39th Bomb Group (VH)

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Mission Diary of
Charles A. Smith
9 10

The following account comes from Charles A. Smith, Radar, with Crew 44. Keep in mind as you read this that while these entries were made within a short time after each mission and they reflect his point of view of that specific mission. Other crews have their own recollections of the same mission - and for them it could have been a "milk run" or their most dangerous mission. Each and every mission the 11 men of the B-29 crews put their lives on line … some never returning home. What is important is that the veteran's words are told… and someone hears them …

Mission 1 - Search 15 April 1945
Search for survivors conducted about 120 miles south of Tokyo. North of Smith Island to Aogashima, and east 65 miles. No observations.
19 hours: 10 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Refueled at Iwo Jima on return. Plane returning from Japan had seen two red flares coming from water .. our search was a result of the observation.

Crew Mission 2 - Kanoya (Group Mission 4) 17 April 1945
Daylight raid on airfield 8 miles SW of Kanoya on the Island of Kyushu. Dropped frags in formation with fair results. Light flak; no fighters. Bombed at 18,500; Raid was to help Okinawa Campaign which was being hindered by aircraft based on Kyushu.
15 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 3 - Kushio (Group Mission 6) 21 April 1945
Another daylight raid on Kyushu airfields; heaviest met. 26 Squadrons plastered 9 airbases. We raided Kushio airbase (8 miles NE of Kanoya) carried 500 lb G.P.s fused instantaneously and delayed. 18,000 feet. Light but accurate flak (small hole sustained in skin of nose) some fighters seen, but no attacks. Results were apparently excellent (no air attacks have been made on Okinawa since the raids on Kyushu commenced - 15 April) 15 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 4 - Tachikawa (Group Mission 8) 24 April 1945
Missed joining formation, so we bombed with the 9th (Bomb) Group of the 313th Wing. Our (39th) briefed target was the Tachikawa Engine (Aircraft) Plant. With the 313th, believe we bombed the Mushishino Nakajima Aircraft Engine Plant in western greater Tokyo, but A-2 says we hit the Tachikawa Airframe Assembly Plant. Regardless of which it was, the results were excellent. The 39th missed their target altogether, but the rest of the Wing worked it over. The two engine plants were the soul remaining in operation on the homeland. Moderate, accurate flak. Saw 15 single and twin-engine fighters. 3-twin engine fighters made passes, but were all scared off with short long range bursts. Bombed from 13,000 dropped 500 lb G.P.s.

Saw Fujiama. Nip interceptors are apparently centered in target areas and on the coast. I spotted a kite-like object against the mountains and reported it in the interrogation.
15 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 5 - Kokubu (Group Mission 9) 26 April 1945
Daylight raid on Kokubu Airbase (Kyushu) A-2 says that suicide pilots are in training there. Undercast at 9,500; several middle layers of clouds, and cirrus overcast at assembly point. Planes made runs (mostly radar) at altitudes from 8,000 to 30,000. Some runs were individual; others were in formation when visibility permitted. We started a radar run, but for mutual protection tagged onto another ship and toggled on them. No flak (circled over Kanoya (over undercast) which supposedly has 45 heavy guns without drawing any - hence radar control of guns is meager or lacking). No fighters; results were unobserved - possibly good. 15,800 feet, 500 lb G.P.s fused instantaneously and delay.
15 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 6 - Kirshiro (Group Mission 12) 29 April 1945
Daylight raid on Kushiro Airbases. Assembled at south end of Tanegashima. Dropped 500 lb G.P.s from 17,000 feet. Some ships of our formation of 9 planes dropped early due to carelessness of the togglier. About 6 of us laid eggs right on the aiming point. Large clouds of black smoke and smaller clouds of white smoke were observed long after leaving the area. Only about 5 bursts of flak were seen. 15 fighters were seen; some made passes but broke them off when the gunners opened up at long range. No phosphorous bombs or rockets. Clear weather over target. 15 hours: 20 minutes

Radar room got so hot I got sick. I'll try and get a fan. [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 7 - Oita (Group Mission 14) 04 May 1945
Daylight raid on the naval station engine plant at Oita on Kyushu. A 62nd show. 60th hit the airframe plant, and the 61st hit another airbase. Lead bomber had his head up and dropped 4 ½ miles short. 60 th also missed their target badly, but 61st hit theirs. Dropped 500 lb G.P.'s, fused instantaneously from 17,500. Clear weather; very little flak; few fighters made only two passes. Lead bombardier was so far off on first run that we went around again. We and 7 other planes of the squadron (11 participated) landed at Iwo Jima to refuel. 18 hours: 40 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 8 - Otake (Group Mission 16) 10 May 1945
Daylight attack on the oil cracking and storage facilities at Otake (Otake is 16 miles WSW of Kure, on the Island of Honshu.) 12 squadrons hit the place. Dropped 500 lb G.P.'s from 14,450 feet. Under almost constant flak coverage for ¾ hour (Assembly until we left area) Flak was meager to intense, and besides regular black puffs, we saw many white and three yellow-green puffs. Worst flak came from about 20 units of Jap navy in Kure Bay area (included 1 battleship, 5 cruisers, about 15 destroyers.)

I sat in the CFC compartment and could see bright yellow-orange flashes as ships took violent evasive action. Results were excellent. Although we were second squadron over, smoke was to our altitude when we left. One twin-engine fighter made a head on pass. Everyone fired at him, but he completed a pass with only minor damage, if any.

On this day a record number of B-29s were over Japan.
17 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 9 - Nagoya (Group Mission 18) 14 May 1945
Daylight incendiary raid on Nagoya (carried clusters of 110 - 4 lb bombs.) A record number of B-29s (about 550) went over. We bombed in formation from 19,000 feet. Results were excellent - smoke towered to 20,000 feet and was visible 60 miles at sea. Target was NE sector of city, which contains many targets of military value - particularly the Mitsubishi Aircraft Works. Little flak - very few fighter passes - caught one small hole in aft bomb bay door.

The whole Bomber Command went over this target. We had P-51s providing top cover.
16 hours: 30 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 10 - Tokyo (Group Mission 21) 23-24 May 1945
Individual ship, night raid on Shingowa section of Tokyo. Dropped incendiaries from 12,300 ft. by radar. I directed path of plane from 100 miles off coast to bombs away. Offset synchronous radar bombing. Hole opened up in overcast - results were excellent.

Searchlights bracketed us once - thrown off by evasive action, medium flak no fighters. Observations were made of an exploding B-29, and colored flares. We were over early - last planes reported fires glowing from 200 miles at sea.

Largest armada of planes to Japan yet - over 550.
15 hours: 25 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 11 - Tokyo (Group Mission 22) 25-26 May 1945
Night incendiary raid on downtown Tokyo & nearby waterfront. Visual run was made at 9,100 feet in clear weather. Searchlights picked us up 4 minutes short of target and kept on us for about 9 minutes. One fighter made a pass over the target and several others were seen. About 50 flares were seen (many carried explosives). A fireball picked us up at the coast and followed us for about 50 miles before falling off towards the sea. We were hit several times by flak - holes in nose; 3 in left wing; several in bomb bay and center wing tank; 2 in ring sight blister, and an infinite number in the tail gun position and tail surfaces.

Tail gunner was hit, ammunition exploded and many installations were destroyed or damaged. Tail gunner failed to respond on interphone. I went back and chopped door open. Radio operator (our first aid man) decided to move him. We put him in the radar compartment and applied first aid. We think he died about 5 hours after leaving target - Iwo Jima was socked in and in our damaged condition we couldn't take a chance of landing. On return, we had to open bomb bay doors by emergency method and bombardier went into bomb bay to knock out 6 bombs, which had hung due to a rack malfunction. Rear doors wouldn't shut - landed with them open. Fine landing - co-pilot controls were completely out, elevators trim tabs & servo and many other control units were out.

Saw a B-29 go down in flat spin with wing afire.
15 Hours: 20 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Medics say Matt died shortly after being hit.

Crew Mission 12 - Puluwat (Caroline Island)* Practice Mission 18 June 1945
A daylight series of practice runs on Puluwat, a group island in the Carolines. On 5 runs, all bombs were within 50 feet of aiming point - a lighthouse.

Although we weren't briefed for flak, we caught 3 bursts on the last run. We had one hole in left wing, cowl flaps were knocked shut and there were many dents in plane.

We got combat time and a credit sortie but no credit towards rotation.
6 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 13 - Shizuoka (Group Mission 30) 19-20 June 1945
Night incendiary strike on Shizuoka. Bombed from 9,000 feet with radar - offset stopwatch bombing. Light flak and automatic weapons fire. Possible barrage balloons in target area. Hit violent thermals in smoke over target. No searchlights. Saw many fighters on way out but none attacked. We where hit by one chunk of flak.

Excellent results - entire target seemed to be burning. Wing mission - other Wings hit other targets.
14 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 14 - Tamashima (Group Mission 35) 22 June 1945
Daylight strike on the Mitsubishi Plant at Tamashima. Although incomplete, it was producing 18 Betty's; and by January '46 would have produce 200 per month. Dropped 500 lb. G.P.'s from 18,000 ft. It was a Wing target - results were excellent - 85% destroyed. While proceeding from assembly to target we were left of course and received some flak - put a large hole in the vertical stabilizer and several small ones in the fuselage and wings. Fighter opposition was slight. B-29 went down at assembly, also a Nip fighter.
15 hours: 20 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 15 - Nagoya (Group Mission 32) 26 June 1945
Daylight mission. Assembled about 70 miles SW of Nagoya, but on way to IP weather caused the formation to break up - so instead of hitting Nagoya (Atsuda Arsenal) visually, we hit TSU by radar. Results were good to excellent for the entire B.C. Dropped 500 lb G.P.'s from 22,000 feet. My bombs hit in northern TSU. Flak was meager, fighter opposition slight. One B-29 went down in assembly area. In soup we just missed 313th ship by less than 10 feet.

Although we weren't briefed for them, P-51s were in the area. When we spotted them we thought they were Nips. Some more on the way out. They had scared us for a while.
15 hours: 20 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 16 - Nobeoka (Group Mission 33) 28-29 June 1945
Night incendiary strike on Nobeoka. Nobeoka, lying on Kyushu, is a city of 80,000. It manufactures a large amount of Japan's munitions. We bombed from 11,600 feet by radar stopwatch method. Excellent results although target was surrounded by 10/10 cloud cover. Light flak - no fighters.
14 hours: 10 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 17 - Shimonoseki (Group Mission 34) 1-2 July 1945
Night incendiary strike on Shimonoseki. This area was defended by about 250 heavy guns, many searchlights and fighters. Due to cloud cover we had meager flak and no fighters. Results were good (about 36% of target knocked out) Altitude 14,600 feet. City was a transportation hub.
15 hours: 30 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 18 - Tokushima (Group Mission 35) 3-4 July 1945
Night incendiary strike on Tokushima, textile and farm produce center on Shirkoku.
14 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 19 - Kofu (Group Mission 36) 6-7 July 1945
Night incendiary strike on Kofu, an inland rail center of 100,000+ people. Difficult target - no radar aiming points, but results were good to excellent. My radar went bad, so we bombed visually thru a hole in the 9/10ths under cast. Bombed from 18,350 feet. No flak or fighters. Saw many searchlights on withdrawal.
14 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 20 - Chichijima* Practice Mission 18 July 1945
Practice formation mission to Port Lloyd on Chichi Jima. Each plane dropped 30 - 500 lb G.P.s with excellent results.

At IP over Haha Jima, we were subjected to moderate fire. About 5 wp bursts and 12 HE puffs were observed. Accurate fire, but no planes were hit.

Combat time and credit sortie, but no credit for rotation.
9 hours [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 21 - Okazaki (Group Mission 40) 19-20 July 1945
Night incendiary strike on Okazaki. Bombed from 14,500 ft. thru a nice hole in the overcast by radar - direct synchronous method. No flak, fighters or searchlights. Excellent results.
13 hours: 45 minutes [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 22 - Handa (Group Mission 41) 24 July 1945
Daylight formation raid on the Nakajima Aircraft Plant at Handa. Solid overcast; we lead Group. Radar run - direct synchronous. All of our bombs fell in target area. A break occurred in the clouds over target and we got pictures. Dropped 500 lb G.P.'s from 17,500 feet. No fighters, meager flak - moderate.

Our bombs were only ones, which hit target - all others squadrons in Wing missed. 100% of bombs on target.
14 Hours: 40 minutes

Post strike photos revel that 35% of bombs toggled on us hit target. 44.2% of entire target area destroyed. Aiming point demolished. [top of page] [mission list]

Crew Mission 23 - Mito (Group Mission 44) 1-2 August 1945
Night strike on Mito, a city of 66,000 (pre-war size), 60 miles NE of Tokyo; Rail and industrial center.

We were pathfinders. Solid undercast necessitated radar bombing - direct synchronous method. Dropped incendiaries from 12, 500 feet. Light flak; no fighters or searchlights.
14 hours [top of page] [mission list]

* Sortie credit only (counted for decorations but not for rotation)
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62nd Squadron Crew Index
Source: Charles A. Smith, Radar