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OPERATION FRANTIC: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union

Fifteenth Air Force B-17s fly over mountains in Yugoslavia en route to the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) on June 2, 1944.

Fifteenth Air Force B-17s fly over mountains in Yugoslavia en route to the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) on June 2, 1944.

In 1944, the US persuaded Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to allow USAAF aircraft to operate out of bases in the western Soviet Union.  Between June and September 1944, the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces conducted a total of seven so-called “shuttle raids” under the code name Operation Frantic.

(Additional pictures coming soon)

Fifteenth Air Force B-17 landing at a Soviet air base near Kiev.  The Soviets made three airfields available.

Lt Gen Ira Eaker, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces commander, led the first shuttle mission.  He is pictured here at left, just after landing in the USSR. 

Four days after landing in the USSR, Eaker’s bombers attacked the major air base at Galati, Romania (pictured here) and returned to their Soviet airfields.  On June 11, they flew back to Italy, bombing another Romanian target on the way. 

During the second shuttle mission on June 21, 1944, a Luftwaffe aircraft shadowed the bombers to their base at Poltava—enemy bombers hit the base that night, destroying 15 P-51 fighters and more than 40 B-17s.  This photo was taken during the attack.

Flying map used by Col Don Blakeslee, 4th Fighter Group commander, while escorting B-17 bombers on the first Eighth Air Force shuttle mission from England to Russia, June 21, 1944.  The black line was the course to the Piryatin landing field.  The red dots noted the airfields at Poltava and Mirgorod.  The heavy red line outlined the current battle front.

Safe-conduct pass carried by fliers on shuttle raids in case they were forced down among Soviet troops and civilians and needed to prove they were Americans. 

Identification card and phrase sheet carried by Lt Verle Dollison, a B-24 navigator, on an Operation Frantic mission. 


Movie camera used by the USAAF during the shuttle bombing raids.  Maj Gen Robert Walsh "saved" this camera when the shuttle raids ended and they were ordered to turn over their supplies to the Soviets.


Pilot Lyman Barkalow participated in a shuttle raid during his first 25-mission tour.  Captain Barkalow later volunteered to fly in combat again and was killed over Ruhrland, Germany, on March 19, 1945 on the 49th mission of his second tour. 


Related Fact Sheets


The Memphis Belle: American Icon and 25th Mission

Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe




Return to the B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet

Return to the WWII Gallery list



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