The 388th flew over 300 missions during the war (July 17, 1943 to May 20, 1945). Most of these missions were flown in conjunction with other Bomb Groups of the 8th AirForce
306 combat missions were focused mainly on targets in France and Germany. However some of the missions went to Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The 388th also participated in the Aphrodite Project (19 Missions) which was a top secret project that employed remote controlled B-17's on suicide missions.
The 388th also flew humanitarian missions at the end of the war. 5 Chowhound missions airlifted food to starving Dutch in the Netherlands. 2 Revival missions transported emaciated French from Austria to France. A POW mission brought Allied POWs out of Germany and back to England.
Mission Index provides a list of the 314 combat missions of the 388th. More details on each mission are available by clicking on the link.
Mission Summary provides general data for each of the 314 combat missions in which the 388th participated. For each mission the
Mission Notes provides brief explanations of certain aspects of the missions.
Photos provides a list of the 388th missions for which we have mission map photos. These pages will let you scroll through the mission map photo collection.
Mission Details provide detailed mission information which includes a map, list of sorties flown and other items. These details are available by clicking on links in the Mission Summary and Mission Index pages.
Key Personnel Table - Each group contained key personnel. The group was led by a distinguished crew known as the lead crew in the lead plane (often times a Path Finder). The group leader usually sat in the lead plane's copilot seat. He was an experienced senior officer responsible for the group. The deputy group leader was usually the pilot of another aircraft that would assume the group lead position if necessary. The accuracy of the group's bombing was in the hands of the lead bombardier. Ordinarily the group dropped its bombs in unison when on the lead bombardier drop his bombs. The group key personnel are shown in a table on the mission page.
Aircraft Formation :
- During missions the aircraft were organized into groups of usually 18 planes (3 squadrons). The groups flew in a box formation with each plane having a specific position. This formation information is displayed graphically on its own page accessible via the View Aircraft Formation link on the Mission pages. The formation page shows the aircraft and crews in their formation and indicates which aircraft aborted or were lost.
Sortie Details provide details about each sortie (A sortie is defined as an aircraft flying on a mission) The sortie details include
aircraft serial number
aircraft mission number
aircraft position in formation
crew mission number
Every mission was memorable and involved its own unique set of stories of courage and tragedy. However some of the missions were remembered and talked about more than the others
First Mission :
The 388th started its war on 17 July 1943 with its first mission - a milk run to Amsterdam. Unfortunately for some citizens of Amsterdam, the aim was not very good. However Anne Frank could hear the bombing of this mission in her hideout and recorded it in her famous diary. The death of innocent civillians was terrible but it gave her hope of an eventual rescue of Amsterdam and the rest of Europe.
Black Monday :
Every mission was dangerous. The Stuttgart Mission on 6 September 1943 was disasterous. For the 388th this was the worst day and became known as Black Monday. 21 crews were sent and only 13 returned. All 6 aircraft of the 563rd were lost. This was Mission #19 (barely 2 months into the war for the 388th) and there were 287 more combat missions to go for the 388th.
Everyone knew that "The Invasion" would be soon and everyone was ready to get going with it. It was one of those moments that one knew was going to be momentous even before it happen and everyone wanted to be a part of it. The 388th's part was chosen to lead the entire 8th Air Force that day.
The visit to Poltava, Russia seemed like a good idea at the time. However before long the bombers were being bombed themselves. This was a nightmare come true for the 388th.