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  #1  
Old 22nd February 2024, 04:32
Russell Russell is offline
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15th Air Force terminology

Hi all,

Can someone explain what the difference was between "returning early" from a mission and being a "prior return"? The Int Ops summaries use both terms, and both can occur on the one mission. e.g. On 24th April 1944 the 31st FG Mustangs had 3 "return early" and 10 P-51s as "prior returns". "Returning early" is fairly self-evident, turning back before reaching the target and not credited with a sortie. But it is unclear to me what differentiates this from a "prior return"?

Thanks in advance.


Russell
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Old 22nd February 2024, 14:35
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: 15th Air Force terminology

Many missions flown by the 15th gave a bomber crew double credits (2 mission credits) for the longer missions which would count toward their 50 mission tour. This link has a writeup of a mission flown 31 May 1944.

https://455th.org/Missions/May%201944/PDFs/May%2031.pdf

On page 6, (a summary of a "2 credit" mission) is the notation that the crews who returned who were classified as a "Prior Return" would get a single mission credit. Early returns got no credits.
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Old 23rd February 2024, 04:08
Russell Russell is offline
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Re: 15th Air Force terminology

Very interesting. What I still do not understand is the distinction between early and prior. It must be that if the prior return got past a certain boundary or point and then turned back they were then prior. e.g within 2 hours of the target or whatever, I note from the example R Swank kindly provided the early return was at 0708 and the earliest prior return was at 0851, by which time the 455th BG would be near the Yugoslav Romanian border. This means a border between early and prior was sometime between these two times.

Cheers

Russell
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Old 23rd February 2024, 10:20
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: 15th Air Force terminology

Purely speculating here but could one perhaps mean turning back before reaching enemy territory and the other turning back over eneny territory?
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Old 23rd February 2024, 19:04
Larry deZeng Larry deZeng is offline
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Re: 15th Air Force terminology

Not very clear, is it?
I think I would take "early return" as referring to the mission being reported on, i.e., "today's mission." While "prior return" refers to earlier missions. This statistical collecting of data on this subject may have been to detect trends among units to see if any were consistently above the 15th AAF norm. It would have been a performance measurement to single out units with poor maintenance (low aircraft serviceability), aircrew with poor morale, etc.

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