Thursday, April 23, 2015

Operation JUGGLER

Before the B-24’s on loan from the Eighth Air Force returned to England they participated in a mission against Wiener Neustadt on 13 August 1943. The mission was the first flown from the Mediterranean against a target within the limits of greater Germany. It had been planned originally as part of a coordinated attack by Mediterranean based and Eighth Air Force planes on the enemy aircraft production centers at Regensburg and Wiener Neustadt" (Operation JUGGLER), but hopes for a coordinated attack were defeated by the weather and the mission against Wiener Neustadt was flown independently four days in advance of the famous Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission by the Eighth Air Force (17 August).

The mission was executed by the same five groups which had participated in the attack on Ploesti. Flying at a distance of over 1,200 miles from bases near Bengasi and through heavy clouds which tested to the utmost the skill of the navigators, the sixty-five planes which reached the target achieved complete tactical surprise-the 389th, the lead group, saw neither AA fire nor enemy fighters-and the bombing, through clouds unexpectedly thin, substantially damaged hangars, assembly plants, and grounded aircraft. None of the B-24's ran into trouble over the target or on the return trip except those of the 44th, which encountered five to ten FW-109's over the target and ten to fifteen Me-109's as the formation cleared the southeastern tip of Italy. The length of the trip forced the bombers to return to intermediate bases: one landed in Sicily, one in Malta, and sixty-one in Tunisia. Only two were lost.

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