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8th Air Force 279 BOMBER ESCORT

24 March 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A force of 540 fighters of types: P-38; P-47 and P-51 are despatched to provide escort to heavy bombers attacking at Schweinfurt, Germany and St. Dizier, France airfield. 266 of the 540 aircraft (both P-47 and P-51) are supplied by IX Fighter Command units. 2 groups of P-47s are assigned to escort the bombers attacking at St. Dizier, France. Bad weather in England prevented 7 fighter groups from taking off. Despatch summary follows:

A combined force of 84 P-38s from: 55FG and 364FG are despatched. 2 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 1POW 1EVD. There are no other losses, casulaties or claims in this element.

A combined force of 301 P-47s are despatched: 8th Air Force: 56FG 78FG; 356FG; and 361FG. These are joined by others from IX Fighter Command: 362FG. The fighters in this element claim 1-0-0 of attacking German aircraft in the air and 2-0-4 on the ground. There are no other losses, casualties or claims in this element.

A combined force of 155 P-51s are depatched. 8th Air Force: 4FG and 355FG. These are joined by others for IX Fighter Command: 354FG and 363FG. 3 aircraft Failed to Return (IX FC 354FG) - 2KIA 1RTD(rescued by ASR). There are no other losses, casualties or claims in this element.

Mission details

1. AMSTERDAM / ANTWERP / BRUSSELS / CHARLEROI

Description

300 BUNDLES DROPPED

Aircraft type

Not yet known

Notes

Not yet known

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 6
Number of aircraft Effective 6

2. Nancy, France

Description

BOMBER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

84 P-38s provide escort. 2 are lost in a mid-air collision near Nancy, France. 1POW-1EVD.

Units

  • 364th Fighter Group

    364th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 364th Fighter Group flew 342 missions in P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs from Honington, Suffolk. The missions ranged from escorting bombers and dive-bombing and strafing targets to area patrol missions across a swathe of land that took in France...

  • 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 84
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 1

3. Frankfurt, Germany / Schweinfurt, Germany

Description

BOMBER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

301 P-47s provide escort. 2 groups assigned to escort bombers going to Nancy, France, the others providing penetration and withdrawl support to the force attacking at Schwienfurt/Frankfurt. These are a mix of 8th Air Force units and IX Fighter Command units. Claims on enemy aircraft include 2-0-4 on the ground.

Units

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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. The 78th FG flew each of the three US built principal fighters of the AAF in the ETO. In their Thundetbolts, the 78th FG ...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 301
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 3
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 4

4. Nancy, France / Schweinfurt, Germany

Description

BOMBER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

155 P-51s are despatched. These are a mix of 8th Air Force units and IX Fighter Command units. 3 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) (IX FC 354FG) 2KIA 1RTD (rescued by ASR)

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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 155
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Number of people Returned To Duty 1

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2016 18:19:56 Lee8thbuff Created event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 6-May-2016. Added Mission Event for Nancy/Schweinfurt P-51element based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman and "Losses of the 9th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2016 18:14:26 Lee8thbuff Created event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 6-May-2016. Added Mission Event for Frankfurt/Schweinfurt P-47 element based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman and "Losses of the 9th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2016 18:06:42 Lee8thbuff Created event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 6-May-2016. Added Mission event for P-38s in Nancy element based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2016 18:00:55 Lee8thbuff Changes to name, date and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 6-May-2016. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman and "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE and MACRS.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:12 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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