncomfortable and felt that at any time he would unleash some type of new German weapon to destroy us and our aircraft. Somehow, all of the briefings and combat training sessions had omitted to inform us as to the proper protocol or reaction when a German ghter pilot wanted to fly close formation with us.

Dec

9

1943

B-17G Flying Fortress 42-31420 fails to arrive


9th December 1943: B-17G Flying Fortress 42-31420 fails to arrive

I particularly remember S/Sgt. Moss Mendoza (engineer) on the floor of the radio room in a very awkward position and asking for help. He had what appeared to be a serious head injury. The impact had tossed him from his regular station (starboard side) across the plane to the radio operations post (port side) with a force that resulted in his left leg breaking through the bulkhead. When I tried to help him, I discovered that both of my arms were broken and I was unable to assist.

Dec

8

1943

The trials of a new USAAF Bomber Group in England


8th December 1943: The trials of a new USAAF Bomber Group in England

Vulnerability to German fighters. The early planners had so admired the B-17, which, when first designed, could defend itself quite well, by its speed and altitude, that fighter escort was assumed to be unnecessary. They forgot that fighters could improve too. During the first year of combat, American bomber forces took tragic losses. Available fighters were too “short-legged” to follow the bombers all the way in to far away targets that had to be destroyed.

Dec

3

1943

‘Orchestrated Hell’ – Murrow reports from over Berlin


3rd December 1943: ‘Orchestrated Hell’ – Murrow reports from over Berlin

I looked down, and the white fires had turned red. They were beginning to merge and spread, just like butter does on a hot plate. Jock and Buzz, the bomb-aimer, began to discuss the target. The smoke was getting thick down below. Buzz said he liked the two green flares on the ground almost dead ahead. He began calling his directions. And just then a new bunch of big flares went down on the far side of the sea of flame and flare that seemed to be directly below us. He thought that would be a better aiming point. Jock agreed and we flew on.

Nov

23

1943

Terror of devastating air raid on Berlin


23rd November 1943: Terror of devastating air raid on Berlin

We had hardly got there when we heard the first approaching planes. They flew very low and the barking of the flak was suddenly drowned by a very different sound – that of exploding bombs, first far away and then closer and closer, until it seemed as if they were falling literally on top of us. At every crash the house shook. The air pressure was dreadful and the noise deafening. For the first time I understood what the expression Bombenteppich [‘bomb carpet’] means – the Allies call it ‘saturation’ bombing.

Nov

18

1943

RAF Bomber Command begins the Battle of Berlin


18th November 1943: RAF Bomber Command begins the Battle of Berlin

For the first time I experienced the flak, the searchlights, the fires, the bombs bursting on the ground and the Lanc shaking when the flak was close. I saw the brilliant colours of the target markers on the ground and experienced the long, long wait over the target while the bomb-aimer identified the target and gave his instructions to the pilot. I felt the great lift of the Lanc when the bombs were released and then the two minutes flying on straight and level for the camera to check where our bombs had gone.

Nov

16

1943

USAAF knocks out Nazi nuclear plant


16th November 1943: USAAF knocks out Nazi nuclear plant

Bombs were dropped from 14,000 feet at 1212 hours. Photo analysis on return showed that 29.5 tons of bombs were dropped on the Norsk Hydro Nitrate Plant three miles east of the secondary with only 2.5 tons dropped on the hydro-electric plant. This was unfortunate, as the bombing was excellent. Using the center of the large centrally-located building as an MPI, the 392nd had 37 percent of its bombs within 1000 feet and 85 percent within 2000 feet.

Nov

13

1943

Fighters go all the way as USAAF attacks Bremen


13th November 1943: Fighter go all the way as USAAF attacks Bremen

I bounced these with my wing man, pressing my attack on the second Fw190 to about 50 yards. I saw strikes on the right wing. The e/a had rocket guns and a belly tank. When I pulled up I was 3,000ft above my wing man, and saw that he had 5 Me109’s on his tail. I told him to break over the R/T, which he did, and then I dived through the Me109’s breaking up their formation.