HomeVisitMuseum ExhibitsFact Sheets

Fact Sheet Alphabetical List

Fact Sheet Search

  • Bigger Raids, Bigger Losses and Crisis

    In the second half of 1943, the USAAF continued to build up its heavy bomber forces.  As it hit targets ever deeper in enemy territory, however, staggering losses threatened the entire concept of daylight strategic bombing.Early assumptions were wrong—unescorted heavy bombers could not protect themselves against enemy fighters alone. 
  • Deadly Skies over Europe

    The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) built a sophisticated defense system to counter the USAAF strategic bombing offensive.  Enemy fighters and antiaircraft guns (also called “flak”) took a devastating toll.  The USAAF lost more than 8,000 heavy bombers—each of which typically carried ten crewmen—in combat during the strategic bombing campaign over
  • Bomber Crew Protection

    A 1942 study determined that relatively low velocity projectiles such as deflected flak fragments or shattered pieces of aircraft structure caused 70% of bomber crew wounds.  Body armor and helmets helped protect against this threat and saved thousands of bomber crewmen from injury or death.Col (later Maj Gen) Dr. Malcolm Grow, Eighth Air Force
  • OPERATION TIDALWAVE: Ploesti, August 1, 1943

    On August 1, 1943, the USAAF staged Operation Tidalwave—a daring, surprise low-level B-24 raid against the Axis’ critical source of fuel, the oil fields in Ploesti, Romania.  During the unescorted 1,000 mile flight from Libya, clouds broke the formation into two groups and a wrong turn caused even more confusion.  The B-24s arrived over the
  • Regensburg/Schweinfurt, August 17, 1943

    On August 17, 1943, the USAAF suffered staggering losses in the two-pronged attack against the Messerschmitt fighter factory at Regensburg and the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany.  To split the German defense, these raids were supposed to occur simultaneously, with the Regensburg force landing at airfields in North Africa. 
  • Black Thursday: Schweinfurt, October 14, 1943

    The Eighth Air Force attack against the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt, Germany, on October 14, 1943, became known as "Black Thursday.”  After friendly fighters turned back at the German border, the bomber formations fought a running battle alone against the Luftwaffe.  The bomber crews faced heavy flak over the target and then had to fight
  • Fifteenth Air Force—Strategic Bombing from Italy

    In September 1943, the USAAF formed the Fifteenth Air Force, uniting its Mediterranean heavy bomber forces together at bases in southern Italy.  The USAAF could now mount major strategic raids in southern and eastern Europe, creating even more pressure on the Luftwaffe defense.  String of bombs on the way to hit the Messerschmitt fighter plant in
  • Gunners

    US Army Air Forces gunners defended B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers against fighter attacks with machine guns aimed by hand (“flexible guns”) and electrically-powered gun turrets.  Typically, gunners made up half of a bomber crew, manning a top turret, ball turret, two waist guns, and a tail turret.  Some other crewmembers also
  • Women’s Army Corps in Europe

    “The WAC has been of inestimable value...Its members have worked devotedly, often at arduous tasks requiring exceptional performance.”            —General Carl Spaatz, US Strategic Air Forces commander  About half of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) personnel—or “WACs”—sent overseas served in Europe.  Most WACs stationed there performed essential
  • Fighter Escort: “Little Friends”

    During the first half of the strategic bombing campaign, the USAAF lacked fighters that could escort its heavy bombers on strikes against targets in Germany.  As a result, heavy bomber crews took devastating losses that threatened the continuation of the campaign.  By early 1944, improvements to the P-47 and P-38, and the introduction of droppable
RSS

Featured Links


Plan Your Visit
E-newsletter Sign-up
Explore Museum Exhibits
Browse Photos
Visit Press Room
Become a Volunteer
Air Force Museum Foundation

Connect