"The Flying Horsemen"
The 449th Bomb Group, a component of the 15th Air Force, operated from its base near Grottaglie, Italy from January 1944 to May 1945. The 449th flew 254 combat missions over Europe and Eastern Asia and was equipped with B-24 Liberator bombers. It was a typical heavy-bombardment group of the 15th Air Force and was composed of four Squadrons -- the 716th, 717th, 718th, and 719th.
Below are photographs provided by a 449th Flight Engineer from the 717th Squadron that were taken in 1944 to 1945. They include official bomb strike photographs of areas in Italy, Romania, Yugoslavia including the Ploesti oil refineries which were a frequent and dreaded target due to the flak intensity.
Thanks to the
for some aircraft information.
Click on each photo below to expand
Bomb strikes on Genoa, Italy area from 22,000 ft.
Bomb strike on unknown area in Eastern Europe
Strike on Verona railroad marshaling yards from about 25000 ft.
Ploesti oil fields from 23,900 ft. Smoke pots being used for defense.
Ploesti oil fields from about 23000 ft.
Verona, Italy marshaling yards from about 25,500 ft.
Stardust wound up being used for ground training after becoming too worn out to fly.
"Dry Run" breaks a nose wheel.
Bombs away near Munich in 1944. Flak bursts all around.
Engine repair at Grottaglie.
Unknown B-24 from 449th.
Crew 28 with Chester Lang in front row kneeling, second from left.
Hap Arnold visits base.
Flak took off the top on one 449th mission.
Chet Lang with the Collings Foundation's B-24 "Dragon and his Tail".
Flak bursts high over the Alps. Must have been getting close to the target.
A replacement aircraft named by Ludtke’s crew. The nose art, painted by R. Clark a communications technician, depicted two brunettes sitting back-to-back. “Double Trouble” crash landed in Russian occupied territory in Hungary on 22 March ‘45 with Wykle’s crew aboard after bombing Spittal, Hungary. Ten RTD. MACR 13262. On 23 June ’45, an American officer of the Allied Military Mission reported seeing “Double Trouble” under Hungarian guard, at the end of a runway, two engines still feathered and the right landing gear wheel flat – just as it was when abandoned by Wykle’s crew in March ’45.
Crew quarters on base at Grottaglie, Italy.