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Bombing Campaign Leaders

Three iconic USAAF generals—Carl Spaatz, Ira Eaker, and James “Jimmy” Doolittle—played key roles in leading the strategic bombing campaign in Europe. 

Gen. Carl Spaatz decorates a wounded Eighth Air Force Airman while he recovers in a hospital in August 1944.

Carl A. Spaatz

After leading the Eighth Air Force through 1942, Carl Spaatz commanded strategic bombing forces based in the Mediterranean.  From January 1944 to the end of the war, he led the entire USAAF strategic bombing campaign against Germany.  In 1947, he became the US Air Force’s first Chief of Staff.



Collier Trophy 

The 1944 Collier Trophy awarded to Spaatz for “demonstrating the air power concept through employment of American aviation in the          war against Germany.”  The Collier Trophy is awarded annually for significant achievement in the advancement of aviation.




Ira C. Eaker

In January 1942, Ira Eaker organized the Eighth Air Force’s bomber command and later led the entire Eighth Air Force.  From December 1943 to the end of the war, he commanded all air units (US and Allied) in the Mediterranean.


 Pickle Barrel Trophy

 Ira Eaker received this unique commemorative piece after the war in recognition of his leadership during the strategic bombing campaign.   It refers to the claimed ability of the Norden’s bombsight to “drop a bomb in a pickle barrel from 18,000 feet.”




James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle

From September 1942 to January 1944, Jimmy Doolittle led strategic bombing forces in the Mediterranean.  In January 1944, he took command of the Eighth Air Force in England, leading it until the end of the war.










 Three-star general’s flag flown on Lt Gen Doolittle’s staff car while he commanded the Eighth Air Force.




Doolittle nameplate used during World War II.












Related Fact Sheets


The Memphis Belle: American Icon and 25th Mission

Memphis Belle Crew

The “Memphis Belle” and Nose Art

26th Mission: War Bond Tour

Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress”

Heavy Bomber “Firsts”

Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact

Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe

Enabling Technologies

Key Leaders

Early Operations (1942 to mid-1943) - Eighth Air Force in England

Ninth/Twelfth Air Forces in the Mediterranean

Combat Box/Communication and Life at 25K

Keeping them Flying: Mechanics and Armorers

Combined Bomber Offensive: Summer 1943 to Victory

Bigger Raids, Bigger Losses, and Crisis

Deadly Skies over Europe (Luftwaffe defense)

Bomber Crew Protection

Operation Tidalwave (Ploesti, 1 Aug 43)

Regensburg/Schweinfurt (17 Aug 43)

Black Thursday/Schweinfurt (14 Oct 43)

Fifteenth Air Force (created Sep 43)


Women’s Army Corps

Fighter Escort: Little Friends

Big Week (20-25 Feb 44)

Target Berlin

Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union

Blind Bombing

D-Day Support

Strategic Bombing Victorious



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