398th Bomb Group

Book Identifies Pilot Of Lead Group As A Czech
14 February 1945


Allen Ostrom

The book, “Destruction of Dresden,” written by an American, includes a chapter of a mission to Dresden that “went astray” –

The 398th Bombardment Group lost its way flying through the cloud layers at its predetermined altitude, and when the B-17s emerged above the cloud layers the lead navigator was not too happy about the formation’s position.

They should have picked up Torgau and headed south-east to the first big city with a river (the Flying Fortress’ lead navigators were relying on APS.15 radar for their navigation).

The formation had been subjected to S-turns to lose time for an on-time arrival over target. The Dead Reckoning navigation of the leader was apparently not as good as it should have been. The formation leader picked up and “identified” Torgau, and turned on a bearing which would take the bombers to Dresden.

Some time passed before the navigator of the Deputy Group Leader radioed the Group Commander and suggested that in fact they had picked up Freiberg instead of Torgau; he was overruled and reminded about the rules for radio silence over Germany. From time to time the bombardiers reported that they could see a river underneath. The “mickey-man” operating the AS.15 began to read off the sighting angles on his screen between the aircraft and the city ahead.

Six sighting angles were read off and set on the lead bombardier’s sighting angle index on the Norden bombsight. There was indeed a river snaking through the city ahead. The bombardier could see no detail of the city to warrant his taking over on a visual run and a blind attack was made by radar. As they were coming away again the navigator in the Deputy Group Lead again broke radio silence and insisted that they had in fact not bombed Dresden; the Group’s Lead Navigator checked with the rest of the navigators and their views also confirmed the Deputy Lead Navigator's opinion. In fact the 40 bombers of the 398th Bombardment Group had delivered quite a heavy attack on PRAGUE. This was a bitter blow to one of the pilots of the lead group. He was of Czech decent, Lt. Andrew Andrako flying B-17 serial number 43-38652 V, "Stinker Jr.".

Article transcribed by Lee Anne Bradley, 398th Group Historian, October 2007.

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Printed in Flak News Volume 20, Number 1, Page(s) 5, January 2005

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