8th Air Force 246

3 March 1944

Description

A combined force of 748 heavy bombers are despatched to bomb the primary targets of Berlin, Erkner and Oranienburg, Germany, but weather and dense contrails forced most of the formations to turn back or seek Targets of Opportunity (TOs). 1st Combat Wing (91BG; 381BG and 389BG) turned around and flying through dense contrails met formations of 4th CBW. 3 aircraft were lost in mid-air collisions during this encounter. Mission Summary follows:

1st Air Division: 260 B-17s from: 91BG; 92BG; 303BG; 305BG; 306BG; 351BG; 379BG; 381BG; 384BG; 401BG; 457BG and 482BG are despatched. Only 61 aircraft are effective on the industrial and port areas of Wilhelmshaven, Germany as a Target of Opportunity (TOs). 3 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 15KIA 15POW. 3 airmen in returning aircraft were WIA. The bomber gunners claim 3-1-1 of attacking German aircraft.

3rd Air Division: 295 B-17s are despatched from: 94BG; 95BG; 96BG; 100BG; 385BG; 388BG; 390BG; 447BG and 452BG. Only 14 managed to bomb a Target of Opportunity. 6 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 33KIA 24POW 3RTD (rescued by ASR). 2 airmen in returning aircraft are KIA. There are no other losses, casualties or claims in this element.

2nd Air Division: 193 B-24s are despatched from: 44BG; 93BG; 392BG; 445BG; 446BG; 448BG; 453BG; and 458BG. Only 4 managed to bomb a Target of Opportunity (TO). 2 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) 20KIA. 1 battle damaged aircraft was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) when it crashed on takeoff - 3KOM 7RTD. There were no other losses, casualties or claims in thise element.

457th BG MISSION NO 7 - BERLIN, GERMANY

3 MARCH 1944

The 457th returned to Erkner and the V.K.F. ball bearing works. The Group comprised the low box of the 94th Combat Wing and six craft were provided for the high box. Major Watson was Air Commander and Lt. Bender was pilot.

The weather again proved to be a deterrent and prevented the bombing of the target. Due to heavy cumulus clouds topping 28,000 feet, the Group was unable to locate the 94th Combat Wing and later joined the 41st Combat Wing, which had only two boxes. After crossing the Rhine River between Cologne and Coblenz, the preceding wings turned back and headed toward England. No bombs were dropped, but the six aircraft assigned to the 94th Combat Wing high box did drop on an unidentified target by PFF methods. Results were not observed due to heavy cloud cover. Enemy resistance was moderate, primarily flak over the coastal area. All aircraft returned and damage was minor.

Mission Details

Description: BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes: All Groups despatched are from 3rd Bomb Division. It has not been determined which Groups from 3rd Bomb Division attacked this target. Heavy contrails and clouds prevent bombing.

  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 385th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 388th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 390th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 447th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 34-96
  • Aircraft sent: 295
  • Aircraft effective: 14

Description: BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator

Notes: All Groups despatched are from 2nd Bomb Division. It has not been determined which Groups from 2nd Bomb Division attacked this target. Heavy contrails and clouds prevent bombing.

The insignia of the 392nd Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
A pathfinder B-24 Liberator (serial number 42-51681) of the 453rd Bomb Group flies in formation with a fellow Liberator of the 453rd and and a pathfinder Liberator of the 445th Bomb Group. Image via Alan Rowsell.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
A flight of B-24 Liberators of the 446th Bomb Group fly in formation above the clouds.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 448th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 9.99
  • People killed in action: 26
  • People wounded in action: 8
  • People returned to duty: 7
  • Aircraft sent: 193
  • Aircraft effective: 4
  • Aircraft missing in action: 2
  • Aircraft damaged beyond repair: 1

BERLIN (Primary)

Description: INDUSTRIAL AREA

Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes: Weather and dense contrails force most of the formations to abort. None hit Berlin and most of those that bomb hit Wilhelmshaven and 14 are forced to bomb targets of opportunity. Groups participating are those of 1st Bomb Division. 457th BG MISSION NO. 6 - BERLIN, GERMANY 3 MARCH 1944 The Eighth went to Berlin for the first U. S. daylight raid on the city, although weather conditions were far from favorable. The 457th dispatched twenty-one bombers to Erkner, the home of the V.K.F. ball bearing works, sixteen miles from the center of Berlin, which manufactured over 7% of the total enemy production of ball bearings. The Erkner facility had taken on major importance since the raids on Schweinfurt. The 94th Combat Wing led the Eighth with the 457th flying the low box. Major Henry B. Wilson was Air Commander and Lt. Vinton H. Mays was pilot. Heavy cloud formations extended as high as 29,000 feet and dense persistent contrails made formation flying practically impossible. The 457th failed to effect assembly with the 94th Combat Wing and attached itself in the low position of another two box wing. The Group continued with this position until a recall message was received. Lt. Eugene H. Whalen had failed to make assembly with the Group and attached his craft to the 92nd Bomb Group. His became the only 457th aircraft to bomb; he was able to see a section of the city through the broken undercast. Group members witnessed the collision of two B-17s from another group. An unknown group came out of a cumulus cloud on a collision course with the 457th. Two of the planes collided and exploded at an altitude of approximately 25,000 feet. The resulting concussion bounced the aircraft piloted by Lt. Robert L. Wetherald considerably, and burned the fabric off the elevators and left aileron. All aircraft returned to the base without further incident.

Official emblem of the 303rd Bomb Group approved 7 November 1942.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 351st Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 379th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 0.00
  • People killed in action: 15
  • People wounded in action: 3
  • Prisoners of war: 15
  • Enemy aircrafts destroyed by bomber: 3
  • Enemy aircrafts probably destroyed by bomber: 1
  • Enemy aircraft damaged by bomber: 1
  • Aircraft sent: 419
  • Aircraft missing in action: 3
  • Aircraft damaged beyond repair: 1

ERKNER (Primary)

Description: INDUSTRIAL AREA

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 0.00

ORANIENBURG (Primary)

Description: INDUSTRIAL AREA

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 0.00

WILHELMSHAVEN (Opportunistic)

Description: HARBOUR INSTALLATION

Notes: It has not been determined which Groups from 1st Bomb Division attacked this target.

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 152.32
  • People killed in action: 35
  • Prisoners of war: 24
  • People returned to duty: 3
  • Aircraft sent: 61
  • Aircraft effective: 61
  • Aircraft missing in action: 6

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 615th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 6962724
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Top Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 612th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-735233
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator; Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 506th Bomb Squadron
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 349th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 16171635
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: waist gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 18193418
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Radio Operator

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 506th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Battle wagon
  • Unit: 381st Bomb Group 384th Bomb Group 546th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Old 66/Lady Margaret
  • Unit: 388th Bomb Group 561st Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Tenny Belle
  • Unit: 379th Bomb Group 525th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Heaven Can Wait, Boche Buster
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 612th Bomb Squadron

Revisions

Date17 Feb 2016 18:56:42
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 17-Feb-2016. Added 457BG notations to this Mission from mission on 4-Mar-44. See 8th AF Mission 247 notes and source citations.

Date16 Feb 2016 20:05:21
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-2016. Added bomber gunner claims on enemy aircraft to Berlin element per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date16 Feb 2016 20:01:56
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-2016. Corrected statistics for 2AD TOs per "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date16 Feb 2016 19:56:42
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cuningham 16-Feb-2016. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman, "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop and John A. Hey MBE; and MACRS.

Date13 May 2015 13:19:39
Sources

Mission detail added courtesy of Diane Reese - http://www.457thbombgroup.org/Narratives/MA6.html

Date27 Sep 2014 18:43:11
ContributorAAM
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'.