Early morning on July 15, 1942, Tomcat Green and Tomcat Yellow, both squads consisting of Lockheed P-38s escorting a Boeing B-17, were airborne on their way to Iceland. This leg of the trip would take the squadron southeast over the ice cap and the mountains of the east coast of Greenland and then across the Denmark Strait to Reykjavik, Iceland.
As the squadron soared across the ice cap at twelve thousand feet, a heavy blanket of clouds began to form. They rose above it where the temperature dropped to minus ten degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety minutes from Iceland, the planes hit a mass of cumulus clouds, forcing them to climb another two thousand feet.
At 7:15 a.m. it was decided the squadron should turn back and head for BW-8, the airbase on the western side of Greenland where this leg of the flight had originated. An hour later, the crews saw the east coast of Greenland, and weather that would prove to be as bad or worse than they flew through earlier.
After ninety minutes of flying through dense cloud cover, the crews saw coastal mountains through an opening. The question was where on the west coast were they in relation to BW-1? They soon discovered they were back on the east coast of Greenland, two hours away from BW-1, with fuel that would only last another twenty minutes. The decision to land had been made for them. One by one, the P-38 pilots brought down their planes, as the two B-17s remained aloft for another half hour, expending their remaining fuel.
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