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VIII Bomber Command 52

17 April 1943

Official description

Not yet known


The largest mission to date, 117 B-17s, are despatched to bomb the primary target of the Focke-Wulf Aircraft factory at Bremen, Germany: 91BG (32); 303BG (29); 305BG (28) and 306BG (26). The German Luftwaffe is learning fast and mounts a fierce and effective attack on the formation with well-coordinated attacks by waves of FW-190 fighters. The lead formation of 306BG has 10 B-17s MIA and the 91BG has 6 B-17s MIA. These losses are the greatest to date for a single mission (13.9%). Even so, 107 of the 115 despatched are effective on the target, and the bomber gunners fight back valiantly claiming 65-15-17 on the attacking fighters. The losses are an eye-opener to those VIII Bomber Command Officers that still believe that the "Flying Fortress", alone but attacking in formation, is more than a match for fighter opposition. The loss of 16 crews has a definite impact on the morale of the "Mighty Eighth" and heavy bombing operations are suspended until 1-May-43.

Mission details

1. BREMEN (Primary)



Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress


Largest mission to date. Strong opposition from fighters. Largest one mission loss to date. One aircraft bombs a target of opportunity. 306th Bomb Group loses 10 of 26 aircraft. The Commanding general, VIII Fighter Command, expresses the need to have 20 fighter groups to neutralize growing German fighter opposition to the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO).


  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb 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

    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

    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

    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 265.50
Number of aircraft Sent 115
Number of aircraft Effective 107
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 16
Number of aircraft Damaged 39
Number of people Killed In Action 64
Number of people Wounded in Action 4
Number of people Prisoners of War 101
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 63
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 15
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 17



  • Carroll Briscoe

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    He reported to group on 15 Jan 1943. He was the 35th Officer to complete 25 missions. Reported on 05 Feb 1945 with the 2AF weather scouts. Retired as a Colonel from the USAF in 1972. ...

  • Claude Campbell

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. 30 x combat missions. ETD Awards: DSC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME, UN and Korean medals. Post war: Remained in USAF, serving in Korean conflict.

  • Joseph Collette

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    He was assigned to Craig Harwood crew. Reported to group on 30 Dec 1942. He flew the first raid to Germany on 27 Jan 1943 with Col. Frank A. Armstrong as an engineer. Shot down 17 April 1943 in B-17 #4229625. KIA. AM 4OLC, DFC

  • Robert Foster

    Military | Major | Co-Pilot | 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few
    Assigned to 326BS, 92BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Bremen in B-17 42-29574 'Sky Wolf II'; Shot down by Fw190's, turned over and crashed at Fiebing, 10 miles south of Aurich, Germany. Prisoner of War (POW). 17-Apr-43. MACR 6574 ...

  • Warren George

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    On 17 November, 1942, while serving as Co-Pilot of B-17F 41-24496 his aircraft was attacked by FW190s after leaving the target area near St. Nazaire, France. The TTG Aulenbach was killed and 3 crew members as the plane suffered severe damage. The Pilot...

  • Victor Hamrick

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA). Shot down 17 April 1943 in B-17 #425337 'Short Snorter III. ' Target was Bremen, but a/c was attacked by fighters and flak. Plane ditched in North Sea. 2 survivors were picked up 11 miles north-west of the German island of...

  • Rocco Maiorca

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down 17 April 1943 in B-17 #425337 'Short Snorter III. ' Target was Bremen, but a/c was attacked by fighters and flak. Plane ditched in North Sea. 2 survivors were picked up 11 miles north-west of the German island of Norderney. Maiorca swam 3...

  • Robert McGuire

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 303rd Bomb Group
    Robert McGuire served as a radio operator with the 358th Bomb Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group, flying missions out of Molesworth, England. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Carl Morales

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    15-Sep-42 Assigned as Pilot, with crew, to B-17F 41-24562 [VK A] "Sky Wolf", 303BG/358BS at Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, Michigan. 10-Oct-42 Moved with "Sky Wolf" and crew to Dow Field, Maine in preparation for deployment to the UK. 16-Oct-42 Arrived...

  • Oscar O'Neill

    Military | Captain | Bomber pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down 17 April 1943 in B-17 42-5070 'Invasion II. ' Plane was on fire when all crew parachuted to safety. Prisoner of War (POW). Awards: AM (OLC), POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

Show more


  • 41-24605 Knock-out Dropper

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-R] Bangor 22-Sep-42; Molesworth 22-Oct-42; First 8th Air Force aircraft to complete 50, then 75 missions- 27-Mar-44; with M/Sgt Buford Pafford as crew chief; 1 Base Air Depot, Burtonwood 5-Jun-44; Reconstruction Finance...

  • 41-24635 The 8 Ball Mk II

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-O] New Castle 6/10/42; Molesworth 21/11/42. Flown by Captain William R. Calhoun on the 4 May 1943 mission to the Ford and General Motors works, Antwerp, Belgium, with Clark Gable on board for his first mission (slightly damaged...

  • 42-29631 Unmentionable

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 42-29631 'Unmentionable' was delivered Cheyenne 18-Jan-43; Salina 3-Feb-43; Morrison 25-Feb-43; Assigned 423BS/306BG [RD- ] Thurleigh 25-Mar-43; shot down 17-Apr-43 by enemy aircraft, crashed near Bruchhausen-Vilsen, Germany while on a mission to...

  • 42-5070 'Invasion II'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/9/42; New Castle 11/10/42; Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-A] Bassingbourn 14/12/42; Missing in Action 18m Bremen 17/4/43 with Capt Oscar O'Neill, Co-pilot: Bob Friehofer, Navigator: Capt Edwin Carmichael, Bombardier: Capt Edwin Bush,...

  • 42-5826 JERAVAD "Une Petite Peu"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 2/3/43; Walla Walla 29/3/43; Lowry 10/4/43; Presque Is 24/4/43; Assigned 369BS/306BG [WW-W] Thurleigh 7/5/43; Missing in Action Kiel 29/7/43 with Keith Conley, Co-pilot: Vince DeVos, Bombardier: Bob Sanford, Radio Operator: Frank...


Date Contributor Update
15 January 2016 19:03:45 Mags Changes to aircraft associations

303rd BG Web Page

Date Contributor Update
30 December 2014 20:04:15 Lee8thbuff Changes to description

Lee Cunningham 30-Dec-2014. Correction of typo in description.

Date Contributor Update
30 December 2014 20:02:21 Lee8thbuff Changes to description

Lee Cunningham 30-Dec-2014. Description based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:17 AAM AAM ingest

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'.