13th Mission Bonjour L’usine
“Please put on your best uniform and bathe, we will be heading to Paris, France,” then Mike Bell cracked a smile. “Of course it will be to bomb the outskirts”.
The crew piled into the plane into their positions and readied themselves for their 13th mission. It was to bomb the factories just outside Paris.
As the group formed up the Iron Maiden was again in the safer middle part of the bombing group.
The Germans came out early this time and tried to hit our bomber group while over the channel. Me-109s came wading in. Four tried to reach the Iron Maiden, but two were driven off by good fighter coverage.
That left two at 12 low and 9 high.
Both the nose gun and ball turret opened up on the 12 low. Ron Duke in the nose gun scored a solid hit and the plane began to sputter. Just then, the twin guns from Dave Naney’s ball turret scored a direct hit. The plane’s right wing was torn off then it exploded into a spectacular flaming ball. One plane and pilot down!
The second 109 came in blazing away, but before it could find a good attack position it was hit good by the port waist gunner, Tim Blair, making it break off its attack.
“That will show them to challenge us so early,” Dave Naney fired off.
That seemed enough for the Germans as our bomber group was not harassed by any more enemy fighters until the outskirts of Paris.
As we lined up for our final leg of the journey, we could see the German fighter defenses had recovered and were going to make us pay. We were beyond friendly fighter coverage as we headed towards our target…
…straight and level.
The first to reach our bomber were three deadly FW-190s coming in fast and furious.
“12 high” called out Ron Duke manning the nose gun. He fired away as best he could, but he hit nothing, the plane missed its shots then heading off to other targets.
Another FW-190 came in at 3 high.
“I’m on him at 3 hi”, called the top gunner, Steve Miller, calm and cool.
Since becoming an ace, his gunnery skill was becoming a conversation point, and not just with the crew of the Iron Maiden, but also within the bombing squadron.
As if on cue he fired a long burst from his twin guns, scoring yet another hit. It was deadly, as the German plane quickly dropped from level flight, flipped over and spun towards the earth below.
Just then the last FW at 1:30 high opened up. Being missed by both the starboard cheek and waist gunners she ripped her deadly shells into the bomber.
The Iron Maiden was hit all across her wing span. The right wing was hit and pieces of metal lifted up and trailed off, the fuselage was hit, then the left wing.. then a KABOOM!
The number #1 engine was hit and burst into flames.
“What the….” Mike Bell trailed off, “get that engine turned off!” He yelled to Dan Griffin, as he struggled with the plane.
Like the professional he was, Dan Griffin pulled back the throttle to engine one and turned it off. She flared a bit more, then smoked, and finally stopped, the prop blade feathered.
“She’s dead but not burning any more” Dan cried out. “Good, now boost the other engine to compensate”, the skill of the captains words and actions flowed and Dan reacted immediately, steadying the plane.
The 190, sensing a kill, came back for a second pass to take out the bomber and the crew. This time she made the mistake of coming in at 12 high.
“Not this time, you sorry little devil” Steve Miller muttered.
Again the twin guns lit up, again he hit his target. He did not manage a direct hit, but the FW realized the Iron Maiden was not the easy kill she had hoped for. Riddled with bullets the German pilot broke off the attack, smoke starting to emerge as it trailed off.
“Fantastic job, Steve,” Mike said, acknowledging what everybody was thinking… his gunnery skills had probably saved their plane…and their lives.
Just then the Flak opened up. It was not especially thick, but it was BIG. The bomber just to the left of the Iron Maiden was hit hard and the right wing was torn off, it spun towards the earth, no parachutes were seen opening.
“Were close enough, let’s drop these bombs before we fall out of formation”, Mike Bell said, as the urgency of flying with only three engines was becoming of paramount importance.
“Bombs Away”, called Ron duke. “We are clear to return home”. It was a hasty drop but they were over the target and scored some hits.
As soon as they cleared the flak the German planes came at them again.
Two more FW-190s came in at 10:30 high and one at a vertical climb. The Iron Maiden brought all her guns to bear but missed the incoming planes. Lucky for them, the FW cannons also missed their mark.
One pass and they were gone.
“110’s trying to sneak in low. Looks like two of them” Ron Duke called out to the crew.
One came in at 10:30 low. Ron Walters in the port cheek gun fired away, getting his first hit. The single gun was not able to do enough damage to the twin engine Bf-110 and it came in for its attack run. She fired all her guns but missed.
The second lumbered in at 12 low. The nose and ball turrets fired away, missing the target. At the last second the 110 turned up its nose and fired right into the belly of the Iron Maiden.
The bomb bay was hit. So was the belly, but neither suffered any real damage. A third burst founds it way to the pilot’s compartment and severed the control cables.
“Damn”, Mike Bell muttered.
The 110 came back for another pass, this time both sides missed and the threat was gone.
The Germans tried one last attack run as we were over the channel.
4 Me-109s tried to reach or bomber group. By this time we had good fighter coverage and three of them were driven off.
The lone plane came in at a10:30 high pass. Tracers could be seen from the top turret, port cheek, and port waist. The German aircraft was hit by both the port check and top turret. That was enough as the lone 109 cut off its attack and headed back over the channel.
That only left landing the Iron Maiden with three engines operational. Like always, Mike Bell had a prefect touch down in good weather.
They were home.
“Next time, let’s try a cab ride through the city” Steve Miller said.
“As long as your covering me, I’ll go anywhere”, Mike Bell replied.
• The Iron Maiden had put 20% of her bombs on the target.
• The Iron Maiden had taken 90 damage points. (wing root, #1 engine out, control cables, 3x superficial hits)
• Steve Miller continued his onslaught with one FW-190 destroyed, and damaging a Me-109 and FW-190.
• Damage to enemy planes: (destroyed 1x109, 1x190); (probable 3x109, 1x190); (damaged 1x110, 1x190, 1x109).
• The Iron Maiden suffered it’s first engine loss during combat.
- Last edited Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:40 pm (Total Number of Edits: 5)
- Posted Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:17 am