B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Return to Florence
by Benjamin C. McCartney, 443rd Bomb Squadron

 

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"A Lot of Things We Can't Hit"

 

"O.K. Everybody got a map? O.K., here are the target pictures." He handed out the 10 x 10 target pictures of the marshaling yards. "And here's another picture that shows the whole place." He handed out the other pictures.

"Sure got a lot of things we can't hit," a bombardier across from me remarked. He was looking at the white squares drawn in around buildings and objects that were not to be hit. "You're not just kidding," the group bombardier replied. His name was Bobby Swindler, and he was as good a bombardier as there was in the wing. He had been badly shot up once, but he was all right again. Everyone called him Bobby.

"How about the weather?" another bombardier, who wore his parachute harness, asked. "The weather going to be O.K.?"

"Fine. We don't have to worry about that."

"How long a run we going to take? Seems we ought to take a long run," a bombardier said. He was relatively new, and I had seen him at briefing only once or twice.

"At least 60 seconds' run," Bobby told us all. "Coming in the way you will, you ought to be on course a couple of minutes, anyway."

"How about flak? They got any flak?"

"No flak. At least, as far as we know."

"We heard that one before, too," a couple of the bombardiers laughed.

"You might get flak after you break. They might try to reach you from Prato with the guns they've got there. But it's a long shot, and they can't get you on your bomb run." He checked with all of us to make sure we had the maps and the two pictures.

"No alternate today. O.K., look at the target picture."

We all got the picture which showed the marshaling yards and a part of the city and looked at the target - a long, narrow band of brown across one part of the picture.

"Your target's the Campo di Marte marshaling yards in Florence. It's about 400 feet wide and about 2,000 feet long. Kind of rough having it narrow like that, but I think we can get it."

We went over the target photo and then over the maps. Then we got the bombing data.

"Be sure you get the altimeter set right with the pilot. We don't want any screwing up on altitude."

"How about ground speed?" a bombardier asked.

"Ground speed 223. You'll have a little tail wind. Not much."

We went on with the briefing and got all the data on the winds. Then we went back to the target photo.

"Be sure you get your drift killed," Bobby told us. "Don't drop unless you got your drift absolutely killed. The yards are too narrow." (Continued)


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