Seconds to get out of a burning B-24

In skies thick with flak a stricken B-24 struggles to maintain flight.

I grabbed my parachute and was the first to get to the escape hatch, which was also known as the camera hatch or main entrance hatch on the B-24. I made an attempt to open the hatch alone and had planned to jump holding my chute as I figured the plane would probably blow up in a few seconds. It would be better to try to hold onto the chute and put it on as I was on the way down, rather than face certain death in an exploding aircraft.




Heavy losses as RAF Bomber Command targets Nuremberg

Halifax B Mark III, LV857, in flight shortly after completion by the Handley Page Ltd works at Radlett, Hertfordshire. In its brief service life, this aircraft served with Nos. 35, 10 and 51 Squadrons RAF before crashing at Schwarzbad while returning from a raid on Nuremberg on 31 May 1944.

Pilot Officer Barton faced a situation of dire peril. His aircraft was damaged, his navigational team had gone and he could not communicate with the remainder of the crew. If he continued his mission, he would be at the mercy of hostile fighters when silhouetted against the fires in the target area, and if he survived he would have to make a 4 1/2 hours journey home on three engines across heavily-defended territory.




A burning plane 18,000′ over Germany and no parachute

Flight -Sergeant J Morgan, the rear gunner of an Avro Lancaster of No. 630 Squadron RAF at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, checks his guns in the Nash & Thompson FN20 tail turret before taking off on a night raid on the marshalling yards at Juvisy-sur-Orge, France.

I leaned back, pushed open the turret doors, and reached into the fuselage to grab my parachute from its rack. The whole length of the fuselage was blazing. The flames reached right down to the door of my turret. And there, in a fierce little fire of its own, my parachute was blazing, too. For a brief moment I stared while it dissolved before my eyes.




Friedrichshafen – disaster for the 392nd Group

Consolidated B-24 'Liberators' in the close formation that was intended to give them mutual protection from the Luftwaffe.

The navigator, being dazed from the exploded 20mm shell and his wounds, which cost him his eye, wanted to bail out. The bombardier was struggling to restrain him, and Stupski misinterpreted the action. The navigator soon quieted down and was given a shot of morphine to ease his pain.” Time “whizzed” by and there they were again at three o’clock and climbing. Their sleek-nosed silhouettes identified them as Messerschmitt 109s or Folke-Wulf 190s. All we could do was to sit there and wait. Then – here they came again!




USAAF raid all the way to Berlin – escort ambushed

Lt Moncur chose the name Thunderbird for his plane  and the nose art incorporated "an Indian symbol for luck and we sure will need it."

In a practically vertical dive we hurtle into the midst of the Yanks, and almost simultaneously we open fire. We take them completely by surprise. In great spirals the Mustangs attempt to get away. Several of them are in flames before they can reach the clouds. One literally disintegrates under fire from my guns. Yells of triumph echo over our radio.




“Big week” – daily USAAF raids on German factories

Named "War Horse"
Ford B-24H-1-FO Liberator s/n 42-7479 579th BS, 392nd BG, 8th AF

This aircraft was lost on the January 4,1944 mission to Kiel,Germany. It is believed that she went down over the North Sea and the entire crew was KIA.

The Group was faced with the decision to follow the lead units of the Air Division to a questionable target and maintain the integrity of the Division formation or to pursue a separate course that might later prove to be erroneous and which would expose the Group formation to even greater enemy attacks. The Group chose the latter, and maintaining perfect formation, valiantly fought its way through the flak defenses to bomb the target with pin-point accuracy, virtually destroying it.




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

An air-to-air left side view of four B-24 Liberator aircraft in formation.

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




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

The Sinking of the 'Scharnhorst', 26 December 1943
by Charles David Cobb

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.




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.




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.