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8th Air Force FO 250 BOMBER ESCORT

24 February 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A combined force of 767 fighters of types: P-38; P-47 and P-51 are despatched to provide escort to the heavy bombers attacking the German aircraft industries at Gotha, Germany and the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany as part of Day 5 of BIG WEEK. Mission Summary follows:

A combined force of 70 P-38s from 20FG & 55FG are despatched. 4 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) -3KIA 1POW. The fighters of this element claim 1-0-0 of attacking German aircraft. There are no other losses or casualties

A combined force of 609 P-47s are despatched. 8th Air Force: 4FG; 56FG; 78FG; 352FG; 353FG; 355FG; 356FG; 359BG; and 361FG. IX Fighter Command: 362FG and 365FG alos participate. 4 8th Air Force aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 4KIA. 11 aircraft are damaged. 1 airman in a returning fighter is MIA. The fighters of this element claim 31-0-13 of attacking German aircraft. There are no other losses or casualties.

A combinedd force of 88 P-51s from 357FG and IX Fighter Command 354FG and 363FG participate. 2 aircraft from 357FG Failed to Return (FTR) - 2POW. The fighters in this element claim 6-1-1 of attacking German aircraft. There are no other losses or casualties.

Mission details

1. GOTHA/SCWEINFURT

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

70 P-38s dispatched from all 8th Air Force Fighter Command Groups

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 70
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 1

2. GOTHA/SCWEINFURT

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

The 359GF and 365 Fighter Group (IX Fighter Command) flew two missions for this operation, one as escort going in and one as cover coming out. Split of aircraft for 8th Air Force Fighter Groups and 9th Air Force Fighter Groups not possible from available data, so the statistics are combined together.

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...

  • 359th Fighter Group

    359th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 359th Fighter Group flew 346 missions from East Wretham between December 1943 and April 1945. In the main these missions were escorting bombers flying over occupied Europe. The Group, soon after converting from Thunderbolts to Mustangs, were...

  • 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...

  • 365th Fighter Group

    365th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved to England in December 1943 as part of the Ninth Air Force. Flying P-47s, the Group took part in missions over northern France designed to weaken Germany's ability to repulse the planned Allied invasion of summer 1944. After 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...

  • 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 609
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 4
Number of aircraft Damaged 11
Number of people Killed In Action 4
Number of people Wounded in Action 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 31
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 13

3. GOTHA/SCWEINFURT

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

354th Fighter Group and 363rd Fighter Group form IX Fighter Command contribute P-51s to escort. They score one kill one enemy aircraft. No losses.

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...

  • 363rd Fighter Group

    363rd Fighter Group

    Group
    Equipped with P-51s, the Group entered combat from England in February 1944, flying bomber escort and ground-strafing missions. They took part in the invasion of Normandy, protecting gliders and troop carriers on 6 and 7 June. In September 1944, now...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 88
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of people Prisoners of War 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 6
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2016 18:47:50 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 11-Feb-2016. Made connections to IX FC units and added claims on emeny aircraft to P-51 element statistics per "the Mighty Eighth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2016 18:45:36 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 11-Feb-2016. Made connections to IX FC units and added claims on enemy fighters to statistics of P-47 element per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2016 18:42:32 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 11-Feb-2016. Added fighter claims on enemy aircraft to P-38 element statistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
11 February 2016 18:40:29 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 11-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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