457th Bomb Group 457th Bomb Group Honor Roll
Mission No. 162
750th Bomb Squadron
457th Bomb Group 750th Bomb Squadron
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:23

Mission Narrative

Mission No. 162
Date - December 24, 1944
Target - Coblenz - Crash on takeoff
A relentless and stubborn December weather had held the 8th Air Force on the ground for most of December and it was at a time when the Allied troops on the continent were facing a major German thrust into the Ardennes forest (known today as the "Battle of the Bulge.") The ground forces were desparate for air support. On Christmas Eve the weather was predicted to be good enough for a maximum effort and the 8th put up over 2000 heavy bombers plus fighters. The 457th planned on putting up 45 planes. On the morning of Dec 24th, the weather was not as predicted and Glatton airbase was covered with the densest fog anyone had seen since arriving in England. The target was to be Coblenz, Germany and it's marshalling yards. Takeoff was delayed by the heavy fog until 10:24 AM, when the word was given to takeoff. Five of the lead planes, using instrument takeoff methods, managed to get airborn when the next to last of the leads crashed on takeoff due to the fog. The field was then closed. The fog was so thick that the fire fighting rescue equipment had trouble finding the downed plane. The six planes that were airborn were told to proceed to the target. They flew part way with another group but had to leave the bomber stream to proceed to the target area. The six were accompanied by five P-51's which warded off a single ME-262 which attacked the small formation. The target was bombed from 26000 feet and results were good. Upon returning to Glatton, the field was still fogged in. All planes landed at one of the clear British fields in southwest England. The plane that crashed was s/n 43-38819 and miraculously only one of the crew was killed.
Plane s/n 43-38819, piloted by Lt Carl Sundbaum, crashed on takeoff in a dense fog on this Christmas Eve. The fog was such that only an instrument takeoff was possible. Half way down the runway the plane left the runway, went into the grass area, and hit some construction materials that had been used to repair the runway, left the field and crossed the north-south railway tracks, where it finally stopped and burst into flames. The plane had a full load of gasoline and bombs. Miraculously, all but one of the crew managed to escape the destruction. The fire fighting equipment and ambulances had difficulty finding the burning plane because the fog was so thick.

......... Crew

The crew was as follows:
     Plane s/n 43-38819     
PilotLt Carl P.l Sundbaum
CopilotLt Galileo F. Basio
NavigatorLt Theodore F. Scanlon
BombardierLt Warren w. Nixon
Aircraft EngineerSgt Julien S. Smith
Radio OperatorSgt John V. Brennan
Left Waist GunnerSgt Donald J. Peacock   KIA  
Ball Turret GunnerSgt Edward J. Zeitz
Tail GunnerSgt Brook H. Estes
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:23
Note: Please feel free to send your observations/comments on
the Content:  Willard (Hap) Reese (Website Author)