- Allied planes maintain Normandy air protection
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- RAF's D-Day involvement
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Good results were claimed. About 30 bombs were dropped on these tanks and they were strafed as well.
A direct hit was made on a halftrack at road intersection S of Cerisy La Ford [ sic ] and left a complete wreck. The Thunderbolts quickly relocated to France. In the advancing armored columns, fighter-bomber pilots were placed in command tanks equipped with air-ground radio. So rapidly did the ground forces advance that by the end of August, even French-based Ps had to carry drop tanks to ensure they had both the range and the duration on station to meet the needs of the tankers. The pace of air operations remained intense; on July 29, for example, the three P squadrons of the 50th Fighter-Bomber Group flew a total of 23 missions.
Allied planes maintain Normandy air protection
Altogether, the Wehrmacht lost thousands of tanks, armored cars, mobile artillery, and other transports. Units fortunate enough to withdraw from France did so with few, and in some cases no, mechanized vehicles, returning on foot or by horse-drawn wagon. A desperate German counterattack in early August, attempting to split the Allied front in two, withered at Mortain, a town close to the Normandy-Brittany border.
Intensive British Typhoon and U. P attacks, coupled with resolute resistance on the ground, quickly ended the advance. Daily, fighter-bomber pilots whittled away at the Wehrmacht. On August 8, they claimed the destruction of 47 tanks and other motor vehicles. On August 12, they destroyed or damaged an estimated locomotives and over 3, rail cars, transports, and wagons, together with nearly other vehicles and nine oil barges. Just days afterward, over the Falaise-Argentan gap in northern France, the full fury of Allied tactical fighter-bombers fell upon the Wehrmacht as it desperately strove to escape.
Destroyed and abandoned vehicles, and the bodies of soldiers and horses, clogged the roads and country lanes. I could see the mushroom clouds of exploding bombs, burning vehicles, and the wounded, who were picked up by retreating transports. It was the only time I actually came home feeling sick. I killed over 60 horses on just one mission; they had been pulling 88mm guns. The Ninth Air Force Ps were particularly influential during attacks on Brest, a German-occupied coastal fortress city, and in forcing the surrender of German troops south of the Loire in August and September During the Italian campaign, 12th and 15th Air Force Ps flew on Operation Strangle, an air campaign to interdict German supply lines.
In June , 12th Air Force Ps even took on Axis shipping, dive-bombing and crippling the ex-Italian aircraft carrier Aquila at its dock in Genoa harbor.
Additional Resources About D-Day
On August 15, the Allies launched the invasion of southern France. As with Normandy, Allied airmen had worked out their targets weeks before the invasion—in this case, airfields, roads, and rail lines.
On August 28, Captain William B. It measured fully 30 miles long, with many vehicles proceeding two, and even three, abreast. When the three Ps attacked, a storm of light flak greeted them. They pressed on, destroying and damaging several vehicles and bringing the column to a halt. All three were badly shot up, and two crashed.
Altogether, the U. Seventh Army reported more than 2, vehicles of all sorts littering the route. Others were lost when their pilots became fixated and flew into their targets, or flew too low and struck trees or the ground, or flew through their own bomb blast or the explosion of their victims.
Pilots had to balance the value of the target against the danger that could take them and their airplane out of the fight. On July 20, , flying a bubble-top PD, Gabreski mushed into the ground on a low strafing run against some Heinkel He bombers. He bellied the airplane in and was taken prisoner. Over the length of its European campaign, the XIX Tactical Air Command lost nearly pilots, either killed or missing in action—an average of more than two per day.
Over the summer of , the Ninth Air Force lost nearly 23 percent of its fighter force each month, an average of fighters, the vast majority to flak and small arms fire.
RAF's D-Day involvement
One reason for the high losses is the extraordinary number of sorties flown. For every sorties, one Thunderbolt was lost. On December 16, , the Nazi high command launched an offensive through the snow-filled woods of the Ardennes. Known as the Battle of the Bulge, the attack was planned by Hitler and his senior generals for winter, when the weather would prevent the Allies from using their crushing airpower. The Bulge offensive marked the last gasp of the Luftwaffe, which having been husbanded for one last push, proved it could still bite the unwary.
On January 1, , nearly 1, German fighters and bombers undertook a surprise strike against Allied airfields on the Continent. More than Allied aircraft were lost, including numerous Ps. But the industrial behemoth that was the Allied aircraft industry could easily draw on existing stocks to replace any of those lost, while more than German fighters had been shot down, with nearly all their pilots out of action.
In the wake of the failed Ardennes offensive, the Allied armies continued their advance into the heartland of the Reich. As the armies pushed forward, village by village, they confronted dogged resistance. Consequently, for the Ps, the war became a remorseless one of bombing and strafing any likely source of opposition. By March, the Thunderbolts carried fewer bombs and relied instead on the power of. One such strike, on the road to Bad Durkheim, caused a U.
German Air Forces on D-Day - Normandy -
This air superiority was based on both a qualitative superiority and a numerical superiority. The qualitative superiority manifested itself both regarding the technical field and pilot training. Moreover, at this stage, the quality of the Luftwaffe pilot standard was being worn down to a mere shadow of what it had once been, and this was the result of a terrible attrition in a long fight against numerically superior US formations over Germany. In March , the German Luftflotte Reich had performed 3, combat sorties and lost fighters.
That equals a loss ratio of 9.
These 3, combat sorties were flown against approximately 18, sorties by US 8th Air Force including 8, heavy bomber missions; I don't have totals for fighter escort missions, but usually by this time there were more escort fighters than heavy bombers on each mission , plus several thousand sorties over Germany and the Netherlands by the 15th AF and the RAF. Even if the Americans lost more aircraft than the number of Luftwaffe aircraft they were able to shoot down, the sheer numbers made the US losses have a less serious impact.
Because of the large numbers of aircraft deployed on each mission by the Americans, the loss ratio in 8th AF heavy bombers was 3. Such a loss ratio can be sustained by any air force without having any negative effect on the quality of the crews. The losses surpassed the replacements, so rookies had to leave their pilot training schools before their training was completed and were sent into action - against numerically superior Allied air forces.
Thus, pilot training quality inevitably suffered. It started with the calling of many instructors to first-line service.
This first step lowered the quality of the trainers themselves. Next, the pilot training schemes were shortened.