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8th Air Force FO 259 BOMBER ESCORT

3 March 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A combined fighter force of 730 aircraft of types: P-38; P-47 and P-51 are despached to escort the heavy bombers despatched to bomb the primary targets of Berlin, Erkner and Oraneinburg, Germany. The P-38 elements were the first American aircraft to fly over Berlin. Mission Summary follows:

A combined force of 89 P-38s are despatched from: 20FG; 55FG and 364FG. 1 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 1KIA. 1 aircraft was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) in a crash attributed to Pilot Error - 1RTD. There were no other losses, casualties or claims in this element.

A combined force of 484 P-47s are despatcheed. 8th Air Force: 56FG; 78FG; 352FG; 353FG; 355FG; 356FG; 359FG; and 361FG. These are joind by IX Fighter Command: 358FG and 362FG. 1 aircraft sustains a malfunction and is Damaged Beyond Repais in a crash. pilot bales out - 1RTD. 1 airmen in a returning aircraft is WIA. 13 aircraft are damaged. There are no other losses, casualties of claims in this element.

A combined force of 130 P-51s is despatched. 8th Air Force: 4FG and 357FG These are joined by fighterss from IX Fighter Command: 345FG and 363FG. 5 aircraft from 8th AF Failed to Return (FTR) - 2KIA 2POW 1RTD (rescued by ASR). 1 aircraft from IX Fighter Command 354FG Failed to Return (FTR) - 1POW. The fighters in this element claim 8-1-3 of attacking German aircraft. There are no other losses, casulaties or claims in this element.

Mission details

1. WILHELMSHAVEN

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

The P-38s flew over Berlin, the first aircraft of 8th Air Force to do so.

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...

  • 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 89
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 1
Number of people Returned To Duty 1

2. WILHELMSHAVEN

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

358th Fighter Group and 362nd Fighter Group from IX Fighter Command contribute an undetermined number of P-47s to the escort and these are included in the number sent, but losses and claims shown in the table are only those of 8th Air Force Fighter Groups. 354th Fighter Group (IX Fighter Command) had one Missing in Action (MIA) (not included in table). One 362nd Fighter Group (IX Fighter Command) P-47 crash-landed at its base, aircraft was Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR) (no included in table).

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...

  • 358th Fighter Group

    358th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 358th Fighter Group flew seventeen missions with the Eighth Air Force from Leiston air base. At the beginning of February 1944 the Group were transferred to the Ninth Air Force in exchange for the 357th Fighter Group. With the Ninth, the Group went...

  • 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...

  • 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

Tonnage dropped Not Applicable
Number of aircraft Sent 484
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Returned To Duty 1

3. WILHELMSHAVEN

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

354th Fighter Group and 363rd Fighter Group from IX Fighter Command contribute and undetermined number of P-51s to the escort and these are included in the number despatched.

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...

  • 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...

  • 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 130
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 6
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Number of people Prisoners of War 3
Number of people Returned To Duty 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 8
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Fighter Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 3

Service

Aircraft

  • 43-6437

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Lt Col Don Blakeslee led the 4th Fighter Group in this aircraft on their first escort mission to Berlin on 3 March 1944. Although a notoriously unreliable aircraft, Blakeslee kept 43-6437 because of its rare Malcolm...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
16 February 2016 20:36:44 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-2016. Made connections to IX FC units and added claims on enemy aircraft to statistics of P-51 element per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman and "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
16 February 2016 20:32:38 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-2016. Made connections to IX FC units per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
16 February 2016 20:29:57 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 16-Feb-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.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:14 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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