Robison's Crew


AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, England - Sergeant Lyman R. Huffman, 19, B-17 Flying Fortress engineer-gunner from Denison, TX, and his crew are not sure whether changing planes before taking off on a bombing mission to Germany brings good luck or bad. They only know that when a mechanical flaw in their assigned Fort forced a last-minute transfer to another, they brought her back to this Eighth Air Force base from an attack on rail yards in Oranienburg, Germany, riddled with over 500 flak holes -- but with only one crew member slightly wounded.

After take-off, the crew's trip was almost without incident until they started down the bomb run. Flak explosions rocked their plane, but they were untouched until a few seconds from the bomb release when one burst of enemy steel tore a three foot hole in their left wing, hurled the big bomber almost vertically up on its right wing and threw them out of formation.

Pilot and copilot righted their aircraft and swung back into formation in time to drop their bombs on the target with the rest of the group. Almost at that instant, SGT Huffman heard the crack of another flak burst and the sound of shrapnel hitting the fuselage like the rattle of Midwestern hail on a tin roof.

Everything happened at once. One steel fragment smashed through the top turret, leaving SGT Huffman uninjured, holding a piece of the gun sight in his hand. Another fragment zipped through the copilot's window just in front of his face and tore out through the skin of the plane a fraction of an inch behind the pilot's head.

The ball gunner felt a sudden sharp stab of pain in his arm -- and later found nine holes in his turret. The tail gunner's oxygen system was wrecked.

After they had climbed back into formation and the excitement had died down, the crew investigated the damage.

Miraculously, all four engines still droned on. The bomb bays, which had sustained the major portion of hits, were a mass of jagged holes. One tires was shot flat. The oxygen system was partially gone. Fluid poured from a severed hydraulic line, making the brakes useless.

They stuck with their formation and when back over their home base, came in for an emergency landing. With a flat tire and no brakes, they hit the runway. The pilot let his plane roll as far as possible to lessen its speed and then neatly wheeled off the concrete where the soft ground brought them to a stop.

Counting the holes in the Fort, SGT Huffman and his crewmates gave up when they reached a total of 460 in the bomb bays alone. The control surfaces and fuselage were punctured with scores of holes.

Crew 9388 arrived at Sudbury in February, 1945. For the rest of the story, read Lyman R. Huffman's war diary.


CREW INFO
Name Rank Position First Mission Last Mission Status
William G. Robison   Pilot 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI
Edward C. Willems   Copilot 03/10/45 04/21/45 WIA. Returned ZOI
Roger Henry   Navigator 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI
Lyman R. Huffman   FE/Top 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI
Kirby L. Vann   RO 03/10/45 04/21/45 WIA. Returned ZOI
Charles F. Pike   Gunner 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI
Alfred A. Mottola   Gunner 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI
Edward N. Raber   Gunner 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI
Elvin W. Reynolds   Gunner 03/10/45 04/21/45 Returned ZOI

MISSION INFO

Mission Date Time Name ID S/N Type
162 03/10/45 07:30 None PB 43-37835 B17G
163 03/11/45 06:40   PS 43-37970 B17G
165 03/14/45 07:10   TT 43-37820 B17G
166 03/15/45 06:50 Miss Irish DF 43-37998 B17G
168 03/18/45 08:30 The Worry Bird DN 43-37973 B17G
169 03/19/45 10:00   TT 43-37820 B17G
170 03/21/45 05:35 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
171 03/22/45 05:30 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
172 03/24/45 07:05 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
173 03/24/45 06:15 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
174 03/28/45 07:15 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
175 03/30/45 07:10 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
177 04/03/45 06:35 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
178 04/04/45 07:35 King Kong TC 44-39178 B17G
179 04/05/45 08:35 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
180 04/07/45 08:55 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
181 04/08/45 08:55 Pursuit of Happiness TH 43-37931 B17G
183 04/10/45 08:15 Coaltown Express DE 44-6311 B17G
185 04/14/45 07:50 The lady TN 43-38488 B17G
186 04/15/45 07:40 The lady TN 43-38488 B17G
187 04/16/45 07:25 The lady TN 43-38488 B17G
189 04/19/45 08:55 The lady TN 43-38488 B17G
190 04/20/45 07:20 The lady TN 43-38488 B17G
191 04/21/45 10:15 The lady TN 43-38488 B17G

 
Created 12/10/01 Modified 12/23/16

Copyright © 1998-2016, 486th Bomb Group Association.