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"Sunshine", a B-24 captured by the Axis

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  • "Sunshine", a B-24 captured by the Axis

    I was watching old German newsreels on YouTube, and one of them showed a B-24 Liberator taxiing in to a revetment in Northern Italy, surrounded by Italian warplanes. The crew sedately marches out of the aircraft and into captivity.

    There's not too much information on this interesting, almost unique event. A survivor's family put the story together after interviewing other survivors.

    Before reaching the target at Bolzano, Sunshine’s engine, repaired with scavenged parts, failed again and had to be feathered. Sunshine began to lose speed and altitude and was forced to drop out of formation. By this time the escort of P-38 fighters had turned back. Lone bombers were easy prey for enemy fighters. The gunners were alert.

    Sunshine was flying with a replacement navigator, Samuel Guttenberg. It was his first mission with Sunshine. Guttenberg plotted a course to Switzerland, the nearest safe zone. To lighten their load they salvoed the bombs intended for Bolzano into a barren mountain. The crew held on. They continued to lose altitude. The mountains below became threatening.

    Just before reaching safety in Switzerland, a burst of flak took out a second engine. The plane rapidly lost altitude. Over the intercom the crew weighed their options. It was time for a quick decision, to bail out or stay with the plane. The navigator estimated that they were just 2 minutes from Switzerland. The crew decided to hang on. Lt. Hemphill tried to make the best of their rapid descent. An air strip came into sight.
    Where it gets interesting... the German newsreel shows Sunshine in perfect health, all four engines operating normally as it taxis in...

    The Forced Landing of Sunshine

    The crew was required to re-enact their "surrender" multiple times for propaganda purposes, although the news reel eventually called it a "forced landing" as opposed to a crew simply calling the war quits. It is fascinating to me that the Axis mechanics got the engine(s) repaired just for a photo-op like this. I also wonder what happened to the Norden bomb sight and other classified equipment... Not that it mattered too much, Germany had comparable mechanical computers for their own bombers.
    Last edited by Chogy; 25 Sep 12,, 17:34.