B-24Ds of the 415th Bomb
Squadron 98th Bomb Group
fly low over the oil refineries
at Ploeşti, Romania, on
August 1, 1943. (Photo
courtesy of Jack Cook)
The Romanian oil refineries around Ploieşti
remain one of the best-known targets of the
European air war. The daring low-level B- 24 raid
in August 1943 receives nearly all the attention,
but it accomplished relatively little while writing
off some 60 Liberators.
Far more successful—and even more costly—
was the four-month campaign waged by the
15th Air Force in the spring and summer of 1944.
Once freed by the air chiefs to concentrate on
petroleum rather than transport targets, Maj.
Gen. Nathan Twining’s bombers pounded the
Romanian complex in a series of attacks that
reduced Ploieşti’s oil output to about 10 percent
of the previous production.
Twining’s five bomb wings (four B- 24, one
B- 17) pursued a vigorous restrike policy. By then,
experience had shown that few objectives were
destroyed in one blow. Furthermore, oil refineries
were porous targets with considerable open space
inside the perimeter. But when Soviet forces
occupied Romania that August, they found one
ruined refinery after another a jumbled, scorched
The north and south pincers of the Allied air
offensive produced battlefield effects far beyond
the ruined refineries. In Germany’s last desperate
gamble in the Battle of the Bulge in December
1944, Allied forces found hundreds of immobile
German vehicles—intact but out of gas.