| John A.
327th Bombardment Squadron, 92nd Bomb Group
This is a short profile of my experiences in the
RAF and the USAAF during WW2. Also this picture was taken about
the time in 1943 when I was leaving the RAF to joined the 8th USAAF
I grew up in Southern California, USA. In 1941
I joined the British RAF and flew A-20 attack bombers in North Africa
against the "Desert Fox" Nazi Gen Rommel. My assignment
was to bust tanks, armored vehicles and other ground targets. After
being wounded I was sent back to England to recuperate.
In 1943 I joined the 8th USAAF and flew B-17 Flying
Fortresses with the 92 Bombardment Group for 44 combat missions
as a ball turret gunner , flight engineer and bombardier. I was
not yet comissioned so was denied a pilot position. Later I recieve
a comission and transitioned to fighter aircraft.
My most memorable combat mission was to Schweinfurt,
Germany on 14 Oct ,1943. We lost sixty B-17s near and over the target.
We were opposed by about 700 enemy fighters and other a/c. Apparently
our plans were leaked and the Germans brought up additional fighter
from the Russian front.
The NAZI found out we were
coming and collected over 700 fighter aircraft from all over Germany
including the Russia front to meet us. The white smoke you
see at the lower left corner of the picture is coming from generators
on the ground in an attempt to block our view of Schweinfurt.
The black object you see
on the left hand side of the picture is the barrel of a .50 cal.
machine gun. The B-17 carried 13 such guns. By the way the
German guns were the 80mm canon with a range of about 25000 ft altitude.
Survival rate for aircrew
for 1943 was 20 persent. We lost sixty B-17 Flying Fortress That
The 14th of Oct celebrates the 1943 8th Air Force
mission to Schweinfurt, Germany. Military historians label this
mission as "The most Savage Air Battle
ever fought." The mission is commonly known as "Black
Thursday". Some 120 B-17's were lost for various causes. 60
were shot down by either enemy fighters or flak. We were met by
about 700 enemy fighter aircraft which had been called up from all
fronts in Europe, including Russia. Nearly 1500 aircrew were killed
or missing in action. Another 40 made it safely to the ground and
became POW's or were killed by civilians upon reaching the ground.
Schweinfurt was the center of Germany's ball bearing
industry. Destruction was critical since production of the Nazi
war machine depended on ball bearings for most weapons from tanks
to submarines. Success of this mission (mission 115) is now considered
the pivotal point of the war in Europe. (i.e. advantage swung to
our favor) It demonstrated that our capability to bomb any target
in Europe in force.
John A. Piazza
The 8th Airforce patch where John flew in 1943.
This is a patch for the 327th Bombardment Squadron,
92nd Bomb Group. The patch is worn on the left side of a flight
jacket. The patch depicts a prehistoric cave man (Ollie OOP) ridding
on a dinosaur (Denny) and charging into battle with a bomb in hand.
This was taken in early 1944.
This is me standing in front of our combat
quarters (billits) ready to go on a raid over Germany in 1943.
I was about 20 years old at the time.
This is a rare picture taken over Schweinfurt
0n 14 October 1943.