This image is the cover for the book Kassel Raid, 27 September 1944

Kassel Raid, 27 September 1944

An account of the 445th Heavy Bombardment Group raid that resulted in the greatest single-day loss to a group from one airfield in aviation warfare history. 

On Thursday, 28 September 1944, a force of 283 Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers from the USAAF’s 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing, took off from their bases in Britain and headed out across the North Sea escorted by 198 P-51 Mustang fighters. The bombers’ target was the industrial city of Kassel in northern Germany—specifically the engineering works of Henschel & Sohn which built Tiger and Panther tanks.

Due to a navigational error, the lead Liberator of the 445th Heavy Bombardment Group turned due east instead of east-south-east and the following thirty-five bombers missed Kassel altogether, attacking an alternative target. But the worst was to come. The change of direction meant that the bombers lost their escorting Mustangs and on the return flight they were pounced on by 150 enemy fighters—and massacred. Twenty-five of the Liberators were shot down inside Germany itself; three crashed en route to the coast (two in France and one in Belgium); two made forced landings at an emergency airfield in England; and the last came to grief within sight of home. Just four of the original thirty-five B-24s landed safely back at Tibenham.

In this highly moving account of the Kassel raid, the author, who lives close to the Tibenham airfield, uncovers the painful details of those terrible moments in September 1944 through the stories of those who survived one of the Second World War’s most disastrous operations in the USAAF’s battle against the Luftwaffe.

Eric Ratcliffe

Born in the North of England, at an early age ERIC RATCLIFFE moved with his parents to Norfolk, where he still resides. His love of flying began in 1975, when, aged 28, he first tasted gliding. Eric continues flying both gliders and powered aircraft to this day. It was his involvement with the Norfolk Gliding Club, and their home airfield at the ex-USAAF base at Tibenham, which aroused his interest in the Second World War, vintage aircraft, and the aircrew who flew them. Retiring from his engineering business seven years ago, Eric found the time to research the Kassel mission, whilst still acting as a tour guide of wartime battlefields and air bases in UK, France, and Germany.

Air World