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Back to Mission 42 Mission 43 Thursday, 29 Jun 44 Magdeburg Forward to Mission 44
Mission 43
Another drive into Germany was ordered, with the 14th Wing drawing targets at Magdeburg, about 80 miles southwest of Berlin. The 492nd was to bomb an industrial target related to aircraft manufacturing.
The Group dispatched 24 planes in poor weather. During assembly 3 of them had to abort, one of them developing a gas leak in the bomb bay and 2 others experiencing mechanical failures. The Group was led by Major Heaton, the 857th Squadron Commander. He flew with the Konstand Crew 711.
Fighter Protection
The fighter protection wasn't as big in number as most missions into Germany. Only 779 fighters were sent out to escort the 1,150 bombers dispatched. While other wings were confronted by the Luftwaffe, the 14th Wing was able to slide in and out of Germany without seeing any.
Enemy Resistance
Flak over Magdeburg was described as particularly accurate and intensive. At least 6 of the planes from the 857th were damaged by flak. We don't know the total number of ships that were damaged, bot one crewman was wounded in action. Despite the damages, the Group was able to return in one piece.
We don't have a report that says how well the bombing went. We have only read that all 21 ships attacked their target.
After releasing their bombs over the target, the Konstand Crew 711 which was leading the Group, found that 2 of their incendiary bombs were hung up part way out of the bomb bay preventing them from closing the doors. F/O Loflin, the bombardier, took off his flak jacket and parachute and crawled out onto the catwalk. Without a walk-around bottle of oxygen, in a minus 25 degree temperature and in the middle of a flak barrage he tried to free the bombs. He soon discovered that the bombs couldn't be released, so he removed the detonators and winched the bombs back up into the bomb bay so that the doors could close. For his actions he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and a case of frostbite.
The Group was lucky again. The Luftwaffe was busy defending Germany that day, causing the Mighty 8th to lose 15 bombers. But the Group managed to get through it all without a loss.
By the end of the month, the 856th only had 6 of their original crews left. Most of their replacements were filled by crews reassigned from the other squadrons, mainly from the dismantled 858th. At June's end, only 6 of their crews were actually replacement crews. So the 856th was still an experienced squadron.
The other squadrons' strength of original crews had been reduced, by either battle or transfer. The 857th had 10 crews left and the 859th had 13. The 858th still had 10 crews left within the Group but reassigned to the other squadrons. There were only 39 original crews left flying missions for the 492nd. Almost half of the original group was gone within the first 6 weeks of combat.
Losses weren't just confined to the original crews. Of the 19 replacement crews that had flown at least one mission, 5 had been lost and 1 disbanded. That's a high number considering that about half of them flew their first mission during the tail end of June.
Mission Data
Mission: 43
Date: 29 Jun 44
City: Magdeburg, Germany
Target: Aircraft industry
Bomb Load
Tons: 55
Type: Incendary
Result: n/a
Enemy Action
Flak: Heavy
GAF: None
Counter Action
Kills: 0
492nd Casualties
More Info
This mission's impact
on the overall war
Konstand Crew 711
Flying Cross
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