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"Snake Hips" B17 With Extreme Flak Damage Still Flew home

Rating: 5.00 - Votes: 1 - Views: 2240
Added by: LetsTripOutAndDie, 04-19-2015
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Description
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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04-20-2015, 01:37 AM #88845
   
Skivvy Stacker
Sergeant

B 17 with a patio.
I want that fucker to be my pilot on the next flight I take.
Crew of "Snake Hips"=Badasses to the core. Man Cards have no expiration date. Their balls are made of solid titanium, and their beards can cut through fucking diamonds.
   
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