Analysis Notes on WHITE IV Attack

Only 56 bombs out of 260 (22%) carried to target WHITE IV actually fell on the target, which was attacked by part of the 93rd Bomb Group before the assigned 98th Bomb Group arrived.

I just completed the analysis of this situation, which is quite important to the story of TIDAL WAVE results. We need to know WHY only 56 bombs fell on the WHITE IV when it was the most important target in Romania and the 98th Bomb Group sent the largest TW target force to attack that specific group of refineries.

Ah, but wait! How do we know only 56 bombs fell on WHITE IV out of the 260 bombs carried to that target area? How do we know how many bombs were carried to the target area? The crews reported serious strikes on the target in their Sortie Reports. The target was burning fiercely both before and after the 98th arrived in the area. What the hell really happened?

Let’s lay this out in highly abbreviated form. Facts have no opinion, they only record what happened.

About the WHITE IV refinery target system, which consisted of the Astra Romana, Phoenix Orion, and Lumina refineries:

  • Astra Romana was the largest refinery in Romania and produced by far the most petroleum products for the Axis war effort. This information comes from Allied intelligence assessments, the American and British engineering companies that actually built the refinery, and confirmed by Romanian documents recovered in August 1944 when the Soviets captured Romania.
  • The two other refineries in the WHITE IV target, Phoenix Orion and Lumina, were tiny in comparison but lay right next to Astra, so including them was obvious. (Same reference sources as above.)

About the attack force and bombing results:

  • WHITE IV was allocated the largest number of aircraft in the entire TIDAL WAVE force. Since TIDAL WAVE was a Ninth Air Force operation conducted by the IX Bomber Command, whose headquarters considered the 376th Bomb Group and the 98th Bomb Group to be the most experienced bombing outfits in the entire Army Air Forces, the two positions of honor were reserved for them. The 376th was to lead the entire attack, and the 98th assigned the largest and most important target. This information comes from a multitude of planning documents, operational reports, crew Sortie Reports, etc., etc.
  • The 98th BG carried 208 high explosive (General Purpose) bombs to the general target area. This excludes the bombs carried on planes that aborted or otherwise failed to reach the target area. This data comes from the 98th’s Sortie Reports and crosschecked with the munitions loading charts.
  • The Romanian refineries were owned by commercial corporations, although the Romanian government controlled nearly every aspect of their operation by the time of TIDAL WAVE. The government required each refinery to report all damage after each air raid, and in fact to precisely plot the location of every single bomb strike (exploded or dud) on the refinery property after each attack. Once I found the Astra Romana bombfall plot diagram all I had to do was count the bomb strike plots. It was more difficult for the Phoenix Orion and Lumina refineries as apparently their 1 August 1943 bombfall plot maps did not survive the war. For those two tiny refineries I had to rely on three sources: the RAF MEIU (Middle East Interpretation Unit) analysis of refinery damage based on the 3 August reconnaissance flight over Ploesti, my own detailed analysis of the same recce photos, and the official Romanian reports on refinery damage. Counting bomb craters is not nearly as much fun as it sounds . . .
  • The 93rd Bomb Group carried 42 bombs over WHITE IV. This figure was extremely complex to analyze and the full range of sources and the analysis behind this must wait for another day.

The Astra refinery returned to full operation in less than three weeks. This was analyzed by MEIU, which assessed the Astra damage as minor based on the high altitude reconnaissance photos taken on 3 August 1943 and reaffirmed based on the 19 August 1943 recce photos. It is confirmed by multiple contemporary Romanian documents captured in August 1944.

If 80% of the bombs carried to the WHITE IV target area did not fall on the refinery, where did they go? It turns out contemporary Romanian documents tell where they landed—and that the Romanians expressed perplexity as to why the Americans bombed that area. I’ll reveal this in the documentary!

4 Responses to Analysis Notes on WHITE IV Attack

  1. John Foster says:

    My uncle flew the Kate Smith, in Killer Kanes group to White IV. I’m interested in your documentary. My uncles aircraft apparently took an 88 shell fwd and he jumped at 200 feet and lived. Captured by Germans and spent the remainder in officer prison camp ( I have number somewhere). His picture was taken in the camp and I have seen it in several of the Ploesti historical book. Look forward to seeing your documentary. Would like to order DVD when available.

    John Foster

    • DHK says:

      Hi John

      I just discovered that my website stopped sending me alerts that somebody has posted a comment. Your interesting note from four months ago (!) has unfortunately fallen into that category, for that I apologize–I have no idea why my alerts stopped. Please be assured that my lack of response does not indicate a lack of interest!

      What is your uncle’s name? What crew position did he hold? With the old A-4 chest parachute he’s extraordinarily lucky for the canopy to have inflated inside 200′. God was looking over him that day! It must have blossomed just prior to his touching down–glad he made it OK.

      Was your uncle in the Romanian POW camp, or was he transferred to Germany? No researcher has so far uncovered information on any TIDAL WAVE POWs being taken to Germany, so if he was sent this will be a revelation. Gen Antonescu, the Romanian leader, was extremely firm with the Germans that these Americans attacked Romania, not Germany, and therefore were his prisoners and his responsibility.

      They had a similar argument over one of the B-24s the Romanians made flyable after the attack. The Germans demanded the Romanians turn it over to them but Antonescu refused. The documentation trail indicates the Romanians kept the aircraft and it never went to Germany. Of course by Oct-Nov 43 when the Romanians got the plane airworthy the B-24D was pretty long in the tooth and being replaced by the B-24H and soon the B-24J, so it’s unclear why the Germans were so insistent.

      Who’s crew was your uncle on? There’s quite a bit of contradictory information about whether “Kate Smith” actually flew the mission at all, so if you can shed light on this it will be quite helpful.

      Thanks for contacting me, and again I’m sorry I didn’t realize you’d reached out.


  2. Carl F Root Jr says:

    My father was the co-pilot on the “Sad Sack” in Killer Kane’s group

    • DHK says:

      Hi Carl

      Thanks for letting me know. Do you have any photos of your Dad or the plane?


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