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Ploesti

B-24s of the 376th Bomb Group on their airfield near Bengasi, Libya, before taking off for Ploesti, Rumania. (U.S. Air Force photo)

B-24s of the 376th Bomb Group on their airfield near Bengasi, Libya, before taking off for Ploesti, Rumania. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Consolidated B-24s on the Ploesti oil refinery bombing mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Consolidated B-24s on the Ploesti oil refinery bombing mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ploesti oil refinery bombing mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ploesti oil refinery bombing mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Leon W. Johnson, 44th Bomb Group Commander. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Leon W. Johnson, 44th Bomb Group Commander. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Leon W. Johnson receives the Medal of Honor from Lt. Gen. Devers. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Leon W. Johnson receives the Medal of Honor from Lt. Gen. Devers. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker, commander of the 93rd Bomb Group for the Ploesti Mission, Aug. 1, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker, commander of the 93rd Bomb Group for the Ploesti Mission, Aug. 1, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. John R. Kane. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. John R. Kane. (U.S. Air Force photo)

B-24 "Hail Columbia" flown by Col. John "Killer" Kane as lead bomber for the 98th Bomb Group on the Ploesti Mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

B-24 "Hail Columbia" flown by Col. John "Killer" Kane as lead bomber for the 98th Bomb Group on the Ploesti Mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Maj. John L. Jerstad. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Maj. John L. Jerstad. (U.S. Air Force photo)

2nd Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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2nd Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes. (U.S. Air Force photo)


While Allied and Axis forces were battling in Sicily, the USAAF staged one of the war's most daring heavy bomber raids. The target was the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania, estimated to be supplying 60 percent of Germany's crude oil requirements.

Shortly after dawn on Aug. 1, 1943, USAAF B-24s took off from bases in Libya and headed northward toward the heavily defended target, deep inside enemy territory a thousand miles away. Over Bulgaria, clouds broke up the B-24 formations and the bombing elements became widely separated. Tracked by German radar, which alerted Rumanian defenses, the B-24s arrived over the target at treetop height without the planned element of surprise.

Despite intense defensive fire from the ground and from the Axis planes, the AAF pressed the attack. In the confusion of battle, some B-24s made bombing runs through heavy smoke over targets that had already been attacked and were caught in the bursts of delayed action bombs dropped several minutes previously. Although overall damage to the target was heavy, the cost was high. Of 177 planes and 1,726 men who took off on the mission, 54 planes and 532 men failed to return.

Click on the following links for more information about the Ploesti mission.

Uniforms from Ploesti Mission
Ploesti Mission Details
Field Order No. 58

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Find Out More
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Related Fact Sheets
Consolidated B-24D Liberator
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Other Resources
USAF Historical Study No. 103: Ploesti Mission of Aug. 1, 1943 (Provided by AFHRA)
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