Joseph J. Bitzer, Mission March 19, 1945

Joseph J. Bitzer, Mission March 24, 1945

Between the Wiener Neustadt missions, we were in dangerous Deutschland - Germany on Mar. 19 Landshut marshalling yards, and on the 24th Neuberg airdrome. Anything above northern Italy had you flying over the enemy longer than you cared to, these trips running about 8 1/2 hours, close to 1700 miles round trip. In April we had a couple turnbacks. Everyone had these at times, mostly with engine problems. Some got shot up somewhat before reaching target and tried to struggle back home. Everyone tried to take his Liberator as far as he could to get the job done. On one mission a pilot dropped out of formation when the oxygen system failed. Instead of heading for home, he turned back to drop his bombs on the target, but was interrupted by Nazi fighters. He ducked into a cloud, came out and pulled his emergency bomb release. The bombs crashed through the bomb bay doors - he forgot to open them. Three tons of bombs tore off the right bomb bay door, which flew up, hit the right wing, tearing the flap loose and cutting out the trailing edge. The left bomb bay door struck the stabilizer. But he got it back home safely, and the B24 was readied for battle service again.

One Lib was hit through the main structure of the left wing, leaving a hole as big as a barrel, but kept its place in formation. Then it was hit in the bomb bay, cut the aileron cable, and knocked out the hydraulic, electric and oxygen systems. It got home, landing at 150 mph with no ailerons or brakes, and the crew uninjured. One B24 came back with 500 holes in wings and fuselage, so bad they didn’t even save it for parts. But it landed with no one injured.