Mission Number: 22
Date: 8 Feb ’44
Target: Prato, Italy M/Y
449th A/C Over Target: 33
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 82-1/2 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 0
449th A/C Lost: 0
Thirty-three B-24H’s took off at 0751 – 0826 hours to bomb Prato M/Y. None returned early. There was a complete overcast (from 8/10 to 10/10 coverage) all the way from the IP to the target, which did not open up until the formation was immediately over the target, and a second run was therefore made. Thirty-three dropped 822 tons of 500-lb (.1 and .025) GP bombs in target zone from 21,500 ft to 24,400 ft. Thirty-one dropping their bombs at 1128 hours and two at 1138 hours in the second run. Thirty-three returned to base at 1415 hours.
Rendezvoused with 451st Group at 0835 hours at 5,000 ft over Ostuni and with two Fighter Groups at 0940 hours at 10,000 ft over Capri. Continued on course until IP (Certaldo) was reached, then on to target attacking on axis of 05° true. Made second run on target and then on course to base.
There was complete overcast over area from IP to target which did not open up until [planes] were immediately over target and as a result it is believed most bombs missed although observations were impeded because of further clouds over target. Photos do not disclose any hits on target because of clouds. Smoke from bomb bursts was reported in center of target. 3 hits reported on RR about 2 miles SE of target.
There was no flak at target. One A/C observed 1 short burst over SW corner of Florence at altitude of 20,000′. An apparently successful bombing of town of Piombino was being made, many bombs observed striking in town and A/D. There was large fire in town (possibly oil fire) with intense black smoke changing to grayish brown, rising about 3,000 feet high; also flames from dock section; seen at 17,000 and 21,000 feet.
Off Anzio NW of beachhead there was 1 ship on fire issuing white smoke, seen at 1254 hours from 9,000′.