"Our attack came off exactly as planned, Jerry told me (Jack Preble, 515-S-2) upon his return. We had no sooner skipped our bombs into the target and pulled up when we saw a flight of about forty JU-52s coming our way, I guess that we both were embarrassed, as the meeting was entirely accidental. I decided to fly straight ahead and the hell with 'em. So we opened up with all our guns and ploughed right into the middle of them. They scattered like scared chickens, All but one, and he came at us head on! We gave him several bursts and down he crashed. I don't know what kind of a flying tank those Junker pilots thought we had - or if they even recognized us as an enemy. Anyhow, they were so surprised that as far as I know, not a shot was fired at us." (From the book "Written In the Sand" by Jack Preble).
The 376th pilots, always seeking new ways to employ their B-24's in combat, became so proficient in whipping their giants off the ground that they became a flexible instrument of aerial warfare. On special occasions, they were used not only as low-level bombers but as "flying tanks" as well.
To Norman C. Appold should go the distinction for perfecting the technique of "on the deck" or low-level bombing. Flying "on the deck", it was often possible to evade detection by the enemy's radar system.
It was Appold who got bored with routine raids and volunteered for a mission, which seemed almost suicidal. But he had it figured from all angles and knew his scheme, which was based on surprise by doing the unexpected, had all the elements of success. His plan was a one plane, low-level bombing of the chemical factories at Crotone, Italy - the first of its kind ever made by a B-24 bomber. Skimming in on Crotone at less than 90 feet above ground, he and his volunteer crew scattered their 1000-lb bombs throughout the entire factory area tearing up railway tracks and wrecking many buildings,
Then, either not satisfied with the destruction caused or to
work off some more steam, the crew circled lower and returned - this time with
guns ripping into steam locomotives, generators, dynamos and other targets
seen, (Mission 106, March 30, 1943).