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VIII Bomber Command 50

5 April 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

The industrial area of Antwerp, Belgium is the primary target of this mission. More specifically the Erla aircraft and engine factories are the highest priority. 79 B-17s are depatched: 91BG (20); 303BG (21); 305BG (18); 306BG (20). 64 of the 79 are effective on the target. The fighter opposition is fierce, especially on 306BG which loses 4 aircraft MIA. It so happens that Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong has tagged along as an observer on the lead B-17 from 306BG. The aircraft is damaged and several of the crew are wounded, but the aircraft manages to make it back to England. BrigGen Armstrong later recounted the lead aircraft was attacked from head-on at least 25 times by the German fighters.

NOTE Roger A. Freeman mentions that there was a Spitfire escort for this formation which went as far as Ghent, Beligum before having to turn back. However, he does not include the statistics for this fighter escort in his "The Mighty Eighth War Diary". This would lead one to believe that the escort was provided by RAF units rather than those of the 8th Air Force.

25 B-24s also are deaptched and join the attack: 44BG (14) and 93BG (11) 18 of these 25 are effective on the target, but there are no aircraft lost from this formation. The combined claims on enemy aircraft from both groups is 23-8-4.

Mission details

1. ANTWERP (Primary)

Description

ERLA AIRCRAFT FACTORY

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

No fighter escort on this mission. T Sgt M. Roscovich (306th Bomb Group) becomes the first airman in the 8th Air Force to complete a tour of 25 missions. The Belgian Ambassador to the United States protested about the inaccurate bombing that resulted in many civilian casualties (936 killed, 1,342 injured).

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,...

  • 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...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 191.50
Number of aircraft Sent 79
Number of aircraft Effective 64
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 4
Number of aircraft Damaged 12
Number of people Killed In Action 13
Number of people Wounded in Action 3
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 26

2. ANTWERP (Primary)

Description

ERLA AIRCRAFT FACTORY

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

Not yet known

Units

  • 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 54.00
Number of aircraft Sent 25
Number of aircraft Effective 18
Number of aircraft Damaged 1

Service

People

  • William Baker

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    William Baker was an original member of the Group. He flew as Left Waist gunner on the Robert W. Seelos crew and was shot down on 5 April 1943 in B-17 #41-24465 'Montana Power'. MACR 15534. ...

  • Harold Beasley

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Beasley's crew claimed to shoot down 4 German fighters on a mission over Paris on 4 April 1943, they then claimed a further fighter on a mission over Antwerp the following day. ...

  • Henry Compton

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 5 April 1943 in B-17 #42-5431 "Lil Abner". Crew bailed out and saw their plane explode. Landing in the Antwerp area, in and around a factory, most of them were quickly gathered by Germans. Prisoner of War (POW) in Stalag Luft 3, Sagan/Zagan,...

  • Joseph Consolmago

    Military | Captain | Navigator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Joseph Consolmagno had completed 8 missions as a Navigator when he was shot down 5 April 1943 in B-17 #42-5431 "Lil Abner". Crew bailed out and saw their plane explode. Landing in and around a factory, they were quickly gathered by Germans. Was a...

  • James Crouch

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    He was checked out as a First Pilot, but while waiting for his replacement crew to arrive to England he was assigned as Copilot on Lt. Clarence Fischer's crew. Shot down 5 April 1943 in B-17 #42-5431 "Lil Abner". Crew bailed out and saw their plane...

  • Francis Eastham

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Francis Eastham was Top Turret gunner on B-17 #42-5431 "Lil Abner", shot down 5 April 1943. Crew bailed out and saw their plane explode. Landing in the Antwerp area, in and around a factory, most of them were quickly gathered by Germans. Prisoner of...

  • Clarence Fischer

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Clarence Fischer was Pilot of B-17 #42-5431 "Lil Abner", shot down 5 April 1943. Crew bailed out and saw their plane explode. Landing in the Antwerp area, in and around a factory, most of them were quickly gathered by the Germans. Helped by Belgian...

  • James Gross

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Flying as a squadron lead, went down 5 April 1943 in B-17 #425072. The account in Strong's book relates that well after the bail out Gross was found standing in the radio room by TG O'Brien as 2 other crewmen were attempting to fly the plane. A...

  • Fred Hampton

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Fred Hampton was Radio Operator on B-17 #41-24465 'Montana Power', shot down 5 April 1943 in Belgium. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • William Keskey

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Shot down 5 April 1943 in B-17 #41-24465 'Montana Power'. Initially evaded with the help of Dutch, Belgian and French individuals, he was arrested in Bordeaux, France on 18 June 1943, trapped in the net of Belgian traitor Prosper De Zitter, working for...

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Aircraft

  • 41-24465 Montana Power

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 368BS/306BG [BO- ] Westover 17/8/42; Thurleigh 16/10/42; Missing in Action to the ERLA works in Antwerp 5 April 1943 with Pilot Robert W. Seelos (POW). Co-pilot: Alexander Kramarinko (Evaded - POW); Navigator: William W. Saunders (POW); Ball...

  • 41-24561 The Duchess, "Sure Stuff"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-T] Bangor 10/9/42; Molesworth 16/10/42; 59m transferred 1 Base Air Depot (sic),* Burtonwood 7/7/44; Returned to the USA Altus 18/8/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Altus 14/8/45. Over...

  • 41-24587 Bad Check

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 427BS/303BG [GN-P] Bangor 5/10/42; Molesworth 25/10/42; Missing in Action 45m Oschersleben 11/1/44 with George McClellan, Co-pilot: Bill Fisherex B-26 pilot on his 1st mission, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Dave Tempesta, Radio Operator:...

  • 41-24612 The Devil Himself

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 427BS/303BG [GN-R] Bangor 25/9/42; Molesworth 26/10/42; transferred AFSC 25/5/43 for special gun tests; 1 CCRC Bovingdon /43; Returned to the USA 20/12/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Altus 9/10/45.

  • 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.

  • 42-5177 Fast Worker Mk II, Fast Woman

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 6/10/42; New Castle 19/10/42; Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-U] Molesworth 1/2/43; battle damaged Bremen 28/11/43 with Harry Bolsover, Co-pilot: Chas Rice, Navigator: Byron Clark, Bombardier: Chas McLain, Flight engineer/top turret gunner:...

  • 42-5341 'Vicious Virgin' aka 'Scarlet Harlot' aka 'VAT 69'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 16/12/42; West Palm Beach 9/1/43; Assigned 427BS/303BG [GH-Q] Molesworth 7/2/43; severe battle damaged Bernberg 20/2/44 with Bob Hullar, Co-pilot: Capt Dick Dubell, Navigator: Elmer Brown, Bombardier: Jim McCormick, Flight engineer/top...

  • 42-5360 Old Faithful, War Bride

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 20/11/42; New Castle 13/12/42; Assigned 358BS/303BG Molesworth [VK-N] 8/1/43; Missing in Action [35m] Oschersleben 11/1/44 with Harry Schwaebe, Co-pilot: Harry Dumse, Navigator: Paul Degnan, Bombardier: Wilburn Wiley, Flight engineer...

  • 42-5390 The Avenger

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 30/11/42; Salina 20/1/43; Assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-L] Molesworth 26/3/43; Missing in Action Wangerooge Is 25/6/43 with Joe Palmer, Co-pilot: Bob Sheldon, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Elmer Duffy, Radio Operator: Edmund Gullage,...

  • 42-5392 Stric Nine, City of Albuquerque

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 29/11/42; Salina 25/1/43. ...

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
29 December 2014 19:43:15 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 29-Dec-2014. Correction to typo in description.

Date Contributor Update
29 December 2014 19:39:50 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 29-Dec-2014. Description based on "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop and "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:17 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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