390th Group B-17 Flying Fortresses Strike Bois-Colombes

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 390th Bomb Group, 13th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force, unload 500-pound (227-kilogram) general purpose bombs on the Hispano-Suiza engine plant and the Compagnie d'Applications Mécaniques (CAM) ball bearing factory in Bois Colombes outside of Paris. Other B-17s attacked the CAM factory in Ivry-Sur-Seine in Southeast Paris. 120 of 125 B-17's hit the industrial areas at 1207-1227 hours; one B-17 was lost, one damaged beyond repair and 49 damaged; casualties are two Wounded in Action and ten Missing in Action. These missions are escorted by 74 P-38's, 441 P-47's and 33 Ninth Air Force P-51's; they claim nine Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed, one probable and one damaged; one P-38, two P-47's and one P-51 are lost; one P-38 and six P-47's are damaged beyond repair and one P-38 is damaged; casualties are three Wounded in Action and two Missing in Action. CAM and Hispano-Suiza were forced into producing equipment for the Luftwaffe. The engine factory at Bois Colombes was converted from making car engines to aircraft engines and first bombed on September 15, 1943. This knocked out the metal hardening facility and all the bearings were shipped to Ivry for finishing. After the attack in this photo, the ball bearing production was moved to mushroom caves near Taverny at great effort and expense. Casings for the Hispano-Suiza engines had to be shipped from the Pyrenees, difficult with the wrecked transport system leading up to Operation Overlord. When Paris is liberated in August 1944, cases of finished engines are found at the Hispano-Suiza plant. There was no transportation to take them to the Luftwaffe.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives
Date Photographed: 
Friday, December 31, 1943
Region Parisienne