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8th Air Force FO 275 BOMBER ESCORT

20 March 1944

Official description

Not yet known

Description

A force of 594 fighters of types: P-38; P-47 and P-51 are despatched to escort heavy bombers attacking at Frankfurt and Mannheim, Germany. Dispatch summary follows:

A force of 44 P-38 from 364FG are despatched. There are no losses, casualties or claims in this element.

A combinded force of 345 P-47s from: 56FG; 78FG; 352FG; 353FG; 356FG; 359FG; and 361FG are despatched. 56FG flies two missions: one on penetration and one on withdrawl. 6 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR) - 2KIA 3POW 1EVD. 9 aircraft are damaged. The fighters in this element claim 1-0-1 German aircraft on the ground. There are no other losses, casualties or claims.

A combinded force of 205 P-51s from: 8th Air Force 126 aircraft: 4FG; 355FG; and 357FG. These are joined by 79 P-51s from IX Fighter Command: 354FG and 363FG. 2 aircraft from 363FG (IX FC) Failed to Return (FTR) - 2KIA. 3 aircraft are damaged. The fighters claim 4-0-1 of attacking German aircraft. There are no other losses casualties or claims.

Mission details

1. FRANKFURT

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-38 Lightning

Notes

Not yet known

Units

  • 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...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 44
Number of aircraft Damaged 3

2. FRANKFURT

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-47 Thunderbolt

Notes

56th Fighter Group flew two missions. The fighters claim 1-0-1 of German aircraft on the ground.

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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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

Number of aircraft Sent 345
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 6
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 3
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 1
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

3. FRANKFURT

Description

FIGHTER ESCORT

Aircraft type

P-51 Mustang

Notes

354th Fighter Group and 363rd Fighter Group from IX Fighter Command contributed 79 P-51s to the escort, number included in total 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 363rd Fighter Group

    363rd Fighter Group

    Group
    Equipped with P-51s, the Group entered combat from England in February 1944, flying bomber escort and ground-strafing missions. They took part in the invasion of Normandy, protecting gliders and troop carriers on 6 and 7 June. In September 1944, now...

  • 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 205
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged 3
Number of people Killed In Action 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Fighter Command 4
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 1

Service

People

  • DeWitt Bell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 356th Fighter Group
    On the support mission to Frankfurt, Germany of 20 March 1944 in P-47D #42-75553, the 361st Squadron encountered extremely adverse weather and the mission was abandoned. Upon letting down in the Brussels, Belgium area, Lt. Bell and his leader, Capt....

  • Daren Benbenek

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 363rd Fighter Group
    Daren L. Benbenek was a Pilot in the 363rd Fighter Group/381st Fighter Squadron. He was Killed In Action (KIA) on the Bomber Escort mission to Frankfurt, 20 March 1944. Last seen during an engagement with German fighters above Koblenz, Germany, his P...

  • Charley Garvey

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 356th Fighter Group
    Charley J. Garvey Jr was a Pilot in the 356th Fighter Group/360th Fighter Squadron. On the 20 March 1944 bomber escort mission to Frankfurt, Germany, he and another wingman were seen to leave formation, probably to sweep down on some target near the...

  • Billy Hulsey

    Military | Second Lieutenant | B17 Navigator | 379th Bomb Group
    My grandfather told tale of being a young man, a slurried night out with his buddies and the pact among them- to go enlist and end WWII! With crazy notions of all being together forever, he was the only one that held his word. But that is the kind of...

  • Howard Maupin

    Military | Flight Officer | Fighter Pilot | 356th Fighter Group
    Forced to make an emergency landing NE of Neerwinden, Belgium on 20 March 1944 in P-47D #42-22535 on a support mission to Frankfurt, Germany. Evaded (EVD). With the help of Belgian citizens and members of the Belgian Resistance, Maupin made it to the...

  • Robert Spencer

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 363rd Fighter Group
    Robert Spencer was a Pilot in the 363rd Fighter Group/381st Fighter Squadron. He was flying P-51 Serial #42-102994 on the bomber support mission to Frankfurt on 22 March 1944. His Mustang was last seen between Ostend and Ghent, Belgium. The cause of...

Aircraft

  • 42-102994

    P-51 Mustang
    Last seen between Ostend and Ghent, Belgium on the bomber support mission to Frankfurt, Germany, 20 March 1944. Pilot Robert E. Spencer's body was found near the crash location, near Sart-Saint-Laurent, Belgium. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 3076.

  • 42-22535 Kathleen Ann

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Due to too heavy cloud cover, Maupin and wingman Lt William Johnson had to fly back to base. As it was flying at about 4000ft over Belgium, Maupin's Thunderbolt #42-22535 was hit by Flak from the battery at Brustem near Liège, Belgium. With the radio...

  • 42-74638 Nashville Belle

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47D-6-RE Thunderbolt #42-74638 was piloted by Charley J. Garvey Jr on the bomber escort mission to Frankfurt, Germany on 20 March 1944. He had to belly-land his Mustang in a field 2km West of Loksbergen, 4km NE of Kortenaken, Limburg Province,...

  • 42-75553

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47 42-75553 was on a bomber escort mission to Frankfurt, Germany on 20 March 1944. Shot down strafing airfield after mission had to be abandoned due to bad weather, hit by return fire. Pilot Dewitt T. Bell Killed In Action (KIA). Missing Air Crew...

  • 43-6434

    P-51 Mustang
    Pilot Daren L. Benbenek was killed in the crash of this Mustang. He had been last seen above Koblenz, Germany during an encounter with German fighters. No details are known about the reason of the loss. Killed In Action (KIA). Missing Air Crew Report ...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2016 19:56:48 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Mar-2016. Corrected statistics for P-47 element based on "The Mighty Eighth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2016 19:54:54 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Mar-2016. Added IX FC units and claims on enemy figthers to P-51 Mission event statistics based on "The Mighty Eighth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2016 19:51:18 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Mar-2016. Added fighter claims on enemy aircraft to P-47 Mission event based on "The Mighty Eighth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2016 19:48:56 Lee8thbuff Changes to name and description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Mar-2016. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty Eighth War Dairy", 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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