Mission Number: 41
Date: 5 Apr ’44
Target: Ploesti, Romania M/Y
449th A/C Over Target: 22
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 35 Incendia
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 11(Des)
449th A/C Lost: 0
Twenty-seven B-24-H’s took off at 1059 – 1132 hours to bomb the Ploesti Marshalling Yard. Four returned early. Twenty-two dropped 35 tons of 100-lb incendiary bombs on target at 1437 – 1444 hours from 23,000 to 24,400 feet. One dropped 1.6 tons on a forest in Rumania at 1515 hours from 15,000 feet. (This aircraft was hit by flak before target, lost altitude – could not keep up with formation.) One returned 1.6 tons to base, and three jettisoned 5 tons in the sea. Twenty-three returned at 1740 – 1850 hours. None lost, none missing, none at friendly fields.
Rendezvoused with 376th at San Pancrazio at 1204 hours, on course to San Vito Di Normanni. This Group and the 376th formed third wave of the Wing formation. Thence to key point at north end of Lake Scutari (4215N – 1915E) to 4429N – 2345E to Ocnita (4500N – 2533E) to target. The attack was made on axis varying from 98° to 140°. The rally was right and the return was substantially as briefed.
Visual observations show much smoke and fire in target area, and in the industrial area surrounding the specific target of this wave. Some hits in M/Y choke point. Smoke from bombing of groups ahead and a partially effective smoke screen in target area made visual observation extremely difficult. Pictures were obtained from only 4 of the 6 cameras. Smoke again made damage assessment difficult.
Fighters. Seventy-five (75) to one-hundred (100) E/F were sighted in the target area. Types observed were ME-109’s, ME-210’s, JU-88’s, and FW-190’s, who made intermittent attacks from 1422 hours at 4400N – 2515E to target and to 4400N – 2430E. Brunt of the fighter attacks were directed against other groups of the Wing formation. One A/C of the Group returning alone due to damage, experienced sustained and aggressive attacks from 7 ME-109’s, which attacked around the clock – usually high. T/E fighters firing rockets were seen. No belly tanks were observed on E/F. Generally the E/F appeared to be attacking stragglers. There were isolated attacks from 12 o’clock closing to 150 yards and passing under formation.
Claims of this Group are as follows: [Destroyed — 9 ME-109s; 2 FW-190s. Probably Destroyed — 3 ME-109s; 1 FW-190.] Markings: FW-190’s – Yellow nose. Black fuselage. Blue and yellow striped tail. Yellow ring on cowling. ME-109’s – Silver with blue stripes. Black or dark blue with yellow wing tips.
Significant observations as to fighter A/C: One E/F paralleled formation for about an hour before target was reached, just out of range of bombers. One T/E fighter followed formation from deep in Yugoslavia to target, keeping about 5,000 to 6,000 feet below. Three (3) E/F above formation in target area may have been directing attacks. Large white bursts of flak or flares 5,000 feet above formation appeared to be signal to E/F to stay away. Red flak or flares appeared to signal to E/F to begin attacks. Flak would stop after red flare. Some E/F continued attacks against formation through AA area.
Flak. Over target the Group experienced intense, heavy, moderately accurate flak. Flak also found at Nis, moderate, heavy, accurate (barrage type).
Observations. At the target, smoke pots along road north of city and at several positions in city and in industrial area. Screen was fairly effective. Had not fully developed when attack was made. Seven (7) B-24’s were seen to go down at and after target … 25 – 30 chutes seen.
[Eleven damaged from flak and 3 from fighters. One (1) killed by fighters and 2 wounded by flak.]