On 1 August 1943, an armada of American B-24 Liberator bombers (the most that could be mustered from England and North Africa), roared at tree-top level across pastoral Balkan farms and villages. Their target: the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Churchill had described Ploesti as the “taproot of German might.” Hundreds of youthful American airmen volunteered for the mission despite warnings that half might not return. In fewer than 30 minutes, more firepower was exchanged than in two Gettysburgs. Five Americans won the Medal of Honor.

Read the exciting story and close-ups of the adversaries, who exhibited raw courage and heroism while slugging it out midst smoke, fire, explosions, point-blank exchanges, ambushes and aerial dog fights.

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