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VIII Bomber Command 84

17 August 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

The mission flown on 17-Aug-43, the 1st anniversary of the 1st mission flown by the 8th Air Force, is probably the most written about mission of the war. This is the famous Schweinfurt/Regensburg mission on which 60 B-17s are lost. It has been dubbed "Black Tuesday." It is this mission that finally brought home to the air war planners the true vulnerability of the famous B-17 "Flying Fortress" and the critical need for fighter escorts that could accompany the bomber streams to and from targets deep in Germany as "Little Friends."

The need for such a mission was suggested by General Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold, Commanding General of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in March 1943 in accordance with the "Casablanca Directive" (21-Jan-43 cf. CASABLANCA DIRECTIVE in the Missions index for details) and the "Pointblank Directive" (14-Jun-43 cf. POINTBLANK DIRECTIVE in the Missions index for details)

This was one of the most complex missions attempted up to that time in the war and directed deep into Germany to bomb the Messerschmitt production factories at Regensburg and the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt, Germany. Success would require: close timing; cooperation of the weather in England and across the Continent; precision flying and a goodly measure of luck. While fighter escort was to be a component, it could only accompany the bombers for a short distance into the Continent because of the limited range of the P-47. However, USAAF planners were still very much convinced that the B-17 Flying Fortress and close formation flying would be sufficient to allow the bombers to destroy these targets.

The planned mission was divided into three Air Task Forces. 1st Air Task Force was composed of 146 B-17s, led by Colonel Curtis LeMay of 4th Bomb Wing. This task force was composed of three Combat Wings (CW): 403CW would consist of 62 aircraft: 96BG (21) Lead Group; 388BG (21) Low Group; and 390BG (20) High Group; 401CW would consist of 42 aircraft: 94BG (21) Lead Group; 385BG (21) Low Group; and 402CW consisted of 42 aircraft: 95BG (21) Lead Group; and 100BG (21) Low Group. The Combat Wings would take off at three minute intervals bewteen Comabt Wings with that target being the Messerschmitt factories at Regensburg. The formation would bomb the target and then proceed south to bases in North Africa. It was hoped that this formation would lure the German fighters away from the two Air Task Forces of 1st Bomb Division that would attack the ball bearing works a Schweinfurt.

1st Air Division, led by Brigadier General Robert Williams, would consist of 230 B-17s divided among 2nd Air Task Force, led by Colonel William M. Gross, and 3rd Air Task Force, led by Colonel Howard M. Turner. 2nd Air Task Force would consist of 116 aircraft divided into two Combat Wings (CW): 101CW would consist of 57 B-17s: 91BG (18) Lead Group; 381BG (20) Low Group; and Composite Group A (High Group) consisting of 19 B-17s: 306BG (7); 91BG (6); and 381BG (6). The other Combat Wing (CW) of 2nd Air Task Force was a Composite Wing which would consist of 59 B-17s: 351BG (21) Lead Group; 384BG (18) Low Group; and Composite Group B (High Group) consisting of 20 B-17s: 306BG (9); 305BG (9) and 92BG (2). These CWs were to take off at five minute intervals ten minutes after 1st Air Task Force and attack Schweinfurt.

3rd Air Task Force would consist of 114 B-17s divided into two Combat Wings (CW): 102CW would consist of 61 B-17s: 306BG (21) Lead Group; 92BG (20) Low Group; and 305BG (20) High Group; 103 Provisional CW would consist of 53 B-17s: 379BG (18) Lead Group; 303BG (18) Low Group; and Composite C (High Group) 17 B-17s: 303BG (10), 379BG (6), 384BG (1). These two Air Task Forces were to take off at five minute intervals between CWs, twelve minute intervals between Task Forces and ten minutes after 1st Air Task Force. All Air Task Forces were to fly the same course out of England and into Germany. 1st Air Task Force would proceed to bases in North Africa and the Schweinfurt force would bomb and then return to their bases in England. Everything seemed to be set. 230 B-17s would attack at Schweinfurt and 146 at Regensburg.

On the morning of 17-Aug-43 the weather over the American bases in England was terrible. Ground fog, light drizzle, and completely overcast skies caused the take-off time schedule to get seriously degraded. 1st Air Task Force under Col. LeMay had much training in instrument take-offs and they managed to get in the air an assemble pretty much on schedule. The 230 B-17s of first Bomb Division were not well trained for taking-off in the conditions and they waited and incredible one and one half hours for the fog to lift before they took off. This was disasterous for any element of surprise for the force attacking Schweinfurt and it meant that whatever fighter force engaging LeMay's 1st Air Division would have the opportunity to re-fuel and attack the Schweinfurt Air Task Forces.

The Germans put up every aircraft they could muster to meet the strung out bomber formations and the anti-aircraft fire was horrendous. Of the 230 B-17s despatched to Schweinfurt, 183 managed to hit Schweinfurt, 1 dropped on Frankfurt and 4 attacked targets of opportunity. 36 B-17s Failed to Return crewed by 361 airmen (disposition of these based on MACR records and documented rescues is: 67KIA 247POW 27EVD 20RTD [rescued by ASR]). One MACR #283 was issued for B-17F 42-5712 "My Prayer" 91BG/324BS which actually returned to England but was DBR from which there were 7POW 3RTD. In addition there were 3KIA and 12WIA in returning aircraft. Adjusting the totals for the Schweinfurt Groups: 70KIA, 12WIA, 254POW, 27EVD, 20RTD (rescued) and 3RTD OK. The bomber gunners claimed 140-19-36 of the attacking German fighters, but these figures were grossly exaggerated (The combined totals of bomber gunner claims in both the Schweinfurt and Regeansburg attacks was 288-37-99. German records claim that 21 aircraft were shot down by the bomber gunners another 21 were shot down by fighters and 5 were lost on take-off and landing accidents. 16 airmen killed and 9 wounded)

Of the 146 B-17s that were despatched to Regensburg 24 B-17s Failed to Return crewed by 24 airmen(FTR)(disposition of these based on MACR records and confirmed rescues is: 34KIA, 130POW, 16EVD, 20INT and 40RTD [rescued by ASR]). One B-17 was DBR but crew OK. In aircraft that managed to return to North African bases 4KIA and 9WIA. Adjustiing the totals for the Regensburg Groups: 38KIA, 9WIA, 130POW, 16EVD, 20INT and 40RTD. The bomber gunners claimed 140-19-36 of attacking aircraft (grossly exaggerated).

Mission details

1. REGENSBURG (Primary)

Description

MESSERSCHMITT AIRCRAFT COMPLEX

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

All aircraft in this element continue on to bases in North Africa.

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

Tonnage dropped 298.75
Number of aircraft Sent 146
Number of aircraft Effective 127
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 24
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 50
Number of people Killed In Action 38
Number of people Wounded in Action 9
Number of people Evaded 16
Number of people Prisoners of War 130
Number of people Interned 20
Number of people Returned To Duty 40
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 140
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 19
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 36

2. SCHWEINFURT (Primary)

Description

BALL BEARING FACTORIES

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Anniversary of 1st 8th Air Force mission. Deepest penetration to date. 60 bombers lost. "Black Tuesday." The 91st Bomb Group leads the mission. The 381st Bomb Group suffers the highest losses of all 8th Air Force Bomb Groups on this mission (11 aircraft Missing in Action (MIA))

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 424.38
Number of aircraft Sent 230
Number of aircraft Effective 188
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 36
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 4
Number of aircraft Damaged 118
Number of people Killed In Action 70
Number of people Wounded in Action 12
Number of people Evaded 27
Number of people Prisoners of War 254
Number of people Returned To Duty 20
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 148
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 18
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 63

Service

People

  • Elden Agler

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Co-pilot, Simpson crew. 381st BG, 534th BS, 8th AF. Shot down 17 August 1943 in B-17 #42-30245 'Lucky Lady'. Mission #20 "Black Tuesday" to the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. MACR 381. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft III and Stalag VIIA. ...

  • Earl Allen

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner; Flight Engineer | 381st Bomb Group
    ETTG, Wright crew. 381st BG, 534th BS, 8th AF. Shot down 17 August 1943 in B-17 #42-30028 'Great In Lani' or 'Sweet is Le Lani'. Mission #20 "Black Tuesday" to the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. MACR 380. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft...

  • Eldred Andruss

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 525BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 10 x combat missions. Flew Kassel raid 28-July, lost control cables on B-17 42-29974 by flak damage. Crash landed in B-17 42-5822 at Norfolk RAF base returning crew with 4 crew members wounded. Failed to Return (FTR...

  • Challen Atkinson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Pilot. Atkinson crew. 381st BG, 533rd BS. Shot down 17 August 1943 in AC #42-29983 'Uncle Sammy'. Mission #20 "Black Tuesday" to the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. MACR 398. Killed in Action (KIA). Buried by the Germans in Community...

  • Richard Bailey

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Retired from the USAF with the rank of Major

  • William Balentine

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 381st Bomb Group
    Radio operator, Painter crew. 381st BG, 532nd BS, 8th AF. Shot down 17 August 1943 in B-17 #42-30140 'King Malfunction II'. Mission #20 "Black Tuesday" to the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. MACR 379. Prisoner of War (POW). South Carolina

  • Charles Bang

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    RWG, Zum crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 3 September 1943 in B-17 42-29789 'Big Time Operator'. Mission #25 to the airfield at Romilly, France. MACR 473. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft XVIIB. S/Sgt Bang was a replacement for this mission, he was a...

  • William Barnard

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 525BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 13 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Schweinfurt raid 17-Aug-43. Shot down by enemy aircraft, crashed Dorrebach, 6 miles W of Bingen, Germany Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 1350 Award: PH.

  • Joseph Barrett

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 384th Bomb Group
    Assigned to the 384th BG 545th BS on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #48 dated 13 July 1943, Drewry Fry Wofford Crew. 3 combat missions. ...

  • William Barrett

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator / Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Shot down 17 August 1943 in B-17 42-29559 'Stupntakit'. Killed in Action (KIA). ...

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Aircraft

  • 41-24453 Mizpah - The Bearded Lady, The Bearded Beauty

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 322BS/91BG [LG-O] Bangor 29/8/42; Bassingbourn 29/9/42; in taxi accident with John Hardin 18/11/42 at RNAS Yeovilton; MIZPAH - THE BEARDED LADY aka THE BEARDED BEAUTY. ...

  • 41-24524 The Eagle's Wrath

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 323BS/91BG [OR-O] Bangor 10/9/42; Bassingbourn 11/10/42; Missing in Action 16m Schweinfurt 17/8/43 with Tony Arcaro, Co-pilot: Roman Niemczyk, Bombardier: Bill Glover, Radio Operator: Delmar Kaech, Waist gunner: Elmer Lindholm, Waist gunner:...

  • 41-24527 The Sky Wolf, Great Speckled Bird

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL- ] Bangor 6/9/42; Bassingbourn 1/10/42; 1m transferred 324BS [DF-Y]; Missing in Action 27+m Schweinfurt 17/8/43 with Bill Munger, Co-pilot: Dave Gladhart, Navigator: John Brickley, Bombardier: Tony Kalupy, Flight engineer/top...

  • 41-24560 'Little Audrey'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 368BS/306BG [BO-D] New Castle 4/10/42; Thurleigh 26/10/42; transferred 369BS [WW- ]; transferred 544BS/384BG [SU-A] Grafton Underwood 5/9/43; 1 Base Air Depot, Burtonwood 15/3/44; Returned to the USA Homestead 14/5/44; Reconstruction Finance...

  • 41-24564 PATCHES

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 365BS/305BG [XK-W] Presque Is 19/10/42; Grafton Underwood 25/10/42; Missing in Action Schweinfurt 17/8/43 with Doug Mutschler, Co-pilot: Ed Carter, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Carlton Boberg (3 Killed in Action), Navigator: Bill Bagwell...

  • 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...

  • 42-29559 Stupntakit

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 4/1/43; Salina 13/1/43; Homestead 1/2/43; Morrison 6/2/43; Assigned 323BS/91BG [OR-Q] Bassingbourn 25/2/43; Missing in Action 13m Schweinfurt 17/8/43 with Pilot Charles A. Bennett; Co-Pilot Stanley A. Dahlman; Navigator Adrian T. Van...

  • 42-29633 "SpitzFire" (early 1943)

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26/1/43; Salina 12/2/43; Assigned 364BS/305BG [WF-H/J/N/D] Chelveston 4/3/43. Completed missions as "Spitz Fire" under command of Lt. Frank R. Spitznagel Jr. until 8/19/43; transferred 381BG Ridgewell 11/9/43 1m; 526BS/379BG [LF-U]...

  • 42-29728 EL RAUNCHO

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 9/2/43; Pueblo 19/2/43; Salina 25/2/43; Casper 1/4/43; Dow Fd 15/4/43; Assigned 332BS/94BG [XM-H] Bassingbourn 20/4/43; Earls Colne 12/5/43; Rougham 13/6/43; transferred 544BS/384BG [SU-J] Grafton Underwood 12/7/43; On return from...

  • 42-29731 Ol' Swayback, Moore Fidite

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 12/2/43; Walker 23/2/43; Smoky Hill 28/3/43; Presque 8/4/43; Assigned 413BS/96BG Grafton Underwood 18/4/43 MOOR-FIDITE; Andrews Fd 13/5/43; Snetterton 12/6/43; transferred 532BS/381BG [VE-E] Ridgewell 16/7/43; Missing in Action...

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
11 May 2017 12:53:28 ThomBear Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

added a/c 41-24560 per post-mission report.

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 18:11:09 Rainer Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Martin Middlebrook - The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 18:08:19 Rainer Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Martin Middlebrook - The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission

Date Contributor Update
23 May 2015 23:32:28 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 23-May-2015. Corrected KIA count and RTD count and added bomber gunner claims to statisitcs based on MACR records; "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE; 303BG Mission Report http://www.303rdbg.com/missionreports/060.pdf

Date Contributor Update
23 May 2015 23:30:20 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 23-May-2015. Corrected KIA count and RTD count and added bomber gunner claims to statisitcs based on MACR records; "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE; 303BG Mission Report http://www.303rdbg.com/missionreports/060.pdf

Date Contributor Update
23 May 2015 23:24:10 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 23-May-2015. Correcting typo in Mission Narrative.

Date Contributor Update
23 May 2015 23:19:54 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 23-May-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on 303BG Mission Report http://www.303rdbg.com/missionreports/060.pdf.

Date Contributor Update
19 May 2015 22:53:16 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 19-May-2015. Began the Mission Narrative for the Schweifurt/Regensburg mission. Sources provided upon conclusion of narrative.

Date Contributor Update
25 April 2015 20:53:32 simaguire Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

B17s Over Berlin
Ian L Hawkins

Date Contributor Update
25 April 2015 20:49:16 simaguire Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

B17s Over Berlin
Ian L Hawkins

Date Contributor Update
25 April 2015 20:38:59 simaguire Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

B17s Over Berlin
Ian L Hawkins

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2014 11:28:50 Emily Changes to media associations
Sources

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

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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