99 Problems – 📸 by Mario Unger

“Streams of fire shot thousands of feet into the air, and the countryside was lit up for miles around. Oft times the entire top of the mountain looked as if it were a blazing inferno.”

Between March 18th – 23rd 1944 Mount Vesuvius erupted, just to add another dimension of difficulty to an already monumental task.

The volcano destroyed more of the 340th Bombardment Group’s aircraft (estimates vary between 78 and 88) than the devastating German Luftwaffe air raid of the 340th base at Alesani, Corsica on May 13, 1944 (about 75 aircraft). At Pompeii Airfield on March 23, 1944 nearly all of the 340th’s B-25 Mitchell medium bombers were covered with hot ash that burned the fabric control surfaces, glazed, melted, or cracked the Plexiglass, and even tipped some B-25s onto their tails from the weight of the ash and tephra.