A Tribute To The 15th Air Force In Italy

"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

Genoa, Italy Area

Bomb strikes on Genoa, Italy area from 22,000 ft.

Bombs Away

Bomb strike on unknown area in Eastern Europe

Strike on Verona

Strike on Verona railroad marshaling yards from about 25000 ft.

Ploesti strike

Ploesti oil fields from 23,900 ft. Smoke pots being used for defense.

Ploesti

Ploesti oil fields from about 23000 ft.

Verona, Italy

Verona, Italy marshaling yards from about 25,500 ft.

Stardust

Stardust wound up being used for ground training after becoming too worn out to fly.

Broken nose wheel

"Dry Run" breaks a nose wheel.

Munich raid

Bombs away near Munich in 1944. Flak bursts all around.

Engine work

Engine repair at Grottaglie.

Unknown B24

Unknown B-24 from 449th.

Crew 28

Crew 28 with Chester Lang in front row kneeling, second from left.

Hap greets staff

Hap Arnold visits base.

Flak damage

Flak took off the top on one 449th mission.

Chet with the Dragon

Chet Lang with the Collings Foundation's B-24 "Dragon and his Tail".

Flak over Alps

Flak bursts high over the Alps. Must have been getting close to the target.

Double Trouble

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

Crew quarters on base at Grottaglie, Italy.