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  • “Big Week”: February 20-25, 1944

    In February 1944, the USAAF and RAF conducted an all-out campaign against Germany’s aviation industry and the Luftwaffe.  Heavy bombers from the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces hammered aircraft, engine, and ball-bearing plants by day, and RAF bombers attacked by night.  Code named Operation Argument, it became known as “Big Week.” By this time,
  • Target Berlin

    Berlin, Germany’s capital, was selected as a prime target for the USAAF, not only for its industrial importance, but because the Luftwaffe would be forced to defend it, suffering heavy losses in the process.  The USAAF conducted its first major raid against Berlin on March 6, 1944—672 heavy bombers struck the city and 69 were shot down.  The USAAF
  • OPERATION FRANTIC: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union

    In 1944, the US persuaded Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to allow USAAF aircraft to operate out of bases in the western Soviet Union.  Between June and September 1944, the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces conducted a total of seven so-called “shuttle raids” under the code name Operation Frantic.(Additional pictures coming soon)Fifteenth Air Force B-17
  • Blind Bombing: “Mickey”

    During the frequently cloudy conditions over Europe, USAAF bombers could not bomb visually.  In these conditions, USAAF heavy bombers used a radar system called H2X and code-named “Mickey.” Mickey-equipped “pathfinder” aircraft gave formations the signal to bomb.  On B-24 pathfinders, the H2X radome replaced the ball turret.  B-17 pathfinder Mickey
  • D-Day Support

    “I, personally, am convinced that without your air force...the invasion would not have succeeded...”            —Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe General of FightersBy May 1944, the strategic bombing campaign had crippled the Luftwaffe’s fighter force, making the Normandy invasion possible.  In the weeks before D-Day, June 6, 1944, the
  • Strategic Bombing Victorious

    “In my opinion the war was decided by the air offensive...it happened when you started large-scale attacks on our synthetic oil plants simultaneously with attacks on our communications.”            —Generalfeldmarschall Erhard Milch, Luftwaffe Armaments Chief  By the fall of 1944, with thousands of heavy bombers and long-range fighters in action,
  • Epilogue: Sacrifice and Victory

    Starting with only a theory and a handful of aircraft, the USAAF faced early setbacks and devastating losses.  Still, heavy bomber crews time and time again resolutely fought through enemy defenses to hit their targets.  With their courage and sacrifice, the USAAF created a massive, unstoppable bomber force that crippled the enemy and played a
  • The "Memphis Belle" and Nose Art

    The “Memphis Belle”The Memphis Belle was named to honor Morgan’s fiancée Margaret Polk, of Memphis, Tennessee, whom he met before leaving for England.  Their love story was well-publicized, but their engagement ended during the war bond tour.Morgan flew on combat missions with a picture of Margaret Polk in the cockpit. Memphis Belle ArtworkThe
  • Eddie V. Rickenbacker WWI Diary

    Note: This item is currently in storageIn commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, the National Museum of the United States Air Force will regularly post excerpts from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary.  These begin with Saturday, March 2, 1918, the date Rickenbacker began capturing his experiences in France.Click here to
  • 94th Aero Squadron

    Note: This photo is currently in storage Having completed gunnery school, Rickenbacker was assigned to the 94th Aero Squadron. In late February, he and severalother pilots traveled to Paris to fly their new Nieuport 28s back to Villeneuve. However, a snow storm delayed their return,and Rickenbacker used some of the extra time to begin a diary. His
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