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Reflections of a combat bombardier.
Somewhere in the ETO during World War II 1944
387th Bomb Group, 558th Bomb Squadron, 9th Air Force

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Warren Butterfield flew his last 50 missions with Clyde Harkins.  His first 15 missions were with Bob Brockett.

Fact: Clyde got them there 2 times, Warren hit the target. 23 December 1944 DUC

Pilot
W.C (Clyde) Harkins
Co-Pilot
William E. Kennedy
Bombardier
Warren H. Butterfield
Navigator
Chester C. Malec
Eng./Gunner
Richard C. Gustafson
Radio Gunner
Louis J. Stone
Tail Gunner
Joseph F. Paduano
Navigator/GEE
Mike Moskowitz
 
 
Pilot
Robert J. Brockett
Co-Pilot
Ben Hicks
Bombardier
Warren H. Butterfield
Tail Gunner
John Kim
Eng./Gunner
Fred Floyd
Radio Gunner
Ralph Craig
 

 

"As Ben Hicks of the 558th always says WID (write it down).  So here goes.

Enemy lines ahead, flaks supposed to be heavy, where the hell is our air support?   P-47s or 51s must have their hands full somewhere else, guess we'll be on our own, well, it wont be the first time.  Where are we on the map?  No time to miss-lead a Group over Germany, better put on the flak vest.  Jeez Mike!  Do you have to take up so much room?  Flak-vest, chest-pack, bomb-sight, navigation equipment, Bombardier, Navigator, the nose of a B-26 is not that large, not designed for two people.   Sure glad I had the crew-chief remove the flexible 50 Cal. gun from the nose in front of the bombsight.

Hey!  Mike, why don't you go back on the Gee box, we'll both have more room.   Why did I ever waste my time on the celestial back in the states?  Shot and plotted more than 150 Star Lines at Lake Charles and yet never bothered to check-out a sextant or other navigational equipment in the ETO, just give me my E6B and aircraft protractor, there's no time for celestial between here and England, just dead-reckoning and solid cloud coverage.  The smartest thing they did in the States was to teach bombardiers to navigate, never could hit the target until you could see it.  Now they put celestial Navigator in the nose with Group Leaders to make sure you find the aiming point.  But, like I said it sure is crowded up here with two men.  If Mike got hit I'd never be able to get over him to get out of the nose, what the hell!  I've been told we're all expendable.

Training in the States was adequate but my instructor (when he was around) never got across to me how quick and easy it was to get disoriented when flying evasive action especially over hostile territory.  In fact, he never mentioned evasive action in any form, probably, because he had never been in combat.

Wonder if the clouds will break-up so we can Bomb at our briefed altitude of 11,500 feet?  If not I've figures for 500 foot intervals and the Metro data looks good.   I find it difficult to concentrate on Bombing tables, Disc speeds, etc., when under constant Flak Bursts and enemy fighter opposition but with determined effort we manage.   The I.P. is dead ahead, "Give me a heading of 20 degree", 15 miles getting our ass shot-up going in straight and level, confuse the bastards with some changes in headings.  (We'll make the first turn up-wind so we won't have to fight it getting back on course for the bomb release.)  "OK, give me a 15 degree turn to the left" (no longer than 15 seconds straight and level), Turn 15 degrees to the right for 15 sec, again turn 15 degrees to the right (15 seconds).   "Now, 15 degrees to the left" (15-20 seconds)".  Turn 30 degrees to the left.  "Bomb bay doors open and give me a level, uncage the gyro and level the bombsight. Turn 60 degrees to the right, (no more than a 15 degree bank or the gyro tumbles and we go around again} "P.D.I." to pilot, as we make a 30 degree turn left (place the cross hairs on the target, synchronize for drift and ground speed , make sure the sight is armed) "Bombs Away".  (cage gyro)  "Rack her up and lets get out of here".   Follow the bombs to the target then feel the concussion or air blast buffet your aircraft as you call for more evasion-action until we're no longer over enemy territory, all the while keeping a look-out for enemy fighters.

"Mediums" allow for more effective evasive action than "Heavies", formations are tighter and turns are quicker and more abrupt.  Of course more fuel is used but if you want to bring back more wingmen, TAKE YOUR CHOICE.  I might add we hit the target again and again with great accuracy.

"Reflections" by Warren H. Butterfield."


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