39th Bomb Group (VH)

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Hitchi Plant


23-24 April 1945

A force of Ten B-29s from the 39th Group carried out the Hitachi attack, which interrupted the Kyushu strikes on 23-24 April. The target plant was an important one in the Japanese aircraft industry and by the use of General Purpose bombs on a daylight formation strike, it was hoped to knock it out of the war.

All sorts of trouble were met on this mission. A ten-minute delay in takeoff further complicated the making of assembly at the unfamiliar and unusually hard to locate Smith Island. Finally seven of the ten Superforts of the group joined up in a formation and headed for the 314th Wing target. The remaining three B-29s tacked on with the 313th Wing and bombed its target as a target opportunity.

More trouble was encountered by our formation over Hitachi. Weather was estimated at 4/10ths coverage and more enemy fighter opposition was run into on this attack than on any one made previously. Seventy-two enemy aircraft of all types were seen and these boys were really aggressive. Twenty-three attacks were pressed on six of our planes and the gunners from four bombers claimed seven hostile fighters damaged. Flak was pretty accurate and from heavy caliber guns. Six of the B-29s from the 39th were damaged by anti-aircraft fire and two got minor hits from enemy fighters.

The result of the Wing attack on the Hitachi plant was good. New damage inflicted in this raid added up to 608,310 square feet, or 53.5 % of the total roof area. The engine assembly and engine manufacturing buildings were heavily damaged. Therefore, in spite of the difficulties encountered on this mission, it was a successful one.

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Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group" by Robert Laird, (crew 5) and David Smith (crew 31)
This page was revised on 22 April 2001
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