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VIII Bomber Command 115

14 October 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

This was the 2nd mission flown against the ball bearing industry at Schweinfurt, Germany and was as equally disastrous as that flown on 17-Aug-43. It came to be known as "Black Thursday". While fighter escort was dispatched, bad weather and lack of range of the P-47 aircraft meant that the bomber stream had to "go it alone" for much of the mission. Unlike the 17-Aug-43 mission, all aircraft were directed to return to their bases in England following the attack rather than any formations proceeding to bases in North Africa.

Three elements were designed to fly the mission. The first element is a combined force of 149 B-17s of 1st Bomb Division that included 91BG(11); 92BG (19); 303BG (19); 305BG (16); 306BG (18); 351BG (16); 379BG (17); 381BG (17); and 384BG (16). This force would be the first over the target. 101 managed to bomb on the target. 45 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 148KIA 274POW of which 3 Died in Captivity (DIC) 16EVD 10INT (in Switzerland); 6 aircraft returned to England Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) 60RTD. 29 airmen in returning aircraft were Wounded in Action (WIA). 305BG lost 13 aircraft and 306BG lost 10. The bomber gunners claimed 91-16-53 of attacking German fighters.

The second element was a combined force of 142 B-17s from 3rd Bomb Division that included: 94BG (21); 95BG (18); 96BG (41); 100BG (8); 385BG (21); 388BG (18); and 390BG (15). 128 aircraft were successful on the target. 15 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 7KIA 111POW 22EVD 10RTD (rescued by ASR); 2 aircraft returned to England too damaged to repair (DBR) 21RTD. In addition 3 airmen baled out of an aircraft that returned and were captured as POWs 3POW 7RTD. 1 aircraft crashed on takeoff and was (DBR) 11RTD. 75 aircraft were damaged. 11 airmen in returning aircraft were Wounded in Action (WIA). The bomber gunners of this element claimed 95-11-36 of attacking German aircraft. 390BG was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC 2of2) for their actions on this mission.

The third element was a combined force of 60 B-24s from 2nd Bomb Division were dispatched to also bomb at Schweinfurt but poor weather frustrated formation and only 29 aircraft from 93BG (15) and 392BG (14) were able to form up. These abandoned the Schweinfurt attempt and instead flew a diversion towards Emden. There were no losses or claims in this element.

In the course of 4 days, 10-Oct-43 thru 14-Oct-43, that "Mighty Eighth" lost 90 crews and aircraft. The loss rates stunned higher command and finally convinced them that the "Flying Fortress" while very formidable was not fully capable of conducting raids deep into German without adequate fighter support. Also while German industry was the focus of the daylight bombing campaign, the most immediate threat was from a very formidable Luftwaffe fighter force, which could only be destroyed if enticed to attack bomber formations, but only if a long-range fighter can engage the attacking fighters.

The 305th Bomb Group on Black Thursday
While looking for information on Donald Paul Breeden and his crew, I read some books about this ‘Back Thursday’ and the way in which the 305th Bomb Group was hurt on this raid - Mission 115 - into the well defended German heartland.

I did read a book about the Mighty Eight and the books with personal stories like by John Comer and Steve Snyder. While looking into the story of Grandpa Dassen his bomber boots I’ve read on the internet about the evaders like Stan Alukonis and Steve Krawczynski. Also from Mr. Roberts’ and Mr. Linrud’s stories I got a good idea of their adventures and feelings.

Mr. Caidin is mild in his book while Mr. Kuhl in his is very outspoken on the leadership of the 305th Bomb Group on that Black Thursday: Normand had to little experience on flying B-17‘s, on leading and was not recommended for more leading by his former CO. But on the 14th he was the leader.
Who ever is right, it does not change the big losses of men and machines from this group in which the 364 Bomb Squadron of Donald Paul Breeden and his fellow crew members was the one who was hit hardest.

Other things went wrong as well. The Germans were alerted by the message from Gen. Anderson that was sent ‘in the clear‘ instead as ‘secret’ on 13th of October just before midnight. So some 1.100 German planes were ready and on alert.

Due to gathering problems because of the bad weather over England the US fighter escort had to return earlier than planned. It is also said that they started to early so lost gas on waiting for the combat boxes of B-17’s.
The escorting P-47’s left at 13.33 hours. Map reference 5102N-0555E is between Genk and Opglabbeek in Belgium. Crash time of the A/C 42-3436 was around 13.45 hours; 12 minutes later.

Flying in the low group and fast still trying to get near their leader way after their ‘little friends’ had to turn home. Flying into a corridor of German airfields with about 1.100 fighters ready to attack and several cities surrounded with FLAK the 305th Bomb Group lost many planes - the second one crashed near Eygelshoven.

Of the 305th Bomb Group only 3 B-17’s reached Schweinfurt. And only 2 made it back home to Chelveston. The B-17 of Dienhart/42-30831 of the 364th squadron crash landed in Switzerland.
The 364th squadron was totally destroyed that day - within 13 minutes and before it even could cross the Rhine.
From the book by Mr. Kuhl I got most of this information on the losses
of the 305th Bomb Group:
13.40 hours - Murdock 364th/#42 -29952 in Limmel (NL)
13.45 hours - McDarby 364th/#42-3436 in Eygelshoven (NL) and Finkenrath (G)
13.45 hours - Eakle 364th/#42-30807 in Eisden (B)
13.45 hours - Willis 366th/#42-3549 in Horn (NL)
13.49 hours - Dienhart 364th/#42-30831 turns south
13.50 hours - Holt 364th/#42-29988 in Immendorf (G)
13.50 hours - Fisher 366th/#42-3195 in Waldenrath (G)
13.52 hours - Lang 366th/#4237750 in Puffendorf (G)
13.53 hours - Kenyon 364th/#42-30242 crashed 4 miles W of Duren (G)
14.02 hours - Skerry 366th/#42-30814 in Adendorf near Bonn (G)
14.29 hours - Maxwell 365thth/#42-30804 exploded mid air - crashed near Glashofen (G), near Marktheidenfeldt, 15 miles NW of Würzburg (G)
14.32 hours - start bomb run over Schweinfurt by Kane/Normand - Bullock - Kincaid - Farrel
14.39 hours - Kincaid 365th/#42-3550 crashed near Werneck, 7 miles SW of Schweinfurt (G) before bombing
14.40 hours - bombs away by Kane/Normand - Bullock - Farrel
14.41 hours - Bullock 365th/#42-37740 NE of Schweinfurt (G)
15.40 hours - Dienhart 364th/#42-30831 crash-landed wheels up at Reinach Aesch (CH)

Returned safe in Chelveston after bombing
18.07 hours - Kane/Normand 365th/#42-3412
18.09 hours - Farrell 366th/#42-30678

From the mission report #115
291 B17’s started that day - 18 of 305 BG
37 aborted their flight - 3 of 305 BG
32 were lost en route - 11 of 305 BG
229 reached/bombarded Schweinfurt - 3 of 305 BG
28 were lost on return - 0 of 305 BG
201 came back home - 2 of 305 BG
138 B17’s were damaged
7 were damaged beyond repair - scrap ready
60 B17‘s were shot down
639 crew members were lost that day
Count on October 14 1943: 5 KIA, 40 WIA, 594 MIA

Mission details

1.

Description

Not yet known

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

60 B-24s were scheduled to participate, but only 29 were able to from up because of the poor weather. This force abandoned the attack on Schweinfurt and instead flew a diversion towards Emden.

Units

  • 392nd Bomb Group

    392nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 392nd Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators out of Wendling, Norfolk from August 1943 until April 1945. They were the first Group to be given B-24H Liberators, the first B-24 model that was fitted with a nose turret on the production line, an adaptation...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 0.00
Number of aircraft Sent 60
Number of aircraft Effective 29

2. SCHWEINFURT (Primary)

Description

BALL BEARING FACTORIES

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Bombing results are very good and damage is heavy. This raid causes the Germans to begin looking for ways to disperse the ball bearing industry to smaller sites. 96th Bomb Group goes "maximum effort" dispatching 41 aircraft. 96th Bomb Group also frunishes two crews to other Bomb Groups: one in 94th Bomb Group and one in 385th Bomb Group. The "Bloody Hundredth", still reeling from the 12 losses at Munster on the 10-Oct-43, only dispatches 8. 390th Bomb Group is awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for this action (2 of 2).

Units

  • 100th Bomb Group

    100th Bomb Group

    Group
    "The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...

  • 385th Bomb Group

    385th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9...

  • 388th Bomb Group

    388th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 388th Bomb Group flew strategic bombing mission from Knettishall, Suffolk from June 1943 to the end of the war. During this time, though, detachments were sent to Fersfield, Norfolk to conduct Aphrodite missions. In these Aphrodite missions veteran...

  • 390th Bomb Group

    390th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 390th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Framlingham, Suffolk, between July 1943 and the end of the war in Europe. The Group was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This...

  • 94th Bomb Group

    94th Bomb Group

    Group
    Activated 15 June 1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. Initial organization and training at Pendleton Field, Oregon on 29 June 1942; Primary flight training at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona from 28 Aug. 42 to 31 Oct. 42; then at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas...

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

  • 96th Bomb Group

    96th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 96th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses to targets across occupied Europe from May 1943 to April 1945. ...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 142
Number of aircraft Effective 128
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 16
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 5
Number of aircraft Damaged 75
Number of people Killed In Action 14
Number of people Wounded in Action 11
Number of people Evaded 22
Number of people Prisoners of War 111
Number of people Returned To Duty 49
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 95
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 11
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 36

3. SCHWEINFURT (Primary)

Description

BALL BEARING FACTORIES

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Daylight bombing suspension until 3-Nov-43. 305th Bomb Group's highest losses (61 Missing in Action (MIA)). Later referred to as "Black Thursday". 305th Bomb Group takes a beating losing 13 aircraft Missing in Action (MIA). Highest loss to a Bomb Group to date. Daylight bombing suspension until 3-NOV-43. The Luftwaffe is impressive even though the bomber gunners "claim" 186.

Units

  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    Group
    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Group
    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 379th Bomb Group

    379th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 379th Bomb Group (H) (heavy), based at Kimbolton, flew more sorties than any other Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and dropped a greater bomb tonnage than any other Group. The B-17 Flying Fortress Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit...

  • 381st Bomb Group

    381st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 381st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Ridgewell, Essex between June 1943 and April 1945. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing shipyards at Bremen, whilst under heavy attack, on 8 October 1943 and...

  • 384th Bomb Group

    384th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 384th Bomb Group flew B-17s from Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, between May 1943 and June 1945. They were engaged in daylight bombing missions over Germany as part of the Allies' efforts to destroy the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe by...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    Group
    The 92nd Group sometime after arrivial in the UK converted to the role of in-theater combat crew indocrination and training. For this role, the Group traded its B-17F complement and obtained the B-17E, mostly from the 97th BG which was departing for...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 459 X 1000GP 663 X 500GP 1,751 X 100 IB
Number of aircraft Sent 149
Number of aircraft Effective 101
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 45
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 5
Number of aircraft Damaged 63
Number of people Killed In Action 153
Number of people Evaded 20
Number of people Prisoners of War 270
Number of people Died in Captivity 1
Number of people Interned 9
Number of people Returned To Duty 60
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 91
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 16
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 53

Service

People

  • Carl Abele

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 384th Bomb Group
    Shot down in B-17 42-29867 on Mission #115, 14 October 1943. Missing Air Crew Report #838. POW

  • Harley Almon

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 94th Bomb Group
    Shot down 14 October 1943 in B-17 42-30149 'Spare Parts'. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 790. Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • George Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 94th Bomb Group
    Shot down 14 October 1943 in B-17 42-30149 'Spare Parts'. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 790. Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Carl Baer

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Pilot, Baer crew, 381st BG, 535th BS, 8th AF. Forced to ditch in the North Sea on mission #62 to Brunswick, Germany on 30 Jan 1944 in B-17F #42-30029 'Chap's Flying Circus'. MACR 2495. Lt Baer radioed that they were running out of fuel and may not make...

  • Earl Baker

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Togglier, Flexible Gunner | 384th Bomb Group
    14 October 1943 on return from Schweinfurt mission, B17#42-29784 'Smilin'-Thru' crashed at Wiltshire with crew baling out. All returned to duty.

  • Marvin Bartlett

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Engineer/Top Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 14 October 1943 in B-17F 42-30813 'Queen Jeannie' while serving as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. Baled out of stricken aircraft before it crashed near Dorne, Belgium and was captured as a Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Willis Baxandall

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 94th Bomb Group
    Shot down 14 October 1943 in B-17 'Spare Parts'. MACR 790. Prisoner of War (POW) at Stalag Luft III, Stalag VII-A, Moosburg. Liberated 1945 by General Patton's soldiers. Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Earl Beaty

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Military Occupation Specialty 748-Army Airplane Mechanic / Gunner, Flight Engineer | 384th Bomb Group
    Battle damage on 16 September 1943 in B-17 #42-29699 'Old Battle Axe.' Plane ditched in North Sea. The crew was rescued and returned to base. ...

  • Jules Beck

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 384th Bomb Group
    Shot down 14 October 1943 in B-17 #42-29870 'Big Moose.' Prisoner of War (POW). Missing Air Crew Report #1038. Earlier, on 4 October 1943 returning from a mission to Frankfurt, B17#42-30043 'Ruthless' ditched in The North Sea. The entire crew was...

  • Barclay Beeby

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group

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Aircraft

  • 42-29524 'Meathound'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 31/12/42; Salina 7/1/43; Morrison 2/12/43; Homestead 14/2/43; Assigned 423BS/306BG [RD-D] Thurleigh 2/3/43; transferred 358BS/303BG [VK-K] Molesworth 30/7/43; 25m Missing in Action Oschersleben 26/1/44 with Jack Watson (RTD-alone),...

  • 42-29784 Smilin' Thru

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    42-29784 Delivered to the Cheyenne, Wyoming Modification center on 18 February 1943. Moved to Salina, Kansas on 2 March 1943. Ferried overseas and assigned to the 366th Bombardment Squadron, squadron code KY-K, 305th Bombardment Group, station 105,...

  • 42-29800 'Me and My Gal'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 20/2/43; Gore 7/3/43; Smoky Hill 14/3/43; Morrison 9/4/43; Assigned 95th Bomb Group/335th Bomb Squadron [OE-L] at Alconbury 17 May 1943. Flew 4 missions with the 95th BG. Transferred to 305th Bomb Group/422nd Bomb Squadron [JJ-E/J]...

  • 42-29803 'Flat Foot Floogie'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 22/2/43; Gore 8/3/43; Assigned 334BS/95BG [BG-D] Alconbury 8/4/43; Framlingham 12/5/43; Horham 15/6/43; 4m, transferred 365BS/305BG [XK-Q/E] Chelveston 17/6/43 FLAT FOOT FLOOGIE; 534BS/381BG [GD-P] Ridgewell 11/9/43; 6m/381 Missing in...

  • 42-29870 Big Moose

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 28/2/43; Casper 13/3/43; Metropolitan 13/4/43; Presque Is 30/4/43; Dow Fd 1/5/43; Assigned 379BG Kimbolton 2/5/43; transferred 365BS/305BG [XK-T/H] Chelveston 23/6/43; 545BS/384BG [JD-U] Grafton Underwood 29/9/43; Missing in Action...

  • 42-30149 'Spare Parts'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/4/43; Smoky Hill 24/4/43; Walla Walla 30/4/43; Smoky Hill 10/5/43; Dow Fd 25/5/43; Assigned 333BS/94BG [XM-A2] Earls Colne 27/5/43; Rougham 12/6/43; Missing in Action Schweinfurt 14/10/43 with Jim Mullinax, Co-pilot: Frank Peyton,...

  • 42-30193 Hard Luck

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/4/43; Sioux City 8/5/43; Smoky Hill 9/6/43; Dow Fd 14/6/43; Assigned 561BS/388BG Knettishall 15/6/43. ...

  • 42-30207 Big Red

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/4/43; Sioux City 11/5/43; Smoky Hill 9/6/43; Dow Fd 12/6/43; Assigned 561BS/388BG [ -T] Knettishall 14/6/43; Missing in Action Bordeaux 27/3/44 with Julius Lederman, Co-pilot: Waite Law, Bombardier: John Luzell (3 Prisoner of War)...

  • 42-30212 Quarterback

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/4/43; Sioux City 14/5/43; Smoky Hill 11/6/43; Dow Fd 16/6/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 17/6/43; transferred Aphrodite project, Missing in Action V-sites, Watten 6/8/44 with Lt Joeseph P Andrecheck & T/Sgt Raymond Healy (2...

  • 42-30213 Lil' One

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/4/43; Gore 9/5/43; Sioux City 10/5/43; Smoky Hill 11/6/43; Dow Fd 15/6/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 1/6/43; crashed on take off for Bremen after encountering mechanical problems 13/11/43 with Bob Simons, Co-pilot: Alvin...

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Crash sites

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
23 June 2018 16:25:32 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Changed "if attacking German fighters" to "of attacking German fighters" in description

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2018 08:45:44 wimhm.slangen Changes to description
Sources

Wim Slangen

Date Contributor Update
23 April 2018 20:58:37 jmoore43 Changes to event
Sources

Corrected spelling errors.

Date Contributor Update
31 January 2018 17:59:58 william henry Changes to description
Sources

Correct typos

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2016 20:03:14 Mags Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

303rd BG Web Page

Date Contributor Update
05 July 2015 22:36:32 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 5-Jul-2015. Added bomber gunner claims to statistics of 1BD Groups per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman,

Date Contributor Update
05 July 2015 22:34:52 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 5-Jul-2015. Added bomber gunner claims to statistics of 3BD groups per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
05 July 2015 22:32:58 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 5-Jul-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2014 11:57:49 Emily Changes to person associations and media associations
Sources

Associated Media based on images associated with missions in Freeman, The Mighty Eighth War Diary.

Associated Edward Kenneth Fox, based on recent information from ssma43

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:16 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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