Chapter 71: Laid Low By Cold. Mosquito Attack! Bubble Jobs Arrive. Paris Falls. Reasons Officers Treat Us Well!
Aug 23, 1944 Alto. Corsica. I have had a bad head cold for the past several days, and a stiff neck to boot. I went on sick call several times and was treated by our medic (Baron) because our Doctor is away. He gave me rubdowns with oil of wintergreen, and gave me a hot water bottle to use on my neck.
Today was the first work day for me since Aug 21st due to my cold. I stayed on the flight line all day and helped the other crew chiefs as trouble developed. We hung several wing tanks, and made two missions in the morning. We made two missions in the afternoon, one mission was dive bombing and the other was Bomber escort. We have to hustle to keep the planes flying because we now have only 16 mechanics for 15 airplanes.
Fortunately we have less than the required amount of planes right now. After supper we had to go back to the line for an escort mission at 6.00 PM, and we had four of our planes test-hopped before they were returned to service, due to major repairs having been done on them. We got back to our camp at 9.30 PM. I heard today that our proposed move to France has been cancelled I also heard that we made an invasion at Bordeaux, France, and we might go there. The mosquitoes are biting like mad tonight!
Aug 24, 1944 Alto, Corsica. I got a good night’s sleep last night and feel quite better now. I went to the flying line this morning and found that we received two new Bubble Jobs (P-47s). We call them bubble jobs because the canopy is aerodynamically shaped in the form of an elongated teardrop! We test-hopped them before starting to work on them because they had a new type of propeller.
The pilots that flew them said that they were 'fast climbing fools'! One was numbered #82 and the other #77. I still haven’t got a replacement for my plane (number 73) that made a forced landing in southern France last week. This is because the squadron has not turned in the necessary forms for my old airplane. Capt Skorpowski said that I would get the next new plane to come in.
I helped Woody Sorell pull a 'receival' inspection on his new plane.
We hear that Paris has fallen and the Allied Armies still advance.
Aug 25, 1944 Alto, Corsica. Went back to work this morning and finished the receiving inspection on Woody’s new plane number 77. While I was in the Tech supply trailer, Major Dyer came in and asked Supply if they were ready to move. I think he was just rumor mongering because we hear that the proposed move to Southern France was cancelled. After lunch we went back to work and towed Woody’s plane to my revetment because his former plane is still in his revetment half burned up. This was due to its having caught fire while Woody was doing a pre-flight warm up two days ago!
Surprise! Our officers are going to give the crew chiefs and their assistants a party at the officer’s mess, because we had 100% of our planes in commission last night! Perhaps I should shed some light on why our officer pilots are doing this.
Our pilot’s very lives depend upon the ability of our planes to remain airworthy, even on flights as long as 7 hours. Our single engine fighter planes frequently carried 3 auxiliary gas tanks while escorting 4-engine bombers from Central Italy to targets as far as the Ploesti Oil fields in Romania and back. For this kind of mission the plane had better be in top mechanical condition!
On shorter dive bombing raids, our planes carried a belly tank of gas and two 1000 pound bombs, in addition to six 50 caliber machine guns and six 120 millimeter rockets! Thus there existed a special bond between the pilot and crew chief which would explain why our pilots would have gone out of their way to make the life of their crew chiefs more pleasant!
No doubt this kind of camaraderie between officer pilots and their ground crews would be frowned upon by high level commissioned officers.
We were finished for the day at 8.30 PM, and after taking a dip in the stream I went to bed.
So ends part 71 of my wartime memoirs.