13 February 1945 — Hungary
The 461st Bomb Group, 766th Bomb Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was based at Torretta, Italy. The air echelon moved to Torretta in February 1994 from North Africa. The 461st had fifty-one B-24H Liberators. The facilities at Torretta consisted on one large airdrome with over 100 “soft” hardstands, dirt taxiways and one gravel landing strip with a long stretch of mud holes on each end and a hump in the middle.
2nd Lt. Francis X. Fink and his B-24 crew were tasked with a bombing mission to the central repair shops at Vienna, Austria. Bad weather caused the cancellation of the mission for three days, but on 13 February 1945, Fink and his crew were able to begin Mission No. 173. The B-24L Liberator with serial number 44-49925 and the Fink crew were to be part of the Red Force of seventeen aircraft. During take-off, clouds were low and broken. Over the target area, smoke and clouds prevented visual bombing. Just before bombs away, Fink and his crew were flying in the number six position in “A” box when a burst of flak hit the left wing near the number one engine. Fire and smoke were streaming from number one engine and the aircraft went into a gentle left turn and a steep dive. All crew members were able to bail out. When the crew did not return base, Missing Air Crew Report 12489 was filed with bomb group headquarters. The aircraft crashed in Hungary.