17's B-29 was named "City of Spokane" since the Airplane
Commander was from Washington State and the name "Betty
Marion" was for the daughter of Pilot Philip Schild*. They would fly a total of 24
missions with the 39th Bomb Group on Guam. They got off
to a wild start; their first was Tokyo on Friday, April
13th. Fires could be seen over 200 miles caused by planes
that had gone over the target earlier. Flak was moderate
but very intense to the new men of P-17 but they sustained
no damage that maiden venture.
days later at Kawaski, P-17 saw their first "Fireballs"
and learned they were part of the "Kamikaze Squadrons."
The crew learned about flak holes and the damage they
could make. The crew decided to paint each patch with
mission was their first in formation rather than alone.
Opposition was practically non-existent but a leaking
engine cause the Flight Engineer to shut down number 3
north of Iwo Jima. A pattern was developing for P-17;
the pattern was of failures.
mission on 27 April added more spice to their lives. Flak
was meager but they were met with 25 fighter planes that
use every possible method to knock them down. They were
met with air-to-air phosphorous bombs as well as cannon
and guns. Another engine lost from a 20 mm shell hitting
the wing flap of Number 4. They four confirmed kills and
several damaged on this one.
would loose another on the Otia City mission, which was
their fifth mission.
17 had a "milk run" on Nagoya, 14 May, but two days later
on the same target, they would loose Number 4 again. Three
times out the last four trips north on three engines.
They hit Hammatsu on 19 May and Tokyo on 24 May no problems.
second trip to Tokyo on 26 May was much different. Flak
was accurate and all planes were hit with damage. In the
case of P-17, it was a couple of Jap fighters that picked
them as primary target. Diving in from both sides, they
were able to hit the crew pretty good. A 20MM shell hit
the navigator, 2nd Lt. Walter Rossig, Jr., killing him
almost instantly. No. 1 and No. 3 engines were also lost.
After what seemed like forever, the fighters broke off
and returned to Japan. Capt. Barton was having trouble
keeping the bomber in the air and decided they would strip
the plane in hopes of keeping it flying. Starting at the
tail and working forward, we tossed overboard every item
that was not bolted down and some that were. They finally
leveled off at 2000 feet and limped toward Iwo Jima. Iwo
was "socked in" so it was on to Saipan.
fuel was calculated to get to Saipan, Barton requested
a direct landing. A direct landing was granted on Tinain
granted. They managed to get off the runway and onto the
apron before fuel expired. They remained on Tinian for
six days for repairs.
June, at Kobe, they sustained minor damage to their plane
during the bomb run. One of the damaged B-29's struggled
to keep up. Barton maneuvered P-17 over the crippled plane
and escorted it out of the flak and fighters back to Guam.
A few new red spots appeared on their ship. The
Cross was awarded for the service to the "Crippled
abort and 2 milk runs later, Crew 17 was one of 26 planes
in on the destruction of the port of Kogshima. Flak was
very heavy and small arms quite intense and aaccurate
with one more running battle with fighters over 100 miles.
some easy missions to Shizuoka and Tamashima and some
more red paint to cover the patch holes. 26 June they
would start for Nagoya, but the Number 1 engine swallowed
a piston and so they aborted and returned to Guam.
was selected as "Dumbo" for the Nobeoka raid. Sixteen
hours later we returned to base. No trouble or casualties.
We circled over a submarine 20 miles off shore, Mission
Ogaki raid was unique in that there was a correspondent
onboard broadcasting the bomb run back to Stateside. We
arrived over the target at 0315. There were no fighters,
no flak, nothing that any crew member barely stayed wake
for. However you would have thought that we were over
Tokyo in all the flak in the war with a million fighters
on the attack. Oh Well! Anything for the home front! We
had mission 22," said Al Kyler, tail gunner.
was Mito for the 23rd mission and Isesaki on August 15 for
our 24th mission. One and a half hours out of Guam on the
return and the radio reported 'The War Was Over.' We were
done with our combat flights to Japan.