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VIII Fighter Command FO 222 BOMBER ESCORT

24 January 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A combined force of 638 fighter aircraft of three different types :P-38s, P-47s and P-51s are despatched to provide escort the heavy bombers attacking the Zukufnt power station at Eschweiler, Germany. A new escort tactic - area patrol - is attempted whereby fighter escort is provided to the bomber stream as it passed through a designated area of fighter cover. The attempt is abandoned in favor of continuous support when many of the bombers were recalled because of weather. The mission summary is as follows:

101 P-38s are despatched from: 20FG & 55FG. 4 fighters Failed to Return (FTR) - 3KIA 1POW. The fighters in this element claim 2-2-1 of attacking German aircraft.

535 P-47s are despatched from: 4FG; 56FG; 78FG; 352FG; 353FG; 355FG; 356FG; 388FG; 359FG; and 361FG. 3 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 3KIA. 6 other aircraft sustain battle damage. The fighters in this element claim 17-1-6 of attacking German aircraft.

42 P-51s are despatched from IX Fighter Command, 354FG. 2 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 1POW 1EVD. The fighters in this element claim 0-1-2 of attacking German aircraft.

Mission details

1. ESCHWEILER

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

42 P-51s from 9th Air Force (354th Fighter Group and 357th Fighter Group) are included in the bomber escort (totals not included in tables) two pilots Missing in Action (MIA). For the first time a new strategy is tried for escorting the bombers. Fighters were-assignedpatrol areas along the bomber route and were to protect the bombers as they passed through. With so many of the bombers recalled, this strategy was abandoned and the fighters provided direct escort.

Units

  • 20th Fighter Group

    20th Fighter Group

    Group
    In August 1943, the 20th Fighter Group arrived in Clyde, Scotland, before travelling to Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, which was to be their base for the rest of the war. The Group flew 312 missions before their last mission on 25 April 1945. The...

  • 55th Fighter Group

    55th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 55th Fighter Group were the first P-38 Lightning Group to go fully operational from England. The pilots flew long-range escort missions for bombers flying over occupied Europe and racked up 'kills' of their own by destroying enemy aircraft in...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 104
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 4
Number of people Killed In Action 3
Number of people Prisoners of War 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

2. ESCHWEILER

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

Not yet known

Units

  • 352nd Fighter Group

    352nd Fighter Group

    Group
    The 352nd Fighter Group were based at Bodney, Norfolk from July 1943 until November 1945 but in the winter months of 1944/1945 detachments moved to bases in Belgium to provide extra air support to ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge and to...

  • 353rd Fighter Group

    353rd Fighter Group

    Group
    The 353rd Fighter Group was assigned to the Eighth Air Force on 7 June 1943. The group flew P-47 Thunderbolts, and from October 1944, P-51 Mustangs, as escorts for bombing missions across occupied Europe and to strafe targets on the ground. Tactical...

  • 355th Fighter Group

    355th Fighter Group

    Group
    Where the 353rd Fighter Group had pioneered ground strafing techniques, it was the 355th Fighter Group who destroyed more enemy aircraft by ground strafing than any other Eighth Air Force Group. Based at Steeple Morden from July 1943 to July 1945, the...

  • 356th Fighter Group

    356th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 356th Fighter Group flew 413 missions between 15 October 1943 and 7 May 1945 and suffered the highest ratio of losses to enemy aircraft claims of any Eighth Air Force Group. This gave the Group the reputation of being the 'hard luck' outfit. The...

  • 358th Fighter Group

    358th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 358th Fighter Group flew seventeen missions with the Eighth Air Force from Leiston air base. At the beginning of February 1944 the Group were transferred to the Ninth Air Force in exchange for the 357th Fighter Group. With the Ninth, the Group went...

  • 361st Fighter Group

    361st Fighter Group

    Group
    The 361st Fighter Group was the last P-47 Thunderbolt Group to join the Eighth Air Force. Between 21 January 1944 and 20 April 1945, the Group flew 441 missions, the majority in an escort role in support of bombers flying over occupied Europe. The...

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Group
    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 56th Fighter Group

    56th Fighter Group

    Group
    Flying P-47 Thunderbolts throughout their time stationed in England, the Group, known as "the Wolfpack", had more ace pilots than any other Eighth Air Force Fighter Group. The 56th Fighter Group also destroyed more enemy aircraft in air combat than any...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 535
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of aircraft Damaged 6
Number of people Killed In Action 3
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 17
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 6

3. Eschweiler, Germany / Frankfurt, Germany

Description

BOMBER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

42 P-51s from IX Fighter Command, 354FG are despatched to escort B-24s attacking near Frankfurt, Germany. However, weather causes the bomber mission to be abandoned before any B-24s take off. The P-51s participate anyway providing escort to B-17 units.

Units

  • 354th Fighter Group

    354th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved to England in the autumn of 1943 and was assigned to the Ninth Air Force in December 1943. The Group were the first to fly P-51 Mustangs operationally and in their bomber escort missions pushed to find the long-range limits of the...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 42
Number of aircraft Effective 42
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 2

Service

People

  • Robert Priser

    Military | Captain | Fighter Pilot | 354th Fighter Group
    Robert Priser joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before the entry of the United States into the war. After training at Glendale, California, he arrived in England in January 1942 where he followed additional training on Spitfires. Assigned to RAF N°71...

Aircraft

  • 43-12180

    P-51 Mustang
    With Pilot Captain Robert L. Priser at the controls, P-51 Mustang # 43-12180 of the 354th Fighter Group / 353rd Fighter Squadron was shot down by Fw190s during the escort mission of bombers due to raid aviation industry plants and marshalling yards in...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
13 January 2016 22:16:14 Lee8thbuff Created event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 13-Jan-2016. Added New Mission event for iX Fighter Command, 354FG participation based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freemena and "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
13 January 2016 22:07:25 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 13-Jan-2016. Added fighter claims on emeny aircraft to P-47 element statistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
13 January 2016 22:05:37 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 13-Jan-2016. Added fighter calims on enemy aircraft to P-38 element statistics per "The Mighty EIghth War Diary" ROger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
13 January 2016 22:03:50 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 13-Jan-2016. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eight War Diary" Roger A. Freeman and "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2015 12:57:18 ED-BB Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Added participation of 354th FG

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:20 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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