The Last Flight of Miss Carriage
"On April 23, 1944 Forty-two B-24s of the 450th Bomb Group took off at 1000
hours to bomb Schwechat Aircraft Factory.
Four returned early.
Thirty-eight dropped 94 tons of 500 R.D.X. bombs on target at 1445 hours from 22,000 feet.
Two jettisoned 1 ton of bombs because of engine failure.
Thirty-seven returned to base at 1750 hours.
One crashed landed."
So reads the mission report.
This is the story of the one that crash landed: Miss Carriage.
The crew was on board for their sixth mission.
All went well until just after bombs away, when an 88mm anti-aircraft round hit Miss Carriage just forward of
the bomb bay.
It destroyed the auxiliary power unit and the central electrical
panel, causing the loss of all electrical power including radio and intercom.
It took awhile to sort things out, but no one was hurt and all four engines
continued to run smoothly; its a good thing they did because we could not have
feathered a prop without power.
Unfortunately the props were stuck at 2500 RPM,
which was standard procedure on a bomb run, in case of the loss of an engine
and the need to add power to the remaining engines quickly to stay in formation.
Jack Browne and Oscar Barbee, the 1st and 2nd Engineers worked frantically
trying to get the electrical system patched up to get a little juice, but were
We stayed in formation for the three hour return to Manduria, but were using an
awful lot of fuel because of the high engine RPM.
The fuel gauges on the B-24
were notoriously inaccurate and hard to read, but Jack Browne told me he
thought we had a least a couple of hundred gallons left.
We made a wide circle
to the west to try for spacing between landing aircraft and prepared a flare to
indicate no radio.
It was then the engines stared to surge and cut out because of
We were on a long approach at about 2000 feet.
I yelled over
my shoulder to get set as we were going in.
There was nothing to do but line up
between two rows of olive trees and put it down.
After we stopped and counted noses, we found that Oscar Barbee was missing.
They told me that he had rushed through the bomb bay to tell those in back to
get strapped in.
He would have been OK if he had stayed with them, but he
started back to the flight deck, and was on the catwalk in the bomb bay when
Miss Carriage hit.
Oscar was the only casualty on our crew in the 50 mission
He gave his life because of concern for his fellow crew members.
This picture was taken on 24 April 1944, the day after we crashed Miss carriage in the olive orchard.
Thats Dick Anderson, Ed Carlson and me.