This material 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.

Diary Entry Begins Here:

Mission #3
Destination aircraft plant in, Tokyo
Pilot - Lt. McNamer ( my own crew)
Ship #7
My position - Radar Operator (used radar For 12 1/2 hours)


McNamer's Crew

Take off - 7:50 a.m.
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

Strength - 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.

Fighters 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.

Pictures were 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.



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"A 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... "

- Comments On The December 3, 1944 Mission Bill Lewis, Copilot