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 returned two days later with 462 bombers escorted by 174 P-51s.
This pilot was wounded so severely over Berlin that he was treated under his aircraft before being transported to a hospital.
Tragedy occurred when a lower formation drifted under a higher one on a bomb run over Berlin. After losing part of its tail, this aircraft spun out of control—unable to bail out, the entire crew perished.
Bombs burst on the Brandenburg Arado aircraft plant in the Berlin area during an attack on August 4, 1944.
Pictured right after a Berlin mission, B-24 waist gunner SSgt Clarence Johnson shows the strain of combat.
Map used by Lt Col Allman Culbertson on the first major USAAF raid on Berlin on March 6, 1944. The red line indicates the course of the bombers and the red circled areas indicated heavy concentrations of antiaircraft guns.
Goggles and RAF flying helmet worn by the Capt William H. Rector, a B-17 pilot in the 447th Bomb Group, on the USAAF’s first major raid against Berlin on March 6, 1944.
Related Fact Sheets
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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
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)
Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union
Strategic Bombing Victorious
Return to the B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet
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