B-17: GREAT EXPECTATIONS
240th Bomber Squadron, 87th Bombardment Group
MISSION DATE: 28 Nov 1942
MISSION # 006 (3rd and final mission this plane)
TARGET: Marsala, Sicily, Italy - Airfield
AFTER ACTION REPORT
(This Mission flown using TFT with the North African Play-by-Forum Campaign)
Zone 2a: Two Me-109G’s tried to fight their way to us. One was run off and the other was damaged by our Top Turret.
Zones 2b – 3a – 3b: Nothing to Report
Zone 4a: Five 109G’s made a run at us. Our little friends in their P-40s stopped one cold, while the Jerry at 6:00 high came under the fire of the top turret- which scratched the paint, the tail guns – which missed, and the peashooter in the Radio Room – which cut the German Pilot in two. This would have been the source of all kind of jocularity if it hadn’t been for the tragedy on the other end of the bomber. A Jerry 109 had been attacking from 1:30 low; the ball turret jammed trying to take it out and in return the Jerry put about half a dozen bullets into our Bombardier, 2LT Murphy.
Then came the fateful decision. We could hear the officers up front discussing our options. Should we abort due to the death of the Bombardier or continue on. Our Navigator, 2LT Mathis, insisted that he could put our bombs on target, while our Engineer declared that he could get the ball turret unjammed in ten minutes. Of course all the boys in the back gave our input that the squadron needed our guns to ensure the integrity of the Combat Box. The decision was made to press forward.
Zone 4b: Nothing to report. Ball Turret remained jammed.
Zone 5a: Three waves comprising a total of four Me-109F’s and two C.205’s tried to get at the Great Expectations. We killed two of them – courtesy of the Top Turret and Tail Guns. Three more limped away as only probables. I near collision had us sweating, but overall we were feeling pretty good.
Zone 5b: No enemy action, but we got the discouraging report that the ball turret guns were busted, and would need serious repairs in the shop back in Tafaraoui. SGT Thompson moved up to the Nose Gun from the ball.
Zone 6a: Two waves got through to us – Five Italian C.202s were in the first wave. SGT Thompson seemed to like the leg room up front as he shattered the canopy of the fighter coming straight at us. We assume he also shattered what, or who, was behind the canopy as we didn’t see anyone bail out of the dying plane. Our Navigator, 2LT Mathis, shredded the tail of another 202. It hobbled away so the Captain said it was only a Probable, but our opinion was that Italian couldn’t land that wreck. We damaged a few others; then it was the Germans turn. They attacked us with a 109 and a 410. Both missed, but we’re convinced the 410 was leaking fuel as it ran away.
Zone 6b: Two waves from the Regia Aeronautica Italiana attacked us in Zone 6b. First we had two C.202’s give it a try, and SGT Thompson ripped the wing off of one with the Nose Gun. The second wave was three C.205’s. One fell to our escort, but the remaining two tagged us. Mostly superficial damage, but the two hits that counted knocked out the oxygen for the Bombardier’s station and knocked out the Tail Guns. The Port Cheek gun also jammed.
Zones 7a – 7b – 8a – 8b – 9a: Quiet, so we transferred ammunition from the Ball Turret to the Top Turret. The Port Cheek gun was also declared as permanently jammed after MSG Perez spent almost 40 minutes working on it.
TARGET ZONE 9b: The rest of the formation kept the Jerries away from us, but we did take Flak damage before and after our run. Our Navigator, 2LT Mathis, was true to his word, putting 50% of our bombs on target in spite of getting smacked by a piece of shrapnel. Unfortunately SGT Ingram got smacked harder resulting in a broken femur and an ugly entry wound. We would move SGT Ingram from the Tail to the Radio Room, where we tried to make him comfortable on the shredded remains of our rubber rafts.
Turning back for home we first ran into five C.202’s. The Italians didn’t seem to appreciate what we did to their airdrome. Three of them left us in flames – one via our escort, one via our Navigator who took his turn on the nose gun, and one cut down by our port waist gun.
Next it was the Germans turn – five Me-109G’s. The Navigator jumped over to the starboard cheek gun and tagged one for a probable, while the starboard waist gun poured a stream of bullets into the engine of a Jerry for a confirmed kill. In return we took a punch to the port wing root and lost the heat for the port waist gunner, who was also shot in the right foot. We were almost rammed, and peppered all over with bullet holes; but most of the damage looked cosmetic.
Zone 9a: Our first visit from the Focke Wulfs, as four FW-190s tried to fight their way to us. We damaged two and in return they took a chunk out of the rudder, ripped off our port aileron, and destroyed the bomb controls. A lone G.50 later tried to play us a visit and our jack-of-all-trades Navigator knocked some pieces off its starboard wing.
Zone 8b: Nothing to Report. The Captain had the port waist gunner move to the tail. He could serve as our eyes back there, stay warm, and rest his wounded foot.
Zone 8a: About 100 miles north of the German base at Bizerte, Tunisia, three 109’s made a run at us. Our escort ran one off, while the other two nailed us for mostly minor damage… then they made a second pass at us. The cry of FIRE came from the Radio Room. They got the fire out but we’d lost our oxygen for multiple crew members, plus we’d lost the heat in the nose. They made a third pass at us and our Starboard Waist Gun killed one. As we didn’t have two volunteers to bail out over the Med the Captain left the formation and took us to 10,000 feet. The Top Turret also jammed on us. There must be an issue with the armorer or this batch of ammo because three severe jams on one mission is more than coincidence.
Zone 7b: Two waves totaling six Italians and Germans. We traded superficial damage.
Zone 7a: No enemy aircraft, and we moved our Port Waist Gunner back to his station now that we were at a warmer altitude.
Zone 6b: Five C.202 and a German 109 spotted us and came racing in. A couple P-40s had adopted us and raced to break up the attack, but only stopped one bandit. I swear three of them were Aces! The Captain tried some evasive maneuvers but in their first pass they killed the Engineer and knocked out our #2 engine. On their second pass, the P-40s got the German Ace in the 109, but the Italians ripped into us, destroying our #4 engine. We had thought the Italian nickname “Thunderbolt” for that plane was a joke, but not anymore. They must have been low on fuel for they didn’t make a third pass.
Zone 6a x2: We figured that our position must have been passed on by those Thunderbolts, but even with our sluggish crawl over the desert we didn’t see any enemy fighters.
Zone 5b x2: Still no Krauts. The Captain was able to communicate with the P-40s that we needed them to lead us to Maison Blanch. Our Navigator’s equipment was in shambles and we couldn’t take a chance finding our base if we lived that long.
Zone 5a x2: We had some more little friends, and just in time as two Reggiane Re.2000 Falcos and a Me-109 discovered us. All three were driven off by our escort. Then we had five 109’s and a Me-410 come looking for blood. Again three were run off by our escort, but the remaining three slammed into us; scattering pieces of our rudder and our #3 engine over the burning sand below us. They also put a number of ugly holes in our instrument panel and on their second pass they blew more holes in the instrument panel. They destroyed our worthless Top Turret on the third pass, though the P-40s had dealt with a couple more of them.
A little later three more 109’s found us, but our escort ran them all off.
Zone 4b x2: Four C.202’s and that single 109 that always seemed to be there showed up. They made a couple passes at us. Two fell to the escort, but they seriously wounded 2LT Montgomery, the Co-Pilot. I heard it described as an ugly chest wound. SGT Thompson helped get him out of his seat and took over his yoke as the plane was hard to fly alone with only one engine and the control surfaces mangled.
Later we had three 109G’s come over looking for an easy kill. The P-40s got one, the Navigator got the second with the Nose Gun, and SGT Bradley got his fourth kill of the day with the Starboard Waist Gun.
Zone 4a x2: The only planes we could see were American P-40s, shepherding us to their base at Maison Blanch. Finally we could spot the base, and the Captain ordered all able-bodied crew to hit the silk. SGT Thompson tried to argue with our wounded Navigator, 2LT Mathis, about who should assist the Captain by sitting in the Co-Pilot’s seat. Mathis claimed to have had some flight training, and then the two officers ordered Thompson to bail out.
As we landed on the burning sands near the base we looked southeast to see greasy black smoke rise from the base and we knew the worse.
Report based on interviews with the surviving crew members of the Great Expectations:
SGT Ellis Jennings, SGT Rickey Thompson, SGT Aubrey, and SGT Emmett Bradley
Superficial x48 (48)
S. Tail Root (10)
KIA x2 (20)
SW x2 (10)
LW x3 (6)
S. Tail Root (25)
Top Turret Destroyed (20) (had been Permanently Jammed before being destroyed)
Tail Turret Destroyed (20)
Ball Turret Permanently Jammed (10)
P. Cheek Gun Permanently Jammed (5)
Oxygen Fire – Radio Room (25) (used 1 extinguisher)
Oxygen Out – Radio Room (10)
Oxygen Out – Bombardier (10)
Oxygen Out – Tail (10)
S. Wing Fuel Tank – Self Sealed (10)
P. Wing Fuel Tank – Self Sealed (10)
Fuel Transfer Pump n/e (5)
Rubber Rafts Destroyed x2 (10+5)
P. Wing Root (25)
Heat Out PWG (10)
Heat Out Nose (10)
Rudder x2 (20)
Bomb Controls Inop (10)
Nav Equip Inop (10)
P. Aileron inop (10)
Window x1 (5)
Control Cables (5)
P. Landing Gear Brake out (25)
#2 Engine Out (25)
#4 Engine Out (25)
#3 Engine Out (25)
Peckham Points: 504… and then the crash landing
Landing: Crashed, attempting to land at an Emergency Airstrip
Total # of Enemy Encountered: 76 (yes, 76!)
39x Bf-109: 5 Destroyed, 4 Probable (FBOA), 2 Damaged(FCA), 18 Driven away by Escort
2x Bf-410: 1 Probable, 1 Driven off
4x FW-190: 2 Damaged
3x Re.2000: 2 Driven off
22x C.202: 5 Destroyed, 2 Probable, 2 Damaged, 4 Runoff
5x C.205: 2 Destroyed, 1 Probable, 2 Driven off
1x G.50: 1 Damaged
That was quite the flight! I just got my copy of TFT today, so I'll poke out the bits and give it a try.