Mission Number: 19
Date: 31 Jan ’44
Target: Aviano, Italy Air Drome
449th A/C Over Target: 14
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 35 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 0
449th A/C Lost: 2
Twenty-three B-24-H’s took off from 0924 to 0937 to bomb Aviano, Italy A/D. Nine returned early. Fourteen dropped 35 tons of 500-lb (.01 and .025) GP bombs on target at 1258. One lost, one missing, one at friendly field. This crew returned to base at 2120 hours. Of the early returns, five jettisoned and four returned their bombs.
Rendezvoused with 450th Group at Manduria at 6,000 feet at 1020, with escort over Lake Varno at 8,000 feet at 1110. Continued on course to 4538N – 1306E where turn was made toward IP. Turned at IP on course to target of 314° True. Rallied left after bombs away to coast, Lake Varano, and back to base.
Photo coverage incomplete, does not show all of bombs. Camera was not in position to get strikes of last bombs away. Photos show 100 bursts in target. Two hangars on North hangar line destroyed. Ten bursts in administration and quarters buildings. Twenty-one bursts in North dispersal area. Road to Aviano cut in 3 places. Remainder of hits are in landing areas.
Fighters – None encountered.
Flak – Over the target this Group experienced intense, accurate, heavy flak. Crews report bursts were the largest yet experienced by this Group. The last bursts before clearing flak area are believed to have caught the leader, Colonel Alkire, causing the ship to fail to make the rally from target and to go down in a steep glide apparently out of control. Ten ships experienced flak holes. One was damaged seriously. The flak was apparently stacked at about 50-feet intervals making the bursts “step up” in successive bursts.
One B-24 was seen to go down apparently out of control over the target from a flak hit. Nine chutes were seen to open from this ship. The plane was seen to go into a steep dive, level momentarily, then crash into a mountainside.
A second B-24 was seen going down in control with what appeared to be gas flowing from bomb bay. This report was unconfirmed.
Strike photos reveal 18 A/C dispersed in open field east of A/D from 1,500 to 5,000 feet from target.
From flak — 1 (9 chutes seen to open)
From fighters — 0
Other reasons — 1 ( Plane missing – No report)
From flak — 10 (One seriously)
From fighters — 0
Other reasons — 0
Casualties. None returned with formation. The nine chutes mentioned … were seen to open very near target area and were from ship hit by flak over target.