Ploesti raid: Bombing Nazi oil fields - Operation Tidal Wave.
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The Ploesti Raid - Attacking Nazi oilfields in Romania in 1943
35 miles north of Bucharest is the large Ploesti oil-refining complex. On August 1st, 1943, in the span of 30 minutes, the Ploesti refinery was in flames, and the cornfields of the Wallachian plain were filled with the burning remains of aircraft – following one of the most unusual air attacks in military history. Gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products were essential to the mechanized German military - making Ploesti a critical facility to the Nazi war machine. As a result, Ploesti was very heavily defended: by anti-aircraft guns and 3 squadrons of Luftwaffe fighter planes. Equally, the strategic importance of Ploesti made it a very tempting target for Allies.
B-24 pilot Walter T. Holmes was part of historic long-range bomber raid
"I am so happy to be back on Barksdale Field. This is where I started," Walter T. Holmes explained to over 100 people, there to see him presented the Distinguished Service Cross, the America's second-highest award for bravery in the attack on Nazi-controlled oil fields in Romania. He was a B-24 pilot in Operation Tidal Wave, one of the U.S. Army Air Corps' most dreadful feats. The raid Aug. 1, 1943, on Ploesti pioneered strategic bombing: 179 of the big, 4-engine bombers flew an 18-hour, 2,400-mile, treetop-level attack against the world's largest oil and gas refineries, which produced the majority of the high-octane fuel for the Nazi war machine.
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Leon Johnson's Medal of Honor donated to the Army Heritage Museum of Carlisle
On Aug. 1, 1943 Leon Johnson - who entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at age 17 and would wear the military uniform most of his life - led one of the most strategically vital bombing raids of World War II. Flying at treetop level over Nazi-occupied Romania, his 44th Bomb Group delivered 1,000-pound bombs on the oil refinery that fueled much of Nazi Germany's mechanized power. The bombers left the refineries in the Ploesti oil fields in an inferno of 1,500-foot flames and badly undercut the Germans' ability to make war from that point forward. It was such an amazing mission that 5 leaders of different groups won the Medal of Honor.
B-24s 1943 air raid on Ploesti oil fields - Operation Tidal Wave (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Aug. 1, 1943 air raid, Operation Tidal Wave, on Ploesti had a huge goal: Shorten World War II by eliminating much of Nazi Germany's petroleum production in a single blow. The attack by 5 American Army Air Forces bomber groups was well-designed, but American intelligence underrated he strength and skill of the German-Romanian resistance and the ability of German intelligence. Five Medals of Honor were granted from the mission that day, more than in any other single air action. Ploesti was ringed by 7 major refineries that produced about 1/3 of Nazi Germany’s oil and 1/3 of its aviation fuel.
William H. Brandon flew key raid in WWII - Ploesti: Third Reich oil (Article no longer available from the original source)
A decorated World War II aviator William H. Brandon died at 89. He flew 27 missions, among them the first raid in 1943 on the oil installations at Ploesti, Romania. Destruction of the complex was crucial because it was believed Ploesti produced a third of the oil for Nazi Germany. On Aug. 1, 1943, the heavy bombers flew to Romania from Libya, where they had practiced low-level flying and bombing. The B-24s flew so low that "there were cornstalks on the bomb bay doors of my father's plane." Brandon, who flew the 44th's lead aircraft on that raid, received the Distinguished Service Cross, country's second-highest military award.