is about my Dad's third mission.
Jack L. Heffner was a radar operator and gunner in the 881st squadron,
500th Bomb Group of the 73rd Bomb Wing based on Saipan. There
is another account of one of his missions on this site also -
Tokyo Raiders. I have placed them on
"B-29 Superfortress Then And Now... " as a thank you and tribute
to the B-29 crews, especially the men of the 500th BG. I welcome
e-mail from anyone interested
in these stories and the history of the 500th BG.
Destination aircraft plant in, Tokyo
Pilot - Lt. McNamer ( my own crew)
My position - Radar Operator (used radar For 12 1/2 hours)
|Take off -
Over Target - 13:45
Altitude - 30,0000
Flak - heaviest yet
Fighter opposition very heavy, between 50 and 100 fighters. Came
in thru our formation and threw lots of 20's. Unestimated number
shot down. Target very clear. Forty- minute running fight.
Jack L. Heffner
about 70 B-29's
Losses - 1 B-29 (881st lead ship with Col. King and Major Goldsworthy)
Returned to Base - 10:30 (Overdue, no gas left, crash landing)
Total time - 14 hours - 45 minutes
Comments - right before hitting target we got a hit that lowered
our landing gears, everybody thought we were going to bail out.
About 50 fighters took turns on us as we dropped behind the formation.
The last they saw of us (our formation), we were still over target
with gears down. Major Goldsworthy's plane was then hit, and most
of the fighters took after him. It went down with two engines
blazing and was later reported as crashing in Tokyo and burning,
no one getting out. We lost our squad leader and our Group Commander
(Two cols. on ship- Bruggie and Schroeder). S/ Sgt Welles was
Radar operator. We tried to salvo our bombs and couldn't. The
landing gears came back up and the doors stayed open.
clung to us and sent 20's thru our tail, making huge holes and
knocking out the tail guns. Another tore a huge hole in the side
of the fuselage, back of the Radar compartment, and shot up a
lot of control cables. One also nipped off part of the rudder.
We finally got our bombs off, the gunners still blazing at fighters
as we were far behind the formation, Mac, pouring on all the coal
we had, pulled away from the fighters and we headed home. Due
to many things, we were very low on the petrol and ditching in
the Pacific was predicted. We prepared for, it by throwing out
everything that was loose, then sat back to sweat. By some miracle
we landed a bearing on Saipan, radar being out, Engineer saying,
"Not enough gas". We finally reached the runway, using the B-24
strip as the pilot expected a crash landing, due to our landing
gears gone whacky. We did! Right in on the nose, the nose gears
coming up thru, and the doors still stuck.
taken, and no one was badly hurt. Number 7 was dragged off the
runway and as yet (1944), it's status is unknown. Practically
everything gone on it, and the props look like pretzels. To the
fast accumulating B-29 graveyard, I guess. The 881st has now lost
4 out of 10. Mac was congratulated by our CO on his crash landing.
He's tops for a pilot and we'll ride with him anywhere. (Maybe)
PS Those double
shots hit the spot exceedingly well for some reason tonight.
Comment - Col. King and Maj Goldsworthy survived and spent the
duration of the war as prisoners of war in Tokyo.
To read- Click
To read- Click
lot of things happen in the cockpit that are unknown to the rest
of the crew in the back compartment. We had quite a discussion
about staying at 12,000 feet until the engines quit then make
a dead stick landing in the water if that was the case. As you
know now we kept flying even after the engineer said we were flying
on vapor and landed with only the gear problem."Mac"
made a normal landing and lowered the nose wheel and it folded
back under the belly.
Also about that mission I remember an airplane (Japanese fighter)
that looked like it was going to ram us - explode in front of
our left engines and half of the plane went over the wing and
half under... "
On The December 3, 1944 Mission Bill Lewis, Copilot