Mission Number: 31
Date: 25 Feb ’44
Target: Regensburg, Germany A/C Factory
449th A/C Over Target: 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 37-1/2 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 12(Des) 3(P
449th A/C Lost: 3
Thirty-five B-24-H’s took off at 0822 hours to bomb the Regensburg Prufening Aircraft Factory at Regensburg, Germany. Eight returned early. Two returned because crew members were ill, one had an injured man aboard, a heated suit in one ship went out, the gasoline cap was off on one, two generators were out on one, a supercharger was out on another and the entire tail turret was loose on the final ship. Twelve ships were separated from the rest of the group, joined another group and attacked several targets in Austria and Yugoslavia. Fifteen planes attacked the target. 37-1/2 tons of 500-lb GP bombs with .1 and .01 fuses were dropped on the factory. 22-1/2 tons were dropped on Graz, 2-1/2 tons on Sibenik, 2-1/2 tons on Celje and 2-1/2 tons were jettisoned. Twelve planes returned to base at 1512 hours from Graz. Seven planes returned at 1715 hours from Regensburg. Four planes are down at friendly airdromes. Two are missing and two are lost.
No rendezvous was made except temporarily with the second section of the 449th. Proceeded alone to target. Target had been attacked heavily already. After bombing target at 1257 Able a rally was made to the left and formation returned to base along briefed route. There was no escort.
Apparently results were excellent. Before reaching the IP smoke could be seen from the target. The planes bombed on the smoke. Every plane claimed direct hits on the target. Billows of smoke rose to heights of 4,000 – 5,000 feet. Flames were observed to rise at least one half that high. Photographs taken with K-20 cameras confirm the statements of the crew members.
Planes attacking the Graz area reported poor results with one exception. The lead ship reported hangars on the airdrome well hit and giving off much smoke and fire. One aircraft attacked Sibenik harbor and claimed hits in buildings on the waterfront. One building they claimed exploded and burned. One ship claimed direct hits on the Celje M/Y at 4615N – 1515E.
Enemy Fighters: In the Graz area from 10 – 15 ME-110’s and JU-88’s were encountered. From a distance rockets were lobbed at the formation. They were not aggressive and at no time closed closer than 600 yards.
In the Regensburg area the reverse was true. There the enemy was extremely aggressive and employed ME-109’s, ME-110’s, ME-210’s, JU-88’s and FW-190’s. Fighters, both T/E and S/E, pulled off to side and sat at three and nine o’clock. Then they peeled off and attacked from six o’clock. Some attacked in pairs, threes, fours and fives. Rockets were fired at the formation. Silver balls dropped thru the formation. Attacks were continuous from the target to the mountains at the Austrian border. In general attacks were uncoordinated and seemingly at random. However, they were pressed home with great vigor. ME-109’s were observed to have yellow wing tips. ME-110’s had yellow fuselages.
Flak: Flak over the target was reported as heavy, intense and fairly accurate. It was of the barrage type. Heavy, intense, accurate flak was reported at Villach at coordinates of 4635N – 1354E. Heavy, moderate flak was noted at 4745N – 1250E.
Total Losses: Two. One B-24, #61, blew up in midair following fighter attacks. The loss occurred near Lake Chiem, twenty-five minutes after leaving the target. Three chutes were seen to open. B-24 #53 was lost to fighters in the target area. Nine chutes were seen to open. In addition to these, two of our aircraft are missing.
Destroyed — 5 JU-88s; 4 ME-110s; 3ME-109s
Probable — 1 JU-88; 1 ME-110; 1 ME 109
Damaged — 1 JU-88; 1 ME-110
SPECIAL NARRATIVE REPORT dated 27 February 1944 (Supplement)
MISSION TO REGENSBURG A/C FACTORY (25 February 1944)
In accordance with telephonic instruction of this date, an account of the mission of the 449th Bombardment Group (H) to Regensburg A/C factory on 25/2/44 is here submitted. The lead ship #33, was commanded by Major McIlhearn, who sat in the co-pilots seat. It was piloted by Lt. Geminder. Its navigator was Lt. Thomas Taylor, and its bombardier was Lt. John Devine. The account as herein told, was given by Major McIlhearn and Lt. Taylor, the other two officers not being available at the time.
Thirty-six B-24’s took off from Grottaglie Air Base between 0820 and 0840 Able. After forming above this field, the formation took a heading of 350° T to the rendezvous at Locorotondo where it was to be joined by 18 planes of the 451st Bombardment Group (H). It arrived at the rendezvous at 0930 Able at 8,000 feet altitude. No planes joined the formation there or any other place.
Over the rendezvous the formation made a 25° turn to the left on course to Bitonto. Between these two points the formation went off course about 5 miles to the right but a left correction brought it back on course before reaching Bitonto.
At Bitonto a right turn was made on course at 8,200 feet altitude. When approximately 5 minutes out from Bitonto the lead made a 360° turn to the left to avoid another B-24 group coming from the right at the same level on a collision course. At this turn the second section of the attack unit lost the formation and attached itself to this other unit. (The lead of the 449th Group saw four sections to this other unit as it passed from view.) This other unit plus the second attack unit from the 449th Group went on to bomb Graz. It had white open squares on its horizontal stabilizer.
After making this 360° turn, the lead and the ships in the first section of 18 ships continued on course as briefed. (Note: The time, course, and altitude cannot be given at this time, but they are shown in the navigators log which is presently at the 47th Wing Headquarters.) From that point, the formation was off to the right several times, but left corrections were made back to the course. By the time the formation reached the Yugoslavian coast there were only 15 planes in it.
The formation arrived at Lake Chiem at an altitude of 23,500 feet. At that time a wave of B-24’s was cutting across from our right at an altitude of about 25,000 feet and just ahead of us, headed towards Regensburg. We were slightly to the right of course, but made a 10° correction to the left and went on course over the lake.
When the formation arrived at Rottenburg it was at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The lead then started to let down at reduced power at the rate of 500 feet per minute. After a two minute drop to the bombing altitude of 23,000 feet, the formation leveled off and went forward on a four minute straight run to the IP. The run from the IP to the target was a distance of 20 miles and it took about 6 minutes to negotiate the same.
Bombs were away at 1257 Able. The bombardier reported at that time that the run was stabilized, and that drift and range were corrected for. The bombs, he reported, should have been on the target. The entire formation dropped their bombs almost simultaneously. After bombs were away, power was reduced to 25 inches and 2,000 RPM with an indicated air speed of 160 to 165 miles, and a turn made to the left. The formation closed tight at that point. Before bombs were away, it was seen that the target had already been well hit and was outlined in smoke. The preceding wave or waves had done a good job. The number of units preceding the 449th formation is unknown, but about 40 or 50 bombers were seen. The outline of the target, however, was discernible through the smoke and our bombs dropped right in the middle of the target. Immediately thereafter a huge column of very black smoke rose to a height of 4,000 to 5,000 feet.
After the left turn on the rally, the formation flew to Lake Chiem. From Lake Chiem the formation followed another wave which went well to the right of course. After the fighter attacks lessened, it turned left back to the briefed course.
From then on the briefed course was followed with slight variations to avoid flak positions encountered on the way out. Nearing the Yugoslavian coast, at 4400N – 1620E, the formation broke up, 6 planes including the flight leaders dropping out. No attempt was made to pick these up again, because: 1) at that point there was a cloud shelf, so there was plenty of cloud cover; and, 2) another formation of bombers was just behind, and these 6 ships could have readily joined it, had trouble arisen.
After leaving the Yugoslavian coast the remaining 7 ships had to turn right to get under the clouds. The formation came in over the Italian east coast over Lake Varona, and then followed its coast around Vieste until just north of Bari. At that point it turned inland and came back to the base.