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Back to Mission 53 Mission 54 Thursday, 20 Jul 44 Erfurt Forward to Mission 55
Mission 54
The Mighty 8th called on all of its groups to attack central Germany. The 14th Wing drew the Nord Airfield at Erfurt. The 492nd dispatched 22 crews, but 2 of them had to abort. One had a mechanical failure while the other had a sick crewman. The Group assembled under the command of Lt Col Adams, the Group Deputy Commander. He flew on a Pathfinder furnished by the 44th BG.
Fighter Protection
Only 47 escort fighters were assigned to protect the entire 2nd Air Division. The mission planners were either well informed of the Luftwaffe's abilities or they took a huge risk. As it turned out, no enemy fighters were encountered.
Enemy Resistance
Flak over the target was described as meager. However, it did manage to take out a B-24 and an escort fighter, but very few planes suffered even minor damage. The 492nd had no losses.
Details found concerning the bombing run are sketchy. The 392nd reported poor results, as they missed the target by 500 yards. We don't know how well the 492nd's run did. Not all of the Group's attacking planes dropped on the primary target, either. At least 4 of them went after a target of opportunity.
The 492nd's luck did seem to be improving during the latter half of July. Several of their missions went completely unchallenged by the Luftwaffe, whose activities were definitely on the decline. Some of the 492's luck wasn't luck, but rather the result of earlier bombing offensives.
Ever since the 8th and 15th Air Forces had made oil refineries a top priority, the German's fuel production went on a steep decline. By now they had a serious fuel shortage. Many of their airbases were without fuel, forcing their grounded pilots to watch as the heavy bombers went by. The Group's new-found luck had already been paid for with many lives.
The Luftwaffe wasn't completely out of gas. Some of the groups were getting it and they were doing as much damage as they could with it. They were finding ways to exploit the smaller number of fighters now escorting the armadas. At least one group was going to be unlucky.
It's been suggested that the Allied mission planners could see regional patterns developing as to which areas were getting gas. They used this info as a tool to help them plan their undersized escort strength around their armadas. Of course, it was risky. If a dry area suddenly got some gas, the situation would abruptly change.
Mission Data
Mission: 54
Date: 20 Jul 44
City: Erfurt, Germany
Target: Airfield
Bomb Load
Tons: 60
Type: 100 lb GPs
500 lb GPs
Result: Poor
Enemy Action
Flak: Meager
GAF: None
Counter Action
Kills: 0
492nd Casualties
More Info
This mission's impact
on the overall war
Perry Crew R-21
Graham/Powers Crew 614
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