1st Lt. Dave Hanst - Pilot
322nd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group
A Distinguished Veteran
|Dave Hanst joined the 91st Bomb Group in May, 1944, and his crew was assigned to a B-17G (specifications), which they named Hikin For Home. The enlisted men on the crew found a painting, done by an artist named Elvgren, in a magazine, believed to be Esquire. The entire crew decided that was the picture they wanted and gave it to Tony Starcer, who was one of the nose artists for the 91st BG. He painted the young lady on the side of the plane, along with a sign that listed the States each crewmember was from. Lt. Hanst flew 32 combat missions in 72 days, with the primary targets being German transportation and oil refineries. Besides flying Hikin for Home, he also flew Wabash Cannonball, Wee Willie, Boston Bombshell, and a couple other 322nd Squadron planes. After he completed his 35 missions, he returned to the United States, where he began flying for the Military Air Transportation branch of the ATC. After leaving the Air Force, he began a 35-year career flying for United Airlines. He flew the DC-3, DC-4, DC-7, DC-8, and DC-10. For his service with the Eighth Air Force, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Presidential Unit Citation. The following are excerpts from his mission diary, used with his permission.|
|Dave Hanst signing "Full House - Aces High"|
Mission #9. Tuesday, June 6, 1944 (D-Day). Target Radar Station at La Riviera, near La Harve, on the French Coast. Flight Time 5:00. Opposition None. Damage None.
Remarks: Out of bed at 12:30 A.M., when we got to briefing, all of the 1st Division Combat Wing officials were there. We decided that something big was about to come off, a good guess too, the invasion was starting. We were told that there would be absolutely no returning today until we had dropped our bombs on the target. We were to keep going even if we had three engines out of commission, anyone turning back would meet a huge wave of other aircraft, 11,000 in all.
As the crews went to the gun shack and then on the trucks to their planes, element after element of P-51s were going over in formation with dim wing lights barely visible in the pitch-blackness. All bombing was to be done in six ship squadrons today, the other two from my element didnt show up, so I flew diamond with only four ships in our squadron. Going across the Channel, we could see in the dim morning light the thousands of landing craft below; these were visible through an occasional break in the cloud layer below. The timing had to be perfect, because the ground forces would hit the beaches just 33 seconds after our last bombs were dropped. After we had our bombs out, we continued on into France for 10 minutes before turning west. Upon returning to the base, we were surrounded by swarms of ground crew men all asking questions about the invasion. When we took off early this morning, not one of them had known where we were going. Now everyone knew and wanted us to tell what we had seen.
Mission #16. Wednesday, June 21, 1944. Target Traffic Circle and Marshalling Yards, Berlin, Germany. Flight time 8:20. Opposition Flak heavy and accurate, Enemy Fighters 60 to 70. Damage Minor.
Remarks: Today was my third trip to the Big B, Berlin, I hope it is my last. On the climb to the enemy coast, Ed Waters and Abbott were leading the 91st Group. The Wing leader climbed at too fast an airspeed, this made our formation string out behind. My crew and I were flying in the Wild Hare, the flaps kept creeping down and Goldy would crank them up about every three or four minutes. Nearing Berlin, our group was straggling and strung out. Off to the left we saw a large gaggle of bandits going toward the rear of the bomber stream. About five minutes later, Jo called me on the interphone and asked if we had any Beau-fighters in our fighter escort, I told him no, he said there were twin engine fighters coming up on our rear. About that time, 20mm shells began bursting all through our formation. The pilots flying those fighters certainly had nerve; they flew right through our group, then rolled over and dove away. Every gun in our plane was going full blast, the whole ship was shaking, the noise was terrible, and the cockpit was thick with powder smoke. The bandits numbered around 60 to 70; they were ME-410s, twin-engine fighters.
|One went under our left wing less than 20 feet below, the right engine was streaking smoke and flame; it rolled over and went straight down. On the first pass the bandits got three of our Forts, all three were in the squadron we were in; all had their gas tanks on fire from 20mm bursts. Ahead of me was Ed Waters, to my left another ship, in one glance I could see huge sheets of flame coming from the wings, down they went. I feel the only thing that saved my plane was the fact that as soon as the white bursts of 20mm started exploding all around, I just kept easing back on the wheel and managed to stay above the bursts. On the second pass, the 410s got another Fort, a PFF ship, that left two of us, four B-17s down in four minutes. I started scrambling for the high squadron, by this time we had reached the IP and were headed for Berlin. Short of the target we encountered an overcast, here the fighters broke off the attack, then the flak began. At this point I was still trying to find a new position in the formation. Contrails were heavy, and visibility was very poor. We opened our bomb bay doors when the planes ahead did. Bombs were dropped and I started the chase again. The krauts were tracking me with flak; I cut over through the bursts and opened all four throttles to the limit. At 50 Hg we flew for half an hour, then number one shot all of its oil out through the breather, we feathered it. Near the coast a group of P-38s picked us up and herded us across the Channel.|
|Dave Hanst is one of our Rogue's Gallery members.|
|(Thanks are due Dave for providing photos and stories)|
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