Diary of a Fighter Pilot

By Hank Snow, fighter pilot, 528th Fighter Squadron

June 6, 1944: Bombed and strafed Japanese troops along west bank of Irriwaddy River. Destroyed two large buildings with several huge explosions.

June 23, 1944: Escorted General Stillwell, who was flying in a C-47, from Warazup to Mytikina

June 25, 1944: Bombed and strafed at Mogaung. Capt. Charles F. Patterson, on his 130th mission, was hit and killed during this action.

July 8, 1944: Bombed and was strafing near Mytikina and as I pulled up from a pass I met two Japanese B-25’s. I went over the top of them at about 100 feet and the top turret gunner tried his best to knock me down. Luckily the angle was too much for him.

July 9, 1944: We shot down three Zero’s today. Emery was shot down and killed during this battle.

August 18, 1944: Moda. Bombed the town with a reported 200 Japanese and 50 Burmese killed plus destruction of a huge ammo dump.

April 1, 1945: Mission #68. Bombed a train, strafed trucks and destroyed 4 locomotives.

April 5, 1945: Strafed 3 locomotives and dive bombed Desin Bridge but missed as one of my 500-pound bombs hung-up on the rack and almost threw me for a loss. I went down to look at Whosien Bridge and picked up a hole through the radiator and flap.

April 23, 1945: Rescue mission to pick-up Colonel Disosway in Japanese held territory. He had been shot down on his first mission, bailed out and was picked up by Chinese guerilla forces. Rescue was successful.

April 24, 1945: Mission # 83. Bombed Puchou, a small village across the Yellow River about 100 miles northeast of Sian. This mission was scheduled as a demonstration of tactical airpower for the Chinese forces in this area. We bombed and strafed regimental headquarters in the town inflicting many casualties and heavy damage to nearby supply dumps.

April 29, 1945: Flew to Poai and Sinsiang and got 3 locomotives in Chengteh Station. In strafing, I accidentally flew through wires and damaged my plane. I headed toward the hills so as to get with guerrilla forces if I had to bailout. The plane flew OK so I headed back and got three more trucks and one more locomotive in Haichung.

May 5, 1945: Mission #88. Target was a radar station located on the Yellow River just 90 miles from Sian. We bombed on schedule and started strafing. We were on our sixth pass when I got hit hard knocking out my radio and starting a fire somewhere underneath me. I crossed the river into friendly Chinese territory and climbed to about 3500 feet before I bailed out. I stalled the plane to just above the stall speed, got my left leg up on the seat, let go of the stick, grabbed the edge of the windshield and cockpit and launched myself face first toward the wing. I kept my head down so that if any part of me hit the tail, it would be my legs. I fell clear with no contact, did a flip or two, and noticed how quiet it was once I left the aircraft. I grabbed my “D” ring, pulled it and threw it halfway across China. As I came down I worked the chute to avoid landing on the burning plane. I hit the ground in a plowed field. As I stood up I was looking down the muzzles of 8 rifles held by Chinese Soldiers. I raised my arms and said, “American, ding hoa” and turned so that they could see the flag on the back of my jacket. They lowered their guns and took me over to a jeep driven by Lt. Lang, an American liaison officer with the Chinese forces who I had met in Sian. Lang said, “Snowball, nice of you to come visit us.” Then we all piled into the jeep and went to help rescue another downed pilot. The next day an ambulance arrived and took us both back to Sian.

May 11, 1945: Mission #90. Hit a bridge and got 6 locomotives.

May 19, 1945: Mission #93. Got 11 locomotives and got hit in the rudder.

May 24, 1945: Mission #94. Got 18 locomotives and got hit in the horizontal tail section.

June 6, 1945: Mission #96. Flew over the outskirts of Peiping and got 6 locomotives.

June 19, 1945: Mission #100. Got 12 locomotives and got hit in the wing with an explosive bullet of some kind. David Sloan was shot down and killed on this mission.

June 25, 1945: Mission #101. This was my last combat mission, which lasted for 3 hours and 30 minutes. It was a bombing mission.

Hank Snow continued his military flying career and flew 666 combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He retired and founded North Country Aviation in Saranac Lake, New York and also flew as an air show stunt pilot. Due to failing eyesight he gave up flying at the age of 76.