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World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF EUROPE: Target: Luftwaffe

2 minute read

In six days U.S. and British bombers dropped 20,000 tons of bombs on Nazi targets. The heavy attacks brought Luftwaffe fighter planes out in force and that was exactly what the Allies, and particularly the day-fighting U.S. Strategic Command, wanted to see.

The air battles were hard-fought, but at week’s end the tally showed at least 440 German planes destroyed, against a loss of at least 195 Allied aircraft. In terms of trained personnel and in weight of aircraft, the score was in Axis favor. The Allied forces lost more men, more expensive, hard-to-make bombers.

Day & Night. But the Allies, far better than the tiring Luftwaffe, could replace their losses, press on with the attack. Punches were tossed at targets in German Europe all the way from the Pas-de-Calais to Sofia. Allied bomber fleets were roaring out by day and by night, from British and Italian bases.

One night the R.A.F. sent 1,000 heavy bombers against Stuttgart, Amiens and Munich, dumping a record bomb load of 3,360 tons. On the day before that, U.S. day-flying bombers from Britain had attacked Brunswick. On the day after, the U.S. heavies struck again, this time at Augsburg and Ulm. After dark the R.A.F. swarmed out again, to Amiens and Clermont-Ferrand. Next day the U.S. punch fell on Vienna; at night the R.A.F. attacked Sofia.

One-Two Punch. Still another day, and a U.S. air fleet, estimated at 1,600 to 2,000 bombers and fighter escorts, launched a blow deep into South Germany, hitting Augsburg and four other towns. By nightfall, the R.A.F. crews were briefed and ready for a heavy followup, aimed mainly at Frankfort on the Main. And through the week, almost obscured by the work of the heavy bombers, fleets of mediums and fighter bombers struck methodically at Western France, dropped 5,000 tons of bombs in five days.

Allied air objectives were still twofold: to smash up German war power (especially aircraft industry) on the ground; to bleed the Luftwaffe white in grinding air combat. Allied airmen still hoped the pace would burn out the Luftwaffe by summer.

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