Originally posted on IHRA.
Balikpapan. A Japanese stronghold in the earlier part of the Pacific war. At the time, it was heavily defended by some of Japan’s best pilots, and the Allies hoped to change that soon. General George C. Kenney in particular felt that if Fifth Air Force was to destroy the oil refineries on the island, it would be a huge setback in Japan’s attempt to hold onto its position in the southwest Pacific. Over the summer, Kenney directed the 380th Bomb Group to bomb several refineries in the area, with little success, though they were a factor in some fuel shortages. By September, he was eager to send his forces back to Balikpapan. There were a few missions flown by the Thirteenth Air Force and the 90th Bomb Group, however, approximately 40% of the planes flown on these mission were either lost or too damaged to be put back in service afterwards.
Due to the heavy losses suffered by the Thirteenth during these raids, plans were changed. Kenney soon gathered together reinforcements for what would be the largest raid yet for the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces. Among the 22nd Bomb Group crews participating was one from the 33rd Squadron in the B-24 named Liberty Belle, which was flown by…
Source: Liberty Belle’s Last Flight | IHRA.