Until mid-1943, the USAAF’s small heavy bomber force in the Mediterranean primarily attacked enemy ports, airfields, and ships to help defeat enemy ground forces in North Africa and prepare for the invasion of Sicily.
Twelfth Air Force B-17 All-American was rammed by a German fighter while bombing enemy supply lines in North Africa. Remarkably, this aircraft made it back to base.
93rd Bomb Group B-24 after the nose wheel collapsed on takeoff from a rough airstrip in December 1942.
British battle dress jacket, goggles, and USAAF flying helmet worn by 2nd Lt Maurice Elstun, a B-24 bombardier in the 93rd Bomb Group. This Eighth Air Force unit was sent to northwest Africa in December 1942 for what was supposed to be a ten day period, but did not return to England until February 1943.
HALPRO Raid: First USAAF Heavy Bomber Strike in Europe
On June 12, 1942, twelve B-24s based in Egypt bombed the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, marking the first USAAF strike on Europe. These B-24s came from the HALPRO Detachment (Halverson Project), which was en route to the China-Burma-India Theater under the command of Col Harry Halverson. In the end, the HALPRO Detachment remained in the Mediterranean to form the 376th Bomb Group, the first USAAF heavy bomber group in that theater.
Ninth Air Force B-24 crew looks over a map before going on a mission in 1942. Behind them is Black Mariah II, one of the original HALPRO B-24s.
Related Fact Sheets
The Memphis Belle: American Icon and 25th Mission
Memphis Belle Crew
The “Memphis Belle” and Nose Art
26th Mission: War Bond Tour
“Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress”
Heavy Bomber “Firsts”
Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact
Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe
Early Operations (1942 to mid-1943) - Eighth Air Force in England
Ninth/Twelfth Air Forces in the Mediterranean
Combat Box/Communication and Life at 25K
Keeping them Flying: Mechanics and Armorers
Combined Bomber Offensive: Summer 1943 to Victory
Bigger Raids, Bigger Losses, and Crisis
Deadly Skies over Europe (Luftwaffe defense)
Bomber Crew Protection
Operation Tidalwave (Ploesti, 1 Aug 43)
Regensburg/Schweinfurt (17 Aug 43)
Black Thursday/Schweinfurt (14 Oct 43)
Fifteenth Air Force (created Sep 43)
Women’s Army Corps
Fighter Escort: Little Friends
Big Week (20-25 Feb 44)
Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union
Strategic Bombing Victorious
Return to the B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet
Return to the WWII Gallery list