Mission Number: 40
Date: 4 Apr ’44
Target: Bucharest, Romania M/Y
449th A/C Over Target: 28
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 70 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 40 (Des)
449th A/C Lost: 7
Thirty-two B-24-H’s took off at 0951 – 1022 hours to bomb Bucharest M/Y, RR station, and RR repair facilities. Four returned early, one of which should be classed as a non-effective sortie as it followed briefed course to enemy territory at 4348N – 2228E before jettisoning 2-1/2 tons of bombs and returning to base. Twenty-eight (28) dropped 70 tons of 500-lb (.1 and .025) GP bombs on target at 1354 – 1359 hours from 22,500 – 23,800 feet. Twenty-one returned at 1651 – 1725 hours. Seven (7) lost, none missing. None at friendly fields.
Rendezvoused on time at San Pancrazio at 6,000 feet on course to San Vito Di Normanni. This group took lead on briefed course to coast of Yugoslavia. At that point the 376th and other groups caught up level and to right. About 30 minutes beyond coast line, 376th pulled off to right and other groups followed them. Our route from this point was on course to Danube River, then off course to right down Danube River for about 20 miles to Koslodui then corrected course and returned to briefed course to Valeni, and from this point followed briefed course to IP, made right turn at IP on to target attacking on axis varying from 80° to 115°. Rallied right and followed a bit south of briefed route back to base.
Visual observation reports dense smoke and fires resulting from hits of previous groups in target area. Bomb strike photos reveal that all hits were to right of target, but coverage was unsatisfactory as only two cameras were successful in taking pictures and one of these was in the extreme right flight of formation.
Fighters. Beginning at the IP approximately 80 to 100 E/A attacked the formation continuously for period of approximately 45 minutes. The attack then broke off for approximately 10 minutes, followed by continuous attacks for another 20 minute period. E/A were very aggressive and determined carrying attacks to within 100 yards and reports indicate a combination of both experienced and inexperienced pilots. A variety of types of attacks were made from all around the clock from high, level and low but principally from 6 to 9 o’clock and level. The low, left box in the first section was particularly hard hit, losing 4 out of 6 ships in that box. E/A often made passes in pairs in line astern and split off with one attacking one ship and the other a different ship. “Roller coaster” type attack was used with E/A firing while climbing to level, then diving and coming up in same tactic against ship farther in front of formation. E/A would “daisy chain” across the front of formation, peel off, and attack from all angles. Other E/A attacked in rows of three or four from rear and sides, fire rockets, and then follow in firing cannons and break away in a dive. Many E/A flew right through the formation in following up their attacks. Reports indicate that most of our losses were suffered just after bombs away and during rally and just subsequent to rally when formation was not as tight. This may account for heavy loss to low, left box in first section on rally to right. Many E/A carried belly tanks which were dropped after 15 minutes of fighting. 3 E/A were observed to emit grayish white smoke from left wing next to fuselage and pretend being shot down, would dive, emit smoke, and then recover. Our claims during this engagement are as follows: Destroyed: 32 ME-109, 6 FW-190, 1 HE-113, 1 ME-210; Probable destroyed: 6 ME-109, 5 FW-190, 2 JU-88; Damaged: 5 ME-109, 1 FW-190. Markings: ME-109 some slate gray in color, some reported silver in color with yellow noses and yellow and black insignia; FW-190 painted blue with yellow circles behind cockpit, yellow bands around fuselage, yellow noses and orange cowls, and some reported with red noses and yellow tips on wings. Whole show might best be described as an aerial circus.
Flak. Over the target the group experienced slight, inaccurate, heavy flak probably due to presence of E/A attacking formation over target area.
Total losses from fighters: 7 (40 – 43 chutes seen to open). Thirteen B-24’s damaged by fighters (3 severe and 10 minor).