Skip to main content
Edit entry 

VIII Bomber Command 119

3 November 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

October 1943 turned out to be the worst loss rate for 8th Air Force for the entire war. 2,145 B-17s and 303 B-24s had been dispatched on missions. 163 B-17s had been lost (lost rate 7.5991%) and 9 B-24s were lost (loss rate 2.9703%). These loss rates meant that the B-17 crews chances of completing a 25-mission tour was only 28.32%. The losses on the 10-Oct-43 mission to Munster of 30 aircraft, followed by the devastating losses of 60 aircraft on the Second Schweinfurt mission of 14-Oct-43, caused the the USAAF high command to re-think the whole theory that the bombers could effectively protect themselves without long range fighter escort and some even questioned the whole strategy of "daylight bombing." With the arrival of the 55FG with P-38 Lightnings at Nuthampstead on 14-Sep-43 and the achievement of operational status on 15-Oct-43, there was a least some optimism of USAAF high command the P-38 would stem the losses, even though it was not particularly suited for "mixing it up" with the Bf-109s and Fw-190's of the Luftwaffe. The 55th had been "cutting their teeth" all during the latter half of October 1943 and were now thought to be fully qualified to support another "big" bombing mission to Germany.

On 3-Nov-43, the 8th Air Force went back to attacking Germany with a vengeance. The 3-Nov-43 mission was an all-out dispatch of 438 B-17s and 117 B-24s to bomb the German port areas of Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The mission would also be supported by 333 P-47s providing penetration and withdrawal support and 45 P-38s which would go all the way to the target and back with the bombers.

The mission consisted of three elements. The first element was a combined "maximum effort" force of 217 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division that included: 91BG (24); 92BG (25); 303BG (23); 305BG (20); 306BG (25); 351BG (25); 379BG (24); 381BG (27); and 384BG (24) dispatched to Wilhelmahaven, Germany. 211 aircraft of this element were effective on the target. 6 aircraft (2.765% loss rate) Failed to Return (FTR) 48KIA 12POW. 31 aircraft were damaged. 11 airmen in aircraft that returned were Wounded in Action (WIA). The bomber gunners of this element claimed 20-3-23 on attacking German aircraft.

The second element was a combined "maximum effort" force of 221 B-17s from 3rd Bomb Division that included: 94BG (33); 95BG (27); 96BG (50); 100BG (26); 385BG (27); 388BG (30); and 390BG (28) dispatched to bomb Wilhelmshaven, Germany. 212 aircraft of this element were effective on the target. Only 1 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) (0.045% loss rate) 8KIA 2POW. 11 aircraft were damaged. Only 1 airman in a returning aircraft was wounded. The bomber gunners in this element claim 1-0-1 of attacking German aircraft.

NOTE: 11 PFF B-17s from 485BG were interspersed in the 1BD and 2BD formations and used H2X radar to identify the target and assist the bombardiers to effectively determine "bombs away."

The third element was a combined "maximum effort" force of 117 B-24s from 2nd Bomb Division that included: 44BG (28); 93BG (28); 389BG (33); and 392BG (28) dispatched to bomb Wilhelmshaven, Germany. 105 aircraft were effective on the target. There were NO losses or claims in this element, but 5 aircraft were damaged.

Fighter support (cf. VIII FC FO-168) from the 45 P-38s dispatched claimed 3-5-5 of attacking enemy aircraft. The 333 P-47s accounted for another 11-0-2 of attacking enemy aircraft.

Consideration must be given to the fact that the bomber formations were not attacked by the massive fighter formations put up by the Luftwaffe against the attacks at Munster and Schweinfurt, and the penetration was not as deep as that at Schweinfurt. However, credit must be given to the fighters for keeping the Luftwaffe from the bomber formations. 2 of the B-17s that were lost were involved in mid-air collisions. 566 bombers were dispatched and only 7 were lost (1.236%) which is a vast improvement from the 7.559% loss rate experienced in October 1943. Their was some relief, at last, and a boost in morale that this air war could be won.

Mission details

1. WILHELMSHAVEN

Description

HARBOUR INSTALLATION

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

One B-24 managed to drop 4 X 1000GP on the Initial Point.

Units

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

  • 392nd Bomb Group

    392nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 392nd Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators out of Wendling, Norfolk from August 1943 until April 1945. They were the first Group allocated B-24H Liberators, the first B-24 series fitted with a nose turret on the production line. The adaptation increased...

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 308.45
Number of aircraft Sent 120
Number of aircraft Effective 108
Number of aircraft Damaged 5

2. WILHELMSHAVEN

Description

NAVAL BASE

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

482nd Bomb Group contributes 11 Pathfinder (PFF) aircraft dispersed among the elements on this attack. Fighter opposition was mainly concentrated on the first wave. This wave and the third did not encounter as many German fighters. 96th Bomb Group is the first to fly A, B and C formations (double strength) with a despatch of 50 aircraft.

Units

  • 100th Bomb Group

    100th Bomb Group

    Group
    "The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...

  • 385th Bomb Group

    385th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9...

  • 388th Bomb Group

    388th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 388th Bomb Group flew strategic bombing mission from Knettishall, Suffolk from June 1943 to the end of the war. During this time, though, detachments were sent to Fersfield, Norfolk to conduct Aphrodite missions. In these Aphrodite missions veteran...

  • 390th Bomb Group

    390th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 390th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Framlingham, Suffolk, between July 1943 and the end of the war in Europe. The Group was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This...

  • 94th Bomb Group

    94th Bomb Group

    Group
    Activated 15 June 1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. Initial organization and training at Pendleton Field, Oregon on 29 June 1942. Primary flight training at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona from 28 Aug. 42 to 31 Oct. 42; then at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas...

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

  • 96th Bomb Group

    96th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 96th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses to targets across occupied Europe from May 1943 to April 1945. ...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 479.70
Number of aircraft Sent 225
Number of aircraft Effective 216
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 11
Number of people Killed In Action 8
Number of people Wounded in Action 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

3. WILHELMSHAVEN (Primary)

Description

NAVAL BASE

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

First mission using H2H (radar) (9) and H2S (radar) 2; Aiming point completely destroyed; First 500 plane mission by 8th Air Force. GEN Ira Eaker begins planning a "maximum effort" against the German Aircraft industry and the Lufttwaffe code named "OPERATION ARGUMENT". This operation will begin on 11 January 1944 and ramp up to "Big Week" in late February 1944. This is the largest attack staged by 8th Air Force to date on a single target (566 heavy bombers).

Units

  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    Group
    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Group
    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 379th Bomb Group

    379th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 379th Bomb Group (H) (heavy), based at Kimbolton, flew more sorties than any other Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and dropped a greater bomb tonnage than any other Group. The B-17 Flying Fortress Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit...

  • 381st Bomb Group

    381st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 381st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Ridgewell, Essex between June 1943 and April 1945. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing shipyards at Bremen, whilst under heavy attack, on 8 October 1943 and...

  • 384th Bomb Group

    384th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 384th Bomb Group flew B-17s from Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, between May 1943 and June 1945. They were engaged in daylight bombing missions over Germany as part of the Allies' efforts to destroy the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe by...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    Group
    The 92nd Group sometime after arrivial in the UK converted to the role of in-theater combat crew indocrination and training. For this role, the Group traded its B-17F complement and obtained the B-17E, mostly from the 97th BG which was departing for...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 660.00
Number of aircraft Sent 221
Number of aircraft Effective 215
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 6
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 2
Number of aircraft Damaged 31
Number of people Killed In Action 48
Number of people Wounded in Action 11
Number of people Prisoners of War 12
Number of people Returned To Duty 20
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 20
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 3
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 23

Service

People

  • Carl Baer

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Pilot, Baer crew, 381st BG, 535th BS, 8th AF. Forced to ditch in the North Sea on mission #62 to Brunswick, Germany on 30 Jan 1944 in B-17F #42-30029 'Chap's Flying Circus'. MACR 2495. Lt Baer radioed that they were running out of fuel and may not make...

  • Roy Bass

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 95th Bomb Group
    Top Turret Gunner Roy Bass was an original member of the Robert E. Fischer crew. As he had not filled his quota of 25 missions like the others, he stayed behind and flew with Pilot Sidney Balman on 42-30609 'Pistol Packin' Mama' for his 24th mission,...

  • Barclay Beeby

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group

  • Charles Bliss

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Retired from the USAF with the rank of Colonel

  • Neil Brennan

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Air Gunner, Togglier/Bombardier | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 26 November 1943 in B-17 #42-30832, Prisoner of War (POW). He was a POW from 26 Nov 1943 to 04 May 1945 at Stalag 17B, Krems, Austria. Prisoner of War (POW) no. 100388. POW

  • Webster Bull

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Shot down 22 December 1943 in B-17 #4237773 'Full House. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA). The plane was ditched in the Ijsselmeer, The Netherlands. AM w/ 2 Oak Leaf Cluster / Purple Heart

  • Phillip Burke

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    RWG, Hess crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-3540 'Bacta-th'-Sac'. Mission #46 to Solinger, Germany. MACR 1660. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft I, Luft III and Luft VIg (?). POW

  • John Burkot

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Tail Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

  • Claude Campbell

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. 30 x combat missions. ETD Awards: DSC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME, UN and Korean medals. Post war: Remained in USAF, serving in Korean conflict.

  • Carl Christensen

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Bombardier / L,R Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner / Togglier | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 525BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 25 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) in 42-31083; A/C exploded mid-air near Downham Market, England. Killed in Action (KIA). Awards: AM, PH.

Show more

Aircraft

  • 41-24605 Knock-out Dropper

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned to the 359BS/303BG [BN-R] Bangor 22-Sep-42; Molesworth 22-Oct-42; First 8th Air Force aircraft to complete 50, then 75 missions- 27-Mar-44; with M/Sgt Buford Pafford as crew chief; 1 Base Air Depot, Burtonwood 5-Jun-44; Reconstruction Finance...

  • 42-29524 'MEAT HOUND'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 31/12/42; Salina 7/1/43; Morrison 2/12/43; Homestead 14/2/43; Assigned 423BS/306BG [RD-D] Thurleigh 2/3/43; transferred 358BS/303BG [VK-K] Molesworth 30/7/43; 25m Missing in Action Oschersleben 26/1/44 with Jack Watson (RTD-alone),...

  • 42-29651 Stella

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26/1/43; Salina 9/2/43; Brookley 3/3/43; Morrison 9/3/43; Assigned Harris Prov. Gp, en route from Marrakech to St Eval, Cornwall, UK 7/4/43 force landed Lytchett Minster, near Poole, Dorset, low on gas with Talmadge Wilson, Co-pilot:...

  • 42-2973 IZA VAILABLE

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-G] Presque Is 27/11/42; Molesworth 13/12/42; Returned to the USA 2/7/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Arledge 22/11/44. IZA VAILABLE.

  • 42-30026 BATTLE WAGON

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 1/4/43; Sioux City 13/4/43; Kearney 4/5/43; Bangor 20/4/43; Assigned 534BS/381BG as BATTLE WAGON but not to UK; transferred 546BS/384BG [BK-J] 29/5/43; Returned to the USA 13/7/43; 4100 BU Patterson 31/7/43; 4000 BU Patterson 5/12/43...

  • 42-30033 "Little America"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 2/4/43; Sioux City 13/4/43; Kearney 4/5/43; Bangor 20/5/43; Assigned to the 547BS/384BG [S0-G] Grafton Underwood 24/5/43, then the 546BS [BK-G]; Missing in Action Leverkusen 1/12/43 with Maj Maurice Stanley Dillingham, Co-pilot:...

  • 42-30177 Charlene

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/4/43; Gore Fd 27/4/43; Cheyenne 2/5/43; Sioux City 13/5/43; Smoky Hill 11/6/43; Dow Fd 16/6/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 23/6/43 as CHARLENE; 15m transferred RCM 803BS Sculthorpe 19/1/44; Oulton 16/5/44; 36BS Cheddington...

  • 42-30212 Quarterback

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/4/43; Sioux City 14/5/43; Smoky Hill 11/6/43; Dow Fd 16/6/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 17/6/43; transferred Aphrodite project, Missing in Action V-sites, Watten 6/8/44 with Lt Joeseph P Andrecheck & T/Sgt Raymond Healy (2...

  • 42-30213 Lil' One

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/4/43; Gore 9/5/43; Sioux City 10/5/43; Smoky Hill 11/6/43; Dow Fd 15/6/43; Assigned 562BS/388BG Knettishall 1/6/43; crashed on take off for Bremen after encountering mechanical problems 13/11/43 with Bob Simons, Co-pilot: Alvin...

  • 42-3064 Stardust

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 5/2/43; Assigned 353BS/301BG Morrison 25/3/43; transferred 100BG Thorpe Abbotts /43; 358BS/303BG [VK-O] Molesworth 13/7/43; battle damaged Bremen 26/11/43 with Bill Fort wia-frostbite, Co-pilot: McDonald Riddick, Bombardier: Chas...

Show more

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
31 January 2018 18:04:54 william henry Changes to description
Sources

Correct typos

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2016 20:05:53 Mags Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

303rd BG Web Page

Date Contributor Update
14 July 2015 21:25:08 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 14-Jul-2015. Correcting typos in narrative.

Date Contributor Update
08 July 2015 20:21:02 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Jul-2015. Added bomber gunner claims to 3rd BD statisitics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
08 July 2015 20:19:00 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Jul-2015. Correction typos in statistics.

Date Contributor Update
08 July 2015 20:17:10 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Jul-2015. Added bomber gunner claims to 1BD statistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
08 July 2015 19:54:47 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Jul-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", Roger A. Freeman. Loss statisitcs calculated from loss statistics collected from MACR sources and tabulated and calcualted by Mr. Cunningham.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:16 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'.

Share