B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Memories of My Time With the 320th B.G. During WW II
by Donald Wilson Round, 444th Bomb Squadron

 

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Testing New Engines

 

Johnson 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.



Formation Flying.
This is part of a B-26 formation heading out.


Close Formation Practice

 

After 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

 

We 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.



"Cindy", a famous 444th ship.
Everybody liked to fly her.


The Castle

 

As 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.

We 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)


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