On August 17, 1943, the USAAF suffered staggering losses in the two-pronged attack against the Messerschmitt fighter factory at Regensburg and the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany.
To split the German defense, these raids were supposed to occur simultaneously, with the Regensburg force landing at airfields in North Africa. Unfortunately, fog delayed the Schweinfurt force’s takeoff, but the Regensburg force left on time.
As a result, enemy fighters hit the first force, landed, rearmed, refueled, and then engaged the delayed second force. Without escort for much of the mission, the bombers faced wave after wave of Luftwaffe fighters alone.
Although the raid caused heavy damage at both factories, 60 of the 376 bombers—about 1 in 6 of those dispatched—were shot down and more than 600 Airmen were killed, missing, or captured.
(Additional pictures coming soon)
(Left) The first bombs hitting the Messerschmitt plant at Regensburg on August 17, 1943. (Right) Reconnaissance photograph taken after the strike, showing heavy damage.
B-17s over Schweinfurt on August 17, 1943.
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