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Subject: The Perils of flying Tail and then being Out of Formation. rss

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Lou Correia
United States
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242nd Bomber Squadron, 87th Bombardment Group
Target: Kairouan, Tunisia - Marshalling Yard
Date: 4 January 1943
Squadron Position: Low
Bomber Position: TAIL


Preliminary report after interviewing the survivors who bailed out. This was a crew from the Spare Pool, assigned to the Tail position in Flexible Frame. An experienced Co-pilot was flying with a crew of kids on their first or second mission.

The flight to the target went smoothly, with the few E/A who tried to approached the bomber getting run off by the escort.

Once on the bomb run they had two Bf-109s get pass the escort doing significant damage to the bomber. The #1 engine was set on fire, plus the rudder and both wing roots were hammered. The fire was successfully extinguished, and Flexible Frame put 60% of her bombs in the target area. Leaving the target the bomber encountered three waves of Italians or Germans and only took one significant hit, which knocked out oxygen to the cockpit. This forced the bomber to leave the formation and descend to 10,000 feet.

In Zone 5A, two waves of fighters swarmed the lone bomber. She took repeated hits, and dished out damage to the enemy, shooting down two, and damaging three. Damage of note was a serious wound to the Radio Operator, a destroyed Ball Turret, and the Tail Guns jamming.

In Zone 4B they faced four C.202s. Some P-38s from Youks-les-Bains cut down two attackers, the crew destroyed a third, and the remaining Italian knocked out the elevator controls – a hit that would lead to tragedy later. (Negative DM on landing)

In Zone 4A four C.205s showed up. One was stopped by a P-38, but a fighter that was clearly manned by an Ace from the tail markings seriously injured both the Navigator and the Port Waist Gunner. When he came around to try and inflict more hurt he was shot down by MSG Nolan in the Top Turret.

Approaching Masion Blache, it was discovered that somewhere over the Atlas Mountains the landing gear had been destroyed. After making the three seriously wounded crew members comfortable and secure in the Radio Room, all the crew except for the two pilots bailed out. Unfortunately 2LT McCanless’ chute failed to open and he plummeted to his death. The pilots attempted to make a belly landing, but between the damage to the plane and the poor weather they crashed the bomber, seriously injuring themselves and further injuring the seriously wounded men onboard, all eventually succumbing to their injuries. (Modified -1 on the landing roll.)

Position – Rank (Current Mission) [Previous Kills]

Pilot: 1LT Joseph Piccenna (01) SW-IH
Copilot: 2LT Stan Reed (05) PH SW-IH
Navigator: 2LT George Reddish (02) KIA
Bombardier: 2LT Jared McCanless (01) ½ KIA
Engineer: MSG Patrick Nolan (01) *½
Radio Operator: SGT Casey Barton (01) [0.5] KIA
Ball Gunner: SGT George Hopkins (02) [01] ½
P. Waist Gunner: SGT Harvey Barrett (02) [01] ½ KIA
S. Waist Gunner: SGT Silas McCoy (02) [0.5]*PH
Tail Gunner: SGT John Boy Millikan (01)

* = 1 kill
½ or ⅓ = Shared Kill

Bomb Run: On Target 60%

Pilot: 1LT Joseph Piccenna SW-IH, Injured in crash landing
Copilot: 2LT Stan Reed SW-IH, Injured in crash landing
Navigator: 2LT George Reddish KIA, Seriously wounded by enemy fighters, succumbed to add’l injuries in crash
Bombardier: 2LT Jared McCanless KIA, Chute failed to open on bailout
Radio Operator: SGT Casey Barton KIA, Seriously wounded by enemy fighters, succumbed to add’l injuries in crash
P. Waist Gunner: SGT Harvey Barrett KIA, Seriously wounded by enemy fighters, succumbed to add’l injuries in crash

B-17 Damage:
Superficial x19 (19)
N/E hits x2 (10)
SW x 3 (15)
#1 Engine out/fire (50)
#2 Turbosupercharger out (10) Mech Failure
S. Wing Root (25)
P. Wing Root (25)
P. Landing Gear out (25)
P. Brakes inop (25)
Cockpit Window x1 (10)
Ball Turret inop (20)
Elevators out (10)
Rudder (10)
Fuel tank – self sealed x2 (20)
Cockpit Oxygen out (10)
Add’l Oxygen hits x2 (20)
S. Aileron inop (10)
Heating System out (10) Mech Failure
Crash landing – (300)

Peckham Points: Total

Landing: Crash Landing at Masion Blanche

Total # of Enemy Encountered: 34
11x Bf-109: 2 Destroyed, 4 Damaged, 5 Run Off by Escort
2x FW-190: 2 Run Off by Escort
14x C.202: 1 Destroyed, 5 Probables, 2 Damaged, 3 Run Off
7x C.205: 1 Destroyed, 1 Probable, 3 Run Off

Total # of Enemy “Run Off”: 13

Claims: Kills = 4 Claims – all confirmed, Probables = 6, Damaged = 6

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Steve Herron
United States
Johnson City
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Never play block wargames with a dentist, they have those little mirrors to peek behind the block.
Engineer: MSG Patrick Nolan (01) *½

Ha! There was a guy at the college I went to named Patrick Nolan who was a good friend of mine. Glad Pat made it out ok.
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