VIII Bomber Command 50

5 April 1943

Object Number - UPL 7072 - Strike photograph of the Erla aircraft factory at Antwerp being bombed by B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 1st Bomb Wing, 5 April 1943.

Description

The industrial area of Antwerp, Belgium is the primary target of this mission. More specifically the Erla aircraft and engine factories are the highest priority. 79 B-17s are depatched: 91BG (20); 303BG (21); 305BG (18); 306BG (20). 64 of the 79 are effective on the target. The fighter opposition is fierce, especially on 306BG which loses 4 aircraft MIA. It so happens that Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong has tagged along as an observer on the lead B-17 from 306BG. The aircraft is damaged and several of the crew are wounded, but the aircraft manages to make it back to England. BrigGen Armstrong later recounted the lead aircraft was attacked from head-on at least 25 times by the German fighters.

NOTE Roger A. Freeman mentions that there was a Spitfire escort for this formation which went as far as Ghent, Beligum before having to turn back. However, he does not include the statistics for this fighter escort in his "The Mighty Eighth War Diary". This would lead one to believe that the escort was provided by RAF units rather than those of the 8th Air Force.

25 B-24s also are deaptched and join the attack: 44BG (14) and 93BG (11) 18 of these 25 are effective on the target, but there are no aircraft lost from this formation. The combined claims on enemy aircraft from both groups is 23-8-4.

Mission Details

ANTWERP (Primary)

Description: ERLA AIRCRAFT FACTORY

Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes: No fighter escort on this mission. T Sgt M. Roscovich (306th Bomb Group) becomes the first airman in the 8th Air Force to complete a tour of 25 missions. The Belgian Ambassador to the United States protested about the inaccurate bombing that resulted in many civilian casualties (936 killed, 1,342 injured).

Official emblem of the 303rd Bomb Group approved 7 November 1942.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 191.50
  • People killed in action: 13
  • People wounded in action: 3
  • People evaded: 1
  • Prisoners of war: 26
  • Aircraft sent: 79
  • Aircraft effective: 64
  • Aircraft missing in action: 4
  • Aircraft damaged: 12

ANTWERP (Primary)

Description: ERLA AIRCRAFT FACTORY

Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator

The insignia of the 93rd Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 54.00
  • Aircraft sent: 25
  • Aircraft effective: 18
  • Aircraft damaged: 1

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: 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers 368th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 34258894
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: waist gunner
First Lieutenant Harold Beasley,of the 91st Bomb Group with his B-17 Flying Fortress. Press caption for image series: ‘EXCLUSIVE PICTURES AS CREWS RETURN FROM RAID. Night and Day air blitz of enemy continues. “Forts” smash Axis factories at Antwerp. Raid carried out by crews who took part in Paris raid previous day. The greatest air offensive in history is being carried out by the Anglo-American air forces. For 72 hours bombs have been crashing down on Hitler’s Europe in the West almost nonstop. A
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 401st Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-379237
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 323rd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Major
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers 367th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 33121634
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Radio Operator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers 367th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 11044073 at enlistment, then O-724020
  • Highest Rank: Captain
  • Role/Job: Navigator

Aircraft

Revisions

Date29 Dec 2014 19:43:15
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 29-Dec-2014. Correction to typo in description.

Date29 Dec 2014 19:39:50
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 29-Dec-2014. Description based on "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop and "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:43:17
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'.

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