US Bomber Emerging From Smoke After Raid

B-24 Liberator “the Sandman” Emerging From Smoke During raid On Ploesti Oil Field in Romania; THEN ALLIED TO NAZI GERMANY.
THIS FIELD SUPPLIED IMMENSE AMOUNTS OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS TO WEHRMACHT 

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Aug. 1, 1943. The Sandman,  a US Army Air Force B-24 Liberator from the 98th Bomb Group of the 9th Air Force, piloted by Major Robert Sternfels, shown emerging from a cloud of smoke as it barely clears the stacks of the Astra Romana refinery during the disastrous American raid on the Romania oil fields at Ploesti.

(caption and photo courtesy of the National Museum of the US Air Force. The photo was taken by Jerry J. Joswick, the only survivor of the 16 cameramen of the operation)

 

Unfortunately, Not the Most Successful Action of the War

Since US Army Air Force doctrine stipulated high-altitude precision bombing, pilots had little experience in low-level missions. And this was a low-level mission.  Several months prior to the attack, aircrews and aircraft were sent to Libya and trained day after day in flying fifty feet off the ground or lower while in formation.

Coming in at low altitude was the key tactical element in the plan of attack on the refineries and associated facilities at the oil fields in Ploesti, Romania. These oil fields were Nazi Germany’s main source of oil, supplying almost 40% of the total. As such, Ploesti was the most heavily defended target against air attack in the entire Nazi empire. (Romania was a staunch ally of Nazi Germany).

The USAAF suffered terrible losses. Of the 177 B-24s on the raid, 53 were lost, most on the raid, some of which crashed and a handful interned in neutral Turkey. Official US Air Force casualty figures are as follows:  310 aircrewmen were killed, 108 were captured by the Axis, and 78 were interned in Turkey.

 

Despite the extreme heroism of the airmen and their determination to press the mission home, the results… were less than expected…. the attack temporarily eliminated about 3,925,000 tons (of petroleum production), roughly 46 percent of total annual production at Ploesti.

Unfortunately…these losses were temporary and much less than the planners had hoped for. The Germans proved capable of repairing damage and restoring production quickly, and they had been operating the refineries at less than full capacity, anyway.

Ploesti thus had the ability to recover rapidly. The largest and most important target, Astro Romana, was back to full production within a few months…”

 

Source: Fact sheet on low level bombing of Ploesti August 1943, US Air Force Historical Office. You can find the entire fact sheet here:

http://www.afhso.af.mil/topics/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=17993

P51 Mustang Saves Bomber Offensive

P51 to the Rescue

Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group flying his P-51D Mustang nicknamed ‘Tika IV’, during a bomber escort mission in 1944. (photograph and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

D-Day was not the Second Front.
The Anglo-American Strategic Bombing Offensive against Germany was the second front
d-day was the Third Front.
The First Front was the massive battle on the Eastern front between the Germans and the Soviets. 

 

Graves of German soldiers somewhere in Russia. (Bundesarchiv)

Because the Soviets killed over 80% of German soldiers killed in World War Two, something Stalin frequently pointed out to Churchill and FDR, the most important strategic goal of the Allies (the US and the British Empire) was to keep the Soviets in the war. The P-51 ended up playing an important role in this.

We absolutely had to think of a way to relive the intense German military power being unleashed on the Soviets by the Germans (who had a kill rate of one German soldier to 27 Soviet soldiers). The British had begun a small bombing campaign against Nazi Germany and its allies before America was in the war because there was no other way for the Brits to attack Germany.

Pilots of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF in front of Hawker Hurricane Mk I at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 7 September 1940. (Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

Germans Bomb London and Other Cities Throughout the UK

From the late summer of 1940 to the early summer of 1941, the German Luftwaffe bombed London and other major British cities and ports in a savage campaign which killed more than 40,000 people in the UK, half of them in London. More than one million homes were destroyed. So, the British felt little remorse at bombing the Germans.

RAF Bomber Command took unacceptable casualties in daylight bombing and began bombing only at night. The US Army Air Force and the Bomber Barons were convinced that daylight bombing was the best way in spite of the British experience.

Boeing B-17F 42-29513. 346th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bombardment Group

In our arrogance, the US believed that properly staged formations of B-17 Flying Fortress’s would be self-defending and wouldn’t need fighter cover. This assumption was proven to be completely wrong by the horrifying losses suffered during 1943 and early 1944 by the USAAF 8th Air Force flying from Great Britain.

Unfortunately, no fighter had the range to accompany American bombers all the way to Berlin and points east and then fly all the way back to Great Britain. Someone thought of drop tanks which were easy to make. However, there needed to be a rugged and fast heavy fighter to take on the German fighters over Germany.

What About the P51?

P-51D Mustang at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

American bombers finally accompanied by fighters for the entire flight

The P-51 had been a disappointment. It wasn’t fast enough. Someone thought of putting a Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a Spitfire on the airframe of a P-51. The rest is history. Fitted with drop tanks and the Merlin engine, the P-51 was able to provide fighter cover to American bombers all the way to Berlin and back. This allowed the bombing of Germany to continue and allowed American fighter to destroy the fighter arm of the German Air Force.

Every week, long before D-Day, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, sent Stalin a book of photographs of German cities Americans had bombed. Churchill did likewise. As the Anglo-American bombing offensive took hold, the Russians felt the effects. German aircraft were withdrawn from Russia and most importantly, the famed German 88 artillery piece, anti-tank gun, and anti-aircraft gun were withdrawn in large numbers from the Eastern front to defend German cities.

P-51D cockpit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Nazi Germany Declared War on the USA on 11 December 1941. Big mistake. By late 1942, American bombers of the “Mighty 8th” Were Bombing Germany

Margaret Bourke-White photographs the Mighty 8th

 

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“In 1942, LIFE Magazine sent Margaret Bourke-White, the first female photojournalist accredited to cover WWII, and the first authorized to fly on a combat mission, to take pictures of the VIII Bomber Command, commonly known as the Eighth Air Force or The Mighty 8th.

 

Honey Chile II

Getting ready: Members of the flight and ground crews of a B-17 bomber named ‘Honey Chile II’ make adjustments to their plane prior to a mission, Polebrook, Northamptonshire, England, fall 1942. (photo by Margaret Bourke-White, courtesy of Life Magazine)

 

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Pep talk: Before taking off on a mission in 1944 a Flying Fortress crew in England receives a talk from 26-year-old Chaplain James O. Kincannon, a Van Bueren, Arkansas, minister affectionately known as ‘Chaplain Jim’ (photo by Margaret Bourke-White, courtesy of Life Magazine)

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Good luck charm: Portrait of an unidentified American servicemen, possibly the tail gunner of a B-17 bomber, with a child’s bunny doll tucked into the waistband of his fur-lined-flight suit and a type B-4 life preserver, known as a ‘Mae West’.  (photo by Margaret Bourke-White, courtesy of Life Magazine)

 

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Comics in the sky: An American soldier paints caricatures of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito on the nose of a B-17 bomber named ‘Flying Flit-Gun,’ which originated from the 97th Bombardment Group of the 8th Bomber Command. [a flit-gun was used in homes in the USA to kill mosquitoes and flying pests] (photo by Margaret Bourke-White, courtesy of Life Magazine)

 

Easy riders

Easy riders: Three American military personnel, possibly ground crewmen, sit on their bicycles in front of a B-17 bomber named ‘Berlin Sleeper II’ (photo by Margaret Bourke-White, courtesy of Life Magazine)

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Power of precision: The VIII Bomber Command, commonly known as the Eighth Air Force, was assembled to strategically bomb Nazi-controlled cities after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (photo by Margaret Bourke-White, courtesy of Life Magazine)

 

54,000 flight crewmen of the US 8th Airforce were either killed in combat or taken prisoner in World War Two. The 8th Air Force historical site is here:

 

http://www.8thafhs.org/index.php

German Army Elite Long Distance Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance Commandos

 

The New Motto of the German Armed Forces:

“Let the Americans Do It”

 

The Elite German Army Fernspählehrkompanie 200 or FSLK200, their long range Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance unit, is being disbanded in 2014.

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Jump training in Memphis

A soldier of the elite long-distance Fernspählehrkompanie 200 from exercises in Memphis, TN, USA. Pictured: A Fernspäher in free fall with scale navigation equipment.
© Bundeswehr

Unfortunately, this elite special forces unit is being disbanded by the German Government and the men will be absorbed into other units. Like most countries in Western Europe, the Germans have been unilaterally disarming since they know the USA will defend them if they need defending.

Maybe they Germans should look a map and see how close they are to Russia. They have a lot of experience fighting the Russians and they know it isn’t easy. So with Russia in turmoil what is the German Army doing? Shrinking itself to the size of the police force of Cleveland or some other mid-sized American city.

It is a terrible policy. Besides, I think most American voters would tell the Germans to bulk up their military and be prepared to defend themselves. We’re sick of paying taxes for American armed forces to protect the Germans.

 

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Jump training in Memphis

A soldier of the Fernspählehrkompanie 200 from Pfullendorf exercises the vertical movement in Memphis / USA.
© Bundeswehr

 

 

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Troopers from the elite special forces unit of Fernspählehrkompanie 200 or  FSLK200 (translates as: Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance Instruction Company 200) on practice jump outside of Memphis, TN.

Members of the German armed forces often train in the US because the air space in Europe is so crowded and the population density is so high. Finding places to practice jumping without disrupting air traffic or dropping onto buildings is impossible so they do it here.
The training base for the entire German Luftwaffe is located at the American Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico.

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A Luftwaffe (German Air Force), Panavia Tornado IDS aircraft (s/n 43+13) from the “German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAF/FTC)” at Holloman AFB, New Mexico (USA), heads to the fight after refueling during Red Flag 07-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (USA), on 31 August 2007. Red Flag tests aircrew’s war-fighting skills in realistic combat situations. (Official US Air Force photograph by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald)