TARGET: OIL STORAGE AND REFINERIES
Ploesti was the center of the great Rumanian oil fields,
which were capable of producing seven million tons of oil a
year. Rumanian oil was vital to Germany’s war effort and
Hitler spared nothing in his protection of Ploesti. In June
1940, the implied threat of Soviet seizures in Bessarabia and
Bulkovina was met by a build-up both of German forces in
nearby Poland and Hitler’s mistrust of Stalin.
The German invasion of Russia was in part prompted by the
need to secure oil supplies, and after 1941 the Ploesti oil-
fields were strongly defended in the face of repeated Allied
In June 1942, a B-24 Liberator Wing became involved in a
very specialized period of training. Combat crews had no
idea what ultimate target they were training for, but it was
obvious that it had nothing to do with high altitude
The big ships were sent roaring across the countryside in
tight formation at tree top level. Low-altitude bomb sights
were installed. Armament modifications, designed to in-
crease firepower forward, were speeded up. The Liberator
men, pleased with their new hair-raising tactics, speculated
as to the nature of their next assignment.
The answer came 1350 miles later as the bomber flies. The
B-24s landed in Africa, became associated with the Ninth
Air Force and announcement was made to the combat crews
that Rumanian oil facilities would be their prime target...
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