1 March 1945
Target: Moosebierbaum Oil Refinery, Austria
The first mission of the month was a double header with the oil refinery at Moosebierbaum, Austria as the target. The Red Force, led by Colonel Lawhon, got through the bad weather over the Alps and reached the target. In the Lake Balaton Area the impassible weather weather made it necessary for Colonel Lawhon to abandon the briefed route. Instead of attempting to take his formation under the weather, he did a 360 to gain altitude and swung far to the right and east of the Russian bomb line in an effort to find a deck low enough to get over. The formation was lost by the time it got up above the weather. The radar navigator, Lt. Loverin, finally picked up Vienna, which he used in orienting himself at the initial point.
By this time the formation was an hour late. The combination of bad weather and another formation immediately ahead of Colonel Lawhon's Red Force made it impossible to drop the bombs on the first run. Despite the flak, the formation made another run on the target and Captain Churchill, finding a hole with only three-tenths cloud coverage, bombed the target visually. The Red Force was one of four out of forty-two formations in the Air Force scheduled to attack the target which bombed visually.
Photographs show that a concentrated pattern of bombs fell at the north edge of the refinery. Several direct hits were scored on the distillation plant, the compressor house, the cracking unit, and the hydraulic acid plant. Other bombs fell on the railroad siding and still others in the building area at the west edge of the refinery. The I mission was scored at 33 percent. The Blue Force, led by Major Mixson, was unable to find a passage under, above, or around the weather in the Lake Balaton Area and returned its bombs to Base.