Quentin Aanenson's
A Fighter Pilot's Story

Bomb-damaged Thunderbolt

Dive bombing targets that were heavily defended was a part of our regular assignment as close support fighter pilots. We not only ran the risks involved in flying through heavy flak, or being caught in the explosion of our own bombs, but we also were faced with the problem of bombs not dropping off when we hit the release button. Whenever this happened, we would pull up to a safe altitude, and rock the plane to try to shake off the hung bombs. If this didn't work, we would try another dive with a sharp pullout hoping the force of gravity would do the trick. If none of these options were successful, we had to fly back to our base, and try to land with these lethal weapons still attached to our wings. If they fell off on landing, there was a high likelihood that the bombs would explode, and the odds of the pilot surviving were quite small.

The plane shown above was flown by Lt. Karl Hallberg of my fighter group, the 366th. He had one hung bomb and tried to land at our base at Asch, Belgium, in January 1945. As you can see, the bomb fell off and exploded, but, amazingly, Lt. Hallberg survived. He suffered a head injury, but made a full recovery.

Such were the risks faced by the Thunderbolt pilots, as they went about their job of providing close support for their buddies in the infantry and the tanks. It was a dangerous calling.

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