44th Bomb Group Mission Number 2

Date City Country Target
6/11/1943 Bremen / Wilhelmshaven Germany U-boat Pens

Unofficial Mission Summary 

(ODR) Primary Target Bremen - Weather report noted heavy clouds.
Seconday Target: Wilhelmshaven - Bombed Wilhelmshaven

Excerpt from Intelligence Report:


Thiry-one aircraft of 379th Bombardment Group were air-borne at 1444 Junell, 1943 for the purpose of bombing, as a primary target, the naval ship building yard of the German Ship and Machine Building Co. at Bremen. The secondary target was the naval dock yards in the Bauhafen, Wilhelmshaven. Aircraft of the 524th, 525th, 526th, and 527th, squadrons comprised the 379th Group.

Two of our aircraft aborted; one directly over Heligoland because of a complete failure of the oxygen system. This plane suffered hits by accurate flak on turning homeward over Heligoland. The other aircraft turned back about ten minutes from the German coast because of the failure of two turbo-chargers.

Taking the cue from the lead plane the formation by-passed the primary target at Bremen and proceeded to the secondary target of Wilhelmshaven. Apparently this change of course was due to the weather report which stated that there was a heavy cumulus bank reported over Bremen. Although three of our aircraft failed to drop their bombs on the target the results of the bombing by the other twenty-eight aircraft was observed to be good.

The strength of the enemy fighter opposition was formidable. It was estimated that approximately two-hundred enemy fighters took part in the action including FW-190's, Me-109E's and F's, Ju-88's, and ME-110's. Mostly their tactics in attack was to drive on our nose from high to level with a half roll through the formation. Their markings were silver, grey molted, checkered, and many with yellow noses. Some Me-110's had maroon and dark brown crosses on the wings. Several crews reported that the enemy pressed the attack close to the noses of our aircraft. In one instance an FW-190 was seen to collide head on with a Fortress. Our stragglers were jumped on whenever the opportunity was presented to our opponents.

The general impression was that the enemy flak was slight to moderate; good as to range but erratic as to deflection. No red bursts or other phenomena were noted. One of our aircraft was hit in the number two engine nacelle by accurate fire over Heligoland. Slight and inaccurate flak was encountered at Aurich and Noderney.

One engine of ship 114 was shot off completely by a nose attack by enemy fighters. The plane was seen to go into a spin. Aircraft 138 was attacked on his left wing and was seen to go down. No parachutes were observed in either of these events.

Flames broke out from the rear of the cockpit of aircraft 915 as it was attacked by an enemy fighter. This happened on the return trip as the ship crossed the coast at an altitude of sixteen-thousand feet. The crew were unable to take to their parachutes.

Two FW-190's were seen to attack aircraft 875, causing the plane to go down without any of the crew being able to escape.

As the formation was over Juist Island on the return trip one aircraft dropped back from the formation and was not seen again.

Three of our aircraft landed on friendly soil with either the ship or the personnel injured. At 2039, aircraft 830 landed at Thurleigh after having an encounter with FW-190's on the return trip. This occured as they crossed the German coast about 1807, and at an altitude of twenty-four thousand feet. The Fortress' nose and it's rudder controls were shot away. Aircraft 809 landed at Coltishall with four of it's crew casualties. Aircraft 827 made it's way to Shipden although it was severely damaged by flak. The crew of this plane returned to the base later.

At Wilhelmshaven, an ineffective smoke screen was seen.

An enemy aircraft was reported flying about one thousand feet above our formation which dropped an aerial bomb. This bomb exploded about five hundred feet ahead and six-hundred feet above our plane. The explosion appeared to be heavier than that of the flak.

Three submarines were reported heading out of the target area, and one was seen at 1948 emerging about five miles off the English coast on the route back.

After the formation had passed over the target, A B-17 came out from the German mainland and joined the formation. Another b-17 was seen flying about two-thousand feet above the formation until it was within sight of the English coast. It then turned and flew back over the North Sea.

At this writing, we have lost six aircraft, have had one man killed, twenty men wounded, and a total of sixty men missing.

Twenty-three crews and twenty-three aircraft returned to the base.

Cap., Air Corps.,
S-2 Officer.

Lt. Col. Maurice A. Preston's crew: right vacuum pump went out. Flight indicator lags.

Lt. Paul W. Hartman crew: Composite Group Leader very poor.

Lt. Willis C. Carlisle crew: Ball Turret electrical system went out, guns wouldn't fire.

Lt. Joseph E. Theiss crew: Solenoid, upper and lower turrets ceased to function after 450 rounds. Twin nose guns jammed after 150 shots, repaired it and it worked O.K. The left side nose gun failed to function, also it ran away at one time. Top turret inter-phone unsatisfactory at high altitude. Heated gloves did not work.

Lt. Carl W. Brink crew: Bomb bay doors open and close too slowly. Seat pack chutes do not permit freedom of action required by gunners.

Lt. Weldon F. Holmes crew: Two superchargers (#2 and #3 engines) went out, #4 engine fuel pressure went down to five pounds. Lost #2 engine after hit and could not feather the prop. The oxygen lines are unsatisfactory. The hydraulic unit of the Ball Turret leaked oil badly. Both guns of waist went out of action due to too long a feed belt. Also radio room gun went out of action for the same reason. Nose gun jammed.

Lt. Sam P. Satariano crew: Range pedal of the Ball Turret got stuck in a "down" position.

Lt. Robert P. Paulin crew: Bombardiers should be called out to check racks at time of bomb loading. Two run-away superchargers (engines #1 and #4_. Solenoid, left gun, Top Turret, had loose connection. Position of Navigaters gun allows improper head space. Navigator's gun fired only twice per impulse. Ship should have been taken off mission because of faulty armament. The adapter of the bombardier's right hand gun failed to function. While men were at school all guns were changed. Left osygen hose in waist is too short. Oxygen hose in Top Turret too short. One mike cord missing from ship.

Lt. Lyster A. Brumley crew: Number 2 vacuum pump failed.

Lt. Lester L. Barnard crew: Number 1 prop ran away. Number 2 and 3 viabrated on climb at 25 inches, 2300 rpm. Nose gun socket froze. One tail gun froze and the second tail gun went out over target. Leaky Vickers unit. Window of the tail gunner's position frosted.

Lt. Noble M. Johnson crew: Number 1 supercharger completely unoperative. Number 3 supercharger raped intermittent loss of power. Engine ran smoothly.

Lt. Frank A. Hildebrandt crew: technical failures occured on two guns, turret and left tail.

Lt. Milton D. Wallace crew: Right and left nose guns went out. Inter-com system went out. Guns in poor condition. It was not the crews ship. Ammunition was improperly loaded. Bomb bay doors wouldn't close. Needs gravity motors for upper turret. All in all, this plane was not in condition to fly a mission.

Lt. Frank N. Ashley crew: Waist gunner and radio man did have trouble with heated gloves. Don't heat as well as should.

Lt. Douglas K. Groom: Vacuum pump too hight. Top turret guns out. #1 carburetor tempratures out. Ball turret guns out. Right and left waist gunners fingers were frost-bitten. Should have heated gloves.

Elimination of Composit Group is suggested.

Lt. Archie E. Burdette: Technical failures occured in #4 engines. Windows frosted. Guns went out in the left nose, forward nose and the right gun in the ball tureet went out.

Arming wires should be wired to rack so that bombs cannot be dropped safe.

Lt. Erwalt D. Wagner crew: number 2 booster pump shot out. Number 1 oil temprature 85 degrees centigrade with cowl wide open. Number 1 oil pressure dropped to 60 pounds. Solenoide in top turret and ball turret absolutely worthless. Believe there was a leak in the top turret oxygen.

Ball turret gunner needs extra oxygen tank. When crew is excited it is hard to get them to refill his tank. Means should be devised for the defrosting of the dome and nose.

Lt. Howard O. Koeppen crew: Abortive. Oxygen line was broken on ground but was never properly repaired. Top turret was stuck upon reaching the ground.

Waist gunners need scarfs and heated gloves. Need empty cartridge catchers. Defrosters for nose, tail and ball turret. Bomb bay oxygen tubes could be lengthened to reach hand crank.

Lt. Walter F. Carnal's Crew suggests: That when a crew is assigned to fly a ship other than their own, that they be notified in time to completely check the plane.

Lt. Walter F. Carnal's Crew reports finding secret pictures of aircraft plans, maps and
other data on this plane.

Bombardier suggests single nose gun installed in nose instead of twin.

The crew suggests that a lotion be issued to prevent glasses from freezing up at high altitude.

Radio operators head set should have a longer extension cord. This was suggested after the last mission but nothing has been done.

Lt. Thomas J. Simones Crew: Right upper turret gun, right ball turret and right tail guns jammed at altitude. Feed to twin nose gun jammed.

Belt feed should be shortened. Stagger waist guns. First aid packets should include splints for broken bones.

Lt. Donald W. Merchant crew: Left waist flying suit did not heat. Tail gunner's gloves did not heat.

Lt. Courtney T. Brown crew: Eliminate composite Group.

Lt. Donald W. Merchant crew: Stagger waist guns.
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