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In 1943, the USAAF and RAF launched the Combined Bomber Offensive, designed to systematically destroy the industries that the German war machine relied on. At the top of the hit list were aircraft factories and plants making ball-bearings – a component thought to be a critical vulnerability. Schweinfurt in southern Germany was home to much of the ball-bearing industry and, together with the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg, which built Bf 109 fighters, it was targeted in a huge and innovative strike. Precision required that the targets were hit in daylight, but the raid was beyond the range of any existing escort fighter, so the B-17s would go in unprotected. The solution was to hit the two targets in a coordinated 'double-strike', with the Regensburg strike hitting first, drawing off the defending Luftwaffe fighters, and leaving the way clear for the Schweinfurt bombers. The Regensburg force would carry on over the Alps to North Africa, the first example of US 'shuttle bombing'. Although the attack on Regensburg was successful, the damage to Schweinfurt only temporarily stalled production, and the Eighth Air Force had suffered heavy losses. It would take a sustained campaign, not just a single raid, to cripple the Schweinfurt works. However, when a follow-up raid was finally launched two months later, the losses sustained were even greater. This title explains how the USAAF launched its daylight bombing campaign in 1943, the technology and tactics available for the Schweinfurt-Regensburg missions, and how these costly failures forced a change of tack.
On 17 August 1943, the entire strength of the American heavy bomber forces in England set out to raid two major industrial complexes deep in southern Germany, the vast Messerschmitt aircraft factory and the vital KGF ballbearing plant. For American commanders it was the culmination of years of planning and hope, the day when their self-defending formations of the famous Flying Fortress could at last perform their true role and reach out by daylight to strike at targets in the deepest corners of industrial Germany. The day ended in disaster for the Americans. Thanks to the courage of the aircrews the bombers won through to the targets and caused heavy damage, but sixty were shot down and the hopes of the American commanders were shattered. Historically, it was probably the most important day for the American air forces during the Second World War.While researching this catastrophic raid the Author interviewed hundreds of the airmen involved, German defenders, slave workers and eye witnesses. This took him twice to both the USA and Germany.The result is a mass of fresh, previously unused material with which the author finally provides the full story of this famous days operations. Not only is the American side described in far greater depth than before but the previously vague German side of the story both the Luftwaffe action and the civilian experiences in Schweinfurt and Regensburg, are now presented clearly and in detail for the first time. The important question of why the RAF did not support the American effort and follow up the raid on Schweinfurt as planned is also fully covered.
The bomber campaign against Germany is one of the most contentious of World War II. Was anything achieved by the deaths of thousands of German civilians-many of them women and children? Or were all means justified against Nazi Germany? Acclaimed military historian Robin Neillands examines every detail of the allied campaign led by British Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris: the strengths and fundamental flaws, the technical difficulties and developments and, above all, the day-to-day, night-by-night endurance of the crews flying to the limit in discomfort and danger, facing flak and enemy fire. Personal experiences of British, American, Canadian, Australian and other ally fliers play a key part in this account, along with those of German airmen and civilians. Though The Bomber War discusses Guernica and the destruction of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it concentrates on the European theater, on Germany's air war against the allies - over Warsaw, Rotterdam, London and Coventry-which led the fierce allied raids carried out against Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin and the Ruhr and-most notorious of all-the tremendous destruction of Dresden in the last months of the war. Robin Neillands also examines the complex moral issues involved in the air war, and of the case made against "Bomber" Harris. This is a timely addition to the history of conflict; the age of free-fall bombs has passed, but many veterans-on both sides-are still alive to state their case, and to tell a knew generation what their war was like.
An estimated 50 million people perished in World War II. Millions across the globe fled war zones to be replaced by soldiers of all creeds and backgrounds. The war changed the world. As technology raced ahead, this was matched by political change, the final end of old empires and the growth of new superpowers.
Beretter om luftoperationer under 1. og 2. verdenskrig samt Koreakrigen
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