Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

Luftwaffe Regains Superiority

A turning point in the air war occurred the second week of October 1943 when the AAF made a series of major efforts against the enemy. On Oct. 9, 352 bombers flew along the Baltic Sea north of Germany to bomb targets in Poland and East Prussia; although some results were spectacular, 8 percent of the bombers were lost. The next day the target was Munster; 30 of 236 bombers failed to return.

The final blow came on Oct. 14 when the AAF returned to Schweinfurt. From the moment the P-47 escort turned westward for England at the German border, the bombers were attacked all the way to the target by wave after wave of Luftwaffe fighters. Thoroughly battered by the time they got to the target, those B-17s, still in formation, dropped their bombs and banked for England. Again the Luftwaffe attacked and the B-17 formations had to fight their way mile after mile until they finally reached safety. Of the 251 B-17s on the mission, 60 were shot down and 138 were damaged.

In less than a week, 148 British-based AAF heavy bombers had been lost. The Luftwaffe had regained air superiority over Germany and the AAF made no more deep penetrations into Germany in clear weather for the remainder of the year. During the lull, however, the AAF began sending P-38 and P-51 long-range escort fighter units to England for use in stepped-up attacks planned for 1944.

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.


Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Luftwaffe Interceptors
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Lockheed P-38L Lightning
Republic P-47D (Razorback Version)
North American P-51D Mustang
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.