Joint 91st Bomb Group / A2A B-17G Group - mission 03/26/2011
Today the pilots of the 91st Bomb Group, having just returned from a mission to Rouen, were ordered to refuel and rearm their aircraft for a joint mission with the A2A group to strike two dams in the Ruhr River Valley.
The A2A Group took off from Deenethrope as the 91st BG took off from Bassingbourn. Rendezvous for the two groups was over the Clacton VOR. A successful link-up was made and the combined force crossed the channel, while climbing to the enroute altitude of 25,000'. The force crossed the Belgium coast near Zeebrugge and Heist then continued on to Antwerp. Light flak was encountered from batteries in the coastal area and again in the Antwerp area.
At Antwerp the groups turned eastward toward the IP, east of Venlo and just nort of Krefeld. As with the earlier mission to Rouen, weather over the continent was good at altitude but low clouds obscured visibility of ground landmarks. At the IP the groups turned to a course to take them over the first target, assigned to the A2A group, which was the dam above Werden.
Approaching the target, the reservoir was clearly identified but the dam itself was only visible for brief instants through the cloud cover. Never the less, a drop was made but no BDA is available at this time.
The second target, assigned to the 91st BG, was the dam below Witten. Again, the reservoir was identified and again the dam was only seen briefly. The 91st made their drop on the dam and the groups then proceeded to Dortmund before turning back to the west for egress.
Flak was moderate to heavy over both targets but no losses were encountered in the target area.
Egress to the sea was made near Rotterdam. Again, flak was encountered in the area. Two aircraft were lost before reacing the safety of the North Sea, due to prior damaage over the targets. The fate of the crews is unknown at this time.
Descent from altitude began approximately 60 miles from the Cambridge NDB, northest of Bassignbourn. At the Cambridge NDB the A2A group began setting up for the approach and landing at Bassigbourn on Rwy 25, for a joint mission debrief. The 91st BG aircraft broke off and proceeded to the area of the field to land after the A2A group had put down.
The weather in the Bassignbourn area was much improved over that of the morning mission to Rouen. As a result, all aircraft made good landings there inspite of the fact that the A2A pilots were unfamiliar with the airfield except for pre-mission maps that were made available. As the A2A pilots taxiied to the apron, parked and exited their aircraft, they were treated to a low pass fly-by of the 91st Bomb Group aircraft as those pilots flew down Rwy 25 in preparation for their break and return to land.
The debrief resulted in accolades for all involved and the conclusion was that the mission was a success.