39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City of La Grange" (IL)
"Low and Lonely"
B-29 44-69908

"Show of Force"
Photo courtesy of William S. Lawrence, LG

Photo courtesy of
Maurice Picheloup, Asst. Grp FE
Mission 12 for us was a daylight incendiary raid on Yokahama. We were the lead squadron and the first to go over the target. The day was perfect for bombing. We came in over Mt. Fuji and turned east for a bomb run on the big city. Off to the left and north we could still see smoke on Tokyo from our previous raids. Up ahead right on course and at our altitude was the heaviest barrage of flak I had ever seen. It was exactly over our target and we knew we were going to catch all hell. Sure enough over the target all hell broke loose. All around us flak was bursting. Some flashes were close enough to be blinding and the pieces that glanced off our ship sounded like stones on a tin roof. One phosphorous bomb exploded right in front of us and we flew through without a damaging hit. After bombs away we started evasive action to miss the flak. All around us ships were feathering engines and losing ground. Just before land's end we saw six Jap fighters starting to attack out of the sun and suddenly out of nowhere came six P-51s to knock them out. This was the first time the P-51s had ever been near to help us and they really paid off. On the way home from Japan, our bomb bay doors stuck open and we had to crawl into the bays and work to get them closed. They were tied up with wire saved for just that purpose. Just north of Iwo, we located a P-51 pilot bailing out. We circled him and called a destroyer that happened to be close enough to pick him up. While circling him, our No. 1 engine blew off a cylinder and we had to shut it down. It was several hours before we were back to base all safe and sound but very tired.

On about the 15th mission No. 4 prop had a hole shot in one blade. The hole was polished up, the blade rebalanced and reinstalled, to be sure it whistled. One piece of flak damaged number 3 fuel cell but engineer Jim Chennault was able to transfer fuel skillfully enough to keep the engine running and still not leak. They returned to Guam without any problem. No other damage was received on old "Low and Lonely."

On a later flight, around 20, several of the crews reported electronic failures and were unable to navigate due to cloud cover. The night was very black on the return to base. Capt Van put out a general call saying his equipment was A-OK and he would put on his landing lights so they could trail him home. On break out over Guam he had 13 or 14 aircraft following Crew 54. Later the plane was equipped with additional equipment enabling them to work with Navy ships at sea

According to a diary kept by Lawrence Reineke, 73rd BW S-2 Combat Intelligence Officer on Iwo Jima notes: "April 14 1945 - Capt. P. Van Schulyer Jr. 314/39/62 Bombbay doors open, flak in #4 prop, short on gas."

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Crew 54 Main Page

Sources: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"; Reineke Iwo Jima & B-29 Damage Report