Lt. Bob Welty's Mission Photos
14, 15 and 19 February 1945
Below are eight photos Lt. Bob Welty took for three of his 398th missions. Many thanks to Bob Welty for making these unique photos available. Special thanks are also due to 398th volunteer, Mike Dingus for his analysis of the photos to determine probable dates. Additional thanks to both Scott Welty and Mike Dingus for their analysis of Where Over the Rhine (see below). If you would like to add information about this photograph, please contact our Aircraft Photo Coordinator. Please include the title.
The missions photographed were:
- 398th Mission 146: 14 February 1945 to Prague, Czech
- 398th Mission 147: 15 February 1945 to Dresden
- 398th Mission 149: 19 February 1945 to Munster
The 398th mission on 14 Febraury 1945 was to Dresden but Prague, Czechoslovakia was bombed by mistake.
List of Bob Welty Color Photos
- The Tarr Crew in B-17 Training - 1944
- Lt. Bob Welty's Mission Photos for 14, 15 and 19 February 1945
- Lt. Bob Welty and Friends in Nuthampstead - late 1944/Early 1945
- Lt. Bob Welty inside B-17 - 1945
The Tarr Crew for 14 February 1945 was:
- Lt. Joe Tarr, Pilot
- Lt. Bob Welty, Co-Pilot and photographer
- Lt. Wally Small, Navigator
- T/Sgt. Russ Currier, Engineer
- T/Sgt. Arthur Jones, Radio
- S/Sgt. Harold Clyne, Ball Turret
- S/Sgt. Al Dougherty, Waist Gunner and Togglier
- S/Sgt. Maury Newcomer, Waist Gunner
- S/Sgt. Bill Fleming, Tail Gunner
Combat Photo 1: Lt. Bob Welty of the 603rd took this photo of the above A/C 44-8771 3O-B. On 14 February 1945, that aircraft was piloted by Lt. R.E. Steele. Bishop, rank and position unknown from the 398th Headquarters group was with Lt. R.E. Steele. A/C 44-8771 3O-B was the lead aircraft for the 603rd on this day though its markings are those of a 601st aircraft. Aircraft were swapped around as needed.
Input from Mike Dingus:
Input from Dave Jordan
Welty Photo No. 4009
Combat Photo No. 2: Lt. Bob Welty took this photo of several B-17 contrails through the front glass of his B-17cockpit. It is unclear what the vertical line is.
Mike Dingus suggest that the vertical line in the middle of this photo is a whip antenna which was located between the navigators bubble and the windscreen. Not too sure what the "rabbit ear" looking thing is in front of the bubble. Might be UHF communication antenna or maybe RDF antenna (since the chin turret is located where the old RDF antenna was.
The photos are in the correct time sequence. However, there is not enough information to determine whether this photo is from the 14 February 1945 mission to Prague or the 15 February mission to Dresden.
Welty Photo No. 5010
Combat Photo No. 3: Behind the Tarr A/C 43-38951 N7-B prop to the right, what appears to be a "7" can be seen on the fuselage of the large aircraft in front. The "7" is part of the insignia "N7", a 603rd aircraft. There is a good chance it is the same aircraft as aircraft N7-A in the next photo. Note the position of the guns in the top turret in both photos, and the sidewase facing of the ball turret guns in both photos. Special thanks to Lee Bradley for her input.
No A/C numbers can be identified on the other planes, but the highest aircraft to the left to the left is marked N8-M (600th) and the top plane to the right is 3O-W (601st).
Input from Mike Dingus: I believe that this is mission #147 to Dresden. I've looked at every mission that this could be and if the Tarr/Welty aircraft were moved from center right to left left this is the view he would have had (refer to the "over target" formation chart). The unknown aircraft to the immediate right of Tarr/Welty would be N7-A. 30-W was not on the Prague mission. The take-off for this mission was delayed due to weather and only 7 or 8 of the high squadron made the mission, so there were a lot of holes in the formation to fill.
Input from Dave Jordan: Given the left side of the aircraft are sunlit, the direction of the photo would be toward the west or the return.
Welty Photo No. 6011
Combat Photo No. 4: Lt. Welty wrote on this one "The 398th crosses the Rhine". The A/C above is N7-A. See below for identification of location. Top of this photo is north.
Input from Mike Dingus: N7-A was not on the Prague mission. I believe this photo is from mission #147 to Dresden. Just as above, if the Tarr/Welty aircraft were moved from where the "over target" formation chart shows to the left left position this is the view Tarr/Welty would have. N7-A would be left center and Tarr/Welty would off their left wing. I checked the river crossing point for the return flight and discovered that mission 146 and 147 both crossed the Rhine at nearly the same points. I also checked the Nurnberg missions, but they crossed the Rhine much further South.
Welty Photo No. 7012
Combat Photo No. 4: Lt. Welty wrote on this one "The 398th crosses the Rhine". The A/C above is N7-A. This is a repeat of the above Combat Photo No. 4, but with locations overlaid. The overlay was done by his son, Scott Welty in July 2007. His analysis is below.
Analysis of Where Along the Rhine
West of the Rhine
I have arrowed and labelled: Werlau, An der Lorelely, Urbar, and Oberwesel.
East of the Rhine
I have labelled: Lykerhausen, Dalheim, Prath.
This is based on the shape of light (pasture?) and dark (forest) color of the ground. When comparing Dad's photo to a modern day Google satellite photo this seems the most likely view. The difficulty in this is the view from Dad's photo is at an angle while satellite photos almost invariably looking straight down. Taking in the angle difference the light and dark ground shapes seem to match up.
I started with the west side of the Rhine. Werlau and Urbar are towns, of course, but I use them here to point out the entire light areas they are located. An der Lorelely is the fingery crook of dark color. Oberwesel is just the southern most point of the photo.
East of the Rhine, what anchors the photo is the near trapezoid dark patch. When you click on the Google satellite photos the three nearest towns are Prath to the south, Dalheim to the east, and Lykerhausen to the north.
Also if you look to the east (left) of this dark trapezoid patch, you come to another dark patch at river's edge, the shape of which conforms with the modern day photos.
Once I settled on these locations I pulled up a European map off the internet and looked to see where B-17s would cross the Rhine if they flew from Nuthampsted to Prague the destination that day. It appears to bisect the Rhine about where the photographer would have been. But someone with a real map should check. I unscientifically lined the route up by holding a pencil to the screen - not the most accurate way - but this rough eyeing seems to add to my conclusion.
Let's See for Ourselves: I know you can't wait to see a current day satellite view to the above photo. So here's how.
Comments to: 398th Photo Historian
Welty Photo No. 7012
Analysis of Where Along the Rhine (continued)
Above is a straight down Google view showing the river crossing points for missions 146 - 14 Feb 1945 and 147 - 15 feb 1945 (groups A and B - Tarr/Welty were in the B group). The tacks are labeled and the two tacks for 147 are only about 3.5 miles apart.
Combat Photo No. 5: Beautiful shot above the clouds of Tarr's A/C 43-38951 N7-B engine cowls and aircraft 603rd N7-L dropping their bomb load through the clouds. N7-L could be aircraft 43-38562 N7-L Kitty, Kay and Katy.
Input from Mike Dingus: I believe that this must be a photo from mission #149 to Munster. The Tarr/Welty aircraft was flying in the #3 position is High Element Low Squadron. As #3, the leader of the element "Thomas" in 43-38562 N7-L Kitty, Kay and Katy would be just ahead to the right. All other aircraft except for #2 and #4 i their element would be to their left.
Input from Dave Jordan: Given the left side of the aircraft is dark, the direction of the photo would be toward the east.
Welty Photo No. 8013
Combat Photo No. 6: Aircraft flying through flak.
Input from Mike Dingus: I believe this is N7-L on the Munster mission #149. I tried everything Photoshop could do to this photo and as best as I can make out, the aircraft is N7-L (L on tail, anyway).
Input from Dave Jordan: Given the left side of the aircraft is dark, the direction of the photo would be toward the east, possibly just after the bomb run.
Welty Photo No. 9014
Combat Photo No. 7: Since the photos were in sequence, this is probably the return from the Munster Mission - 19 Febraury 1945
Input from Dave Jordan: Given the right side of the aircraft is dark, the direction of the photo would be toward the west or the return.
Welty Photo No. 10015
Combat Photo No. 8: Lt. Welty wrote on this one "Good night!" They are back on the ground at Nuthampstead and most likely this was Lt. Welty's aircraft for the day, A/C 43-38951 N7-B for 19 Feb 1945.
Lee Bradley notes what appears to be a patch on the Plexiglas? Probably a flak hole repair.
Welty Photo No. 14019