Weather conditions were poor for bombing Kyushu, Japan, in mid-July, 1945. On the 17th the 494th Bombardment Group flew it's first combat mission to China in order to bomb targets within the Japanese "airdrome", Chiang Wan, just outside Shanghai. The map below refers to the target as Kiangwan A/D, between Woo Sang (Woosung Military Depot) and Shanghai. Kamikaze pilots had inflicted considerable damage on ships and planes of the Allied forces. The airfields that could launch the desperate one-way attacks were a high-priority target for USAAF bombers.
Flight orders put The 866th Squadron's Weekly Status and Operations Report (below) reported the target obscured by clouds but the radar-guided bombing "probably destroyed" the primary targets. Five days later, when weather conditions remained less than optimal for bombing runs over Japan, the 494th conducted a second bombing raid on Chiang Wan. The Squadron Reports and the Group History, Volume 2, record the harrowing personal accounts of surviving crewmen from the two bombers that sustained heavy damage while flying over the target. No fighter plane attacks were reported, although unidentified planes shadowed the squadron along the same route and altitude until bombs were released. Flak was reported (below) to be light and inaccurate. The Mission Report records that a loud explosion occurred just below B-24 #956 just after the bombs were released. The explosion knocked another B-24 in that formation #44-40711, Sittin' Pretty, out of the sky relatively quickly, while #956 stayed in the air for an hour and was able to reach open water in the China Sea before two rings of the bail-out bell signaled the crew to jump.
This was the first official combat mission for Crew 42B, Lt. Tom Cartwright and his men. The mission briefing included new survival instructions for evading capture, Chinese currency, and "blood chits" for communicating with would-be rescuers who could sympathize but were not able to speak English. The men were to expect 150 Japanese fighter planes and revetments protected by 60 to 80 anti-aircraft installations. Chinese guerrillas reported that radar informed the Japanese defenses of raids approaching from 200 miles out, and that all remaining "planes" on the ground were actually decoy "props". The real planes reportedly were moved to safe shelters underground. The 866th Bomb Squadron Elements 7 and 8 included veteran crews led by pilots Altman, Dubinsky, Van Curen, and Marvin. One plane aborted before takeoff, and 47 launched in the 48 minutes following 9:39 a.m. B-24 Pilot Joseph Dubinsky flew a/c #980, which developed a gas leak, and diverted to a secondary target.
...to be continued...additional information and images will be posted about this mission, which is likely the most documented of all the 494th combat missions.