Form: FI-4, Initial Report
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 21:55:09 +0000 (GMT)
From: daniel wilson <>
Subject: May 25-26, 1945; Tokyo, Japan / Fireball Report
Cat: 11
To: Francis Ridge <>

May 25-26, 1945; Tokyo, Japan
Fireball follows a B-29 of the 39th Bombardment Group for 50 miles. "A 'fireball' picked us up at the coast and followed us for 50 miles before falling off toward the sea." Crew 44, 62nd Squadron - 39th Bomb Group (VH).

Mission 11 - 25-26 May 1945
The mission was a night incendiary raid on downtown Tokyo and nearby waterfront. The visual bomb run was made at 9,100 feet in clear weather. Searchlights picked up four minutes short of the target and remained on us for a total of nine minutes. One fighter made a pass at us over the target and several others were seen. About 50 flares were seen (many carried explosives). A "fireball" picked us up at the coast and followed us for 50 miles before falling off toward the sea. We were hit several times by flak - hole in the nose, three in the left wing, several in the bomb bay and center wing tank areas, two in the top blister and an undetermined number in the tail compartment and tail surfaces.

Tail Gunner Henry Matthaus was hit by flak and ammunition exploded and much of the equipment was destroyed or damaged. Matthaus failed respond on intercom. Charles Smith went back and broke open the tail compartment door. Lloyd Volkmar, Radio Operator (our first aid man), decided to move the severely injured Matthaus to the radar compartment, where he was able to render first aid. Iwo Jima was socked in and due to our damaged aircraft; we couldn't take a chance on landing there. On our return, we had to open the bomb bay by manual means to eject six bombs, which had hung up due to a release malfunction. The rear doors wouldn't close - we landed with them open. Despite the co-pilot's controls being completely inoperative and the elevator trim tabs and other control functions knocked out, we made an excellent landing.

We had also seen a B-29 go down in a flat spin with wing fire.
Time of mission: 15 hours, 20 minutes

P-44 on Hardstand
Courtesy of 1st Lt Dan Clendening, Radar Observer, P-55

Bottom Row: L to R: 
Capt. Zitkowski, Gr Oper. Officer; S/Sgt Russell, Ground Crew; Sgt Bleiman, CFC Maintenance; T/Sgt William R. Hehe (Hayms), Ground Crew Chief; M/Sgt Kile, Line Crew Chief.
Middle Row: L to R:
T/Sgt Max L. Sampsel, CFC Gunner; Sgt Jerell L. Taylor, RG; Cpl Henry T. Matthaus, TG; M/Sgt Lloyd E.. Geringer, FE; Sgt Lloyd Volkmar, Radio Operator; S/Sgt Clarence Martin,LG.
Top Row: L to R:
1st Lt Charles A. Smith; Radar Observer; 1st Lt Edward Dengler, Pilot; 1st Lt Thomas Brennan, Jr.; Navigator;
Capt Carroll H. Payne, Airplane Commander; 1st Lt Julian Arnold, Bombardier