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The Grapefruit mission

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  • The Grapefruit mission

    On 28 May 1944, the 41st Bombardment Wing (303rd, 379th, and 384th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy)) made a unique attack on the city of Cologne. The three groups for the first time released 113 GB-1 "Grapefruit" glide bombs against the target. Released about 20 miles short of the city, the bombers turned away as the bombs fell in a shallow glide towards the city.
    The defending flak batteries opened fire on the incoming glide bombs with little success even as they claimed 90 "B-17's" shot down.
    Of the released bombs 42 impacted somewhere inside Cologne. The low success rate was chalked up by the USAAF to a lack of crew training with the weapon which required each plane to release the two bombs carried at a very specific rate of speed and altitude with the plane flying level. The problem here was the crews that had trained on the JB-1 at Elgin Field Florida had done so more than a year prior to the mission and most had been rotated out of theater, replaced by crews that had no training with this special weapon.
    At the same time, the JB-1 bombs had been delivered to England about a year earlier and had sat outside with only minimal maintenance.

    But, the mission is noteworthy for it being the first time a bomber formation used glide bombs in a mass attack on a target. For that reason it's worth pointing out.

    GB-1's in England



    A 303rd BG B-17 releases two GB-1 in training in the US

    bombs-glide.jpg

  • #2
    Hi Terry

    Thanks for posting.

    Something new about WW2 learnt today.

    After the relative failure, did the USAAF persevere with the GB1?

    Regards

    Andy H
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Andy H View Post
      Hi Terry

      Thanks for posting.

      Something new about WW2 learnt today.

      After the relative failure, did the USAAF persevere with the GB1?

      Regards

      Andy H
      Actually, yes they did. For example, the USAAF made 2000 of the GB-4 television guided glide bomb.



      But the control units for these weren't ready in the field until after VE day. They were going to be used in the invasion of Japan but the war ended before they could be deployed to the Pacific.

      Some small test missions with the GB-4 were run in Europe as Batty missions. The 388th BG would fly a single B-17 equipped with GB-4 and guidance per mission to test the bombs. Two B-17 (42-97518 and 42-40043) were modified to use the bombs. The planes were war weary and required considerable maintenance and were 'extra' to missions flown.
      It appears they dropped about a half dozen GB-4 and another half dozen CLOS GB-8's in combat missions

      One of the targets that was tested was trying to fly the glide bombs into the entries of U-boat and E-boat pens at Le Havre and elsewhere on the French coast.

      The US also modified GB-1's for testing infra-red homing, television guidance, radar control, and other methods to improve accuracy with usually indifferent results mostly due to the technology not being sufficiently developed.

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