The Albert Bassi Crew 704TH
Mission #148, target Brunswick, Germany, Waggum Airfield 24 August 1944

By William Pleimann Tail Gunner

From my position in the tail, I saw a brown object sail by, then another, and I thought they were cardboard
boxes containing chaf, a strip of aluminum foil. It was similar to the foil with which we decorated Christmas trees. (The radioman tossed it out by handfuls to decoy the ack ack guns radar sights.) Suddenly a brisk wind came through the plane. It was the result of the nose wheel hatch being open.

I tumbled backwards out of my turret to see what was happening. The left waist gunner slumped against the side of the plane in a dazed condition; the right waist gunner was yelling “crash.” I looked for my chest parachute. It was not on the hook where I put it. The radio and waist gunners wore backpacks. At this point, the pilot called on the intercom “the controls are frozen.” I could see a belt of 50 cal shells wrapped tightly around the control cables. The right waist gunner was close to the problem and was trying to unwrap the belt of ammo but no luck! I crawled over to help. I reached up and pulled out one shell from the ammo belt. It fell free. The pilots were able to gain control at 8000 feet. We headed for the base at low level, 500 feet.

We dropped our load of bombs across German farmland. We made it across Europe and were approaching the English Channel. The plane gained altitude to clear the white cliffs of Dover. Bassi was tired (beat) and asked the co-pilot to engage the autopilot, which he did. The plane went into a dive. The pilots reacted and pulled out at water level. The prop wash created a “rooster tail.” Safely home—it was my 21st birthday!

Bomb Problem!

We were carrying 500 lb. bombs over the target. Two bombs did not release. These had fallen off the forward shackle and were jammed on their rear shackles. Bassi, our Pilot was made aware of the problem. He called for fighter support and we had to fly lower to work on freeing the bombs, and with no oxygen. We had a portable hand operated hoist. There was a problem getting the strap around the nose of the bomb because of the wind force. The arming wires from the other bombs were used. They were made of copper and we twisted several together to fish them around the bomb, attaching one end to the hoist strap and pulling it around the front end of the bomb. Using the hoist, we were able to position it back on the front shackle. We repeated the same procedure on the second bomb. The plane was now at a lower level, and I was working from the catwalk and was able to disarm the bombs by reinserting the safety wires into the fuses and removing the wires from the hook on the bomb rack. We dropped the bombs on vacant farmland.

On this mission, we had two bombs fail to drop, one on each side of the bomb rack. The bomb bay doors were kept open while we checked the electrical power to each solenoid that tripped the shackle. All solenoids were okay. I had attended Armorer School at Lowry Field and that training was handily used now.

I proceeded to make the bombs safe by disarming them. We were cautioned about landing with live bombs on board. The British had a designated area in the channel for bomb disposal. Our pilot flew us to the restricted area. When we arrived, a British destroyer was cruising through the area. Our toggler decided to try his skill as a bombardier. If the two bombs had been armed, “scratch one destroyer.” The bombs hit the water within ten feet of the bow on each
side.

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