Operation Tidal Wave

Posted in: World War II
Written on 1st August 2011 11:15am
Operation Tidal Wave: Bombing Oil Refineries in Romania

68 years ago one of the most impressive air raids of World War II was conducted...

Operation Tidal Wave was an airbourne attack on conducted by the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) on nine oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania.


The purspose of the attck was to destroy the oil refineries which at that time supplied Axis with about a third of their oil supplies.


The attack begun in the early hours of 1st August 1943 177 B-24 Liberators departed from Benghazi in Libya.


Even before they reached Ploesti 1 aircraft had been lost, and 11 others landed safely at a friendly airport as they could not gain enough altitlude to climb over the Pindus mountains. These abandonments linked with a forced complete radio silence caused the remaining aircraft to break formation. 


Operation Tidal Wave B-24 liberators bombing Ploesti

Another costly mistake was made en-route. The 376th and 93rd Bombardment group made a navigational error and ended up flying over Bucharest, where the headquarters of Romainian air defences were located, this meant the defenders at Ploesti were alerted to the American's presence and all groups were subject to heavy anti-aircraft fire when they reached their targets.


Although there was some major confusion there was a lot of damege caused to the oil refineries, 42% of the refining capacity and 40% on the cracking capacity had been destroyed, however it was recovered within 6 months of the attack.


The total losses during this operation were 532 airmen killed or taken as POWs, 54 aircraft (41 lost in action). The aircraft that survived the attack landed in Malta, Cyprus, Sicily as well as in Turkey (a neutral country).


Every crew member in this operation received the DFC and five Medals of honour were awarded (three posthumous).

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