Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 55: 97 B-17s are dispatched against the Avions Potez aircraft factory at Meaulte, France; 88 aircraft hit the target at 1628-1630 hours local. We claim 11-31-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 3 and 11 others are damaged. Casualties are 1 WIA and 31 MIA. In a second raid, 72 B-17s are dispatched against the Longuenesse and Ft. Rouge Airfields at St. Omer, France; 31 bomb Longuenesse at 1637-1638 hours; 1 B-17 is lost and 1 is damaged beyond repair. Casualties are 1 KIA and 2 WIA.
The 416th Night Fighter Squadron, VIII Fighter Command arrives at Honiley, England from the US. Detachments are dispersed to Cranfield, Usworth and Bath to train with Beaufighters under control of the RAF. The 456th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 323d Bombardment Group (Medium), with B-26Cs, arrives at Horham, England from the US.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
The 358th BS B-17F #41-24577 Hell's Angels (VK-D), from which the 303rd BG(H) later named itself, completed its 25th combat mission on 13 May 1943. It became the first 8th Air Force B-17 to complete 25 combat missions, winning the race for this honor with the 359th BS B-17F Knockout Dropper, the 91st BG(H) B-17F Memphis Belle and several other B-17s that were striving to be the first to complete 25 missions.
This was a perfect mission from an engineering standpoint--21 aircraft off the ground, 21 attacked the target, and 21 returned to Base safely with no aborted flights.
The Meaulte-Potes Aircraft Factory, which specialized in the manufacture of parts for Germany's leading aircraft, was completely devastated and plastered by American B-17s. The bombers flew high, completely protected by U.S. Thunderbolts (P-47s) and RAF Spitfires in very good weather conditions to make an ideal bomb run and completely smother the target with their lethal load.
Some bursts of heavy flak were observed over the target, but it wasn't enough to require evasive action. Light flak was seen below, apparently aimed at the fighters which were protecting the bombers. On the way out from the target, more bursts were seen before the planes reached the English channel. None of the bursts caused any aircraft damage. The US and RAF fighter support was so good that not more than six FW-190s could come in close enough to attempt an attack on the bombers.
Maj. Glenn Hagenbuch, who led the 102nd PBCW on the mission, was awarded the Silver Star medal for "Gallantry in Action" on this Mission.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report MISSION
VIII BC 55
Avions Potez aircraft factory at Meaulte, France
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
A/C: 24; 2 A/C abort: oxygen system failure (1), engine out (1)
Bombing: 1629 22000 ft
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Good; target appears to have received several direct hits; large fires; huge clouds of smoke
Clear with good visibility over target
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
Less than 10 E/A reported
Skip bombing used by one FW: flew in head-on dropped bomb 300 yards from A/C
B-17 (91st BG) seen to blow up just before target - 2 chutes
B-17 (91st BG) hit over target at 1638 going down under control - 1 chute
2 Spitfire reported with German markings
New runways in woods sighted near Abbeville
2 new airdromes sighted between coast and Amiens
Riordan reported skip bomb exploded 25 yards from his right wing leaving two holes.
Briscoe reported hols in nose of A/C from bomb flipped at him.
P-47 support good. Pilots want more missions with fighter support.
Maliszewski returned with bombs - release failed to work.
Check reported sandwiches provided for crew were terrible
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Six ships from our squadron, piloted by Captains Clancy and Giauque; Lieutenants. Silvernail, Retchin, Biggs and Stark took part in the mission to Meault, France. Two of our ships were shot down by enemy fighters over the target.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Takeoff 1329 - Target 1629 - Arrived Base 1808 Bomb Load: 10 x 500 Bombing altitude: 22,000 Results: Area well covered with bursts, results believed to be good. A/A Fire: Slight Enemy Opposition: Two waves of 15/20 E/A, mostly FW190s and a few ME109s. Casualties: None Damage to A/C: Minor damage to three A/C.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Meaulte - Airframe factory - Results difficult to judge because of smoke, however it is believed many bombs were on target. E/A concentrating on low squadron thereby avoiding fire from 2 higher squadrons.