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First B-24 lost in Europe

The first nine heavy American bomber raids in Europe starting with the 17 Aug 1942 attack on Rouen, France, did not sustain losses. It was until 6 Sep 1942, when JG 26 shot down the first two B-17s.

The strongest American heavy bomber effort in 1942 occurred on 9 Oct 1942, when a force of 108 four-engine bombers heavily escorted by 36 squadrons of Spitfires and P-38s attacked the important locomotive works and steel factory in Lille, France. The first time this important target was attacked.

The fighter escort tactics are noteworthy. No close escort was provided. There were two target support forces that sent fighters to the target area with orders of attacking any German fighter that approached the bombers. In addition, another two rear support forces appeared when the bombers were retreating with instructions to engage the German fighters.

For the first time, B-24 bombers (see picture) participated with VIII Bomber Command. Thus, the Americans employed a mixed formation of B-24 and B-17.

III./JG 26 (until the end of September it was equipped with Bf 109F but had recently re-equipped with Fw 190A-1 and A-2s) executed the interception deploying its stab and its three staffeln (7, 8, and 9) commanded respectively by Hauptman J. Priller (Kommandeur of III/JG 26) and K. Mietusch, J. Schmid, and K. Ruppert. 8./JG26 flew top-cover protecting the other two squadrons and the stab which attacked the bombers. The Germans made passes from the rear quarter and succeeded in shooting down four bombers. A B-24 (first B-24 loss in its first mission) and three B-17.

Priller shot down the B-24 (93BG), Mietusch damaged one B-17 and shot down another (301BG). Ruppert separated on B-17 from the formation (306BG) and it was finally destroyed by Lt. O. Stammberger. The last B-17(92BG) was accredited to Lt. W. Meyer, although it was attacked by several fighters.

The Germans lost one 190 (pilot KIA). The American formation claimed 56 fighters destroyed. A claim broadcasted by President F. Roosevelt even though allied intelligence knew that there was gross overclaiming.

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