bombers

Dec

20

1943

Damaged B-17 spared by German Me-109 pilot

B-17s in formation en route to Germany.

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

A B-17 silhouetted against the con trails of other planes.

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

The con trails of USAAF  B-17 Flying Fortresses  on their way to bomb Germany.

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

Lancaster B Mark III, LM449 ‘PG-H’, of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, in flight.

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

One of the attacking RAF Avro Lancaster bombers over the target area during the night raid on Berlin on 22-23 November 1943

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

Aircraft Navigation and Guidance: During the summer of 1943, Bomber Command equipped its aircraft with H2S, a device which scanned the terrain for several miles around the aircraft and presented navigators with what was virtually a map of the ground showing towns, rivers, lakes and coastlines. Photo shows: An Avro Lancaster in flight. The dome containing the H2S radar scanned is clearly visible on the underside of the aircraft.

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

Damage to the Rjukan power plant was sufficient to force the Germans to abandon production of heavy water.

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

Boeing B-17F radar bombing through clouds over Bremen, Germany, on November 13, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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.

Nov

3

1943

William Reid wins VC in raid on Dusseldorf

William Reid VC

During the fight with the Messerschmitt, Flight Lieutenant Reid was wounded in the head, shoulders and hands. The elevator trimming tabs of the aircraft were damaged and it became difficult to control. The rear turret, too, was badly damaged and the communications system and compasses were put out of action. Flight Lieutenant Reid ascertained that his crew were unscathed and, saying nothing about his own injuries, he continued his mission.

Nov

2

1943

USAAF “Bloody Tuesday” attack on Rabaul harbour

B-25D Mitchell bomber of the 13th Bomb Squadron departing Simpson Harbor after an attack, Rabaul, New Britain, 2 Nov 1943

The morning briefing conducted prior to takeoff was a very somber affair. Hearing the latest word on the extent of the Japanese defenses was pretty much a prediction that all of us would not be coming home. The twelve crews that were assigned to fly the mission sat grey faced and quiet during the briefing.