Maj. Lewis E. Lyle, CO of the 360th BS(H), led the Group formation in excellent flying weather to bomb the primary target. One aircraft, #41-24602, Yardbird, 360BS (Trojan), returned before bombing when the ball turret heating unit went out. Eighteen Group B-17s reached the target at 24,000 feet and dropped 45 tons of 500- lb. M-43 bombs. Flak was reported as moderate and fairly accurate over the target, slight over the coast, and from one island just off the German coast.
Many enemy aircraft attacked from all angles. Nose attacks were the most prevalent. Many aircraft attempted to bomb the formation from above. In addition, an apparently new type of attack was made. Crews reported that single-engine planes were shooting what seemed to be rocket shells at the formation. Great bursts of flame from their wings would suddenly develop into many bursts. None, however, was effective enough to cause any real damage.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Ditching Report Ship of 1st Lt R. H. Smith A/C #666 was hit just after bombs away at 1245.
#1 and #2 engines superchargers knocked out. This slow the ship so that it fell out of formation and became the target for fighter attack. Smith was able to get back into formation by cutting across, pulling 55 inches on his #3 and #4 engines.
Just as they began to get over water on the way out, the oil pressure on #4 engine dropped and they fell out of formation again. The started zigzagging and Smith caught up once more.
He hardly had caught up when the #2 prop ran away and he dropped back for the final time. He was then about 18000 ft and could see land behind him.
He feathered the #4 prop. The oxygen system went out at 17000 ft. The cowling was shot off his #2 engine. Oil was pouring from the #4 engine with proper feathered. Fighters were swarming around and the situation looked completely hopeless.
He was under attack from 12-15 FWs, three or four coming in at a time. The main formation of B-17s had started its descent and came down at about 180 mph while he could only nurse about 155 from his crippled ship. With one engine, #3, working properly, he kept up a violent evasive action while his crew gave the fighters hell with their guns.
There were fires in the tail, the ball turret and in the tail wheel all from 20mm. R Waist Gunner Durham was a factor in putting these out. #2 engine caught fire and co-pilot McCallum succeeded in putting the fire out.
At seven or eight thousand feet, Smith decided they would have to ditch and ordered his crew to take position in the Radio Compartment. They were out of ammunition except in the top turret. Two fighters were still attacking. These were probably called out by radio to take the place of the originals who had to leave as gas or ammunition ran out.
The two FWs quickly discovered that the Fortress had no fire power and came in time after time slowly, holding their fire until they were sure of a hit. The tail was almost shot off, the wings were full of holes, the nose riddled.
As he came down, he unfeathered the #4 engine and at three or four thousand feet the #1 picked up (probably he thinks because only the supercharger had been damaged). Only one fighter was left. Smith came down to with fifty feet, picking up a little as the #1 began to deliver more power.
The remaining FW continued to attack. Finally McCallum, the co-pilot, left his position, went to the top turret and found the guns ok. The FW was flying along in the same direction as the Fortress, at about the same speed. McCallum caught him cold, by surprise at 125 yards. The FW engine alone filled his sight. He held down the triggers and watched the bullets rip into him until the FW broke into a violent turn with smoke pouring out. McCallum couldt see him hit, but he Air Sea Rescue corvette that pick them up told them there was a German down close to them. This was the only German in the vicinity, so McCallum is probably the only co-pilot in the theater with a valid claim to a FW.
The #1 engine gave out and in spite of all Smith and McCallum could do, airspeed dropped to 110 and the ship ditched at 1421.
Ditching procedure was perfect, the landing excellent. All the doors were closed, the crew assembled in the radio compartment. The ship, with practically no gasoline left, stayed up for three minutes. The crew launched the two larger dinghies, as well as two individual dinghies. These were tied together, there larger ones side by side, the smaller ones training.
The co-pilot standing on the wing, got in the dinghy with only wet feet. The pilot slipped under the wing but got aboard without difficulty. Although the sea was fairly calm, before long all were soaked to the skin.
During the afternoon they ate some of the food in the escape kits and took some of the benzadrine tablets. In the morning they had ice in their hair and on their eyebrows and their clothes were covered with frost. During the entire period they kept their dinghy radio in operation.
By 1950 the next day they were safe aboard the Depp Sea Rescue Corvette. They were landed at Epingham and flown back to base on Sunday, 23rd May.
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report MISSION
VIII BC 60
Wilhelmshaven, Germany Uboat base
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
A/C: 21; 4 aborts (engine failure - 2: Briscoe, Robinson, lost formation - 2: Onnen, Salada); 3 did not return
Bombing: 1243, 22000 ft
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Indeterminate because of evasive action, fierce ground and aerial opposition and smoke screen at target
Base: ground haze, light wind
Frisian Islands: ineffective; moderate to intense over target; flak ships, accurate
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
100-125 E/A; most attacks from nose or tail
Tail gunner received 20mm fragments in both arms
Waist gunner .30 calibre wound in thigh
Radio operator: 20mm in body, face, legs;
A/C 666: Pilot Smith (DFC) ditched in North Sea 1420; crew rescued after 30 hours in dinghy - no chutes
A/C 23214: Judas (MACR 16173) going down under control
A/C 806 after target
Aerial bombs used again by E/A
Lead group dropped bombs early, peeled off run, exposing 306th
Climb out much too soon - overcast spread formation
Wilson: very mission; should never have been flown
Witt A/C (#815) landed at fighter field Hutton Cranswick to refuel before returning to Thurleigh
English batteries at coast fired on returning formation - eight bursts
Hopkins: pretty damn rough mission
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Six ships of our squadron, piloted by Captains Clancy, Birdsong and Giauque, Lieutenants. Silvernail, Retchin and Forsblad went on the mission to Wilhelmshaven. Intense enemy fighter opposition - 150 to 200 - was encountered before reaching the target. Attacks were made on the group leader 'en masse' and our ships were badly shot up. Lt Retchin, in ship No. 657 was shot down.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Raid on slips 1,2,3,4 at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Bomb load: 10 x 500. Bombing results: Unobserved, target obscured by haze. Bombing altitude: 23,500 ft. Time: Leave base 1010 hrs - Target 1243 - Arrive Base. Lt. Hubbard received injury to left hand by flak. Enemy Opposition: Vicious from 1235 to 1310 hrs by FW190s and JU88s. AA fire moderate to intense.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Wilhelmshaven - 9 Sub slips - Especially vicious E/A attacks accounted for 4 323rd A/C. We lost Lt. Retchin, A/C 657, 323rd in addition to above. Weather not too good. Bombing results unobserved - probably poor.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Unobserved due to intensity of E/A attacks and heavy undercast. Slight flak reported near Ardhof and from Spiekeroog Island. Intense accurate flak experienced at target. Vicious attacks from 1235 at IP to 1318 40 miles off Germen coast by some 150 fighters of all types, ME 109, FW 190, JU 88's. Attacks made at nose singly, in pairs, in line, six abreast, etc. Aerial bombing at attacks made at two different intervals, one type of bomb exploding at different vertical intervals. Lt A. E. Wieneth - glass in face arms and legs due to exploding 20 MM shell in cockpit. Lt. T. E. Ashinhurst wounded in finger from 30 cal. bullet. Lts. G. E. Williams and N. E. Sticklen both slightly wounded by flak.