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Shuttle Raids to Russia


Early in 1944, the U.S. persuaded Stalin to permit AAF heavy bombers to fly shuttle missions to Russia to bomb enemy targets in eastern Germany and the Balkans without having to fly back to England and Italy. The Soviets made three airfields available near Kiev and the U.S. devoted months preparing them to receive its planes.

The first mission flew from Italy on June 2. Four days later, the AAF flew from their Russian bases, bombed a target in Rumania and returned to Russia. On June 11, the planes returned to Italy, bombing another Rumanian target on the way.

B-17s and P-51s from England made their first shuttle mission on June 21. For the next several months, additional shuttle raids were flown from England and Italy, including one on Aug. 4-6 when P-38s from Italy flew strafing missions from Russia against airfields in Rumania. The shuttle mission of Sept. 13 was the last -- the Eastern Front had advanced so far westward that Russian bases were no longer needed.

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