44th Bomb Group Mission Number 6

Date City Country Target
12/6/1942 Abbeville France Airdrome

Unofficial Mission Summary 

UMS
12/6/42
The 44th BG took off today to attack the Abbeville-Drucat Airdrome with six planes of the 68th leading the formation. However, a recall was sent out and the seven planes of the 67th, along with the six from the 66th responded by returning to base. This left the six planes of the 68th to go on alone as they did not hear the recall. With the two flights led by Capt. Cramer and O'Brien, the squadron dropped 111 bombs on the target area and 20 additional bombs were salvoed over the target.

As the planes winged their way back from the target they were attacked by thirty FW 190s in waves of two or three from dead ahead. Early in the encounter, the #4 engine of Lt. Dubards ship was knocked out and the #3 engine damaged. The A/C valiantly attempted to keep in the formation because of the inherent dangers of a single plane would encounter. Finally, the plane was forced to drop out of formation with the #2 engine giving additional problems. The gunners of Lt. Dubards ship gave fierce battle with their .50 caliber guns and one FW 190 was seen to burst into flames. Shortly afterwards another enemy a/c was hit and it, too, crashed into the ocean. All of the enemy aircraft then concentrated their attacks of this ship while Lt. Dubard was vainly attempting to start #3 engine.

A third enemy aircraft was seen to be hit, burning and with a part of the wing shot away and was claimed as a probably destroyed. At this time the enemy ceased their nose attacks on #786 and two of them attacked from dead astern and slightly below, holding their position which was just below the range of the top turret, for several seconds. The tail turret was seen to stop firing, pieces flew off and the guns were dropped to their lowest position. The top turret also ceased firing and the plane dove toward the water. Before crashing, the Pilot was able to pull up the nose on several occasions, but when the plane hit the water, the nose was down and it then broke into flames. At the time it hit the water only #1 engine was still functioning.

This was the first loss of a plane and crew in Operational Flight for the 44th Bomb Group, as well as the first enemy aircraft destroyed. A total of-five enemy aircraft claimed as destroyed.

Lt.Cameron continues, "Then late on 6 Dec. 1942 our Group went off on what was to be its first official mission and its first contact with the enemy - and our crew were included! However, as we climbed up to high altitude in the 'Little Beaver' and joined the formation of B-24s, our engines began to cut out. We learned later that this was due to the fact that we had over-advanced the supercharger controls. When we pulled the throttles back to slow down in formation, the superchargers apparently rammed in too much air and the engines were starved for fuel. They would seem to cut out momentarily, catch, and then the power would surge back again. Disconcerting! We turned the 'Little Beaver' around and disappointedly headed for home.

There were several unfortunate circumstances affecting the outcome of this 'first' actual combat mission. The Abbeville-Drucat Airdrome was the home base of the most famous fighter organization in the German Air Force. This unit could be recognized by the nose cowling of their aircraft which was painted yellow. This was no outfit to meet on your first trip over enemy territory! British radar may have been monitoring the bomber formation and observed the approaching German aircraft. At any rate, a call went out by radio directing our aircraft to return. This message was received by the 66th and 67th squadrons, but not by the 68th which went on alone. Six or seven unescorted B-24s against the pride of Goering's fighter units --hardly an even match!
 
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