B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Remembrances of the B-Dash-Crash & My Experiences with the 320th
by John (Jack) S. Harpster, 442nd Bomb Squadron

 

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Close calls and buzz jobs

 

In Sardinia there was a factory that had two very large and very tall smokestacks right on factory grounds. We used to debate who was going to be the first one to fly a B-26 between these smokestacks. The ridiculous part of this stupidity was that in order to do so, the B-26 would have to be up in a turn and nearly vertical to be able to get between the stacks as you flew between them. It would seem that we had tired of the so far unsuccessful German efforts to kill us and were thinking of other ways and means to do so. Anyhow, not wanting to be the last, I made a low-level approach to just look at the stacks. As I got nearer I spotted a strong steel cable firmly fixed and permanently attached between them. My cross was already at work and all bets were off!

In those days buzzing, the unnecessary act of low low flying, was not the deplorable maneuver it came to be after the war. In fact, it was one means of communication used to get transportation back to the squadron area. After a test hop or solo mission of some kind, a low altitude high speed fly by over the squadron area was the proper signal for some one to come down to the flight line and give us a ride back. Many of the gas heater stove pipes that stuck up a tad too far in the air became fair game for this alerting process. In later post war days, buzzing of any kind was a serious offense and could well result in monetary loss, and/or much worse - like becoming seriously dead. This obviously was not the case in overseas wartime operations. (Continued)


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