23-March-1944 — Hamm Germany
The target was Herbern / Hamm , Germany, five aircraft succumbed to severe enemy fighter action as well as accurate flak over the target. Four of these aircraft were from the 326th Squadron. Pilots were MacDonald, Robbins, Larivee, Wall, and Murdock. Robbins Crew had 3- KIA, and 7 survived and became POW's for the duration of the war.
Particularly vicious fighter attacks were encountered by practically every plane, climaxed by the experience of Lt William Patrick , of the 407th Squadron, whose ship was almost rammed by a suicidally-inclined Nazi pioot. The FW-190 came in from dead astern, and instead of the usual procedute of flipping over and diving away at 100 yards, deliberately kept on coming in the face of heavy fire. A split second before the fighter would have rammed, its right wing went up, clearing the Fortress' vetical fin by inches. Its left wing going down, clipped the left elevator of Lt Patrick's ship. The FW-190, minus its left wing, headed straight down in an uncontrollable spin. Patrick's aircraft minus three square feet of left elevator, dropped out of formation but managed to fly the A/C back to safety even though they were flying solo most of the route home.
Robbins aircraft was attacked in a head on attack by a FW-190. The gunfire from the FW killed both waist gunners and the Radio operator of Robbins A/C. The FW-190 pilot was either killed by gunfire from the B-17 or was suicidal as it flew right into the right wing of the B-17. It was during this time period that the Germans actually started using volunteers for suicidal attempts at ramming bombers. The intention was for the pilot to bail out just before the aircraft rammed the bomber, but in most cases the attack was fatal for the fighter pilot.
Statement from eyewitness Sgt Harold Plumley:
"I saw the FW-190 run into the B-17 head on, and both were torn to pieces. The FW-190 hit the B-17 somewhere near the number 4 engine, and broke off about 6 to 8 ft. of the 17's wing, then it went into a spin."