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|The principal mission of the 13th Bombardment Squadron (LNI) was summed up in the letters (LNI) - which stood for Light, Night Intruder. |
The B-26 was a light bomber, as opposed to the B-29 which was a heavy bomber. The heavy bombers took out the supposed strategic targets, the fighter bombers (F-80s/F-84s and Marine aircraft), did close air support during the day, along with rail cuts, bridge bombings and traffic interdiction, and the B-26s worked to halt the flow of supplies and men to the front lines during the night. From time to time the roles crossed, but that was the way it mostly worked after the earliest days.
The targets for the B-26s were the three "T"s - trains, trucks and tracks. The targets included the bridges that the trains and trucks used.
"Bartels' Bridge Buster"
"Han River Bridges"
|One of the targets in the first days of the war was the Han River bridge at Seoul. Early in the war the B-26s bombed from medium altitude using a B-26 with a bombsight acting as a pathfinder. The hardnosed '26s, being without bombsights, flew in formation on the pathfinder, and using 1000 pound bombs, dropped on his signal. Charlie Bartels said "We knocked them down and they put them back up." |
|The B-26s flew day missions in every kind of role until the fall of 1950. An effective tactic early in the war was to come in low and fast directly on a target, such as a rail yard. If you were too low you could blow yourself up with your own bomb. The general rule was to be at least 1,000 feet above the explosion of a 500 pound bomb. |
Even at that height the plane would be lifted up like a surge of the surf when the bomb exploded. To get away from the blast the unit used para-demo bombs which caused the bomb to rapidly de-accelerate before impact and give you space between plane and explosion.
| ||Bombing Attack |
This photo shows a plane with the bomb bay doors open (on the bottom of the plane).
It also shows a day attack on a target already burning by a plane following on the attack.
|You can actually see the bombs dropping out of these red-tailed 13th B-26s. || |
|A major target throughout the war were the railroad tracks and bridges across rivers. At Sinanju there were multiple crossings over the Ch'ongch'on-gang. Intelligence was puzzled by the continuing traffic down the roads when the bridges were down. Then they discovered two communist stratagems. They had removable spans which were placed in use at night and the bridges continued to look destroyed during the day. |
|They also built bridges which were not exposed above the water so truck traffic could cross an underwater bridge. |
The B-29s took terrible losses from anti-aircraft fire while they bombed the bridges from high altitude.
|One of the most dangerous missions flown by the B-26s was to attack the flak batteries from low level to suppress the flak directed at the B-29s. |
Capt. Wolfe and gunner Lucien Thomas were experts at this mission.
|Besides the attacks directly against trains and trucks, we engaged in a systematic effort to destroy the tracks themselves |
The communists responded by placing workers, rails and ties along the most vulnerable stretches of track so repairs could begin as soon as the rails were cut.
This defensive maneuver was countered by our action to mix in delayed action fuses along with the instantaneous fuses so the bombs would go off throughout the repair effort.
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|"Rail Cuts" |
|Despite all our efforts, the communists were able to continue to move supplies from Manchuria to the front lines. |