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Back to Mission 48 Mission 49 Wednesday, 12 Jul 44 Munich Forward to Mission 50
Mission 49
It was the same plan as they had yesterday. The 8th Air Force was hitting Munich again with all three divisions. The 492nd was given the same target as before, the train station in the middle of town.
Only one of the 24 planes dispatched had to abort. They discovered an oil leak during assembly. The Group formed under the command of Captain Byrne, the 857th Squadron Operations Officer. He flew with the Orthman Crew 806, now flying as Crew 701.
Fighter Protection
Once again the fighter protection was excellent, but not needed. The Luftwaffe didn't try to defend Munich against the massive bomber armada.
Enemy Resistance
Just like yesterday, the flak was very heavy and accurate. Had it not been for the clouds underneath the bombers, the casualty toll would have been higher for all of the groups.
As the Group was appraoching Munich, the Smith Crew 906 took a direct hit. A flak shell had penetrated right through the ball turret and into the plane. It bounced off the ceiling and laid on the floor. It had already killed the ball gunner and would have killed the whole crew were it not for the fact that it didn't go off. A severed oxygen line caught on fire, but extinguished itself when the oxygen bottle ran out. The crew threw out the unexploded flak shell and took off with their crippled ship for Switzerland.
Without a good map with them, they found the Alps poking up through the clouds. Instead of finding a safe haven in the Swiss Alps, they were met by the Luftwaffe in the Italian Alps and were forced to land at Ghendi Airfield in Italy. The 10 remaining flyboys were taken POW. Two days later the 12th Air Force attacked the airfield and destroyed the captured B-24.
The reports didn't mention this being a Pathfinder mission but it should have been. They might have used their updated Gee Boxes, the navigators equipment that operated on the same principle as Pathfinders, to find their exact same location as the day before. By using some method, the remaining 22 planes found their target and dropped their bombs.
The only crew lost in the 14th Wing was the 492nd's Smith Crew 906. The Mighty 8th lost a total of 24 heavy bombers. So on this day, some other group and wing had the bulk of the bad luck.
At this time, aviation was only about 40 years old. During which, navigation had come a long way. The Pathfinders and Gee Boxes that were developed during the war were the forerunners of today's GPS, Global Positioning System, except they homed in on fixed radar locations instead of satelites to triangulate their position. The navigator needed to know the exact coordinates of their destination, otherwise the devices were of little use.
If a navigator knew the exact coordinates for a target, he could put his plane right on top of it. Had the Smith Crew known the mapped coordinates for bases in Switzerland, they would have landed there instead of Itlay. But they had no such map with them.
Mission Data
Mission: 49
Date: 12 Jul 44
City: Munich, Germany
Target: Train Station
Bomb Load
Tons: 55
Type: Incendiary and
500 lb GPs
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
Prytulak Crew 907
Perry Crew R-21
O'Sullivan Crew 713
Prytulak Crew 907
Taylor Crew R-04
Smith Crew 906
1 KIA, 10 POW
Smith Crew 906
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