Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 52: 115 B-17s are dispatched against the Focke-Wulf factory at Bremen, Germany the Eighth Air Forces largest mission to date. A mass of fighters attacks during bomb run, shooting down 15 while flak claims another. We claim 63-15-17 Luftwaffe aircraft; 39 B-17s are damaged; casualties are 2 KIA, 4 WIA and 159 MIA.
The Commanding General, VIII Fighter Command, expresses the need for 20 fighter groups to neutralize growing German fighter opposition to the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO).
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
Bomb Load: 5 x 1000 lb H.E. M44 bombs. Bombing Altitudes: 25,500 ft & 27,000 ft. Ammo Fired: 89,585 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 19 Destroyed, 4 Probables, 4 Damaged.
Twenty-nine 303rd BG(H) B-17s (part of the 115 8th Air Force bombers), the largest number dispatched into Germany, bombed the primary target at Bremen. Maj. Lew Lyle led the 303rd BG(H) formation that bombed the target with 72 tons of 1,000-lb. bombs. Flak at the 25,500 foot bombing altitude was intense, accurate and quite concentrated, of the barrage type.
Enemy fighter opposition was considerable, although no 303rd BG(H) plane suffered severely. The Group saw 50 to 75 enemy aircraft and experienced 40 encounters. The attacks started just inside the German coast, continued over the target and lasted a short distance over the North Sea. The Group gunners destroyed 19 single-engine and twin- engine enemy fighters with another four probable and four damaged. All aircraft returned safely to base with no casualties. The VIII Air Force gunners claimed a total of 63 enemy aircraft destroyed, 15 probables, and 17 damaged. It was later learned that only 10 German fighters were lost
Two of the other four Groups attacking Bremen were not as lucky as the 303rd BG(H). The 91st BG(H) lost six B-17s, five from its 401st Squadron, and the 306th BG(H) lost 10 planes. The loss of 16 B-17s was double that for any previous missions and created serious doubts with the VIII Bomber Command leaders that our bombers could hold their own with enemy interceptors. It reemphasized the critical need for long-range U.S. fighter support.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report MISSION VIII BC 52
TARGET Bremen, Germany Focke-Wulf factory
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
A/C: 26; 2 returned early (oxygen line, engine trouble); 1 landed away (Youree at Norwick); 10 did not return
Bombing: 1259, 24500 ft
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Good; bursts seen in target area; fires in several buildings
Evasive action due to flak and persistent enemy attack prevents accurate bombing runs
Extremely intense and accurate at target
Scattered bursts from German islands going in and out
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
Fighter opposition was as heavy as this group has seen; attacks from 1200 to 1355 hours
80-100 E/A; single and twin-engined; some were night fighters; attacks mostly frontal
Twin-engined planes hung back from attacks to jump stragglers
E/A flew through their own flak to penetrate our formations
Attacks frontal from level or low
2 A/C down before target; 6 A/C down at target; 2 A/C status not known
367BS: Harwood 42-9625 (MACR: declared dead), Casey 41-24488 (MACR: evacuated to US), Watson 42-29658 (MACR: returned to duty), Fortin 42-5394 (MACR: captured)
368 BS: Jankowski (42-3034), Lally 41-24467 (MACR 15525: evacuated to US), Gillogly 42-29631 (MACR 15524: returned to military control), Miller 42-29643 (MACR 15523), Smiley 42-5251 (MACR: declared dead)
423BS: George 42-5171 (MACR 15444: KIA)
Observations from other pilots:
Lally (41-24467) observed going down; #3 engine on fire - 3 chutes
Smiley observed 1405 turning back toward coast of Germany - 4 chutes. A/C blew up 1000 ft.
B-17 observed 1425 going down with #3 engine burning
George B-17 hit by FW into stabilizer before bombs away
Merchant ships, transports and naval vessels reported in environment of target
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Eight ships of 323rd squadron, piloted by Captains Dwyer, Clancy and Giauque, Lieutenants Birdsong, Biggs, Rand, Evins and Walker took part in the mission on the F. W. Works at Bremen, Germany. Our squadron was leading the 91st group, which led the whole mission. Major P. D. Brown and Capt. Dwyer with Navigator Capt Charles Maas made a fine team in leading over the route, briefed under hazy ground visibility, and dropping a dense pattern on our target with excellent results.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Twenty-nine A/C of 91st Group attacked Focke Wulf factory at Bremen, Germany, at 1259 hours, each A/C carrying 5 x 1000 bombs. Flak was heavy and accurate. Of 102 Forts attacking 16 are missing, 6 from 91st BG and 10 from the 305th BG. Those missing from this group are #070 Capt. Oscar O'Neill, #172 Lt. Harold Beasley, #391 Lt. R. Walker, #574, Lt. Stoffel, #459 Lt. Wilson, #337 Lt. Lindsey, all of 401st Squadron. About 150 E/A made heaviest attacks to date. Our Group destroyed 24 E/A of which this squadron got 13. Squadron returned safely. Bombing was excellent.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Large explosion believed to be fuel dump. Good hits in buildings and dispersal area. Intense accurate at target area - flak is believed to be responsible for loss of B flight composed of 401st. Heavy opposition and good encountered. Hit our Group, attacks were vicious and pressed home. Sixty missing in action. A/C Missing in action: A/C 070, A/C 391, A/C 172, A/C 337, A/C 459, A/C 574