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Mission

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Missions

The Eighth Air Force Historical Society

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Missions

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Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description

Mission 492: Heavy bombers are scheduled to participate in a US First Army offensive (Operation COBRA) to penetrate the German defenses W of Saint-Lo and secure Coutances; 1,586 bombers and 671 fighters are dispatched but bad weather causes the ground forces to delay the attack until next day, and cloud conditions cause 1,102 bombers to abort. Targets hit are:

1. Of 909 B-17s, 343 hit the Periers/St Lo area and 35 hit the Granville railroad junction; 1 B-17 is lost and 70 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 1 1 WIA and 1 MIA.

2. 109 of 677 B-24s bomb targets of opportunity including road intersections and rail lines; 2 B-24s are lost and 74 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 1 WIA and 20 MIA. Escort for the bombers is provided by 478 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; they claim 1-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 1-0-1 on the ground; 3 P-38s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 P-47 is damaged beyond repair and 1 P-47 is damaged. 143 of 169 P-51s fly a sweep over Lechfeld and Leipheim Airfields in Germany; they claim 3-0-0 aircraft in the air and 12-0-16 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA), 1 damaged beyond repair and 6 damaged.

Mission 493: 7 of 7 B-17s drop leaflets in France during the night. 6 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions during the night.

Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
OPERATION COBRA - First use of heavy bombers in a tactitcal role. Plan is to bomb troop concentrations on the SW side of the straight road (107 degrees E) between Periers and St. Lo. The area is defined by a rectangle 1,500 yards wide by 3,500 yards long immediately parallel to the road. The weather is overcast and the target area is not readily visible. The bombers are to attack from 10,000 feet. It was assumed that the bombers would fly parallel to the road and bomb the length of the rectangle, however, because of the number of bombers in the formation it was decided by 8AF representatives that the bombers would fly perpendicular to the rectangle. Units of the First Army were poised just 800 to 1200 yards NW of the road ready to punce upon the dazed Germans once the strike was completed. Because of the heavy overcast, Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, who was responsible for coordinating Allied strategic bombing in Nromandy issued a recall order to the bomber stream but too late to prevent 343 from dropping 685 tons of bombs. Some of the bombs fall short and land on units of the 30th Infantry Division, killing 27 soldiers and wounding 131 others. A tragic friendly-fire incident.
Source: Notes from Lee Cunningham