SCHWEINFURT - THE SECOND MISSION
by Robert Taylor
Briefing at 0500 hours on the morning of 14 October 1943 brought the
crews of the 92nd
Responding to intelligence indicating increasing Luftwaffe fighter strength, the decision was taken to attack the ball-bearing plant at Schweinfurt for the second time in three months. Over 400 Fortresses and Liberators would make the 920 mile, seven hour trip - 370 miles of the journey without fighter escort - in an all-out effort to stem the flow of new fighters reaching Luftwaffe front line units.
The 92nd Bomb Group’s mission leader, Colonel Budd Peaslee knew the score: As soon as the escorting P-47 Thunderbolts reached their maximum range and turned for home, the loitering Luftwaffe fighters would pounce. And so it was on that crisp autumn day. The moment the fighters departed some 400 enemy fighters ripped into the vulnerable bomber formations spewing rockets and cannon; the B- 17 gunners made valiant attempts to repel the onslaught, but the result was carnage. For three hours the surviving bombers thundered on, their ranks thinning as continuing enemy attacks pressed home. Just 12 of the 92nd’s 21 aircraft made it through to the target. Turning for home the weary crews knew they had to face the flak and enemy fighters all the way home until within range of Allied escort fighters. The USAAF’s 1st Division alone lost 60 Fortresses with 600 men missing before the day was out.
Robert Taylor’s majestic new painting shows Colonel Budd Peaslee’s
B-17 Equipose, piloted by Kemp McLaughlin, leading the Fortresses of the
92nd Bomb Group en-route to the vital ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt.
High over Germany, beyond the range of Allied fighter cover, the unprotected
B-17s come under relentless attack from enemy fighters. Losses are high.
Undeterred, the valiant crews press on to the target, their determination
and courage on that “Black Thursday” forever etched into aviation
All editions: Overall Print Size: 36" wide x 24" high (Image
Size: 29 1/2" wide x 16" high)
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