The 330th Bomb Group 330th Bomb Group



 

330th Personnel Accounts

pAGE 2


K-3: MAJ Jackson S. Wallace (A/C) and 2LT Norman E. Graham (Rad Ob)

It was January of 1945 and unflyable winter weather had forced us out of our overseas training unit base at Hays, Kansas. We had evacuated the entire 330th Bomb Group from Kansas to Batista Field just outside of Havana, Cuba, to continue our B-29 training.

At Batista, our crew had been given orders for a navigational training mission to a small island east of the Panama Canal Zone and. By gosh, we found it, attesting to the professionalism and competence of our navigator, John P. Nolan. He had explained to me that he was using a 'landfall' procedure whereby he offset us from our destination about 10 miles and when the ETA expired, we would make a 90 degree turn to the island. Well, it worked like a charm and we hit the island on the nose. We then made a standard one-needle width turn to head back to Batista Field at about 20,000 feet. Sometime later, The Isle of Pines hove into view and about the same time, number 2 gave up the ghost with its oil pressure dropping to zero. Before it reached bottom, however, our wonderful flight engineer John Stanko, spotted the beginning of the drop, called it t to my attention, and recommended feathering it immediately. Carefully selecting the correct engine, John followed the procedure for feathering the propeller and shut the engine down. The airplane was light, having no armament on board and not a great deal of fuel so it handled just fine on three engines. I recall that in training at Alamogordo, New Mexico, we flew early models of B-29s which were characterized by heating problems and I quickly became adept at feathering propellers. I trimmed the airplane so it flew straight and level without much attention to the controls; set the autopilot and headed home.

Proceeding on course and maintaining altitude, another 10 minutes went by when a fire started in number 3 so we quickly executed our engine fire procedure and the extinguisher doused the fire. John again expertly preprared the engine to be feathered and I pulled the red button. I told one of the gunners to start the APU so we would have hydraulic pressure in the absence of the inboard engines. While I wouldn't propose a trans-atlantic trip on two engines, still the big bird handled just fine on the two engines remaining although to maintain our airspeed, I dropped the nose slightly and began a gentle descent to the landing pattern at Batista. I re-trimmed the airplane now that we were back in a symmetrical condition.

We were at about 3,000 feet when we spotted the airfield and commenced a long final approach. I called the tower and declared an emergency and told the tower to notify maintenance that numbers 2 and 3 were feathered. I was holding a bit more altitude than was really needed, planning to drain it off when we had the landing made as I didn't want to have to go around on two engines, as you might imagine. Holy smokes, number 1 started backfiring when we were about 2,000 feet. Engines were in short supply at Batista although most of us carried spare engines to Cuba in our bomb bays. Nevertheless, we wanted to save that engine and not take a chance of ruining it by keeping it running in that condition. So, all of us on the flight deck quickly talked it over and since my opinion was that we had the landing made, we decided to feather that engine, too. John quickly ran through the procedure and we were descending into Batista with only number 4 running. I briefed Roger Vannelli, the co-pilot, on what my plans were should anything go wrong and told him to give me help on the right rudder if it became necessary to add power to number 4 engine. I told the bombardier, Chester J. Kalinowski to strap in tightly. He said, "Not to worry, Boss, you've got this thing made."

If I do say so, the touchdown was smooth as molasses on the barn floor and as I let the airplane run out the landing roll both Vannelli and Kalinowski yelled at me: "Great landing." Then, a terrible thought occurred to me. We had to exit to a taxi-way on our right and I could not make a turn to the right. It is simply impossible to turn a B-29 into the only running outboard engine. Add power to that engine and you will turn to the left. Apply right brake to turn and you're fighting the engine with a brake application which is nullified by the thrust of number 4.n.

Embarassed, I called the Tower and advised that I would have to shut down the airplane on the runway and to get a tow-truck out to me without delay. The guy in the tower was shocked and said he had other airplanes in the pattern and directed me to clear the runway. I told him that it was impossible for me to get off the runway and to expedite the tow-truck.

Later, I expected to at least be questioned about shutting down the third engine, but I never heard a word about it. So, maybe I got away with one. I still wasn't sure whether we feathered number 1 to save the engine or just so I could make a single engine landing. Was it the first time a B-29 had been landed on a single engine? I didn't know but if it was a record, it was a record that I hoped I would never have to break.

Before launching out of Mather Field in early 1945 for Guam, we were briefed that there is a cloud over every island but that there is not an island under every cloud. We found that to be true, as enroute to Guam, we were searching for Johnson Island and saw a lot more clouds than islands. We needed Johnson to get more fuel for our B-29, K-3. It was a beautiful day, fair weather cumulus in every direction. We had spent the night before at Hickam Field in Hawaii. Two more legs and we would arrive at Guam where we would land on North Field. Part of our Bomb Group was already there. Arriving at Guam, I entered the pattern for North Field, hit a nasty wind shear just a I was flaring for the landing but recovered okay and trailed after a "follow me" jeep to a hardstand. Tired but excited, we boarded a truck to our quarters - a Quonset hut near the edge of the jungle which surrounded the airfield. I made up a bed, fell in it and I was gone until the next morning when, I had been advised, I had to attend a briefing of Aircraft Commanders. Roger B.Vannelli, my Co-Pilot, went with me. He was young, eager, and anxious to get on with this war. Roger asked "What's this meeting about?" I guessed "Probably an orientation briefing but I don't know for sure."

Entering the room, we saw the familiar faces of some of the Bomb Group crews that we had trained with at Hays, Kansas, and we exchanged greetings with them. I saw John Matthews who was K-2, Doug Neill, who was K-1, Dick O'Neill, K-10, Ralph Erwin, K-6, and several others. I was also happy to see Lawrence T. Keohane. K-54, my best friend. The briefing began with a few words of welcome from our Group Commander, Colonel E.D. Reynolds whose nick-name was "Fish" because he had once fallen in the fish pond at Randolph AFB. He was a wonderful guy that we all loved. He turned the meeting over to the Group Operations Officer who told us we would fly our first mission the next day. Our excitement rose to a fever pitch. We were going to COMBAT. We were going to fly over JAPAN, get shot at. Someone said that the Japanese were beheading captured B-29 guys. Swell. To put us over the target during hours of darkness, we took off about 10:00 the next night. One bomb bay was loaded with incendiaries and the other bomb bay held three 640 gallon fuel tanks. We were grossing out at 142,000 pounds, 2000 more than the B-29 was supposed to carry. At that weight, if one engine even hiccuped on take off, we were probably done for.

We had 10,000 feet of runway and it sagged in the middle So, going downhill a bit, we picked up 100 miles an hour easily but then we started up the incline and the next 40 miles an hour came slowly indeed. Beyond the runway, there was a 2000 foot strip of coral, unpaved but very usable and I believe every airplane used the coral overrun to get off the ground. I know we did. Then came another blessing. The end of the runway was at the edge of a cliff 600 feet above the ocean so we could gain needed airspeed by letting the big bird sink toward the water. Black as black could be, I couldn't afford to let it sink too far and when I pulled the nose up to start the climb, there was a chorus of sighs on the interphone. Night missions were not flown in formation. We flew in a stream, protected from each other only by holding the exact briefed altitude and airspeed. Norman Graham (Rad/Ob), called on the interphone to tell me that he had lost the APQ-13 Radar and he could do nothing about it. I told him he was fired. So, we continued the mission without radar. K-3 was running beautifully, the engines droning away, the propellers synchronized, and our fuel consumption was on the mark. Our wonderful flight engineer, John C. Stanko, was keeping a close watch on the engine instruments. I can see him now - tapping on the glass of a a dial to insure the needle wasn't stuck.

It was roughly 3000 miles to Japan and back. In about three hours or so, we passed abeam of Iwo Jima. The fight for Iwo had just been concluded and any day now we would have a runway on Iwo to set down on in an emergency. In about three more hours, we should have been approaching the coast of Japan. However, no lights appeared anywhere, it was totally dark and overcast so there was not even starlight to help us ascertain our location. John Nolan (N), relying on his only navigational aid, dead reckoning, stated that we had to be over the coast and so we made a turn to the target heading. All eleven of us were a bit nervous since we did not know our position with any degree of accuracy and some of the jokes the guys were passing around on the interphone sounded a bit strained. After all, it was our first mission. As we progressed on our target heading, we began to see a glow in the sky ahead of us. I checked our airspeed and altitude to be sure we were where we should have been to the best of our capability. Soon, a black cloud appeared which blocked the glow straight in front of us and we knew it had to be the smoke cloud that we were briefed would be over the burning city. Norm called to say that his radar could not be repaired. The first indication that it was not a smoke cloud came from Richard Davidson (LG), who exclaimed: "My God, I can see snow down there" and, a bit later, "Pull up the left wing, we are going to hit, pull it up, pull it up." Panicked, I rolled to the right when John DeGroot (RG), yelled: "Pull it up, pull it up, we are going to hit." I had already fire-walled the engines, dropped a few degrees of flaps, and pulled the nose up as far as I could without stalling. We were hanging on the props. Salvation came when Chester Kalinowski (Kal), our bombardier, who sat in the very front of the airplane and who had the best visibility forward of anyone, yelled that he could see fires burning ahead. And, so we had cleared Mount Fujiyama which we had mistaken for a smoke cloud and were now safely on the bomb run. Kal always joked that if we cracked up, he would be the first on the scene. Francis Bradley (TG), called and said; "Gentlemen, could someone kindly tell me what is going on?" Brad occupied a small enclave in the tail section where he manned the tail guns. Still a teenager, he was the youngest guy on the crew and he had volunteered to take the tail position, the most dangerous position in the airplae. Someone on the crew told him it was none of his business.

Tokyo on fire was a sight to behold. Terrifying in its aspect and unspeakable in its result, the fire spread perhaps 20 miles north to south and maybe eight miles east to west. It was a raging inferno; nothing could live in its fiery grip. It robbed entire square miles of life- supporting oxygen. The loss of life was terrible to even think of. We were about 20 miles from the spectacle and could see the length and breadth of the fire. The result surely equalled the havoc caused by the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki Safely on the bomb run? Well, maybe not too safely because as we approached the target, we became caught in search lights - an event which seemed very threatening. The lights illuminated the cockpit as bright as daylight and little or nothing could be seen outside of the airplane. Once again, I had to resort to instrument flying as there was no horizon. Fortunately, I always felt comfortable with flying on instruments since I had been an instructor pilot and had taught many cadets to fly on needle, ball, and airspeed. Further, and just as formidable, we were able to glimpse B-29s very close to the left, to the right, just above and just below us - we were surrounded by B-29s but fortunately they were all going the same direction and speed as we were. Kal called and said he had the target zeroed in his Norden bomb sight, took control of the airplane, and in a few minutes called bombs away. He didn't need to tell me that as the airplane always pitched up a bit when the bombs released. Looking to escape the searchlights, which made me feel highly exposed, I noted the actual smoke cloud which was on our left side and turned into it.

The first few moments were smooth as glass and then all hell broke loose. While I had been in many thunderstorms, none of them compared with the turbulence created by the massive conflagration. The super-heated air rose at a huge rate, tossing the B-29 around like a toy. The artificial horizon tilted to about 90 degrees and I couldn't remember when it would tumble. With hands wet with sweat. I fought for stability with ailerons and rudder, twisting the wheel, pushing the rudders. The altitude increased so that the rate of climb instrument was pegged. The forces overcame the autopilot and I had to ask Roger for help in controlling the airplane. The effect on the airplane was erratic - one moment almost turning us over, the next smoothing out until it would bounce us the other way. Together, we kept it right side up but later Roger told me that at one point he thought we were slightly on our backs. I managed to turn the airplane back toward where we had come from. Searchlights had become desirable in comparison to the smoke cloud.

When we did break out, I was happy to see that the search lights were not in evidence. Bradley called from his cramped position in the tail and said, "I don't know what we are doing but I suggest that we get the hell out of here." I replied, "Good thinking, Brad." He drew some jeers from the other guys. I saw that we had gained about three thousand feet in the smoke cloud and decided to use it to our advantage so I dropped the nose and got the hell out of Japan at red-line speed. At the de-briefing, the favorite question heard was: "Hey, did you get into that 'gd' smoke cloud?" And so, that mission was our introduction to combat flying. As it turned out, we survived 23 more of them and we went home all in the same piece and in the same airplane, K-3. But, the irony of that first mission was that our crew received the Distinguished Flying Cross for "valiantly refusing to salvo the bomb load to save themselves during the critical period of crossing over Mount Fuji Yama." What they didn't know was, I would have salvoed those bombs in an instant if I had thought about it. But, what the heck, I've never been a quick thinker. I loved the Army Air Corps.

*A side note about MSGT John G. Stanko who perished on September 15, 1949 in a B-36 crash into Lake Worth in Texas. We feel that John Stanko deserves a medal for his heroism in the crash. In the accident report Wallace read that Stanko tried to rescue one of the crewmembers and in doing so lost his life. We have no information on any surviving relatives and if you have any information on him it might assist us in locating some relatives. Many thanks in advance for your assistance in this matter.


K-12: 2LT Morris Borene (Rad Ob)

We flew a total of 23 missions over Japan. Nine were daylight missions, both demolition and fire raids, while the remaining fourteen missions were all night fire raids.

A maximum effort was scheduled May 23, 1945 for southern Tokyo. It was to be a night incendiary raid. The four active bomb wings in the Marianas were to participate, including the 58th and 313th bW's on Tinian, the 73rd bW on Saipan and the 314th BW on Guam. Each wing consisted of four bomb groups of three squadrons each. All four wings used the B-29 Superfortress which was the only bomber we had in quantity with sufficient range to make the 3000 mile plus round trip to Japan and back. Approximately 520 planes participated in the raid. We were a replacement crew in the 457th bS. We had arrived at Guam in mid April, and after several training flights, we participated in two high altitude daylight demolition raids, one to a naval air field at Matsuyama on Shikoku May 5, and the other to the Kawanishi aircraft factory east of Kobe on Honshu May 12. These raids were in support of the Okinawa invasion which was in progress. In each of these raids, we were in formation and dropped our bombs on the leader. Both raids were regarded as "milk runs" as there was little enemy opposition. At the briefing for the May 23rd night raid, we were given route, drop zone and weather information, and told we were to fly alone to the target area, drop our bombs from our assigned altitude of 12,000 feet, and return. We were not required to hit the IP at any specific time, nor cross the target in formation. With over 500 planes converging on the target it was likely that there would be other B-29s in the area when we arrived. We were carrying 35-500 lb aimable clusters of fire bombs which would drop on an approximate 50 foot spacing and blow apart to scatter the individual bombs in each cluster before reaching the ground, thereby providing a very broad pattern. We were cautioned to avoid dropping any bombs in the Emperor's Palace area which would be north of the target area. Later we were trucked to Personal Equipment to pick up our parachutes, flak suits, Mae Wests, head sets, etc., then delivered to the hardstand of our assigned plane, K-11, which was named 'Je Reviens' (I shall return).

All 330th Bomb Group planes carried a large "K" on the vertical stabilizer. Bob Flischel recalls there were comments regarding compass problems in K-11's log and thinks that Johnston and he, with a skeleton crew, performed a mini compass swing in the afternoon preceding the mission. Everything looked OK and the decision was made to monitor compass operation between Guam and Iwo Jima, and turn back at this point if operation was unsatisfactory. After preflighting our equipment and pulling 12 blades of each prop through we took off after dark with the rest of the group, one at a time, on each of the two parallel runways, approximately one minute apart, and headed toward Japan. Our APQ-13 Radar had a maximum range of 100 miles at greater altitudes, and reduced range at lower altitudes. The radar was used as a navigational aid as well as for bombing on night missions and also day missions when the target was obscured. I gave Flischel several fixes until we were out of range of the Marianas islands along our route, then turned the radar off. While I had control of the radar, the navigator had a scope at his position, and therefore the same readout that I had. Also, we both had the same training, i.e. navigation and radar school. When we reached the Iwo Jima area, I gave him another fix, then shut the radar down again. Compass operation had been satisfactory. Liv Crowell recalls at this point we entered the permanent weather front that existed between Iwo and Japan. Bob Flischel concurs by stating that we hit weather and were in the clouds for an extended period of time. I went forward and laid down for a nap in the aft end of the insulated tunnel that connects the fore and aft pressurized compartments of the plane across the two bomb bays. It is approximately 1500 miles north from Guam to Japan and Iwo is midway between. At our 230 mph ground speed it would be over two hours before we would again be within radar range of land. Later I was awakened and told that landfall was about 100 miles ahead. I turned on the radar and began watching for a land return on the scope.

We had begun our climb from 2,000 to 12,000 feet, thus increasing the range of the radar. After waiting a considerable length of time beyond our ETA for landfall, and with great concern as to where we were, we finally obtained a return about 80 miles ahead. As we drew closer we still were unable to pinpoint our location. The only detailed maps we had were in the vicinity of the Tokyo area, and it was obvious we werenft near the area. We reasoned that if were east of the Tokyo area, we would not have made landfall at all, so we turned east and paralleled the coast. After 20 minutes or so, we were able to establish our location southwest of the Tokyo area. We had made landfall south of the Nagoya area, about 100 miles west of where we should have been. Our fluxgate compass system had malfunctioned. We headed toward the IP which was Atami and the crew up front could see the glow from the fires that were raging on the ground ahead. As we left the IP Johnston and Donohoo increased the engine rpm and power settings which was normal procedure, and Bender opened the bomb bay doors. Also search lights picked us up and locked on, and flak commenced bursting around us. No other B-29s could be seen in the target area. Because of the additional distance we had flown, we were approximately an hour late in arriving in the target area and we were all alone. Since about 500 planes had approached earlier down the same or similar route, the enemy knew the route we would be flying. I couldn't see what was going on since the radar is located in a dark room with no observation port. Besides I am so busy on the bomb run that I would notbe able to look out anyway. Shortly after leaving the IP I had to make a 15 degree course correction to the right, and Johnston said "goddamn" before making the correction. This is a major correction to be making on a 40 mile bomb run, and I think it was partially due to our having to use the magnetic compass in lieu of the fluxgate. Later I suspected that the crew would have been happier if we had continued on our previous course and missed a lot of the action that was coming from our right. We still would have been in the Tokyo area, but west of the designated drop area. Our course was generally northeast. Liv Crowell recalls seeing a 20,000 foot smoke cloud and intense flak between us and the smoke cloud. Bob Flischel recalls Allen stating that heavy flak was breaking behind us and Bill Bender stating "You should see it up in front".

Things began happening pretty fast. A shell exploded in the accessory section of our No.1 engine and it caught fire. The fire was extinguished when Johnston feathered the engine. Another shell penetrated the bomb bay tunnel close to Welch's CFC position but did not explode. At the same time we are near the target and I am calling out sighting angles to Bender who is cranking the information into the Norden bomb sight which has previously been loaded with altitude, predicted ground speed and bomb ballistics information. The bomb sight then triggers the circuit which releases the bombs when the predetermined sighting angle is reached. In all the excitement I was not doing a very good job. I called out only two sighting angles, then could no longer identify the aiming point, probably due to interference from the bomb bay doors when I failed to adjust the radar antenna as we neared the target. Bob Flischel recalls that we lost oil pressure on another engine, and Johnston told Donohoo to let it go as long as the engine would run. The engine continued to run. The line to the pressure gauge had apparently been severed. After bombs away my job was to throw chaff(rope) out through the camera hatch which was located several feet outside the rear pressure bulkhead immediately next to my position. The chaff consisted of a length of aluminum foil about 1/2 inch wide with a 3" square of pasteboard connected to one end. The chaff was wound into a roll about 3" wide and 1/2" thick which opened quickly in the slipstream. The aluminum foil then unrolled when the pasteboard squares caught the slipstream, creating a target to deceive ground radar. We were not pressurized so I was able to step through the rear pressure bulkhead and commence tossing out chaff. Although my mike and headset cord was long enough to reach the camera hatch area, it became disconnected in all the excitement and I no longer could hear any of the crew to know what was going on. I knew the plane had gone into a dive, but wasn't sure why. I knew that if the crew was bailing out, some would have to pass me in order to reach the rear exit, so I continued tossing out the chaff. The camera was somewhat restricting my effort, and although I was getting most of the chaff to pass through the camera hatch, I was decorating the rear unpressurized compartment with foil like a Christmas tree. I could also see sparks from around the auxiliary power unit nearby, caused by the foil creating a short circuit. Looking down through the camera hatch I was staring into search lights and I felt the enemy below could see my face. I noticed that each time I tossed a handful of chaff, the search lights would back off and then come right back onto us. I learned later that Spilich was also tossing out chaff from the front compartment of the plane. Also later I learned that Johnston had dived the plane to increase air speed in order to reach the smoke cloud as soon as possible and escape the search lights. Liv Crowell recalls that after bomb release, flak was still between us and the smoke cloud as the Japs anticipated that we would turn into the cloud for cover. When that didn't happen they redirected their fire at us. At that time we made an abrupt turn to the right into the cloud, then a 45 degree turn to the left. When we left the cloud at over 300 mph we had lost the search lights. Because the path over Tokyo Bay was too dangerous, we continued over land and within 15 minutes we were over the Pacific heading for Iwo two hours away. By diving to 2,000 feet and applying full power to the remaining three engines, we exited the area in a hurry passing over north Tokyo, then heading east over a peninsula to reach the ocean, then turning south toward home. Dawn was breaking. We had lost valuable altitude which would have allowed us to descend slowly along the way, thus saving fuel. On the other hand we were thankful that none of the crew had been wounded, and felt rather lucky to have gone over the target alone and survived. We had been using the magnetic compass since learning the fluxgate system was malfunctioning, and that and radar would be our means of finding the way back. Bob Flischel recalls that we maintained a course east of the briefed course in order to maintain visual or radar contact with a string of islands that extended from Japan to Iwo. This would enable us to pinpoint our location with air-sea rescue in case we had to bail out or ditch. We didn't know the extent of damage, and were not sure we could reach Iwo.

Having been in the air an hour or so longer than anticipated, having lost 10,000 feet in the target area, and with the plane using more fuel than normal because of the unbalanced flying condition, we had no surplus of fuel and would liked to have landed at Iwo Jima to refuel. However when nearing Iwo we learned that numerous crews were having difficulties and were circling, wanting to land, and the decision was made to continue heading south to Saipan which was approximately 100 miles closer that Guam. Liv Crowell recalls that we were refused permission to land at Iwo because of fog cover. He further relates that over the radio another B-29 called the control tower to advise he was on the downwind leg and was coming in because he was low on fuel. He was told to pull up and go around. He then reported that he was on the base leg, and he was again ordered to pull up and go around. When he reported in on final approach, another voice came on and said, "This is Colonel ___. You are to pull up, cross over the runway, bail out and ditch the plane." It was at that time the decision was made to head for Saipan. Bob Flischel recalls the following. There was a blanket of fog over Iwo, and while still north of Iwo, we could hear over the radio lots of damaged planes requesting permission to land and the tower refusing to give permission. Johnston asked me how long to reach Saipan, and I advised four hours. He asked Donohoo how much gas we had, and Donohoo advised 3.5 hours. Johnston decided to head for Saipan. At one of our Bomb Group reunions I asked him why he decided to go on. He said he believed my estimate would be long and Donohoo's would be short, and the overlap might cover us. Also, if we circled at Iwo we would not make it, and not knowing how long Iwo would be closed he took the gamble. With our fuel supply dwindling, we commenced throwing surplus equipment our of the plane including flak suits and ammunition. In preparation for the worst the majority of the crew voted to bail out in lieu of ditching. ( I voted to ditch.) We lucked out due to the efforts of Johnston, Crowell, and Donohoo to milk every possible mile out of our remaining fuel, and landed safely at Isley Field on Saipan, the home of the 73rd b. With very little fuel it is difficult to keep fuel supplied to each engine, but Donohoo was equal to the task. We lost a 2nd engine after landing while taxing in to the ramp, and Donohoo later estimated that we had about 50 gallons left from the original 6,000 gallons we took off with. There was not enough gas in any of the tanks to measure with a dip stick. We had been in the air for 16 1/4 hours, and on three engines for 8 1/2 hours. We were happy that Je Reviens had lived up to its name. Bob Flisched recalls that Johnston called the Saipan tower requesting clearance to land and advising that we had enough gas for only one pass. He brought the plane in on a very flat approach not knowing how much gas would be trapped in the tanks, thereby starving the engines, and chopped the throttles as soon as possible. While waiting for transportation back to Guam, we noticed a B-32 parked on the ramp, and after convincing the plane's crew that we would do no harm, we were allowed to look through their plane. That was the only B-32 that I ever saw. Liv and Bob both recall that we were flown back to Guam on a B-24. We were picked up later that day and flown back to our home base, North Field on Guam. When we were debriefed Johnston was told that under the circumstances we should have aborted our mission, salvoed our bombs and returned to Guam. In passing by the squadron bulletin board, we learned that we were scheduled to fly another night mission the next day to south-central Tokyo. This time we stayed on course, made the bomb run along side another plane that was caught in the lights, dropped our bombs and returned unscathed to our home base in 15 hours. As it turned our more planes were lost on this raid, than the one two nights before. Bob Flischel recalls that planes on both sides of us were caught in the search lights and we waltzed down the middle unscathed. K-11 was repaired and returned to the 330th to fly additional missions. Our crew flew K-11 again June 10 on a day demolition raid on the Kasumigaura Naval Base north of Tokyo.

On June 7 we flew our 6th mission, a day fire raid on Osaka in K-16. We had to land at Iwo for gas. It was a very slow process, with many planes circling, waiting to land. It was raining very hard, and there were inadequate facilities to handle all the planes. As I recall we were parked at the end of the runway along with others, and planes taking off came right over us. One mistake or failure would have destroyed a lot of planes and crews. When it came our turn to take off, we together with two other planes taxied to the far end of the runway and took off one at a time. There apparently was no taxi strip.

On our 7th mission, a day demolition raid on the Kasumigura Naval Base north of Tokyo on June 10, we dropped 20 GP bombs and our 700-gallon bomb bay gas tank. The tank was suspended from bomb shackles, and some how those shackles were connected to the interval meter along with the other bomb shackles. Fortunately the gas had been transferred to the wing tanks beforehand. We made it home without having to stop at Iwo for gas. On our 9th mission, a night fire raid on Kagishima on June 17, I screwed up. Kagishima was a coastal city, in a location with a good land-water radar contrast, and I had arranged with Bender, our bombardier, to use a stop watch to measure a 10 second interval before releasing the bombs upon my command. When the moment arrived, I said "drop-em" instead of "hack", and Bender dropped them. I hadn't realized that we had goofed until the gunners reported that the bombs were landing in the water short of the target. I believe all 38-500 lb aimable clusters fell in the water. We may have damaged some ships but that was all.

On July 9 we flew our 16th mission, a night fire raid. Gifu in Honshu was our target, and we were carrying 40-500 lb aimable clusters. Our plane was K-12, "Our Baby". Our bombing altitude was 16,000 ft. We dropped by radar. Everything had gone well up to this point, but we could not avoid entering the tremendous smoke cloud in the target area, and then all hell broke loose. The plane commenced violent up and down movements, much more violent than in any thunderstorm we had ever encountered. My seat belt wasn't fastened and I was sitting on my flak suit. My flak suit and I rose and fell. I used my hands to protect my head from hitting the ceiling, and finally after several cycles from my seat to the ceiling and back, I was able to grab hold of my seat after the flak suit fell to the side. My maps, plotter, calculator, dividers, etc., all fell to the floor. There was the odor of pine smoke in the plane. Now the plane's P-can (toilet) is located in the radar room. Fortunately no one had crapped in the can, but whoever used it last failed to secure the lid. The large bucket came out of the housing and its contents were spilled over the floor where my maps and equipment lay. Since we don't have running water on board, I had to improvise in the best way possible in cleaning my maps and equipment. I'm not familiar with the cockpit instrumentation, but do know that the gyroscopic instruments had tumbled, and we came out of the smoke in a steep turn and a few thousand feet higher. After that, things returned to normal and we headed for home.

When returning from our 23rd mission on August 15, a night fire raid on Kumagaya, we heard the tower advise a plane ahead of us that it was making the first peacetime landing at North Field on Guam. How's that for good news? On one of our daylight missions, the Japanese dropped phosphorus bombs set to explode at our altitude ahead of our formations. It was a beautiful sight, but could disable our engines if we flew through it. Although we were told that we would be accompanied by Mustang fighter protection in the target area on some of our missions, I don't believe we ever saw one. On day missions we would fly alone to Japan and assemble in formations off the Japanese coast. Formation leaders would drop their nose wheels and fire flares. Up to an hour's time was required for crews to find their squadron and group formations, after which they would proceed to the target. On one occasion when we were unable to find our group, Japanese fighters appeared. They were less apt to attack a formation than a straggler. A formation from another wing was passing in the opposite direction and Johnston did a steep 180 to join it. I thought the wings of our plane would break off and the bombs would tear off their shackles and fly through the bomb bay doors from the G forces. We went on to the target with our new friends. On one of our night missions we were chased by a kamikaze. It was our understanding that he was equipped with three rockets, which could be fired all at once or individually. He was unable to catch us. We were pulling full power to escape, and after a few minutes he had expended his rockets and started down. Our take-off weight was usually 140,000 lb and we had to attain an indicated air speed of about 140 mph before we could leave the ground. Our engines were supercharged and we pulled 56 inches of Hg manifold pressure at 2800 rpm when taking off. We weren't supposed to pull over 52 inches, but it is doubtful that we could have taken off on our 8,500 ft runways at the lower manifold pressure. One evening when we were not scheduled to fly, we positioned ourselves at the end of one of the runways to watch the others take off. Some went into the coral past the end of the runway before leaving the ground. When taking off we would run the engines up to takeoff power and close the cowl flaps before releasing the brakes and starting our roll. The plane could not take off with the cowl flaps open and with a full bomb and fuel load. We leveled off immediately after take off in order to pick up air speed while raising the landing gear and opening the cowl flaps. On Guam we had to clear several miles of jungle, then we reached a 500 foot cliff and could dive to pick up airspeed and cool the engines.

On one mission we had to take off in the opposite direction and lost the benefit of the cliff. When taking off on missions we would be carrying 18 tons of gas and up to 10 tons of bombs. We would consume 2/3 of our gas going to the target, so we would be much lighter when returning from the target. In addition we were gradually letting down from our bombing altitude. Under these conditions, the engine rpm was reduced to approximately 1600, which enabled us to hold an approximate 185 mph air speed. With an engine to prop ratio of 20 to 7, you could nearly count the prop revolutions. One time when we were returning from a mission, we saw a signal flare below and upon further investigation, we spotted what appeared to be a crew in several life rafts. We circled them and contacted Air-Sea Rescue. We were requested to continue circling until a cruiser could get a fix on us in order to pinpoint the downed crew. It was daylight, and soon we saw a cruiser appear over the horizon. Soon we were notified that our location had been established and we could leave for home. The Navy did a thorough job of searching for and picking up down airmen. At a briefing we were told that they had cruisers in the vicinity of Iwo and the Marianas, then destroyers further north, and finally submarines off the coast of Japan. If we went down over Japan and could get to the coast and signal, they would try to pick us up. The Navy also used amphibious planes in their searches. We frequently penetrated weather fronts in route to and from the target. These were penetrated with little difficulty. It takes a huge thunderhead to appreciably bounce the B-29. I often remarked that Japan was blessed with clouds. On some of the day missions when we would have liked to bomb visually, we were forced to use radar because of the cloud coverage. I enjoyed the debriefing after missions. We were given a shot of rye whiskey. Some of the crew didn't drink whiskey, so I might get to have a second shot. Also, two Red Cross ladies were there serving coffee and doughnuts.

After hostilities ceased we flew three more "missions". On September 2 we flew in formation over the battleship Missouri in Tokyo bay and could see the sailors standing at attention during the peace-signing ceremonies. Afterwards we all went our separate ways around Japan to view damage, and ended up buzzing a carrier in Tokyo bay. Several Hellcats chased us for a few minutes. Upon return to Guam our group was reprimanded for our antics and we were forced to fly several formation practice missions. On September 30 we flew a show-of-force mission in formation with guns loaded over Korea when our ground troops moved in to thwart a possible attempt of aggression by Russia.

On October 15 we flew to Okinawa with our bomb bays filled with ten-in-one rations, and stood by while POW's unloaded the cargo. The need for the rations was caused by a recent typhoon, which beached and damaged many ships. I hid two boxes of the rations beneath the floorboards in the radar room, and we enjoyed the good food after returning to Guam. It was much better than our regular chow.

All members of the crew received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters for our efforts. Our crew assembled and trained at Pyote Army Air Base, Pyote, Texas in January, February and March 1945. We were a replacement crew in the 330th BG, which had trained at Walker Army Air Field near Hays, Kansas. (In retrospect I wish I had prepared this writeup earlier while Bobbie Johnston was still living, and before Bill Bender suffered a stroke affecting his memory. Both were in a position to add important details to his story, and had attended earlier Bomb Group reunions while in better health. Jerry Grometstein and Earl Allen were deceased prior to this writing and before any Bomb Group reunions were held.)


K-51: 2LT Guy W. Shine (P)

(I asked Mr. Shine to compare the B-17 and the B-29. My father loved the B-17 above all others.) The B-29 was indeed quieter than the B-17. The pilots could carry on a normal conversaation without innercom in the B-29. The B-17 wasn't all that bad, though. As you probably know, the B-29 was pressurized whereas the B-17 wasn't. This made the B-29 more comfortable at altitude and it was roomier too. I did love the B-17 as you could actually fly it by the seat of your pants and you had a better feel of the plane. Someone once said the B-29 was like setting on your front porch and flying the house. That is pretty much true as the pilots did set right up in the nose and with the rounded nose, there wasn't the good reference to whether your wings were level or not. You didn't, for instance, feel the drift in a cross wind in the B-29 as much as in the B-17. In the B-29 it seemed the runway moved sideways and you had to take action with the ailerons as well as rudder to correct, whereas in the B-17 kick in a little rudder and moe her over. I guess you could say the B-17 handled a little better by virtue of the fact it was lighter, Neither plane had boosted controls so the B-29 was harder to manhandle. The B-29 was a super plane and I for one, am proud to have flown her.

(What were some of your most harrowing experiences) There were several that come to mind. On one of our daylight missions, we came off of the target and was headed out still in formation. We were a flight leader crew and were leading when a Jap fighter peeled off in front of us and made a head on attack, firing as he came. I'm sure it was a suicide attack. Our Bombardier, took him out with the front six 50 cal. machine guns. The Jap sunk in below us and went straight into a hill side. Our Bombardier (1LT John H. Schafer) got the kill.

Another frightening mission: On a night mission we came off of the target and were headed for the coast and home. (It was a fire raid and the planes went over the target according to a set time, therefore, we were alone) The tail gunner came over the intercom and said he saw an enemy plane in the reflection of the fires drop something and fire was shooting out of the tail and headed our way. It could only be one thing, a Baka Bomb, manned by a pilot and rocket powered on a suicide attack. The radar operator confirmed that it was on track toward us and gaining fast. Our only chance was to outrun it and that is just what we did. Nose down, full power from 12,000 feet to 500 feet. The thing blew up just below us. The flash was very apparent. The B-29 cruised at 225 mile per hour and in our dive, we probably hit 350 miles per hour or better.

(Were there any "milk-run" missions?)Toward the end of the war, my squadron was assigned to hit air fields a number of times. On these missions, we usually didn't face much opposition. We classified these few missions as "milk runs". I remember a couple where we didn't have any opposition at all for which we were most grateful. We learned later that the Japs were holding hundreds of planes in reserve, as well as fuel, awaiting our invasion which everyone, including us knew was coming. But the dropping of the atomic bombs made that unnecessary.

(How long did it take to prepare a B-29 for a mission?) This was done by the ground crews while we were briefing for the mission. So as aircrew members, we didn't take part in that operation. I do know for a fact that it took hours and hours to load 12,000 to 14,000 pounds of bombs and pump in 4,000 or so gallons of gas. Our hats were off to those guys who many times worked around the clock without much if any sleep, just to be sure our plane was in tip top shape ready to go. All the systems had to be checked for leaks and engines checked for proper operation. I can't say enough praise for those men. Many times engines had to be changed which was a major operation in itself and they stuck with it until it was done. Then we had to take the plane up to slow time the new engine, that is, to break it in, for four hours. Sometimes they didn't have all that much time between missions to accomplish all of this.

(What happened just prior to a mission?) While they were getting the planes ready, the aircrews were briefing for the mission itself. This usually went something like this: The mission was posted a day ahead of time. So, say it was a daylight mission over the target, we would have an afternoon briefing which would take an hour or so for everyone. Then the crews would break up into separate groups according to their specialty. As I recall, for another hour or so. We would then be free to take a nap and get things ready to go. After evening chow, a final weather briefing and last minute changes as to route, target etc. that may have been made. If it were, say a morning strike, then our take off time could be as late as 2:00 o'clock in the morning. Seven to nine hours to the target, then seven to nine hours back home. Needless to say, there wasn't much sleep before we took off and sleeping in a B-29 wasn't all that comfortable. The ones who had to stay awake the most were the Pilots, Navigator and Engineer. The rest could curl up and sleep some. As for my crew, we pilots took turns of one hour each to stay awake and watch our course, altitude etc. Sometimes to while away the hours, we read, played gin rummy but always attending to business. It did get boring, especially if there was no bad weather or other distractions. If it was a daylight strike, then we would always go in formation which would take place well before getting to the empire, for protection against fighters. After hitting the target, we would stay in formation until clear, then break up for the trip home. We always had a food warmer with trays of food. I always ate mine before we got to the target. I felt if I got shot down, at least I wouldn't be hungry. Most of the others on my crew waited until we were headed home before eating. After debriefing back at base, it was a shower, food and to bed regardless of the time of day or night and sleep the clock around and then eat a bite and maybe go back to bed again. It's a good thing we were young at the time.


Broadcast from "City of Omaha" 29 July 1945 on mission to Ogaki Japan.

"This is George Thomas Foster reporting from headquarters on Guam. Seven task forces of B-29's of the 20th Air Force left the base today to strike in the early morning darkness on the 29th of July at six Japanese cities and an oil refinery on the island of Kunashir. War Correspondent Ray Clark is flying in one of the B-29's, the City of Omaha. So for an eyewitness account, we take you to Ray Clark over the target at this moment. " [Ray Clark]"This is Ray Clark on the flight deck of the Super Fortress City of Omaha almost ready to head in on the bomb run on the city of Ogaki, Japan. " [Eleanor Clark, wife of Ray Clark] "His purpose on going out there in the first place was to find and interview any Heartland people, you know, to interview them so their folks could hear their voices and, of course, that -- the parents seemed to like that. I mean, it was something that helped the morale he felt." [Howard McClellan, City of Omaha A/C] "I first met Ray after he had found out that there was a city of Omaha, a B-29, and he wanted to as a war correspondent tape an interview with us that he could send back to the states to WOW that he had interviewed the crew that was flying the B-29 "City of Omaha". After he made this tape recording, he said he would like to make a flight with us. I thought this was pushing and I said, Ray, I don't think you really want to go on a combat mission, but he said no, I really want to go on one and not only that, I want to make a broadcast right off the flight deck of an actual bomb run." The 20th Air Force approved Ray's request for the broadcast and he prepared for the mission. The target was the industrial city of Ogaki, Japan. [Gene Christmann, City of Omaha RO] "As I recall the only thing he brought along was a big, what did you call it, a dynamic microphone. As I recall that's all he had with him. It had a good long extension cord on it so it could be plugged into my transmitter, and we went from there." With Ray aboard the City of Omaha, the B-29's departed on their long flight to Ogaki. [Ray Clark reporting] "We go through the darkness. It's about now 2:30 over Japan. You can see ahead the two targets which are already on fire." From the plane, the signal went to Guam requiring a special long range antenna. >From there, it was rebroadcast to the states. [Christmann] "I was told after the broadcast was over but before I signed off from Guam that the broadcast had been carried live by three networks here in the states and recorded for rebroadcast later by two others." [Ray Clark reporting] "We see some of those flashes coming up. Of course, the bomber did the job regardless of whether there is any flack or not. Bombs away and there they go. Light lifts to the planes as we see those bombs leave us. Of course, now we are now directly above that target. We cannot tell exactly what's happened from those individual bombs. We can see from what has happened to the others that the bomb has done destruction. This is Ray Clark speaking from the flight deck of a B-29 City of Omaha over the target of Ogaki. And now we leave the target for home. I return you now to San Francisco."


K-6: SSGT Virgil V. Rutledge (Asst. Crew Chief)

At about the time the so called ground echelon left WAAFB for Guam by boat the flight crews and some ground crewmen flew to Cuba for the over-water training pf the fight crews . It is believed that the crew chief and assistant crew chief was pretty well decided when the plans left Walker for , Cuba. Albert Popalis as crew chief and I Virgil Rutledge, as assistant flew to Cuba with A/C Captain Erwin and his flight crew. (This was a WAAFB B-29 not the K planes that were picked up later.) Most, I believe, to have been assigned at the Kearney, NB processing center. As a rule, the crew chief and assistant crew chief flew to Guam with their respective planes. In the instance with K-6, Harold Dillee, 457th Engineering Officer was also assigned to fly over with this plane. Shortly after arrival in Guam, Baker was assigned to K6 as the 3rd man of the ground crew. (Baker had previously arrived with the ground echelon.) M/Sgt. Popalis, Baker and I served with K-6 for nine missions when Poplis was reassigned. S/Sgt Jones was then assigned as crew chief and we three were together until war's end. K-6 having a total of 28 missions over the empire. It should be noted, that once our plane was ready for a another mission we would assist others in getting their plane ready. I'm sure that most ground crew members had worked on all 457th squadron planes at one time or another.


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