Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission 741: 818 bombers and 830 fighters are dispatched to hit oil and rail targets in Germany; all except 9 aircraft bomb using H2X; 4 bombers and 1 fighter are lost:
1. 533 B-17s, in 2 forces, are sent to hit the Leuna oil plant at Merseburg (446); targets of opportunity are Hannover (16), Merseburg (14) and other (24); 4 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 172 damaged; 4 airmen are WIA and 37 MIA. 12 of 12 B-17s fly a screening mission. Escorting are 534 P-47s and P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA), 1 damaged beyond repair and 1 damaged.
2. 112 of 119 B-24s hit the marshaling yard at Bielefeld; 1 hits a target of opportunity; 52 B-24s are damaged. Escorting are 94 of 104 P-51s without loss.
3. 140 of 154 B-24s hit Minden Aqueduct; 9 hit the Lockum rail junction; 26 B-24s are damaged. Escorting are 91 P-47s and P-51s without loss. 4. 28 of 32 P-51s fly a scouting force mission.
Mission 742: 11 of the 4 B-17s and 11 B-24s drop leaflets in the Netherlands, France and Germany 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,
Resuming their offensive against German oil production, the 1st BD and 3rd BD B-17s attacked Germany's No. 1 synthetic oil plant, the Leuna Refinery at Merseburg (visual or PFF). The last resort targets were the marshalling yard in Nordhausen and the good yard in Hamlin, both in Germany.
Three aircraft returned early: #43- 38238 (No Name), 358BS (Lt. Snyder) – engine problem; #43-37597 Earthquake McGoon, 427BS (Lt. Gano) – prop ran away; #44-6517 (No Name), 360BS (Lt. Mayer-358BS) – co-pilot ill
Thirty-five B-17s dropped 673 250-lb. G.P. bombs and 10 units of leaflets on Merseburg. One aircraft dropped 20 250-lb. bombs on a target of opportunity. In the target area there were 10/10 middle clouds with tops at 16,000 feet, with moderate to dense, persistent contrails between 23,000 and 27,000 feet.
There was no enemy aircraft opposition. Friendly fighters consisted of 256 P-51s that gave good support. Anti-aircraft fire—anticipated at Merseburg—was intense and accurate, especially for the lead Squadron. One aircraft sustained major battle damage and ten, minor damage. Two men were wounded – a 427BS crewman sustained a leg wound and Lt. Canning, 358BS co-pilot on the Freeman crew, suffered a flak hit on his right hand and lost several fingers. All aircraft returned safely to Molesworth.
source: 392nd Bomb Group web page http://www.b24.net/missions/
401BG / 613BS Mission Report - Flying Division Lead with Lt. Col. B.K. Voorhees as Division and Group Leader the 401st bombed the Merseburg oil refinery by PFF on December 6th. Captain J.R. Locher led a screening force of 12 aircraft that discharged Chaff at the extreme edge of the envelope of fire at the target area. Crews reported that the Chaff seemed to be effective and it was not until the formation was leaving the target area that the flak became intense and accurate. No fighter opposition was encountered and all crews returned safely to base. Those crews participating were: 44-8454 Cushman, 44-8449 McGoldrick, 44-6313 Bradley, 43-31072 Curran, 42-102947 (Spare) Steele, 43-38791 Kelso, 44-2607 Campbell, 44-6113 Tausig. Flying with 614th Sqdn: Locher.
source: 613th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 614BS Mission Report - For the second time in its history, the 401st put up a massive force of 51 aircraft for this mission to the Merseburg oil refineries. One can only be full of admiration for the ground crews who, after putting up 39 aircraft on the 5th, got ready 51 aircraft for the 6th. For instance, it means that they had to ensure that 204 engines were in perfect working order; 663 50 calibre machine guns to be checked and the ammunition got ready; about 144,000 gallons of gas to be pumped into the fuel tanks of the B-17's and that would be only a small part of the vast task of getting these ships into the air that morning. The 614th furnished the 12 aircraft that made up the Screening Force. These went ahead of the main force and dropped Chaff to disrupt the flak radar in the target area. There were no fighters and the Squadron skirted the flak, dropping the chaff on the windward side of the target with some effect, but 81 of the 244 aircraft over the target still received some battle damage. The 401st B.G. led the 1st Division on this mission with 1t. Col. B.K. Voorhees as Air Commander and Lt. C.V. Utter as his deputy. The 614th put up the following 13 crews: 44-8033 Brown, 44-8258 Utter, 43-38739 Spuhler, 42-107151 Morton, 43-38677 Richardson, 44-6464 White, 42-97478 Crozier, 42-97322 St. Aubyn, 43-39646 Thompson, 44-6146 Seder, 44-6508 Sisson, 42-31891 Babcock, 42-97931 King.
source: 614th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 615BS Mission Report - The B-17's of the Mighty Eighth went after the German oil indusdry on this Wednesday morning, and the 401st Bomb Group put in a maximum effort with 51 crews being briefed at 0330 hrs that day. The 51 .aircraft were to form a Group plus 12 aircraft screening force. The Lead and High Squadrons carried 20 x 250 lb G.P.'s, while the Low Squadron carried 38 x 120 lb "Frags". The Screening Force carried 50 boxes of "chaff" at 90 lbs each and IY-X, Serial No. 42-31485 ("Old Ironsides") carried bombs with long delay fuses. After the weather ship, IW-L, had taken off at 0528 hrs all times were delayed for one hour but finally, at 0840 hrs, all aircraft on the mission were airborne. It was a return to a familiar target, the I.G. Farben Industries synthetic oil plant at Merseburg. The 401st led the 1st Bomb Division and was led by Lt. Col. B.K. Voorhees, flying with 1st Lt. Tom Cushman. The 615th led the High Squadron with Captain P.E. Campbell as the Air Commander. Capt. W.S. Harb was the other leader. Because of solid undercast the bombing was carried out by PFF methods and no observations were possible. The Luftwaffe did not put in an appearance on this mission and the only flak encountered was in the target area, moderate at first, becoming intense and fairly accurate later causing major damage to 3 aircraft and minor damage to 28 others. 43-38779 Grimm, 42-102468 Stegemann, 43-38810 Cooper, 43-38125 Cracraft, 43-38077 Haskett, 42-31730 Sombart, 43-38565 Hansen, 43-37551 Jordan, 42-97664 Grimm, 43-38425 Udy, 42-39012 Jones, 42-31485 Maloney, 42-37636 Campbell.
source: 615th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 612BS Mission Report - The weather still held up and the Group was out for the third consecutive day. Three successive missions this time of the year is an unusual feature. Again Merseberg, Germany with its very important oil industry was the object of the Air Force, and 36 aircraft of the 401st flew as the 94th CBW "A" Group to assist in the task. Also a force of 12 of our B-17's were dispatched as a "Screening Force", a special force which immediately precedes the main force and drops Chaff in an effort to disrupt the accuracy of enemy Flak. Another PFF bombing effort for the record was necessary due to the adverse weather conditions and no assessment of the bombing accuracy was possible. The formation bombed by Groups off the Lead Bombardier. Chaff probably had some effect on the enemy Flak although it did cause considerable trouble at the target being moderate to intense and fairly accurate. Battle damage was sustained by 30 of the aircraft but no personnel casualties resulted. All of our aircraft returned safely. Lt. Schaunaman,, with Lt. Furrier as Navigator, Lt. Sande as Bombardier and Lt. Howard as Mickey Operator, led the Low Squadron on this mission. Seven other of the 612th crews completed the mission in the same Squadron with Lt. Long leading the Low Section. Crews: 44-6947 Schaunamann, 42-31662 Rittings, 42-107039 Roadman, 43-37790 Schliemann, 43-38637, Long, 43-38541 Campbell, 44-6506 French, 42-102393 Bloetscher, 42-102398 BOddin, 43-38732 Cromer.
source: 612th Bombardment Squadron History
44BG Mission Report - The Primary today was the Bielefeld Viaduct with the secondary being the Bielefeld M/Y. Again, the 44th sent out only 11 aircraft (three 67th's) and bombed the Secondary, and one A/C bombing a Target of Opportunity. 67th's Captain Bartlett flew Group deputy lead while 506th's Capt. Gossett was Group lead. Thirty seconds before bombs away, it was decided to bomb visually. Corrections were made but the bombs dropped to the right of the MPI because the aircraft were in group formation for PFF bombing and course was in error. Enemy aircraft were not seen,fighter support was good. The 67th experienced some moderate, accurate flak along the course and their aircraft suffered slight battle damage. All returned to base. The reason that the 44th dispatched so few aircraft is that they were ordered to fly high right squadron on the 392nd BG. Our lead aircraft saw that the target was visual, and killed rate with the bombsight, but could not correct for course.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
446th Bomb Group Mission Report Minden
28 planes attacked a viaduct, and 9 others attacked a rail junction when they could not form with the main group. Results were unobserved.