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VIII Bomber Command 28

3 January 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are once again the target for this mission. This is proving to be a particularly difficult target to destroy due to its massive, reinforced concrete design. It consists of 14 individual pens connected together in a structure 300 meters long, 130 meters wide and 18 meters high composed of 480,000 cubic meters of concrete. The roof of the structure alone is 8 meters thick built with four layers: (top to bottom) 3.5 meters reinforced concrete; 35cm of granite/concrete; 1.7 meter thick reinforced concrete; and the "Fangrost" layer of steel beams 1.4 meters thick. The roof bristles with anti-aircraft weapons.

The mission is comprised of two elements: 72 B-17s are despatched by 91BG (16); 303BG (17); 305BG (22) and 306BG (17). The element is organised in the 'stagger' formation designed by Colonel Curtis LeMay, CO 305BG which will become adopted by all 8AF heavy bomber units and become the standard formation for the remainder of the war. This is the first such use of the formation. 60 aircraft of this formation are effective on the target; 7 are MIA and 44 are damaged.

The second element of the mission is comprised of 13 B-24s despatched by 44th Bomb Group. 8 are effective on the target; 3 are DBR and 3 are damaged. Both formations are carrying bomb loads of 1000 lb. General Purpose bombs.

Mission details

1. SAINT-NAZAIRE

Description

U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

305th Bomb Group uses stagger formation during bomb run. This is the first use of formation bombing by 8th Air Force. There is no fighter escort for this mission.

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,...

  • 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...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 147.50
Number of aircraft Sent 72
Number of aircraft Effective 60
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 7
Number of aircraft Damaged 44
Number of people Killed In Action 58
Number of people Wounded in Action 12
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 11
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 14
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 18
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 4

2. SAINT-NAZAIRE

Description

U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

44th Bomb Group suffered casualties in 3 aircraft which crash landed due to fuel shortage on their return at Dale and Talbenny airfields

Units

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 11.75
Number of aircraft Sent 13
Number of aircraft Effective 8
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 0
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 3
Number of aircraft Damaged 3
Number of people Killed In Action 3
Number of people Wounded in Action 17

Service

People

  • Arthur Adams

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    26-Jul-42 Assigned as Pilot of B-17F 41-24563 [PU-H] "Garbage", 303BG/360BS with crew at Alamogordo Field, Alamogordo, New Mexico with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. 16-Oct-42 Arrived at Molesworth, UK, aboard "Garbage". ...

  • Homer Allen

    Military | Lieutenant | Navigator | 303rd Bomb Group
    15-Jul-42 Assigned as Navigator on B-17F 42-2967 [PU-G] "Shak Hak", 303BG/360BS at Alamogordo Field, Alamogordo, New Mexico. 16-Oct-42 Arrived at Molesworth, UK aboard "Shak Hak" ...

  • Samuel Anderson

    Military | Captain | Lead Navigator | 303rd Bomb Group
    17-Feb-42 Assigned as Navigator of B-17F 41-24579 [PU-F] at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. 16-Oct-42 Arrived at Molesworth UK. He was despatched on 26 Operations - 25 credited. Served as a Lead Navigator on 23 of those missions. Completed a 25-Mission tour...

  • William Anderson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    On 8 Nov 1942, on first mission, B-17F 41-24570 "Panhandle Doggie" 91BG/323BS suffered severe damage on the mission to bomb the German airfield Abbeville/Drucat but plane returned with all crew and was salvaged. He was serving as Pilot on that aircraft...

  • Rupert Arnold

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Killed in Action on 3 January 1943 in B-17F 41-24501 while serving as Tail Gunner. Aircraft had two engines shot out by flak over the target, the U/B (submarine) base at St. Nazaire, France. Pilot Ferguson flew the severely damaged plane out to sea but...

  • William Auston

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On 3 January 1943 in B-24D 41-23771 while serving as Navigator the aircraft made a crash-landing near Puncheston, Pembrokeshire when it ran out of fuel upon return from a mission to St. Nazaire, France. He was uninjured and Returned to Duty (RTD) ...

  • Clayton Balcombe

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Radio Operator | 303rd Bomb Group
    06-Mar-42 Assigned as Radio Operator on B-17F 41-24559 [PU-C] "Ooold Soljer", 303BG/360BS at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. 16-Oct-42 Arrived at Molesworth, UK aboard "Ooold Soljer" ...

  • Rex Barker

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    On 8 Nov 1942, on first mission, B-17F 41-24570 "Panhandle Doggie" 91BG/323BS suffered severe damage on the mission to bomb the German airfield Abbeville/Drucat but plane returned with all crew and was salvaged. He was serving as Radio Operator on that...

  • Frank Bartlett

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 303rd Bomb Group
    12-Feb-42 Assigned to 303BG as an Aerial Gunner at Arrived at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. 12-Jun-42 Trained at Alamogordo Field, Alamogordo New Mexico. 7-Aug-42 Finished Advanced training at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas. 24-Aug-42 transferred with Ground...

  • Keith Bartlett

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    12-Mar-42 Assigned to 303BG/360BS in B-17F 41-24559 "Ooold Soldier" as 2LT and Co-Pilot. Gowen Field (Boise), Idaho. ...

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Aircraft

  • 41-24470 Sons of Fury

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24470, assigned 369BS/306BG [WW- ] Westover 22-Aug-42; damaged in taxi accident Westover Fd 26-Aug-42; Thurleigh 2-Oct-42; Missing in Action St Nazaire 3-Jan-43. Severely hit by enemy aircraft, ditched into the English Channel off Brest...

  • 41-24501

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24501 assigned 368BS/306BG [BO- ] Westover 28-Aug-42; Thurleigh 2-Oct-42; Missing in Action St Nazaire 3-Jan-43, hit by flak, lost two engines, crashed near Le Croisic, France. 4KIA 6POW MACR 15627. ...

  • 41-24517 Kali

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24517 [GN-O] 'Kali' 303BG/427BS assigned with crew on 1-May-42 at Alamogordo Field, Almogordo, New Mexico. Sent with crew to Dow Field, Bangor, Maine for deployment 5-Oct-42. Arrived at Molesworth, UK 24-Oct-42 ...

  • 41-24526 Leapin' Liz

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24608 "Leapin' Liz". Assigned 358BS/303BG [VK-J] Bangor 19-Sep-42; Molesworth 16-Oct-42; Missing in Action St Nazaire 3-Jan-43, shot down by enemy aircraft, crashed off St Brevin, Bay of Biscay, France. 10KIA Missing Air Crew Report (MACR)...

  • 41-24541 Spook

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24541 "Spook" was assigned 358BS/303BG [VK-G] Kellogg Fd 14-Sep-42; Molesworth 16-Sep-42;The aircraft participated in 12 Operations - 4 Aborted (See Biography events) ...

  • 41-24579 Thumper

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24579 "Thumper" was assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-F] 17-Feb-42 Gowen Field, Idaho; Bangor 14-Oct-42; Molesworth 16-Oct-42; Aircraft damaged by AA fire and enemy fighters on mission to Lorient, France on 23-Jan-43. 11 man crew. Belly-landed at...

  • 41-24603 Green Hornet

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24603 "Green Hornet" [BN-Y], 303BG/359BS was assigned with a combat crew on 10-Sep-42 at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas then moved to Dow Field, Bangor, Maine 9-Oct-42; Arrived at Molesworth, UK on 22-Oct-42. ...

  • 41-24606 Werewolf

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F-27-BO 41-24606 "Werewolf" was assigned 358BG/303BG [VK-H] Kellog Field, Battle Creek, Michigan on 14-Sep-42; Arrived at Molesworth, UK 16-Oct-42. ...

  • 41-24608 Yehoodi

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24608 [BN-S] "Yehoodi", 303BG/359BS was assigned with a crew on 10-Jul-42 at Alamogordo Field, Alamgordo, New Mexico, The aircraft was the first of the 303rd to arrive at Moleworth on 12-Oct-42. Participated in 5 Operations (3 Aborted). See...

  • 41-24620 Snap! Crackle! Pop!

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24620 'Snap, Crackle, Pop' assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-D] Bangor 14-Sep-42; Molesworth 16-Oct-42; Missing in Action St Nazaire 3-Jan-43 shot down by enemy aircraft, crashed Escoublac Forest, West of St Nazaire, France. 7KIA 3POW MACR 15464....

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
15 February 2015 19:50:13 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-Feb-2015. Added Bomber Gunner claims to statistics on 91BG-306BG on St Nazaire per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
10 December 2014 09:49:38 Emily Changes to event
Sources

Freeman, The Mighty Eighth War Diary, p. 32

Date Contributor Update
08 December 2014 22:21:29 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Dec-2014. Edited map location.

Date Contributor Update
08 December 2014 22:18:59 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Dec-2014. Edited map location.

Date Contributor Update
08 December 2014 22:13:14 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Dc-2014. U-Boat pen construction details per Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Nazaire_submarine_base; Aircraft participation based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman and "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:17 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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