MISSION NO. 212
18 MARCH, 1945
It was back to the railroad complex at "Big B". In spite
of previous bombings, photographs showed the marshalling yards in the target
area to be 100% serviceable. The Group comprised the 94th B Combat Wing
with Captain Rollins as Air Commander. The Eighth Air Force committed 2,000
planes to bomb Berlin on this mission.
The Group assembled in Wing formation without difficultY
and followed in trail for the remainder of the route. On the turn before
the first Control Point, the Group swung wide to the left of course, in
order to gain more interval behind the Wing Leader.
The Control Point was reached about five miles left of course,
in order to avoid interference from other groups on the bomb run. Contrails
and clouds caused constant interference along the run.
The high flight of the low squadron was attacked by Me 262s.
This element was out of position to the left of the Group formation. The
Me-262 attack came from the tail with each jet attacking a B-17. In addition
to the fighter attack, the Group was also encountering antiaircraft opposition.
The aircraft piloted by Lt. John W. Schwikert, flying No.
3 position in the high element of the low box, was attacked by a jet and
hit on the No. 2 engine. It continued to fly in position for some time
before No. 2 engine caught fire and the craft went into a steep dive. The
craft dropped out of formation, lost altitude and when it was last spotted,
parachutes were observed. The crew became prisoners of war.
Lt. Craig P. Greason's plane was hit by an Me-262; a large
section of the left wing was torn away, the inboard engine was damaged and
the fuel tanks were leaking. In spite of the damage, Lt. Greason kept the
plane aloft and returned to the Base
The plane piloted by Lt. Edwin Witten feathered an engine
after bombs were dropped, left the formation north of Berlin and finally
landed in Poland. The crew ultimately returned to Glatton by a circuitous
Bombing was done in Group formation by means of combination
PFF and visual assist. Cloud coverage was from four to five-tenths; and
visibility was poor. The high squadron bombed to the right of the Group
formation instead of to the left, because a squadron from another group
prevented the craft from crossing over to proper position.
Some difficulty was experienced from heavy prop wash at
the BRI Bombs were dropped from 25,000 feet and bomb results were observed
to be fair.
After bombing, the Group was unable to sight the Wing Leader
because of dense and persistent contrails. Because of the possibility of
imminent enemy aircraft attacks, the Group Leader decided to rejoin the
Division bomber stream without regard to position.
Between the fighter and flak attacks, the Group sustained
its greatest damage in a month. Captain Tom Goff, flying his 38th mission,
said it was the first time he was ever on a mission when fighters hit the
bombers over the target, saying they came in right through their own flak.
Gunners claimed four confirmed Me-262s. The 457th lost one
aircraft; three sustained major damage and five minor.