8th Air Force B-26 Operations

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by airminded88, May 26, 2013.

  1. airminded88

    airminded88 Member

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    We all know that the 8th BC will be immortalized by military history as the main operator of US strategic bombers during WWII and of course, needless to say, the B-17; however, I'm aware the Eight had operational command of B-26 units sometime during 1943 and apparently their main task over the continent was faint or deceptions raids which on occasions caused prohibited losses.

    Can anyone shed some more light on these unsung but equally important units?
     
  2. pattle

    pattle Member

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    I can not guarantee that I am correct in all of what I write but the B26 was one of the original types brought to Britain by the Eighth Air force. I believe the 8th had quite a strong force of B26's to begin with and that following a bad start due to many fatal accidents they later became very successful but were handed over to the 9th Air Force when the 8th became mostly about strategic bombing.
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The 332, 323, 386 and 387 BG's of the 3rd BW flew last mission with 8th AF on October 8 and 9, 1943. While some missions were feints, the primary role was attacking power plants, bridges, marshaling yards and airfields. When they switched from low level missions to medium altitude and adopted bomb on formation leader tactics their effectiveness soared.

    The A-20 was the first a/c used by 8th AF while the B-17s were still training (July 4, 1942) and the B-26 was brought in as an extension of low level attack doctrine introduced by the A-20 until the May 14 and 17, 1943 debacles. IIRC the first combat mission of the B-26 was April 1943.. some 8 months after B-17 ops.
     
  4. Maxrobot1

    Maxrobot1 Member

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    I believe that B-26 units often went on more than one raid a day (weather permitting) and that the Free French used them over Europe too.
     
  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Most Allied aircraft were flying multiple missions per day during Normandy campaign and Bulge, weather permitting.
     
  6. airminded88

    airminded88 Member

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    Gentlemen your knowledge and expertise is highly appreciated.

    DG, did the 8th at some point consider itself as a multiple strategy command undertaking both tactical and strategic bombing missions (using dedicated aircraft for specific missions profiles, not necessarily in the lines of Operation Cobra) or were the twin engined bombers slotted as an interim measure.
    I suspect all BGs were transferred to the 9th AF in early 1944 in preparation for Overlord, were they not?
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    When the B-26 BG's were incorporated within the 8th AF, the 9th AF was in Africa. Under 8BC, the Mediums were hitting many of the same targets as the B-17s, except for range. You might also remember that the B-24 groups headed for North Africa in May 1943 to train with 12th AF for Tidal Wave against Ploesti.

    The B-26s soldiered on hitting important asset targets that suited their range profile and served to fill the capability vacuum left by the B-24 departure until the 24's came back in August ( to re-fit after the severe losses at Ploesti). By that time 9th AF had moved back to ETO from MTO and all the tactical assets (including B-26s, B-25s and A-20s) were incorporated for Overlord.

    The 26s last flew with 8th in October, 1943 on the 9th and were officially in the 9th on October 16-29.
     
  8. pattle

    pattle Member

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    I didn't think the American's operated the B25 from England?
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Strictly speaking you are right. The 310th BG (M) was in UK until it deployed to the 12th AF in Africa in Nov 1942. From Hardwick and Bungay. AFAIK there were no B-25s operating tactically from UK.
     
  10. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    I spoke to a radio man/gunner on a B-26 a few years back. While he didn't mention the year, he said they flew out of England with almost all of his 30 missions being against bridges or power plants. BTW, he absolutely loved his Marauder.
     
  11. pattle

    pattle Member

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    The Marauder is a plane that I have always liked and it is a shame that so few survive today, I think the French have the only one in Europe. Also it is a shame that except for the mosquito you don't seem to hear much about what the medium bombers did during the war, when people talk of bombers it tends to be of big fleets of four engine heavies heading for Germany and the crews of these smaller planes don't seem to get their share of credit. Maybe the Mosquito has taken all the glamour away from the other planes because of it's high speed, beauty and daring high profile raids?
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The Marauder was an outstanding bomber, tough, accurate and loved after late 1943 by its crews. My father trained in them at Tampa in late 1943 but switched to fighters - but trained other 355th FG fighter pilots with the base hack
     
  13. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Paddle, I think you could also say the B-25 gets its fair share of discussions on what medium bombers accomplished. There are also over 100 B-25's surviving today, with 45 being airworthy (Wiki).
     
  14. airminded88

    airminded88 Member

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    #14 airminded88, May 28, 2013
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
    I include myself as a Marauder admirer as well! :)
    Hope to see one in real life too.

    Yes drgondog, I do remember Tidal Wave (getting close to its 70th anniversary!) which took away much of the still fragile 8th AF limited assets; but until now had not realized the B-26s closed that gap, albeit with limited capabilities in terms of bomb load and range compared to the B-24s.

    Seems to me that the 'tactical' mission profile is rather a poor usage of words by myself as the work they performed in 1943 prior to the 9th AF and Overlord was of strategic nature.

    I can truly say that now I have a greater picture of these somewhat obscure operations performed by 8th medium bombers during 1943. DG and everyone else, I appreciate the contributions you have so far made to this thread.

    PS.
    drgondog, just wondering, did your father have the opportunity to escort B-26s or other kind of medium bombers during his tour in the ETO, or just strictly heavy bombers?
     
  15. pattle

    pattle Member

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    Thorlifter, we don't hear so much about the B25 in the UK, I think it is probably much better appreciated in America through it's Dolittle claim to fame and also because it's American. I suppose to the general public the B26 was to medium bombers what the Halifax or B24 was to heavy bombers with the Lancaster and Flying Fortress taking the publicity.
     
  16. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    No. In 1943 the RAF did all the short range/France escort until the 3BW transferred. After transferring to 9th AF, the 9th began receiving P-47s in late 1943 and beginning with 362nd began escorting them.

    The 355th escorted B-17s and B-24s but occasionally escorted Mossie and P-38 recon missions. Even during the Battle of the Bulge, the 8th was escorting 17s and 24s hitting tactical targets in east Belgium, west Germany.
     
  17. airminded88

    airminded88 Member

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    Fascinating.
    Thank you for that prompt and consistent answer.
     
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