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Seventy years ago...

Discussion in 'Air War in the Mediterrean' started by mcoffee, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    Got out of order - the Var Bridge was the 26th. This is the mission for the 25th.

    Oil storage at Porto Marghera was struck on May 25th. Visual results were reported as very good. A large secondary explosion was seen and several oil tanks were in flames. A commendation for outstanding bombing was received by the Group from General Rush, C.G. 47th Wing. Two unidentified aircraft made passes on the B section firing rockets from 1,000 yards out. Moderate flak was experienced over the target. No losses, damage or casualties in the group.

    This was the first mission together as complete crew. As the Allen crew had no navigator with McEvoy in the 376th, they would fly with a variety of replacement navigators. John Cook of the McFain crew flew with them this day. The crew flew Miss De Flak, a borrowed 717th ship. There was an electrical short in the tail turret and it “almost burned up” per the debrief form.

    Mission credit 1, total 13; a/c 42-78125
     
  2. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    St. Charles Marshalling Yard, Marseilles, France was attacked on the 27th with good results. Several enemy fighters were sighted in the target area but none attacked the group. Seven P-51s and 4 P-38s were also seen in the target vicinity. Moderate flak cause minor damage to 13 ships and 3 crewmen sustained minor wounds.

    The Allen crew turned back when the co-pilot could not clear his ears for altitude. Bombs were jettisoned in Gulf of Taranto. It was apparent that the debriefer not pleased, noting that nothing was wrong with the ship.

    [SIZE=medium]Mission credit 0,total 14; 42-64389 Gremlin’s Delight (borrowed 719th[/SIZE] ship)
     
  3. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    [SIZE=medium]No mission was flown by the 449th[/SIZE] on the 28[SIZE=small]th. [/SIZE] The Wollersdorf Airdrome, Weiner-Neustadt, Austria – Bf-109 assembly - was attacked on May 29. Escort was provided by P-38s as far as Graz and P-51s were seen in the target area. Aggressive GAF fighter attacks before and after the target sandwiched intense flak over the target. Fourteen aircraft in the groups sustained minor flak damage and the 449[SIZE=small]th[/SIZE] gunners claimed 3 fighters destroyed and 1 damaged.

    [SIZE=medium]Bombing results were good with several hangers and buildings hit and set on fire, multiple secondary explosions from fuel/oil storage tanks and smoke rising above 19,000 feet.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Two Ton Tessie (42-52117) of the 719th[/SIZE] Squadron with the Fergus crew aboard lost a turbocharger near the IP and could not keep up with the formation. A flight of FW 190’s soon found the straggler and it was shot down. All ten crew members were taken POW.

    [SIZE=medium]Suzan Jane (42-52396) with the Henggeler crew (717th[/SIZE] Squadron) aboard was also shot down by fighters. Henggeler was flying ‘tail end charlie’ in the high box of the last section. Three fighters came up on Suzan Jane’s tail and riddled the aircraft killing the ball and left waist gunners. The other 8 bailed out and were taken POW.

    [SIZE=medium]The 15th[/SIZE] AF sent 536 over Weiner-Neustadt and Vienna with 20 losses. The GAF opposed the force with 101 fighters losing 22.

    [SIZE=medium]The Allen crew flew with only 5 gunners with the bombardier and navigator covering the nose turret.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Mission credit 2, total 16; a/c 42-52434 (unnamed)[/SIZE]
     

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  4. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    [SIZE=medium]An attack on the Ebreichsdorf, Austria, aircraft factory on May 30th[/SIZE] turned out to be one of the group’s poorest missions in may weeks. Smoke and fire from previous groups covered the target area. The lead was poor and the attack turned into what was described as a rat race, with no one certain what was to be bombed. The result was that such bombs as were dropped, fell well wide of the target.[SIZE=medium] Flak in the target area caused minor damage to 20 ships and 6 minor crew casualties.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]The Allen crew flying in Li’l Butch lost power on the #2 engine about 1 ½ hours after takeoff and could not hold formation. They turned back over Yugoslavia with the #2 engine feathered.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Mission credit 0, total 16; a/c 42-64363[/SIZE]
     
  5. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    On May 31 the 15th Air Force sent 494 heavy bombers to Ploesti with 5 refineries targeted. The 47th Wing was assigned the Romano-Americano refinery. A highly effective smoke screen over the city necessitated bombing by PFF methods after a visual approach from the IP. Results were unobserved due to the smoke screen but a towering cloud of black smoke rose above 10,000 feet and was visible for 45 minutes after leaving the target.

    Numerous fighters were encountered in the target area and the Group experienced intense flak. The combination caused damage to 28 aircraft but none were lost. The Ivers crew of the 717th made an emergency landing on the Island of Vis with flak damage, and the Samuelson crew landed at Bari to get immediate treatment for 2 wounded crewmen. A total of 4 were wounded in the Group and 1 Bf 109 was claimed shot down. Twenty eight 449th aircraft reported battle damage from flak and fighters. The 15th lost 16 bombers over Ploesti.

    Mullins was back with the crew but John Kelley of the Warner crew replaced Mansfield in the ball. Kelley was not aboard when the Warner crew was lost on the 26th.

    Mission credit 2, total 18; 42-64363 Li’l Butch

    The attached photo is reported as the 718th Squadron, 449th BG by NARA and is undated. Some sources have stated the photo is from 31 May. If that is correct, the only NMF ship the 718th had over the target was Ship #33, 42-95297 flown by the Dorton crew. The visible characteristics of the ship are consistent with a B-24H-30-FO. Ship 33 took off as an alternate and moved into the B-2-4 position directly behind Ship 11 which was carrying a photographer.
     

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  6. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The mission for June 2 was the Simera, Romania marshalling yard. The 449th was third in the Wing column and dropped into the smoke of the preceding groups with fair results. No fighter interception and slight flak in the target area. No losses, damage or casualties – basically a long milk run.

    Mission credit 2, total 20; a/c 41-29452 Honey on the Moon/Bomb Boogie.

    This aircraft was reportedly called Honey on the Moon by the McLeod crew. However, it carried the name Bomb Boogie by at least mid-Summer
     
  7. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    On the 4th, the 449th set out to bomb the Novi Ligure marshalling yard. 9/10 cloud cover over the target prevented an attack so the group turned to bomb the alternate, Savona harbor and dock facilities.

    Bomb strike photos showed the industrial area and dock installations well covered with many hits starting fires in warehouses and factory buildings. Two hits were recorded on a tanker tied up in the basin and a large rail road bridge crossing the river was hit at least 4 times.

    Mission credit 1, total 21; a/c 41-29218 Hot Rock

    Hot Rock was one of the group’s original aircraft and flew only 2 more missions after this one. It was then sent to the depot at Gioia as numerous pilots had complained that it flew badly out of rig. The depot discovered that a large shell fragment had lodged under the wing spar at the fuselage connection changing the incidence angle of one wing.
     
  8. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    June 6 saw the 15th once again targeting Ploesti. The 47th Wing was assigned the Romano-Americano Oil Refinery. The Wing lead (450th BG) went 50 miles left of course over Belgrade and into heavy flak. Ships #43 and #75 were hit and had to turn back. There were many angry comment in the debrief forms about the poor lead. The 449th was #4 in the Wing column and the flak positions were “fully awake” when they crossed Belgrade.



    The usual effective smoke screen was in operation over the city of Ploesti but towering columns of intense black smoke indicated that hits were scored. Nineteen ships had minor flak damage and one had major damage. Enemy fighters intercepted over the Danube. The group’s gunners claimed 2 Me-109’s damaged.



    The Haywood crew had the #1 and 2 engines shot up but made it back to base on two engines. The Bolt crew lost the #2 engine to flak which also wounded the co-pilot. After dropping behind the formation, fighter attacks wounded the ball gunner. Bolt managed to bring Ship #70 back to Grottaglie arriving 30 minutes after the formation.



    The 718th Squadron provided spare ships and 4 airborne alternates including the Allen crew. New replacement pilot Walter Progar flew his 3rd checkout mission as co-pilot. Progar’s navigator Reese Mathieu also flew with the crew. ‘Mat’ has attended many of the 449th reunions.



    On the return flight the group was informed over the command set of the event occurring at Normandy.



    Mission credit 2, total 23; a/c 41-29452 Honey on the Moon/Bomb Boogie
     
  9. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    No missions were scheduled on June 7 and 8. June 9 was a joint attack by the 8th and 15th Air Forces on German aircraft installations near Munich. The 47th Wing was assigned the Oberpfaffenhofen A/D were “Germans were reported to be experimenting with jet propelled aircraft”. The 449th was third in the Wing column.

    Over Udine on the route out, 42-52140 Ghost O’ The Omar was hit by flak and struggled to keep up with the formation. The Collins crew aboard finally turned back and crashed near Klagenfurt with 10 POW and 1 managed to Evade. As the 449th approached the target from the IP the group was forced off course by a group of red tailed B-24’s on a collision course. A 360 turn back was ruled out as it would have taken 25 to 30 minutes to return to the target. Weather was building in and the PFF equipment in the lead aircraft was not working. The group turned South to attack the secondary - oil storage facilities at Porto Marghera, Italy. The group experienced intense flak and attacks by approximately 20 fighters in the Munich area. Ship #28 turned back with the #1 engine out after claiming a Bf-109 damaged. Ship #25 turned back with the #4 engine shot out.

    The attack at Porto Marghera produced good results with much fire and smoke from burning oil storage tanks. Flak was considered moderate but claimed 42-52550 Fickle Finger flown by Operations Officer Rierson and the Weeks crew. Ten men were captured and 1 killed. The 449th had 10 ships damaged and 1 wounded among the returning ship.

    The Allen crew flew without their pilot who was replaced for the mission by Sylvan Lubin. Lubin was co-pilot of the original cadre Woods crew and moved up to 1st pilot late in his tour. ‘Mat’ Mathieu was again flying as navigator with the crew and combat photographer John Nolan was also aboard.

    Mission credit 2, total 25; a/c 42-94977 The Shack
     
  10. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    [SIZE=medium]Again the target is oil with the Trieste, Italy oil refinery main building as the aiming point. 5/10 cloud cover interfered with visual observation of results but an “exceptionally large fire” was started in the target area. Photo coverage confirmed good results. 12 enemy aircraft were seen in the target area but no encounters by this group. Moderate flak was reported and caused minor damage to 4 ships.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Air to air bombing was also reported after the target. Enemy twin engine aircraft were seen above and 30 bombs were dropped through the formation.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Sylvan Lubin again took the Allen crew on the mission with Mullins replaced by Leo Schmitz of the Krawiec crew flying his first mission.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=12pt]Mission credit 1, total 26; a/c 42-7750 Wood’s Chopper[/SIZE]
     
  11. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    [SIZE=medium]One of the longer missions flown by the 449th[/SIZE] in World War II was to the Constanta, Romania port and oil storage facilities on the Black Sea. Refined product was piped from Ploesti to the Black Sea and then transported to Southern Russian front. The mission order specified a bomb load of 16 - 250# bombs. Good coverage of the target area was reported but the 250 pounders were not sufficient to breach the revetments around the tanks and pumping station, so damage was not as great as it could have been.

    [SIZE=medium]Fighters intercepted over Western Romania and at least 7 trailed the formation into the target area. Moderate flak was reported over the target. As bombs were away, smoke pots were observed to lighted – too late to affect the targeting by smoke screen.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Ship #64 was damaged over the target and reported over the command set that it was low on gas. After falling behind the formation, the straggler was discovered by a flight of 5 Bf-109’s which attacked. 42-78294 was manned by a new crew headed by James Gudger, an experienced co-pilot made 1st[/SIZE] pilot late in his tour. The ship crashed in Bulgaria with six bodies recovered from the wreckage. Four men bailed out and were taken POW.

    [SIZE=medium]Once again Lubin piloted the Allen crew flying Ship #28. The tail turret failed completely prior to the target.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Mission credit 2, total 28; a/c 42-7726 (an original 449th[/SIZE] a/c that its first assigned crew intended to name Daisy Mae, but no art was ever painted)
     
  12. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    A bit late posting it, but here is the May war diary for the 718th Squadron
    Also added missing caption in post #12

    [SIZE=medium]718th[/SIZE] Bomb Sq. (H).
    [SIZE=medium]Grottaglie, Italy[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Joseph S. Rogers,[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]1st[/SIZE] Lt., Air Corps

    [SIZE=medium]Month of May 1944[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Events[/SIZE]

    1. [SIZE=medium]There was no mission on this day and so the softball games were resumed with fierce rivalry. Our team defeated the APO and Fire Fighters by a score of 5 to 2. Sgt. John Chambers returned to duty from the 26th[/SIZE] General Hospital.
    2. [SIZE=medium]Volleyball and softball games filled the day.[/SIZE]
    3. [SIZE=medium]Indicative of the importance of the Mickey ships was the assignment to this squadron of Cpl. Myron Steinberg who is a radar expert. There was no mission on this day and most of the news was made by veterans rejoining the squadron from the hospital and promotions. S/Sgt. Harry Smith who had been in the hospital since February came back to us. There was a shuffle in the S-2 Section with Sgt. Coleman, Cpl. Dickstein and Pvt. Teicher being transferred to other squadrons. S/Sgt. Damewood was transferred into the S-2 section. Damewood is well known for his excellent work on situation maps, target blowups and art techniques. S/Sgts. Hager, Coulton, Weaver, Turner and Lavergen were promoted to T/Sgts amid much rejoicing. Sgt. Dugas, Kirkpatrick, Ballopeter, Pearson and O’Mare were promoted to S/Sgt. As on all stand down days softball games were furiously played and again we beat the 909th[/SIZE] Air Base Security 13-0.
    4. [SIZE=medium]Flight officer Frank Sterner was commissioned a 2nd[/SIZE] Lt. today and given a brand new officer’s serial number. The promotion actually cut Lt. Sterner’s pay by about $15.00 per month, but he is nevertheless very pleased. Again there was no mission because of that old devil weather.
    5. [SIZE=medium]Today we went on a big one. The boys knew it was a “double credit” from the moment that they walked into the briefing room for there was that long string leading straight to Ploesti. Ten planes from this squadron participated in the mission which was successful. However, we were all grieved because of the loss of Lt. Paul Harper and his crew. The members of that crew were well known to everyone in the group because of the number of enemy fighters that they had destroyed and the Silver Star which had just been awarded to Lt. Semersheim. Those lost included Lts. Harper, Semersheim, Mann and Boren; Sgts. Barna, Clark, Borner, Williams, Farris and Byfield.[/SIZE]
    6. [SIZE=medium]Today we went to Brasov, Rumania with seven ships from our squadron dropping on the target. We fortunately had no losses but Sgt. Lethcoe was hospitalized with a slight wound.[/SIZE]
    7. [SIZE=medium]There was no mission today and so the athletic program was resumed with softball and calisthenics holding the spotlight. Lt. Krause and crew were sent to the 8th[/SIZE] AF in England
    8. [SIZE=medium]Captain Ogden squadron executive officer was sent to the hospital with a high fever. Lt. John White went on detached service to Orta Nova Chemical Ammunition Depot. Again our softball team defeated the 1140th[/SIZE] Quartermaster 4-2.
    9. [SIZE=medium]Again foul weather kept us on the ground. The day was spent in training and hearing the latest war situation from the S-2 Section.[/SIZE]
    10. [SIZE=medium]Pfc. Kenneth Burton went on detached service to the 98th[/SIZE] Bomb Group for the purpose of additional training on bombsight maintenance. Again “sunny Italy” was a misnomer and as a result there was no mission.
    11. [SIZE=medium]We received a new crew from England today in the place of Lt. Harris and his members. There was no mission and so softball was again the highlight with our team beating ordnance 12-2.[/SIZE]
    12. [SIZE=medium]We finally got off today and 10 of the squadron’s ships bombed San Stefano, Italy. This was the day of the start of the big offensive up north. It was planned to run two missions but weather halted the second.[/SIZE]
    13. [SIZE=medium]Nine of our ships bombed Piacenza in support of the ground offensive in Italy. All returned safely from a mission that is considered one of the fines jobs of precision bombing done in this theatre.[/SIZE]
    14. [SIZE=medium]S/Sgt. Fitzgerald was sent to Trade School at Bari. Seven of our planes went on a mission to Vicenza, Italy dropping 17 ½ tons. All returned doing some excellent bombing.[/SIZE]
    15. [SIZE=medium]There was no mission today and so the softball league blossomed forth again. We lost to the 909th[/SIZE] 2-0. Sgt. Northway lost the game because of poor fielding by his teammates.
    16. [SIZE=medium]Pfc. Lawrence Whitman returned after completing a six week radio course in Oran, Africa. S/Sgt. Warnke returned from Cryptographic school at 12th[/SIZE] AF, where he earned the highest grades made by any enlisted man at the school. There was no mission today and much time was spent in planning an EM club and day room. Cpl. Pacitti was appointed to draw up plans for the building.
    17. [SIZE=medium]Great news was received today in the person of Lt. Rouse and crew which returned from Yugoslavia where they were shot down. They had a tale of harrowing experiences to relate but the most interesting portions will remain a secret with S-2. The group went to Orbetello and this squadron had 12 planes on a mission. Results were excellent, but we lost one of our oldest and most liked crews. Lt. Silver’s ship was hit by flak which knocked the number two engine from the wing. There were 7 chutes seen. The crew included Lt. Turner, Lt. Foskett and Lt. Johnson; Sgts. Johnson, Eavenson, McBay, Morrison and Fry.[/SIZE]
    18. [SIZE=medium]We took off for a mission but turned back with the group because of weather. Another meeting of the committee for the EM club was held and it was decided to charge the first three grades $10 and the other grades $20 to provide funds.[/SIZE]
    19. [SIZE=medium]Lt. Steve Petz left the squadron and has been assigned to the 14th[/SIZE] Fighter Group where he can achieve his ambition to fly a “Hot Rock.” We sent 6 ships with the group to Spezia Harbor in Italy. S/Sgt. Datre was reclassified from a 505 to a duty NCO.
    20. [SIZE=medium]Captain Nosker, the Commanding Officer, was injured in a game of softball when he slipped and struck his side against a rock. He was rushed to the hospital where it was decided to operate in order to determine the extent of his injuries. His condition is satisfactory but it will be approximately six weeks before he returns. S/Sgt. Clark returned to the squadron where he recovered from wounds sustained in the Schwechat raid of 23 April. Pvt. Molnar was promoted to Corporal. [/SIZE]
    21. [SIZE=medium]S/Sgt. MacQueen and Sgt. Radozawski went to the ordnance school at Orta Nova. Lt. Stock left for Bombardier’s school at Bari. Fortunate T/Sgt. Manske was transferred in grade to the PRS for return to the United States. There was no mission today.[/SIZE]
    22. [SIZE=medium]Lt. Day left for 47th[/SIZE] Wing where he will be Wing assistant Crypographic officer. Cpl. O’Brien was reclassified so that he could become an aerial photographer. 8 planes participated with the group in a mission to north Italy but had to turn back. Our softball team defeated 1627[SIZE=small]th[/SIZE] Ordnance 8-3.
    23. [SIZE=medium]Captain Rex Tompkins, Squadron operations Officer, was appointed Squadron Commander while Captain Nosker is in the hospital. Lt. Herbert Martin took over Capt. Tompkins job as Squadron Operations Officer, while Lt. Minow was appointed Assistant Squadron Operations Officer. The mission today was unsuccessful and all the planes returned their bombs.[/SIZE]
    24. [SIZE=medium]S/Sgt. Warnke and Cpl. Donnell were sent to Wing to do Cryptographic work. Pvt. Heavey was promoted to Sgt. Today we went on one of those long tough ones, to Wiener-Neustadt in Germany. Our squadron sent 9 ships with the group dropping 22 ½ tons of bombs, returning without any losses.[/SIZE]
    25. [SIZE=medium]Eight of our planes participated with the group in a mission to Porto Marghera, Italy. All returned safely and without any casualties. S/Sgt. Paul F. Hadley was the first man in the group to finish his 50 missions.[/SIZE]
    26. [SIZE=medium]In a mission to Var, France we lost one plane with Lt. Warner’s crew. 4 planes from our squadron participated in the mission.[/SIZE]
    27. [SIZE=medium]Again our squadron went to Marseille, France with the group to hit vital communications targets. All 10 of our planes returned safely.[/SIZE]
    28. [SIZE=medium]No mission today and softball practice was held.[/SIZE]
    29. [SIZE=medium]Sgt. Palumbo went on DS to the Supercharger school at Bari. We hit the big league again today by going to Wiener-Neustadt. Our squadron sent 10 ships with the group. We had no casualties and Cpl. Nipper of Lt. Isaacs crew was given credit for destroying an Me 210.[/SIZE]
    30. [SIZE=medium]Sgt. Friedman of the S-2 section went to Naples to see his brother. Again we hit the hard one when 11 ships from our squadron went with the group to the Vienna area. All returned safely without any casualties.[/SIZE]
    31. [SIZE=medium]Our squadron sent 4 ships with the Group to the Ploesti Oil Fields. The rest of the crews spent the day in training and test hopping ships.[/SIZE]


    [SIZE=medium]Joseph S. Rogers,[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]1st[/SIZE] Lt., Air Corps,
    [SIZE=medium]Squadron Historian.[/SIZE]
     
  13. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    After being scheduled for 12 of the last 14 missions by the 449th, the Allen crew stood down on the 13th as the Group went back to Munich. The 718th Squadron provided aircraft spares and 4 airborne alternates. It turned out to be a rough mission as 26 of 40 aircraft were damaged and 4 men were wounded.

    The target for the 14th was the Osijek, Yugoslavia Oil Refinery. There was no fighter interception and no flak at the target – a milk run. As a result, excellent bombing results were achieved. Post mission analysis determined that the refinery was most likely completely out of service.

    Jim Allen was back as pilot of the crew. (no explanation of his absence has been found) The crew flew Ship #34 Hoppy, which would be their assigned aircraft henceforth. The aircraft was delivered to Bruning, NE in October 1943 while the 449th was training and receiving their original complement of aircraft. However, it was not among the 62 aircraft the group took overseas. Hoppy was most likely named and flown overseas by the 451st BG, and transferred as a replacement to the 449th on Feb 8. The starboard stabilizer was shot up over Regensburg on 25 February and replaced with a NMF one, which made the ship distinctive in the formation. (see avatar)

    [SIZE=12pt]Mission credit 1, total 29; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy[/SIZE]
     

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  14. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The 15th AF continued its assault on oil sending 439 heavies to various oil targets in the Vienna area. The 47th Wing attacked the Apollo oil refinery at Bratislava, Czechoslovakia with 155 aircraft producing “superior” results. Tremendous oil fires were visible as the group left the target and were still visible from 130 miles away. 25-30 enemy aircraft attacked group with 3 ME-109s and 2 Ju-88s claimed. The 376th BG was Wing lead with the 449th second. The 376th lost two aircraft to fighter attacks. The 449th had no losses but had 20 aircraft damaged by flak and 8 damaged by fighters. Four men sustained wounds but none were serious.

    Ship #34 had several holes in the nose turret. Merton Neal, copilot of the Krawiec crew flew his first mission replacing Johnson. The crew reported seeing 7 fighters go down in the target area although none of the crew’s gunners filed a claim.

    Mission credit 2, total 31; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy
     

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  15. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    After the 16th a series of severe weather fronts moved across Central Europe and the Balkans during the next five days with the result that both strategic and tactical bombing operations came to a complete standstill. In the 449th Group, missions to Belgrade, Ploesti, southern France and Vienna were briefed only to be canceled before takeoff.

    The weather cleared enough on the 22nd to get missions airborne with transportation targets across Northern Italy as the objectives. The 47th Wing sent the 450th and 98th to attack the marshalling yards at Udine, the 376th was assigned the railroad bridge at Casarsa and the 449 was assigned the railroad bridge at Latisana.

    The 449th found 10/10 cloud cover at Latisana and turned for the first alternate which was the Monfalcone shipyard. It too was obscured by clouds and an attempt was made to bomb submarines in the Pola harbor. Again clouds frustrated the attack and the 449th returned to base without bombing. Mission credit was granted since the group passed over the primary and both secondary targets. No flak or fighters were encountered at any of the targets.

    The Allen crew flew with Johnson back as co-pilot and ‘Mat’ Mathieu as navigator.

    USO shows would occasionally pass through making the rounds of AAF bases in southern Italy. Today a show was held at the 449th’s base at Grottaglie featuring comedy, dance and skits. Pictured are Paul Villard, Marian Owens, Saul Bullant, Patsy and Pat Moran from the USO troupe.

    Mission credit 1, total 32; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy
     

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  16. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    On the 24th the 718th Squadron supplied spare aircraft and 4 airborne alternates. It was a good mission to miss as the target was one again the Romano-Americano refinery at Ploesti. Ship #55 flown by the Anderson crew of the 717th Squadron had to turn back prior to the target. Fighters found the single and shot it down over Bulgaria. The top turret gunner wrote a book which details the harsh treatment the crew endured as POWs in Bulgaria. Twenty three of the returning ships had flak damage including 4 with major damage.

    June 25 was another victory for weather as both the primary and secondary targets were too obscured by clouds for an attack. The primary was the submarines and pens at Toulon Harbor, France. The secondary was the Var railroad bridge near Nice. From the 449th history – “So thick were the clouds that the flyers were never certain when they were over the French coast. Scattering like scared rabbits, the B-24’s dodged one another in the clouds and then scurried for home. Gasoline was short, bombs were jettisoned, the formation broke up, and it was every man for himself. Planes landed at Corsica, Rome, Naples, Bari, and a few even make it back to base. It was a grand rat race.” No Mickey ships were in the formation as PFF methods were not used by the 15th over occupied territory.

    About one-third of the Group landed somewhere for gas on the return flight. The Allen crew in Hoppy made it back directly to Grottaglie.

    Mission credit 1, total 33; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy
     
  17. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    [SIZE=medium]June 26, 1944[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]The 15th[/SIZE] AF sent 656 bombers to attack targets in the Vienna area. The 47[SIZE=small]th[/SIZE] Wing was assigned the Heinkel A/C Factory at Schwechat, on the Southeast side of Vienna. The factory was thought to be producing jet-propelled He 280 aircraft, although the project had been cancelled by this point. The other 4 wings were assigned oil refinery and storage facilities in the Vienna area, some of which were rumored to be producing jet fuel.

    [SIZE=medium]A hot reception awaited the force as the GAF put up 203 single and twin-engined fighters, as well as the large number of flak guns in the Vienna area. The 15th[/SIZE] had 38 total losses. The GAF claimed 37 downed by fighters and 7 probables, plus 15 claimed by flak. GAF losses tallied 32 with 8 more missing, 12 damaged; 28 airmen killed, 13 wounded and 13 missing.

    [SIZE=medium]The 449th[/SIZE] was third over the target in the Wing column and claimed their assigned targets on the eastern half of the field well covered with multiple secondary explosions and much smoke and flame. Photographic coverage confirmed the claims. The other groups in the Wing achieved similar results and production at the facility was terminated. The Wing received a commendation for outstanding bombing for the mission from 15th AF Commander Nathan Twining.

    [SIZE=medium]The group saw multiple fighters in the target area but there were no encounters. The fighters seemed to have focused on the other Wings. The group was in intense flak for at least 5 minutes which took its toll. Ship #2 Touch Me Not leading the C section took a flak burst near the waist which killed the right waist gunner and severely wounded the left gunner. The Harton crew landed a Foggia which was the first available base to get treatment for the wounded man.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]The Sullivan crew flying Miss Lee lost an engine to flak which they could not feather. The crew proceeded slowly south escorted first by the Davis crew in Ship #16 and then by a flight of P-38s which came along. The crew was forced to bail out over Yugoslavia where one man was killed on the ground by members of the Ustachi. The others evaded with the help of Partisans and returned to duty in early July. Most members of this crew (flying with a different pilot/co-pilot) went down again on 26 August with another member killed and 7 captured.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Among the returning ships 19 were damaged, three of which were major. Hoppy with the Allen crew aboard had minor flak damage to the nose.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Mission credit 2, total 35; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy[/SIZE]
     

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  18. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    June 27, 1944

    The target for today was the Vecses Airdrome at Budapest, Hungary. A heavy cloud layer up to 22,000 feet over the Yugoslav mountains forced a turn to the alternate target, the marshalling yard at Brod, Yugoslavia. Over Brod, a 3/10 cloud layer at 17,000 feet became a 9/10 layer by 22,000 feet. Bombing was visual as there were no Mickey ships in the formation. The clouds caused poor results as “bombs fell all over the town leaving the marshalling yards untouched”. The formation was in moderate flak for 3 minutes which caused minor damage to 12 ships.

    Mission credit 1, total 36; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy
     
  19. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The 449th flew a mission to Zagreb, Yu on June 30 to attack the airdrome there. The target was visible from the IP but clouds obscured it by the time the formation reached the airdrome. The lead PFF ship malfunctioned and bombs were dropped by ETA with unobserved results. The 718th Squadron supplied spares and 4 airborne alternates, the Allen crew was not scheduled to fly.

    July 2, 1944

    The Vecses Airdrome at Budapest Hungary that was attempted on June 27 was again the primary target for the 47th Wing. The other Wings of the 15th AF targeted oil refineries and transportation targets around Budapest. The 449th sent out 40 B-24s of which 2 were early returns. A few enemy fighters were spotted in the target area but none directly attacked the group. Three unidentified aircraft cut across in front of the formation’s “C” section throwing out a smoke screen. Bombing results were reported as very good with a good pattern across the A/D and photo coverage backed up the visual claims.

    Moderate flak over the target caused minor damage to 12 ships. Wood’s Chopper flown by the Kirkland crew of the 718th Squadron was hit hard and left the target with the #3 engine feathered. The other three engines were smoking on the return flight. The crew managed to get within 4 miles of the base before crashing. The pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer were killed in the crash and 4 other crewmen were seriously injured.

    The Conboy crew of the 717th Squadron was hit by flak over Mostar on the return flight and landed at Bari to get aid for the wounded co-pilot.

    The 15th AF put a total of 611 heavies over targets in Budapest with 16 losses.

    Mission credit 2, total 38; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy
     
  20. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    July 3, 1944

    The 15th’s assault on oil supply continued with oil refineries and oil transportation facilities targeted across the Balkans. The 47th Wing was assigned the Guirgiu Oil Storage Depot south of Ploesti. This was a port facility on the Danube where product from the Ploesti refineries was transported via pipeline to be loaded onto barges for distribution. The 449th sent 28 aircraft with the force. Four Bf-109’s made a pass from 12 O’Clock level and broke left, leaving to attack a straggler from another group.

    Flak of about 3 minutes duration was termed in the mission summary as “the most accurate yet encountered by this Group”. Fourteen aircraft were damaged and ships #9, #52 and #48 each lost an engine to flak. Ship #34 Hoppy lost the #2 prop governor and the #2 and #4 generators. The tail gunner aboard ship #52 was seriously wounded.

    Four large oil tanks were reported as destroyed in the Eastern tank farm, but the Northeastern tanks which were also targeted were missed.

    The totals for the 15th AF were 560 aircraft attacking targets in Romania and Yugoslavia with 11 losses.

    Mission credit 2, total 40; a/c 41-28600 Hoppy
     

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