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VIII Bomber Command 54

4 May 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

The Ford and General Motors vehicle plants at Antwerp, Belgium are the primary target for this mission. 79-B-17 are despatched 91BG (25); 303BG (27) and 305BG (27). 65 0f the 79 despatched are effective on the target. There is moderate flak and fighter opposition. No aircraft in this formation are lost, 16 are damaged. The bomber gunners claim 10-0-2 on enemy aircraft.

NOTE: The lead aircraft from 303BG is B-17F 41-24635 "Eight Ball II", aboard as observers are Hollywood actor Capt Clark Cable and a cameraman. Capt Cable is serving with the 351st Bomb Group which is still in the process of becoming operational. He has been assigned, along with a team of six former motion picture employees, to make a film to be used in the training of 8th Air Force bomber gunners. He is anxious to get started on the project and manages to "hitch" this ride in the "Eight Ball II". During the mission, the aircraft is attacked by German fighters and Capt Gable mans the radio room gun. The aircraft is only slightly damaged.

The formation attacking at Antwerp, Belgium are supported by 20 B-17s despatched from 306BG and 13 B-24s despatched from 44BG to fly a diversion. No losses or claims.

Mission details

1.

Description

DIVERSION

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Not yet known

Units

  • 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,...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 20
Number of aircraft Effective 20

2.

Description

DIVERSION

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

Not yet known

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

Number of aircraft Sent 13
Number of aircraft Effective 13

3. ANTWERP (Primary)

Description

FORD and GM PLANTS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

No fighter escort on 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...

  • 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 161.50
Number of aircraft Sent 79
Number of aircraft Effective 65
Number of aircraft Damaged 16
Number of people Wounded in Action 3

Service

People

  • 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.

  • Arthur Poston

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Bombardier | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA) 19 May 1943 in B-17 #41-24483 'Spirit of Alcohol'. He went to Bassingbourn from MacDill Field about November/December 1942. He was on his 17th mission. The pilot (Lt. Baxley) told his parents in a letter that they were...

  • William Rathgeber

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down 19 May 1943 in B-17 #41-24483 'Spirit of Alcohol'. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Charles Woodworth

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Lt. Woodworth enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1942, and completed bombardier training 4 July 1942 at Victorville, California. Assigned to the 305th Bomb Group, he was with the group as they completed training at Muroc, California, then...

Aircraft

  • 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...

  • 42-5081 Luscious Lady

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 17/9/42; West Palm Beach 17/1/43; Assigned 427BS/303BG [GN-V] Molesworth 15/2/43; took off from RAF Colerne, NI on training mission and involved in landing accident at RAF Filton, 17/10/43 with Dave Shelhamer, Flight engineer/top turret...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
31 December 2014 19:45:20 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 31-Dec-2014. Added # effective to description, same source as previous.

Date Contributor Update
31 December 2014 19:42:53 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 31-Dec-2014. Description and note based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

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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