35 flew a total of 18 missions as a crew; some of the
crew did fly missions as fill-ins on other crews. In addition,
the crew did fly one mission to drop food and other supplies
to a POW camp called "Senghai # 9" over pm the
west coast of Japan. Of course, the mission flown around
the perimeter of Tokyo Bay during the signing of the documents
ending the war, making a total of 20.
were two particularly memorable missions that we flew.
The first was the daylight incendiary raid on Osaka on
June 1, 1945 (local time). Being one of the last formations
to go into the target, by the time we got there the thermal
cloud from all the fires reached an altitude considerably
higher than the altitude at which we were flying. We were
flying left wing of the lead element and had been briefed
to turn right off the target after bomb release. Our leader
took us right into the thermal and since I could see nothing,
I continued straight ahead rather than risk turning into
someone. We gained about 6000 feet in altitude in that
thermal and when we came out the other side, we continued
to fly straight ahead until the rime ice, soot and cinders
had eroded from the windshield so we could see. Then we
picked up our withdrawal heading. It was then, the radio
operator reported that the forward bomb bays doors were
missing and the aft doors were handing open. We closed
the doors again but they would not stay closed due to
the airflow through the forward bomb bay. After leaving
the coast and decreasing our altitude we checked further
and found we had taken some flak in the forward catwalk.
When we closed the doors, the actuators tore from the
catwalk rather than close the doors. The forward doors
were there; they had just up against the outside of the
plane. After a quick conference, I decided that we would
go to max power and head directly back to Guam rather
than head back to Iwo where we would probably sit for
quite awhile before we could get the aircraft repaired.
to say, we knew we would be running low on fuel and we
knew it would be dark when we arrived at our base. Tension
was running just a little high as we approached our ETA.
It was one of those black South Pacific nights and we
couldn't see a light anywhere. I asked the navigator how
we were doing and he replied Guam should be off our left
wing. The radio came to life asking us (as a bogie) to
make our "cockrel crow". We turned on our IFF, the lights
came on and we turned left onto the base legs informing
the tower to clear all other traffic since we had to land
the plane on the first pass or we were through. We set
her down, closing the bomb bays just before touchdown
so we wouldn't scrape them and managed to taxi almost
to our revetment before the engines began sputtering.
It was a close one!
July 10, 1945 (local time) we flew a night incendiary
raid on Gifu. When we broke off the coast, we checked
fuel and had plenty, so we headed home. At about 7:00
A.M. local, 80 miles west of Saipan, we swallowed an intake
valve on our #4 engine. The next time the cylinder fired,
we had a fire all the way back to the carburetor. Since
the extinguisher did not extinguish anything behind the
firewall where the carburetor was located, we immediately
made the decision to bail out. We were all out of the
plane in less than 90 seconds and would have made it sooner
if the radio operator had not started to warm up the Collins
transmitter. After he went out the forward bomb bays I
dropped from the nose wheel well and by the time I was
hanging vertically after the chute deployed, all I could
see was a black cloud of smoke where the plane had exploded.
A Navy destroyer going to Guam from Okinawa was just south
of our location and saw the plane blow up. He was poking
around in the debris when a 330th aircraft saw our sea
dye marker and gave him a call. I was the last one out
and the first picked up. We all survived and all continued
flying missions after 10 days in Hawaii.
- George Wilson, AC