The World War II Photo of the Week
for 13 October 2003
|A Dangerous Calling ...|
Dive-bombing targets that were heavily defended was a common mission for the WW II close-support fighter pilot. They not only ran the risks involved in flying through heavy flak, or being caught in the explosion of their own bombs, but they also were faced with the problem of bombs not dropping off when they hit the release button. Whenever this happened, the pilot would pull up to a safe altitude, and rock the plane to try to shake off the hung bombs. If this didn't work, they would try another dive with a sharp pullout, hoping the force of gravity would do the trick. If none of these options were successful, they had to fly back to our base, and try to land with the lethal weapons still attached to their 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 P-47 Thunderbolt shown above was flown by Lt. Karl Hallberg of the 366th Fighter Group. He had one hung bomb and tried to land 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. Photo and text reproduced courtesy Quentin Aanenson: A Fighter Pilot's Story.