Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission 503: 1,228 bombers and 755 fighters are dispatched to hit oil targets in Germany and airfields in France; 17 bombers and 7 fighters are lost:
1. Of 657 B-17s, 569 hit the Merseburg/Leuna synthetic oil plant, 13 hit Gottingen, 11 hit Hildesheim marshaling yard, and 10 hit targets of opportunity; they claim 15-8-3 Luftwaffe aircraft; 15 B-17s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 349 are damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 17 WIA and 138 MIA. Escort is provided by 429 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; they claim 21-2-3 Luftwaffe aircraft (including a jet aircraft) in the air and 3-0-2 on the ground; 7 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 P-47 and 6 P-51s are damaged.
2. Of 473 B-24s, 442 hit Bremen/Oslebshausen oil refinery, 2 hit targets of opportunity and 1 hit Cuxhaven; 2 B-24s are lost and 96 damaged; 3 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 15 MIA. Escort is provided by 106 of 109 P-51s.
3. Of 98 B-24s, 38 hit Juvincourt Airfield and 26 hit Laon/Couvron Airfield in France; 2 B-24s are damaged beyond repair; 5 airmen are KIA and 7 WIA. Escort is provided by 142 of 150 P-51s.
Mission 504: 6 of 6 B-17s drop leaflets in France during the night. 44 B-24s are dispatched on CARPETBAGGER missions; 12 abort.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
The 303rd BG(H) positioned 51 aircraft as the lead, high and low Groups of the 41st CBW-C, and lead Group and 2nd flight high Group of the 41st CBW-D. Four PFF B-17s from the 305BG and 384BG were used. Formations were led by Lt. Col. R.H. Cole and Maj. Schulstad. Four aircraft returned early.
The Wings were able to bomb visually with good results, despite the smoke and haze in the target area. The aircraft dropped 974 250-lb. M57 bombs. Flak was intense and accurate and 32 aircraft sustained battle damage. From 20 to 25 enemy aircraft were encountered. S/Sgt. Reckart, the tail gunner on Fortress #42-102496 Special Delivery, 359BS, claimed an ME-109 as destroyed, but was later credited with a probable. Friendly fighter support was excellent and was credited with saving many of the B-17s in the air.
51 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 46. Failed To Return - 1. Ground Spare, Unused - 4 42-3441 Ungerman, Kenneth A - Assembly A/C 42-97142 Hayes, Edgar J - Turned back over field b/c of low oil pressure 42-97271 Hunt, John H - Landed away Beccles due to b/d - Forced to leave formation due to failure of #1 engine; dropped 20x250GP on target of opp near Minden 42-102959 Seidlein, George H - Landed away Foulsham for unkown reason 42-107224 Toler, Harold M - Landed away Hethel due to b/d 43-37870 Sweeney, Ned Hardy - Failed to Return - MIA; after bombs away heard calling for fighter support although no observed leaving formation; cr Bad Bibra, Ger; MACR 7818 44-6135 McDaniel, Clifford F - Turned back 20 mi on course from Luton, unable to locate formation
source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
388BG Mission Report - For the second consecutive day, 1st and 3rd Air Division forces were dispatched to the I. G. Farbenindustrie synthetic oil plant at Leuna. The 388th flew high Group on both the 45th "A" and "B" Combat Wings.
The "A" Group had 20 a/c airborne between 0535 and 0554 hours. In the "B" Group, 19 a/c were airborne between 0520 and 0532 hours. All a/c of the "A" Group attacked the Target, while two aborted from the "B" Group for mechanical reasons. After forming, the Groups flew Southeasterly across Germany to the IP, where a turn was made to a west-east bomb run. Clouds covered the Target but black smoke in the Target area indicated direct hits. In the vicinity of the RP, the "A" Group was attacked by 30-50 Me 109's and 8-12 FW 190's. Only one pass was made before our escort intercepted. Lt. Boyce in a/c 42-39866, was attacked by 3 Me 109's from the rear, setting fire to the two inboard engines. When the fire broke out, he peeled off and went into a dive and disappeared into the clouds at 14,000 feet. The co-pilot and navigator were able to bail-out and landed into a Barley Field, and were captured immediately. The Germans at a near-by air base said that seven bodies were in the burned aircraft. After this five minute attack, the Groups followed the same route home as on the way to the Target.
Bombs were away at 1006 hours from 26,000 feet. The "B" Group made its own sighting and did not bomb with the Wing.
36 a/c returned to the base by 1354 hours.
The only flak encountered was at the Target and was intense and accurate. 2 a/c had major battle damage and 21 a/c had minor damage. Sgt. G. J. Mead was wounded and one crew is missing. Claims are two Me 109's destroyed.
source: 388th Bomb Group web page http://www.388bg.info
source: 398th Bomb Group web page http://www.398th.org/
401BG / 613BS Mission Report - The High Box in which four 613th aircraft flew returned from the assembly point, the weather preventing assembly. Weather over the target permitted visual bombing and strike photos disclosed immense columns of black smoke which crews reported rising to 20,000 feet after leaving the target area. Flak over the target was accurate and although considerable battle damage was suffered all aircraft returned to base. Crews:- Lockhart, Lemmons, Etters, Thomason.
source: 613th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 612BS Mission Report - The 1st Bomb Division went back to Merseburg to hit the oil industry the next day. 29th July 1944. As expected the target was found to be open with CAVU conditions. The Group furnished the usual three boxes of 12 aircraft each flying as the 94th "G" CBW which put the Group last over the target. Due to changing the lead aircraft of the High Box in the air and bad weather around the assembly points the High Box never joined the Wing and returned to base. The Lead and Low boxes went on to attack the target. Being last over the target caused considerable trouble because huge and towering smoke and fire columns obscured the M.P.I. The Lead Bombardier managed to locate the M.P.I. and the remainder of the Wing dropped on his bombs. All of the bombs went into the smoke and appeared to hit the target. Although no enemy air opposition was met the flak proved more effective this trip and caused damage to 22 aircraft, two with major damage. It was moderate to intense and exceedingly accurate. One crew member was wounded and all others returned safely.
source: 612th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 614BS Mission Report - This was a visual attack on the oil targets at Merseburg by all the B-17's of the 1st and 3rd Air Division with the 401st Group furnishing three Boxes of 12 aircraft to form the 94th "C" CBW. Two PFF aircraft also went along. The Air Commander was Lt. C.J. Parr. The weather was so bad over the assembly point that some aircraft were unable to form up and returned to Deenethorpe. The Lead and Low Boxes went on to find the weather clear over the target and bombed visually. At the last moment the towering clouds and smoke drifted over the MPI's and the bombs were released into the smoke. There was no enemy fighters in the area but the flak proved to very effective and 22 aircraft received battle damage, two suffering major damage. Of 569 aircraft over the target 17 were shot down and 349 received various degrees of battle damage. Crews: PFF 701 Gruman, 42-97145 Evans, 42-97872 Rozelle, 42-107151 Taylor, 42-31369 Kovach, 42-102659 Mercer, 42-97869 Harasym, 42-97602 Koons, 42-97780 Lerwick.
source: 614th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 615BS Mission Report - The mission was led by two PFF ships from Polebrook, '701 and '636, at least that was the plan. '701 accidentaly salvoed its bombs on runway No. 33 and was not able to take off - PFF '636 lost No.3 engine and was forced to land at Polebrook less than an hour after take-off. Briefing was at 0250 hrs and was for 39 aircraft, 3 observer aircraft and a weather ship. The weather ship was airborne by 0527 hrs - this was IN-K - and the 3 observer ships and 38 operational aircraft were airborne by 0654 hrs. By the time the weather ship and one of the observer ships had landed at 0918 hrs the weather had closed the base and all aircraft were diverted for a number of hours. The Group were assigned the synthetic oil production plant of I.G. Farbin at Merseburg, underlining the importance the 8th Air Force attached to this particular target. The 401st Group furnished three 12 aircraft Boxes that made up the 94th "C" CBW. Because of undercast, smoke and haze over the target - and the fact that there was no PFF ship in the lead - the bombardier synchronizes on reference points just short of the target which were visible through break in the clouds, and when fully synchronized dropped on the cross hairs placed in the smoke area of the approximate location of the MPI. Bombs were observed to fall on the approximate MPI and strike photos disclosed huge columns of black smoke rising to 20,000 feet after the Wing had left the area. No enemy air opposition was encountered. The flak at the target was moderate, accurate and of limited duration. Two aircraft received major damage and 20 minor damage from flak. Lt. C.J. Parr, Leader of the High Box, assumed the Wing Lead after the Lead and Deputy Lead aborted, and the reports praised Lt. Parr for a splendid job of leadership. The 615th Squadron put up the following crews: Ossiander, Stegemann, Oas, Parr, Sproul, Sullivan.
source: 615th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
44BG Mission Report - The ship building area of Bremen, Germany was the target for 3 of the Group's planes today. Specific area of Bremen was Oslebshausen. The 64h sent nine ships and one abortive; the 67th and 506th sent 10 each, 9 from the 68th, and two planes failed to make the target having collided earlier. The well established record of 41 missions without a loss to the 67th when Lt. Green, flying A/C #820 collided with A/C #309 of the 506th Squadron. The accident occurred just after leaving the English coast off Cromer. S/Sgt. Favors of the 506th, was the sole survivor, but was unable to give more information as to the cause of the accident. Bombing results were unobserved due to cloud cover. Flak was moderate and accurate with some aircraft - Lt. Knowles and Hundelt of the 67th - sustaining some battle damage. Lt. Gunton led a composite squadron made up of six aircraft from each of the 67th and planes from the 492nd BG. He was flying K, one of the oldest ships in the 67th Squadron. Lt. Yatkones was forced to turn back due to the loss of oil pressure on #1 engine. The 506 reports that "At 0830 hours, in making a left turn,- the low element slid under the second element. #3 man in the second element was caught in prop wash and nosed down, colliding with #3 man in the low element. This ship, #309 went into flat spin. 506th A/C #42-95309 Y piloted by 2nd Lt. B.J. Eberhardt - 9 KIA 67th A/C #42-109820 N "The Wasps Nest" No Survivors Green, William F. 2nd Lt. Pilot Hamilton, Ohio Lentz, Herbert B. 2nd-Lt. Navigator Baltimore, Maryland Mortenson, Douglas W. 1st Lt. Co-pilot Port Orchard, Wash. Kenner, James D. Jr. 2nd Lt. Bombardier King City, Calif. Broome, Garland R. Sgt. Engineer Prentiss, Miss. Sherwood, Lawrence J. S/Sgt. Radio Oper. Oceanside, Calif. McArthur, Earl R. Sgt. LW Gunner Brattleboro, Vt. Byers, Clifford L. Sgt. Tail Tur. Hereford, Colorado Landry, Henry C. Sgt. RW Gunner Meridan, Conn. 2nd Lts. Fischer,George, Holcomb,Smith and Stewart promoted to 1st Lts effective 27 July. Last night a Buzz Bomb came over the field and woke many. A Missing Air Crew Report on the above collision reports that four chutes were observed from the two ships and Air-Sea Rescue boats were heading toward the spot where both planes went into the sea. The bodies of Lt. D.W. Mortenson, Lt. J.D. Kenner and Sgt. H.C. Landry were recovered by the Air-Sea Rescue group. This accident occurred approximately six miles northeast of Cromer. Sgt. Alva Favors was picked up by Dutch seamen.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
446th Bomb Group Mission Report Bremen
31 planes bombed an oil plant with unobserved results. A smoke screen and clouds hampered visibility.
source: 492 Bomb Group Mission Links http://www.492ndbombgroup.com
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Merseburg. The synthetic oil plant was again the target for this mission, and it was bombed visually through 3 to 5/10 cloud cover which prevented observations of results or assessment of strike photographs. Results were believed to have been good. the CBW was led by Lt. Col. Milton flying with Lt. Suther. Due to bad weather over home base, several A/C landed safely at other A/C's in England.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Mersburg Synthetic oil plant. Having missed this important target the day before, most of the 8th A.F. went back again today. Clouds obscured the target but our crews bombed on PFF with what is believed to be good results. Oil smoke came up to 20,000 ft. in great clouds. The course was flown as briefed and flak was no where near as intense as the day before nor was it accurate. Fighter support was good. Weather over England caused great difficulty in landing and caused some crews to land away.