351st Bomb Group

Polebrook, England

Group Mission #128

Credited Mission #122

DATE: 20 May 1944
Target: Aerodrome, Villacoublay, France
Briefing Outline:
  1. Airplane and Crew Assignment Check.

  2. Time Schedule:
     A Box
    Stations   –0625
    Start Engines –0635
    Taxi     –0645
    Take Off   –0700
    Last Take Off –____

  3. Targets:
    Primary: A/D [Aerodrome] at Villacoublay [France]
    Secondary: Évreux – Fauville A/D [Aerodrome, France]
    Last Resort: Any A/D [Aerodrome] in France not adjacent to built-up area

  4. Loading:
    351 “A”: 12 x 500# G.P.[General Purpose] 1/10 x 1/100 [Fuses]
    351 “B”: ___
    Composite: ___
    Nickels [Propaganda Leaflets] in Ship # - None
    Chaff: 288 units per A/C [Aircraft].
  5. Gasoline Loading: “A” 2100 gals
    Remarks: CW [Combat Wing] leader and deputy carry 1 sky marker each.

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

  7. Division Formation:
    PositionCBW [Combat Wing]TargetDeparture Time at Coast
    3rd40th “A”Orly0904
    5th40th “B”Orly0908
    2nd Division4 CBWSRheims0900
    3rd Division4 CBWSBrussels-Liege0915
    RAF [Royal Air Force]

    Remarks: ____

  8. Fighter Cover:
    • [Force][Latitude & Longitude][Call Sign]
      6 Gps P-47s ____  Balance 1-1 thru 1-8 
      2 Gps P-51s ____   

  9. Group Assembly:
    351st Lead13,000'Deenethorpe Buncher
    401st Low12,000'Deenethorpe Buncher
    457th High14,000'Deenethorpe Buncher

  10. Navigator - _____
  11. S-2 - _____
  12. Weather - _____
  13. Special Instructions to Navigators, Bombardiers and Radio Operators:
    No bombs will be dropped on targets in occupied countries if accurate visual sighting cannot be made due to smoke, cloud, or haze.
    Chaff – Release at 2 minutes before I.P. and continue for 12 minutes.
    Possibly one south bound convoy on way out.
  14. Squadron Leaders and Group Deputy report to Target Room. All but Pilots Dismissed.
  15. (A) Code Words –
    PFF Bombing –Bat Roost
    Visual Bombing -Hobby Horse
    Authenticator –Drop Shot
    Recall -Nan Mike Charly - Oboe
    Weather Code -ABTIV
    Release "CHAFF" -Tin Hat

    (B) Call Signs:
    Call SignFlaresTail Letters
    351st AWoodcraft RedRY [Red Yellow]
    351st B
    401st AWoodcraft WhiteR [Red]
    401st B
    457th AWoodcraft BlueG [Green]
    457th B
    1st C.B.W.SwordfishRR [Red Red]A L
    40th A C.B.W.FoxholeYY [Yellow Yellow]B G H
    41st C.B.W.CowboyGG [Green Green]C K P
    40th B C.B.W.Smokestack

    U.S. FightersBalance Two
    R.A.F. Fighters
     BombersVinegrove Two Two
    U.S. Grnd. ControlColgate
    R.A.F. Grnd. Control

     Control Points:  Fighter Reference Points: 
     #1 Selsey Bill -  0900 S – Chartres 
     #2 4918°-0005W – 0933 H – Paris
     #3 4922°-0155E – 1034 O – Rheims
     _____ T – Namur
    Remarks: Ftr. Ref. Alt. [Fighter Reference Altitude] – 19,000’

    Colors of the Day
    May 20-0200-0800GGDC
    May 20-0800-1400RGNP

    (E) Ships To Monitor [Radio Channels A, B, C & D]
    1. - All except:
    2. - C/W leader – Zero hr. to E. Coast, 472-H (Probasco), 492-B (Belote)
    3. - 238-A (Miller) 325-H (Condon) 8 AF ftrs. 757-G (Overholt) 9 AF.
    4. - Available to all for A/S [Air/Sea] rescue.

  16. Let-Down on Deenethorpe Buncher, if overcast.
    351st A   Lead - 020° Mag. [Magnetic Compass Heading]
    351st B  
    401st A   Low - 360° Mag.
    457th A   High - 040° Mag.

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

  18. Special Instructions:
    Vertical interval between boxes will be 600’ after leaving Point “X”.
    Fourth flight will fly in trail of lead flight, as diamond position on bombing run.
    V.H.F. call for abandon mission – “Strawberry Shortcake”.

Operational Narrative – Lead Combat Box:
  1. General Narrative. Fourteen aircraft, including two PFF ships, took off at 0700 hours and formed at 13,000 feet over Deenethorpe. The leader, Major Roper, aborted soon after takeoff when a smoke marker bomb detonated in the bomb bay causing suffocation and blindness for the crew. The bombs of this aircraft, 42-97651, were jettisoned by the pilot. The navigator and one gunner bailed out, and the bombardier was rescued from the bomb bay just before passing out.
     The deputy leader, Lt. Maginn, took over and led the combat wing for the rest of the mission until bombing.
     The mission was uneventful up until the IP [Initial Point of Bomb Run], where a descent of 2000 feet was necessary due to cloud at the briefed bombing altitude. This descent was made by the high and lead boxes, but the low box did not descend the full distance. Thus the lead and low boxes were at the same level just as they reached the IP. The low box then asked for permission to bomb first, which was granted due to the fact that the low box was on the inside of the IP turn.
     However, the lead box was forced to the outside, and the leader believed that he would be forced under the last box of the preceding combat wing. He turned left before bombing and made a 180° turn in order to go to the tail of the column for a second run. A second 180° turn, this time to the right, brought the 351st Box into position on the briefed heading for bombing, and last in the division. The other two boxes of the 94th Wing joined each other, not waiting for the lead box which returned alone.
     Bombing was accurate; the pattern was good and flak at the target not deterring. The flak was moderate and accurate. Enemy fighter opposition was nil, friendly fighter support being excellent throughout the mission.
     All aircraft returned safely to England. The deputy leader, being a PFF [Pathfinder Force] crew with a 351st bombardier, landed at Bassingbourne.
  2. Aircraft Not Attacking. Aircraft Not Attacking. Fourteen aircraft, including two PFF ships, formed the lead combat box as indicated in the following Formation at Take-Off diagram. As noted in the General Narrative, the lead PFF ship was forced to return to base shortly after take-off. One flying spare, A/C 42-38153, returned as planned from mid-channel, and the remaining ships bombed the primary in the formation indicated on the following diagram of the Formation Over the Target. Landings were made at base at 1237 – 1247 hours.
  3. Aircraft Lost. No aircraft were lost on the Mission of 20 May, 1944.
  4. Group Leader. 1st Lt. L. J. Maginn, flying in a PFF aircraft, led the group and the combat wing.

No. of A/C Scheduled - 12
No. of A/C Taking Off - 12
No. of A/C Taking Off - Less Unused Spares11
No. of A/C Attacking11
No. of A/C Not Attacking - 0
No. of A/C Sorties11
No. of A/C Lost0
NOTE: The above summary does not include the two PFF aircraft.
[Signed] Clinton F. Ball, Lt. Colonel, Air Corps, Operations Officer

Combat Bombing Flight Record:

Bombardier - 2nd Lt. Rufeisen, Wallace J.   Pilot - 1st Lt. Maginn, Louis J.   Navigator - 2nd Lt. Gootee, N. L.
Aircraft B-17H   7601-U  Take-off - 0701 Landed - 1247
Objective - Villacoublay, France
Aiming Point (MPI)[Mean Point of Impact] - As Briefed
Initial Point - As Briefed
Method of Attack - Wing
No. of Attacking A/C in Group: - 12   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 - 500 lb. G.P.[General Purpose] AN M43 & Smoke Bomb
Number of Bombs Loaded - 12   Released - Same
Fusing, Nose - 1/10   Tail - 1/100
Synchronization - On
Information at Release Point:

Altitude of Target - 660Magnetic Heading Ordered 18° Actual 359°
True Altitude Above Target - 22,000'True Heading 350°
Indicated Altitude - 23,000'Drift, Estimated 5° Right - Actual 5° Right
Pressure Altitude of Target +775True Track 345°
Altimeter Setting 29.92Actual Range 13,325'
Calculated Indicated Air Speed - 150 M.P.H.B.S. Type - M-9
True Air Speed - 223 M.P.H.Time of Release 1041
Ground Speed Est. 246 Actual 246Length of Bombing Run - 16 miles
Wind Direction Metro - 230° Actual - 230°Intervalometer Setting - Salvo
Wind Velocity Metro 29 Actual 29 C-1 Pilot [Autopilot] X [Used]
D.S. - 129.7  Trail - 57   ATF - 40.79A-5 Pilot _____
Tan. D.A, Est. .56 Actual .56 Manual Pilot - ____

Type of Release - Salvo
Point of Impact If Seen - Good
Mean Temp. Metro -13 Actual -12
Winds - Altitude - 23,000 Ft.  Direction - Metro 230°  Actual 230°  Velocity - Metro 29  Actual 29
Temp C. - Metro -38° C. Actual -36° C.

Preliminary Damage Assessment:
  1. The target for this Group was the hangar area of the former Technical and Research Depot of the French Air Force, situated at the western end of the Villacoublay A/D [Aerodrome]. Photo coverage was excellent.
  2. The bombs of this Group fell in a compact pattern with heavy concentration on the briefed MPI [Mean Point of Impact]. All but one out of eight hangars are covered by bursts. There are at least three direct hits on hangar No. 4 (MPI), and direct hits on hangars 6 and 7. Fire can be seen in hangars Nos. 2 – 5 – 6 – 7. At least one A/C [Aircraft] parked on the field was destroyed. Great damage should be done to a unidentified building area just north of the target.
  3. The pattern measures 2364 feet by 1775 feet, and the MPI is 435 feet over the briefed MPI. Hangar No. 1 can be seen burning before this Group dropped its bombs.
[Signed:] Thomas L. Cooper, 1st Lt., Air Corps, Group P.I. [Photo Intelligence] Officer

Intelligence S-2 Reports:
  1. No leaflets were carried.
  2. The hangar which was the MPI [Mean Point of Impact] for this Group, plus the hangar next to it, has been hit. The pattern then extends over the MPI.
  3. Only one (1) E/A [Enemy Aircraft] was seen, and this at the time of observation was going down on fire and in a tight spin, having been shot down by P-47s. This occurred at 1054.
  4. The only flak encountered was at the target, where it was moderate and accurate, starting just after bombs away and continuing for about 10 minutes. Approximately 12 bursts were observed at Beauvais, several miles to the right of our formation.
  5. 10/10ths clouds were encountered on approaching the IP [Initial Point of Bomb Run] at 25,000 feet, and the formation dropped to 23,000 feet. From this altitude visibility was restricted by haze which lessened in the immediate target area.
  6. A great deal of railroad activity was observed on the line which runs from Arpajon to Paris. The A/F [Airfield] at 48°17’N-01°20’E appeared to be camouflaged. Something giving the appearance of revetments or trenches was observed at the coast near Le Havre.
  7. Fighter support was excellent. A/C 651-C, a PFF A/C, returned early to Base after one of the smoke bombs exploded in the ship shortly after take-off. The A/C jettisoned its bombs from an altitude of 1200 feet in the fields just north of Peterborough.

Bomb Camera Photos:
Click on Photo to Enlarge

Track Chart:
Click on Chart to Enlarge

A.A. Gunfire (Flak) Report:

1. Target: Assigned - Villacoublay A/F [Airfield], France Bombed - Villacoublay A/F, France
2. Route as Flown. - As briefed, except that a 360° turn was made between the I.P. and target, before the actual bomb run.
3. Weather Conditions - A. at Target. - 2-3/10ths cloud  B. En route - 3-5/10ths cloud
4. Were our A/C "Seen" or "Unseen" targets? (a) At Target - Seen (b) Enroute - Probably seen
 Any Condensation Trails? - No
5. Description of Flak, including type of Fire Control: Moderate, accurate for both height and deflection. Black bursts and high white bursts were reported. A box of several accurate bursts were fired just after bombs away; then there was accurate continuous following flak for as long as ten minutes after bombs away.
6. Flak encountered or observed en route. (In the order experienced) -
 Beauvais – 1055, 23,000 – about 12 bursts observed several miles to the right of our formation.
7. Was Chaff carried? - Yes How discharged? A 360° turn was made before the bomb run; most of the chaff was discharged during this time.
8. Position of Group - Lead
9. Group – 351st A/C over enemy terr. – 11 A/C damaged – 10 A/C lost to flak – 0 Time over Target – 1042 
Time of bombs away – 1042 Height – 23,000’ Axis of attack – 355 N Bomb run – 9½ min.
10. Comments - Phenomena: None

Combat Crew Comments:

    508th Sqdn.
A/C 757-G   Let’s have some American candy. – Whole Crew.
We want more chaff. We didn’t have enough for second run over target when flak was heaviest. Can’t ships have emergency supply? - All crew members.

    509th Sqdn.
A/C 914-S   A/C 325, from high squadron, was crowding low Squadron. – Lt. Goodman.
A/C 169-N   Figure eights over the target are no good. – Lt. Hatten.
A/C 144-R   We are not fond of two runs over the target. Flak gunners had us cold on second run. – Lt. Emerson.

    511th Sqdn.
A/C 238-A   Trucks that take us to ships could be cleaned once in a while – when we put our guns on the floor, they get full of grime. – All gunners.
Please give us clean, hot water for washing mess-kits; the water we have for this purpose is always cold and filthy. – All Gunners.

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

Mission Summary Report:
  1. Abortives and Flying Spares:
    1. Airplane No.[4]2-38153, 511th Squadron, returned early as planned.
  2. Battle Damage:
    1. Airplane No. 42-31757, 508th Squadron. Flak hole through right elevator damaging fabric and structural member. Flak hole through left wing outer panel, damaging skin and corrugation.
    2. Airplane No. 42-97349, 508th Squadron. Flak hole in cooling cap #2 nacelle. Flak hole through rudder near bottom. Flak hole top of left wing damaging skin and fuel vent line. Flak hole leading edge of LH stabilizer damaging skin and structure.
    3. Airplane No. 42-97325, 508th Squadron. Flak hole leading edge of left wing outer panel. Small flak hole right side of fuselage, forward of waist window. Skin hole top of left wing between #1 and #2 nacelles. Flak hole top of #2 nacelle.
    4. Airplane No. 42-39914, 509th Squadron. One flak hole underside left aileron, damaging fabric only. Five flak holes underside of right wing, damaging two Tokyo tanks. Flak hole leading edge left wing, damaging Tokyo tank.
    5. Airplane No. 42-97144, 509th Squadron. Flak hole underside left elevator. Flak hole leading edge left stabilizer. Flak hole left wing tip, underside. Flak hole left inboard panel, underside. Two flak holes right inboard panel, underside. #3 engine damaged extensively by flak. Flak hole left side of fuselage just rear of wing. One large flak hole right side of fuselage just forward of waist window. One flak hole right side of fuselage below elevator.
    6. Airplane No. 42-97169, 509th Squadron. One flak hole leading edge left wing. One flak hole leading edge right wing.
    7. Airplane No. 42-37845, 509th Squadron. One flak hole through left wing tip. One flak hole underside left aileron. Two flak holes through right wing tip. One flak hole through right side of fuselage, below and rear of waist window. Large flak hole left side of fuselage, rear of waist window.
    8. Airplane No. 42-31238, 511th Squadron. Flak hole through right wing tip. Flak damaged #9 cylinder #1 engine. Flak hole through vertical stabilizer.
    9. Airplane No. 42-97492, 511th Squadron. Two flak holes through dorsal fin. One flak hole bottom of fuselage rear of ball turret. One flak hole forward of vertical stabilizer in top of fuselage. One flak hole underside of left outer wing panel. One flak hole in fuselage below pilot’s window.
    10. Airplane No. 42-31714, 511th Squadron. Flak hole leading edge of left wing. Flak hole through rudder.

[Signed:] Carl A. Ekblad, Captain, Air Corps, Group Engineering Officer

Armament Report – Lead Combat Box:
  1. The following armament malfunctions were reported on the mission of 20 May, 1944.
    1. A/C 42-31757 – The elevation amplidyne on the chin turret burned out.
    2. A/C 42-97325 – Six bombs on the right side failed to release and were consequently returned to base. Investigation revealed that the Micro salvo switch and the Micro safety switch had come out of adjustment. This ship is all electrical.
  2. A total of two (2) all electrical aircraft participated in the Mission.
  3. The Station Ordnance Officer has reported the expenditure of 1,230 rounds of caliber .50 ammunition on the Mission
[Signed:] Michael Steele, CWO, USA, Group Armament Officer

Aircraft Returning Early:

Aircraft No. 38153 Squadron - 511th   Pilot - Power
Time of Abortive - 0931  Location when Aborted - 49°35’N-00°15’W [21 miles North of Ouistreham, France]
Reason - Flying spare and no vacancies in formation.
Disposition of Bombs: Brought bombs back
Altitude At Time of Aborting: 23,500’
Enemy Opposition Encountered - None
Remarks: Flying Spare
[Signed] Wm. M. Power, Jr.

“J” Form:
  1. Call Letter and Last Four numbers of A/C in each Squadron:
    a. 94th Combat Wing   Lead Group
    Sqdn 508th A/C: 7349–B, 1757–G, 7325–H
    Sqdn 509th A/C: 7144–R, 9914–S, 7845–F, (7169–N Spare)
    Sqdn 510th A/C: None
    Sqdn 511th A/C: 7472–H, 1714–R, 7492–B, 1238–A, (8153–F Spare)
    P.F.F. Sqdn 324 A/C: 7651–C, 7601–J

  2. Target: Z-204
  3. W/T and R/T Operational Call Sign of each Squadron:
    Squadron508 [Call Sign]W/T JCO  R/T CARLTONSquadron510 [Call Sign]W/T KSD  R/T TIPSTAFF
    Squadron509 [Call Sign]W/T PMA  R/T HOTMINTSquadron511 [Call Sign]W/T LNH  R/T PARTNERSHIP
  4. a. Lead Box: Taxi–0645; Take-Off –0700; E.T.D. Field–0700
  5. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing English Coast: (OUT)
    090219,000 Ft Selsey Bill
  6. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing Enemy Coast: (IN)
    093325,000 Ft 49°18'N-00°05'W [Houlgate, Normandy, France]
  7. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing Enemy Coast: (Out)
    104524,000 Ft 50°05'N-01°26'E [1.4 miles SW of Ault, France]
  8. Time:Height:  Place of Crossing English Coast: (IN)
    110415,000 Ft Beachy Head
  9. E.T.R.(Estimated Time of Return) Base: 1146 Hours
  10. MF/DF [Medium Frequency/Direction Finder] Section: "N"
  11. Bomb load of Each A/C: Lead Box
    508 Squadron: 12 x 500 [Lb.] GP [General Purpose] 1/10 Nose x 1/100 Tail [Fuses]
    509 Squadron: 12 x 500 [Lb.] GP [General Purpose] 1/10 Nose x 1/100 Tail [Fuses]
    510 Squadron: 12 x 500 [Lb.] GP [General Purpose] 1/10 Nose x 1/100 Tail [Fuses]
    511 Squadron: 12 x 500 [Lb.] GP [General Purpose] 1/10 Nose x 1/100 Tail [Fuses]

  12. Fuel Load of each A/C: 2100 Gallons
  13. Group Leader:
    Lead Box: Name: L.B. Roper  Rank: Major  A/C: 7651-C   Sqdn. 324th
    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.
    324 PFF7651-C1238–A________
    324 PFF7601-J8153–F________

Report Compiled By John Maksimik, S/Sgt.

Formation Chart:
Lead Box Formation Take–Off
511th Squadron
A/C 42-97651 C PFF
A/C 42-97472 H
A/C 42-97601 J PFF
A/C 42-31714 R
A/C 42-97349 B
A/C 42-31238 A
A/C 42-97492 B
R. Condon
A/C 42-97325 H
A/C 42-31757 G
A/C 42-97144 R
A/C 42-38153 F Spare
A/C 42-37845 F
A/C 42-39914 S
A/C 42-97169 N Spare

Lead Box Formation Over–Target
511th Squadron
A/C 42-97601 J PFF
A/C 42-97472 H
A/C 42-97169 N
A/C 42-31714 R
A/C 42-97349 B
A/C 42-31238 A
A/C 42-97492 B
R. Condon
A/C 42-97325 H
A/C 42-31757 G
A/C 42-97144 R
A/C 42-37845 F
A/C 42-39914 S

Time Schedule:
Zero Hour: 0900  Briefing: 0400  Stations: 0625  Start Engines: 0635  Taxi: 0645  Take-off: 0700  Leave Base: 0700 [Breakfast: 0300]

 [Wounded - 0]
The above records were obtained at the National Archives Records Administration and have been declassified by authority NND 745005
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