Cutting Off Nazi Oil Production – The Incredibly Costly Ploiesti Mission – Pictures

 
 
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In the midst of WW2, on August 1, 1943, the Ploiesti Oil Raid took place over Romania. It was a USAAF Operation with the codename “Tidal Wave.” The American planes attacked the Romanian refineries from bases in Italy and Libya, North Africa.

The city of Ploiesti represented a major part of Romanian oil production. At the time, Romania’s oil production was nearly unrivalled in Europe – and the oil was all supporting the Axis powers, Romania being an ally of Nazi Germany. In all, the Romanian refineries in Ploiesti represented a full 30% of Axis oil requirements. Unfortunately, because the refineries had already been operating at reduced capacity, the costly raids actually made little difference to overall production.

And the mission was costly. A huge fleet of 178 B-24 bombers took off for the mission, but only 88 returned to the bases in Libya.

On the Allied side, more than three hundred men died in the operation. Many were also captured. After the raid, the refineries were repaired and upgraded, and within a few weeks were actually producing more than before.

It was the second-worst loss ever suffered by the USAAF on a single mission and its date was later referred to as “Black Sunday”. Five Medals of Honor and numerous Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to “Operation Tidal Wave” crew members.

The raid has gone down in USAAF history as “Black Sunday.” Indeed, it is the second-most costly mission in USAAF history. Many Distinguished Service Crosses and five Medals of Honor were awarded to those who took part in the mission.

It’s not surprising that this mission was considered a tactical failure by the Allies in WW2. We have collected 22 pictures which will give you a greater insight into this tragic day for the USAAF.

Consolidated B-24D-55-CO Liberator 42-40402, “The Sandman,” ready for take off at its base in Libya, destination Ploesti, Romania, 1 August 1943. [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Consolidated B-24D-55-CO Liberator 42-40402, “The Sandman,” ready to take off at its base in Libya. Destination Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943.
Bombers B-24 "Liberator» (Consolidated B-24 Liberator) 98th American bomber group in the Libyan airport of Benghazi [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Bombers B-24 “Liberator” of the 98th American Bomber Group at the Benghazi airport in Libya
 Consolidated B-24D-155-CO Liberator 42-72772 and flight cross the Mediterranean Sea at very low level, 1 August 1943. A gunner stands in the waist position. The bomber’s belly turret is retracted. [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Consolidated B-24D-155-CO Liberator 42-72772 and flight cross the Mediterranean Sea at very low level. A gunner stands in the waist position. The bomber’s belly turret is retracted. 1 August 1943
Approximate bomber route for Operation Tidal Wave, the low level bombing raid on the oil fields around Ploesti, Romania, Aug 1 1943 [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Approximate bomber route for Operation Tidal Wave, the low-level bombing raid on the oil fields around Ploiesti, Romania, Aug 1st 1943

Reconnaissance photo of the two primary oil refineries in Ploesti Romania taken in preparation of the low level B-24 Liberator bomber attack of Aug 1 1943 [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Reconnaissance photo of the two primary oil refineries in Ploiesti Romania taken in preparation of the low-level B-24 Liberator bomber attack of Aug 1 ,1943
Ploiesti, Flak und abgeschossener Bomber, 1943 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J15363 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 / Wikipedia]
German FlaK, the weapon that took down many American bombers that day. 1943. Photo Credit
Map of the refineries in the immediate vicinity Ploieştis 1940[Von NordNordWest - Eigenes Werk CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikipedia]
Map of the refineries in the immediate vicinity of Ploiesti in 1940. Photo Credit
A B-24 flying over a burning oil refinery at Ploesti, Rumania, 1 August 1943 [Wikipedia / Public Domain]
A B-24 flying over a burning oil refinery at Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943
American heavy bomber Consolidated B-24 Liberator in the raid on the refinery of Ploiesti [Wikipedia / Public Domain]
American heavy bombers –  Consolidated B-24 Liberator – in the raid on the refinery
Smoke rises from the Astra Romana refinery in Ploesti Romania following low level bombing attack by B-24 Liberators, Aug 1 1943 [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Smoke rises from the “Astra Romana” refinery in Ploiesti after low-level bombing attacks of B-24 Liberators. 1 August 1943
Oil storage tanks at the Columbia Aquila refinery burning after the raid of B-24 Liberator bombers of the United States Army Air Force. Some of the structures have been camouflaged. Ploesti, Romania. August 1, 1943 [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Oil storage tanks at the “Columbia Aquila” refinery burning after the raid of B-24 Liberator bombers of the United States Army Air Force. Some of the structures have been camouflaged. Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943
Thirty-one American bomber B-24 "Liberator" in the approach to targets in Ploiesti [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
31 American bombers B-24 “Liberator” approach to their targets in Ploiesti
B-24 Liberator during low level attack of the Ploesti oil refineries, Ploesti Romania, Aug 1 1943 [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
B-24 Liberator during a low-level attack of the Ploesti oil refineries, Romania. 1 August 1943

One of the most famous images of World War II shows "The Sandman", piloted by Robert Sternfels, as it emerges from a pall of smoke during the Operation Tidal Wave [Wikipedia / Public Domain]
One of the most famous images of World War II shows “The Sandman”, piloted by Robert Sternfels, as it emerges from a pall of smoke during the “Operation Tidal Wave”
B-24 Liberator on Ploesti Raid [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
B-24 Liberator on Ploiesti Raid
U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 bombers clearing a target at Ploesti, Romania, 1 August 1943. [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 bombers clearing a target at Ploiesti, Romania. 1 August 1943.
A pair of American B-24 "Liberator" in flight over Ploesti on a background of fire [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
A pair of American B-24 “Liberator” in flight over Ploiesti on a background of fire
2nd wave of B-24 Liberators approach the Ploesti oil refineries, Ploesti Romania, Aug 1 1943. 14 B-24s can be seen in this image [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
2nd wave of B-24 Liberators approach the Ploiesti oil refineries, Romania. 14 B-24s can be seen in this image. 1 August 1943
Bombers B-24 in flight on the Romanian oil fields at Ploesti. In the foreground - the plane B-24 «Joisey Bounce» from the 93rd Bomb Group 8th Air US Army. The aircraft will be lost during a raid on the German city of Bremen 13 November 1943 [Via]
Bombers B-24 in flight over the Romanian oil fields at Ploiesti. In the foreground – the plane B-24 “Joisey Bounce” from the 93rd Bomb Group 8th Air US Army. The aircraft will be lost during a raid on the German city of Bremen on 13 November 1943. Photo Credit
Columbia Aquila refinery after the bombing, with bomb craters, largely intact [Wikipedia / Public Domain]
Columbia Aquila refinery after the bombing, with bomb craters, largely intact
Damaged empennage bomber B-24 "Daisy Mae» (Consolidated B-24D-CO Liberator «Daisy Mae», serial number 41-11815) 415 Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group after the American raid on Ploesti [U.S. Air Force / Public Domain]
Damaged empennage bomber B-24 “Daisy Mae” (Consolidated B-24D-CO Liberator, serial number 41-11815) 415th Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group after the American raid on Ploiesti
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTg3BygTi2M

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