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Subject: Boxcar Willie AAR 900th BG Mission 2 rss

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Bruce E. Schwark
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Manitowoc
Wisconsin
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I've always enjoyed how B17QotS and now TFT can turn a bunch of die rolls into a compelling narrative.

AAR Message : B-24D "Boxcar Willie"; William Shanks - commanding
900th (Heavy) Bombardment Group – 925th (Heavy) Bombardment Squadron
Based at: San Giovanni Airfield, Italy

11 January, 1944
Target: Rimini, Italy; Railroad Marshaling yards
Mission: 2; This bomber: 2
Combat Box Formation; position 14 (low cell)

Crew: (Missions Flown) Name [E/A Credited]
(1) Pilot: 1Lt. William Shanks
(1) Copilot: 2Lt. Hugh Bennick
(1) Bombardier: 2Lt. Frank Sherwood
(1) Navigator: 1Lt. Clemens Fesmire [½-109]
(1) Engineer: MSgt. Tom Hughes [1-109]
(1) Radioman: TSgt. Ripley Andrews
(1) Ball Gunner: Sgt. Eugene Hamill [½-109]
(1) Left Waist: Sgt. Stuart Balcombe
(1) Right Waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
(1) Tail Gunner: Sgt. Oscar Shoup

Mission Results Summary
Bomb-run: 30% on-target
Enemy flak: none/light
Enemy aircraft encountered: 11 Fw190; 3 Me109; 1 Me110
E/A engaged by fighter escort: 3 Fw190; 1 Me109
E/A claimed destroyed by bomber crew:
(½) Fw190 – ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(½) Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
(⅓) Me109 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Me109 – nose: 2Lt. Frank Sherwood
(⅓) Me109 – tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
(½) Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(½) Fw190 – left waist: Sgt. Stuart Balcombe

E/A credited destroyed by bomber crew:
(½) Fw190 – ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(½) Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
(⅓) Me109 – nose: 2Lt. Frank Sherwood
Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
Fw190 – left waist: Sgt. Stuart Balcombe

E/A claimed damaged by bomber crew:
(⅓) Me109 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Me109 - cheek: 1Lt. Clemens Fesmire
(⅓) Me109 – left waist: Sgt. Stuart Balcombe
(⅓) Me109 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Me109 - ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(⅓) Me109 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
(½) Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(½) Fw190 - tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
Fw190 - tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
(⅓) Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Fw190 - ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(⅓) Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
(½) Fw190 - tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
(½) Fw190 - ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
Fw190 – cheek: 1Lt. Clemens Fesmire

Ammunition expended: 35 rounds

Crew Casualties: none

Damage to bomber: [Peckham Pts. = 116]
#4 engine fire [25]
#4 engine out [25]
Right wing inboard fuel tank leak [25]
Navigator’s equipment destroyed [10]
Back-up hydraulic pump [10]
Nose gun destroyed [10]
Cockpit window cracked [5]
Superficial hits 6 [6]

AFTER ACTION HIGHLIGHTS
Zone 1 outbound – weather over base good – takeoff went well.

Zone 2 outbound – no contacts.

Zone 3 outbound – no contacts. Dense clouds-no mission recall.

Zone 4 outbound – a pair of Fw190s attacked from 10-high and 3-level. No escort was in sight to help with our defense. Every position which could draw a bead on the enemy, fired. Accurate shooting severed a wing from the 190 attacking right abeam. The enemy pilot was seen bailing out from his aircraft. Our gunners to the port pumped shells into the engine of the 190 attacking from 10-high. The e/a seemed to shudder from our defensive fire, but the pilot kept coming. He roared overhead quite close, then disappeared from sight.
E/A claimed destroyed by bomber crew:
(½) Fw190 – ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(½) Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
E/A claimed damaged by bomber crew:
(⅓) Me109 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Me109 - cheek: 1Lt. Clemens Fesmire
(⅓) Me109 – left waist: Sgt. Stuart Balcombe

Zone 5 outbound – One Me109 and one Me110 made an attack run from 1-level and 3-level. Again, no escort appeared to help with our defense. Our gunners fired upon the 110 attacking from the front starboard quarter, but missed. It flew past inflicting no more than a crease to the aluminum. Our gunners peppered away at the 109 attacking right abeam. They claim to have damaged it. This 109 pilot, too, kept coming. He flew so close Sgt. Hughes claimed he could see the whites of the enemy’s eyes. The 109 flew off to find other prey.
E/A claimed damaged by bomber crew:
(⅓) Me109 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Me109 - ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(⅓) Me109 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram

Zone 6 outbound – One Me109 streaked in from behind some clouds at 12-high. Still no escort appeared to help with our defense. The nose and top guns opened fire and the tail gunner contributed as it flew past. Their combined fire tore into the wing and control surfaces. The tail gunner reported the enemy pilot abandoned his plane and parachuted away.
E/A claimed destroyed by bomber crew:
(⅓) Me109 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Me109 – nose: 2Lt. Frank Sherwood
(⅓) Me109 – tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup

Zone 7 target approach – no enemy fighters encountered. An unknown B24 joined our cell port abeam. Its squadron markings were unfamiliar, nor could it be raised on radio or aldis lamp.
No flak was encountered on approach to the target.
Bombardier 2Lt. Frank Sherwood planted 30% of bombs on target.

Zone 7 target egress – As our craft turned to leave the target area, the flak erupted. Two pieces of shrapnel penetrated the nose compartment. The navigator’s maps and instruments, plus the forward-firing Browning were destroyed. How the shrapnel missed the lieutenants was nothing but miraculous.
Once the flak began no further enemy fighters came upon us. The mysterious B24, however, continued to lurk port abeam.

Zone 6 return – A lone Me109 made an approach from 12-high. The P38 escort arrived to tangle with the enemy, enabling us to continue our flight without further mishap. The unknown B24 previously sighted had disappeared from sight.

Zone 5 return – We seemed to have provoked the ire of the Luftwaffe. They seemed to single out the Boxcar in retribution. First 3 Fw190s appeared. Thankfully the P38 escort drove two away. Our Brownings opened fire, but missed. The 190 did not; it cracked the copilot’s window and punctured the inboard fuel tank of the right wing. The fuel leak proved to be intermittent allowing us to return to base. This 190 had attacked from 3-low, it then made a broad climbing circle and attacked again from 12-high. MSgt. Hughes claimed to damage it, but the 190 still hit our craft. It damaged the backup hydraulic pump.
E/A claimed damaged by bomber crew:
(½) Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(½) Fw190 - tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
Two more Fw190s appeared, one attacking from each front quarter. The P38 escort engaged the 190 at 1-high. Our gunners took aim, fired, but missed the remaining 190 attacking from 10-low. The shots from enemy pilot went wide and missed. Sgt. Shoup fired as the 190 passed by; he claimed to have hit it. The 190 flew away from us.
E/A claimed damaged by bomber crew:
Fw190 - tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
The Luftwaffe was still not done with us. Four more Fw190 swarmed around us attacking from the front and both beams. Our little friends those P38s must have been busy, for we found ourselves alone against these 190s. All six of our remaining gun positions fired away with all intensity; each claiming to have hit their targets. The 190s attacking from 12-low and 1-high missed our bomber and flew off. The 190 attacking from port abeam was unable to complete his attack. Our gunners shredded the wing and control surfaces of that 190. The 190 attacking from 3-level proved to be a nemesis. In spite of being hit, the enemy still holed the Boxcar. All were of no consequence except one, which hit engine #4. It caught fire, but the onboard extinguishers put it out. Having already dropped our bombs we could continue with the group. This zealous 190 pilot made a full circle and attacked from 3-level again. He would not succeed again. Our gunners put up a shield of lead, which the enemy chose not to confront; he flew away.
E/A claimed damaged by bomber crew:
(⅓) Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(⅓) Fw190 - ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
(⅓) Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
(½) Fw190 - tail: Sgt. Oscar Shoup
(½) Fw190 - ball: Sgt. Eugene Hamill
Fw190 – right waist: Sgt. Frank Ingram
Fw190 – cheek: 1Lt. Clemens Fesmire

E/A claimed destroyed by bomber crew:
(½) Fw190 - top turret: MSgt. Tom Hughes
(½) Fw190 – left waist: Sgt. Stuart Balcombe

Zone 4 return – no contacts.

Zone 3 return – no contacts.

Zone 2 return – no contacts.

Zone 1 return
Returned to base. Landed without mishap in spite of savaged backup hydraulic pump.

Respectfully submitted:
B-24D "Boxcar Willie"; 1Lt. William Shanks - commanding

P. S. [Meet my pilot]
Pilot: 1Lt. William Shanks
Nickname “Willie” - From the small town of Chipley, Florida, located about 100 miles east of Pensacola. During his teens Willie accompanied his father, a locomotive engineer, on deliveries to the naval air station and an expanding Valparaiso airport. Exposed to machinery coupled with a fascination for the planes he witnessed Willie volunteered for the USAAF. In homage to his father, Willie chose to call his lumbering bomber “Boxcar Willie.”
William is 22, standing 6-feet tall, weighing in at 164-pounds, having brown hair and eyes. And yet, he has a pallor and overbite, which belie his healthy frame. Willie is very health conscious; he eats right, doesn’t smoke, and engages in moderate exercise.
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Steve West
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Hey Bruce, this is Steve of the Lady G from the 930th BS. Man Jerry was all over you this mission. Good job getting home.
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Bruce E. Schwark
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Any time I get hit in the wings I cringe. Fuel tank hits and engine hits. I've lost so many aircraft/crews with them. My first mission with the 15th flying a B17G a few years back took me over 3 hours to play wherein I lost 3 engines but managed to bring Maid'n America back to Foggia.
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H inVan
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Nice story thanks. Was the ghostly b24 ever explained?
 
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Bruce E. Schwark
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It's a random event. The random event calls for a captured B17 piloted by the Luftwaffe to shadow the bombing group. I used a little artistic license and adapted the event to suit our B24 group. Calling it an unidentified B24, meant it could have been from another group that got lost and tagged along. I didn't want to come out and say definitely "Hey, look at the Luftwaffe B24 shadowing us!"
Just wanted to tell a story, not only a "just the facts ... AAR."
 
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