What you are about to hear is an actual recording of a B-29 mission over the Empire of Japan. It was recorded during World War II as part of a weekly radio program called "The Fighting AAF," which featured stories from the Army Air Forces around the globe. The B-29 on which this recording was made was called the "City of Muncie," serial number 42-65350, of the 29th Bomb Group, 314th Bomb Wing. Their target for this raid on March 31, 1945, was the Omura Naval Air Station in Omura, Japan.

Crew of the "City of Muncie" (compliments of the 29th BG Association).

On the recording you will hear the crew of the "City of Muncie" as they begin their bomb run, surrounded by bursts of flak, and then successfully dropping their bombs on the target. After "bombs away," they are attacked by swarms of Japanese fighters, and a running battle ensues as they leave the target area. You can clearly hear the Bombardier, Lt. Charlie Henderson, firing his gun turret at the attacking fighters, and downing one of the three fighters credited to the crew on this mission. The mission would last a grueling 17 hours in the air (non-stop) and span a distance of over 3,400 miles. Lt. Henderson was expecting the birth of his first child in May, just a month away.

But Lt. Henderson would never get to see his child.

On April 7, 1945, exactly seven days after the above recording was made, the "City of Muncie" was rammed by a Japanese Ki-45 fighter near Nagoya, Japan. The devastating impact sheared off the left wing, and the "City of Muncie" plummeted to earth in flames. Only three of the crew were able to escape with their lives. Lt. Henderson was not one of them. Nor was the pilot, Lt. Frank Crowcroft. He would never get to see his new baby girl, who his wife so proudly spoke of near the end of the broadcast. The Navigator, Lt. Robert Smith, whose mother was also heard on the broadcast, was able to bail out of the "City of Muncie," but his parachute malfunctioned and did not fully deploy. Lt. Robert Smith and seven other men would perish in the downing. It was just 17 days after Lt. Smith's 20th birthday.

We must never forget their sacrifices.

An unknown B-29 going down over Japan.


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Copyright © Trevor McIntyre, 2017. All rights reserved.