Practical test of the 8th Air Force
“She did everything what we wanted and she made it good”
General Ira C. Eaker
On Monday, 17 August 1942, at 15.20 hours 12 B-17Es of the 97th Bomb Group of the 8th US Air Force flew with the escort of 4 Spitfire-Squadrons RAF to their first raid over Europe. In the aircraft of the group commander was Brigadier general Ira C. Eaker as an passenger on board, the 46 years old General was born in Texas and was an experienced flier, commander of the 8th Bomber Command. His aircraft was called more suitably wise “Yankee Doodle”. The lead-aircraft was “Butcher Shop”, flown by Major Paul W. Tibbets, later become than pilot of the B-29 “Enola Gay”, which dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima in Japan. The target was the marshalling yard Sotteville les Rouen on the left bank of the Seine, important for Le Havre. The Fortresses dropped their bomb load (16.5 tons) in a height of 7000 meters. The result of the mission was relatively well, approx.. 50% of the bombs lay in the target area. All B-17 returned from this mission, whereby two escort fighters were lost, while two German fighters were shot down. The principal purpose of this first mission was acclimatizing the crews. The operation confirmed the conception of the American daylight bombing, which had given both the Englishmen and the Germans up because of to high losses.
The other B-17E’s which flew on the first mission: Peggy D, Baby Doll, Berlin Sleeper, Johnny Reb, Birmingham Blitzkrieg, Big Stuff and few other.
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