Monday, August 30, 2010

B-24 Liberator Willow Run Assembly Plant During WWII

A former Marine sent me this footage. I found it very

interesting and thought my readers would enjoy it.

It seems the "Lib" was quite the work horse of WWII.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Captain Estes Recalls One Particular Mission

(Continuation of Captain Charles Estes's War Memoirs)

"I can recall one mission where we took off from Lecce and
I was lucky enough to pick up all of the necessary things
that I needed to stay in very close formation with this pilot
that was flying lead, and that meant that I had to tuck the
nose of my plane right up underneath the tail of his, and
we had to fly up through the clouds. And there were times
when I could never see him even, it was just clouds flashing
by; but I had his air speed and everything else captured by
the time that we got into this problem, and so it was just
like me flying his plane.

I was flying in exactly the same speed he was, the same
manifold pressure, the same RPM of the props,
and everything else, so all I had to do was keep
my nose right under his tail and we went onto the target,
dropped our bombs and came on back home.

And I remember it was a mission that Colonel Manzo, who
was the CO of the 98th Bomb Group at the time I was over
there, he asked that the pilots report to him and tell him
what we thought we had been able to accomplish with the
mission. Well, it was rather hard for me to determine
because I was flying behind the guy that was leading the
two planes on this mission. I understand that he reported
to Colonel Manzo that he thought that the mission had
been very successful. Of course, I never saw the target,
I never saw the bombs drop or any of that, so I couldn't
really and truly tell him anything about what I thought
except that I was proud that I was able to fly formation
with him through the clouds and reach the target,
and I just hoped that it was successful."

(To Be Continued.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Beginning of Many Missions for the Crew of the 415th

(Continuation of Captain Charles Estes's War Memoirs)

"But we flew some several missions. I can't recall the
different ones but the majority of the missions that we
flew carried us over the Alps to Austria or some place in
that area, and that was something that I never even
thought about, flying over the Alps. It was a beautiful
sight to look down and see the Alps, and usually you were
at about 12 to 15,000 feet at the time that you went over them,
so you could see the peaks in there pretty good and everything
was very pretty. And you'd fly over these small towns and
you wouldn't begin to get flak until you got to somewhere
close around the IP, that's the Initial Point, and at that point
is when you turned on the bomb run to bomb your target.

Well, we also flew -- we were assigned -- our crew was assigned
the duties of bad weather missions, instrument missions, and
things of that nature. For some reason or another my
instructor at the Smyrna Air Base had written on my
report that I was exceptionally good at instrument flying,
so I was -- my crew was assigned the duties of the instrument
crew. That meant that we flew on missions when the rest
of the group couldn't fly because the weather was so bad,
and you couldn't hold out -- I mean, you couldn't hold a
formation because of the clouds and everything else.
Well, it was a pat on the back in one respect and a kick
in the ass on the other one, because when you go out on
your own you're subject to being attacked by fighter planes
and things of that nature, and you have no back up crews,
no pursuit coverage, no -- well, you're just -- you're out
there all by yourself. Even the orders that were given you
on the mission was that should your cloud cover give out,
turn around and come home. They didn't want us to be
thrown into a position where we were out there with no help
from anybody and by ourselves and we could be attacked by
combat planes from Germany and they would have an easy
target at us; except that we were pretty proud of our guns
that were on the crew, and we felt like we could take care
of ourselves, but we flew several very, very crucial missions
when the rest of the group couldn't fly because the weather
was bad. But we were not the only instrument crew, every
group or every squadron had an instrument crew; and so
when we went on a mission there were probably six or
seven planes from all of the different groups, or squadrons
flying this mission."

(To be Continued.)

Catching Flak

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our First Mission as a Crew of the 415th Bomb Squadron

(Continuation of Captain Charles Estes's War Memoirs)

"We are finally in Italy and I'm in the 415th Bomb Squadron
with my crew and we've never flown a mission.
Well, before they would let me fly a mission with my
crew, they required that I fly a mission with another
pilot who was an old hand at flying missions; so they
assigned me to Captain Clark's crew as the copilot.
This would be my first mission, and I would fly with
a man who had flown plenty of missions over there,
and I was to watch him and observe him and learn
how to go about flying a mission in combat.

I'm not sure where the mission was, but I have an
idea it was in Germany. That was a target that
we very rarely bombed. The 8th Air Force took
care of Germany, but in Italy we could hit the
southern parts of Germany. So I assumed that
my mission was to a ball bearing plant or something
of that nature in Germany. I can recall that it was
very scary for me because this was the first time
I'd ever been shot at, and you can't imagine what
it's like to have all of these anti-aircraft guns
shooting up and all of this -- these black puffs of
smoke out in front of you, and any one of 'em could
hit you and cause terrible damage to the plane or
whatever. So I got through that mission okay, and
we got on back home.

And then the next missions that I flew were missions
with my crew, and we went overseas without a
bombardier. It seems that it was usual procedure
for a crew to fly without a bombardier because
the bombardier was only required in the lead
plane or number four plane, which flew just
underneath the number one plane; and whenever
the lead plane or number four plane opened the
bomb bay doors on the bomb run, then the planes
around them opened their bomb bays, and when
he released the bombs you released yours, so you
didn't need a bombardier."