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Mission to Nagasaki

The following is from Delbert Nebeker’s Veterans’ History contribution:

I’ll never forget our fifth mission, it was August 10th, 1944, against Nagasaki. That night was a real doozie. It was the location of the greatest stell plant in Japan and was located on the southwest part of the Island of Honshu. On August 8th we had flown over the “Hump,” the Himalayan Mountains from our main base at Khragpur, India, to our forward base A-7 (Ping Shan) in China. On the 9th we spent the refueling the aircraft, loading the bombs and ammunition and checking the guns, etc.We had our briefing that evening at 20:00 hours then went to bed. Wake-up call was at 02:00 hours with breakfast at 03:00, and take-off scheduled for 04:00 on the 10th of August 1944. We were rolling by 04:05 and took off without incident. Approximately one and one-half hours after take off, in western China, our radar set became inoperable. After discussion we decided to continue the mission because of the importance of getting as many bombs on the target as possible. We knew there were two other planes ahead of us and the fires from their bombs would locate the target for us. In crossing the coast of China to Japan we had a fire in #3 engine. The engine kept operating but if it had kept burning and gotten to the wing tank right behind the engine, we would have blown up. It took about a half hour to get that out and again avoided an abort. . . .Just after midnight we located the target and could see the fires burning. It was storming like a sun-of-a-gun, a little clear sky broke out and the bombardier was supposed to take some star shots so we would know exactly where we were. He looked around and said “Hell, I don’t recognize any of these stars.” The sky closed in and we never had another chance to shoot anything. We dropped our bombs and turned and proceeded north for one hundred miles, before picking up our northwest hest heading for our base at A-7 (Ping Shan). Before long we got into a severe electrical storm, lightening was striking the plane about every 30 seconds or so, and then jumping off the wing tips or the stabilizer into the clouds. Blue flames of static electricity build-up were flowing with the rain across the windshield, the windows and the blisters. It was an eerie sight. It is well known in airplanes, it’s called St. Elmo’s fire. (MSS 2350, No. 1835)

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