|S-2 NARRATIVE REPORT|
|MISSION DATE: MARCH 24, 1944|
MISSION NBR. 38
TARGET: Steyr, Austria - Walzergenswerk Ball Bearing Plant
Forty-two B-24's took off at 0732-0800 hours to bomb Steyr Walzergenswerk Ball Bearing Plant. Five returned early. Of the second attack unit, two were lost by collision over the Adriatic and fifteen returned at 1245 hours. Twenty aircraft in the first attack unit continued until engaged by fighters near Trieste where three were shot down and one disappeared and is listed as missing. Sixteen continued to the alternate target, Rimini, where thirteen dropped 32 tons 1000 lb G.P. bombs at 1225 from 20,000 feet. Two B-24's of this unit jettisoned 5 tons of bombs due to bomb bay malfunction while the other landed at a friendly airdrome having jettisoned bombs in the sea prior to target time after losing an engine. Fifteen returned to home base at 1418 hours.
II. ROUTE AND ASSAULT
The Group did not make rendezvous with other bomber or fighter groups because of weather conditions and lack of visibility. From base, the Group proceeded via Monopoli to where the Second Unit turned back in nearly solid overcast. First Unit continued on past Bas Novi to a Point southeast of Klagenfurt, hence turning back to Trieste. From Trieste, across the Adriatic Sea on a heading for Rimini.
Strings of bombs were seen crossing the main marshalling yard on a heading of 235 degrees. These bursts carried on into the car shops according to returning crews. Several columns of smoke were coming from target area when last seen. Photographic coverage was not obtained.
IV. ENEMY RESISTANCE
A. Fighters: For 20 to 30 minutes in the Trieste area, 20 to 30 ME-109's plus 9 FW-190's and 6 to 8 JU-88's attacked aggressively, employing principally the following tactics: groups of 4 to 5 came in from 4-5 o'clock low, making runs over the formation and returning for frontal attacks. Elements of three came in on wing ships from 3 and 9 o'clock, firing rockets and fused 20mm cannon shells. Other attacks in column across the formation by 10 to 12 single engine enemy aircraft were made from 10 to 4 o'clock. Individual enemy aircraft occasionally came in from all angles pressing attacks to 100 yards. The single engine fighters had many yellow or red spinners. The attackers exhibited skill and were doubtless thoroughly seasoned group. An ME-110 appeared to act as fire control ship, flying along about 2,000 yards out and parallel with our formation leader.
B. Flak: Over Trieste, slight, inaccurate, heavy type black flak was encountered without known damage. Intense, accurate, heavy flak received at Pirano. Over Rimini, only slight, inaccurate, heavy type was observed. In all, ten out of sixteen of our bombers were holed in varying degrees of damage.
At 1151 hours from 20,000 feet, 5 to 8 merchant vessels were observed in Trieste Harbor. There appeared to be a moderate amount of activity around the port.
Three bombers were lost to enemy fighters, A total of 20 chutes seen. One bomber reported missing, reason not known. Two bombers collided over the Adriatic Sea, no chutes seen. Two aircraft received severe flak damage, ten others received minor flak damage. Two aircraft received minor damage from fighters.
|6 ME-109's||1 ME-109||0|
VIII. FLIGHT LEADERS