Monday, 6 March 1944
Field Order 296
(information incomplete)

primary Ball bearing plant at Erkner 16½ miles east of center Berlin visual bombing only
secondary one mile east of Friedrichstrasse, RR station visual or pff bombing
last resort any industrial area or military objective positively identified in Germany, which can be attacked w/o disrupting fighter support

Bomb Load

lead, low groups
load 10x500 general purpose fused at 1/10, 1/100
use 1/40 in tail if 1/100 unavailable
high groups
10 M17 incendiaries
if unavailable, max load of M47A1 incendiaries
one a/c per group to carry two boxes of leaflets
group, deputy leads load one one sky marker bomb

Intervelometer Settings
primary 4
secondary salvo
last resort minimum

Narrative Report

  1. 50 bundles of USG #28 leaflets were dropped by this group at 1320 hours over secondary target. The crews reported a good scatter.

  2. Strike photos of the lead group of the 40th A disclose the center of the concentration of bomb bursts 118029/dtmg 25/2 Berlin northeast. Another film strip of the low squadron's composite group flying low in the 40th A disclosed general purpose bomb bursts of another group. The center of the concentration of bomb bursts' direct pinpoint 053093 Mosaic #1207A Berlin Kopeck.

  3. About 75-100 enemy aircraft were seen, mostly single-engine types. They were first seen at 1239 in the vicinity of Gardelegen and were last seen in the vicinity of the Zuider Zee on the route back to England. In general, very few attacks are recorded and in most cases e/a were described as merely stooging around. Attacks were infrequent, but were pressed home with ferocity when they did occur. Most attacks were from eleven o'clock to one o'clock high and usually in elements of two planes. Sun attacks were also reported. Attacks were delivered with the whole formation of the target. Enemy fighters are reported flying through entire combat wings. Our pilots report that cannon fire was used almost exclusively. Very little MG and no rocket firing being reported. Claims are 3-1-1.

  4. At Egmond meagre, inaccurate, black gunfire was encountered. These bursts were continuously pointed. At Lingen, Furstenau, Diepholz and Nienburg meagre to moderate gunfire was encountered. These bursts were black, accurate and continuously pointed. At Lingen white bursts were observed high above formation. At both Burg and Belzig, meagre, inaccurate black bursts were encountered. Continuously pointed fire was again the type of fire control used. In target area intense gunfire was encountered for a period of between ten and 15 minutes. At this position black, generally inaccurate bursts were met. Both continuously point fire and barrage type of fire control were used. On the way out, black, very accurate, moderate gunfire was encountered in the vicinity of [looks like] Gransee and Vechta. Continuously pointed fire was used in both instances. At Alkmaar and Egmond, meagre, inaccurate cpf [continuously pointed fire] was encountered.

  5. Approximately 4-5/10 clouds up to 5,000 feet with large breaks existed over the target. 6/10 clouds with fewer breaks and rising occasionally to 10-12,000 feet was experienced along the route to and from the target. Due to cloud cover over the primary the secondary target was bombed on pff technique. Actually, breaks in the clouds allowed positive identification of the secondary target.

    1. Smoke screen was observed at 5235N-1010E at 1226 hours.
    2. Smoke screen was observed at Braunschweig [Brunswick].
    3. A large white strip several times ... longer than a landing strip was observed in the center of the woods east of Gardelegen 5228-1135.
    4. A smoke screen was observed at 5228-1050 along the river, but town was seen.
    5. Three cargo boats were observed moving east in Zuider Zee at 1459 hours.
    6. A smoke screen was observed over superhighway 50 miles west of Berlin.

  6. Aircraft of the 92nd Bomb Group flew as lead group and low squadron of 40A Combat Wing. This formation bombed the secondary target on the bombs of leading pff a/c. Friendly fighter support was very much as briefed. There were numerous P-51 a/c in the target area and a few P-38s, P-47s ...with some P-51s. Report was constant in and out from the target to the enemy coast. Numerous dogfights were reported, particularly in the vicinity of the target. Four of our a/c are missing from this mission. What is believed to be a/c 527 K was reported hit by flak in the vicinity of 5305N-1300E at about 1333 hours, then to explode and disintegrate into small pieces. No chutes were reported. What is believed to be another B-17 from the 40A Combat Wing, but not otherwise identified, was last seen about 1148 hours in the Dümmer Lake area with two engines smoking, trying to crash land. The a/c was seen to burst into flames on the ground when it struck. No chutes were reported. At 5328N-0830E at 1430 hours a B-17 also claimed to be a/c 527 K of this group, which can only be definitely identified as a B-17 from this group, was observed to receive a direct hit or very near miss from flak and explode. The a/c broke in two and generally disintegrated, the nose and tail sections falling as rather large pieces. No chutes were observed. What is believed to be another B-17 of this group was reported at 1443 hours five miles north of Lingen to be last seen in a controlled descent, heading 285 mag and down to cloud cover, 15,500 feet with all engines turning over, but with one smoking. At 1445 hours when this a/c was almost lost to view one crew reported a flak burst caused the tail section to be blown off. Five free chutes were observed and one open chute was seen to stream from the ball turret and appear snagged.

(information incomplete)

The 92nd Bomb Group flew as lead group and low squadron of the 40A Combat Wing.

Lost Aircraft
Abortive Aircraft
Damaged Aircraft

Lead Squadron
326th Squadron

1529 N
407 Sq a/c
0052 X
1898 A
1888 N
1907 J
7489 F
9958 K

Low Squadron
407th Squadron

7956 Y
1687 M
1921 O

16802 P
1408 Z
1765 L

Lead Squadron
327th Squadron

1277 P
1771 R
7479 L
1362 R
326 Sq a/c
8101 O
0644 V

High Squadron
325th Squadron

7934 E
1231 W
7877 K
1248 B
3536 G
0261 C
1503 L

Low Squadron
327th Squadron

7527 K
0649 X
8025 Q
7515 P
325th Sq a/c
1250 B
1984 U
1828 Q
407 Sq a/c

Composition of Force

1st CBW
94th CBW fly abreast and guide left on 1st
41st CBW
40A fly abreast and guide left on 41st
40B composite

41st CBW will furnish one box of 40th CBW
40th CBW will arrange necessary details for assembly and send copies of their annex to group and CBWs concerned

Disposition of Pff A/c
2 Mickey a/c to 91st
1 Mickey a/c to 401st
1 Mickey a/c to 379th
1 Mickey a/c to 92nd

Zero Hour: 1000

Codes/Call Signs
ffvhf code word for primary format
1st CBW Goldsmith 12
94th CBW Goldsmith 11
41st CBW Goldsmith 14
40th A CBW Goldsmith 13
composite CBW Goldsmith 15
vhf bomber to bomber channel B smokestack

40th CBW will operate all available carpet according to existing instructions. Frequencies according to Appendix A

First and lead group
The first wing lead group in each following will discharge chaff at the rate of one unit every three seconds beginning at 5212-1320 and continuing for 14 minutes. Each will carry 288 units.

Leader, F Leader and two other a/c of each group designated to monitor division frequency will change from Channel A to Channel B at 0-12 mins.

vhf code word for authentication: bootlegger

Splasher Assignments
Wing Splasher
1 7
40 6
41 16
94 4

Handwritten Notes

Primary: Ball bearing plant at Erkner 16½ miles east of center Berlin
Secondary: one mile east of Friedrichstrasse, RR station; bombing by pff
Last Resort: all industrial areas or military objectives positively identified as being in Germany

Route is good from a flak standpoint. At Berlin 457 guns. Primary target twelve guns within range. Secondary target 250 guns within range.

Enemy fighters
Probably will encounter one of the heaviest concentrations on any mission order to date.

Fighter Escort
one group P-47s at 5237-0510
one group P-47s at 5237-0640
two groups P-47s at 5237-0840
one group P-51s at 5228-1110
one group P-38s at 5305-1300
two squadrons RAF P-51s at 5250-1040
one group P-47s at 5240-0840
one group P-47s at 5237-0710

As many fighter groups as possible will make a second sortie as withdrawal support.

Third Division with six wings will attack the Bosch ignition and magneto works just on the southern outskirts of Berlin. Depart Orfordness at 0+12.

Second Division with three wings will attack the Deimler Benz engine works approximately 20 miles south of center of Berlin. They depart Cromer at 0+24.

Visual only. The important ball bearing factory at Erkner, 60 miles ESE of the center of Berlin, which is probably today the main source of supply of ball bearings left to Jerry. Extensive camouflage and considerable snowfall can be expected, as well as a smoke screen. Heavy reliance may thus have to be made on the surrounding ground detail of lakes, roads and autobahns. The aiming point is the center of the factory area. There is a 50-60% chance bombing will be visual.

The secondary for visual bombing and primary for pff technique is the center of the industrial area of Berlin, located one mile east of the eastern end of the Tiergarten and one-half mile east of Friedrichstrasse station. At that point the Spree river crossing Berlin splits to form the only island of consequence, the northern tip of which contains your aiming point. A sharp right turn after bombing is advised to avoid considerable flak and you should leave Berlin heading 30 mag. In case very heavy contrails develop at your altitude and you are attacking the secondary from reduced altitude, you are authorized to bomb the SE section of the town and turn sharply away from the flak area.

Last Resort:
Any military objective... Possibilities are Hannover, Brunswick, Magdeburg and Brandenburg.

(as written)
Leave English coast at Cromer 1000 hours 14,000 feet
Enter enemy coast at Egmund 1044 hours 21,000 feet
IP is Körgs 1250 hours 21,000 feet
Target heading: 1256 hours 21,000 feet, 25 miles NE Berlin
15,000 feet five miles north Dümmer Lake
Leave enemy coast Egmund 1456 hours 15,000 feet
Enter English coast at Great Yarmouth 1535 hours 5,000 feet

Enemy fighters: A very large number expected.

Other Notes

The Eighth Air Force suffered losses of 69 bombers, 18 from the First Division, 16 from the Second Division and 35 from the Third Division, including, among others:

15 100th Bomb Group
(10 from 350th Squadron)
Third Division
8 95th Bomb Group Third Division
7 388th Bomb Group Third Division
6 91st Bomb Group First Division
5 458th Bomb Group Second Division
4 453rd Bomb Group Second Division

Included in the losses this day was 1 Lt. John C. Morgan, former 92nd Bomb Group co-pilot and Congressional Medal of Honor awardee (for 26 July 1943 mission). Morgan was f lying with the 385th Bomb Group along with Brig. General Russell Wilson, Third Division mission commander. As the bomber approached the target, it was hit by flak. Pilot Major Fred A. Rabo was able to stay on course until the bombs were dropped. He then dropped to 1,500 feet where the plane exploded. Morgan attached his chute while in the air, landed safely and was captured by German flak gunners, spending the rest of the war as a "P/W."

American gunners claimed over 90 kills. Fighter pilots claimed 82 kills.

This was the Eighth Air Force's most costly mission.

Last updated 9-26-00 0800 edt (1200 z)