Z SQUARE 7, A B-29 TRUE STORY

Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - B17 Flying Fortress

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The Z Square 7 Crew
Z Square 7 Crew Families
Z Square 7 Crew Cemeteries.
Missing Air Crew Report
Z Square 7 Crew Military Funeral
Memorial Lt Eugene M. Thomas Jr (Marion, Al)
Memorial Lt Francis X. Glacken (Cambridge, MA)
Memorial Lt Norman B. Bassett (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY)
Marcia Bassett McGrattan
Memorial Sgt George P. Demers (Lynn, MA)
Memorial Sgt George P. Demers (Lynn, MA)
Peter & Lillian Demers/Charlotte (Demers) Fiasconaro
Memorial Sgt Louis A. Dorio (Clarksville, VA)
HIRE OUR VETERANS!
POW-MIA-KIA Ceremony
500th Bomb Group, 73rd Wing Honor Roll
Bill Mauldin With Willie And Joe
Father John McBride
S/Sgt Kenneth O. Eslick with Photo Album
Sgt Jesse S. Klein. 41-13180
Frank Farr & Merseburg, Germany
"Lili Marlene" The Song!
"Lili Marlene" The B-17
"Lily Marlene" The B-24
"Lili Marlene" The B-24
Ivan Fail Introduction and "Long Before The Guns And Tanks."
Ivan Fail's "Tribute to the Queen"
American Battle Monuments Commission - Cemeteries
American Battle Monuments Commission - Memorials
NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL
THE MARINE CORPS WAR MEMORIAL (IWO JIMA )
KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL
VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL
M/Sgt Roy P. Benavidez, Vietnam Medal Of Honor
Frank Farr Poetry "November 2, 1944", "Old Men And The War", " Merseburg"
Some Pictures of World War 2
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Pages Introduction
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Crew Index
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 1
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 2
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Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - B29 Superfortress
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - B26 Marauder
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - B25 Mitchell
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - B24 Liberator
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - B17 Flying Fortress
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - C87 Liberator Express
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - PBM-5 Mariner
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - A20 Havoc Attack Bomber
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - C47 Transport
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - P61 Black Widow
Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page - A26 Invader
GIVE OUR VETERANS JOBS!!
Ivan Fail's "The Tuskegee Airmen"
Airmen Medal Of Honor Memorial
Memorial Page #1
Memorial Page #2
Memorial Page #3
Memorial Page #4
Memorial Page #5
Memorial Page #6
The Navajo Code Talkers & Native American Medals Of Honor
Ivan Fail's "D Day, The Normandy Invasion"
B-29 Crew Positions & Specifications
About The Book
C. Clayton Thompson Bookseller
Ivan Fail's "When The Mustangs Came"
Contacts
Ivan Fail "The Eighteen Wheeler's Hymn"
Awards
Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building with photo album
Ivan Fail's "Against All Odds - Mission Complete"
Ford Tolbert by Sallyann
Ford Tolbert Pictures
A Tribute to Lt Raymond "Hap" Halloran
Lt Raymond "Hap" Halloran
Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMC, The Black Sheep Squadron
Lt Halloran Eulogy for Colonel Boyington
Omori POW Camp
Ivan Fail's "A Salute To Lt. Holguin"/ "Shoo Shoo Baby"
Great Bend, Kansas B-29 Memorial
General Lemay's biography including a B-29 nose art photo album
THE GENERAL AND MRS CURTIS LEMAY FOUNDATION
March 9 and 10, 1945 Over Tokyo
Lt "Hap" Halloran on March 10, 1945
General Earl Johnson
General Earl Johnson Biography
313th Bomb Wing Mining Missions
Lt Robert Copeland, copilot, Z Square 8
Pyote Bomber Base With A Photo Album
History of "Diamond Lil" With A Photo Album
History of "FIFI" With A Photo Album
"Hap" Halloran induction Combat Airman Hall of Fame
Blackie Blackburn with a photo album
Hap's Memorable Flight On FIFI
C. Douglas Caffey, A WW2 Veteran, Book Of Poetry
C. Douglas Caffey Collection Of Poetry
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C. Douglas Caffey on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
C. Douglas Caffey With More on PTSD
C. Douglas Caffey Memorial Day Flying The Flag
C. Douglas Caffey Saying Goodbye To America
OUR VETERANS NEED WORK!
Pearl Harbor with Photo Album
The Pacific Theater
Battle of Saipan, Mariana Islands
Saipan Medals of Honor
Battle of Tinian, Mariana Islands
Tinian Medals of Honor
Battle of Guam, Mariana Islands
Guam Medals of Honor
Battle of Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima Medals of Honor
Cpl Ira Hayes, USMC
Battle of Okinawa
Okinawa Medals of Honor
Japanese Surrender
Navy Ships At Surrender Ceremonies
Ivan Fail's "The Saga Of The Superfortress"
Ivan Fail's "The Silent Sentries"
Last Page

B17 Flying Fortress

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The Boeing B-17F "Flying Fortress." This aircraft lacks the "chin" turret on the B-17G.

The Boeing B-17, and the Consolidated B-24 were the United States' two standard heavy bombers until the introduction of the B-29 Superfortress. B-17s were flown by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), throughout the American participation in the Second World War. They were used by the US Eighth Air Force, based in the UK, to bombard German targets in Europe during daylight hours, a method which resulted initially in very heavy losses of aircraft and crew. As B-17 refinements progressed, along with better pilot training and tactics, it would become a formidable adversary in the Allied war against Germany.

 

The Flying Fortress was designed for a USAAC competition, announced in 1934, to find a modern replacement for the assorted Keystone biplane bombers, then in service.1 The requirement was for a multi-engined bomber to be used mostly as a coastal-defense aircraft. Specifications required were: a range of at least 1,020 miles (1,641 km), but preferably 2,200 miles (3,540 km); a speed of at least 200 mph (322 km/h), but preferably 250 mph (402 km/h); a capability of carrying a 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb load.2 A Boeing design team began work on the Model 299 prototype in June 1934, and construction began in August of the same year. (The most significant rival to the Model 299 was the Douglas DB-1, which later developed into the Douglas B-18 Bolo.) The Model 299 was make-or-break gamble for Boeing,3 which first flew on July 28,1935, and eventually won the competition. Boeing built a few preproduction Y1B-17s (later redesignated B-17As), followed by one Y1B-17A, and then followed by thirty-nine B-17Bs. Since funding was lacking at the time, only thirty Flying Fortresses were fully operational when Hitler's forces invaded Poland in September 1939.4 The US was not involved in the fighting in Europe at the time, so it did not seem to be a matter of urgency. However, as it became clearer that US involvement was inevitable, after the Munich Crisis,5 orders for B-17s were increased. Thirty-eight B-17Cs and forty-two B-17Ds were built before the first large production run began with the B-17E variant. Twenty B-17Cs were delivered to the RAF as Fortress Is, which quickly showed that defensive armament was inadequate, (the B-17C carried seven 50-cal. machine-guns) and at high altitude raids of 30,000 ft. (9,144 m), the defensive guns froze up, when they tried to fire them. Also bombs raids at high altitudes proved to be very inaccurate, and most of the bombs were missing their targets. The airplane was revised as the Model 299O, with the most important changes incorporated into the Model 299H (B-17C and B-17D).6 Modifications included self-sealing tanks and additional armor for crew protection.       

 

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Boeing B-17C Later versions incorporated a dorsal fin on the fuselage.

On August 17,1942, United States B-17s carried out a bombing raid on the railway yards at Rouen in France. The real offensive, however, started on January 27,1943, when B-17s of the USAAF made their first attacks on Germany. Initially, casualties were very high because they attacked during daylight hours to achieve greater accuracy, and because proper formation flying (to enable a group of airplanes to defend each other with crossfire) had not yet been formulated. Also the B-17F lacked adequate defense against a head-on attack. By September 1943, the Flying Fortress showed its final shape during firepower tests on the XB-40, a modified B-17F with the advantage of a "chin" turret. The success of the chin turret, led to the delivery of the B-17G (the major production version), which was the first production variant to have a chin turret installed, under the nose. The Bendix turret held two .50-cal. guns, which increased the armament to thirteen guns.9 In all, there were 8,680 B-17Gs built by Boeing, Vega, and Douglas to make this the largest production variation. Produced in greater numbers than any other single model, more B-17Gs were lost, than any other model.10 B-17G specifications included a span of 103 feet 9 inches (31.6 m), length of 74 feet 4 inches (22.6 m), and a height of 19 feet 1 inch (5.8 m). The four supercharged Wright R-1820-97 Cyclones delivered 1,200 hp (895 kW) and gave a top speed of 287 mph (462 km/h), cruising at 182 mph (293 km/h). Service ceiling was 35,800 ft. (10,850 m), with a max. range of 3,400 miles (5,471 km). Empty and gross weights were 36,135 lb (16,390 kg)and 65,500 lb (29,710 kg). Maximum fuel load was 3,630 gallons (13,741 liters).

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Boeing B-17 cockpit controls.

On 19 July 1943, US B-17s and B-24 Liberators carried out the first bombing raid on Rome. US bombing in Europe reached its high point in February 1945 with a 1,000-bomber raid on Berlin, escorted by 400 fighters, and the Dresden raid (alongside RAF Lancasters) which, caused a massive fire storm to sweep the city. Meanwhile, B-17s were also helping to win the war against Japan, although by mid-1943 the larger Boeing B-29 had begun to take over the major strategic bombing missions in the Pacific theater.

 

Following the first Model 299, the Air Corps purchased 12,725 B-17 type aircraft, of which a few served with Royal Air Force Coastal Command and the United States Navy for patrol, air-sea rescue, antisubmarine and other duties. Cargo conversions of the B-17 were known as the XC-108.

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The B-17G introduced new fire power in the form of the Bendix chin turret.

The First American Missions From England

American air power made its European debut during the summer of 1942. On June 12, Colonel Harry Halverson led thirteen B-24 Liberators on a first daring, long-distance raid against the oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania. Taking off from Egypt, 1,000 miles from the target, the bombers surprised the enemy. All the planes got safely away, though one B-24 crash landed later.

 

The first American mission from England took place, appropriately, on the Fourth of July. Six air crews, flying A-20 Boston bombers borrowed from the RAF, joined six British crews on a low-level raid against air bases in Holland. The Germans were warned by radio from a picket ship off the Dutch coast, and two of the bombers flown by Americans were shot down. The bombardiers of two of the other planes were so confused by the camouflaged targets that they failed to drop their bombs at all.

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A B-17 being loaded at an English base with three-hundred pound bombs.

More auspicious was a raid on August 17, against the railroad yards at Rouen. A dozen B-17 Flying Fortresses loaded with three hundred-pound bombs, completed their mission without losses. In the fall, the North African invasion diverted planes and men and temporarily stalled the buildup of US air strength in England. But as the Eighth continued to stab at the enemy, American crews matched the courage and ability of veterans.

 

On one occasion, for instance, nine B-17s, turning back from a canceled mission against Rotterdam, were jumped by more than twenty German fighters. The Americans fought their way back to England, but in one bomber the pilot was injured and the copilot killed. The bombardier, who had been washed out of flying school, took over the controls and flew the plane back home on two engines.

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In June 1944, the Americans dropped 120,000 tons of bombs on Germany.

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Dimensions:
Wing span: 103 ft. 9 in (31.6 m)
Length: 74 ft. 4 in (22.6 m)
Height: 19 ft. 1 in (5.8 m)
Wing Area: 1,420 sq ft (132 sq m)
Weights:
Empty: 36,135 lb (16,391 kg)
Normal Loaded: 49,500 lb (22,475 kg)
Maximum Take-off: 65,500 lb (29,710 kg)
Performance:
Maximum Speed: 287 mph (462 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,625 m)
Cruise Speed: 182 mph (293 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 35,800 ft (10,850 m)
Normal Range: 2,000 miles (3,219 km) with 6,000 lb (2,722 kg) bomb
load @ 220 mph (352 km/h) @ 25,000 ft (7,625 m)
Powerplant:
Four 1,200 hp (895 kW) Wright R-1820-97 Cyclones nine cylinder air-cooled single row radial engines. General Electric Type B-22 exhaust driven turbo-superchargers, installed under engine nacelles.
Armament:
Thirteen 50-cal. machine-guns plus a maximum of 17,600 lb (7,983 kg) of bombs. Normal bomb load 6,000 lbs (2,724 kg).
Largest bomb type carried was 2,000 lb (908 kg).

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The B-17 was the first Boeing military aircraft with a flight deck instead of an open cockpit and was armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns mounted in clear "blisters."

The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was several tons heavier than the prototypes and bristled with armament. It was the first Boeing airplane with the distinctive -- and enormous -- tail for improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing. Each version was more heavily armed.

In the Pacific, the planes earned a deadly reputation with the Japanese, who dubbed them "four-engine fighters." The Fortresses were also legendary for their ability to stay in the air after taking brutal poundings. They sometimes limped back to their bases with large chunks of the fuselage shot off.

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Joe Baugher's B17 Report

It was to be in the European theatre of operation that the B-17 Flying Fortress would acquire its reputation.

 

The Eighth Air Force was formed in Britain to carry out daylight bombing raids against German targets in Europe. These raids were to be carried out by unescorted Fortresses flying at high altitude in tight formations for protection against enemy fighters. The defensive firepower of the B-17 was thought to be sufficient to fend off Luftwaffe attacks. At the same time that the USAAF carried out its daylight attacks, the Royal Air Force was to fly coordinated nighttime raids.

 

The first Eighth Air Force units arrived in Britain on May 12, 1942. The first USAAF Flying Fortress (B-17E serial number 41-9085) arrived at Prestwick in Scotland on July 1, 1942. The first Flying Fortress raid over Europe was launched on August 17, 1942 by 18 B-17Es of the 97th Bombardment Group against railroad marshaling yards at Rouen-Sotteville in France. Twelve planes made the actual attack and the remaining six flew a diversionary sweep up the coast. Brig Gen Ira Eaker flew along on this raid in B-17E 41-9023 "Yankee Doodle". The formation was escorted by Spitfires. No opposition was encountered from the Luftwaffe.

On August 19, twenty four Fortresses took part in an attack on the German airfield at Abbeville in support of the disastrous raid at Dieppe. All planes returned safely to base, but the landing force at Dieppe was decimated.

 

The next ten raids went fairly well, with only two planes being lost.

 

Deteriorating weather and the needs of the North African front caused a change in plans, and most of the Eighth Air Force B-17s had to be diverted to the fight against Rommel. The two most experienced bomber groups, the 97th and 301st were committed to *Operation Torch* as the nucleus of the newly-formed Twelfth Air Force. On September 20, 1942, General James Doolittle formed the nucleus of the 12th Air Force in England, and early in October the 97th, 99th, 301st, and 2nd Bombardment Groups were transferred to the new formation. The air war against the Germans in Europe had to be given a lower priority.

 

In October 1942, attention of the depleted 8th Bomber Command was concentrated against German submarine pens situated along the French coast. These pens were constructed of thick concrete and were highly resistant to bomb damage. The attacks against these pens were largely ineffectual. Many raids against the sub pens had to be scrubbed on account of bad weather, and those raids which were carried out were often inaccurate because of poor visibility over the target. The bombing campaign against the submarine pens was extremely costly in terms of lost airplanes and crews and had no real effect upon the German submarine campaign. It turned out that the submarine threat was best met at sea.

On January 3, 1943 the new bombing-on-the-leader technique was introduced. Instead of each plane dropping its bombs individually, all bombardiers released their bombs when the saw the bombs leave the bay of the lead aircraft. This technique usually resulted in better accuracy, since the most skilled bombardier was generally in the lead plane.

 

The successful completion of the North African campaign resulted in the resumption of the bomber offensive against the Germans in northern Europe. The first USAAF mission over Germany was a raid on January 27, 1943 against the U-boat construction yards at the port of Wilhelmshaven. It was carried out by a force of B-17Fs drawn from the 92st, 303rd, 305th, and 306th Bomb Groups.

 

March 18 saw first use of Automatic Flight Control Equipment (AFCE) in a raid on the Bremer Vulkan shipbuilding yards at Vegesack. AFCE was a system in which the Norden bombsight controlled the aircraft during the final bomb run via a link with the autopilot. Luftwaffe fighters put up strong opposition that day, but their attacks were relatively uncoordinated.

On April 17, 1943, the Focke-Wulf plant at Bremen was attacked by a force of 115 Fortresses. The Luftwaffe came out in full strength that day, and 16 B-17s did not return, the heaviest loss rate to date. After that date, German fighter attacks began to become increasingly more effective and better coordinated, and bomber losses frequently were over ten percent of the attacking force, especially whenever the Fortresses went beyond the limited radius of their fighter escorts. The German fighters began to attack the Fortress formations from the "twelve o'clock high" spot directly head-on. This innovation was supposedly introduced by Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Egon Mayer, who had noticed that the firepower from the B-17 was weak in the nose area, with there being significant blind spots that neither the nose guns nor the top-turret gunner could adequately cover from the front. Additional guns were hastily added to the nose in an attempt to beef up the forward firepower. However, the much-publicized vulnerability to frontal attacks was due more to the lack of armor that was properly positioned to protect the crew against gunfire coming from the front than it was due to the lack of enough front-firing guns. Another problem was the unfortunate tendency of the B-17 to catch fire when hit by flak or cannon fire, which was never really cured.

 

In June of 1943, the famous "Memphis Belle" (B-17F-10-BO serial number 41-24485 of the 324th Bombardment Squadron of the 91st Bombardment Group) became the first B-17 to complete its crew's quota of 25 missions. A film crew had gone along on the *Memphis Belle's* mission to Wilhelmshaven and this film was widely shown throughout the war. After the last mission, the *Memphis Belle* returned to the United States and carried out a morale-building tour selling US War Bonds.

The next phase of the air war against Germany was to be the destruction of its aviation industry. A critical part of the strategy was to be the elimination of the German ball-bearing industry, since just about any machine which had moving parts required ball-bearings. On July 24-31, 1943, the 8th Air Force attacked 16 major industrial targets in the greatest sustained air offensive to date. On August 17, 1943, a simultaneous attack was carried out on the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt and the Messerschmitt factories at Regensburg. It was the deepest penetration into Germany to that date and was the largest force of B-17s yet dispatched. The losses were catastrophic--the 8th AF lost 60 aircraft out of a force of 376 bombers. The crews claimed 288 German fighters shot down, which was undoubtedly grossly exaggerated.

 

The Regensburg force went on to North Africa, and returned to England via the Focke Wulf works at Bordeaux. The total losses for the week were over hundred B-17s. Losses like this could clearly not be sustained--a couple of more weeks like this, and the 8th Air Force would be gone.

 

During August and September of 1943, the new B-17G began to arrive in England. The new chin turret helped meet the head-on attacks by the German fighters.

 

On September 6, a force of over 400 bombers hit the VKF ball-bearing works at Stuttgart. Weather prevented the attacking force from seeing the target, and bombs were released over the city in a haphazard fashion. A total of 45 bombers were lost to fighters and to accurate flak.

 

On October 14, 1943, Schweinfurt was visited again, and 60 Fortresses were lost out of a force of 291.

 

In late 1943, the appalling losses and the meager results that had been obtained led USAAF commanders to rethink the wisdom of continuing with the daylight bombing offensive. Winston Churchill was never a believer in precision daylight bombing and wanted the USAAF to go over to nighttime raids, as the RAF had done from the start. In spite of the attacks on the German aircraft industry, it seemed that the numbers of German fighters rising to meet the attacking Fortresses actually increased rather than decreased. The German aircraft industry was amazingly recuperative. An efficient German labor force, plus the forced labor of captives, was able quickly to repair the damage and to get the damaged facilities back in operation within a few days. In addition, a very effective decentralization program was carried out under the direction of Minister of Armaments Albert Speer.

 

It soon became apparent that without fighter escort, deep penetrations into Germany would have to be seriously curtailed, if not abandoned altogether. However, in spite of extreme losses, the B-17Fs were never turned back from a raid by enemy fighters or flak, although bad weather caused frequent mission cancellations and callbacks. During the latter weeks of 1943, the 8th Air Force restricted its missions to targets that were within the range of the escort fighters that were beginning to become available, and there were no penetrations into Germany.

 

In spite of the high losses, the decision was made to continue with the attacks on German industry. In late 1943, the US Strategic Air Forces were organized in Europe under the command of LtGen Carl Spaatz to carry out heavy bomber attacks from England and Italy and to coordinate their efforts with the night attacks of the RAF.

 

Effective fighter escort did not appear until late 1943 with the arrival of large numbers of Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. These aircraft were able to escort the B-17 considerable distances into Germany. The North American P-51D Mustang was the most effective of all the escort fighters, and began to appear in the spring of 1944. It was able to escort the bombers all the way to Berlin.

 

During the winter in Europe, the weather is generally atrocious. In order to permit bombing during inclement or overcast conditions, a number of Fortresses were fitted with a British-devised radar installation known as H2S which scanned the grounds under the clouds and which could be read by a trained operator like a map. The American version of this device was known as H2X "Bombing Through Overcast" radar, and was installed in the fuselage belly in place of the ball turret. These planes acted as pathfinders, the remaining aircraft in the formation releasing their bombs on visual signals from the radar-equipped Fortresses. This equipment was used for the first time in a raid on the port at Emden.

 

On January 11, 1944, a 600-plane force of bombers were sent against German aircraft industry targets. Because of the weather, only 238 B-17s actually succeeding in reaching the target. Sixty B-17s were lost.

 

On February 20, 1944, five days of coordinated USAAF/RAF assaults on the German aircraft industry began, that historians later named "The Big Week". On that day, the first thousand-plane raid took place, with fighter plane factories at Brunswick, Oschersleben, Bernberg, and Leipzig being attacked. The cost of the "Big Week" was heavy, with 244 heavy bombers and 33 fighter planes being lost. However, these raids played an important role in helping to reduce the strength of the Luftwaffe, paving the way for the D-Day landings. The onset of bad weather brought an end to the "Big Week", which was merciful since crews were exhausted and losses had been high. Nevertheless, during this offensive, the back of the Luftwaffe was broken. After this date, the Luftwaffe was never able to throw up the same amount of strength that it had before, and was generally effective only on sporadic occasions or when targets of critical importance were being attacked.

 

The first B-17 raid on Berlin took place on March 4, 1944. P-51 Mustang fighters escorted the bombers all the way to Berlin and back. On March 6, 600 B-17s returned to Berlin. The Luftwaffe was out in force, and accounted for 69 B-17s and 11 fighter escorts.

 

In May of 1944, the priority shifted to oil. On May 12, 1944, attacks were begun on German oil-production facilities and synthetic oil-production centers. These attacks caused a sudden and catastrophic drop in German fuel and lubricant supplies. In only two months of attacks, German oil production was cut in half. Especially successful were the attacks on the stubborn oil production facility of Ploesti in Rumania, which had been so resistant to previous attacks. By the time that Ploesti was taken by the Russians, 90 percent of this Rumanian oil production facility had been destroyed. Destruction of the synthetic oil centers had the additional beneficial side effect of cutting the supplies of nitrogen and methanol, which essential in the manufacture of explosives. The postwar Strategic Bombing Survey judged that the oil offensive was the most effective of all the strategic bombing attacks in helping to shorten the war.

 

The B-17 was less widely used in the Mediterranean theatre. The brunt of the air war in the Mediterranean was borne by the B-24 Liberator, although a few B-17s groups were also involved. The four Bombardment Groups that had been diverted from the 8th Air Force to Africa participated in the Bizerta and Kasserine Pass battles in North Africa. 12th AF B-17s took part in the June 28 raid on Messina, the Sept 5 and 8 raids on Naples, and against the Wermacht counterattack at Salerno between Sept 13 and 18.

Advances up the Italian boot brought German targets within the range of B-17s based in the Mediterranean theatre. In November of 1943, the 15th Air Force was organized to carry out raids on Germany from bases in Italy. It resulted from a reorganization of Doolittle's 12th Air Force into the 15th Air Force with Doolittle in command, and the 9th Air Force with Lewis H. Brereton in command. It was hoped that the 15th AF stationed in the Mediterranean would be able to operate when the 8th was socked in by bad English weather. The 9th AF would later move to England to serve as a tactical unit to take part in the invasion of Europe. Once bases around Foggia in Italy became available, the 15th was able to reach targets in southern France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans, some of which were difficult to reach from England.

 

The 15th Air Force began its operations on November 2, 1943, attacking the Messerschmitt factory at Weiner-Neustadt in Austria. One of the important achievements of the 15th Air Force was the reduction of the oil fields at Ploesti in July-August 1944.

 

By early 1945, the Wermacht and the Luftwaffe had been reduced to near impotence by the lack of fuel and supplies, due in no small part to the strategic bombing offensive against Germany carried out by the Lancaster, Halifax, and Stirling bombers of the RAF and the B-24 and B-17 bombers of the USAAF. Due credit must be given to their crews who bravely went out day after day even in spite of appalling losses.

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