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VIII Fighter Command FO 245 BOMBER ESCORT

20 February 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A combined force of 835 fighters of types: P-38, P-47 and P-51 is assembled and despatched to provide escort to the first BIG WEEK mission heavy bombers attacking at Leipzig and Brunswick, Germany. The combined total of all claims against enemy aircraft by the fighters of this mission is 61-7-37 (confirmed) an encourgaing validation, along with the 50-18-19 (exaggerated) claims of the bomber gunners, that the bomber despatches against high-value targets is drawing the Luftwaffe into conflicts that will ensure its destruction. Mission summary follows:

A combined force of 94 P-38s from 20FG & 55FG are despatched. 20th fighter group fails to make contact with it's assigned bomber groups due to engagement with enemy fighters. 55FG will actually fly two operations (one on penetration and one on withdrawl) in support. 1 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 1KIA.

A combined force of 688 P-47 from: VIII FIghter Command 4FG; 56FG; 78FG; 352FG; 353FG; 355FG; 356FG; 359FG; and 361FG AND IX Fighter Command 358FG and 362FG are despatched. 356FG 361FG and IX FC 362FG actually fly two operations (one on penetration and one on withdrawal) in support. 2 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 2KIA. 2 aircraft are Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) - 2RTD. 4 aircraft are damaged.

A combined force of 73 P-51s from: 357FG and IX Fighter Command 354FG are despatched. 1 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 1 POW

Mission details

1. LEIPZIG/BRUNSWICK

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

20th Fighter Group was unable to make connection with their assigned bomber groups because of engagements with enemy fighters.

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 94
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 2
Number of people Killed In Action 1
Number of people Wounded in Action 1

2. LEIPZIG/BRUNSWICK

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

358th Fighter Group (P-47)and 362nd Fighter Group (P-47) from IX Fighter Command contribute 86 P-47s to the escort. (Claims and losses not in table). The 358th Fighter Group and the 362nd Fighter Group (IX Fighter Command) flew two missions in support of this operation. The 20th Fighter Group was unable to make contact with the bombers due to attacks by enemy aircraft. The fighters have a great day against the Luftwaffe with the greatest claims on a single mission so far in the war. The tactic of drawing the Luftwaffe up with the bombers as the bait seems to be the key to the Allies achieving air supremacy over the Continent. The fighter claims of all P-38 and P-47 units are bundled under this element.

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...

  • 362nd Fighter Group

    362nd Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group trained in P-47s and moved to England in November 1943. Arriving earlier than many other Ninth Air Force fighter groups, the pilots main occupation was escort work for heavy bombers. The Group's first mission on 8 February 1944 was one...

  • 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...

  • 78th Fighter Group

    78th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. It flew all three of the USAAF's principal fighters. On D-Day every available Thunderbolt provided air cover to the Allied...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 582
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 2
Number of aircraft Damaged 4
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Number of people Returned To Duty 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 59
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 7
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 37

3. LEIPZIG/BRUNSWICK

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

354th Fighter Group (P-51) from IX Fighter Command contributes 30 P-51s to escort.

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...

  • 357th Fighter Group

    357th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 357th Fighter Group was the first P-51 Mustang Group in the Eighth Air Force, training with them from November 1943 at Raydon, England and entering combat with them in the February of the following year from their new base at Leiston. The Group was...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 43
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 2

Service

People

  • Robert Kinsey

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Robert Sylvester Kinsey Born April 1 1924 in Oklahoma's Osage Indian Reservation in Hominy Oklahoma to Robert S. Kinsey and Olive Forsythe. His father worked for the Train Company in the Oil Fields. Later moved to Atchison Kansas were he married his...

  • Donald Ross

    Military | Major General | Pilot | 357th Fighter Group
    Joined RCAF Aug 41, assigned 121S, transferred to 335th FS, 4th FG, 8AF USAAF, promoted to 1st Lieutenant, destroyed E/A Oct 43, transferred to 357th FG, bailed out after pieces of the ME-109 he’d just destroyed severely damaged his engine. Captured...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
09 February 2016 22:39:25 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 9-Feb-2016. Made connection to IX FC 354FG and added fighter claims on enemy aircraft to statistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
09 February 2016 22:37:07 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 9-Feb-2016. Made connections IX FC 358FG and 362FG; corrected statisitics to include IX FC losses; added fighter claims of P-38 & P-47s to statistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
09 February 2016 22:30:19 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 9-Feb-2016. Added note to P-38 Leipzig element.

Date Contributor Update
09 February 2016 22:27:52 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 9-Feb-2016. Added Mission Narrative per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

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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