Air battle over Danube
June 11 saw another raid against the oil production in Romania. This time, storage facilities in Giurgiu were the target and the 461st Bomb Group sent it's Liberator bombers. The crew of Lt Hefling was assigned on this mission. Since the aircraft which they regularly flew was under repair, they used Liberator No 42-52458.
A group of 18 Romanian IAR-80 fighters started to attack the bomber formation before they reached the target. The fighters broke off over the target, when not so effective anti-aircraft guns opened fire. After that, the fighters returned. The dramatic battle lasted for 12 minutes. Two Liberators were damaged and later crashed. The Liberator gunners claimed 6 enemy fighters damaged, with 4 more probable.
Hefling's plane had 3 damaged engines and managed to fly to southern Serbia, where its crew had to bail out in the vicinity of Blace.
Robert Hefling Howard Stillman Karl Pfister Robert Wellborn Frederick Lukas John Martin Raymond Weber Joseph Hoffman Norman Elzeer Frank Kincaid Frank Chappel
The crew landed in a ten-mile radius. Peasants came to them and took them to a nearby house, where they were met by a group of Chetniks. They stayed in the same house for a week and then started to move to the north. On July 5th the crew arrived near Pranjani, where they waited for a month for C-47s to bring them back to Italy.
It was another successful rescue, with the entire crew returned to their home base.
Lt Hefling's crew
Dust from explosions covers the target area in Giurgiu