Mission Details for Merseburg (#171)



Number: 171
Date: 11/21/1944 12:00:00 AM
Commander: Maj. A.H. Chapman
Crews Briefed: 39
Details: Synthetic Oil Refineries

Flying Control

Runway: 23
Engines: 0715 Thumbnail image for /Images/Takeoff/Plan23.jpg
Taxi: 0730
Take Off: 0745
E.T.R.: 1557
Notes: Briefing took place at 0415 hours. Pilots were briefed on new "Stand-off" procedure, under which the lead squadron would return directly to base, the low squadron to Cottesmore and the high squadron to Melton Mowbray. Under this procedure the squadron will be called in for landing sequentially by Flying Control.
All operational aircraft were off by 0820 hours, although it was necessary to substitute three ground spares for scheduled aircraft. Two spares and two aborts landed early, and four other aircraft returned before the remainder of the Group.
At 1615 hours all but three operational aircraft had returned. Gale warnings were received at 2225 hours.


Aircraft: 39
Lost Over Continent: 2
Lost Other: 0
Summary: The Group provided the three squadrons making up the 94th Combat Wing "B" Group. At the IP a deck of clouds extending upward from 18,000 to 30,000 feet caused the formation to become somewhat scattered, and necessitated bombing by PFF. The High Squadron dropped on Eisenach, a target of opportunity. The Lead and Low Squadrons bombed Merseburg. The results of the bombing could not be observed.
Flak over the target was intense and accurate and resulted in the loss of the deputy lead aircraft, No. 42-97600, piloted by Captain Francis E. Rundell, Jr., which received a direct hit in the No. 2 engine, after which the wing broke off. All crew members were able to parachute safely to earth and became POW's. Another 401st aircraft, No. 44-6104 ("Homing Pigeon"), piloted by Lt. Robert J. Keck was crippled by flak and then attacked by a lone enemy Me-109, which in turn was shot down by 401st gunners. Of Lt. Keck's crew, the radio operator, S/Sgt. R. E. Engler and ball turret gunner, S/Sgt. E. W. Norr, were killed in action, while the other crew members survived and became POW's.
B-17 No. 42-107113, piloted by Lt. P. J. Sullivan, was forced to land in Belgium, but the crew returned safely to Deenethorpe. In addition, to the downed aircraft, two 401st ships received major battle damage and 21 received minor flak damage. Four 401st crewmen were wounded, one seriously.

Mission Assignments

Squadron Participants