416th Bomb Group "early" Missions Target References questions

Discussion in 'Light & Medium Bombers' started by Rick Prucha, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. Rick Prucha

    Rick Prucha New Member

    I manage the 416th Bomb Group Archive website (http://416th.com/) and have some questions regarding Mission Target References.

    First, let me express my sincere appreciation to Rolland (RSwank) for his recent email to the 416th BG Archive inquiring about target references of the form "4901W/E/1", which prompted me to dig deeper into all the 416th BG missions. I also want to thank David who provided an email response to Rolland's question and everyone who provided input in the fascinating "Target numbering question" Forum topic (http://forum.armyairforces.com/threads/target-numbering-question.1133/). I have gained quite a bit of new insight over the past two weeks, and now know target references of the form "4901W/E/1" are from the Tactical Target Dossiers as well as now understand the "structure" of these values.

    However, upon re-reviewing mission documents (graciously provided by AFHRA) for many early 416th BG missions, I find Target references of a slightly different form. I will use Mission #17 as my example to describe what I think I understand, as well as providing examples for my questions. Note there are actually two separate NOBALL targets for this mission - One Box of aircraft to attack a NOBALL near Yvrench/Bois Carre, France, another Box to attack a NOBALL near Petit Bois Tillencourt, France.

    The mission documents include various Target References, including:

    "XI/A/39 - Yvrench Bois Carre
    XI/A/62 - Petite Bois Tillencourt"

    "(1) TARGET: Z-3028 - 1 BOX
    Z-3140 - 1 BOX"

    "(3) M.P.I.: ILLUSTRATION A/39/6, REFER 027039 - 1 BOX
    A/62/1, REFER 017015 - 1 BOX"

    Here are image extracts from mission documents showing these references. Note the Field Order incorrectly has the Group labeled as "C. 418TH GROUP:", this should read "C. 416TH GROUP:".



    Fortunately, this particular mission happened to include mosaics of some strike photos that also include the actual "Illustration" page - Full page image and cropped image of "Illustration" page are below). I know my "Illustration" page image is very poor quality, but if I squint really hard I believe I can read along the top: "Target No. XI/A/39", "NOBALL TARGET "A" [rest unreadable]", "YVRENCH BOIS CARRE (FRANCE)", and "Illustration No. [?] A/39/6". However, I am not sure what else is printed on the image.



    Here is what I surmise, please correct or confirm as appropriate:

    I suspect references such as "XI/A/39" can be broken into two components:
    "XI" - Identifies NOBALL target types
    "A/39" - Equates to the first part of the Illustration Number

    Next, I suspect references like "ILLUSTRATION A/39/6, REFER 027039" identify a specific Illustration Number document via the "A/39/6" component with "6" being the sixth document of the "A/39" series, and the six-digit number (e.g. "027039") identifies the X and Y Grid Coordinates location on that specific Illustration (first 3 digits is the X Grid Coordinate and the last 3 digits the Y).

    Now for my questions:

    Do any of these Target References have specific "titles", such as the "Tactical Target Dossier Objective Number" title for "4901W/E/1"?

    What do references like "Z-3028" and "Z-3140" represent? Is there any significance to the "structure" of these codes/references? Are there documents analogous to "Tactical Target Dossiers" with information on these references? I originally suspected these might be "RAF Bomber Command Coded Target Identities", but am not so sure. A posting at URL "http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?14257-RAF-Bomber-Command-Target-Number-Refs" notes '"Z" indicated Aerodromes'. However, of the nearly 70 416th BG missions that have similar "Z" references, only 19 are Airdromes/Airfields, the rest are primarily NOBALL or Marshalling Yards target types. A few examples from other missions include "Z659", "Z3031A", "ZB115D".

    Are there documents similar to the "Tactical Target Dossiers" having information on the "Illustration Number" codes like "A/39/6"? Do the "A/" and/or "39" components have any significance? For NOBALL missions, all of these codes are "A/" followed by numbers between 37 and 99. As I noted above, I suspect the "6" component is the sixth document of the "A/39" series.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    Rick Prucha
    Director/Webmaster, 416th Bomb Group Archive
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  2. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

  3. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    There is a very long thread here (17 pages): https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=83&t=93265
    Many interesting links (of course many dead, but possibly worth exploring the live ones).
    There are google maps with many sites marked, etc. etc. I have not explored all the links yet, but a few I have followed were interesting.

    So...... As I understand things (I may be wrong on this) but Operation Crossbow was run as separate "organization" from the normal targeting group we saw with the "tactical books" and the "4901W/E/1" style co-ordinates. The Crossbow unit developed their own lists which were only for the "V" sites and they used their own system for designating targets.

    What I found that may help is this (mentioned on the 16th page of the above thread and available for a fee):

    Has anyone seen the Crossbow material mentioned above? Is so, does it get into details on co-ordinates, etc?

    There is also a US report as part of the USSBS (United States Strategic Bombing Survey). Search for Crossbow on this page.


    That report (no. 60. V-Weapons (Crossbow) Campaign, 1947. 52 p. ) may be online somewhere, but at 52 pages long it may not get into a lot of details.

    There are interesting "summaries" on Crossbow from the US side here:


    And British side here:
    http://www.allworldwars.com/V-Weapons Crossbow Campaign.html
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
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  4. Rick Prucha

    Rick Prucha New Member

    Thanks for the early responses.


    I appreciate the hyperlink. In the past I have found several http://www.francecrashes39-45.net pages for 416th BG MACRs and have included links from our individual MACR/AAR pages (example: http://www.416th.com/MACR_AAR/19440527_43-10206_MACR-5032_Gullion.html), but I need to search this site again as I just discovered a page I did not find before.

    However, when I viewed this site, I did not find information on the Target References I am researching - Did I miss something on this website that may have some answers?


    Thanks to you as well for the suggestions/links, unfortunately, I have not had a chance to research these yet.

    You noted "report (no. 60. V-Weapons (Crossbow) Campaign, 1947. 52 p. ) may be online somewhere" - is your "http://www.allworldwars.com/V-Weapons Crossbow Campaign.html" link this report?
  5. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    USSBS Summary of reports http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/USSBS/ (in a different format than offered by the Library of Congress). As yet I have not found a digital online copy of; Military Analysis Division: 060 V-Weapons (Crossbow) Campaign. Given the magnitude of Operation Crossbow, as Rolland suggested earlier at 52 pages in length it could not be very detailed, hardly worth time searching for this particular document.
  6. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

    Rick at Yvrench --Bois-Carre was a V-1 Flying Bomb site.

  7. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    Rick, no my link http://www.allworldwars.com/V-Weapons is not the report #60 (52 page) Crossbow report. It appears to only a short summary. I can find the report, on microfilm, in a few places but that does not really help at the moment.
  8. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member


    Attached Files:

  9. Rick Prucha

    Rick Prucha New Member

    Thanks very much for all the information to-date. I have reviewed the suggested links (at a high level for some, more detailed level for others) and have gotten a lot of helpful information on V1/V2 Flying Bombs and Operation Crossbow, including site lists and some coordinates.

    However, I did not notice specifics related to my original questions, so I am still open to avenues to explorer.

    In an earlier reply, Rolland included URL "http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C302880" which is the link to the "CROSSBOW sites: reports V1, V2 ,V3" (Reference: DEFE 40/13) documents ("With maps, plans and photographs, 1943-1945") held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, England. Has anyone seen these documents and if so, do they contain photographs similar to my "Illustration No. A/39/6" image from my initial post?
  10. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

  11. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    Rick, I read through a couple of time this link I gave earlier http://www.allworldwars.com/V-Weapons Crossbow Campaign.html
    I am going to change my mind and say that might well be the 52 page report #60 V-Weapons (Crossbow) Campaign, 1947.
    Right at the top of the first page, somewhat buried in the top photo is says:

    The United States Strategic Bombing Survey

    If the report were typed out with the charts it could well be about 52 pages long. It makes reference to the Military Analysis Division (MAD) in some of the charts which was the other group responsible for the original report as best I can determine.

    All the references date to before 1947. So that report may have been right in front of us the whole time.

    Another place to post the question about whether anyone has seen the British material: "http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C302880"
    would be on the website forum.12oclockhigh.net in the Allied and Soviet forces section. I think there may be more European members of that forum.
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  12. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

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  13. Mutley

    Mutley Member

    If you are looking for V weapons sites the best book I have found is "Hitler's V-Weapons Sites" by Philip Henshall, with Sutton Publishing (C)2002. It lists every site, and goes into some detail about some of them.
    I use this in my research quite often. It doesn't cover the individual target identifiers used by the Air Forces, but it can help with finding the places mentioned by name and location!
    B-26 Marauder Historian and B26 MHS director
  14. Rick Prucha

    Rick Prucha New Member

    I want to thank everyone for all their help and suggestions, and follow-up with my findings to date.

    I have not completely re-reviewed all 285 416th Bomb Group (BG) Combat Missions yet, but the following is a summary of what I have discovered.

    416th BG Mission "Target Numbers"

    416th BG NOBALL Mission Target Numbers beginning with "XI/A/" ("XI/E" for Mission #90) followed by a number are Allied Central Interpretation Unit (ACIU) Plan No. R/41 V-weapon site identifiers. A List (Table 6, p. x to xi) and Map (p. 192) are available in Henshall, Philip. "Hitler's V-weapon sites". Stroud: Sutton, 2002. Print. ISBN: 0750926074.

    NOBALL was a code word for German V1 launch sites. The V1 (flying bomb or pilotless aircraft) was one of the four primary German V-weapons ("Vengeance Weapons"), the others being the V2 long range rocket, Rheinbote ("Rh", "Rhine Messenger") solid-fuel rocket and Hochdruckpumpe ("HDP", "High Pressure Pump") Super-Gun (Henshall, 2002).

    V1 launch sites were also referred to as "Ski-sites" due to long, narrow buildings with one end curved which "resembled giant skis laid on their sides" (Henshall, 2002 p. 27). V1 weapons were also nick-named "Doodlebug" or "Buzz Bomb". According to URL "http://www.allworldwars.com/V-Weapons Crossbow Campaign.html" the Allied "code word "Crossbow" was used throughout the period of planning and operations as a convenient term for any matters relating to the attack on England by long range weapons, including all counter-measures against such attacks." German Air Ministry ("Reichs LuftMinisterium" (RLM)) V1 codenames were "Flakzielgerat 76" (Flak target equipment) and "Kirschkern" (cherry stone) (Henshall, 2002 p. 1).

    URL "https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1KztEHnhAks2eFxdrI3j3bRMMByY" provides a map showing many V1 sites.

    The 416th BG flew 31 NOBALL Missions (all against targets in France) between 18-Mar-1944 and 5-Jul-1944, the first Mission #5 and last Mission #90.

    There are an additional 23 416th BG Missions having Target Numbers begin with "S", usually followed by a period (sometimes a space), followed by 3 or 4-digit numbers. I am not sure the specific source for these Target Numbers, but presume a similar source to the NOBALL Target Numbers.

    Of these 23 416th BG Missions (Missions #29 to #68, flown between 26-Apr-1944 and 6-Jun-1944) identified using these "S" style Target Numbers, 14 were Airdromes/Airfields (all in France) and 9 were Marshalling Yards (4 in Belgium, 5 in France).

    416th BG Mission "Field Order Target" identifiers

    416th BG Mission Field Order Target identifiers beginning with "Z" are referred to as Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command (BC) "Target Operational Numbers", probably assigned in RAF BC target books (http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?19491-V1-Ski-Sites-and-codes).

    Example: Z-3115 - Mission #10, Bois des Huit Rues, France, NOBALL (XI/A/73), 10-Apr-1944

    Most 416th BG Missions from March thru May, 1944 used the RAF Bomber Command "Target Operational Numbers" style Field Order Target identifiers. There were 64 416th BG Missions (First: #1, Last: #90) flown from 3-Mar-1944 to 5-Jul-1944 having these "Z" style identifiers.

    As I noted in my original posting, I do not believe these "Z" numbers refer specifically to Aerodrome target types as the 416th missions with this style identifier include Airdromes/Airfields, NOBALL, Marshalling Yards, and others.

    416th BG Mission Field Order Target identifiers such as "4802W/H/4" are British Air Ministry "Tactical Target Dossier" identifiers (https://catalog.archives.gov/id/561240).

    Example: 4802W/H/4 - Mission #95, Rennes, France, Fuel Dump, 8-Jul-1944

    Most 416th BG Missions from June thru August, 1944 used the "Tactical Target Dossier" style Field Order Target identifiers. The 416th BG flew 59 Missions (First: #11, Last: #178) from 10-Apr-1944 to 27-Dec-1944 which were identified using this style.

    Based on information posted by "Daniel" in http://forum.armyairforces.com/threads/target-numbering-question.1133 and personal emails, I understand this style identifier to be constructed via the following components:
    "4802W" refers to the 1 degree Latitude by 1 degree Longitude geographical area having south-west corner of 48 degrees North Latitude and 2 degrees West ("W") Longitude.
    "H" is a target category ("H" = "Fuel Dumps").
    "4" the fourth target of the "H" category within the "4802W" geographical area.

    416th BG Mission Field Order Target identifiers beginning with one or two letters, followed by a 6-digit number are "Modified British System" map reference/coordinate codes and are well described at URL http://echodelta.net/mbs/eng-overview.php.

    Example: M-448160 - Mission #239, Worms, Germany, Communications Center, 18-Mar-1945

    Most 416th BG Missions from September, 1944 to the end of the war (May, 1945) used the "Modified British System" style Field Order Target identifiers. The 416th BG flew 137 Missions (First: #70, Last: #285) between 7-Jun-1944 and 3-May-1945 identified using this style.

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