11 - 25-26 May 1945
mission was a night incendiary raid on downtown Tokyo
and nearby waterfront. The visual bomb run was made
at 9,100 feet in clear weather. Searchlights picked
up four minutes short of the target and remained on
us for a total of nine minutes. One fighter made a pass
at us 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 50 miles before falling off toward the sea. We
were hit several times by flak - hole in the nose, three
in the left wing, several in the bomb bay and center
wing tank areas, two in the top blister and an undetermined
number in the tail compartment and tail surfaces.
Gunner Henry Matthaus was hit by flak and ammunition
exploded and much of the equipment was destroyed or
damaged. Matthaus failed respond on intercom. Charles
Smith went back and broke open the tail compartment
door. Lloyd Volkmar, Radio Operator (our first aid man),
decided to move the severely injured Matthaus to the
radar compartment, where he was able to render first
aid. Iwo Jima was socked in and due to our damaged aircraft;
we couldn't take a chance on landing there. On our return,
we had to open the bomb bay by manual means to eject
six bombs, which had hung up due to a release malfunction.
The rear doors wouldn't close - we landed with them
open. Despite the co-pilot's controls being completely
inoperative and the elevator trim tabs and other control
functions knocked out, we made an excellent land
had also seen a B-29 go down in a flat spin with wing
of mission: 15 hours, 20 minutes
medics believed that Matthaus had died shortly after