Oil Refinery and Storage area
10 May 1945
10 May the 39th Bomb Group ran what was probably the most successful
of all its forty-eight strikes against Japan. The target was
the Otake Oil Refinery and Storage Area on the main Japanese
island of Honshu.
some time it was evident that the Japanese were having trouble
with their gasoline and fuel supply. The thorough job done by
the XXI Bomber Command at Koriyama 12 April had seriously hampered
Japanese production of aviation gasoline, and great efforts
were being made to produce synthetic fuels and to bring in oil
from outlying conquered districts for storage in the empire.
from the fact that a big refining plant was located at Otake,
the place was important as a storage area for products brought
in from the south.
Oil Refinery - Before
39th Bomb Group was chosen to lead the entire force of B-29s
from the 314th Wing that went after the target. The organization
sent thirty-three planes on the mission, and Major
Leo Lewis (P-8)
of the 60th Squadron was lead aircraft.
was fairly heavy. About forty attacks were made by enemy fighters
on the bombers of the group, claimed were one destroyed, two
probable and seven damaged. Flak was seen all the way from landfall
into the target area, and after the turn off target, about fifty
naval vessels of the enemy fleet were discovered anchored in
the Inland Sea in the vicinity of the target. Anti-aircraft
fire from these ships was heavy and from the whole force seven
B-29s were damaged.
bombing itself was spectacular. The 60th Squadron dropped its
bombs right on the aiming point, which was wiped out. Great
columns of smoke shot up into the air right after the bombs
of this squadron hit. The bombardiers of the 61st and 62nd Squadrons
chose aiming points to the right and left of the first aiming
point and dropped in the target area. These second aiming points,
chosen because the first was so well hit and obscured by smoke,
were later allowed as aiming points for the two squadrons that
used them and the bombing was of superior quality. An estimated
ninety-six percent of the bombs fell within the target area,
and about ninety percent of them hit within 1000 feet of the
aiming points. The plant was probably, by official count, rendered
completely inoperative for 47% of it was destroyed outright.
For their splendid work in carrying out this unusual job of
bombing, the bombing teams of the lead crews of each squadron
were awarded the Distinguished
after the Superforts bombing