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Friday, March 9, 1945 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 357:
Six flight crews had been briefed for a special bombing mission, an experiment to test the feasibility to fly mixed types of aircraft in the same formation. In this case it would be the Martin B-26 and the Douglas A-26. The leader would fly a B-26 with Gee equipment for navigation and bombing assignment. The deputy leader in number four position would also fly a B-26. All wing ships flying in positions, two, three, five and six would be A-26 aircraft. The leader would be Lieutenant Golladay, his deputy lead would be Lieutenant Mersereau. Number two position was Lieutenant Winkelman, number three man was Lieutenant Thompson, number five position was flown by Lieutenant Allen, and number six position was Lieutenant Stetson.
The weather at take off was eight-tenths stratocumulus base at 2,000 feet, tops four to five thousand feet, visibility four miles. Route out same as base, visibility unrestricted above clouds. Target ten-tenths stratocumulus, tops four to five thousand feet, visibility unrestricted above clouds. Wind at 12,000 feet from 010 degrees at 50 m.p.h., and the temperature is minus eleven degrees. Return route same as route out. Base nine to ten-tenths clouds at five thousand feet and a base of 2,000 feet. Visibility four miles, winds as forecast for entire route.
This was the second mission of the day for the 386th. The target was a marshalling yard located in Nastatten, Germany. Time was 1300 hours as engine start up time arrived. Ten minutes later all began to taxi out to the active runway. The leader was airborne at 1320 hours, closely followed by the number four ship. The A-26’s would follow and form up on the two B-26 planes. The six plane formation left over field at 1334 hours.
The first check point was Reims, France on a heading of 76 degrees they arrived at 1400 hours. From there it was a eight minute flight to Laon-Arthies, then a heading of 64 degrees would carry them to Bastoque where they arrived at 1434 hours. From there on a heading of 74 degrees they flew to Kyllburg, Germany, time was now 1444. A slight turn to 66 degrees would direct the flight to the I.P and onto the bomb run at 190 m.p.h., it was bombs away at 1455 hours. The bombing was directed by Gee equipment, no bombing results were observed due to the heavy cloud cover in the target area. The bombers made a sweeping turn off the target to 274 degrees at 1500 hours, they were headed for the town of Kyllburg at their assigned cruising speed of 200 m.p.h. arriving 14 minutes later. At that point a slight dogleg was made to 277 degrees en route to Bastoque. Then a dogleg left to 255 degrees carried them back to base where they landed a t 1603 hours.
The following information was supplied by each pilot who took part on the mission. The lead pilot Lieutenant Golladay: Climb 180 to 195 m.p.h. through clouds after take off using 37 inches manifold pressure, 2200 r.p.m. at 300 feet per minute climb. Using high blower at 7,500 feet cruising 200 m.p.h., 36.5 inches manifold pressure, 2200 r.p.m. Bomb run was made a t 190 m.p.h., 40 inches of manifold pressure 2300 r.p.m. Let down at 210 m.p.h., 32 inches manifold pressure, 2200 r.p.m. His comments: No complaints, felt as though B-26 performed satisfactorily at these speeds. Bomb load was 4,000 pounds. Fuel consumption for the B-26 was 582 gallons with 3:15 flying time. Aircraft 334608 RG-R.
Deputy lead pilot, Lieutenant Mersereau also flew a B-26 he was in number four position. Climb out at 185 m.p.h. at 37 inches of manifold pressure, 2250 r.p.m. Cruise 190 to 200 m.p.h. 37 inches manifold pressure 2250 r.p.m. 12,000 feet bomb run 190 m.p.h. 40 inches of manifold pressure, 2400 r.p.m. Let down 215 m.p.h., 33 inches manifold pressure at 2000 r.p.m. Fuel consumption was 565 gallons, flying time 3:00 hours. I found the B-26 operated satisfactorily at these settings, and had no trouble flying formation or with bombing. Aircraft: “GINNY” 334149 RU-U.
Number two position pilot, Lieutenant Winkelman flying an A-26. Greatest worry, slow speed and low cylinder head temperature. Formation will work if climb and let down speeds are faster, or have B-26 and A-26 aircraft return separately after recrossing the bombline on return. Fuel consumption 384 gallons, flying time 3:20 hours. Aircraft 251 AN-C.
Number three position pilot, Lieutenant Thompson flying an A-26. Easy to fly formation with B-26 aircraft except for slower speed. Steep turns make it hard for man on inside of turn to hold position because of difficulty to slow down an A-26. Engines run too cold at slower speeds. Fuel consumption was 385 gallons, flying time 3:30 hours. Aircraft was 268 YA-V.
Number five position pilot, Lieutenant Allen flying an A-26. Climb 160 m.p.h. 26 inches of manifold pressure, 2300 r.p.m. at 300 feet per minute. Cruise 190 m.p.h. 28 inches of manifold pressure to 30 inches at 2100 r.p.m. Bomb run 190 m.p.h. 27 inches manifold pressure, 2300 r.p.m. Let down 210 m.p.h. Cylinder head temperature down to 110 degrees during let down because throttles had to be retarded in order to slow speed sufficiently to stay in formation. Right engine cut out because of low cylinder head temperature, and fouling plugs. The formation was too slow, inside turns are dangerous! Fuel consumption 426 gallons, flying time 3:20 hours. Aircraft was 336 RG-G.
Number six position pilot, Lieutenant Stetson flying an A-26. Same comments as Lieutenant Allen about power settings. Controls mushy during climbs, speed too slow. Can’t turn as sharp as B-26 when bomb bay doors are open. Too little power needed to maintain speeds desired in mixed formation by an A-26. Fuel consumption 470 gallons, flying time 3:00 hours. Aircraft was 396 RU- All aircraft on this mission carried four 1,000 pound general purpose demolition bombs fused one-tenth nose and one-hundredth of a second delay tail fuse.
Chester P. Klier