392nd Bomb Group Missions Introduction
This section of the 392nd's history provides details on each of the 285 combat missions and 6 diversions flown by Group personnel. Starting 1 January 1944, the 392nd began compiling and submitting monthly Squadron and Group histories in compliance with USAAF requirements. Information about efforts flown in 1943 is not as complete as for those that would follow, but the following is known:
During these first missions, combat losses were heavy indeed. During the 21 combat operations flown in 1943, a total of 20 aircraft were lost. Of the original 35 aircrews assigned, only 18 remained on December 31, an attrition rate of almost fifty percent. On 1 July 1943 (during stateside training), there were 85 pilots and copilots assigned to the unit. A short six months later, only 35 remained. Of the 50-pilot cadre lost by the 392nd, 19 had been transferred to other units, 29 were missing-in-action (MIA), and 2 had been killed in a crash during training. By December 31, 1943, replenishment aircrews had been assigned which brought the total number of crews to 66.
By the time the war ended, approximately 4,000 men had flown combat operations for the 392nd. They were supported by nearly 3,000 ground personnel whose outstanding efforts-sometimes unsung but always noticed and appreciated-enabled the Liberators and their crews to achieve the Group's commendable results in World War II.
Reliable estimates are that nearly 21 percent of the 392nd's combat airmen lost their lives, another 11 percent became prisoners of war, and 2 percent were interned in neutral countries.
The mission information that follows was obtained from many sources including the two books written by 392nd pilot Colonel Robert E. Vickers, Jr.--"Remembrance of the Missing" and "The Liberators from Wendling"; the 392nd's historical records and tactical mission folders; The National Archives in Washington D.C.; 392nd Bomb Group veterans; and files and data from numerous other sources including researchers in Europe.
Greatest Losses On One Mission
These 15 missions accounted for more than half of the Group's total losses throughout the entire War.