The photos in this section are of Bob Baranskas's uncle M/Sgt. M.L. Hohenstein. These photos provide a glimpse into the daily life of A-36A Invader/Apache maintenance crews stationed in the Mediterranean theater of operations. The A-36A equipped the 27th and 86th Fighter Bomber Groups based in Sicily and in Italy. Both of these groups arrived in North Africa in April of 1943 just after the end of the Tunisian campaign. They saw their first action during aerial attacks on the Island of Pantelleria, with the first sortie being flown on June 6, 1943.
The A-36A was involved in the taking of Monte Cassino, and participated in the sinking of the Italian liner Conte di Savoia. Several sources list the Invader as not being particularly effective during combat. It seems that this is not strictly correct. Although losses during low-level attacks were rather high, the A-36 was actually a good dive bomber and it was a stable and effective ground strafer. The engine was very quiet, and it was often possible for an A-36 to get nearly on top of an enemy before he realized that an attack was imminent. Dive bombing was usually initiated from an altitude of 10,000 feet to 12,000 feet, with bombing speed held to around 300 mph by the dive brakes. The bombs were dropped at an altitude of 3000 feet, and pullout was at approximately 1500 feet. The Invader was fairly rugged and easy to maintain in the field. The A-36 could consistently stay within 20 feet of the deck and could easily maneuver around trees, buildings, and other obstacles while strafing. The A-36A was able to take a considerable amount of battle damage and still return to base. Nevertheless, a total of 177 A-36As were lost in action.
Success in the these campaigns was due greatly to the maintenance crews who were able to maintain these aircraft in primitive conditions and constant worry of reprisal attacks for enemy air units.*
This text was taken directly from back of photographs, all errors are maintained as written. Click image for larger view.
This plane came back after a mission over Cassino shot up bad- The pilot still alive, he landed with one arm We had trouble getting him out of the cockpit
Pomig. ITALY 1943 M/Sgt. M.L. Hohenstein (Pomig = Pomigliano)
After 3 years in the combat zone I some kind of mishap everyday. I guess this was a good landing, the pilot lived. Many never made it back to the landing strip were listed as K.I.A or M.I.A.-
Tunisia, Africa 1943
M/Sgt. M.L. Hohenstein setting on wing of A36 as we called them or P.51 with dive brakes added to the wings + all high altitude equip removed We used them for low altitude strafing & dive bombing in support of infantry. I volunteered for 20 missions as an observer to spot Enemy machinegun & ammo dumps For the next mission Not so bad till those little black puffs of smoke started popping up all around & tracers started coming in from all directions Makes you wonder why your up here & if you will get out of here alive.
After two years of combat & over 200 missions on most of our planes they replaced them with the P.47 the flying jug as we called them, when we went into southern France & in Germany \
Engine out of our A-36 1400 H.P. V-12 Alison
We didnt have a nice place like a hanger our work was done in an open field.
M/Sgt. in center, Hohenstein Engineering chief had 35 men working patching flak holes, engine changes, electric, Hydraulic Prop. Armament -