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2nd Lt. F. A. Granack

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RUBBER CHECK's Crew (left to right):
Standing:
Joseph F. Kawiecki - BOM, Murray Geisler - NAV,
Robert L. Dunham - CP, Franklin A. Granack the Pilot
Kneeling: Grant H. Scott - ROG (KIA Mar 6, 1944 Berlin), Edward T. Harrell - WG, George C. Christian - TG
 Harold Stearns - TTE, Lloyd H. Rodgers - BTG and Glen D. Brown - WG (KIA March 6, 1944 Berlin)
 (100th Photo Archives)

 

2nd Lt Franklin A. Granack P POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
2nd Lt Robert L. Dunham CP POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
2nd Lt Murray Geisler NAV POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
2nd Lt Joseph F. Kawiecki BOM POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
T/Sgt Grant H. Scott ROG KIA 6 Mar 44 Berlin
T/Sgt Harold Stearns TTE POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
S/Sgt Lloyd H. Rodgers BTG POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
S/Sgt Glen D. Brown WG KIA 6 Mar 44 Berlin
S/Sgt Edward T. Harrell WG POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin
S/Sgt George C. Christian TG POW 6 Mar 44 Berlin

350th Sqdn. This crew joined the 100th Group on 28/11/43.

A/C 42-39872, "RUBBER CHECK", DAMAGED BY FIGHTERS NEAR HASSELUENNE AT ABOUT 1200 HOURS. This was the 6 Mar 44 missions to Berlin. Of interest is this mission was led by Bucky Elton, one of the 100th's three Buckies.

350th Sqdn. This crew joined the 100th Group on 28 Nov 43. See photo of crew on p.199 of "CONTRAILS" taken 2 days prior to their loss.

Story of the Century ( 1946 John R. Nilsson)  Page 38: A rain squall, in a 30-mile cross wind, blotted out the runway at Thorpe Abbotts.  Frank Granack, of Hammond, Ind., had flown back 400 miles from Kiel, Jan. 5, 1944, his ship tatterdemalion from flak hits had vibrated convulsively because of a bad engine; to lighten the ship, two gunners, George Christian of Maspeth, N.Y., and Ed Harrell of Monticello, Fla., tossed equipment into the channel, and a radio SOS was tapped out by Grant Scott, of El Cerrito, Cal.  Granack, over the field, radioed the control tower: "Coming in on an engine and a half! Here I come!"  He and his co-pilot, Bob Dunham, of Orinda, Cal., fish-tailed the 25 ton ship into the cross wind and dived through the rain, at 105 miles an hour, close to stalling speed, to land safely.  The next day, the crew decided on the name, Old Vibration."

Story of the Century ( 1946 John R. Nilsson)  Page 46: " For 10 seconds after 'bombs away,' the 100th flew without evasive action as flak batteries opened up, and a 1:15 p.m., when the formation turned away from 'Big B,' flak hit one of Granack's engines, and as he tried 'to make a run for it,' Me's and FW's pursued, two of them being shot down by George Christian's tail guns and Lloyd Rogers' ball turret guns.  Slugs killed Grant Scott, radio man, while Ed Harrell, waist gunner, was wounded.  Granack thought, 'Where did these Germans get so many fighters?'  All four engines out, the pilot ordered, 'bail out!', and the crew, which included Stearns, who shot down the first foe over Berlin, jumped.  The fighter that gave Granack the finishing blow was in turn shot down by Jerry Felsenstein, Devore's co-pilot, who was flying as a tail gunner."

On March 4, 1944, T/Sgt Harold Stearns shot down the first fighter over BERLIN in a daylight attack. The 100th BG was flying with the 95th BG when a recall was heard. Elements of the 95th BG and 100th BG felt this recall was a German ploy since it was not given correctly and continued with the Mission to Berlin.

On March 6, 1944, Lt Granack's Crew returned to Berlin. The results were different this time. This was the 16th mission for this crew. Eyewitness report from MACR has the following:

"B-17 in lead squadron (Granack) fell out of formation over target with an engine damaged. Went down
under control with E/A pressing attacks." Scott & Brown were both victims of 20 mm fire and killed instantly. Harrell was wounded in ankle.

Letter to Jim Brown April 30, 1988..pw

Dear Jim,

I am writing to you in response to your letter requesting first-hand information relative to our crew's final mission aboard the "Rubber Check" (Czech). Your research work into the fate of the 180 crews who were lost in action from the 100th Bomb Group must be very interesting and certainly commendable. I am pleased that you contacted me, and I will be happy to assist you in any way I can.

I have given your request much thought and attention; this stirred up many poignant and bittersweet memories. In my response I am providing you with as much detail as I possibly can. Many years have elapsed and time has taken its toll, however, I believe I can still recall most of the pertinent details of that fateful mission.

Following is my best shot of what happened when we went down on March 6, 1944:

Shortly after Lt. Joe Kawiecki, our bombardier, announced "Bombs away' over the Berlin target area, we were hit by heavy flak. "Rubber Check" was rocked by a shell exploding very close to our right wing. The plane was damaged and the No. 4 engine knocked out of commission; it was smoking and a few licks of flame appeared but they quickly dissipated. We were momentarily knocked out of formation and we were busy making adjustments in the cockpit controls as I struggled to regain our position in the flight. At that altitude, because of the flak damage, I found it impossible to catch the faster moving formation. I informed flight leader Major Bucky Elton that if his air speed was reduced about 5 MPH, I might be able to get back into the protection of the group. He said that would be impossible, but he wished us "Good Luck." Gradually, we fell further and further behind, and below the formation until we were all alone. I still had basic control of the aircraft although we had to lose some altitude to maintain safe air speed. Meanwhile, we were trying to assess the extent of the flak damage. Lt. Bob Dunham, my co-pilot, and I carefully monitored the cockpit controls and panel for any signs of additional problems.

The entire crew became extra alert because we were now easier prey and more vulnerable to enemy fighter attacks; we knew there were many bandits in the area. About this time, Lt. Murray Geisler our navigator, informed me that he would give me a bearing for Sweden any time it became necessary to head in that direction.

We weren't alone for long! "Fighters at 3 o'clock" crackled over the intercom. Me 109's and FW 190's were attacking from several different directions and we were raked the length of our plane with heavy gunfire; a fierce running battle ensued. All the gunners in our valiant crew fought back with all the 50 caliber fire power they could muster. Several enemy fighters were hit; two or three may have been downed; Sgt. Harold Stearns was sure he got one with his top turret guns. However, the additional damage inflicted on our plane was considerable. Our No. 2 engine was having problems and No. 3 was damaged and out of commission (both 3 and 4 were now smoking and fire was a serious threat); our intercom was shot out, therefore, it was impossible to get a rapid assessment of the extent of our damage and casualties. However, it turned out that our greatest and most painful losses were in the crew. Sgt. Grant Scott, radio operator and Sgt. Glenn Brown, waist/gunner were both killed by the fighters; Sgt. Ed Harrell, the other waist/gunner was wounded in the leg.

About this time the enemy fighter attacks slackened, at least for the moment. We had to ease up on our good engine, No. 1, when it appeared to be developing trouble. We were now losing altitude rapidly to maintain sufficient air speed to keep basic control of the plane. Cockpit adjustments to maintain control were steadily getting more difficult Our position was getting more perilous by the moment and to preclude the possibility of a total disaster, I decided to order the plane abandoned. Because our intercom was out, I instructed co-pilot Dunham to go through the plane and see that each surviving crew member was aware of my orders to "bail out immediately". He was to provide assistance to anyone who needed it; Sgt. Lloyd Rogers, ball turret gunner and Sgt. George Christian, tail gunner were to be free of their confining positions as soon as possible to prevent being trapped in case of a sudden control emergency. Lt. Dunham was to report to back to me; knowing the urgency of the situation, he left quickly to carry out the orders. Meanwhile, the bomb bay doors (an important exit) would not open; fortunately, later they suddenly dropped open. Lt. Dunham returned shortly and told me he had carried out all my orders. He had done a fine job; I thanked him and ordered him to bail out with the crew. We shouted a few brief words of farewell as he took off for the bomb bay. From the cockpit I looked back toward the bomb bay and watched as crewmen tumbled out one after the other, until they were all gone.

Rubber Check was virtually without power; the #3 and #4 engines were smoking, another was making death sounds. I turned the trim tabs to put the plane into a steeper glide to reduce the chances of a stall or other sudden negative, violent movement by the plane as I was trying to get out. I then slipped out of my pilot's seat and held control of the plane as long as I could; I let go and ran down the passageway to the bomb bay where I made a running, head first dive into space as I bailed out. All the remaining eight crew members had bailed out successfully and were taken Prisoners-of-War. Jim, if you desire any further information please don't hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to provide it --- if I can.

Good luck in your research work.
Respectfully, Frank A. Granack

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