B-17: BLUES IN THE NIGHT
240TH Bomber Squadron, 87th Bombardment Group
(North African Play-By-Forum Campaign)
MISSION DATE: 16 DEC 1942
MISSION # 017
TARGET: Cagliari, Sardinia - Airfields
Squadron Position: High
Bomber Position: Lead (until leaving the formation)
AFTER ACTION REPORT using Target For Today:
OUTBOUND: Takeoff from Tafaraoui was on schedule. We were Lead bomber in the High Squadron, heading out over the Mediterranean and had nothing to report until we were approximately 200 miles from Sardinia, when we noticed fighters shadowing the formation in Zone 6B, no E/A got close to Blues, yet we started keeping a sharp lookout. Soon after entering Zone 7A, the attacks started in earnest. First we had three Italian C202s make a run at us. One was run off by our escort, one was damaged by our Radio Room gun, and it staggered off to the northeast, and the remaining Folgore was chopped up by the combined firepower of the squadron. Both our Ball Turret Gunner and Tail Gunner claimed the victory, but when we got home the review board thought differently. As they both ended up getting a number of confirmed kills before our adventure was over there was no griping about sharing the kill. The next two waves in Zone 7A were German from the south – Tunisia we presume. We personally faced eight Bf-109s, and when the skies cleared we had taken no damage; while the Krauts lost two attackers to our combined streams of .50 cal shells, had two more limp towards Bizerte trailing smoke, and saw three of them driven off by our escort. In 7B the group continued to face harassment, though Blues didn’t have a clear shot at any of them. Good thing as we needed to conserve our ammo for the return trip.
TARGET ZONE – 8A: We made a hard left turn, away from the phony route that would have taken us to Sicily, and bore in towards our actual Target for Today – the Monserrato airfield at Cagliari, Sardinia. In addition to blunting the Italian attackers and patrols over the Med, reconnaissance has spotted a number of Savoia-Marchetti SM.82 transports at this base and we are hoping to catch some on the ground.
As we neared Sardinia, the Regia Aeronautica Italiana seemed to throw up everything that had wings to stop us. Six of the older G.50s converged on the Blues… nope, now there were only three remaining after the P-38s from the 14th FG at Masion Blanche intervened. Our gunners claimed two more, and the lone remaining G.50 missed us and called it a day.
Our target was visible, in spite of 50% cloud cover, and the flak, though moderate, was ineffective. Our Bombardier, 2LT Floyd William from the Spare Pool got a good look at the hangers and warehouses at the airdrome and put 40% of our bombs in the target zone. This was to be William’s last mission with us, as our regular Bombardier was scheduled to be released from the hospital tomorrow. Regretfully, 2LT William only had ten more minutes to live.
Rallying, and turning for home; the group faced three more waves after the flak stopped. The first wave featured four more G.50s, plus a Kraut 109 and 110 heading our way. We blasted both a G.50 and the 110, while our escort ran off another G.50… but the 109 at 12 o’clock level hit us in the cockpit, and knocked out the oxygen system for the entire bomber. We all quickly grabbed our walk around bottles, knowing we had less than 30 minutes to get down below 10,000 feet. But first that 109 was coming back for another attack, and ran smack into the hot lead from our Ball Turret, which damaged his port wing and sent him running for home.
Here came a second wave – all G.50s this time. One was stopped by the P-38s, one had his port wing removed by our Tail gunner, and the third one sprayed us bad – knocking out our #4 engine, destroying our starboard waist gun, and putting a bullet in the head of our Bombardier, killing him instantly. The third wave, though comprised of the heavier armed C.202s, saw one driven off and the other two destroyed by the Blues crew. Our Radio Operator stated that he was using spray fire to keep his Italian away, and a shell just hit the engine in the right place, seizing the engine up, stalling the plane, and sending it like a rock falling to earth.
INBOUND: It was time to leave the formation, and play hide and seek with the Axis in the clouds below 10,000 feet. Fortunately we did not have to worry about flak for long as we would soon be over the sea for the balance of our trip home. While still over Sardinia, five G50s discovered us. Fortunatately a P-38 had followed us down and he pounced on one of the E/A. Our gunners did their part by hitting three of the attackers – one was a definite kill, as it was a ball of fire, while two more were Probables who lurched off towards their flaming base. The final G.50 missed us and came back for a second pass. He was only able to do some cosmetic damage to us before disappearing. The jammed Starboard Cheek Gun was a bigger nuisance.
Shortly after leaving Sardinia we had three C.200s jump us. On their first pass we killed one and damaged another, while they missed us. On their second pass we killed one – the one previously damaged – and damaged the remaining one. On his third pass we missed and he hit us. So we took inventory of the damage; and began our 400 mile jaunt across the Mediterranean alone, on three engines, with no radio or rubber rafts.
The good news was our little friend was still with us. He was joined by a buddy before four C.202s discovered us. So we had a short scrimmage over the sea. The two P-38s dealt with two of the E/A, our Top Turret set another on fire, and the fourth Folgore stumbled away with significant damage to its starboard wing. We’re calling that a Probable, yet as we were almost 100 miles from land we question whether he could have found a safe place to land. The remainder of the voyage, though stressful, was uneventful.
MASION BLANCHE: Safe landing at the new home for the 87th (H) Bombardment Group. Two hundred and fifty miles closer to the front lines. Two hundred and fifty miles closer to avenging 2LT William..
1LT Corbett Jenkins, Pilot
Blues In The Night
Position – Rank (Current Mission)
Pilot: 1LT Corbett Jenkins (06)
Copilot: 2LT Jimmy Vasavo (06)
Bombardier: 2LT Floyd William (03) KIA
Navigator: 2LT Cleon Mooney (04
Engineer: MSG Jotham Hershberger (08)
Radio Operator: SGT Marion Brown (02)
Ball Turret: SGT Joe Bob Thornton (05)
P. Waist Gunner: SGT Aubrey Marsh (08)
S. Waist Gunner: SGT Conrad Halpine (03)
Tail Gunner: SGT Larry Forester (10)
Bomb Run: On Target 40%
Casualties: 2LT Floyd William – KIA – bullet through the head
Superficial x3 (3)
Wounds: KIA (10)
Radio Destroyed (10)
Rafts Destroyed (10)
P. Waist Gun destroyed (10)
Oxygen System out (10)
#4 Engine out (25)
Peckham Points: 78 – Overnight Repairs
Landing: Safe Landing
Total # of Enemy Encountered: 41
9x Bf-109: 2 Destroyed - both confirmed, 3 Probable, 3 Run Off by Escort
1x Bf-110: 1 Claimed Destroyed – Denied
18x G.50: 5 Claimed Destroyed – 4 confirmed, 5 Probable, 6 Run Off
3x C200: 2 Claimed Destroyed – 2 Confirmed, 1 Damaged
15x C202: 4 Claimed Destroyed – 3 Confirmed, 2 Probables, 1 Damaged, 4 Run Off by Escort
Total # of Enemy “Run Off”: 13
Claims: Confirmed Kills =11 (plus 3 Denied), Probables = 10, Damaged = 1
Purple Heart (posthumous): 2LT Floyd William