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Epilogue: Sacrifice and Victory

USAAF Heavy Bomber Cost

USAAF Heavy Bomber Cost

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 decisive role in defeating Nazi Germany. 


          USAAF Strategic Bombing Campaign Accomplishments:

  • Defeated the Luftwaffe and gained air superiority over Europe, which permitted the successful and critical D-Day invasion.

  • Compelled the Luftwaffe to move fighters and antiaircraft guns from the battlefront to defend its homeland against bomber attack.

  • Forced Nazi Germany to commit enormous resources to repair damage and disperse its production.

  • Paralyzed German military operations with attacks on oil and transportation sectors.


          USAAF Heavy Bomber Cost:

  • 30,000+ heavy bomber crewmen killed.

  • 30,000+ heavy bomber crewmen captured.

  • 10,000+ heavy bomber crewmen wounded.

  • 8,000+ heavy bombers lost in combat.


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




Return to the B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet

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Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.

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