Testing New Engines
and I took up an airplane for four hours to test its
newly installed engines. Lt.'s. Burke, Pocan and, Demettree
decided to tag along. Lt. Johnson decided to go down
to the ocean and buzz the Officers Club. He then headed
toward some tall brick smokestacks that were about 100
feet apart. The smokestacks had a cable connecting each
at the top. He thought about flying between them, but
upon realizing this he gave up and changed his mine.
Lt. Burke wanted to fly so I crawled into the nose of
the airplane, which is the bombardier's compartment.
Lt. Burke decided to fly down a railroad track to see
how close he could come to the trees and then headed
up into the mountains. He buzzed a small town in the
valley and headed up a steep mountain side. I looked
back at Burke because I was not sure he would make it
to the top. Lt. Burke just smiled at me. Then I saw
the bombardierís airspeed indicator and we still were
going 360 miles/hr at the top of mountain. It was my
turn to fly. We were about 10,000 feet when the left
engine stopped. I looked back and saw Burke smiling.
I knew he had shut the gas off to the left engine so
I trimmed the rudder of the airplane to take the pressure
off my left foot. I did not feather the left engine
I just let it windmill (let the air turn the prop and
engine) so the right engine was pulling the whole airplane.
I kept losing altitude to keep the air speed up. After
we lost 2,000 feet I told Burke I was not going to feather
the left engine till we lost another 2,000 feet so you
might as well turn the gas back on the left engine.
We all had a good time and at the end of the four hours
we went back to the base.
This is part of a B-26 formation heading out.
Close Formation Practice
I had been at the base about three months Colonel Fletcher
decided that we needed more practice in flying close
formation. He had all four squadrons flying when they
would rather be doing something else. He told us to
fly the airplanes much closer together. He had four
ships flying almost underneath each other so the two
groups of sixteen ships looked like one big group. The
gunners had to be very careful when they fired the gun
so they would not hit one of our own ships. This close
flying paid off - the German fighters didn't like so
much firepower directed at them. The formation was also
harder for the German fighters to break up to attack
one ship. It gave the group more protection.
Three ship Take Offs
did not practice three ship formation take offs. We
just started doing them. We took our positions to the
right or left of the lead ship and when we started down
the runway we never took our eyes off the lead ship.
As soon as the three ships were in the air the next
three ships took off. The three ship takeoffs allowed
the whole group to form up and head out fast. This resulted
in gasoline savings and an increase in range of 70 miles.
Our group, the 320-bomber group, used three ship takeoffs
while the 319-bomber group which was also at our base
used six ship take offs.
a famous 444th ship.
Everybody liked to fly
we were flying around Sardinia we could see some ruins
of an old castle from the air. The old castle was not
very far away from the base. Lt. Johnson, Lt. Pocan,
and I decided to go see it. The Transportation officer
had a jeep we could use so we gathered up all the gun
shells we could find and then took off. I think when
the 444th moved from North Africa to Sardinia they loaded
all the guns, shells, motorcycles and everything else
they could get their hands on, and took it with them
to Sardinia. Anytime someone went to North Africa, they
brought something back in their airplane.
drove the jeep about a half-mile from the castle and
then climbed up a small hill to the castle. The castle
was not very much, just four walls. I think the owner
in the old days must not have had much rank. We got
a lot of practice with our guns although there was not
much to shoot at. On the way back we got the jeep stuck
in a little creek so we got our feet wet getting the
jeep back to dry land.(Continued)
Copyright(c) 2003 320th History Preservation. All rights reserved.