On 8 July 1944, a B-29, # 42-6263, assigned to 20th Air Force, Piardoba, India, 462nd Bomb Group, 769th Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Piardoba, India, on a delivery flight over “the Hump” to China on a fuel tank transport sortie, had to ditch because of a severe nacelle fire in the #4 engine, causing the propeller to run away, at about 1000 Zulu about 40 miles North-Northeast of Kumitola, India. The crew were:
Pilot Capt. Dock O Waller Jr 0-437291
Co-Pilot 2ndLt David E White 0-405463
Navigator 1stLt Walter R Russell 0-739584
Bombardier 2ndLt Edgar E Hammond 0-684612
Flight Engineer 1stLt Arthur P Tuttle 0-914988
Radio Operator SSgt Don F Carter 38449769
Radar Operator SSgt Edward L Swart 17026350
Senior Gunner TSgt Alden G Huisjen 19077699
Right Gunner TSgt Lenard L Anderson 17068444
Left Gunner SSgt James M Lynch 32437306
Tail Gunner SSgt Francis H Iles 12173840
331st Svc Squadron TSgt Robert C. Jennings 15041356
“ W/O William K. Graffious W-2119026
Three crewmen died because of drowning. The bodies of SSgt Iles and SSgt Lynch were recovered. SSgt Anderson, who did not know how to swim, was lost.
Capt. Waller reported that departure from Piardoba USAAF airfield was at 0758 Zulu. At 0903 Zulu, they began a climb to 8,000 feet to clear the Shillong Hills. After beginning to climb, the right scanner reported black smoke from # 4 engine. The smoke decreased as they climbed. There were heavy gas fumes in the front compartment. Investigation revealed that the front bomb bay tanks were siphoning. At 7,500 feet, the right scanner reported # 4 engine was on fire. He changed course for return to the Piardoba airfield and the engineer used the fire extinguishers on the engine. Both extinguishers were expended and the # 4 engine was still on fire. He ordered the crew to bail out at 0925 Zulu. The co-pilot, bombardier and left gunner bailed out through the nose wheel well. After they jumped, the engineer reported the fire was out. Bail outs stopped. Remaining in the B-29 were the radio operator, navigator, engineer and Waller. He flew toward Piardoba but was losing altitude at about 200-300 feet per minute with an airspeed at 2,400 RPM. Two attempts to feather # 4 engine were futile and the propeller ran away (meaning the propeller spun increasingly faster and out of control). He did not salvo the bomb bay tanks because fuel might spill in the bomb bays and catch fire. At 0940 Zulu, it was apparent they could not reach Piardoba so they turned toward the airfield at Kurmitola. About 30 miles from Kurmitola, at 1,000 feet, it was apparent they could not make it. He informed the crew he was going to ditch. There was a lake on their course. For ditching, the navigator sat in the co-pilot’s seat and the radio operator sat by the engineer.