Mission Number: 42
Date: 7 Apr ’44
Target: Mestre, Italy M/Y
449th A/C Over Target: 26
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 60 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 6 (Des)
449th A/C Lost: 1
Twenty-eight B-24-G, H’s and J’s took off at 0914 to 0955 to bomb the M/Y at Mestre, Italy. Two (2) returned early, one because a prop governor was inoperative and the other because of a gas leak in the mid-section of the bomb bay. Twenty-six planes flew over the target and 24 of these dropped 60 tons of 500-lb GP bombs with .1 and .01 fuses on the target at 1303 hours from 19,900 to 21,900 feet. One dropped its 2-1/2 tons of bombs after the rally, 2 jettisoned 5 tons in the Adriatic and 1 returned 2-1/2 tons to base. Twenty-five returned at 1529. One (1) is missing having last been seen near 4350N – 1400E on course at 1400 hours preparing for ditching. None lost and none at friendly fields.
Rendezvoused with 376th at San Pancrazio at 1017 hours on course to San Vito Di Normanni, with 449th Group in lead. Proceeded to target as briefed and bombed same at 1303 hours. The rally was to the right and the return made by the route as briefed. Escorts of P-38’s met the formation about 1210 hours off Ancona and left about 1400 hours near 4350N – 1400E.
Visual observation reported excellent results with an exceptionally large number of hits on the target with many of them concentrated at the choke point selected as the aiming point. Photographic interpretation confirmed the visual observations. Pictures were obtained from only 1 of the 8 cameras.
Fighters. Both attack units of this Group, consisting of 12 and 14 planes, respectively, were attacked by ME-109’s and FW-190’s. Seven (7) of this first unit of 12 estimated the number of enemy planes from 50 to 75 planes, 4 (2 of these from the lead element of 3) estimated between 30 and 40, and 1 (in the lead element of 3) estimated 20 to 25. In the second attack unit of 14, estimates ran from 15 to 40. Apparently and naturally those whose vision was limited by their position in the formation saw the least.
Attacks came from all angles and directions (except towards the nose) and were made in twos and threes, considered by most to be aggressive. Attacks on the tail were usually made three abreast level at 6 o’clock, and on the breakaway one dove to the left, one to the right and the third under the attacked A/C. Attacks on the side were usually made in pairs in trail. Some rockets were used. Attacks usually started high and carried out level. None seemed to be forward of 3 or 9 o’clock.
Many of the ME-109’s were colored silver and black. Others were seen to be gray.
Flak. The general consensus of opinion was that over the target area, flak was slight, inaccurate, heavy. There was slight, inaccurate, heavy flak from Padua and Treviso, and light, slight, inaccurate flak at Chioggia. There were 6 white puffs at target area before flak. The enemy A/C fought through their own flak.
Total Losses. One B-24, #52, was last seen preparing for ditching near 4350N – 1400E. Was hit by flak over the target and its #1 engine was feathered and #2 smoking. One man was seen to bail out successfully and then fall into the sea.
[Two B-24’s slightly damaged from flak and six from fighters. Six victories and three probably destroyed.]