351st Bomb Group

Polebrook, England

Group Mission #125

Credited Mission #119

DATE: 12 May 1944
Target: I.G. Farbenindustrie Oil Refinery,
Merseburg, Germany
Briefing Outline:
  1. Airplane and Crew Assignment Check.

  2. Time Schedule:
     High Box
    Stations   –0825
    Start Engines –0835
    Taxi     –0845
    Take Off   –0900
    Last Take Off –1015 1000 Clacton

  3. Targets:
    Primary: Merseburg, Germany oil refinery
    Secondary: Eisenach, G. [Germany] Engine works – PPF Halle Marshalling [Yards]
    Last Resort: Any military objective in Germany or any airdrome in occupied countries not near built-up areas.
  4. Loading:
    351 “A”: Max. [Number of] 100 [LB.] GP’s [General Purpose] 1/10 1/10 [Fuses]
    351 “B”:
    Nickels [Propaganda Leaflets] in Ship # - 560-A Wrisberg -- 975-O Borchert
    Chaff: [See below]
  5. Gasoline Loading: 2600 Gallons
    Remarks: 312 units of chaff – discharged 4 units every 10 seconds from 2 minutes before I.P. [Initial Point of Bomb Run] to continue for 13 minutes.

  6. Wing Formation94th (A) CBW94th (B) CBWComp. GroupComp. CBW

  7. Division Formation:
    PositionCBW [Combat Wing]TargetDeparture Time at Coast
    Lead94th "A"Merseburg - oil
    2nd94th "B"Lutzkendorf - oil
    3rd40thMerseburg - oil
    4th1stLutzkendorf - oil
    5th41st "A"Merseburg - oil
    6th41st "B"Merseburg - oil
    2nd DivisionZeitz G. [Germany], Böhlen G. [Germany] oil & fuel plants
    3rd DivisionBrux – Check [Czechoslovakia]– Zwickaulz check – Aircraft factory.
    RAF [Royal Air Force]

    Remarks: ____

  8. Fighter Cover:
    • [Force][Latitude & Longitude][Call Sign]
       1 Group P-47's  5107-0250  Balance 2-1 
      1 Group P-51's 5017-0600  Balance 2-2 
      1 Group P-51's 5024-0830  Balance 2-3 
      1 Group P-51's 5036-1100  Balance 2-4 
      1 Group P-38's 5032-0900  Balance 2-5 

  9. Group Assembly:
    BoxGroup Altitude Place
    Lead401st10,000' Splasher #7 
    Low401st8,500’Splasher #7
    High351st11,500’Splasher #7
    Caution of proper altitude.
  10. Navigator - _____
  11. S-2 - _____
  12. Weather - _____
  13. Special Instructions to Navigators, Bombardiers and Radio Operators:
  14. Squadron Leaders and Group Deputy report to Target Room. All but Pilots Dismissed.
  15. (A) Code Words –
    PFF Bombing –Trollop
    Visual Bombing -Black Sheep
    Authenticator –Red Hat
    Recall -Whiskey and Soda
    Weather Code -TBVIA
    Release "CHAFF"Tin Hat

    (B) Call Signs:
    Call SignFlaresTail Letters
    351st AWoodcraft RedG [Green]J
    351st B
    401st AWoodcraft WhiteRY [Red Yellow]S
    401st BWoodcraft SilverR [Red]S
    457th A
    457th B
    1st C.B.W.
    40th C.B.W.
    41st C.B.W.
    Composite C.B.W.

    U.S. FightersBalance 2-1 - 2-5
    R.A.F. Fighters
     BombersVinegrove 2-1
    U.S. Grnd. ControlColgate
    R.A.F. Grnd. Control

    Control Points:Fighter Reference Points:
     No. 1 - Clacton J - Brussels 
     No. 2 - 5107-0250E - Leige
     No. 3 - 5024-0630R - Koblenz
     No. 4 - 5022-0820K - Frankfurt
    I - Gotha
    N - Plauen

    Remarks: Fighter Reference Altitude – 21,000 ft.

    Colors of the Day
    0200 – 0800GGWF
    0800 – 1400YYIJ
    1400 – 2000RGGO

    (E) Ships To Monitor [Radio Channels A, B, C & D]
    1. - All except following:
    2. - 613-C -- 470-J
    3. - 157-N -- 994-T
    4. - Air Sea Rescue Channel

  16. Let-Down on Deenethorpe Buncher, if overcast.
    High 351st A   40° Mag. [Magnetic Compass Heading]
    Lead 401st A   20° Mag.
    Low 401st B   360° Mag.

  17. Flying Control. –
    1. Taxi Plan.
    2. Emergency Fields.
    3. Landing Aids.

  18. Special Instructions:
    Radio silence except for C.W.L. [Combat Wing Leader] when necessary for assembly.
    94 A and 94 B - C.W.’s will be using the same type flares.
    Emergency Airdrome – Woodbridge.
    Spares turn back at enemy coast.

Operations Narrative – High Combat Box:
  1. General Narrative. Twenty aircraft, including two flying spares, took off at 0900 – 0913 hours. Formation of the High Box at take-off is indicated on the attached diagram. The assembly of the combat wing at Splasher #7 was uneventful. The High Box was in combat wing formation twenty minutes before the scheduled time for departure.
     Departure from the English coast was made one minute behind schedule, and arrival at the French coast was three minutes ahead of the briefed time. As the Track Chart indicates, the briefed route was followed for the entire mission with only slight variation after bombing.
     Interval for bombing was taken just before the IP was reached. A good run was made on the target. Flak at the target was moderate and inaccurate, and no enemy fighters were encountered.
     The combat wing assembly after bombing was made without difficulty. It was necessary, however, for the Lead Box to execute some double drifts in order to permit the High and Low Boxes to get into the proper positions.
     The return route was flown nearly as briefed and was uneventful. Departure from the enemy coast was made twelve minutes late and arrival at the English coast was ten and one-half minutes behind the briefed time.
     The High Group found the air speed to be too low for most of the mission. This caused the High Box to do an unusual amount of “S”-ing in order to keep its proper position in the formation.
     Upon reaching the English coast, the combat wing leader gave the High Box permission to return to base alone. This was done and landings were made at 1637 – 1650 hours.
  2. Aircraft Not Attacking. Two aircraft scheduled as flying spares returned from mid-channel when there was no available spot to fill in in the formation. Neither of these aircraft were considered as having been dispatched.  The remaining eighteen aircraft continued as indicated in the General Narrative and reached the target in the formation indicated in the following diagram. Two aircraft failed to bomb the primary target due to rack malfunctions, but did manage to drop their bombs later in Germany. They are considered as having attacked a target of opportunity.  Two aircraft carried nickels in place of the usual bomb load. These were dropped on the assigned target.
  3. Aircraft Lost. No aircraft were lost on the Mission of 12 May, 1944.
  4. Group Leader. Captain Leslie S. Cruthirds, flying in aircraft 42-31879, was leader of the High Combat Box of the 94th Combat Wing.

No. of A/C Scheduled - Less TWO Flying Spares18
No. of A/C Taking Off - Less TWO Flying Spares18
No. of A/C Dispatched18
No. of A/C Attacking Primary16
No. of A/C Attacking T/O [Target of Opportunity]2
No. of A/C Not Attacking - Less TWO Flying Spares0
No. of Sorties18
No. of A/C Lost0

[Signed] Clinton F. Ball, Lt. Colonel, Air Corps, Operations Officer

Bombardier’s Narrative – High Box:

Group: 351st
Target: Merseburg, Germany
Method of Bombing: Visual
Altitude: 26,000’
Direction of Attack: 53° Mag. Heading
Wind Direction: 130°
Wind Velocity: 40 KPH [Knots Per Hour]
Bombardier’s Narrative: We bombed the primary target at Merseburg, Germany at 1350 on a magnetic heading of 53°. Smoke obscured the briefed M.P.I.[Mean Point of Impact] and bombs were dropped as close to the briefed M.P.I. as possible. Results were observed to be fairly good. A sharp turn to the left was made after “Bombs Away.”

[Signed:] Robert E. Lee, 1st Lt., Air Corps, Lead Bombardier

Combat Bombing Flight Record – High Box:

Bombardier - 1st Lt. Lee, Robert E.   Pilot - Capt. Cruthirds, Leslie S. Navigator - 1st Lt. Sullivan, Edward L.
Aircraft B-17G   879-Q  Take-off - 0900 Landed - 1629
Objective - Merseburg, Germany
Aiming Point (MPI) [Mean Point of Impact] - As briefed
Initial Point - As briefed
Method of Attack - Group
No. of Attacking A/C in Group: - 18   Composite Group -
Number A/C Dropping Bombs by own Sighting Operation: ONE
Deflection and Range Sighting, Group: ____   Composite Group -
Range Sighting only, Group - ____    Composite Group -
Bombs, Types and Sizes - 36 x 100 LB. AN M30 G.P.[General Purpose] & 1 Sky Marker
Number of Bombs Loaded - 36 x 100 LB. & Marker   Released - Same
Fusing, Nose - 1/10   Tail - 1/10
Synchronization - On
Information at Release Point:

Altitude of Target - ___Magnetic Heading Ordered 06° Actual 53°
True Altitude Above Target - 26,336’True Heading 49°
Indicated Altitude - 26,000Drift, Estimated 1° Left - Actual 10° Left
Pressure Altitude of Target +102True Track 39°
Altimeter Setting 29.92Actual Range 8,888'
Calculated Indicated Air Speed - 150 M.P.H.B.S. Type - Mercury
True Air Speed - 190 M.P.H.Time of Release 1350
Ground Speed Est. 190 Actual 170Length of Bombing Run - 7 minutes
Wind Direction Metro - 10° Actual - 130°Intervalometer Setting - Minimum
Wind Velocity Metro 40K Actual 40K C-1 Pilot [Autopilot] X [Used]
D.S. - 117.5  Trail - 120   ATF - 45.12A-5 Pilot _____
Tan. D.A, Est. .35 Actual .40 Manual Pilot - ____

Type of Release - Train
Point of Impact If Seen - Yes
Mean Temp. Metro -6 Actual -6
Winds - Altitude - 26,000 Ft.  Direction - Metro 10°  Actual 130°  Velocity - Metro 40K  Actual 40K
Temp C. - Metro -34° C. Actual -32° C.

Preliminary Damage Assessment:
  1. The target was the I.G. Farbenindustrie at Merseburg, Germany. Photo coverage was good but smoke from previous bombing partially obscured the strikes of this group.
  2. The main concentration of this group fell in the center of the target area. The maintenance workshop and the stores building are heavily hit. Approximately 70% of bombs dropped fell into the area of the plant.
  3. Smoke covered parts of the pattern but the approximate pattern measures 3,565 feet by 1,557 feet and the actual MPI [Mean Point of Impact] is 1,112 feet to the right of the briefed MPI.The pattern of the Lead Group can be seen near the center of the town.
  4. Approximately thirty bombs dropped after the main body and fell on the eastern edge of the area. Several hits can be seen on buildings and there is evidence of a fire starting. Three fires are seen in other parts of the plant.
[Signed:] Thomas L. Cooper, 1st Lt., Air Corps, Group P.I. [Photo Intelligence]

Intelligence S-2 Reports:
  1. Sixteen (16) leaflet bombs of G-40 were dropped on primary.
  2. Bombing results are considered good. Most bursts were a little short of the briefed MPI [Mean Point of Impact], but several strikes are on the briefed MPI and all bursts are in the factory area.
  3. Three (3) enemy aircraft were seen by this group flying high box of the CBW. One ME 109 was seen in the vicinity of 51°00’N-12°00’E [Just southwest of Wetterzeube, Germany], and two FW 109’s were seen just W of Koblenz. No attacks were made on this Group.
  4. On the route in moderate flak was observed over Koblenz, but this Group was out of range. Meager flak was observed to the left at Jena. At the target flak was moderate, fair for altitude but poor for deflection. On the route out flak was observed over Giessen and Eisenach, but this group went around these installations. At Ostend flak was meager but good for both height and deflection.
  5. Weather allowed visual bombing; there was a slight ground haze.
  6. Much shipping activity was seen on the Rhine and Mosel Rivers. Some of the boats had barrage balloons hoisted above them. High camouflaged installations were sighted in the woods at 50°40’N-09°20’E [2 miles South of Schwalmtal, Germany]. At 50°28’N-06°02’E [1 mile NW of Mont, Belgium] a dam in this vicinity is defended by many flak guns.
  7. No Pathfinder units were employed. Fighter support was excellent. An unidentified B-17 was seen losing altitude rapidly, heading SE from the target on route out. An unidentified B-17 followed the formation almost back to the English coast and then turned back into France. Some burning objects were seen to fall from above the formation leaving a greasy trail of smoke and exploding as they hit the ground. These burning objects were at first thought to be particles of exploding A/C, but further observations revealed no A/C flying above the formation at the time these objects were seen to fall.

Bomb Camera Photos:
Click on Photo to Enlarge

Track Chart:
Click on Chart to Enlarge

A.A. Gunfire (Flak) Report:

1. Target: Assigned - Merseburg Bombed - Merseburg
2. Route as Flown. - 2 miles North of Coxyde, Wittlich, 4 miles North of Butzbach, Saalfeld, 8 miles NE of Gera, target, Querfurt, Butzbach, 5 miles North of Wittlich, 5 miles North of Coxyde.
3. Weather Conditions - A. at Target. - CAVU [Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited] B. En route - 1/10
4. Were our A/C "Seen" or "Unseen" targets? (a) At Target - seen (b) Enroute - seen
 Any Condensation Trails? - No
5. Description of Flak, including type of Fire Control: Flak was moderate, fair for altitude but poor for deflection. The flak appeared intense until group arrived over target, and then seemed to slacken. A few white bursts were seen above the black. At first it appeared to be a barrage and then continuous pointed fire apparently was used.
6. Flak encountered or observed en route. (In the order experienced) -
 Enroute to target moderate flak was observed over Koblenz and Gera, but this group was out of range. On the route out meager to moderate flak was observed over Eisenbach and Giessen, but the group went around these installations. At Ostend flak was meager but accurate.
7. Was Chaff carried? - Yes How discharged? 4 units every 10 seconds.
8. Position of Group - High
9. Group – High A/C over enemy terr. – 18 A/C damaged – 3 A/C lost to flak – 0 Time over Target – 1350 
Time of bombs away – 1350 Height – 26,700’ Axis of attack – 50°
10. Comments - Phenomena: ____

Combat Crew Comments:

    508th Squadron
A/C 994-T: Practice air raid alarm before mission is a poor deal. – All Crew Members.
A/C 157-N: Have turned in 3 complaints about Ball Turret in this ship being bad, but it is still in bad condition. It burned out on this trip. – Sgt. Parsons.
A/C 470-J: Let’s not have any more practice air raids just after we get in bed after a mission. – Lt. Nelson.
A/C 066-O: No more practice air alerts after we come back from a mission and are going out again in the morning. – Lt. Kogelman and Crew Members.

    509 Squadron
A/C 149-X: Air Speed too slow throughout entire mission. – Lt. Myers.
A/C 144-R: Improve squadron lead. – Lt. Watkins.
A/C 169-N: IAS was too low during entire mission. – Lt. Redmond.
A/C 193-P: Group Leader was lousy. – Entire Crew.
All Squadron leaders were calling Group leader to speed up. – Lt. Goodman.

    510th Squadron
A/C 560-A: Chaff broke off aerial; chute is in wrong place, always hits left waist. – Sgt. Sowell.
A/C 124-F: Gunners in other crews tracking ships in the formation rather than staying alert for E/A. – Entire Crew.
 Men want Scotch. – Entire Crew.
A/C 721-S: Second element leader and wingmen should tuck it in closer, for if they don’t it makes it very difficult for low squadron to keep formation; this pertains to all missions. – Lt. Peters.
A/C 975-O: More cookies; we only had 10 today. The candy ration is better. – All crew Members.

[Signed] Robert P. Ramsey, Captain, Air Corps, Group S-2 [Intelligence]

Mission Summary Report:
  1. Abortives:
    1. Airplane No. 42-37845, 509th Squadron, returned early as planned.
    2. Airplane No. 42-30857, 510th Squadron, returned early as planned.
  2. Battle Damage:
    1. Airplane No. 42-97193, 509th Squadron. One flak hole through dorsal fin. One flak hole through left wing tip. One flak hole through right wing tip. One flak hole underside of fuselage directly rear of ball turret. One flak hole through underside of right inboard wing panel.
    2. Airplane No. 42-30499, 509th Squadron. One flak hole underside of right inboard wing panel.
    3. Airplane No. 42-31560, 510th Squadron. One flak hole through left aileron. One flak hole left side of vertical stabilizer. Flak dent in left side of bomb bay fairing. Flak hole bottom of right aileron. Two flak holes top of right wing inboard panel, skin and stringer damage. One flak hole top of fuselage between top turret and radio hatch, corrugation damage. One flak hole top of left inboard wing panel.

[Signed:] Otto R. Vasak, Captain, Air Corps, Group S-4 Officer [Engineering]

Armament Report – High Combat Box:
  1. The following armament malfunctions were reported on the Mission of 12 May, 1944.
    1. A/C 42-102613 – (All electrical) Bomb bay doors froze and would not open electrically. Bombs were salvoed after the doors had been cranked down manually. All grease is being removed from the gear box.
    2. A/C 42-97157 – Doors would not close electrically because, it was later discovered, the retracting motor had burned out.
    3. A/C 42-31560 – The arming wires broke off at the swivel loop. This ship was carrying Nickel bombs. The brush in the ball turret motor wore out, and is being replaced.
    4. A/C 42-107124 – Stoppage caused by a bent shell case was reported in the right chin turret gun.
    5. A/C 42-97144 – The bombardier was unable to unlock the racks. Some twenty minutes later, the bombs were dropped by means of the pilot’s emergency release. The ship checks out perfectly; and it is suggested as the probable cause that the bombardier tried to put the release handle into select position before the doors were fully opened. In this case, bombs could not be released in any manner with the exception of the emergency release.
  2. A total of four (4) all electrical aircraft participated in the Mission of 12 May, 1944.
  3. The Station Ordnance Officer has reported the expenditure of 3,760 rounds of caliber .50 ammunition on the Mission of 12 May, 1944.
[Signed:] Michael Steele, CWO, USA, Group Armament Officer

Disposition of Bombs – High Combat Box:

1. Following is the disposition of bombs carried by the High Combat Box on the Mission of 12 May, 1944.

Main BombfallOver TargetBombingNumberSizeTypeFusing: NoseTail
(Merseburg)1816529100 lb.GP1/101/10
G-40 Leaflet Bombs16
Target of Opportunity274100 lb.GP1/101/10
Total Bombs Dropped603100 lb.GP1/101/10
Bombs Brought Back by two Flying Spares76100 lb.GP1/101/10
TOTAL BOMBS LOADED679100 lb.GP1/101/10
G-40 Leaflet Bombs16
NOTE: Two smoke bombs also dropped.
[Signed:] Robert B. Stratton, Captain, Air Corps, Statistical Officer

Deficiencies and Disabilities:

1. Following interrogation a negative report is hereby submitted for mission of the 12th of May 1944.

[Signed:] Ernest J. Cater, 1st Lt., Air Corps, Group Equipment Officer

Aircraft Returning Early:

Aircraft No. 30857 Squadron - 510   Pilot - Walker
Time of Abortive - 1104  Location when Aborted - 51°19’N-02°32’E [Above channel 18.5 miles WNW of Ostend, Belgium]
Reason - Spare
Disposition of Bombs: Brought back
Altitude At Time of Aborting: 21,000’
Enemy Opposition Encountered - None
Remarks: Spare, Returned as planned.
[Signed] Charles M. Walker, 2nd Lt., AC [Air Corps]

Aircraft No. 37845 Squadron - 509   Pilot - Garcia
Time of Abortive - 1107  Location when Aborted - 51°07’N-02°40’E [1 mile NE of Koksijde, Netherlands]
Reason - Flying Spare. No fill-in.
Disposition of Bombs: Brought Back.
Altitude At Time of Aborting: 21,500’
Enemy Opposition Encountered - None
Remarks: Spare, returned as planned.
[Signed] R. Garcia

“J” Form:
  1. Call Letter and Last Four numbers of A/C in each Squadron:
    a. 94th Combat Wing   High Group
    Sqdn 508th A/C: 1879–Q, 7066–O, 2613–C, 2470–J, 7157–N, 0994–T
    Sqdn 509th A/C: 7193–P, 7149–X, 7144–R, 7169–N, 9760–M, 0499–Q, (7845–F Spare)
    Sqdn 510th A/C: 1721–S, 8028–Q, 7124–F, 2576–C, 1560–A, 1975–O, (0857–J Spare)
    Sqdn 511th A/C:
    P.F.F. Sqdn ___ A/C:
  2. Target: GQ-1515
  3. W/T and R/T Operational Call Sign of each Squadron:
    Squadron508 [Call Sign]W/T WTL  R/T CARLTONSquadron510 [Call Sign]W/T MXH  R/T TIPSTAFF
    Squadron509 [Call Sign]W/T UNF  R/T HOTMINTSquadron511 [Call Sign]W/T JZW  R/T PARTNERSHIP
  4. a. High Box: Taxi–0845; Take-Off –0900; E.T.D. Field–At Takeoff
  5. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing English Coast: (OUT)
    104217,000 Ft Clacton
  6. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing Enemy Coast: (IN)
    110521,000 Ft 51°07'N-02°40'E [1 mile NE of Koksijde, Netherlands]
  7. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing Enemy Coast: (Out)
    152821,000 Ft 51°07'N-02°40'E [1 mile NE of Koksijde, Netherlands]
  8. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing English Coast: (IN)
    15528,000 Ft Clacton
  9. E.T.R.(Estimated Time of Return) Base: 1618 Hours
  10. MF/DF [Medium Frequency/Direction Finder] Section: "N"
  11. Bomb load of Each A/C: High Box
    508 Squadron: Maximum [Number of] 100 lb. G.P.[General Purpose] 1/10 - 1/10 - 38
    509 Squadron: Maximum [Number of] 100 lb. G.P. 1/10 - 1/10 - 38
    510 Squadron: Maximum [Number of] 100 lb. G.P. 1/10 - 1/10 - 38
    511 Squadron:

  12. Fuel Load of each A/C: 2600 Gallons
  13. Group Leader:
    a. High Box: Name: Leslie S. Cruthierds  Rank: Capt. A/C: 1879-Q  Sqdn. 508th
    b. Low Box: Name: ___ Rank: ___ A/C: ___ Sqdn. ___
  14. Passengers, if any: (Full Name, Rank, A/C and Squadron Passenger flying with)
  15. Actual Times Off and Return by Squadrons and A/C Letters:
  16. Lead Box ________
    SquadronA/C No. & LetterA.T.O.A.T.R.SquadronA/C No. & LetterA.T.O.A.T.R.

Report Compiled By Rocky Civizzio, T/Sgt.

Formation Chart:
High Box Formation Take–Off
508th Squadron
A/C 42-31879 Q
A/C 42-102613 C
A/C 42-97066 O
A/C 42-102470 J
A/C 42-97157 N
A/C 42-30994 T
510th Squadron509th Squadron
A/C 42-31721 S
A/C 42-97193 P
A/C 42-38028 Q
A/C 42-107124 F
A/C 42-97149 X
A/C 42-97144 R
A/C 42-102576 C
A/C 42-97169 N
A/C 42-31560 A
A/C 42-31975 O
A/C 42-39760 M
A/C 42-30499 Q
A/C 42-30857 J
A/C 42-37845 F

High Box Formation Over–Target
508th Squadron
A/C 42-31879 Q
A/C 42-102613 C
A/C 42-97066 O
A/C 42-102470 J
A/C 42-97157 N
A/C 42-30994 T
510th Squadron509th Squadron
A/C 42-31721 S
A/C 42-97193 P
A/C 42-38028 Q
A/C 42-107124 F
A/C 42-97149 X
A/C 42-97144 R
A/C 42-102576 C
A/C 42-97169 N
A/C 42-31560 A
A/C 42-31975 O
A/C 42-39760 M
A/C 42-30499 Q

Time Schedule:
Zero Hour: 1030  Briefing: ___  Stations: 0825  Start Engines: 0835  Taxi: 0845  Take-off: 0900  Leave Base: 0900 

 [Wounded - 1]

The above records were obtained at the National Archives Records Administration and have been declassified by authority NND 745005
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