Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission 252: The primary target is the ball bearing plant at Erkner, a suburb of Berlin; enemy opposition is fierce and 37 bombers and 16 fighters are lost; 320 of 414 B-17s and 150 of 209 B-24s dispatched hit the primary; 36 B-17s hit Wildau and targets of opportunity; 33 B-24s hit Berlin and targets of opportunity; the bombers claim 63-17-19 Luftwaffe aircraft; 28 B-17s and 9 B-24s are lost, 1 B-17 and 2 B-24s are damaged beyond repair; casualties are 4 KIA, 14 WIA and 364 MIA. Escort is provided by 104 P-38s, 613 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47s and 174 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; claims/losses are:
1. P-38s claim 9-2-5 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 P-38s are lost, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 2 damaged; casualties are 1 KIA and 4 MIA.
2. P-47s claim 49-6-18 Luftwaffe aircraft; 10 P-47s are lost, 13 damaged beyond repair and 4 damaged; casualties are 2 KIA, 2 WIA and 10 MIA.
3. P-51s claim 29-4-9 Luftwaffe aircraft; 5 P-51s are lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 1 damaged; casualties are 4 MIA. An additional 8-4-7 Luftwaffe aircraft are claimed on the ground.
786th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 466th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Attlebridge, England from the US with B-24s; first mission is 22 Mar.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
Colonel William L. Travis, C/S 41 CBW, brother of B/Gen. Robert F. Travis, CG 41 CBW, flew as co-pilot with Lt. Barnes, leading the low 427BS formation, in #42-31241 Spirit of Wanette, 427BS-W. This aircraft aborted with high oil temperature and the No. 3 propeller uncontrollable under 2300 RPM. Two spare B-17s took off. One, Bonnie B #42- 31483, 359BS-P (Lt. Newell), returned early. The other, Bad Penny #42-31183, 359BS-Y (Lt. Dahleen), joined the 384BG and bombed the primary target with that Group.
Nineteen aircraft dropped 152 MI7 500-lb incendiary clusters and 252 M30 100-lb G.P. bombs on the primary target from 27,000 feet. Crews reported excellent bombing results.
Flak was meager to moderate and inaccurate. Enemy air opposition was weak – from eight to ten were seen and only two crews reported attacks. For the most part, enemy aircraft concentrated on the stragglers. There were no enemy aircraft claims by the 303rd BG(H). Fighter support was reported to be excellent, effective and complete support was given the entire time that the Group was over enemy territory. Several crews reported rockets fired from the ground. There was only a trace of clouds at the target and visibility was unlimited.
#42-31471 Doolittle's Destroyer was lost in the vicinity of Brandenburg, Germany. The aircraft was last seen descending very rapidly under control to about 10,000 feet. Flak had damaged the No. 4 engine and the aircraft lagged behind the Group formation. S/Sgt. C.J. Bonn later reported that they had trouble feathering the No. 4 engine and it caught on fire. After being hit by three ME-109s, the bail-out order was given. The aircraft crashed 20 kilometers southwest of Magdeburg.
Eight B-17s were damaged by flak, one by fighters and one by friendly action. Aircrews were susprised at the lack of opposition. After the recent -60E weather, gunners were comparatively warm at -40E. Conditions were perfect for enemy interception, but the Luftwaffe did not seem anxious to attack the thick cover of P-38s, P-47s and P-51s. Bombers passing over spotted some enemy fighters parked on airfields, but they showed no inclination to take off in pursuit.
27 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 20. Aborted - 3. Scrubbed - 1. Spare, Returned As Briefed - 1. Ground Spare, Unused - 2 42-31222 Bishop, Charles W - Aborted at 1042 hrs b/c #1 engine was running roughly and vibrated excessively 42-37848 MacPhail, Philip R - Aborted at 1000 hrs b/c gasket in #1 prop dome was put in incorrectly and leaked oil; Landed away Molesworth 42-38112 Hines, James W - Turned back when oxygen systerm had been shot out by flak; dropped 4x500 M17, 6x100 demo bombs, and 25 parcels of G-29 Nickles on Target of Opportunity near Lingen, Ger; poor results
source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
388BG Mission Report - On this mission the 388th furnished one Group to fly as low Group in the 45th Combat Wing which led the 3rd Air Division. All three Air Divisons were assigned to bomb Berlin. 24 A/C were airborne between 0830 and 0906 hours. Formations were effected without difficulty and the Wing proceeded to the Target as briefed. 12 a/c aborted before reaching the Target, 11 for mechanical reasons and one when an engine was shot out by a fighter attack.
Because of the large number of abortions and the fact that the formation had suffered heavily from enemy fighter attacks on the route to the Target, the remaining planes tacked onto the 96th Group High and completed the mission. It was anticipated that the bombing would be done by PFF methods, but as the formation approached the Target Area, it was decided to bomb visually. On the bomb run another Combat Wing crossed in front of ours, making our attack impossible. It could be seen that our Target, the Erkner Ball Bearing Works, had already been successfully bombed. Seeing this when our bomb run was disrupted, a Target of opportunity was sought. A large factory area at Wildau was sighted and our bombs were dropped on it. The formation then returned to the briefed course.
Very determined enemy fighter opposition, lasting from 1300 to 1345 hours was met en route to the target. As was the case in the previous mission, all enemy attacks were during a lapse of our escort. 30 to 50 e/a mosty FW 190's made these attacks mainly from the nose high in a trail of 10 to 12 a/c. These saturation tactics confused our gunners, as they knew not which a/c to fire at. Since it was impossible to fire at all e/a attacking, some would get through. All of our missing a/c were shot down on this series of attacks.
Flak was not particularly effective on this mission.
Lt. Betastas, bombardier on Lt. Sullivan's crew was killed by a 20mm shell from an enemy fighter. Sgts. Ramires and Wagstaff, waist-gunners on Lt. Fisk crew were wounded.
Lt. Moran in a/c 42-30829 "Princess Pat", was hit by fighters near Celle. The FW 190 caused the left wing to come off and the plane flipped on its back and no chutes were seen at this time. 8 men got out and were taken prisoners.
Lt. Amann in a/c 42-30340 "Screaming Red Ass", was hit by Me 109's. When last seen, the # 3 engine was feathered and both wings were badly shot-up. The plane crashed west of Magdeburg
Lt. Lentz in a/c 42-38138, was hit by fighters just inside the Dutch Coast. One of the enemy a/c with his cockpit in flame, hit this a/c on the left elevator and rudder sending the plane into a dive. Some of the crew were thrown out when the plane exploded, in the vicinity of Celle. Lt. Pond was flying with a makeup crew as his regular crew had finished their missions a few days previously. He missed some of the missions due to illness. He was in Stalag I, Barth, Germany.
source: 388th Bomb Group web page http://www.388bg.info
source: 392nd Bomb Group web page http://www.b24.net/missions/
401BG / 613BS Mission Report - The 613th Squadron flew as the High Squadron of the Group formation. The following crews participated: Keith, Fitchett, Sharp, Locher, Pruitt, Lew. Both photos and crew observations disclosed the fact that the target was well hit. The tail gunner in the lead ship of the Group reported that he could observe the smoke raising from the target as far as 170 miles away enroute home. Enemy opposition in the form of fighters was mild and only about 10 attacks, mostly single-engined 109's and 190's, were reported. Flak at the target was described as being good but otherwise on the mission was meager and poor.
source: 613th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 614BS Mission Report - At last, on 8th March, the target at Erkner was successfully bombed by the 8th Air Force.22 aircraft of the 401st Bomb Group, led by Major D.E. "HI HO" Silver, flew as the HiGh Box of the 94th Combat Wing formation. The crew observations and strike photographs disclosed that the target had been well hit. The tail gunner in the Lead Ship of the Group reported that he had observed smoke raising from the target area as far as 170 miles away enroute home. The crews were surprised at the lack of opposition from the Luftwaffe fighters over the capital of Germany. Only about ten attacks from Me109's and Fw190's were reported. The flak over the target, as expected, was good, but elsewhere it was meager and poor. The six 614th crews flying on the mission were: Peterson, Owens, Kirkhuff, Walsh, Stimson, Bartley.
source: 614th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 615BS Mission Report - The whole of the 8th Air Force went after Erkner yet again and the clear weather made possible visual bombing of the target by 470 of the 539 aircraft over Berlin that day. And yet again the Luftwaffe and the Flak batteries defended the German capital fiercely,knocking down 37 bombers and damaging 231 others. In reply the bombers claimed 63-17-19, with the fighters adding another 87-12-32 to the score for the loss of 18 of their numbers. The 401st furnished 24 aircraft to form the High Box of the 94th Combat Bomb Wing under the command of Major D.E. Silver, their assigned target being the V.K. ball bearing plant at Erkner. In the visual attack the Group placed their bombs squarely on the MPI. The 615th Squadron Loading List was as follows: Lewis, Kaminski, Byrd, Campbell, Otton.
source: 615th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
44BG Mission Report - For the second time in three days "Big B" was the center of attraction for the bombs of the 44th Group. With six aircraft of the 67th, the Group winged its way to the center of Hitler's domain to hit the ball-bearing factory located on the out-skirts of Berlin at Erkner. The target was hit with very excellent results being scored. Col. F.R. Dent, Commanding Officer of the Group, led this mission and the 14th Combat Wing. Moderate to intense flak was encountered over the target, but there was little damage done to our air craft. Enemy aircraft were seen, but few attacks were made, due largely to the very excellent fighter support that hovered nearby. One enemy aircraft was shot down by a gunner in the 506th Squadron. Sgt. Kipnes states that take-off was at 0930 after having to change ships at the last moment - a 66th plane. Bomb load 52 x 100 lb bombs. This was an all-out effort with a great many planes hitting all parts of Berlin and it's suburbs. Berlin is a beautiful city seen from the air. Landed at 1755 with #2 engine sputteringr And so ends the first 100 missions flown by the 44th Bomb Group.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
446th Bomb Group Mission Report Erkner
The VKF ball bearing works was hit and great damage was inflicted. Intense flak took its biggest toll so far, with 3 planes going down. Among the three planes (41-29292, 42-100231, and Shif Lus Skunk, 42-7595), a total of 26 crewmen died and 4 more taken prisoner.
source: 458th Bomb Group web page http://www.458bg.com/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Germany was again bombed. Erkner, a suburb of Berlin, Germany, and the ball bearing factory there being very successfully attacked. There were a few fights with the enemy, but our escort was quite strong that day and all ships but one returned safely to base. Ship #513 aborted due to technical difficulty within a short time after takeoff. The following ships took part: #513, #909, #774, #580, #892. The last-named ship was seen turning back, after having dropped its load of leaflets, near the I. P. which is in the vicinity of the target. He was having some sort of mechanical trouble. When a single ship has to leave the formation and undertake the return journey alone so far into enemy territory, its chances of doing so safely are very slim. Enemy fighters are on the lookout for such ships and endeavor to shoot them down. This is what apparently happened to Ship #892.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Raid on Erkner, Germany. At 1440 hours our A/C dropped 218 x 100 lb bombs from 25,000 ft. As the British say, 'We pranged it.' The formation experienced no A/A fire from the target area, and only meager and light after the target. None 323rd A/C were damaged. No E/A were encountered by our group. Fighter support was perfect. No claims - no casualties.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Erkner (Berlin) Ball Bearing Works. Bombing results were described as excellent and strike photos show this factory plastered with more bombs than any other pin point target has received heretofore. Weather and visibility was excellent all the way, yet our A/C encountered no E/A. Returning crews were jubilant and hailed this mission as the most perfect to date. Morale was never at a higher pitch nor crews more enthusiastic.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Mission to Erkner, Germany. Erkner: Described as excellent! Crews reported target completely wiped out! Two extremely large explosions noted in target area. Heavy pall of smoke seen rising several thousand feet. ENEMY AIRCRAFT: None encountered by this group. FIGHTER SUPPORT: Described as Perfect! No accurate AA fire was reported by our A/C.
Aircraft: B-24H (#41-28729). Organization: 753BS / 458BG of Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk. Pilot: Spaven, George N. Notes: crash landing. Location: Neaton/Sta 505 England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-38J (#42-67906). Organization: 343FS / 55FG of Nuthampstead, Hertfordshire. Pilot: Fluty, Joseph M. Notes: killed in a crash. Location: Harwich/SW England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47C (#41-6229). Organization: 83FS / 78FG of Duxford, Cambridgeshire. Pilot: Maitland, George C. Notes: killed in a crash. Location: Needham Market England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-22486). Organization: 486FS / 352FG of Bodney, Norfolk. Pilot: McKibben, Donald W. Notes: bailed out due to mid air collision. Location: Hethel, Norfolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-22492). Organization: 487FS / 352FG of Bodney, Norfolk. Pilot: Fowler, William E. Notes: mid air collision. Location: Hethel/ nr England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 2 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-75157). Organization: 486FS / 352FG of Bodney, Norfolk. Pilot: Mikiajcyk, Henry J. Notes: bailed out due to mid air collision. Location: Hethel, Norfolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-75513). Organization: 487FS / 352FG of Bodney, Norfolk. Pilot: Edwards, John C. Notes: mid air collision. Location: Hethel/ nr England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-8490). Organization: 486FS / 352FG of Bodney, Norfolk. Pilot: Miles, Stanley G. Notes: mid air collision. Location: Hethel, Norfolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-8571). Organization: 370FS / 359FG of East Wretham, Norfolk. Pilot: Grimes, Howard E. Notes: crash landing out of gas. Location: Bungay/SW Sta 125 England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-47D (#42-8652). Organization: 486FS / 352FG of Bodney, Norfolk. Pilot: Bond, Earl H. Notes: killed in mid air collision. Location: Hethel, Norfolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-51B (#43-6564). Organization: 363FS / 357FG of Leiston, Suffolk. Pilot: Tiede, Ernest C Jr. Notes: landing accident. Location: Leiston, Suffolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-51B7 (#43-6562). Organization: 335FS / 4FG of Debden, Essex. Pilot: Freeburner, Edward P. Notes: landing accident. Location: Debden, Essex England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-51B7 (#43-6721). Organization: 362FS / 357FG of Leiston, Suffolk. Pilot: Becker, Robert H. Notes: landing accident. Location: Leiston, Suffolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/