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."

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