November 2, 1944 - Merseberg, Leuna Chemical Works and Oil Refinery

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by b17sam, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. b17sam

    b17sam Member

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    Today, November 2, 1944 marks the 64th anniversary of the massive air battle in the skies over the Merseberg, Leuna Chemical Works and Oil Refinery defended by more flak batteries and Luftwaffe fighters than any target in Germany. Our Bomb Group, the 91st, sent out 36 B17s, 15 failed to return. Many other bomb groups suffered heavy casualties. The Luftwaffe fighting force was decimated during that battle. Can anyone supply accurate figures on the number of Luftwaffe planes destroyed that day?
     
  2. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Yes Sam, glad you posted this in memory of your bomb group and those that flew on this mission.

    I was planning on writing an article some 15 years ago on this very mission....

    in brief it was a hell hole and of course you being present you know full well. IV.Sturm/JG 3 with Fw 190A-8's attacked your 91st bomb group while JG 4 Fw's and 109's attacked the 457th bg.

    a side light was the landing of 109's from I./JG 3 at I/JG 300's base where Bill's-dads fg the 355th plastered the 109's from I./JG 300 right on the ground an nearly took all the gruppe out .......

    a listing albeit just right in front of me though I have concurrent aircraft losses buried in the 2 Nov. 44 files....

    I./JG 3 lost 9 pilots
    II./JG 3 lost 13 pilots
    IV.Sturm./JG 3 lost 15 pilots

    I./JG 4 lost 2 pilots
    II.Sturm./JG 4 lost 9 pilots
    III./JG 4 lost 3 pilots
    IV./JG 4 lost 6 pilots

    I., II., III., and IV./JG 27 lost some 38 pilots

    I./JG 400 lost 3 pilots and thier Me 163 Komets

    total of 70 KIA and 28 wounded.

    Erich ~
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    WOW!!!!!!

    :shock:
     
  4. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    American losses?
     
  5. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    :salute: to you Sam for coming through that hell! Almost 50% lost from your group is heart-wrenching.

    Erich was JG 26 involved at all?
     
  6. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Erich what about number of German fighters that did not return to base but pilot ok? (Crash landings, bail outs)

    8th FC lost 13 fighters (7 air, 1 flak, 5 mech) and 7 pilots
    9th FC lost 8 fighters (3 air, 3 flak, 2 mech) and 6 pilots
    8th BC lost 40 bombers (23 GF, 13 flak, 2 MAC, 2 Ditch-crew saved) and 37 crews

    The awards were 46-3-10 air and 25-0 ground for 9th AF P-38s and P-51s
    For the 8th AF FC the awards were 136-7-20 air and 26-0 ground

    Sources - USAF Study 85 for air awards, Mighty Eighth War Diary for 9th AF air and ground awards/losses, Mighty Eighth Combat Chronology and Mighty Eighth War Diary for 8th AF losses, Kent Miller and Bill Marshall and Frank Olynyk for 8th FC losses and types of losses and all air and ground award.

    There is some differences between the references. The Miller/Marshall/USAF 85 are in agreement for 8th and 9th air awards but differ slightly from M8WD.

    M8CC and M8WD differs from B-17Sam recollection of 91st BG losses. They have 13 for all causes. They also agree on total number of bombers that did not return to England.

    I do not have the number damaged or written off after RTB. Luftwaffe records are very sketchy on these details also.

    Big furball in the area from west of Hannover to east of Brunswick, south to Wernigerode A/F and west again to an area east of Kassel. Probably 800 fighters in that area within 45 minutes of each other plus another 1100 bombers.

    Crowded

    JG 26 aborted because of the large number of US Fighters in the area over Holland/NorthWest Germany. According to Caldwell's JG 26 War Diary the LW put up 490 fighter sorties. Later in the day JG 26 (elements of I./JG26)attacked 8 typhoons, but in turn were bounced by six Mustangs (or Spits) losing an Fw 190 and 5 more badly damaged. Bad weather also had a negative effect on JG 26's ability to engage.
     
  7. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    I have the info literally buried under a ton of other items. heavy thick manilla folders on the Sturmgruppen from sometime ago. Literally would have to check on each LW gruppe to advise on the loss of each of the aircraft and to cause.....that of course could be done with some certainty with some of the gruppes maybe not all.

    what is evident is that the two SturmFw units made a strong presence with the 91st and the 457th bg's but also trailed off onto other bomb groups before they passed off being trailed by P-51's.......

    when all was said and done even though the claims by the 2 LW gruppen was impressive their losses far out-weighed the claims presented. so much so that the small ugly one went off on a tirade with his LW higher staff and wanted to sack the whole LW defense protection plan.

    no I do not see JG 26 involved at all. JG 27 took on P-51's as they never were able to contact the US bombers.
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    From Tony's list it seems that all four Gruppe's from JG3, JG4 and JG27 were engaged, plus I./JG400 amd Kdo Nowatny plus III./JG54 were involved to extent of claims. Caldwell has I. and II./JG26 attempting contact to no avail.
     
  9. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    III./JG 3 did not take part in the battle. 11./JG 3 Staffelkapitän Ramond Koch crashed over their airfield in an air collision thus noting a huge loss for this staffel, the pilot had 26 air kills to his credit. In fact III./JG 3 since the first week of September 44 recorded no victories until December of 44. The gruppe had been decimated in the Normandie battles.

    12./JG 54 was to be on a training flight out of Achmer but somehow managed to report the shooting down of 2 B-17's................maybe.

    2 of the 3 Me 163's lost of I./JG 400 fell to the guns of the 4th fighter group
     
  10. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    agree with njaco :salute: to you Sam and to all who took part on that day
     
  11. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    E~ you are right. No 9-12 squadron claims to be found.
     
  13. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    US bomber losses ~

    91st bg 13 B-17 though as Sam states could have been 15 due to cat E damage or ... ? 122 MIA ?

    457th bg lost 9 B-17's plus 5 damaged minor and 4 B-17's with major damage. bomb results were poor, claims of 8 destroyed and 2 probable and 10 damaged LW fighters.
    2 wounded, 82 MIA

    303 - 1
    398 - 3
    401 - 1

    2nd BD

    453 - 1

    3rd BD

    a total of 12 B-17's. the 447bg lost all 5 to Flak as well as the 2 from the 486th bg.
     
  14. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    JG3 ace Raymond Koch killed 358FS/355FG pilot Ondris who was Group CO Cummings wingman over Landsberg A/F on April 5, 1944 in a driving snowstorm.
     
  15. ponsford

    ponsford Member

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    Attachment shows Werner Girbig’s listing of pilot casualties for Nov. 2, 1944:

    Dragondog’s important qualifier should be noted; those aircraft destroyed where the pilot bailed, ditched or crash landed without injury are, as apparently is often/usually the case with German losses, not listed.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    well if you look as to what I posted yes I used Girbigs listing which in trrth is not quite correct, he has made some bungles in his work big time. I just do not have the time right now to post all the LW A/C losses but I have them neatly stored away for my article whenever that comes about. Girbig is not listing aircraft but pilot losses only

    ~ the B-17 bomb groups the 91 and the 457th gave an excellent account of themselves against the attacking Fw 190A-8/R2's of both Sturmgruppen
     
  17. b17sam

    b17sam Member

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    Just to clear the record --- It was standard operational procedure (SOP) for heavy bomb groups of the 8th Air Force to stand down in rotation one of their four squadrons on all missions other than maximum effort. On the November 2, 1944 attack on Merseberg, it was the 324th squadron's turn to stand down. Our crew was in the 324th squadron.
    However, the 324th was the lead squadron of the entire wing on the next mission to Merseberg on November 21 where the clouds over the target were so thick that we couldn't fly formation. Our squadron C.O., Manny Klette, took us down to 17000 feet before we could break through the cloud cover and bomb Merseberg. One of the Groups in our wing refused to follow us and decided to climb above the clouds. They climbed to 31000 feet before they could break through, where the luftwaffe fighters were waiting and knocked out 5 of their B17s.
     
  18. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Sam that was the 398th bg that got hit by my cousins JG 301 unit. this was my cousins 1st mission flying the Fw 190A-9. He was to be killed in action the following mission on November 26th

    thank you for the explanation on your squadron and stand down and also for me personally for the added info on the 21 November mission
     
  19. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    small world really, who would have though a forum members cousin was flying for a different country against b17Sam.

    Salute to both pilots!
     
  20. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Sam, what was the reason for the stand down policy?

    Allow the maint. crews time to fix everything?
     
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