The 2nd Bomb Group's Longest Mission


The Daimler-Benz Tank Factory in Berlin, Germany on March 24, 1945

Over 1,600 miles from Foggia, Italy to Berlin, Germany and back

It was a long, tough mission but closer to the end of the war.


The 15th Air Force sent nearly 150 B-17's to attack the Daimler Benz Tank Assembly Plant in the suburbs of Berlin. The predicted enemy defenses: 394 heavy flak guns in the   target area; nests of anti-aircraft artillery along the way around well known past targets; 40 to 45 Me-262's and FW-190's to supplement the jets if the enemy chose.  Another 250 Me-109's and FW-100's in the target area.  Given these potential defenses, the German  desperation, and the deep penetration, the group did not take the mauling which might have been expected.  Still, one was lost to flack and one to jet fighters. This was the last loss of the war  to enemy aircraft.


The mission started well.  The weather over the Alps was clear and continued that way to the target. The escort was visible in abundance.  The mission's tranquil pattern was broken as serious flak started coming up in blobs around Ruhland, Germany.  The group took the prescribed evasive action. By the time the formation reached the IP, dogfights were in full force ahead and the flak came mushrooming up from the ground.  Eighteen airplanes were damaged, sixteen had minor and two were severe.  Ten to twelve Me-262's and one ME-109 pounced on the formation using the sun, and the bomber formation vapor trails to conceal their approaches.  The attack lasted approximately ten minutes before the P-51 escort engaged, but then the attackers maimed one B-17.  Another group of enemy fighters using the same tactics, and pressing to within 150 yards, tried unsuccessfully to quickly smoother the box.  The fight  lasted only a few minutes before the fighters broke off, just before bombs away.  The Luftwaffe only inflicted minor damage to other planes.


Fortress gunners destroyed one ME 109, one ME 410, and one ME 462.  The Daimler-Benz plant was left 70-80% destroyed.  1st Lt. Robert W Tappan's crew was attacked by an ME-262 fighter and they crash landed but nine of the crewmen survived and were taken  prisoner.  2nd Lt. Rapelyea in #44-8162, 429th Sq, feathered his #2 engine shortly after leaving the target.  Another engine went out and the crew bailed out.  Two crew members after reaching ground safely were shot by sniper fire.  End of the longest mission!


I, Dave Carlock, was on this mission as well as our President, Richard Radtke in another squadron. What made it a little different was the distance we had to fly.  Also anytime you loose two planes it makes all the crews a little sick.  All my crew and I signed the longest mission list when we returned.  I have a copy today in my office.


Pictures & Information courtesy of book Defenders of Liberty

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