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The Air Crew

The original crew #40r1 included the following:

Cpt Robert R. Schmid (A/C)
2/Lt Robert J. Ryan (Pilot)
2/Lt Arthur L. Wright (Navigator)
Cpt James K. Chatfield (Bombardier)
S/Sgt Donald O. Winkler (Engineer)
Sgt Juan D. Donato (Radio)
2/Lt Oliver L. Fix, Jr. (Radarman)
Sgt Jack J. Roy (CFC)
Sgt Andre W. Jacques (R Gunner)
Cpl Robert D. Strickland (L Gunner)
Sgt Joseph Beneski, Jr. (T Gunner)

F/O Edward T. Kaminski (Pilot) also flew with this crew. but was not on the last mission.

A separate website contains a picture of the air crew in front of “Take It Off”, which appears to be the plane they were training in (training planes had a four digit identifier – see e.g. “Queen of ‘Em All“).

Mission 61. Shimonoseki Straits (July 9)

The “Little Giant” was lost on July 9th during a night mining mission to Shimonoseki Straits.  The aircraft was probably shot down by flak.  Because the mining missions were at low level and the mines were extremely explosive, there was probably not enough time for any of the crew to escape.

Capt Robert K. Schmid’s airplane with the 40th Squadron Commander, Lt Col Elmer A. Dixon, went down on the 9 July mining mission . . . . Flak was heavy and one plane was shot down. The crew and aircraft lost was commanded by Capt Schmid and carried as a combat observer, Lt Col Dixon. Reports from members of other crews on the mission reveal that one B-29 in the formation was caught in a number of searchlights, sustained several direct flak hits and was seen to spiral down and crash in flames. Since the Sixth was the only group operating in the area, it is a reasonable assumption that this was Capt Schmid’s plane. [“Pirate’s Log”, p. 49]

The Diary of Robert Frank Gottberg, Radar Mechanic has the following “July 9th 550 B-29’s hit Japan. 40th lost ‘Little Giant.’ It was shot down by rockets from a night fighter. Col. Dixon C.O. of 40th was aboard.”

According to anecdotal evidence, this crew had just arrived and had not had time to conduct their standard training flights.  Col. Dixon joined the crew so that they could treat the mission as a training flight.

The Airplanes

The crew was flying “Little Giant” on their last mission.