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Wilbur Klint

Military

Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. Ditched in North Sea 6-Sep-43 in B-17 42-3002 'Old Squaw'. Picked up by ASR Returned to duty (RTD). 25 x combat missions. ETD

Awards: DFC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (1 x Battle Star).

Bud Klint
Pilot, 303rd Bomb Group, Molesworth, England

Another early officer in the North Texas Chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society was Bud Klint. For a while Bud was also an active volunteer at the Vintage Flying Museum. Bud served as both a co-pilot and a pilot in the 303rd Bomb Group. This story is from the period when he served as co-pilot on Robert 'Bob' Hullar’s crew.

On September 6, 1943 the group let out a loud groan when the target for the day was revealed: Stuttgart, Germany. This would be their deepest penetration into Germany yet, well beyond the protection of friendly fighters. This would be their longest mission since the August 17 Schweinfurt raid. The 8th lost 60 heavy bombers that day. This was a complex mission, involving multiple heavy and medium bomb groups, as well as both America and British fighter groups. Naturally, all did not go as briefed, poor weather and enemy opposition ruined the original plan. A diversionary mission by B-24s of the 2nd Air Division apparently fooled no one as they were virtually unopposed while the B-17s of the 1st Air Division were hit by every German fighter unit within range.

A last minute maintenance issue forced Bud and his crew to switch from their regular B-17 to a spare named Old Squaw. The Huller crew had never flown Old Squaw, but the word on the ramp was that she had some quirks, and being an older model, didn’t hold as much fuel. After learning the fuel capacity of the ship Bud’s navigator calculated that they could make the mission, but just barely. Formation went well and the flak was light as they initially entered France. There, the weather forced the formation to climb roughly 10,000 feet higher than planned burning more fuel. Over the target, cloud cover prevented the bombardiers from dropping and they had to circle twice before finally releasing their payload. Flak and fighters were intense, and Bud watched B-17's going down on all sides. Somewhere along the way Old Squaw took a flak hit in the fuel feeder tank for the #3 engine. Losing fuel was something they could not afford. To make matters worse, the pilots had to advance the throttles on the remaining three engines to keep up with the group for protection. Their fate was sealed when a 2nd engine quit over France. They slowly fell behind and dropped lower with each mile. Despite their dimming chances of making it home, they had the good fortune to not be subjected to the concerted fighter attacks usually reserved for stragglers. Even though over enemy held territory, they jettisoned most of their guns, ammunition, and unessential equipment. In another stroke of luck, they were met by British Spitfires and escorted to the coast safely. This enabled them to dump the remaining guns and ammo. In their haste the crew had also thrown out some of their parachutes, so bailing out was no longer an option.

Bud could see the outline of the British coast in the distance, but they were running out of altitude and gas. At 200 feet above the channel the crew, except the pilots, gathered in the radio room and braced themselves for the inevitable impact. The radioman pounded out distress signals and their position. They had drilled on ditching procedures, but it was still a dicey proposition, especially with the wind and waves they could see below. Once more Lady Luck shinned on the crew that day and they passed a small ship just prior to hitting the water. Rescue or capture would be likely.

The pilots did a masterful job of setting the Squaw down, but the impact of hitting a wave head on smashed the nose Plexiglas and the ship instantly began to sink. The crew scrambled to climb out the hatch on top of the radio room. The first man out that Bud met was Bob, already on top of the ship after climbing out their respective windows. They pulled the handles and two life rafts were deployed. One of them was apparently damaged by enemy fire and failed to fully inflate. At one point wind was carrying the partially inflated raft away from the plane while a crew member struggled to swim to it. Bud jumped into the water, swam to the man and helped him to the raft.

The ship they had seen steamed directly toward them. They could see crewmen on deck wearing sweaters but no flag or insignia to indicate whether they were being picked up by a German E-boat, or British Air-Sea rescue. Their question was answered when they heard a sailor yell in their distinctive British accent something to the effect that he intended to “get you blokes on board”. The airmen were dragged aboard the ship with boat hooks much like tuna. Once there, they were given dry clothing, brandy, hot tea and some stew. The rescue ship steamed around for several hours looking for more downed airmen before heading for port. It turned out that the captain was as happy to have plucked Bud’s crew from the water as they were to see him. It was the first time he had retrieved a full B-17 crew. Entering port, the air crew was asked to stand on deck. The captain blew the ships horn and proudly displayed the Americans like “the catch of the day”.

Bud’s crew thanked their rescuers and were ushered to a building with other recovered airmen. There they discovered that the British had pulled over 100 flyers from the channel that day. The next day the 303rd airmen were returned to their base to find that their clothing and possessions had been pulled as they were assumed to be lost in action. Bud said that the group had put up 17 planes that day, only five made it home.

Service

People

  • Deane Barnes

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 427BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. 29 x combat missions. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Robert Hullar

    Military | Captain | Bomber pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. Ditched in North Sea 6-Sep-43 in B-17 42-3002 'Old Squaw'. Picked up by ASR Returned to duty (RTD). 36 x combat missions. ETD Awards: WWII Victory, EAME

Show more

Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 359th Bomb Squadron
  • 427th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-3002 'The Old Squaw'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Pocatello 31/12/42; Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-Z] Morrison 5/3/43; Molesworth 8/4/43; Missing in Action 6/9/43 with Bob Hullar, Co-pilot: Wilbur Klint, Navigator: Elmer Brown, Bombardier: Jim McCormick, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Dale...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 91

    6 September 1943
    This mission was planned as massive attack of 338 B-17s on the industrial areas of Stuttgart, Germany and would be supported by a formation of 69 B-24s flying a diversion. This would be the first action from the UK for the B-24 Groups that had recently...

Associated Place

  • Molesworth

    Military site : airfield
    Molesworth was one of the early stations used by the Eighth Air Force in the UK, first occupied by the 15th Bomb Squadron’s Douglas Bostons in June 1942. Built in 1940 and extended and improved in 1942, Molesworth is most associated with the 303rd...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Cook County, IL 18 July 1919
Enlisted Chicago, IL 21 April 1942

Chicago, Illinois

Based Molesworth 1943 – 1944

Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF.

Ditched RTD English Channel 6 September 1943

Ditched in North Sea 6-Sep-43 in B-17 42-3002 'Old Squaw'. Picked up by ASR Returned to duty (RTD).

Discharged USAAF 29 October 1945

Honourable discharge.

Died Fort Worth, TX 21 July 2009
Buried Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery Dallas, Dallas County, TX 26 July 2009

Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery
Dallas,
Dallas County, TX

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
09 October 2020 12:27:45 Al_Skiff Changes to biography and events
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/record/94071057-wilbur-klint
https://www.fold3.com/record/84403558-wilbur-klint
https://www.fold3.com/record/619250132-wilbur-klint-1919
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39889235/wilbur-klint

Date Contributor Update
09 October 2020 00:04:14 decwriter Changes to service number and awards
Sources

NARA files verified officer number, DFC and AM w/3 oak leaf clusters. He earned at least one bronze star on the EAME Campaign Medal.

Date Contributor Update
08 October 2020 19:57:54 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected a typo in the "Summary biography" - “Bud” was misspelled.

Date Contributor Update
20 January 2019 19:58:31 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, service number, biography, events, person associations, unit associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/record/94071057-wilbur-klint
https://www.fold3.com/record/84403558-wilbur-klint
https://www.fold3.com/record/619250132-wilbur-klint-1919
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39889235/wilbur-klint

Date Contributor Update
22 March 2016 16:08:02 lda01@yahoo.com Changes to biography
Sources

Sources: Presentations by Bud Klint at chapter meetings and at the Vintage Flying Museum. Also fact checking in Brian O’Neal’s book Three Engines and a Prayer; 1989 by TAB/AERO books. lda 3/22/16

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:27:19 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

306th BG Association Directory, 1 September 1999 Edition; Roll of Honor,

href="http://www.303rdbg.com/427klint.html">http://www.303rdbg.com/427klint.html> / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

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