Thirty-six B-24’s took off at 0609 to 0637 to bomb Ploesti/Romano Americana Oil Refinery. Five returned early of which three jettisoned 7-1/2 tons, one jettisoned 1/2 ton and returned 2 tons and one returned 2-1/2 tons. Thirty-one dropped 71-1/4 tons of 500-lb RDX and GP bombs with .1 nose and mixed .025 and .01 tail fuses on the target at 1021 hours from 22,500 to 24,000 feet. Three jettisoned 6 tons and one returned 1/4 ton to base. Twenty-nine returned at 1345 hours. One lost. One missing. None at friendly fields.
Rendezvoused with 450th Group over Manduria at 6,000 feet at 0717 hours. The course was set for San Vito and the 98th and 376th Groups joined on this leg. The course lead to Ragusa (4231N – 1823E) at 0811 hours at 14,000 feet, to Aleksinal at 0905 hours at 20,000 feet, to Belogradchik (4351N – 2354E) at 0931 hours at 20,000 feet. From this point the course passed over 4359N – 2436E at 0940 hours at 22,000 feet, thence to the turn point at 4404N – 2500E, to the IP. From the IP a true course of 332° was followed in to the target. The rally was right and then left with the course swinging north of the Campina flak zone. The flight line then passed 4404N – 2300E to Alekiano at 1151 hours, thence to 4229N – 1825E and to base.
Ten (10) P-51’s were sighted at 0959 hours at 4409N – 2603E and 50 P-38’s at 1010 hours at 4340N – 2335E. No definite time of departure was noted, but the escort was observed from the above noted times and places, through the target and back almost to the Yugoslavian Coast. The escort was evaluated as excellent.
Weather en route and in the target area was 6-7/10 undercast but both the IP and target were clear. An effective smoke screen obscured observation of results. Two smoke columns rising to 18 to 20,000 feet and visible from 150 miles were observed.
[No fighter resistance was encountered.]
Intense, accurate, and heavy flak was experienced over target.
Observations: At 1020 hours, 22,000′, over target (Ploesti), 1 B-24 burst in flames, fell and broke in two pieces. No chutes were seen. At 1120 hours, B-24 with 2 engines feathered lagging badly. No chutes when last sighted. At 1300 hours, crew of B-24 bailed out. 10 chutes.
[One lost to flak (10 chutes observed) and one missing. Twelve B-24’s damaged from flak.]