Monday, December 06, 2004

Death Defying

Ploesti Raid
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I had always hoped to put a picture with this post,but somehow never did. This one reminded me of the parts of Jerry Joswick's book Combat Camera Man in which he described going on the 1943 Ploesti Raid, in which he was the only one of 16 cameramen to survive.

Joswick talks about the same thing other people I've seen or read mentioned about the raid, the way planes flying low over a target were sometimes engulfed in an explosion, which was often the result of delayed-action bombs dropped by other planes on the same raid. A plane with 10 men in it would be swallowed up by a fireball and nothing would come out the other side.

Joswick also mentions seeing a Liberator part a barrage baloon's cable with its wing but catch the next on an engine and spin in around the cable to an explosive end on the ground immediately below. The crews had been told they would fly right through barrage balloon cables, but it may be that nobody knew then that two in a row was too much. A lot of hard lessons were learned thusly, and many not learned at all but repeated often.

Bomber crew casualties, and aircrew casualties in general, were very high during WWII. Seems like a waste, doesn't it? That's what happens when you let crank ideologies gain too much acceptance and power - we all have to quit our jobs and go off to kill people, and get killed.

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