Air Force

January 31, 2014

This Week in History

79-Gabreski

Jan. 29, 1944: Target — Frankfurt

Seventy years ago, the 8th Air Force Fighter Command had a very good day. After four days on the ground due to weather, the fighters were able to get back in the air. The day’s bomber target was Frankfurt, Germany.

For the first time in World War II, the mighty 8th had more than 700 bombers attack targets on one mission. Eighth Air Force sent up 675 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and 188 Consolidated B-24 Liberators. Seven hundred and sixty-three bombers hit their primary targets. Another 46 B-17s bombed Ludwigshafen, Germany, because of a deviation from their planned bomb route.

At that time, fighter command assigned areas along the bombers’ route to the various fighter groups. The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt groups got the close-to-home areas due to their short combat radius. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning and North American P-51 Mustang groups took those areas further out from home station. The fighters in one area handed off the bombers to the fighters in the next area instead of escorting them the entire way.

For that mission, fighter command sent up more than 600 fighter aircraft. Eighth Air Force sent the bulk, which were P-47s and P-38s. Ninth Air Force added its P-51s to the fighter shield. Altogether they claimed to have shot down 39 enemy aircraft. The 56th Fighter Group claimed seven enemy aircraft shot down, but unfortunately it lost one pilot.

For the 56th FG’s part of the mission, planners divided it into two groups, “A” and “B.” Lt. Col. David Schilling, 56th FG commander, led the “A” group. Schilling’s 37 P-47s took off from Halesworth, England, at 10:20 a.m.

Making landfall over Knokke, Belgium, the fighters rendezvoused with the first box of 1st Division bombers at 11:39 a.m. at 29,000 feet southwest of Koblenz, Germany. On the way to the rendezvous point, a pair of Focke-Wulf 190s attacked the “A” group of fighters. Lt. Kenneth Lewis was shot down. Schilling shot down one of the FW 190s. Group “A” landed at 1334 hours after handing off to the “B” group.

Group “B” was commanded by Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski, the 56th FG’s flying executive officer. Taking off at 10:29 a.m., they arrived at the rendezvous point at 11:52 a.m. The last three wings of the 1st Bomb Division arrived at the same time. While there, Gabreski’s pilots were attacked by a dozen German fighters, two of which Gabreski downed.

Second Lt. Anthony Cavallo of the 63rd Fighter Squadron shot down Messerschmitt Me 210 aircraft. The 61st FS received credit for the three other kills that day.

Capt. Joseph Bennett shot down one Messerschmitt Me 110 by himself and shared credit for a second with 2nd Lt. Praeger Neyland. That was Neyland’s first combat flight after being wounded by 20mm fire 15 days earlier. Second Lt. Melvin Wood also shot down an Me 110. Group “B” landed back at Halesworth at 1:35 p.m.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Grace Lee

Pilot saves six Marines earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor

Grace Lee Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, pins the Air Force Combat Action Medal onto Capt. Aaron Cavazos, 61st Fighter Squadron weapons officer, Jan. 16 in Club Five Six at Luke Air Force Base. Cavazos was...
 
 

Financial responsibility — vital to readiness

In the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, there is a line in the movie where the soldiers are told to make sure they sign up for life insurance to ensure their next-of-kin gets $10,000 upon the soldier’s death. While none of us are about to make a combat jump in 1944 to fight the Nazis, Airmen...
 
 

Adapt, overcome, succeed

Change is inevitable, especially in today’s Air Force. If you’ve been serving for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve experienced everything from new physical fitness requirements to the implementation of force management programs. Enlisted performance reports and feedback forms have been altered and changes to the promotion system are rapidly approaching. We expect...
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Chrach saves lives, earns recognition

Courtesy Photo Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Chrach, 56th SFS MWD, pose for a photo in Afghanistan during their 2012 deployment. Chrach was recently awarded the 12th A...
 
 

News Briefs January 23, 2015

VH1 concert VH1 and sponsors supporting the event are hosting a Super Bowl Blitz concert featuring Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX at 5 p.m. Jan. 30 in Hangar 999 as a “Thank you” to those who serve in the U.S. military. Members of the Luke community are invited and the concert is free. Service...
 
 
Courtesy Photo

Civilian answers AF call, gets dream job

Courtesy Photo Senior Airman Kristina Inocencio, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron engineer technician, measures the distance from the tree to the building Jan. 15 during survey training at Luke Air Force Base. One of Inocencio’s ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin