Fireball follows a B-29 of the 39th Bombardment Group for 50
'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
May 25-26, 1945; Tokyo, Japan
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
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
|Bottom Row: L
Capt. Zitkowski, Gr Oper.
Officer; S/Sgt Russell, Ground Crew; Sgt Bleiman, CFC Maintenance;
R. Hehe (Hayms), Ground Crew Chief; M/Sgt Kile, Line Crew Chief.
|Middle Row: L to
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
|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