Dwayne Schacht, B-17 Flight Engineer

 
Dwayne Schacht, B-17 Flight Engineer, United States Army Air Forces, Eighth Air Force, 1st Bombardment Division, 40th Combat Bombardment Wing, 92nd Bomb Group (Heavy), 326th Bomb Squadron, Podington Air Base (Station 109), Bedfordshire, England. 35 Missions.
 
(The following summary is condensed from notes of a public presentation made by Dwayne Schacht at the Scott Hosier WW II Roundtable in Rochester, MN on March 14, 2011. The Evening's Program (Short Rounds) and a Video DVD is available (MLT Group, Rochester, MN 55901.)
 
Induction May 4, 1943, 20 years old, at Fort Snelling, St. Paul, MN
Basic training: Amarillo Texas
Mechanics School: Amarillo, Texas (He had to be able to take apart and reassemble a B-17 engine carburetor blindfolded. The Flight Engineer/ Top Turret Gunner checked the B-17s equipment and stood right behind the pilot during takeoff calling out airspeed and watching the gauges such as the oil pressure gauge. If a bomb got stuck in the bomb bay he had to jump up and down on it while holding onto the rack without a parachute.)
Gunnery School: Kingman
Crew Assembly: Dyersburg
B-17 assignment: Lincoln, NE
 
Flew to Bangor, Maine then across the Atlantic. When they got beyond Iceland they lost electricity and all radio communication due to sabatoge at the B-17 factory. (The person was later caught.) Losing communication could be fatal in wartime. Two or three P-47s were after them and Dwayne found the gun that shot the colors of the day, which was misplaced, just in time. He fired the gun and they were escorted back to Iceland where they stayed a week or two while the plane was repaired.
 
They flew out of Paddington Air Base in England.
They had one of the severest winters of the century and he remembered drinking beer out of a barrel because the spigots didn't work. The English drank beer warm and would put a hot poker from the fireplace into the beer to warm it up. In London he was blown out of his bed by a V-2 landing in the next block. 
 
He flew 35 missions.  Memorable missions: His first mission was Sept. 19, 1944 and was a "milk run" with no flak or fighters but they lost one engine going to Germany and headed back and dropped their bombs. On one later mission they lost 3 engines and he was very busy siphoning leftover gas. The crew voted on whether to bail out or ride it in and voted to ride it in. They threw everything out including the ammo, guns, and the ball turret. They couldn't see the airfield but a hole opened up in the clouds and they made it in.
 
The flak during missions to Mersburg to the synthetic oil installation (some called it Murdersberg) was so thick he said it looked like you could almost get out and walk on it.
Most of the time they had 9 man crews and they cut i man from the 10 originally planned for. that was not unusual.
 
On missions 3, 7, and 8 they went to Cologne but it was emphasized to them not to bomb the cathedral. During the war only one bomb hit the cathedral that he knew of.
 
 
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