Mission Number: 54
Date: 5 May ’44
Target: Ploesti, Romania M/Y
449th A/C Over Target: 38
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 78 GP
Enemy A/C Destroyed: 10 (Des)
449th A/C Lost: 5
Forty B-24’s took off at 1010 – 1039 hours to bomb Ploesti M/Y. Two returned early, jettisoning 5 tons in Adriatic. Thirty-eight dropped 76 tons of 500-lb (.1 and .01) GP bombs on target at 1357 hours from 18,300 – 21,000 feet. 32 returned at 1704 – 1821 hours. Four lost, one missing, and one at friendly field.
Rendezvoused at Manduria at 6,000 feet on course to San Vito Di Normanni. This group took lead on briefed course to Budva (4217N – 1851E), to turn point at 4250N – 1910E to turn point at 4414N – 2241E to turn point at Slatina (4426N – 2422E), to IP to target attacking on axis varying from 15° to 92°. Rallied left going North of Campina back to turn point at 4414N – 2214E to base. Fighter rendezvous was made at 1215 hours with 41 P-38s at 4250N – 1910E and later with 45 P-47s at 1250 hours at 4340N – 2058E. The escorts departed at IP. Conflicting reports were received on fighter cover at target. Most crews report no fighter cover but a few report P-51s 8,000 feet above formation but they did not attempt to drive off E/Fs.
Because of effective smoke screen, results were difficult to observe. Some hits were reported in target area from visual observation and smoke and flame were reported. Smoke and cloud coverage over target prohibit plotting of bomb bursts on bomb strike photos.
Beginning at target area and continuing for period of about 12 minutes approximately 25 to 30 E/A attacked the formation. In addition, an isolated element of 4 ships which fell behind formation was attacked viciously by 15 to 20 E/F. E/A were very aggressive and determined, carrying attacks in some cases to within 25 yards. A variety of attacks were made from all around the clock but principally the attacks were frontal from just above and just below level. Severe rocket attacks were made by FW-190’s from both 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, attacking in trail. Three instances were reported of E/F dropping large bombs from 5,000 ft above formation. Many attacks were made from 12 o’clock low to level out of the sun and kept firing as they passed under our A/C, did a half-roll and went on down. Markings on some E/A were reported to have a blue belly with a black Maltese cross with a yellow stripe on each side of Maltese cross. Others were reported with red nose and cowling with yellow fuselage and black cross.
Over the target the group experienced intense, accurate, heavy flak.
From Flak: 1 (8 chutes seen to open);
From Fighters: 3 (16 chutes seen to open).
From Flak: 11 (4 severe);
From Fighters 1 (severe).
From Flak: 3 (1 serious, 2 slight);
From Fighters 4 (2 killed, 2 slight).
Destroyed: 5 ME-109, 5 FW-190;
Probable 2 ME-109.
Supplement: Forty aircraft took off at 1010 to bomb Ploesti M/Y. Two returned early …. Thirty-seven ships dropped on the target. Four bombs failed to release and were later jettisoned. One ship was hit and left formation just before the target and is MIA. Four others of our ships were destroyed after going over the target, three by fighters and one by flak about an hour after the target. One aircraft landed at a friendly field on return. Smoke and cloud coverage prevented either visual or photographic observation of bombing results. Thirty-seven effective & one non-effective sorties are claimed.
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