Mission Number: 12
Date: 21 Jan ’44
Target: Pontedera, Italy M/Y
449th A/C Over Target: 26
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 75 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 0
449th A/C Lost: 0
Thirty B-24-H’s took off from 0911 to 0939 to bomb M/Y at Pontedera, Italy. Twenty-six of these aircraft were over the target at 1231 hours. Four aircraft returned early. All four early returns landed at their home base. Results of the bombing were good. No difficulty was encountered in locating the IP or the target. However, cumulus low clouds immediately above target caused bombardiers some difficulty in sighting. This cloud coverage also hampered clear visual observation of results. Photo coverage confirms at least six hits in target area and many hits in adjoining industrial and factory area. In addition one highway bridge to the east of the city was hit. Visual observation from rear ships claim four additional sticks went into target. Photo coverage was only partial.
None of our aircraft is missing.
There were no attacks from E/A. The following observations of possible E/A/C were made: 4 unidentified A/C approached the rear of the formation at 1057 hours at 4110N – 1215E. These were determined not to be P-38’s but were no further positive identification. One observer reported that these A/C later joined our escort. 14 FW-190’s were observed over Pistoia at 1240 hours. These A/C followed the formation for about 20 miles at which point they disappeared. Three S/E A/C with fixed landing gear were observed about 10 miles or more away over the Corsican mainland. The distance was too great for observation of color or type.
No flak was reported.
Four A/C returned early for the following reasons:
A. One A/C – The tail gunner had no oxygen mask. He claims that the mask was in the plane when the guns were being loaded on the ground. However, he could not find the mask after take off.
B. One A/C – Because of oil leakage in #2 engine and because nose and ball turrets were inoperative.
C. One A/C – All heater rheostats went out in nose and tail turrets. Instruments froze up. Parachute of bombardier accidently opened after take off.
D. One A/C – Generators went out at Salerno.
Observations include 300 or more ships observed just North of Naples. The convoy was traveling in 3 sections. Each section was escorted by 8 to 10 DE’s and 4 DD’s. One Atlantic class cruiser was positively identified, as was one 1810 class DD and about 40 troop carriers. The remainder of the convoy was composed of LST’s and LCI’s. The convoy was travelling on a course of 295° and was observed from 19,000 feet.
Weather over target: Scattered to broken with a slight haze and visibility of 8 miles.