From Serenade to the Big Bird by Bert Stiles (4 stars), killed in action, 26 November 1944.
On watching Focke Wulf 190 fighters getting into attack formation:
A lieutenant from flight operations drives up in a jeep to give the pilots the last bit of information they need to make the bomb run. Bert Stiles says to him:
“Didn’t your mother ever feed you?”
“We won’t go without our candy.”
He passed over nine candy bars and nine packages of Doublemint.
“Take it cool.” He was off for the next plane.
“Two Forts,” Mock said (the tail gunner). “One Goddamn plane just cut the other in half.”
Two Forts out of our group. Mid-air collision.
We were on the bomb run.
They were shooting white flak, heavy stuff, big red flashes like fighters blowing up.
In the wing ahead of us a Fort powdered. (That is took a direct hit and blew up). A chunk of it slipped down onto the wing of another. The Tokyo tanks blew. (Extra fuel tanks installed on the leading edge of the wing). Half a Fort plunged down into the element below. They all went down in a sickening blown-up red mass.
I don’t know if there is an accurate estimate but many American bombers went down because they were hit by pieces of another bomber or hit by another bomber making evasive maneuvers on a bomb run which they were not supposed to do precisely because they could easily ram another bomber. I would not be surprised if there was at least one bomber lost on every other mission because it was hit by a piece of another bomber which was hit by German flak.