VIII Bomber Command 61

29 May 1943

Description

Three primary targets are selected for this mission. The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are selected as the target for a force of 169 B-17s despatched from: 91BG (23); 92BG (22), 303BG (30); 305BG (25) 306BG (24); 351BG (21) and 379BG (24). This is a "maximum effort" operation. There is a new innovation being tried in this formation: the YB-40. These were conceversions of B-17F models and were primarily "gun ships" and not intended to carry bombs. A twin .50cal machine gun chin turret was added; a twin .50cal Martin power turret machine gun replaced the hand-held Radio Room MG. The right waist gun opening was moved slightly forward and a twin .50cal MG position was added, also a twin .50 cal MG position was made at the left waist gun position. The aircraft were also retro-fitted in England with an additional cheek gun (.50cal) on each side, bringing the total to 16 .50cal machine guns. The bomb bay was used as the central storage for 11,135 rounds of ammunition. These modifications and the tremendous quantity of ammunition added pver 4,000 pounds to the dry weight of the aircraft. The idea was that these gun ships would be placed in the most vulnerable positions within the bomber formations. The additonal weight affected the center of gravity of the aircraft and made them difficult to fly. In addition once the bombers had dropped their bombs, the YB-40s were still so loaded with ammunition that they could not stay in formation with the returning bombers. 7 of these aricraft flew this mission with the 92BG and 1 with the 305BG. None of the YB-40s were lost on this mission but the formation sustained 8 B-17s MIA, all due to anti-aircraft fire. 147 of 169 were effective on the target. Fighter opposition was light and the bomber gunners only claimed 6-0-1 on enemy fighters.

Another formation of 38 B-24s from 44BG and 93BG are despatched against the U-Boat pens at La Pallice, France. 34 of the 48 B-24s despatched are effective on the target. There is no fighter opposition and flak is light and inaccurate. There are no losses or claims. This is the last bombing operation for 44th Bomb Group before being assigned for Temporary Duty with the 12th Air Force flying out of North Africa.

Two elements are put together to bomb the naval storage depot at Rennes, France. The first of these is a combined force of 56 B-17s from; 94BG (18); 95BG (18) and 96BG (20). These fly in there own distinct BG formations. 54 of 56 are effective on the target but 6 (10.7%) are MIA. The bomber gunners claim 19-5-4 on the enemy fighters. The other element attackin a Rennes is a "composite group" made up of 16 B-17s from: 94BG (4); 95BG (2) and 96BG (10). This is the first instance where such a formation has been attempted. The navigators among the aircraft became confused and the formation was not able to make a coherent run on the target. Only 3 of the 16 were effective on the target. There were no losses or claims.

Mission Details

LA PALLICE (Primary)

Description: U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator

Notes: This is the last mission for the 44th Bomb Group before leaving for North Africa.

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

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 99.00
  • Aircraft sent: 38
  • Aircraft effective: 34

RENNES (Primary)

Description: NAVAL YARD

Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes: A composite Group made up of 4 from the 94th Bomb Group, two from the 95th Bomb Group and 10 from 96th Bomb Group fly as a unit on this raid. First such instance.

  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 95th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 132.50
  • People killed in action: 31
  • People wounded in action: 10
  • People evaded: 8
  • Prisoners of war: 22
  • People returned to duty: 9
  • Aircraft sent: 72
  • Aircraft effective: 57
  • Aircraft missing in action: 6
  • Aircraft damaged beyond repair: 1
  • Aircraft damaged: 30

SAINT-NAZAIRE

Description: U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes: The 379th Bomb Group flies its first mission.7 YB-40s of 92nd Bomb Group and one YB-40 from 305th Bomb Group are used to escort the bombers for defence. The YB-40s are too heavy to keep up with the bomber formation. No fighter escort on this mission.

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: 277.00
  • People killed in action: 23
  • People wounded in action: 10
  • People evaded: 2
  • Prisoners of war: 46
  • People returned to duty: 9
  • Aircraft sent: 169
  • Aircraft effective: 147
  • Aircraft missing in action: 8
  • Aircraft damaged beyond repair: 1
  • Aircraft damaged: 58

Connections

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People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 305th Bomb Group Can Do 366th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 11054408
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Tail Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 379th Bomb Group 524th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 19040467 / O-733509
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 379th Bomb Group 524th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 31329927 / O-793258
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 322nd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 334th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 18124489
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant (Technician Third Grade)
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner

Aircraft

Revisions

Date15 Jan 2016 19:15:12
ContributorMags
Sources

303rd BG Web Page

Date4 Jan 2015 21:45:18
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 4-Jan-2015. Added description based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman and "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop; YB-40 information based on "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story" Roger A. Freeman with David Osborne.

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'.