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8th Air Force FO 260 BOMBER ESCORT

4 March 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A combined force of 770 fighters of types: P-38; P-47 and P-51 are despatched to heavy bombers attacking at Berlin. The weather is terrible and many of the bomber formations either abort of seek Targets of Opportunity in the Ruhr valley. The P-38 groups are assigend to escort the bombers all the way to Berlin and back. Mission summary follows:

A combined force of 86 P-38s from 20FG; 55FG; and 364FG are despatched to escort bombers all the way to Berlin and back. On the penetration leg 2 fighters of 20FG have engine failures and the group leader assigned 2LT Joe Ford to provide escort for these two as the turned back. This was 2LT Ford's first combat opertion. This group of three were attacked by 6 FW-190 near the Dutch coast. 2LT Ford warned the two limping P-38s to take cover in the clouds while he made a head-on pass at the German flight leader. The German dived awaybefore Ford could shoot him down and when the engagement broke off, the Germans were nowhere to be found. 2LT Ford, short on fuel was able to get a bearing from Air Sea Rescue and he managed to shepherd the two damaged P-38s to safe landings in England. He also landed safely with barely any petrol left in his tanks. 2LT Ford was awarded the Disntinguished Flying Cross for his actions that day. 4 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 2KIA 1POW 1EVD. 1 aircraft was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) in a crash on take off 1KIA. Another battle damaged aircraft was DBR in a crash landing upon return - 1RTD. 1 other aircraft was damaged. There were no other losses, casualties or claims in this element.

A combined force of 563 P-47s were despatched. 8th Air Force: 4FG (2 Squadrons); 56FG; 78FG; 352FG; 353FG; 355FG; 356FG; 359FG; and 361FG. These were joined by IX Fighter Command: 358FG; 362FG; and 365FG. 362FG and 365FG flew two missions, one on penetration and one on witdrawl. 3 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 2KIA 1POW. (Freeman reports 2 FTRs from 78FG but only one could be confirmed from MACRs). 1 aircraft with battle damage was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) in a crash landing upon return - 1RTD. 5 aircraft are damaged. The fighters of this element claim 3-1-3 of attacking German aircraft and 1-0-0 on the ground. There are no other losses, casualties or claims.

A combined force of 121 P-51a are despatched: 8th Air Force: 4FG (1 squadron) and 357FG. These are joined by IX Fighter Command: 354FG and 363FG. 363FG depatched 33 P-51s but bad weather caused the formations to break up along the Dutch coast resulting in the loss of 11 aircraft. A total of 16 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 3 of these were from 8th Air Force (4FG - 2 and 357FG - 1) - 3POW. The other 13 were from IX Fighter Command: (354FG -2) - 2KIA and (363FG - 11) - 11KIA. 1 aircraft was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) in a crash upon return - 1KIA and 1 aircraft was damaged. The fighters is this element claim 5-2-1 of attacking German aircraft.

Mission details

1. BERLIN - BONN

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

P-38s go all the way to Berlin and back with the bombers.

Units

  • 20th Fighter Group

    20th Fighter Group

    Group
    In August 1943, the 20th Fighter Group arrived in Clyde, Scotland, before travelling to Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, which was to be their base for the rest of the war. The Group flew 312 missions before their last mission on 25 April 1945. The...

  • 364th Fighter Group

    364th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 364th Fighter Group flew 342 missions in P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs from Honington, Suffolk. The missions ranged from escorting bombers and dive-bombing and strafing targets to area patrol missions across a swathe of land that took in France...

  • 55th Fighter Group

    55th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 55th Fighter Group were the first P-38 Lightning Group to go fully operational from England. The pilots flew long-range escort missions for bombers flying over occupied Europe and racked up 'kills' of their own by destroying enemy aircraft in...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 86
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 4
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 2
Number of people Killed In Action 3
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 1
Number of people Returned To Duty 1

2. BERLIN - BONN

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

358th Fighter Group, 362nd Fighter Group and 365th Fighter Group from IX Fighter Command contribute and undetermined number of P-47s to the escort, which are included in the number despatched. The 362nd Fighter Group and 356th Fighter Group flew two missions each. 4th Fighter Group despatched two squadrons of P-47s. The fighters claim 3-1-3 of attacking German aircraft and 1-0-0 on the ground.

Units

  • 352nd Fighter Group

    352nd Fighter Group

    Group
    The 352nd Fighter Group were based at Bodney, Norfolk from July 1943 until November 1945 but in the winter months of 1944/1945 detachments moved to bases in Belgium to provide extra air support to ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge and to...

  • 353rd Fighter Group

    353rd Fighter Group

    Group
    The 353rd Fighter Group was assigned to the Eighth Air Force on 7 June 1943. The group flew P-47 Thunderbolts, and from October 1944, P-51 Mustangs, as escorts for bombing missions across occupied Europe and to strafe targets on the ground. Tactical...

  • 355th Fighter Group

    355th Fighter Group

    Group
    Where the 353rd Fighter Group had pioneered ground strafing techniques, it was the 355th Fighter Group who destroyed more enemy aircraft by ground strafing than any other Eighth Air Force Group. Based at Steeple Morden from July 1943 to July 1945, the...

  • 356th Fighter Group

    356th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 356th Fighter Group flew 413 missions between 15 October 1943 and 7 May 1945 and suffered the highest ratio of losses to enemy aircraft claims of any Eighth Air Force Group. This gave the Group the reputation of being the 'hard luck' outfit. The...

  • 358th Fighter Group

    358th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 358th Fighter Group flew seventeen missions with the Eighth Air Force from Leiston air base. At the beginning of February 1944 the Group were transferred to the Ninth Air Force in exchange for the 357th Fighter Group. With the Ninth, the Group went...

  • 359th Fighter Group

    359th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 359th Fighter Group flew 346 missions from East Wretham between December 1943 and April 1945. In the main these missions were escorting bombers flying over occupied Europe. The Group, soon after converting from Thunderbolts to Mustangs, were...

  • 361st Fighter Group

    361st Fighter Group

    Group
    The 361st Fighter Group was the last P-47 Thunderbolt Group to join the Eighth Air Force. Between 21 January 1944 and 20 April 1945, the Group flew 441 missions, the majority in an escort role in support of bombers flying over occupied Europe. The...

  • 362nd Fighter Group

    362nd Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group trained in P-47s and moved to England in November 1943. Arriving earlier than many other Ninth Air Force fighter groups, the pilots main occupation was escort work for heavy bombers. The Group's first mission on 8 February 1944 was one...

  • 365th Fighter Group

    365th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved to England in December 1943 as part of the Ninth Air Force. Flying P-47s, the Group took part in missions over northern France designed to weaken Germany's ability to repulse the planned Allied invasion of summer 1944. After the...

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Group
    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 56th Fighter Group

    56th Fighter Group

    Group
    Flying P-47 Thunderbolts throughout their time stationed in England, the Group, known as "the Wolfpack", had more ace pilots than any other Eighth Air Force Fighter Group. The 56th Fighter Group also destroyed more enemy aircraft in air combat than any...

  • 78th Fighter Group

    78th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. The 78th FG flew each of the three US built principal fighters of the AAF in the ETO. In their Thundetbolts, the 78th FG ...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 563
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Number of people Prisoners of War 1
Number of people Returned To Duty 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 4
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 3

3. BERLIN - BONN

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

4th Fighter Group despatched one squadron of P-51s (16). 354th Fighter Group and 363rd Fighter Group from IX Fighter Command contributed an undetermined number of P-51s to the escort, number included in total despatched. The 363rd Fighter Group despatched 33 aircraft but bad weather scattered the formations at the Dutch coast with 11 P-51s reported Missing in Action (MIA)

Units

  • 354th Fighter Group

    354th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved to England in the autumn of 1943 and was assigned to the Ninth Air Force in December 1943. The Group were the first to fly P-51 Mustangs operationally and in their bomber escort missions pushed to find the long-range limits of the...

  • 357th Fighter Group

    357th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 357th Fighter Group was the first P-51 Mustang Group in the Eighth Air Force, training with them from November 1943 at Raydon, England and entering combat with them in the February of the following year from their new base at Leiston. The Group was...

  • 363rd Fighter Group

    363rd Fighter Group

    Group
    Equipped with P-51s, the Group entered combat from England in February 1944, flying bomber escort and ground-strafing missions. They took part in the invasion of Normandy, protecting gliders and troop carriers on 6 and 7 June. In September 1944, now...

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Group
    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 121
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 16
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 13
Number of people Prisoners of War 3
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 5
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

Service

People

  • Everett Powell

    Military | Colonel | Fighter Pilot, Pilot
    Crashed NNE of Antwerp, Belgium due to a runaway prop on a bomber support mission to Duren, Germany on 4 March 1944 in P-47C #41-6374. MACR 2973. Landed in parachute near Antwerp and was helped by Belgian patriots who fed, clothed, sheltered, guided...

Aircraft

  • 43-6770

    P-51 Mustang
    One-time personal aircraft of Lt Albert Schlegel and Lt Eliot H Shapleigh. ...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
17 February 2016 22:09:58 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 17-Feb-2016. Made connections to IX FC units and claims on enemy aircraft to P-51 element statistics per "Losses of ther 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
17 February 2016 22:06:44 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 17-Feb-2016. Made connections to IX FC units and added fighter claims on enemy aircraft to P-47 element atatistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
17 February 2016 22:02:00 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 17-Feb-2016. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman and "Losses of the 9th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:14 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Lee Cunningham, 8th Air Force missions research database / Stan Bishop's 'Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces', the Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces and the work of Roger Freeman including the 'Mighty Eighth War Diary'.

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