B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force Attack Bremen

Boeing B-17F Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force leave contrails as they fly towards Bremen. As part of the anti-submarine campaign in the Atlantic, Bremen's submarine building and bases were frequent targets of the 8th Air Force's strategic bombing campaign. Due to inclement weather, only 79 of 159 B-17s, 61 of 109 Consolidated B-24 Liberators and three out of four pathfinder B-17s made it to the target. The bomber formation was unable to form up over England due to fog, and the loose formation was attacked by 50-75 German aircraft over the target, a mix of Messerschmitt Me-109s, Me-110s, Me-210s, Focke-Wulf FW-190s, and Junkers Ju-88s. Forty-five Lockheed P-38 Lightnings escorted the bombers all the way to the target, the longest escort mission at that time. 345 Republic P-47 Thunderbolts provided short-range escorting. The bombers claimed twenty Germans destroyed, fourteen probables, and 13 damaged; the fighters claimed ten destroyed, 3 probables, and 6 damaged. Three B-17s and thirteen B-24s were shot down over the target; three B-17s and three B-24s returned to England with such serious damage that they were written off; twelve B-17s and ten B-24s are damaged. Seven P-38s were shot down; two were so badly damaged they were written off; two P-47s were damaged. Twenty-one Americans were killed in action, 26 wounded and 171 missing, including nine fighter pilots. The 130th mission for the 8th Air Force, the Germans employed anti-bomber rockets within the 1000-yard (914-meter) range of the bombers' guns for the first time. The contrails were often used by the Germans to identify and track the bombers as they came in.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Air Force
Date Photographed: 
Saturday, November 13, 1943
Freie Hansestadt Bremen