Segment 10

Annotation

Herbert Heilbrun wore long johns under woolen pants with a warm shirt under a Mae West [Annotators Note: inflatable life preserver] and heavy gloves. He flew the plane with leather gloves. The waist gunners had to wear silk groves so their skin did not stick to the guns in the cold weather. The best bomber plane was the P51 with a Rolls Royce engine. The pilots depended on their crew. It was impossible to fly B17s against the best of the Luftwaffe. The P51 with the Rolls Royce engine stopped the constant demolition of entire crews. By the end of the war the main enemy was the flak. The crews took care of each other so plane dependency was not an issue. Heilbrun’s plane was never attacked by Luftwaffe fighters. Heilbrun’s last mission was a ground support mission for the troops near Bologna, Italy. The 8th Army and Germans were close to each other but could not move far because of the muddy winters. The pilots carried frag bombs with dynamite capsules on both ends. The radio men watched their location and they could not drop anything past certain locations. The pilots dropped the bombs into the 316 and turned around. Heilbrun was told he was done and could go home.

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