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Luftwaffe Interceptors

Focke-Wulf Fw 190. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Focke-Wulf Fw 190. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Luftwaffe also relied upon twin-engine planes such as the Junkers Ju 88 (shown here) and the Messerschmitt Me 110, particularly when AAF bombers flew above the heavy clouds. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Luftwaffe also relied upon twin-engine planes such as the Junkers Ju 88 (shown here) and the Messerschmitt Me 110, particularly when AAF bombers flew above the heavy clouds. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Luftwaffe also relied upon twin-engine planes such as the Junkers Ju 88 and the Messerschmitt Me 110 (shown here), particularly when AAF bombers flew above the heavy clouds. U.S. Air Force photograph.

The Luftwaffe also relied upon twin-engine planes such as the Junkers Ju 88 and the Messerschmitt Me 110 (shown here), particularly when AAF bombers flew above the heavy clouds. U.S. Air Force photograph.

The two Luftwaffe single-engine fighters used primarily for intercepting B-17s and B-24s were the Messerschmitt Me 109 (shown here) and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The two Luftwaffe single-engine fighters used primarily for intercepting B-17s and B-24s were the Messerschmitt Me 109 (shown here) and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The first AAF bombing mission against a target inside Germany was made on Jan. 27, 1943, when 53 planes attacked Wilhelmshaven. Opposing German fighter pilots were fairly cautious, but on Feb. 4, when the AAF attacked Emden, it "stirred up a hornet's nest." For the first time, the Luftwaffe engaged U.S. bombers with twin-engine Me-110s and Ju 88s in addition to the usual single-engine Me 109s and Fw 190s. During the next two months, it became apparent that AAF bomber formations would have to have escort fighters all the way to the target. Unfortunately, the British Spitfires did not have sufficient range to cover missions deep into Germany.

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