Our Green Country Gamers group is on mission 3. We are the 66th Bomb Group.
Note: My other plane flying in this Squadron "The "8" Ball" , crash landed and her entire crew was killed. So, I decided to fly the Wolfpack using the same challenging weather and target conditions. Here is the results:
Mission Date: 5th of December, 1944
Pilot Major Pat Baldwin reporting
Our Squadron was to bomb an aircraft factory in Nagoya, Japan (Zone 11). This would be a day mission with a night landing. Heavy fighter resistance expected but since this was a high altitude mission, fighter escort was not needed. The Squadron was in the middle position and the Wolfpack was in the middle of the formation.
Takeoff went smoothly.
Navigator: 1st Lt Jack Johnson reported that we were off course in Zone 2, and despite corrections we were still off course in Zone 3. An additional minor course correction allowed us to meet up with the rest of the formation on time. Flight Engineer: T/Sgt Josh Christensen's calculations showed that no additional fuel was used up for these course corrections.
We ran into Poor Weather in Zone 4, and the head winds cost us extra fuel.
Bad Weather is encountered in Zone 5. Our B-29 is bucking hard from the storm. Our lead bomber "The "8" Ball" decides to attempt to steer us around the storm. Several of our planes are rocked hard, and a few fall out of formation. We used up quite a bit of extra fuel, but luckily there is no damage to our plane from the storms.
The skies clear over Iwo Jima, and one of her fighters comes at us from 3:00 Level. It's a "Demon" Tojo, and he's coming in hot! I order CFC: T/Sgt Andy Garcia and Right Gunner: S/Sgt Jeremy Gossamer to bring their guns to bear on the enemy. T/Sgt Garcia fires a burst of lead, and rips the wing right off of the Tojo. After everything that T/Sgt Garcia has been through, it was great to see him get a kill.
Chatter of T/Sgt Garcia's kill kept us busy until we approached our target. As we enter Zone 11, the skies darken as we fly back into Bad Weather. The lead bomber orders us to steer around a thunderhead to avoid damage. Of course, the head winds and extra maneuvering costs us a lot of fuel. As we near Nagoya, Bombardier: 1st Lt Dennis Douglas reports that our target is mostly obscured by cloud cover. Even though we are flying mostly under cover, Nagoya is still fighting back with her anti-aircraft guns. Two shells burst to Port, and Flak rips into our aircraft. Suddenly, one of our crew screams out in pain. Left Gunner: T/Sgt Baird Carr reports that T/Sgt Garcia's leg is nearly severed from Flak. They manage to stop the bleeding by applying a tourniquet. Once T/Sgt Garcia is stabilized, the crew reports that the flak also hit our Port Wing Root and Life Raft (not good if we have to ditch), but none of this damage is critical at the moment.
Over the radio we here Bombardier: 1st Lt William "Biff" Bagley of The "8" Ball shout out that we are on target. All of our bombs release without incident.
As we turn the plane around over the target, we encounter no secondary flak or enemy fighters. Upon visual inspection of our target, it looks like our bombs hit the Air Field with 20% effectiveness.
In Zone 10, we are attacked by a "Dragon Slayer" Nick coming at us from the 1:30 High position. 1st Lt Douglas and S/Sgt Gossamer man their guns and open fire on the enemy. S/Sgt Gossamer totally misses the Nick from his Aft Upper Turret position. 1st Lt Douglas scores a direct hit from his Forward Upper Turret position and the enemy fighter is thrown into a steep dive. The fighter was fully engulfed in flames and exploded on contact with the ground.
The weather is poor for the next three zones, and we can feel the jet stream pushing us home. We use almost no fuel in Zones 10 thru 8.
We have Good Weather until Zones 2, and then all hell breaks loose. We use extra fuel in Zones 2 and 1 for course corrections and steering around thunderheads. We have an on course reading in Zone 1, and we are cleared to land. Due to a vicious crosswind, it takes both Co-Pilot: 1st Lt Larry Nitz and I to hold the plane steady. We try to gently set the Wolfpack down, but the weather will not have it! We hit the runway hard and we can hear the plane stress to handle the load. The Wolfpack has some light damage, but she will be ready to fly for our next mission. T/Sgt Garcia is not so lucky. His leg had to amputated, and his flying days are over. T/Sgt Garcia was one of my best men and he will be missed immensely.
In addition, I would like to add how saddened our crew is for the loss of our brothers aboard the plane The"8" Ball. She was a fine plane and crew. The men of the Wolfpack shall endeavor to serve with distinction in honor of our fallen brethren.
John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
Pet photographer, that's me.
Everytime I read a B29 session report I think of this.
Witness: Striker was the squadron leader. He brought us in real low. But he couldn't handle it.
Prosecutor: Buddy couldn't handle it? Was Buddy one of your crew?
Witness: Right. Buddy was the bombardier. But it was Striker who couldn't handle it, and he went to pieces.
Prosecutor: *Andy* went to pieces?
Witness: No. Andy was the navigator. He was all right. Buddy went to pieces. It was awful how he came unglued.
Prosecutor: *Howie* came unglued?
Witness: Oh, no. Howie was a rock, the best tailgunner in the outfit. Buddy came unglued.
Prosecutor: And he bailed out?
Witness: No. Andy hung tough. Buddy bailed out. How he survived, it was a miracle.
Prosecutor: Then Howie survived?
Witness: No, 'fraid not. We lost Howie the next day.