|A bomb strike camera caught "Final Approach" in her final moments. |
On April 9, 1944 the 458th BG flew their 222nd mission to the airfield at Lechfeld, Germany. On the bomb run, “Final Approach”, flown by 2Lt Leonard Abramowitz, "...suffered a direct flak hit on bomb run almost simultaneously with bomb release. #2 Engine went on fire and A/C went into power dive in attempt to smother fire. One ‘chute came out while in power glide, A/C circled to left then pilot seemed to lose control. Three more ‘chutes came out. A/C went into a dive, one more chute came out before A/C broke up at 10,000 feet."
All crew members except for nose gunner Sgt Allen Rupp managed to bail out in time. According to the navigator, Lt John Holodak, he had just let Rupp out of the nose turret and the two were about to bail out when the plane blew up. At least one of the crew believes that Rupp never made it out of his turret. Holodak, Zeiler, and Freeman were wounded by flak, but received treatment on the ground and recovered.
The crew was rounded up and spent the final weeks of the war as prisoners of the Germans.