Mission Number: 18
Date: 30 Jan ’44
Target: Udine, Italy Air Drome
449th A/C Over Target: 32
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 37-1/5 Frag
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 6(Destryd)
449th A/C Lost: 3
Thirty-five B-24-H’s took off at 0836 to 0900 to bomb Udine A/D and four returned early. Thirty dropped 35.82 tons of fragmentation bombs (AN-M41-A1 and A2) with instantaneous fuses, 6 bombs to cluster and 20 clusters per ship on the target, jettisoned .12 tons and brought back .06 tons. One plane dropped 1.2 tons on the wrong target. This latter was an A/D along the flight line from the IP to the Udine A/D, and is believed to be Villaorba L/G. Twenty-eight returned to base at 1444 hours. Three lost. None at friendly fields.
Rendezvoused with 450th Group at 0925 hours at 4,000 feet over Manduria, with escorts at 4,000 feet at 1015 over Lake Varona. Continued on course until IP ( S. Vito Al Tagliamento), then made right turn onto target, attacking on axis of 60*. Rallied right and continued on route back to base.
Target was extremely well covered with bomb bursts. The dispersal area and the runways were struck hard. Hangars on the NE end of the field were set on fire. Seven planes on the ground were probably destroyed.
Direct hits were made by one and possibly two, ships on A/D, believed to be Villaorba L/G, a few miles west along the flight line from the designated target.
Between the coast on the way in and the IP one enemy fighter was seen to dive through 450th and 449th Group dropping disks.
The real attack started, however, about 1228 o’clock immediately after the bombs were away at 21,000 feet. The number of enemy fighters was variously estimated from 30 to 50 planes, the figure of 30 to 35 seeming to be more nearly correct. The enemy fighters, mostly ME-109’s with a sprinkling of FW-190’s, attacked from all positions of the clock and most of the time from below. Some attacked in 2’s and 3’s abreast. Attacks were pressed to within 200 to 300 yards. The attacks continued until our formation was a few miles beyond the coast on the way home. They were concentrated on the lower flight of the first section and all our losses in bombers, three in number, were from that flight. Apparently they were left uncovered from above when the second section in making the turn from the IP swung wide over the first section while there was a straggling in this flight itself. One B-24 exploded in mid-air when it was rammed by an ME-109, one of its engines being afire at the time of the collision. The second B-24 was seen to spiral to earth and crash. The third was reported to likewise go down just south of the target, from those planes a total of 7 chutes were seen to open. Our claims during this engagement are as follows; 6 destroyed, 1 probably destroyed, and 2 damaged. Markings: ME-109 red nose, dark brown top of fuselage with green spots, silver bellies; FW-190’s were reported to have black fuselages with silver bellies.
At 1230 hours 3 JU-88’s made one pass from 9 o’clock at our fighters [and] overshot. (Lead ship made pass but turned at 300 yds), turned left and went over beyond mountains.
Before the enemy fighters attacked, silver discs were dropped from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above this flight. As they exploded bright flame and white small puffs giving the effect of hail in the ship. As soon as the bursts stopped, the fighters came in.
Over the target this group experienced slight to moderate accurate heavy flak and some slight accurate light flak. Most of this fire came about 4 to 5 miles west of the target along the flight line, some south east of Campo Formido, other was reported at the junction the railroad and highway east of the fields.
From flak — 0
From Fighters — 3
Other Reasons — 0
From Flak — 0
From Fighters — 4
Other Reasons — 0
Destroyed — 6 ME-109s
Probably Destroyed — 1
Damaged — 2