42-6263

 

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.