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Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description

Mission 277: The B-17 primary target is Schweinfurt, Germany; the B-24 primary target are airfields at Metz and Nancy, France; the bombers make no claims of Luftwaffe aircraft:

1. 230 B-17s are dispatched; 60 hit Schweinfurt using blind-bombing equipment and 162 hit Frankfurt/Main marshalling yard; 3 B-17s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 68 damaged; casualties are 14 KIA, 1 WIA and 30 MIA.

2. 206 B-24s are dispatched; the primaries are overcast and 148 hit the secondary target of St Diziere Airfield and 33 hit Nancy/Essey Airfield; 24 B-24s are damaged; casualties are 3 WIA.

Escort is provided by 84 P-38s, 301 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47s and 155 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; details are: P-38s: 2 lost, both pilots MIA.

P-47s claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 2-0-4 on the ground; no losses. P-51s: no claims; 3 P-51s are lost; 2 pilots are MIA.

Mission 278: 5 of 5 B-17s drop 250 bundles of leaflets on Tours and Lorient, France; and Charleroi, Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium at 2133-2210 hours without loss.

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: City area, Frankfurt, Germany (PFF). Crews Dispatched: 20 + 2 spares (358BS - 6, 359th - 3, 360th - 6, 427th - 7). Length of Mission: 6 hours, 50 minutes. Bomb Load: 42 x 65 lb M47A1 Incendiary bombs Bombing Altitude: 23,000 ft. Ammo Fired: 1,310 rounds.

Major Mitchell, flying his 30th and last combat mission, led twenty-two Group aircraft, including two spares, to bomb the Kugelfischer ball bearing works in Schweinfurt, Germany, with the Dunlap rubber works at Hamm as the secondary target. An airdrome at Bonn, Germany, was designated the last resort target. A late supplement to the field order specified that Frankfurt, Germany, would be the PFF target if the other targets could not be bombed visually.

The two spare aircraft returned early as ordered. Lt. Seddon, in #42-38154 (No Name) 358BS, returned after approximately three hours of flying when his No. 3 engine failed and No. 4 engine ran away.

Nineteen B-17s dropped a total of 798 65-lb. M47A1 incendiary bombs from 23,000 feet on Frankfurt, the PFF target. Through a small hole in the almost total cloud cover, hits could be seen on the north side of the river in the walled area of the old city. Some bombs hit in the river. Apparently these were bombs of the other Groups, the bursts from the 303rd BG(H) incendiary bombs could not be seen.

No enemy aircraft were observed. There were no attacks or claims. Moderate accurate flak was seen at three other points. A heavy and excellent escort of P-38s, P-47s and P-51s accompanied the bombers all the way to the target and back. There were no casualties and all aircraft returned safely. Only seven aircraft had minor flak damage.

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 - 21 aircraft were sent on this mission. source: 351st Bomb Group web page http://www.351st.org/ken.harbour
384BG Mission Report - 384th BG Mission Number 81. Primary Target: Ball-Bearing Plant - Schweinfurt, Germany. Target Attacked : Secondary (PFF): City - Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

27 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 20. Scrubbed - 1. Spare, Returned As Briefed - 2. Ground Spare, Unused - 3. Crashed - 1
42-31166 Briley, Scott Andrew - Crashed in Allied Territory Flying Spare; crash-landed at Nuthampstead; lost an engine on return which could not be feathered, causing ship to vibrate violently; he decided to land at fighter base; shortly after touching down, two P-38's pulled out in front of him and he immediately brought the ship up and crash-landed in the field beyond the runway, wheels up; all ten crew suffered injury, one seriously; 5x1000GP on board at time; a/c salvaged 2 SAD Lt Staughton.

source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
392nd Bomb Group Mission Reportsource: 392nd Bomb Group web page http://www.b24.net/missions/
401BG / 613BS Mission Report - The 613th Squadron flew as the Lead Squadron of the Group. The following crews flew on this operation: Stelzer, Lew, Jones, Locher. Because of a solid undercast at the target bombing was done by Pathfinder. And for the same reason no photos or observations were available by which an appraisal of the results could be made. No enemy aircraft were encountered on this operation and flak was described as being generally poor for deflection and altitude. Pamphlets were dropped on the target. All crews returned from this operation.source: 613th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 614BS Mission Report - On 14th October 1943 229 aircraft of the 8th Air Force attacked the ball bearing plant at Schweinfurt and 60 of them were shot down. This was the Group's second visit to Schweinfurt but the stories of the October mission must have been brought to everyones mind when the curtain rolled away to reveal the mission on that March morning. Disaster had already touched the 401st that morning. The PFF aircraft that was to lead the mission that morning was based at Chelveston and was crewed by members of the 401st. Lt. W.D. Sellers and his crew had been transferred to PFF aircraft and were attached to the 305th B.G. at Chelveston for the servicing of the aircraft radar. They took off early that morning with their ground crew chief to fly to Deenethorpe but failed to become airborne. The aircraft crashed through a barrack block killing eight of the ground staff and then crashed into a cottage on the edge of the field killing two children. All aboard the aircraft also died. A total of 21 people had been killed in this tragic accident. Twenty-one 401st aircraft took part in the mission to Schweinfurt with Major Brown as the mission leader. The Group flew as the Lead Box of the 94th Combat Wing. The formation found solid undercast over the target so PFF methods were used to bomb the target, and it was believed that 60 out of the 230 aircraft sent to attack Schweinfurt found and bombed it. There were no sightings of enemy aircraft and the flak was poor. All 401st air- craft returned safely to base and only three B-17's were lost to the 1st Bomb Division out of the 230 dispatched. 614th crews on the mission were: Smith, Stimson, Stine, Kirkhuff, Owens, Dawes.source: 614th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 615BS Mission Report - This was the Group's second visit to Schweinfurt, and when the curtain rolled back to reveal their destination that morning many minds must have gone back to that mission that the 8th Air Force had flown to this target on 14th October 1943. A Force of 229 B-17's had attacked the ball bearing plant, pressing their attack through a wall of fire and steel, and seeing 60 of their number going down. Unknown to these crews disaster had already touched the 401st at a nearby base. The PFF ships were serviced at the 305th B.G. Base at Chelveston, and the crew that was to lead them to Schweinfurt that morning was that of Lt. W.D. Sellers. They took off at 0100 hrs with their ground crew chief but failed to become airborne. The aircraft left the runway and smashed its way through a barrack block killing eight of the occupants and then buried itself into a cottage on the edge of the airfield. The ten crew members, the crew chief and two children in the cottage were killed, a total of 21 people dieing in this tragic accident. The briefing was at 0230 hrs so obviously the 21 crews had had very little sleep before the mission. Another PFF ship arrived from Chelveston at 0326 hrs and all operational aircraft were airborne by 0626 hrs. The Mission leader was Major R.J. White who flew as co-pilot with 1st Lt. R.M. Dempsey. Because of solid undercast over the target, bombing was done by means of PFF, hence, no observations, pictorial or otherwise, were possible. No enemy aircraft were encountered, and the flak was generally poor for height and deflection en route and at the target. Only one 615th crew was on this mission, it was: Dempsey.source: 615th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 612BS Mission Report - Crews: Fox, Kelly, Smith, Johnson, Hershey, Wells.source: 612th Bombardment Squadron History
44BG Mission Report - The primary target for today was Metz, Germany. but due to cloud conditions the secondary target, St. Dizier/Robinson A/D. France was attacked with excellent, visual bombing. All of the vital installations of the field except for one barracks area and one dispersal area were covered with bomb bursts. The 67th Sq. sent nine aircraft, taking off at 0630 hours, reached the target and back at 1315. There was some inaccurate flak encountered and fighter support was good, being P-38s. For a change, it was a milk run. 1st Lts. Cookus and Parks were promoted to Captaincy as of the 23rd. Today the squadron operations passed on the news that each crewman must now fly thirty missions, not 25, before his tour of combat was over. Needless to say, this was disturbing news to all.source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
446th Bomb Group Mission Report
Nancy Airfield, France

The airfield was bombed, but poor results were reported. Both the lead and deputy lead planes were damaged before reaching the target and had to turn back. The 446th had to drop with the 448th.

source: 446th Bomb Group www.446bg.com
457th Bomb Group Mission Linksource: 457 Bomb Group http://www.457thbombgroup.org
458th Bomb Group Mission reportsource: 458th Bomb Group web page http://www.458bg.com/
466th BG Mission Report
Strike photos and crew observation indicate excellent results; A/C MIA = 0; KIA = 0; WIA = 2; MIA = 0
source: 466th BG: Mission List (Mark Brotherton Collection)
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Raid on the ball bearing plant at Schweinfurt, Germany. Took off at 0555 and landed at 1309 hours. Primary target was not attacked due to cloud cover. The industrial area of Frankfurt was attacked at 1020. Target was covered by 10/10 cloud. Major battle damage was sustained by A/C 387 and minor damage by 947 and 095. Meager and inaccurate flak was encountered. At Schweinfurt it was inaccurate for us and accurate for the high group. AC 673 turned back at 0814 hours at 18,800 feet due to an engine spurting oil. Bombs were jettisoned as engine caught fire just before reaching the English coast. Lt. LaHood instructed the crew to bail out as soon as they made landfall. Crew members bailed out and landed safely. Immediately after the fourth man had left the ship, the fire was extinguished, and Lt. LaHood landed the ship and remaining crew members safely at the base. source: 322rd Bomb Squadron / 91BG Mission Report http://www.91stbombgroup.com/
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Mission to Frankfurt, Germany. The original target was the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt. Unobserved, due to undercast. Bombs dropped on PFF in Frankfurt Area. ENEMY AIRCRAFT: None encountered. FIGHTER SUPPORT: Fairly good. Enroute to the target meager AA fire was observed out of range from the vicinities of Eupen, Bonn and Koblenz. Moderate AA fire at Schweinfurt was inaccurate for our lead group and rather accurate for the high group flying farther to the right. At the target, moderate to intense, accurate AA fire was experienced. Meager fire reported from Brussels. source: 91st BG / 401st BS Mission Report http://www.91stbombgroup.com/

Non-Combat Accident Reports

Aircraft: B-17G (#42-31166).
Organization: 545BS / 384BG of Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire.
Pilot: Briley, Scott A.
Notes: crash landing.
Location: Nuthampstead/2mi W England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: B-17G (#42-38102).
Organization: 532BS / 381BG of Ridgewell, Essex.
Pilot: Haynes, Kenneth T.
Notes: killed in a crash.
Location: BirdBrook England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: B-17G (#42-97578).
Organization: 422BS / 305BG of Chelveston, Northamptonshire.
Pilot: Sellers, William D.
Notes: killed in crashed on take off.
Location: Chelveston, Northamptonshire England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 5
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: Mosquito XVI (#MM385).
Organization: 50FS / 8RW of Cheddington, Buckinghamshire.
Pilot: Hughes, Thomas E.
Notes: take off accident.
Location: Cheddington, Buckinghamshire England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: P-51B5 (#43-6362).
Organization: 336FS / 4FG of Debden, Essex.
Pilot: Frederick, Harold H.
Notes: landing accident.
Location: Debden, Essex England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: Spit XI (#PA892).
Organization: 14PRS / 7PRG of Mount Farm, Oxfordshire.
Pilot: Weitner, Walter L.
Notes: landing accident.
Location: Mount Farm, Oxfordshire England.
Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3
source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/

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

Mission "8th AF Fighter Command Fighter Operation 279"
Fighter support for 8th AF 277
March 24, 1944

Primary source for mission statistics: Mighty Eighth War Diary by Roger A. Freeman
Bomb TonnageEnemy
(on gnd)
Mission Targets

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543 A/C
Aircraft Groups

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OTHER (IX AF, HQ, etc)
362nd Fighter Group
363rd Fighter Group
354th Fighter Group
Aircraft Losses

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55FG (2 a/c)
OTHER (IX AF, HQ, etc)
354FG (3 a/c)