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8ème Air Force – After Action Reports

8ème Air Force

After Action Reports
Bataille de Normandie

Image : 8ème Air Force division



(D minus 3 at time of operation; became D minus 4 when D-Day was postponed)

Operation No. 384

First Mission
Field Order 709

1. DECISION : Operations on this day were specified for D minus 3 by the Overall Air Plan as modified by Headquarters A.E.A.F. All objectives were located in the Pas de Calas (Fortitude) area, the attacks having as their purpose deception of the enemy as to the actual assault area (Cover Plan). It was provided that in these operations immediately preceding D-Day only one-half of the available heavy bombers were to be employed in order to conserve the force an all-out assault in direct support of the troop landings.


a. The weather forecast for the Pas de Calais area indicated 8/10-10/10 stratocumulus with bases 800-1500 feet and tops 7000-9000 feet.

b.In view of predicted cloud conditions, plans were made to employ through the overcast bombing technique in this operation which would utilize approximately one-half of the available heavy bombers. The following allocation of targets among the three Bomb Divisions was made, the nature and size of the objective determining the strength of the attacking force :


Ref. No.ChartTarget Force assigned  
Force I - 3rd Bomb Division
(Tactical Unit - Group of the 18 B-17's with 1 H2X Pathfinder)
*1. Boulogne AreaMedium Battery3 Groups
*3.Equihem AreaMedium Battery3 Groups
*4. Boulogne AreaMedium Coastal Battery3 Groups
16Wimereux AreaField Battery3 Groups
17Wimereux AreaHeavy Coastal Battery3 Groups
Force II - 1st Bomb Division
(Tactical Unit - Group of the 18 B-17's with 1 H2X Pathfinder)
*1. Boulogne AreaMedium Battery2 Groups
2Neufchatel AreaMedium Battery2 Groups
3Equihem AreaMedium Battery2 Groups
4Boulogne AreaMedium Coastal Battery2 Groups
5Hardelot AreaMedium Coastal Battery2 Groups
6Dannes AreaDefended Locality2 Groups
7St. Cecily AreaMedium Coastal Battery3 Groups
Force III - 2nd Bomb Division
(Tactical Unit - Squadron of the 12 B-24's with 1 H2X Pathfinder)
8Saint-Aubin AreaMedium Coastal Battery3 Squadrons
9Stella Plage AreaMedium Coastal Battery2 Squadrons
10Berck sur Mer AreaField Battery3 Squadrons
11Berck sur Mer AreaMedium Coastal Battery3 Squadrons
12Berck sur Mer AreaRadar Installation2 Squadrons
13Berck sur Mer AreaLight Coastal Battery2 Squadrons
14Berck sur Mer AreaDefended Locality1 Squadron
15Stella Plage AreaDefended Locality2 Squadrons
18Beauvoir Crossbor InstallationDump6 Squadrons

* Units from more than one Force assigned to these targets.

H2X Pathfinders aircraft utilizing GEE fixes for navigation were to be used for target location except in the case of the units attacking the Crossbow installation at Beauvoir. GH bombing equipment was to be used in this instance.

c. The general plan for routing of the bomber forces allowed a pattern similar to that employed on previous large scale Crossbow operations, the problem being to avoid interference among the large number of units attacking 18 different targets located within a relatively small area and at the same time concentrate the attacks so that a minimum of anti-aircraft fire could be brought to bear against the bombers as a whole. Penetration and withdrawal corridors were assigned to each force as well as specified periods of attack which were 1200-1210 hours for Force I, 1220-1230 hours for Force II and 1240-1250 hours for Force III. As a further measure to improve maneuverability, it was specified that each force would fly as three formations of equal size. The units of Force III assigned to the Crossbow Installation at Beauvoir were not included in the aforementioned plan of attack. The six Squadrons detailed to this target were to be divided into two waves, the first to attack at 1310, the second at 1335. These timings were set to avoid interference with bombers returning from their attacks on the coastal installations and the interval between the waves was to permit the GH ground station to change transmitter settings for the Aiming Point of the later wave. The routing to this target afforder the long, straight approach required by the GH equipment and due consideration was given to avoidance of the strongest anti-aircraft defenses on both the penetration and withdrawal.

d. In determining the strength and disposition of the fighter support, it was considered unlikely that enemy aircraft would react to a very limited penetration of the coastal area. Accordingly, area support by three P-47 Groups and one P-38 Group was deemed adequate for the bombers operating along the Pas de Calais. For the units assigned to Beayvoir, which would make a somewhat deeper penetration, one P-51 Group was assigned as close escort. In addition, one P-47 Group and two P-51 Groups were designated to patrol the Tournai, Compiègne and Evreux areas under Ground (type 16) control for the purpose of intercepting enemy aircraft which might be assembling as a precautionary measure against a possible deep penetration by the heavy bombers.


a. Eight hundred and sixty-two heavy bombers were dispatched in the three forces participating in this operation. Despite the presence of some cloud layers at assembly levels, units formed without difficulty and flow their missions essentially as planned.

b. Bombing throught 10/10 cloud was accomplished on H2X Pathfinders supplemented by GEE fixes except in the case of the units directed against Beauvoir which utilized GH Pathfinders. Three units of the Force I were unable to attack due to failure of Pathfinder equipment and two Squadrons of the Force III attacked assigned targets of other units when their respective lead Pathfinder became inoperative. A total of 776 bombers dropped 2322 tons, all except 23 aircraft dropping on assigned target. Strike photographs were unrevealing but subsequent reconnaissance cover was obtained. Bombing results are summarized as follows :

Force I - 3rd Bomb Division
ChartTargetA/C Disp.A/C Att.TotalResults
Ref. No. Includes ( ) PFFBombs Dropped
*1. Boulogne58 (5)38 (3)438x500 HENil
16Wimereux56 (3)18 (1)210x500Good
*3.Equihem58 (3)56 (3)651x500Nil
*4.Boulogne54 (3)52 (3)600x500Nil
*17.Wimereux57 (3)54 (3)625x500Nil
Total283 (17)218 (13)2524x500
Force II - 1st Bomb Division
*1.Boulogne38 (2)38 (2)444x500Nil
*3.Equihem37 (2)35 (2)372x500Nil
*4.Boulogne37 (2)37 (2)394x500Nil
5Hardelot38 (2)37 (2)406x500Nil
2Neufchatel43 (2)42 (2)500x500Nil
6Dannes38 (2)38 (2)415x500Nil
7St. Cecily55 (3)52 (3)610x500Nil
Total286 (15)279 (15)3141x500
Force III - 2nd Bomb Division
9Stella Plage24 (2)23 (2)4x1000Fair
15Stella Plage24 (2)24 (2)4x1000Nil
12Berck sur Mer24 (1)Nil
Other Targets23 (0)92x2000
13Berck sur Mer24 (2)24 (2)275x500Nil
14Berck sur Mer12 (1)12 (1)138x500Nil
11Berck sur Mer37 (3)36 (3)402x200Good
10Berck sur Mer37 (3)36 (3)26x1000Nil
8St. Aubin39 (3)38 (3)6x1000Nil
18Beauvoir71 (6)63 (5)744x500Fair
Total293 (23)279 (21)40x1000
TOTAL862 (55)776 (49)7224x500


* Units from more than one Force assigned to these targets.

Although it is indicated that only four of the specific targets were affected by the bombing, there is evidence of damage to other installations in this heavily fortified area.

c. Fighter support was provided by 365 aircrafts, 175 P-47’s, 46 P-38’s, 144 P-51’s from the eight assigned Groups. As planned, one P-38 Group and three P-47 Groups afforded area cover, one P-51 Groupe gave close escort to the units assigned to Beauvoir and one P-47 and two P-51 Groups operated under Ground (type 16) control.

d. Enemy opposition was confined solely to anti-aircraft fire which varied from meager to moderate and was generally ineffective.

e. All bombers and fighters returned from this operation. Eleven of the former and one of the latter sustained battle damage, all due to anti-aircraft fire.


First Mission    2 June 1944
Force IForce IIForce III
(3rd B.D.)(1st B.D.)(2nd B.D.)Mission
HEAVY BOMBERSB-17'sB-17'sTotals
A/C Airborne283286293862
A/C Sorties273283284840
A/C Executing Assignments218279279776
Bombs Dropped (Tons)631785.25923.752340
A/C Lost0000
Category "E"0000
A/C Battle Damaged110011
Claims Against E/A0000
A/C Airborne17546144365
A/C Sorties17143139353
A/C Executing Assignments16640133339
A/C Lost0000
Category "E"0000
A/C Battle Damage1001
Claims Against E/A0000

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