It was a deep penetration into central Germany. Col. Luper led the eighteen bombers on the mission, flying the 1000th B-17 produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California. (Homer Briggs had spent time at Douglas as part of his training.) Lt. Edward M. Bender was pilot.
The target was also known as the AGO (Aktiengesellschaft Gustav Otto) Flugzeigwerke. The factory started in 1916 but had to close it’s doors in 1928. The factory opened it’s doors again, when Adolf Hitler came to power, and was then named AGO again but now it meant Apparatenbau GmbH Oschersleben. First training airplanes were build but from 1936 the factory started to produce other planes like the Heinkel He 51, Focke-Wulf 44 and 190 and the Messerschmidt Bf 109. Hundreds of Prisoners of War and forced laborers from occupied countries were put to work in the factory. The factory was situated just outside of the town of Oschersleben, had it’s own runways and even had a wind tunnel to experiment with aerodynamics.
The airfield and factory just outside of Oschersleben
Dropping bombs on Oschersleben FW-190 factory
The FW-190 factory during an attack on February 20th 1944
The FW-190 factory on May 30th 1944
Solid clouds rising as high as 24,000 feet over East Anglia, England, disrupted assembly and thirteen planes returned to the Base. Other groups and wings were similarly disrupted. Col. Luper, unable to find and assemble with the 94th Combat Wing, took the lead position in a mixed group of a two box wing and led it towards the Continent. Col. Luper remained on course with the composite group and bombed what was believed to be the primary target. The Group encountered heavy flak and fighter attacks. Captain Jack Hotaling, the Group’s Gunnery Officer, flying as tail gunner in Col. Luper’s bomber, was credited with destroying an FW-190.
Major Theodore C. Hoffman, Deputy Leader, attached to another wing and went to Merseburg. Captain Leroy Watson joined a formation that bombed Bernberg.
Lead crew Lt. Edward M. Bender, Col. James Luper, Lt. Earl E. Woodard, Lt. Edwin K. Fuller, Sgt. James L. Free, Sgt. Jack Hotalong, Sgt. Laymon M. Mahon, Sgt. William Hammersley, Sgt. Thomas Leahy, Sgt. Michael Woyurk
(Compiler’s Note: In addition to the Boeing Aircraft Company, the Douglas Aircraft Company and the Lockheed Aircraft Company also manufactured B-17s during the war.)