Most audacious planned aerial special ops missions

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Senior Master Sergeant
Dec 19, 2006
I want to have a poll but I want to gather some data first. What was the most audacious aerial special ops mission of WW2? The incidents I have listed are obvious choices. What have I missed? Some exploits while amazing demonstrations of bravery and tenacity, in my opinion don't qualify as audacious special ops.

Missions that qualify:

Assassination of Yamamoto -
On the morning of April 18, despite urgings by local commanders to cancel the trip for fear of ambush, Yamamoto's planes left Rabaul as scheduled for the 315-mile trip. Shortly after, eighteen specially-fitted P-38s took off from Guadalcanal. They wave-hopped most of the 430 miles to the rendezvous point, maintaining radio silence throughout. At 09:34 Tokyo time, the two flights met and a dogfight ensued between the P-38s and the six Zeroes escorting Yamamoto.

Amiens Prison Raid - The DH Mosquito - A History
The raid on Amiens Prison is probably the single most "famous" raid undertaken by the Mosquito. The idea was to precisely bomb only certain buildings in the complex in order for many hundreds of prisoners to escape the clutches of the Gestapo. This took place on February 18th 1944. Members of the French Resistance were being held there, awaiting execution. 18 Mosquito's took part, swooping down at well in excess of 300 miles an hour to a height of about 60 feet from the ground in order to precisely blow holes in the prison walls. Other targets were the guard sleeping quarters and eating areas.
The 3.5 m (12 ft) wide hole blasted in the south wall, through which 258 prisoners escaped, of whom 179 were common criminals, 29 were termed 'French politicals' (which usually meant they were Communist Party workers), and 50 were members of the French Resistance, some of whom had been convicted of committing terrorist acts against German soldiers or the local French population.

The Doolittle Raid Doolittle Raid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese home islands during World War II. The mission was notable in that it was the only operation in which United States Army Air Forces bombers were launched from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. It was the longest combat mission ever flown by the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. The Doolittle Raid demonstrated that the Japanese home islands were vulnerable to Allied air attack and it provided an expedient outlet for U.S. retaliation for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Rudolf Hess and His Mission to England The Inside Story of the Hess Flight
On 10 May 1941, Rudolf Hess made his daring flight from Germany to Britain in a vain bid to stop the tragic conflict between two nations he admired and loved. When Hitler's Deputy parachuted to earth from a Messerschmitt fighter over south Scotland, Germany and Britain had already been at war with each other for twenty months.

Missions that don't qualify:

Any pitched battles: BoB, Midway, Pearl Harbor all had shining protracted period of bravery but do not qualify as Special Ops

Raids by Otto Skorzeny: Although a massively brilliant dude, aviation was only a means of vertical insertion. The team on the ground was the hammer

Dam Busters, Grand Slam, Skip Bomb raids: I see these as remarkable displays of engineering and application but I'm not sure the risk factor was as high as the ones that I chose as candidates
Operation "Airthief" I think was pretty wild.

quoted from International Air Power Review Volume 3;
By the spring of 1942 the Fw 190 had become an uncomfortably sharp thorn in the side of RAF Fighter Command. Obviously, if an airworty example of the Fw 190 could be captured and its secrets probed, that would be of inestimable value. Capt. Philip Pickney, a British commando officer, hatched a daring plan to gain that end.
In an operation of this type, two men might succeed where more might fail. Pickney suggested that his good friend Jeffrey Quill, chief test pilot at the Supermarine company, shoul accompany him on the enterprise.
The essentials of the plan were as follows. On Night 1 a Royal Navy motor gunboat, equipped with direction-finding radio, was to carry the pair to a point within about two miles of a selected beach on the French coast, where they would disembark into a folding canoe. The pair would paddle ashore, hide their boat in sand dunes and lie up during the following day. On Night 2 the pair would move inland to within observation range of the selected Fw 190 airfield, and hide up before dawn. During the daylight hours the pair would keep the airfield under observation and plan their attack. On Night 3 the pair would penetrate the airfield defences by stealth, and conceal themselves as near as possible to one or more Fw 190s at their dispersal points. The pair would then wait until the next day, when the ground crew arrived to run the engine of one of the fighters.
The pair would then break cover, shoot or drive away the ground crewmen, and Jeffrey Quill would jump into the cockpit and taxi the machine to the runway. As he did so, Pickney would be outside the plane warding off any attempt to interfere with the operation. Once Quill was safely airborne, Pickney would withdraw to a previoulsy prepared hide. On Night 4 he would return to the hidden canoe. Just before dawn he would launch the craft and paddle out to the sea, making radio transmissions so that the motor gunboat could home on the craft and pick him up.
Yet in a remarkable coincidence, on the very day Pickney submitted his proposal, the need for his risky operation disappeared. On the afternoon of 23 june an Fw 190 pilot had become disorientated in a dogfight with Spitfires over Southern England. He mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and made a wheels-down landing at Pembrey airfield, south Wales (below). Thus, the RAF gained the coveted example of an Fw 190, without having to resort to the risky 'Airthief' operation.


Users who are viewing this thread