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.