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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

The Eighth Air Force reaches its top strength as the 493d Bombardment Group (Heavy) becomes operational, making a total of 40 heavy bomber groups now operational. Heavy bombers fly 4 missions in support of the Normandy invasion:

Mission 394: At first light, 659 of 882 B-17s and 418 of 543 B-24s hit coastal targets in the area of the invasion beaches between Le Havre and Cherbourg; overcast and inability of the bombers to locate (or absence of) PFF leaders causes failure of some units to attack; 1 B-24 is lost, 1 B-24 is damaged beyond repair and 14 B-17s and 1 B-24 are damaged; 12 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 13 MIA.

Mission 394: The second mission strikes at transportation chokepoints in towns immediately around the assault area; total cloud cover causes 84 B-17s and 259 B-24s dispatched to return with their bombs but 37 B-24s manage to bomb secondary target of Argentan; 2 B-24s are lost and 1 B-17 is damaged; no casualties.

Mission 395: The third mission is dispatched against the important communications center of Caen; 58 of 73 B-24s bomb through overcast skies without loss.

Mission 395: Transportation chokepoints in towns immediately S and E of the assault area are the objectives of the fourth mission; 325 of 409 B-17s and 125 of 300 B-24s hit targets including Vire, Saint-Lo, Coutances, Falaise, Lisieux, Thury-Harcourt, Pont-lEveque, Argentan, and Conde-sur-Noireau; 1 B-24 is lost, 1 B-24 is damaged beyond repair and 11 B-24s and 5 B-17s are damaged; 10 airmen are KIA.

In all, 1,729 bombers drop 3,596 tons of bombs during D-Day. The VIII Fighter Command has the threefold mission of escorting bombers, attacking any movement toward the assault area, and protecting Allied shipping. The fighters fly 1,880 sorties including fighter-bomber attacks against 17 bridges, 10 marshaling yards, and a variety of other targets including convoy, railroad cars, siding, rail and highway junctions, tunnel, and a dam. Very little air opposition is encountered. The fighters claim 26-0-8 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 4-0-9 on the ground. Also destroyed are 21 locomotives and 2 carloads of ammunition. Numerous targets are damaged including locomotives, trucks, tank cars, armored vehicles, goods carriers, barges, and tugboats. Targets attacked with unreported results include warehouses, radar towers, barracks, troops, artillery, staff cars, 85 trains, and a variety of other targets. 25 fighters are lost.

Mission 396: During the night, 12 B-17s drop leaflets in France and the Low Countries.

Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,