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Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description

VIII Bomber Command Mission 115: 229 of 291 B-17s hit the city area and ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany in 2 group; the first group bombs at 1439-1445 hours, the second group at 1451-1457 hours; they claim 186-27-89 Luftwaffe aircraft; 60 B-17s are lost, 7 damaged beyond repair and 138 damaged; casualties are 5 KIA, 40 WIA and 594 MIA. The attack, which causes great damage and interference with production, results in German reorganization of the bearing industry. Fierce opposition of great numbers of fighters, many of them firing rockets, accounts for the 60 US aircraft shot down. As a result of these heavy losses, daylight bombing against strategic targets deep in Germany is discontinued for a short period.

Only 29 of 60 B-24s are able to form up in poor weather; they abandoned their planned mission and fly a diversion towards Emden, Germany.

Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,

Mission Reports

303BG Mission Report - Target: V.K.F. Ball Bearing Plant, Schweinfurt, Germany. Crews Dispatched: 20 (358BS - 4, 359th - 6, 360th - 4, 427th - 6). Crews Lost: 1 crew 1Lt. R.C. Sanders, 2 KIA, 9 POW. Length of Mission 7 hours, 15 minutes. Bomb Load: 3 x 1000 lb G.P. bombs plus 5 M47A1 Incendiaries. Bombing Altitude: 24,050 ft. Ammo Fired: 99,930 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 24 Destroyed, 15 Probable, 3 Damaged.

Molesworth had overcast skies, but visibility over the target was excellent for bombing. Each aircraft was loaded with 1,000-lb. bombs plus incendiaries.

Eighth Air Force Commanding General Anderson ordered that the following message be read to all leaders and combat crews at their mission briefing: This air operation today is the most important air operation yet conducted in this war. The target must be destroyed. It is of vital importance to the enemy. Your friends and comrades, that have been lost and that will be lost today, are depending on you. Their sacrifice must not be in vain. Good luck, good shooting and good bombing.

The VIII Fighter Command furnished P-47s for penetration escort. Anti-aircraft gunfire was moderate and fairly accurate at the target and was spotty, meager and inaccurate along the route.

Approximately 300 enemy single and twin engine fighters were seen and made persistent attacks, principally from the tail. Rocket guns were experienced. 303rd BG(H) gunners claimed 20 enemy aircraft destroyed, four probables and 13 damaged. The P-47s were forced to turn back for fuel, at which time the enemy fighters swarmed over the Fortresses. Large numbers of Goering's Yellow Nose fighters were seen. Gunners said that the fighters seemed more eager than usual to press their attacks home.

The 358th lost one B-17 and crew, #42-29477. It was shot down about five minutes after leaving the target. It was observed being hit by a rocket from a ME-210. The elevator and rudder were knocked off and the aircraft was going down on fire between the Nos. 3 and 4 engines. The B-17 crashed near Bamberg, Germany.

#42-5482 was abandoned in mid-air over England. Lt. Grant found Molesworth covered by fog and ordered his crew to bail out after making several futile attempts to find the airfield's landing lights. His B-17 was almost out of gas, the rudder controls had been shot away, the radio compass and other flight instruments were out and the plane was badly shot up. It crashed at Risley, in the backyard of John T. Gell, 170 High Street, an English village about ten miles south of Molesworth.

Four other aircraft landed at other airfields.

The period of 8-14 October 1943, now known as "Black Week," with its extremely bad weather and heavy bomber losses, forced a slowdown in daylight strategic operations from England. Full-scale bombing operations would not be resumed until 1944.

More info on this mission at the 303BG website

source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306BG Mission Reportsource: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
351BG Mission Report - 10 aircraft were sent on this mission.

42-6096 Lt. O. W. Crismon - Shot down by fighters. POW 9, KIA 1.

source: 351st Bomb Group web page http://www.351st.org/ken.harbour
384BG Mission Report - 384th BG Mission Number 32. The 384th Bombardment Group (H) put up three squadrons on today's mission. However, six aircraft aborted, reducing the number that bombed the primary target. A further six aircraft were knocked out by enemy action. An all-too-familiar situation faced the returning crews - bad weather over East Anglia. Three Aircraft were lost when the crews, unable to locate a suitable place to land in England, bailed out and abandoned them, while most of the remainder landed at other airfields. Primary Target: Ball-Bearing Factory - Schweinfurt, Germany. Target Attacked : Primary (Visual)

21 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 4. Failed To Return - 6. Aborted - 6. Ground Spare, Unused - 2. Crashed - 3.
41-24525 Carter, T L (IO) - Landed away at Little Staughto.
41-24560 Hurley, Joseph A - Landed away at Ridgewell.
42-3037 Price, William M - Crashed in Allied Territory Crew bailed out over near Deenethorpe on return; the aircraft crash-landed near Corby, UK.
42-3216 Kopf, William E - Failed to Return Damaged by enemy aircraft; exploded and crashed near Dilsen, Belguim; MACR 841.
42-3429 Sprague, Alfred L - High squadron lead. Aborted. Landed away at Alconbury.
42-5852 Goulder, Edmund Samuel - Crashed in Allied Territory Crew bailed out over England; aircraft crashed near Chetwode, UK on return.
42-29651 Jacobs, Randolph George Edward - Aborted. Landed away at Great Ashfield.
42-29703 Robinson, Robert L - Landed away at Molesworth.
42-29768 Willing, Mark S - Aborted. Landed away at Ridgewell.
42-29784 Johnson, Erwin C - Crashed in Allied Territory Crew bailed out over England; their battle-damaged aircraft crash-landed near Baydon, Wiltshire.
42-29800 Harry, William Russell - Failed to Return; Knocked down by enemy aircraft; crashed near Soissons, France; MACR 840.
42-29809 Bedsole, Joseph Linyer - Landed away at Molesworth.
42-29867 Williams, Walter Gordon - Failed to Return; Knocked down by enemy aircraft; crashed near Metz, France; MACR 838.
42-29870 Kauffman, Giles Felker - Failed to Return Crashed near Bad Brückenau, Germany; MACR 1038.
42-30026 Algar, Philip M - Group lead. Only plane to return to Grafton Underwood.
42-30033 Armstrong, Lloyd R - Aborted. Landed away at Metfield.
42-30196 Keller, Lawrence Larry - Failed to Return; Knocked down by enemy aircraft; crashed near Würzburg, Germany; MACR 839.
42-31059 Ogilvie, Donald Potter - Failed to Return; Knocked down by enemy aircraft; crashed near Soissons, France; MACR 842.

source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
388BG Mission Report - For this mission the 388th put up 21 a/c to be the low Group of the lead Combat Wing of the 2nd Air Task Force. The 96th Bomb Group furnished the lead and high Groups.

When Lt. Swift in a/c 42-30193 "Hardluck" crashed on take-off, there was a delay of 25 minutes before the last 11 a /c took-off.

5 of our a/c aborted. Lt. Olin from 17,000 feet with low oil pressure in #2 engine and landed at 1300 hours. Lt. Parker from 19,000 feet when #2 and #3 superchargers went out, landing at 1306 hours. Lt. Beeby was over Bownham Market at 19,000 feet when part of his oxygen system lost pressure, returned to base at 1345 hours. Lt. Duncan became separated from the formation during the climb through the clouds over the Channel, and returned to base at 1341 hours. Lt. Joho was 25 miles over enemy territory when his #2 prop ran away and he could not maintain formation. He returned to base at 1403 hours.

The remaining 16 a/c and Combat Wing followed the briefed course to the target, which was the Kugelfischer Ball Bearing Works. The entire 1st Air Division preceded our Division over the target, and the 2nd Air Division was last over the Target. Our bombardier was unable to get a clear view of the target caused by smoke from previous bombing. He set his bomb sight on the bridge over the Main River so our bombs hit on the eastern end of the Marshalling Yards.

Enemy fighters were encountered near Eupen, Belgium on the route in, all the way to the target, and back to the French Coast. Most of the attacks were from the tail with some rockets employed by the ME 110's. Our gunners claim 9 enemy a/c destroyed. Our fighter support was good as far as they escorted on the route in, but were not spotted on the return route.

Flak was moderate to intense along the route but gave the most trouble over the target area. Lt. Simons, Pilot, was wounded by flak.

Lt. Zengerle in a/c #505, left the formation and returned on the deck. When he landed he had but one engine running. 13 a/c returned to base by 1831 hours and three landed away. Lts. Dewey and Bramwell landed at Kenley Airdrome while Lt. Sullivan landed at Biggin Hill.

source: 388th Bomb Group web page http://www.388bg.info
392nd Bomb Group Mission Reportsource: 392nd Bomb Group web page http://www.b24.net/missions/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Two A/C of the squadron took off at 1045 Hours on a mission to Schweinfurt, Germany. Ship #761: 1/Lt. Karl S. Thompson (P) returned to base due to engine trouble while the second ship #172, 1/Lt. Warrington S. Dalton, Jr. (P) successfully completed its mission and returned safely to base. source: 323rd Bomb Squadron / 91BG Mission Report http://www.91stbombgroup.com/
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Raid on the ball-bearing manufacturing center located at Schweinfurt, Germany. Time: Takeoff 1045. Target 1440. Return 1813. Bomb Load: 6 x 500 G.P. Bombing Altitude: 23,000 ft. Bombing Results: Good A/A Fire: At the target moderate and inaccurate. Meager and inaccurate at Turnout, Costmalle and Germerschein. Fighter Support: Good on way to target - not seen on way home. Fighter Opposition: Intermittent attacks took place from 1327 hours to 1606 hours. Up to 200 E/A were encountered, ME109s, FW190s, Me110s, Me210s, and JU88s. Rockets were fired from twin-engine E/A. All aircraft carried one bomb-bay tank of gas. A/C 794 turned back at 1205 hours when fuel transfer from bomb-bay tank would not function properly. A/C 511 turned back at 1238 hours when both inboard superchargers lagged and their guns froze up. One A/C of this group failed to return. Group suffered one killed and four wounded. source: 322rd Bomb Squadron / 91BG Mission Report http://www.91stbombgroup.com/
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Very good!! Hits were seen on aiming points, and all over target area. Heavy smoke observed rising to great heights. ENEMY AIRCRAFT: 100 Me 109s and FW 190s and 100Me 110s, Me 210s and Ju 88s were encountered on way in. Twin engine planes firing rockets. No encounters on way out due to fine planning of route. Meager, inaccurate AA fire was reported from vicinities of Turnout, and Oostmalle; at the target AA fire was moderate but inaccurate. On way back AA fire was reported from vicinity of Germerschein. 10 missing in action. T/Sgt. J. J. Alba hit by 20 MM fragments in finger of right hand, left ankle and bridge of nose. MIA: A/C 714source: 91st BG / 401st BS Mission Report http://www.91stbombgroup.com/
92nd BG Crash Report - B-17F, 42-30387, JW A of the 326th Squadron was downed by German fighters and crashed at Markt Bibart, southeast of Wurzburg. There were 9 POWS and 1 KIA. MACR 849

Crew list:

  • Maj George L. Ott (P) POW
  • Lt George L. Long (CP) POW
  • 2Lt Malcolm A. Champagne (N) POW
  • 2Lt Jerome S. Tiger (B) KIA
  • T/Sgt Raymond Hottenstein (TT) POW
  • S/Sgt Richard A. Spellerberg (RO) POW
  • S/Sgt John H. Benson (BT) POW
  • Sgt Harold W. Clark (LW) POW
  • Sgt Joe Pribish (RW) POW
  • S/Sgt James Proakis (TG) POW
source: Army Air Forces Online Forum http://forum.armyairforces.com/
92BG Mission Report - Losses: 326th Squadron, a/c B-17F-90-BO 230231 O. Rocket hit the wing root, blowing the wing off 1357 hours over 5017N-0733E. Seen to go down in spin on fire. One chute seen before a/c exploded at 21,000 feet. #2: B-17F-100-BO 230387. Seen at 1342 hours over Dren losing altitude from 21,000 feet; numbers 3, 4 engines on fire; one prop feathered. Nine chutes seen. Mission report stated it was possible one man had already bailed as "escape door was seen to have come off quite some time before the nine chutes observed". #3: 327th Squadron, B-17F-115-BO 230654 W. Seen to explode when rocket hit bomb bay. #4: B-17F-120-BO 230824. Hit by 20 mm shell fired from an Me 109 just before target went down under control after bombing target. #5: 407th Squadron, B-17F-115-BO 230708, Lost to e/a at target. #6: B-17F-115-BO 230726.source: 92nd Bomb Group web page http://92ndma.org/
92BG Mission Report - The 92nd Group reporting flew as lead group of the 40CBW to bomb Schweinfurt, Germany. The 305 group failed to rendezvous with the 40CBW in spite of a 14-minute delay at the rendezvous point. Thereafter, the 92nd and 306 Groups constituting the 40 CBW proceeded into enemy territory. It was suspected to be the 41st CBW was in the lead of and not following the 40 CBW as scheduled. Bombs were away at 1440 hours and bombing altitude was 22,800 feet. P-47 escort was seen mid North Sea on route in, heading toward Dutch coast. They were there at the scene for 30 minutes and left the formation at 1340 hours. Shortly thereafter the first e/a were seen. These were observed at about 5100-0610E. They appeared in very great numbers and put up literally terrific opposition until a sharp swing to the left at the IP seemed to throw most of them off. A bomb run of a full minute was virtually unmolested, but the attack was again pressed forward with vigor over the target after bombs were away. The numbers of e/a decreased considerably after the target and only sporadic attacks were observed all the way to the French coast. One crew in a B-17 that trailed the main formations by 200-400 yards on the route out from the target reported that they experienced more attacks on the return route than on the route to the target. The P-47 support was declared fine while it lasted. On the journey out from the target P-47s were reported in small numbers only in the Paris area and for only a very few minutes. No Spits were seen. All returning crews believed long-range fighter escort is the only solution to the new enemy fighter tactics.source: 92nd Bomb Group web page http://92ndma.org/
96th Bomb Group Mission Report link source: Marshall Stelzreide Wartime Story http://www.stelzriede.com/warstory.htm

Non-Combat Accident Reports

Aircraft: B-17F (#42-30193).
Organization: 561BS / 388BG of Knettishall, Suffolk.
Pilot: Swift, Paul (NMI).
Notes: take off accident due to engine failure.
Location: Knettishall, Suffolk England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-38H (#42-67096).
Organization: / of Langford Lodge, Northern Ireland.
Pilot: Trunnell, Howard (NMI).
Notes: bailed out-engine failure.
Location: Langford Lodge, Northern Ireland Ireland.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/

Mission Stats (Targets, Aircraft, Casualties, etc.)

Mission "8th AF Fighter Command Fighter Operation 156"
Escort and support for heavy bombers
October 14, 1943

Primary source for mission statistics: Mighty Eighth War Diary by Roger A. Freeman
Bomb TonnageEnemy
(on gnd)
1961960.013-1-50-0-01-4-21-0-1355FG crash-lands base
353FG crashes Herongate
56FG crash-lands Breznett
56FG crash-lands Doddington
Mission Targets

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196 A/C
Aircraft Groups

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OTHER (IX AF, HQ, etc)
Aircraft Losses

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353FG (1 a/c)
OTHER (IX AF, HQ, etc)