A-20H Boardwalk Beauty
Mission No: 6/6
Campaign: Air Offensive Europe, May 1944
Date: 21 May 1944
Primary Target: No-Ball (Troops) at Ruisseauville, France
Mission Profile: Low-Level, 500 Ft to target, 500 Ft at target, 500 Ft from target, 1 Flight/1 Group, 3rd Element, #2, Lead flight
Results: 110% Superior, Target destroyed
EA engaged: None
Formation Losses: 1 A-20
Crew Mssns EA
Pilot: 2LT Giovanni (John) Capelli (5) (0)
Engineer: Sgt Michael (Mike) Tsarnowski (5) (0)
Gunner: Cpl Bartholomew (Bart) Barton (5) (0)
Damage: Superficial x2 (2) from rocket shrapnel = 2 Peckham Points, AC ready next day
The Maquis reported a Panzergrenadier battalion bivouacked outside Ruisseauville and the 134th got tasked with taking care of the problem. For this mission we were armed with M8 rockets to use against the German halftracks and armored cars. We went in low to catch them by surprise.
Ruisseauville was just a short hop across the Channel. Even so, some of the other AC started to get sloppy and the Major had to order everyone to close the formation back up as we hit the French coast. I transferred as much fuel as I could from the belly tank and then jettisoned it as we headed into France and the target.
The plan must’ve worked as we caught Jerry with his pants down. There were no interfering Luftwaffe fighters and the Flak gunners weren’t at their stations as we swooped in for our initial pass. I lined up on some armored vehicles and fired off a pair of rockets, being rewarded with a very satisfying explosion as one of the halftracks burst into flame. I then nosed over to rake a formation of troops with the six fifties in Boardwalk Beauty’s nose, Mike (Sgt Tsarnowski) and Bart (Cpl Barton) doing likewise with their guns. A number of German soldiers fell. I then started jinking to make things difficult for the German gunners who by now had reacted and were manning the 20 and 37 mm portable AA guns.
As I pulled out, I spotted some more soldiers making their waty toward another group of vehicles and aimed for that target. The Flak was now flying, but it wasn’t yet a coordinated effort and we avoided taking any damage. I fired off another pair of rockets, being again rewarded with a burning vehicle. I guess I was a bit overeager to get the fleeing occupants as pieces o the rocket and its target flew into Boardwalk Beauty’s path. Fortunately, no serious damage was done. Once more we let fly with all the fifties, though the results were not as good as on our first pass. The German gunners must’ve been occupied elsewhere as we didn’t receive nay fire coming out of the run.
By now most of the Germans who could move had found cover and those that hadn’t were at least partially obscured by the smoke from all the burning vehicles. The Major announced this would be out last pass, so we should make the most of it. I spotted what looked like it might be a supply dump and bore in, receiving sporadic but ineffective Flak. Still it was enough to put my aim of as I fired the last of my rockets in a single salvo, none hitting. While they didn’t do much damage to Jerry, the rockets did put s few more holes in Boardwalk Beauty. The rockets not having done the job proper, I dropped my bombs on the supply dump, leaving a little delay between each one in the hope of spreading them out enough to actually hit the target. It worked as there was a large fireball behind us as we pulled out from the attack.
As we circled to form back up, I glanced down at the target area. It looked like the rest of the Flight had been as successful as Boardwalk Beauty, fires raging everywhere. It wasn’t a total milkrun however, another of the ships catching some Flak that shot a wing right off. This low to the ground, there wasn’t any chance of the crew bailing out. The missing AC left a hole in the formation and the Major again hounded everybody to tighten it up, though it took until we were well over the Channel before we did so.
Luftwaffe never found us and we returned safely to Shelton Cross where Boardwalk Beauty’s little scrapes will
be put to right in no time.
Giovanni Capelli, 2LT, commanding
A-20H, Boardwalk Beauty
234th Squadron, 134th Bomb Group (L)
Here is the Play-By-Play:
And here are the questions that arose (primarily around strafing and rockets, though with a few other topics as well):