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GSAP Gun Camera Views Of Air Attack On Rabaul & Vicinity, 02/1944 (full)

Rating: 5.00 - Votes: 1 - Views: 989
Added by: LetsTripOutAndDie, 03-16-2015
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Freely downloadable at the Internet Archive, where I first uploaded it. Naval Photographic Center film #4535. National Archives description "1) HA AV PAN Japanese airstrip, bomb craters, smoke.2) AtoA LS American SBD flying over airfield.3) HA AV PAN Over airfield; bomb hits; roads.4) HA AV Harbor; ships at finger piers; buildings; SBD airborne; tracer fire.5) HA AV Plane firing tracers at buildings along harbor; building explodes; PAN to plane firing tracers at ships in harbor.6) HA AV Finger piers along harbor.7) AV Tracers strafing enemy installations in palm grove; PAN to bomb hits in harbor.8) HA AV Bomb hit near finger piers; tracers; PAN to beached AP.9) HA AV Tracer hits along Japanese installations in palm tree area; SBD aircraft making passes over buildings; bomb hits.10) HA AV Tracers firing into coconut palm grove; roadway next to grove; PAN along coastline.11) HA AV Tracers firing at harbor installations; bomb hits; aircraft flying low over land; PAN. G12) HA AV Coconut palm grove; PAN, smoke rising from buildings.13) HA AV Japanese installation in grove of palm trees; bomb hits; PAN, partially submerged transport ship in harbor.14) HA AV CU Bomb hits in palm trees; smoke rising from burning buildings." National Archives Identifier: 77151

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Stationed at the Podington airfield in England as a member of the 92nd Bombardment Group, 2nd Lieutenant Bosko was flying his seventh combat mission on August 24, 1944, as captain of a B-17 named “Snake Hips.” The mission was to bomb the area of Merseburg, Germany, with its large synthetic oil plant. By August of 1944, Merseburg was already legendary for the flak barrages and fighter planes used to defend it from attack. On this day, during Snake Hips’ bombing run over Merseburg, an anti-aircraft shell exploded directly in the plane’s open bomb bay that just been opened for its drop and still held ten 500-pound bombs. As Bosko wrote in his letter home, the plane still had “all the eggs aboard. Why they didn’t go off, I’ll never know. The ship was practically broken in half, the wing was all gone up to the spar, the controls were practically all dead. . . .The entire cockpit was covered with flames.” The ball turret gunner had been fatally wounded and the navigator had been hit in the arm by shrapnel. Bosko added in his letter, “[o]ur instruments were all shot out [and] all the radios were a heap of junk.” Also, the landing gear had come down when the plane was hit. According to a narrative of the incident believed to have been written by Roger A Freeman, a British military aviation historian, three of the ten bombs in the bay were blasted out, five were dislodged, and two remained jammed in their shackles. Smelling gasoline, Bosko looked back into the bomb bay and saw gasoline “swishing around” in the bomb bay. Bosko recalled later that he thought, “Holy Smoke, how come we haven’t blown up by now. My transition instructor at Roswell, New Mexico, told me that in an emergency give yourself ten seconds. If nothing happens you might not be as bad off as you thought you were, and that flashed through my mind. Well, we’d had our ten seconds and the thing didn’t blow.” Losing altitude at about 2,000 feet a minute, Snake Hips also narrowly missed getting hit by bombs being dropped by its own group. Bosko turned the plane to head back to see if they could make it to England rather than having to bale out, a decision supported by everyone on board. He wrote to his family, “We were deep in the heart of Germany when this happened, and we were all by our lonesome.” He expressed amazement that no shots were taken at the plane on the trip back. John Bosko in uniform. As his crew struggled to put out the flames and gain control of the plane, Bosko decided that they had to deal with the seven bombs still in the bomb bay because of the imminent threat of explosion. Other members of the crew succeeded in defusing the bombs and used a screwdriver, then brute strength, to get them all dislodged and to drop them from the plane over the sea. This process took about forty-five minutes while Bosko kept trying to maintain control of the plane with its gaping hole. Then the situation worsened. One of the fuel tanks went dry due to the leak into the bomb bay, resulting in the failure of one of the engines. Upon finally reaching the English coast, a crew member spotted an emergency landing strip, Woodbridge, which had been constructed just for landings by damaged 4 planes. Given the failing condition of Snake Hips, Bosko said, he knew that “there weren’t going to be any goarounds. It was get in first time or you don’t get in.” He also realized that “coming in at 150 m.p.h. isn’t the presumed way of landing a Fortress, but we had no choice.” Bosko had other crew members bale out close to the landing strip, then he and the co-pilot barely succeeded in landing the plane safely - with no brakes. It is believed that “Snake Hips” was one of the most heavily damaged B-17s in the European theatre to return to safety.
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