Tidal Wave - Raid on Ploesti - August 1st 1943
Today in 1943
was one of the
on the Romanian
helped feed Hitler's
(in elementary school
I must have checked
out a book, Air War
over Europe, I think,
at least 10 times, it had
this picture as its cover)
From the great website http://www.ww2guide.com/oil.shtml
Across the MediterraneanDespite careful preparation the operation was marred by bad luck from the start, one B-24 crashed on take-off. Since the mission was flown in radio silence the bomber groups became somewhat separated on the long flight across the Mediterranean. Then just off Corfu, Greece the lead aircraft carrying the route navigator inexplicably plunged into the water. A second plane of the 376th with the deputy route navigator followed down to see if there were any survivors. Unable to regain formation the bomber turned back to base. This left the lead bomber group without the expert navigators to guide them through the difficult low-level approach to the target.
Thick clouds greeted the incoming bombers as they approached the mountains. While the two lead groups threaded their way through or under the cloud layers the 98th, 44th and 389th crossed at various altitudes. By the time these three bomber groups were formed up and heading for the first IP (Initial Point) they were 29 minutes behind the 376th and the 93rd.
Confusion and Bravery at PloestiMeanwhile not knowing if the other bomber groups were forced to turn back or not the 376th and 93rd made their turn at the first IP of Pitesti toward the final IP of Floresti. However, halfway to the real IP the 376th mistook the town of Targoviste for Floresti, an error that wasn't discovered until they were on the outskirts of Bucharest. At that point Major Gen. Uzal Ent broke radio silence and ordered the two groups to turn north and attack targets of opportunity in the complex of refineries. The carefully worked out bombing plan was foiled as bombers struck the wrong refinery or attacked any target that looked good.
Getting HomeGerman fighters pursued the bombers as they left bringing down more than a few damaged aircraft. Of the 177 bombers that took part in the mission 54 were lost, a further 53 planes were heavily damaged. It was a costly victory by any measure. The damage to Ploesti was significant but offset by its spair refining capacity and the fact that a raid like this could not be mounted again for quite some time. The Medal of Honor presented to Col. John Riley "Killer" Kane (1907-1996) is one of five presented for the mission, the most ever awarded for a single action. Three of the awards were posthumous: 2nd Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes (-), a native of Alexandria, Louisiana; Lt. Col. Addison Baker (-); and Maj. John L. Jerstad (-). The other Medal of Honor presented to a living recipient for that day's battle was to Col. Leon W. Johnson (1904-1997).
Maybe like the air war over germany we need to identify some key
elements of the enemy and attack it. Currently we are still fruitlessly
bombarding the ball bearing plants of the islamofacsists, we need to be smashing
the refineries and syn-fuel plants instead, the twin towers of islamofacism:
wahabbi islam and the mullahs of Iran need to come down.