Category German Jets, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

The jet aircraft was hailed as Germany’s best chance of turning round a lost war, at a time when Allied armies were already on German soil, fighting in what – to them – was clearly a devastated country. The advent of jet-propelled aircraft, especially the Me 262 A and the larger Ar 234 В in 1943, became a symbol of advanced technology. They were believed powerful enough to be developed both as close-support bombers against Allied forces on the ground, and as a lethal weapon against the Allies’ four – engined bombers and fast fighters. However, only a few small units were established at first, to compile data and introduce new strategies for jet missions. Poor production rates made it impossible to send a sufficient number of Me 262s and Ar 234s to Luftwaffe units.

Operational evaluation was initially carried out by Erprobungskommando 262 (EK 262 – Tri­als Unit 262) and Kommando Nowotny. EK 262 was established on 19 December 1943 at Lech – feld under the command of Hauptmann Thier – felder, but did not receive its first jets until May 1944. Thierfelder died in a Me 262 crash on 18 July 1944. Hauptmann Geyer then became the commanding officer of the Erprobungskom­mando, small detachments of which operated from different airfields to gain operational experience. The Kommando Nowotny was built up mainly from elements of EK 262 and achieved a number of air victories. It was cred­ited with twenty-two Allied aircraft destroyed, including fast reconnaissance aircraft and Mos­quito bombers. Most of the pilots belonging to these units were later sent to Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7), to train a new generation of pilots to sur­vive jet-propelled missions over the Reich while the Allies enjoyed air superiority.

A first small Me 262 jet bomber formation was already available in late summer 1944. After Willy Messerschmitt had told Adolf Hitler, on several occasions, that his revolu­tionary Me 262 could carry bombs up to 500 kg, Hitler decided that jet bombers would be able to destroy the advance spearheads of Allied ground forces. However, the limited number of Me 262 A-la/Bos operated by Kom­mando Schenk (part of Kampfgeschwader 51 – KG 51) meant that only local attacks could be carried out over western Europe at that time, to combat the Normandy landings and cover the German retreat from France.

Hitler thought he could win the war on the ground with the help of ‘Wunderwaffen’ (‘won­der weapons’), and did not heed General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland, who pleaded with him that the Me 262 should be produced solely as a fighter. Hitler insisted that both the Me 262 and the Ar 234 were suitable for use as low-level attack aircraft. But during the early period of jet bombing they were prohibited from flying low-level attacks because the Luft­waffe High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe – OKL) wanted to prevent high-tech aircraft falling into enemy hands. Furthermore, the ‘Identification Friend/Foe’ radio equipment, FuG 25, was removed from many German bombers operating over Belgium and the Netherlands, causing German anti-aircraft (AA) batteries close to the front lines to shoot down their own aircraft by mistake.

British and American air raids on the Reich, and several missions flown against key German industries, caused the destruction of many important factories engaged in jet develop­ment. In particular, sites all over Bavaria were

hit by strongly escorted four-engined bom­bardment aircraft. The Allies’ air superiority in late 1944 and early 1945 made it possible for them to carry out air attacks on German fuel refineries and the transport system. This led to the fuel shortages that would increasingly cur­tail German air and ground activities. Neverthe­less, many Me 262s were produced in dispersed factories and underground production sites near Augsburg, Regensburg and elsewhere, especially in central Germany. Under SS super­vision, jet production was increased by an army of slave workers (ie concentration camp inmates). Factories manned by slave labour were the last stronghold of German aircraft production by the end of World War II. How­ever, the loss of important resources and the lack of experienced manpower ensured that the ‘wonder weapons’ remained but paper dreams.

Operational policy remained entirely defen­sive because of the lack of new tanks, ammuni­tion and fuel after the Wehrmacht retreated from France and Belgium. Until the start of the Ardennes offensive the German High Com­mand (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – OKL) tried to conserve its strength for an effective response to the advancing Allied forces on the north-western German border. The majority of day fighter forces, including II. Jagdkorps and 5. Fliegerdivison, were transferred from Luft – waffen-Kommando West (the command in charge of air operations against the advancing Western Allies) to other parts of Germany. Among those forces remaining in the north­west were the bulk of the jet bombers. Their crews operated at minimum strength over Bel­gium and the Netherlands, to little effect. Most of Germany’s Me 262 fighter units were oper­ated by I. Jagdkorps, 2. Jagddivision or 7. Jagddivision. Their main task was the defence of central Germany and its industries, espe­cially the vital oil targets in the east.

At the end of October 1944 the Luftwaffen – Kommando West comprised fewer than twenty – five operational Me 262 bombers and some 620 more fighters, bombers and other military air­craft. For home defence the Luftflotte Reich (responsible for internal defence against bomb­ing raids) and all of its subordinated Luftwaffe formations could field approximately 900 sin­gle-engined fighters, 830 night fighters, and, lastly, only about ninety jet – and rocket-pro­pelled single-seat aircraft. In addition, some 1000 single-engined fighters were still in oper­ation along the Eastern Front.

During November and December 1944 Reichsmarschall Goring ordered the establish­ment of a massive defence against the Allied bombardment forces, and some more units were transferred to western Germany. Despite the concentration of about 650 fighters, the Allies’ overwhelming strength prevented the Luftwaffe achieving even limited air superior­ity, and Allied heavy bombers remained fairly safe from attack. There were too few available Me 262 fighters to have any noticeable effect during the final stage of the air war over the Reich. The same applied to the few Me 262 close-support aircraft operating over western territory now retaken by strong Allied divi­sions.

By late November the German ground forces had lost major towns in the west, including Metz and Strasbourg. During that desperate time the Wehrmacht leadership was planning a big offensive in the Ardennes. The famous Ger­man Panzerdivisions, supported by as many Panzergrenadierdivisons as possible, would attempt to destroy all Allied forces north of the Antwerp-Brussels-Luxembourg line. The Luft­waffe command was ordered by Hitler to pro­vide close air support for the ground operations. At that time some thirty Me 262 bombers had been transferred west to forward airfields. This was far too few to achieve more than a very limited success. Although a second Me 262 bomber unit had become operational, the strength of German airpower was broken. But a last offensive was opened early in the morning of 16 December. The Luftwaffe sup­ported the ground operations with 2360 air­craft, of which only forty were Ar 234 and Me 262 jet bombers. Most of the aircraft belonging to Luftwaffen-Kommando West were single – engined day fighters (1770 of them). Addition­ally, about 190 day and night ground-attack aircraft (Fw 190s and Ju 87s) were deployed around the German airfields.

Despite gaining some ground in late Decem­ber, the German forces were pushed back again and could not prevent the Allied advance early in 1945. The devastating Soviet offensive launched in the east in mid-January 1945 also caused the withdrawal of many day fighter for­mations from the west.

Meanwhile, more Me 262s had been pro­duced and were handed over to front-line Luft­waffe units. Between January and February 1945 the Allies kept up the pressure on the Reich. Only occasionally were the Allied spear­heads attacked by Me 262 A-l and A-2 bombers, mainly equipped with fragmentation bombs carried in AB 250 containers. Important bridges which had been captured by the Allies were attacked with larger SD 500 bombs, with mostly limited success. During March 1945 some fifty to sixty operational missions were carried out by German jet bomber forces, with many more being mounted by Fw 190 F fighter – bombers acompanied by the Ju 87 D ground – attack units by dawn or by night.

The number of jet fighters was too low to mount a powerful air attack on a bomber divi­sion of the Eighth USAAF over central Germany. But several small attacks carried out by pilots of JG 7 ‘Nowotny’ resulted in German jet pilots claiming some four-engined bombers destroyed. To enlarge the number of jet fighter units within a short period of time the German supreme Luftwaffen staff started the reorgani­sation of their own forces. The II. Jagdkorps was disbanded and replaced by both the 14. and the 15. Fliegerdivision. The strategic air defence of Germany was similarly reorganised. After the I. Jagdkorps was also disbanded, its function was taken over by IX. Fliegerkorps (Jagd), which was to be equipped at first with single-engined day fighters, but then increas­ingly with fast and powerful Me 262 jets.

The final Russian offensive was aimed at the German capital. By the end of February 1945 the Red Army had reached the general line of the Oder River not far from Berlin. The meagre remaining strength of the German forces was no match for the concentrated enemy attacks. Only a few German jets ever operated against the Eastern Allies, and only shot down a hand­ful of Soviet aircraft.

Attacks on the bridge of Remagen failed despite many desperate low-level raids carried out by Luftwaffe pilots flying all kinds of air­craft. Bombs dropped by Me 262s and Ar 234s scored a number of near misses but Allied ground forces continued to cross the Rhine until the bridge collapsed into the river. Fur­ther south, some of KG 51’s jet bombers were concentrated at the main Frankfurt airfield to fly attacks on the bridgehead in the Oppenheim area.

While these bombing actions were being car­ried out, Me 262 jet fighters were engaged in attacking four-engined bombers all over central Germany. By April і 94 5, hopelessly outnum­bered and suffering from fuel shortages, only a limited number of Me 262s of JG 7 could con­tinue the home defence. At this time, the forces operated by JG 7 were supported by the first Kampfgeschwader (Jagd), the KG (J) 54. But the unit was severely hit by many Allied air raids during its working up. Furthermore, it lost many poorly trained fighter (ex-bomber) pilots in action due their lack of operational experi­ence of fighter tactics, most having previously piloted medium bombers, such as the He ill or the Ju 88 A-4.

Other Kampfgeschwader (Jagd) units were established early in 1945, but there were not enough Me 262 A-la fighters to supply more than a few jets to these formations. Therefore most of the new KG (J)s received Bf 109 G-6, G – 10 and G-14 aircraft instead to carry out day fighter operations until more Me 262s could be produced. Only a few Me 262 jets were handed over to KG (6). Parts of III. Gruppe became oper­ational in April 1945. KG (J) 30 had started jet training early in 1945, but possibly never flew missions in action.

Despite the output of Me 262s and of the Ar 234 bombers, the Allied forces were never opposed by strong formations of either Ger­man jet type. The operational roles, the air-to – air combat and low-level attacks split the weak forces of the Luftwaffe once more. Hitler’s early obsession with close-support action hindered a more successful air strategy, as did Goring’s failure to support Adolf Galland’s requests for a large-scale concentrated piston-fighter attack against one of the Eighth USAAF raids and for the employment of the Me 262 solely as a defensive fighter aircraft. Late in the war Hitler changed his mind and ordered as many jet fighters as possible to be built. Germany’s war power had been virtually destroyed, but the last resources were thrown into the battle.

However, early in 1945, Reichsminister Speer issued a secret report which forecast the ulti­mate defeat of German power in April 1945 without Allied forces having to occupy the remaining territory held by the Wehrmacht.

The first very clear signs of the dissolution and disintegration of the German Luftwaffe forces in the remaining war theatres were seen early in April 1945. The further course of the war split German forces into a southern and a northern region. More and more Luftwaffe air­fields were being overrun. Retreating supply units were overtaken by enemy ground forces. On 26 April, the Western and Eastern Allies met near Torgau on the Elbe.

Meanwhile, two new Luftwaffe formations had entered the jet war. In the north the first Staffeln of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) had handed over their Fw 190 As to other units and received their first He 162, the ‘Volksjager’ (‘people’s fighter’). The lack of jet fuel (J2) meant that this single-engined jet fighter could only be used for a very few missions against RAF intruder and low-level attack aircraft. The surviving parts of JG 1 surrendered during the last days of May 1945. Most ‘Volksjager’ were handed over to the RAF authorities.

General Adolf Galland had meanwhile taken over the command of JV 44 (‘Jagdverband’ – ‘fighter formation’ – because it was not a stan­dard ‘Jagdgeschwader’ – ‘fighter unit’), and gave many pilots the opportunity to fly a supe­rior jet aircraft during the last days of a lost war. His unit operated – as did many others – from the Reichsautobahn near Munich, and was quickly withdrawn to Salzburg airport in May 1945. Before American ground forces overran the unit’s new airfield some Me 262s had been evacuated to meadows near Inns­bruck, and later became war booty. The order sent to JV 44 to join JG 7 as a fourth jet fighter Gruppe and to move to Prague-Rusin was never carried out.

The last, weak German jet formations were concentrated around Prague. These forces com­prised parts of JG 7, KG (J) 6 and KG 51. Fate in April 1945 the jet pilots carried out low-level attacks against Russian ground forces in cen­tral Germany but suffered many losses due to a high concentration of AA units operated by the Red Army. Fate in April 1945 the Gefechtsver – band (‘battle unit’) Hogeback (operating the remaining aircraft of KG (J) 6, minor parts of I. and II./KG (J) 54 and the KG 51) was ordered to support German ground forces after Czecho­slovakian resistance fighters had attacked all German-held positions in the Prague area. After the final ground attack sorties had been carried out early in May 1945, the last jet planes took part in a final mission. Then the pilots flew to British-held positions in northern Germany near Fassberg.

Apart from the units already mentioned, a number of others had been established by the OKF. Besides the Erganzungsjagdgeschwader 2, a training unit for jet pilots, the III. (Erganzungsgruppe)/Kampfgeschwader was set up in order to train more jet fighter-bomber pilots. In addition, some more experimental units flew the Me 262 or other German jets. For example, the Kommando Stamp tested the bombardment of Allied bomber formations with the help of small fragmentation bombs or larger GP bombs towards the end of 1944. The results were poor, and so the pilots and aircraft were given to other units.

The 1 ./Versuchsverband of OKF started experiments to carry out short-range recon­naissance missions. Eater on, the Nahauf- klarungsgruppe 6 was established in Herzogenaurach in November 1944. One of its two Staffeln was commanded by Hauptmann Braunegg, the commanding officer who oper­ated the Kommando Braunegg from the Mun­ster area early in 1945. The establishment of other short-range units was ordered early in 1945, but these units saw only limited opera­tional deployment.

These formations and all of the fighter and jet bomber units were dissolved during the last days of World War II. The operational experi­ence of the personnel was not lost, despite the War’s disastrous end for Germany, as it was taken over by the Allies and used for combat training by all the victorious nations. Most of the jet aircraft still airworthy were sent to France, Great Britain and the USA. Many paper projects and jet engines were also captured by advancing Allied ground formations. These war prizes formed the basis for the construction of more powerful jet aircraft in the following years.

Подпись: LUFTWAFFE AT WAR: GERMAN ) ETS 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

The new Me 262 V7 (WerkNr. 170303), which joined the Messerschmitt flight evaluation on 19 October 1944. This was the prototype for the rebuilt conversion Me 262 A-
la/Bo. The aircraft was tested at Lager Lechfeld with і 000 kp take-off assistance rockets and different heavy military loads. Two rocket propulsion units can be seen

Подпись: sO(left) under the camouflage netting.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: Another Me 262 A awaits trials at Lager Lechfeld, where most of the Me 262 test programme was carried out. The flight test programme was worked out in close co-opera­tion with the Kommando der Erprobungsstellen (KdE) at Rechlin, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) and the air­craft producer to save time. In the meantime the develop­ment of the Ar 234, Ju 388 and a few other aircraft was also being undertaken at Rechlin.

Below: One practice GP bomb, in the size of a SC 500 but without explosive load and fuse, is prepared for loading action by employees of the Messerschmitt works at Lager Lechfeld. The air base was bombed several times by Allied bombers, and most of the buildings were severely hit, but this did not stop the work on the new generation of jet fighters.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Right: A view into the cockpit of a Me 262 A – la single-seat day fighter which was cap­tured by American forces at Lager Lechfeld in April 1945. On the left side of the panel are the flight instruments, and on the right side are two rows of instruments to monitor both Jumo 004 В turbo-jets. The engine controls were installed on the left console, the electric systems on the right.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Left: After a flight with a performance of more than 1000 km/h the Messerschmitt fac­tory pilot Heinz Herlitzius enjoys a cig­arette. Together with Herlitzius, Dr Hermann Wurster, Fritz Wendel, Wilhelm Ostertag and many other experienced fly­ers succeeded in com­pleting the ambitious test programme in a remarkable period of time, considering the handicaps imposed by wartime conditions.


GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Early in 1945 two Me 262 A-las of III. Gruppe of Erganzungsjagdgeschwader 2 (III./EJG 2), ‘White 6’ and ‘White 13’, take off to intercept bombers of the Fifteenth USAF
approaching the area of Munich-Augsburg-Landsberg. As well as training new jet pilots, the instructors, under the command of Oberstleutnant Heinz Bar, also flew oper-
ations against enemy planes over Bavaria.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: This fin section, fitted with woollen tufts, was tested at Lager Lechfeld. As well as the prototype Me 262 V2 (WerkNr. 170056), which was tested there to check improved side rudders, eight other re-designated prototypes were also used for different evaluations. These included the new Me 262 VI with various wooden tail surfaces, and both Me 262 A-2a/U2 two-seat bombers.

Below: A close-up view of the Jumo 004 В turbo-jet engine c a Me 262 A-la. The first Jumo 004s were installed under thf wings of a Me 262 prototype, the V4, which took off for the first time with two Jumo 004 А-Os on 15 May 1943. On 17 October 1943 the Me 262 V6 took off with the help of two improved Jumo 004 В-Os. After first series Jumo 004 B-ls had arrived at Lager Lechfeld, trials were carried out with the Me 262 V8 on 18 March 1944.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Подпись: LUFTWAFFE AT WAR: GERMAN |ETS 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

The night fighter prototype Me 262 V2 (WerkNr. 1700S6) was tested with FuG 216 and FuG 218 radar installations and a complete weapons bay to evaluate the influ­ence of the fire power resulting from four 30 mm machine cannon. There is no proof that this prototype was ever used in combat action against British night bombers

or fighters.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

The fin and rudder of a He 162 single-seat day fighter captured by British forces at Leek in northern Germany and later hand
ed over, together with a few more ‘Volksjagerto the French Allies. The Allies had their own jet-propelled designs, and used
the He 162s solely to examine Germany’s military jet aircraft technology.


GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The He 280 prototype jet fighter, which joined flight development on 22 September 1940, and crashed, after sixty-four towed flights, on 13 January 1943. The He 280 VI had no tendency to flutter and attained a maximum speed of 800 km/h. The installation of four Argus As 014 units under the He 280’s wings was later proposed.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Right: Under the leadership of Mach and Regner, this mock-up and one other had been constructed by June 1939. As of July 1939 more studies were carried out featuring a twin – engined jet aircraft with a nose wheel. At that time the future He 280 was still designated He 180. By late summer 1940 numerous details had been resolved and Heinkel offered the hitherto private project to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM).

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Left: The third prototype, with the registration GJ+CB, which joined the evaluation phase on 30 March 1941. It was propelled by two Heinkel He S8A jet engines, but these did not perform well and were replaced by more powerful Jumo 004 jets. On 26 June 1943 the aircraft was very badly damaged on a test flight, due to the failure of one engine.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Opposite page, bottom: During the weapons adjustment the forward section of the He 280’s fuselage was fixed on a movable trestle in order to check the behaviour of all three MG 151 machine guns being installed in the nose. Several attempts had to be carried out before a sufficient ammunition supply was finally achieved.

Below: The He 280 V3, towed by an old tractor and accompanied by several maintenance personnel. The He 280 V3 (GJ+CB) was first flown on 5 July 1942. At the end of World War II parts of the prototype were captured at Schwechat near Vienna.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Above: As well as the He 280 VI to V3, two other He 280 aircraft were assembled. The He 280 V7 (D-IEXM, NU+EB), seen here, am the He 280 V8 (NU+EC), joined flight testing by April and July 1943 respectively. The seventh Hi 280 had made 115 towed flights by early 1945. The He 280 V8 was also tested with a V-tail unit with the help of the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fur Segelflug (DFS) near Vienna.

Left: The experimental department of the Messerschmitt works in Augsburg-Haunstetten. Behind a Bf 108 (TJ+AY) liaison aircraft is the first prototype Me 262 powered by a Jumo 210 G piston engine (production numbe – WerkNr. – 42 012). A Caudron ( 445 belonging to the factory is in the background. On 4 August 1941 the Me 262 VI prototype (PC+UA, WerkNr. 262 00 001) wa flown by two pilots, Bader and Beauvais, from Rechlin.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The second prototype Me 262 jet aircraft, which had the registration PC+UB (WerkNr. 262 00 002). The aircraft was still named ‘P 1065’, although it received its official number 262 by February 1941. The aircraft, which was fitted with two Jumo 109- 004 turbo-jets, crashed on 18 April 1943, killing factory test pilot Ostertag.

Below: The third prototype Me 262, which was completed early in 1942. The lack of turbo-jets kept it at the factory while production of the Me 262 V4 and V5 continued. On 18 July 1942 the first jet – powered take-off was made, by Fritz Wendel at Leipheim air base. The factory pilot returned to Leipheim with no difficulty some ten minutes later. In the background of this picture a Me 321 transport glider can be seen.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: Another view of the third prototype Me 262, placed before one of the huge Me 321 gliders being built at Leipheim near the Reichsautobahn leading to Munich. The third Me 262 was damaged on 11 August 1942 during take-off on its seventh flight, with Dipl.- Ing. Heinrich Beauvais at the controls. The engines overheated and neither delivered the necessary thrust for take-off. The aircraft was repaired and flew again on 5 March 1943.

Below: Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring (in light uniform, left) visiting Lager Lechfeld near Landsberg/Bavaria on 2 November 1943, accompanied by Willy Messerschmitt and General Adolf

Galland. The evaluation of the Me 262 continued at this air base until April 1945, with only minor interruptions despite several Allied air raids.

Opposite page: A detail of the forward landing gear of the Me 2( V6 (VI+AA, WerkNr. 130001), which could be fully retracted by і hydraulic system. This picture was taken at Augsburg – Haunstetten. In the background, artificial trees camouflage the factory airport. The V6 was first flown on 17 October 1943 and crashed after twenty-eight test flights during a further test by Ku Schmidt on 8 March 1944.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Left: Gerd Lindner brings I his flight demonstration ol the grey-painted Me 262 VI to an end, observed by a I group of Luftwaffe officers I inspecting the factory site! Lager Lechfeld. G5ring ami many officers sent by the I RLM were reportedly amazed bv the performam and manoeuvrability of th twin-engined jet plane, which was fitted with two Jumo 004 B-0 turbo-jets.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Below: The Me 262 S3 (VI+AH, WerkNr. 130008) which was first flown on 1 April 1944. It was the thiri pre-production series aircraft and differed not much from the later Me 2( A-lb aircraft, which was also fitted with four heavj MK 108 machine cannon. I The Me 262 S3 was handeA over to Erprobungs – v kommando 262 (EK 262) anf] was damaged after shedding a turbo-jet v following a nose-gear n collapse.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The sixth Me 262, called S6 (VI+AK, WerkNr. 130011), which was first flown in April 1944 and crashed on 18 July 1944. The aircraft was given to EK 262, an experimental fighter unit formed at Lager Lechfeld on 19 December 1943. Its first commander was Hauptmann Werner Thierfelder who was killed on 18 July 1944 and was replaced by Hauptmann Horst Geyer in August 1944.

Below: A few Me 262 fighters and bombers were evaluated not at Lager Lechfeld but at Rechlin near Lake Muritz near Neustrelitz. In the latter war years almost all evaluation took place at Lager Lechfeld, and in early 1945 only one Me 262 (WerkNr. 111609) was operated by the Kommando der Erprobungsstellen (KdE) at the Rechlin Luftwaffe base. The aircraft was used to compile performance data.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Left: Herr Luttgau, the main factory photographer, took this photograph during the flight evaluation of the third prototype Me 262. Many additional installations increased the flight weight of the early prototypes too much and resulted in the development of larger retractable landing gears.

Opposite page, bottom: Oberstleutnant Heinz Bar, the commanding officer of III. Gruppe of Erganzungsjagdgeschwader 2 (III./EJG 2) based at Lechfeld, flew the ‘Red 13’ several times to intercept Allied war planes over southern Germany. He invariably numbered his machines (from Bf 109 and

Fw 190 to Me 262) ’13’ for good luck. Bar shot down his last P-47 on 28 April 1945. He claimed a total of 220 air victories and completed over 1000 missions.

Below: Heinz Bar sitting on the wing of his famous jet fighter. He made his first jet flight in September 1944 at Wenzendorf near Hamburg. Then he took over the command of III./EJG 2 and additionally tested rocket-armed Me 262s and also wing bombs and other new weaponry. His first air victory flying a Me 262 A-la was on 19 March 1945 when he succeeded in destroying a P-51 fighter.

Below: Another view of Oberstleutnant Bar’s Me 262 at Lager Lechfeld. By the time he took over the command of Jagdverband 44 after General Galland was wounded in action, he had shot down, in the Me 262, one P-51, three P-47s, two B-26s and two B-24s. As commander of JV 44 he claimed his next B-26, two P-47s and two P-51s over Bavaria. Heinz Bar died after the war, when his light – plane crashed near Brunswick, on 28 April 1957.

Bottom: A Me 262 A-la of Jagdverband 44. JV 44 existed from 24 February 1945 to 1 May 1945. Commanded by Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, the former General der Jagdflieger (GdJ), it had a provisional strength of sixteen Me 262 A-la fighter aircraft. The ground personnel was taken from 16./JG 54, Industrieschutzstaffell (Industrial Defence Squadron 1) and from III./EJG 2. After operating from the Munich region the JV 44 moved to Salzburg fd its final missions.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The junk yard at Prague after the end of World War II. Most of the Me 262 fragments seen in the foreground would formerly have belonged to aircraft operated by the Gefechtsverband (‘battle unit’) Hogeback, which was responsible for attacking enemy positions around the Czech capital early in May 1945. As long as supplies lasted, the strongholds were bombed with small fragmentation SD Is. Several low-level attacks were also flown.

Below: During the Allied advance through Bavaria there were a lot of displaced Me 262 A-la jets captured along the roads. This one was found near Leipheim before taking off from the local Reichsautobahn.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: A jet at the Neuburg air base belonging to Kampfgeschwader (Jagd) 54, a former bomber unit which had to change its operational role at the end of 1944. Enemy action also forced KG (J) 54, which consisted of three Gruppen, to change its bases.

Flying from Gardelegen, Kitzingen, Neuburg and Munich-Riem, the unit suffered many losses to Allied P-51 and P-47 piston fighters during take-off and landing.

Opposite page, top: This Me 262 A-la was operated from Neuburg by KG (J) 54. The air base was hit by fragmentation bombs during many Allied air raids, and several Messerschmitt jets were damaged. This one stood at Neuburg until summer 1945, waiting to be scrapped.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Right: These jets belonged to KG (J) 54, commanded by Oberstleutnant Volprecht Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach. On 9 February 1945 he and many others were killed in action against American bombers. Major Hans-Georg Battcher became the new commanding officer on 27 February 1945. Enemy action forced his Geschwaderstab to move from Giebelstadt to Zerbst and Ftirstenfeldbruck. It was finally disbanded at Holzkirchen in Bavaria.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Opposite page, top: To avoid destruction during Allied raids, many Me 262 were dismantled and put beside the air bases all over the Reich in order to replace the casualties occurring on the ground or in the air. The aircraft shown had been part of the KG (J) 54 and were formerly operated by the 2. Staffel at Prague.

Left: Together with five to ten instructors, Oberstleutnant Bar carried out final attacks over Bavaria at the end of World War II, flying the Me 262 A-la series as shown. He was said to be one of the few pilots to fly the rocket-assisted Me 262 C-l conversion.

Above: The ‘Green V was operated by staff of III. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 7 ‘Nowotny’ (III./JG 7), which was based at Parchim in March 1945. There, a few Me 262 had been tested with rocket launchers fitted under the forward part of the fuselage. Note the small trolley (left) delivering more rockets to the aircraft.

Many more Me 262 A-las were equipped with R4M-missiles fixed under the wings.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The huge tent behind the Me 262 A-la had formerly belonged to a circus. After British and American bombers of the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force had damaged the Luftwaffe infrastructure early in 1945, provisional shelters like this were utilised, but it became impossible to maintain and service the remaining Me 262 jets in central Germany and Bavaria.

Below: During the final weeks of World War II the improved airport of Munich-Riem, together with Erding and Fiirsten – feldbruck, became the home of German jets. The taxiing Me 262 A – la is here returning to Riem from an interception mission over Bavaria in April 1945.

Opposite page, top: Hermann Goring, accompanied by Adolf Galland (left), visited units in Bavaria which were chosen to
become a part of German jet fighter forces. The first Me 262 units were set up from the III. Gruppe of the Zerstorergeschwader 26, whose pilots were familiar with twin-engined aircraft (Bf 110s and Me 410s). This was considered an advantage when converting to the Me 252 twin jet.

Opposite page, bottom: Rear view of a Me 262 fighter-bomber with two bomb racks. Orders were issued late in 1943 for the development of fast jet-propelled aircraft other than the Me 262 fighters. On 12 December 1943 Adolf Hitler had called for commitment of the Me 262 as a single-seat fighter-bomber to counter the long-awaited invasion of the Allies in western Europe.: On 8 June 1944 the Fiihrer restricted the further development of day fighter versions of the Me 262, as he intended it to be used as al retaliatory bomber.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: In July 1944 the delivery of the new jet-propelled fighter-bombers like this one began. Under the designation ‘Stormbird’, the first ones were delivered to Kommando Schenk, which was ordered to launch bombing raids with only a few Me 262 As fitted with ETC pylons to carry SC 250 bombs or AB 250 bomb containers. The Allied forces had won a large bridgehead along the Normandy coast and concentrated a lot of AA forces to protect their own positions against Me 262s.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Opposite page, top: A Me 262 A-la/Bo carrying a SC 250 general purpose bomb on ETCs commonly called ‘Wikingerschiffe’ (‘viking ships’). Bombing raids had little effect at this point, because Adolf Hitler prohibited low-level raids behind the front lines in western Europe, and from an altitude of several thousand feet there was no chance of hitting important individual targets such as bridges.

Right: A close view of a Me 262 A-la/Bo with two SC 250 bombs hanging beneath the forward fuselage. In order to reduce weight two of the MK 108s have been removed. The openings were later faired over to reduce air drag. German resources had diminished to the extent that only a limited number of jets were converted into fighter bombers. The planned definitive series, called A-2a, was also built only in limited numbers.


GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: This photograph was taken in Bavaria late in 1944 during the evaluation of the Me 262 jet bomber. Trials were undertaken to service the jets outside well equipped bases, with a minimum of materiel and special equipment. The small starter trolley was needed to charge the batteries of this Me 262 A-la/Bo and to enable the ignition of both Jumo 004 turbo-jets.

Below: On 5 December 1944 Major Wolfgang Schenk, the former operational leader of’Sonderkommando Edelweiss’ who had tested Me 262 fighter-bombers like this one, became the new command­ing officer of Kampfgeschwader 51. During winter 1944/45 the operations of KG 51 were limited by many factors, including weather conditions and the lack of fuel and spare parts. From Rheine and Flopsten the Me 262 A-l and A-2 jet bombers had to attack Allied positions all over Belgium and the Netherlands.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The Me 262s were maintained under poor conditions before being involved in operations when the German offensive in the Ardennes began on 16 December 1944. Six days later Me 262 pilots of KG 51 started their attacks against Allied supply lines leading to the battlefields in the Ardennes. In mid-December 1944 the preparations for ‘Unternehmen BODENPLATTE’ entered an important phase. On 1 January 1945 some of these aircraft took off to attack targets in the Brussels and Arnhem-Eindhoven area.

Below: Several low-level attacks were carried out after Hitler finally gave permission for them. In the meantime some parts of KG 51 had been moved back to Giebelstadt and Frankfurt, to mount bomb attacks against targets in Alsace where French units moved forward to the Rhine and threatened southern Germany.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: One of tFie rare Me 262 A-2a/U2 two-seat high-speed jet bombers, and a second Me 262 aircraft behind it, are towed into position by an Opel ‘Blitz’. Note the (partially covered) new glazed nose designed to accommodate a prone bomb aimer. Only two prototypes of this aircraft were constructed, and they never saw any operational usage with the Luftwaffe. During a test flight, one of them, designated Me 262 V 555, crashed near Marburg and was later captured by American ground forces.

Below: The abandoned ‘White 14’ early in 1945 after being captured by American troops. A training aircraft, this was possibly
operated first by Kommando Nowotny, then by JG 7 and finally by III./EJG 2. Structural defects finally prevented any further operational missions.

Opposite page, bottom: Selected high-ranking NSDAP leaders in autumn 1944 were invited to visit a Luftwaffe base to see the new ‘Wunderwaffen’ that would supposedly win the War. The aircraft shown here is coded E2+02. It was part of the inventory of the Erprobungsstelle Rechlin near Lake Miiritz in central eastern Germany.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: Me 262 aircraft marked with a small or large ‘S’ (seen here within the fuselage cross) could only be used for training missions. Several of these were former operational aircraft which had been

damaged. Such aircraft were handed over either to III./EJG 2 or to the Erganzungskampfgeschwader which was responsible for training jet bomber pilots at the end of World War II.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: A small number of two-seater Me 262 training aircraft like this one were produced by Blohm & Voss at Wenzendorf near Hamburg after it became clear that the Deutsche Lufthansa at Staaken could not fulfil the task. First a pre-series aircraft (WerkNr. 130010) was built, followed by other B-ls rebuilt from A-ls despite a severe air raid in January 1945.

Below: The production of Me 262 aircraft continued in 1945, despite severe Allied air raids. The former production sites were split up into several smaller ones which were dispersed around Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg, Munich and Regensburg. One of these,
shown here, was the ‘Waldfabrik Obertraubling’ (‘Obertraubling forest factory’) east of Regensburg, where the final assembly took place.

Opposite page, top: At Obertraubling Me 262 A-la fighters were produced in a well-camouflaged woodland assembly site called ‘forest assembly’, which was finally captured by American ground troops late in April 1945. In the course of the War some 1430 Me 262s were built, of which more than 800 reached the Luftwaffe’s front line units.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Right: The first stage of his huge construction, rear Landsberg on Lech, was finished early in 1945. Two huge bunkers, railed ‘Weingut Г and Weingut ІГ were planned, for the production of greater :han ever numbers of Me ’62s, under safe ronditions and a thick ayer of concrete. Slave abour was used in a bid о finish the work, but he Allies ended all such ittempts in April 1945. ГЬе completed parts vere later used as upply stores by the lew, post-war German Ur Force.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The right combustion chamber of the composite engine explodes during testing of the sole Me 262 C-2b interceptor at Lechfeld on 25 February 1945. The first flight of the C-2b took place on 26 March 1945. Climbing at a speed of 120 m/s the home defence aircraft reached an altitude of 8200 m in not more than V/z minutes.

Below: American specialists checked the remains of the Lechfeld testing site at the end of April 1945. Besides several other Me 262 prototype and series aircraft, the former Me 262 V074 (WerkNr. 170074) was captured. Its engines had been removed. Additional material was found describing a third
home defence aircraft, ‘C-3a’, a Me 262 A-l fitted with a jettisonable rocket engine and two 600-litre drop tanks.

Right: The Me 262 V083 was captured at Lechfeld in April 1945. This and another jet fighter were designed as ‘Piilkzerstorer’ (‘pack destroyers’), equipped with a huge 50 mm Mauser cannon in the nose designed to attack and break up ‘boxes’ of American bombers. By 21 March 1945 the first of these prototypes had made nineteen flights. When a second aircraft became available, Major Wilhelm Herget did in fact attack a pack of B-26 bombers, on 16 April 1945.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Below: The first photo-reconnaissance unit equipped with Me 262 A-la/U3 aircraft, like the one shown here, was set up in November 1943 at Herzogen- aurach near Nuremburg. It was decided to form a Gruppen-staff together with two Staffeln under the

command of Major Heinz Schiitze. A small evaluation unit, Kommando Braunegg, was also established to gain operational knowledge for future combat action over western Europe.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Opposite page, top: In February 1945 the Kommando Braunegg, perating under the command of Oberleutnant (later Hauptmann) [erward Braunegg, saw combat action over north-west Germany rbordinated under the command of Versuchsverband OKL. The ommando was integrated with its few Me 262 A-las and Me 262 – la/U3s into the short-range reconnaissance unit 2. Nahauf – arungsgruppe 6 (2./NAG 6).

Opposite page, bottom: The NAG 6 operated from Kaltenkirchen ear Hamburg, Hohne in Schleswig, Burg near Magdeburg, and issberg. The unit was then forced to retreat to Bavaria, where the rst reconnaissance Me 262s of 2./NAG 6, like this one, landed on 5 April 1945 at Lechfeld, where staff and the first Staff el had been ationed since 27 March 1945. The last missions were flown in pril 1945.

Above: This Me 262 A-la/Ul possibly belonged to l./NAG 1, the second short-range reconnaissance unit. A few Me 262 A-la/Uls were delivered to the unit in March 1945 and flew a limited number of operational missions from Zerbst in central Germany. Only about thirty aircraft were handed over to l./NAG 1, NAG 6 and 3./NAG 13 in the closing days of the War.

Below: To secure the close defence of the Me 262 key production sites some small Industrieschutzstaffeln (ISS) – Industrial Defence Squadrons – were raised. The first was established in late 1944. One of them was based at Lager Lechfeld, shown here. The aircraft were flown by factory pilots from the local Messerschmitt works.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: Aircraft outside one of the huge hangars at the Erding air base. The Allied forces found the Me 262s gathered before one of these severely damaged hangars in May 1945. Several Luftwaffe aircraft were made operational at Erding. The ‘Frontschleuse’ (Forward Air Depot) there was responsible for installing the weapons and the wireless operation systems. Another task was rebuilding operational aircraft.

Below: The shattered remains of the Luftwaffe filled many air bases. Only a few Me 262s could be taken to America for further evaluation.

Right: A old wooden mock-up of the Ar 234 B-2 twin-engined jet bomber, with the cockpit roof removed to reveal the interior to visiting officers sent by RLM and the Kommando der Erprobungs – stellen (KdE), the main evaluation unit of the Luftwaffe.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: Jettisonable rocket sets greatly aided taking off with heavy bomb loads. At smaller bases these packs assumed an added significance because Allied bomb raids caused the demolition of the main runways. In order to secure a limited operational action over western Europe it was necessary for all forward air fields to have rocket sets in stock.

Below: The ground crew of III./KG 76 carries a 1000 kg GP bomb to one of the Ar 234 Bs hidden in a forest near Rheine. Loads like this were often towed with the help of a Kettenkrad (tracked motorcycle combination). The bomber in the background is already loaded for its next action over the front.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

ove: An Opel ‘Blitz’ lorry, used also as a refuelling vehicle, here re an Ar 234 В photo-reconnaissance aircraft to the runway, long the first experienced reconnaissance pilots were Horst tz, Erich Sommer and Werner Muffey. Oberleutnant Muffey flew th the Kommando Sperling. His Ar 234 В had the designation ■tKH. It was often fitted with two drop tanks to enlarge its ^rational range in combat.

Below: Refuelling one of the Ar 234s of Kommando Sperling from an Opel truck. These reconnaissance jets became the sole source of up-to-date information about Allied supply lines behind the front. They were also called upon to watch British harbours and monitor hits by the German Vergeltungswaffen, the Vis and V2s, all over southern England, and especially in the London area.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

ft and above: Two views of the wooden mock-up of the camera itallations inside the rear section of the Ar 234’s fuselage. These lOtographs may have belonged to a series of prints sent to the, M before a first prototype jet reconnaissance aircraft was rebuilt
from the Ar 234 V5 (taking off with the aid of a pair of jettisonable wheels, and landing on a sprung skid attachment). A ‘Rustsatz (conversion kit) later became available, comprising two cameras (Rb 50/30 or 75/30).

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: An Ar 234 В of the first Staffel of Femaufklcirungsgruppe 123. This was one of the few jet reconnaissance aircraft that took part in the last retreating action from northern Germany and Denmark to Norway. On 1 May 1945 it was flown from Rendsburg near Kiel to Stavanger, where it was captured by British and Norwegian forces shortly after.

Below: One of the late Ar 234 C prototypes – the V21 – powered by four BMW 003 A-l turbo-jets. This aircraft (WerkNr. 130061, PI+WZ) first took off on 24 November 1944 and was still in action in February 1945. It was mainly used for testing the flight behaviour and performance of the four-engined conversion, until 18 February 1945.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

rve and below: The exterior of the wooden mock-up of the jected Ar 234 C-5, which differed from the series C-3 cabin in iy ways. The main instrument board was now located in front he pilot. The C-5 was a two-seat bomber whose second crew
member could perform the duties of a wireless operator, navigator and bomb aimer. This enabled the pilot to concentrate on his own task, flying the bomber to the assigned target.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

iposite page: Two further •ws into the cockpit of an 234 bomber mock-up. In ier to improve the abilities the two – and four-engined mbers, ever more modern itruments were installed, ch as the FuG 101, a very act altimeter for precise v-level attacks. A rear irning system, improved mb sight and fixed •ward firing armament ;re also proposed.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945ght and below: Constant :empts were made to iprove the range of vision a second crew member, ting not far behind the lot in the Ar 234 C’s ckpit. The radar stallation is near the bulge r the observer, who would iter his compartment from eps at the side of the rward fuselage while the lot took his seat from the her side of the cabin. This rangement differed not uch from the night fighters : the proposed P-series.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: The damaged Ar 234 prototype, which was hit during the American air raid at Wesendorf on 4 April 1945. The aircraft belonged to a new series of prototypes equipped with four BMW 003 engines. The Ar 234 V20 was first flown on 5 November 1944 with Ubbo Janssen at the controls. On 28 March 1945 it was transferred to Warnemiinde and then Wesendorf.

Opposite page, top: This badly damaged Ar 234 C crashed near Bad Worishofen, probably in late April 1945. It is believed that this was one of the C aircraft flown to Bavaria to prevent them falling
into the hands of Allied forces in northern Germany. Others landed at Munich-Riem, and were captured a few days later.

Opposite page, bottom: The Ju 287 VI was the first prototype of a German heavy jet bomber. The lack of more powerful turbo-jets forced Junkers to install four Jumo 004 engines. The prototype was rebuilt from the fuselage of an He 177 and utilised parts from many other aircraft. The landing gear of an American B-24 heavy bomber was used to enable it to begin flight evaluation as quickly as possible.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945
Above: A front view of the first Ju 287 prototype. It was flown for eggs’) fixed under the wing nacelles and one of the forward turbo-

the first time on 8 August 1944, propelled by four Jumo 004 В jet engines. This huge jet bomber had a top speed of 370 km/h. The

engines and three rocket engines called ‘Krafteier’ (literally ‘power Ju 287 VI was flown by Flugkapitan Siegfried Holzbauer.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Left: Two Ju 287 prototypes were destroyed by German soldiers at Brandis air base. The aircraft in this picture was the second prototype, equipped with double engine nacelles under both wings and single turbo-jets side by side on the forward fuselage. In September

1944 it was ordered that all Jumo 004 В jet engines should be removed and brought to Rechlin, to provide propulsion for Me 262 aircraft being evaluated. In February

1945 both Ju 287 prototypes were blown up.

Below: The unpowered Horten H IX VI was towed to its start position by a heavy truck before its first flight over Gottingen. On 5 March 1944 the prototype was towed by a He 111 up to an altitude of some 4000 m. It was later transported for testing at Oranienburg on 23 March 1944.

Bottom: The H IX V2 taking shape in a hangar at Gottingen in November 1944. The aircraft was fitted with two Jumo 004 В turbo­jets. The first take-off was on 18 December 1944 at Oranienburg with Erwin Ziller at the controls. A few months later the aircraft was captured by advancing American soldiers at Brandis near Leipzig.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: TFie second FF IX was flown for the first time by test-pilot Leutnant Erwin Ziller at Oranienburg air base near the German capital. On 2 February 1945 one of the two Jumo 004 В engines failed. During the emergency landing the H IX V2 crashed, killing Ziller.

Below: There were further proposals to build as many of the improved Gottinger Ausfuhrung (‘Gottingen Variant’) as possible. Now built by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik, it was known as the Go 229 A-l. The third prototype was captured before flying and was brought to the USA after Germany’s unconditional surrender in May 1945. The Go 229 V5 shown here was under construction at Friedrichsroda near Gotha and was scrapped in 1945.

Opposite page, top: The early He 162s, like this one, were constructed by Heinkel Stid in the Vienna region in October 1944. The first of these, the He 162 VI (WerkNr. 200001, VI+IA), had its maiden flight on 6 December 1944. It was followed by more than twenty prototypes until a first series He 162 A-l was ready on 25 March 1945. It was built by the Heinkel works at Marienehe.

Opposite page, bottom: During the first part of the He 162 flight evaluation three pilots crashed. Fhigkapitiin Dipl.-Ing. Gotthold Peter (here in the cockpit) was killed in the first prototype on 10 December 1944. On 4 February 1945 Oberleutnant Wedemeyer’s He 162 M6 was lost, followed by Flugzeugbaumeister Full’s He 162 М2 on 25 February 1945 while testing an enlarged fin section. The Heinkel works also reported other, lesser, damages during the testing phase.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Below: The Erprobungskommando 162 at Ludwigslust. On 1 January 1945 EK 162 was established by the Generalquartiermeister of the Luftwaffe, with the principal aim of allowing Luftwaffe pilots to test the new jet fighter. On 25 February 1945 the OKL ordered it to raise a first operational Gruppe, the I. /Jagdgeschwader 1. The unit was sent to Parchim to take over the first "Volksjager’ in March 1945. The first series He 162 was not available until 1 April 1945.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Right: A front view of one of the new Heinkel jet fighters being delivered to Jagdgeschwader 1 ‘Oesau’ at Ludwigslust. The first Gruppe of JG 1 was stationed there in April 1945 while the second one was due to be based at Garz. Lack of fuel made the jet pilots’ training phase very short and caused further losses. The commanding officer of II./JG 1, Knight’s Cross holder Hauptmann Paul H. Dahne, was killed during a training flight.

Opposite page, bottom: Lined up at Leek in Schleswig-Holstein, the He 162s of Einsatzgruppe Jagdgeschwader 1 await the arrival of British soldiers after news of the unconditional surrender. The explosive loads had been removed from the aircraft the previous night, by the order of the commanding officer Oberstleutnant Herbert Ihlefeld. At that time the entire Jagdgeschwader comprised just two Einsatz – Staffeln.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945



GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

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GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Opposite page, top: Another view of the He 162s at Leek. During the last days of the War little flight action had been reported. A few pilots had been ordered to shoot down British piston fighter-bombers over the Flensburg – Heide-Schleswig region since 25 April 1945. They were also ordered to intercept DH Mosquitos which operated over northern Germany.

Left: A few days earlier, Leutnant R. Schmitt had damaged an RAF fighter in action; now the Luftwaffe officers looked back on a lost war and contemplated new professions. Here in front of their former fighters are (left to right) Major Zober, Oberleutnant Demuth and Hauptmann Kiinnecke.

Above: This He Д62 A-2 was one of those handed over to the RAF for flight evaluation. Two of the ‘Volksjdger’ could be transported without wings and fin sections on captured Reichsbahn twin-bogie flatcars. The Geschwader, Gruppe and Staff el emblems have been painted on the side of this aircraft’s fuselage.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945Above: In 1944 Allied air raids made it necessary to disperse all major aircraft factories across the country. Key industries were also moved into the natural or artificial caverns of former mining companies. At Modling, near Vienna, an underground factory called ‘Languste’ had been established in this way. He 162 fuselages and wings could be transported on little trolleys through this narrow drift.

Left: A view into the underground production site at Modling. Slave labourers had to construct wooden spare parts for the ‘Volksjager’ programme on these wooden working tables. After German forces retreated the underground factory was destroyed by its own personnel. Most of the assembled He 162s were flown to Linz and then to Memmingen.

Opposite page: A couple of these training systems were constructed to teach ‘Volksjager’ pilots to handle the propulsion, since they were familiar only with the flight behaviour of piston engines. The static training rig presented the main instruments of the He 162 A aircraft and the BMW 003 turbo-jet. A glider conversion of the ‘Volksjager’, without propulsion, was proposed for actual flight training.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Above: Members of the ground crew of Jagdgeschwader 1 work on an early He 162 A-2 jet fighter on 15 May 1945. Under Oberleutnant Wolfgang Wollenweber’s supervision the men prepare the jet fighter carrying a ‘White 3’, still armed with two 20 mm guns, for future flight training of RAF pilots. At that time most of the crews were in a camp near Schmorholm, from which most of the former JG 1 officers were discharged early in July 1945.

Below: Most of the airworthy He 162s like this one were captured by British ground forces at Leek; some others were found by American soldiers in the Kassel region and at Munich-Riem. Soviet troops also found several aircraft in central Germany, where the He 162 was constructed by Heinkel, Junkers and the Mittelwerke.

GERMAN JETS, 1944-1945

Progressive Proponents: Marshall, Arnold, and Roosevelt

The War Department’s efforts to curb Andrews’s emphasis on heavy bombers intensified during 1938, until the combination of three events abruptly halted the trend: the appointment of Brig­adier General George C. Marshall as Chief of the General Staff’s War Plans Division, Hap Arnold’s appointment as Chief of the Air Corps, and President Roosevelt’s growing fear of German aggression.

Unlike many members of the Army’s hierarchy, George Mar­shall was not an opponent of strategic bombing. Andrews would make him an advocate. After assuming his new duties in August, Marshall visited Langley for an update on the ghq Air Force. Although they had never met, Andrews (now a temporary ma­jor general) was not unknown to Marshall, who had once served as chief of staff for Andrews’s father-in-law. In addition, the two shared southern backgrounds—Andrews hailed from Nashville; Marshall had attended Virginia Military Institute—and both men possessed an “old-world” sense of courtesy.14 Andrews told his guest that the в-17 was the essence of his organization, but added that he could not obtain additional bombers. To demonstrate the B-t7’s fundamental importance, he offered to take Marshall on a nine-day inspection of the ghq Air Force and aircraft production facilities. Marshall agreed, and afterward wrote his host: “I want to thank you again more formally and definitely for the splendid trip you gave me, and especially for your personal efforts to make it a pleasant one and highly instructive. I enjoyed every moment of the trip and my association with you, and I really think I acquired a fair picture of military-air activities in general.”15

In October, Marshall replaced Embick as Deputy Chief of Staff and immediately began working to erase his predecessor’s hostil­ity to airmen. Kuter, assigned to the General Staff’s War Plans Di­vision, recalled that Marshall wanted officers assigned to the staff who “were young, aviators, and not molded into standard con­formity by any preceeding [s/c] series of Army schools.”36 He ar­rived at his new job from the Tactical School on 1 July 1939, the day that Marshall became Acting Chief of Staff of the Army. Two months later Marshall became the official Chief of Staff. The Air Corps—and its emphasis on independent air power—finally had a friend in a high place.

Marshall’s march through the Army hierarchy complemented the appointment of Hap Arnold to replace Major General Oscar Westover as Chief of the Air Corps. After Westover died in an airplane crash on 21 September 1938, Craig originally offered Westover’s position to Andrews—provided that he quit promot­ing the в-17. When Andrews refused, the job went to Arnold.37 At­tempting to assuage the growing split between the Air Corps and the ghq Air Force, Westover had taken Arnold from command of the ghq Air Force’s First Wing as a temporary brigadier gen­eral in January 1936 and made him his Assistant Chief of the Air Corps as a permanent brigadier. Arnold, forty-nine, would serve the final ten and a half years of his career in Washington DC and direct what ultimately became—in terms of men and aircraft— the largest military air organization in history. Leading that force would eventually cost him his health. The cherubic face and fre­quent smile that earned Arnold his nickname belied a relentless, often chaotic, energy that made him difficult to work for on the best of days. He commanded by relying on instinct and experi­ence, and possessed a diverse military background on which to base his decisions.

Arnold’s career did not, however, include combat experience. Af­ter graduating from West Point, he learned to fly from the Wright brothers. He twice won the prestigious MacKay Trophy for out­standing feats of airmanship—despite having suffered a severe case of fear of flying that grounded him for four years. During World War I he gained invaluable expertise about the intricacies of American aircraft production—and Washington DC politics— that would serve him well in the next war. His avid backing of Billy Mitchell led to temporary “banishment” at Fort Riley, Kan­sas, where he commanded a squadron and perfected ground sup­port techniques. He then gained experience in supply and main­tenance at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. From Dayton he went to March Field.

Arnold did not attend the Air Corps Tactical School, but as a close friend of Mitchell he absorbed the notion that bombing could win wars by destroying the enemy’s capacity and will to re­sist.!S Arnold, though, was more judicious than Mitchell—or An­drews—in parading the merits of independent air power.39 He was also more pragmatic. While firmly committed to the goal of air force autonomy, Arnold did not want to press forward until all the pieces were in place. He fully appreciated that the Air Corps consisted of more than simply men and airplanes. “The ghq Air Force is as much of a revolutionary step as should be tried at this time,” he told a congressional committee in July 1936. “We can’t at this stage stand on our own two feet.”40 Two years later he still thought that the time for autonomy was not ripe. To avoid an­tagonizing President Roosevelt and the War Department, he sup­ported Secretary Woodring’s limitations on в-17 production. Once rearmament began in 1939, he then shunned “any drastic organi­zational change” that might hinder the process.41

Andrews meanwhile continued his crusade for the в-17, which Army opponents had dubbed “Andrews’s folly.” His inability to increase the bomber force made him despondent. “I have only a few months in this job of mine and I will be glad to get out of it, for as it works out, I carry the responsibility and very little author­ity,” he lamented to Marshall in October 1938. “There is no fu­ture in it, and it is like sitting all of the time on a powder keg.”42 In January 1939, after Secretary Woodring boasted of American air strength, Andrews publicly declared that the United States was a sixth-rate air power. When Andrews’s tenure as ghq Air Force commander expired one month later, Woodring personally ap­proved his assignment to Fort Sam Houston as district air offi­cer.43 Andrews reverted to his permanent rank of colonel and was given an office that included an open latrine—the same office that Mitchell occupied when banished to Fort Sam Houston in 1925.44 Yet the penance proved short-lived. In July, one of Marshall’s first moves as Acting Chief of Staff was to promote Andrews to brig­adier general and make him Assistant Chief of Staff for Training and Operations—the first time that an airman became one of the four assistant chiefs on the Army’s General Staff.

Although Marshall’s air power advocacy and Arnold’s air power discretion helped curb the Army’s resistance to a heavy bomber force, the third—and most important—factor that made Andrews’s vision a reality was Roosevelt. The president watched with grow­ing apprehension as Adolf Hitler began rearming Germany and then marched into the Rhineland and Austria; Spain appeared des­tined to fall to fascism; the Japanese had invaded China proper. Despite the isolationist sentiment that still gripped the American public (and Congress) in 1938, Roosevelt saw Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan as direct threats to the United States. The former Assistant Secretary of the Navy was no longer certain that the sea service could protect American shores if war occurred. He realized that air power facilitated much of ongoing fascist aggression, and Andrews’s long-range exhibitions with B-17S had caught his eye as well.4’ On 12 September 1938, as the Czechoslovakian crisis intensified, Roosevelt listened to a radio broadcast of Hitler rant­ing at a Nuremberg party rally. The president was fluent in Ger­man and concluded that war was imminent. He dispatched Works Progress Administration (wpa) director Harry Hopkins on a secret tour of American aircraft factories, telling him that he was “sure then that we were going to get into war and he believed that air power would win it.”46 As the British and French cowered before Hitler at Munich, Hopkins reported that the rate of American air­craft production was almost 2,600 airplanes a year.4 Roosevelt determined that it was not enough.

On 14 November 1938 the president assembled key military and civilian leaders and their assistants, including Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr., Assistant Secretary of War Louis Johnson, Army Chief of Staff Craig, Army Deputy Chief of Staff Marshall, Arnold, and Hopkins in his office for what Ar­nold called “a bolt from the blue”: he wanted an Army Air Corps of 24,000 airplanes, with 10,000 more a year rolling off the as­sembly line and an “all-out” capacity to produce 20,000 a year. Roosevelt stated that a new regiment of field artillery or a new bar­racks in Wyoming or new machine tools in an ordnance arsenal would not scare Hitler one goddamned bit; he wanted airplanes— now—and lots of them! He wanted a large force of Army strike aircraft to protect the Western hemisphere; the Navy should also receive additional airplanes. The president confessed that the iso­lationist Congress would probably approve only 10,000 aircraft, of which 7,500 should be combat airplanes (with half of those being reserves), and the remaining 2,500 serving as trainers. He then outlined a construction scheme that he likely based on in­formation from Hopkins’s travels. Government factories would build one-fifth of the aircraft while commercial factories built the rest. The WPA would construct seven factories, with five of those remaining idle until needed for more expansion. Arnold left the White House believing that the Air Corps had finally “achieved its Magna Carta.”48

In his January 1939 address to Congress, Roosevelt asked for $500 million for defense spending, with $180 million of it to pur­chase three thousand airplanes. Several congressmen had accused the president of creating a “pump-priming” spending program when Assistant Secretary Johnson publicly called for increasing the Air Corps after the 14 November meeting, causing Roosevelt to trim his estimate of an acceptable air expansion. The president maintained that government-owned factories, which would also produce aircraft along with commercial aircraft companies, would provide a yardstick for measuring prices charged by the commer­cial aircraft industry.49

Gradually, though, the stark reality of an impotent American military matched by the darkening situation in Europe eclipsed New Deal limits on military spending. Boeing was geared to pro­duce only thirty-eight B-17S a year to add to the thirteen already in operation, and its production rate typified that of other Amer­ican aircraft manufacturers.50 Roosevelt, however, now privately indicated that he wanted airplanes available to send to Britain and France as well as to boost Air Corps totals. Envisioning an exten­sive growth in aircraft production, Arnold asked companies to prepare for it without giving them firm commitments, and many developed machine tools and prepared contracts. Meanwhile, Eu­rope’s slide toward war continued as German troops gobbled up the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March. One month later Con­gress passed Roosevelt’s appropriations bill. It raised the autho­rized strength of the Air Corps to 5,500 aircraft, 3,203 officers, and 45,000 enlisted men. Although not the increases the president had envisioned in November, they were nevertheless dramatic—the allocated money equaled half as much as the Air Corps received in the proceeding fourteen fiscal years, while officer strength dou­bled and enlisted strength increased by 150 percent.51

The outbreak of war in Europe heightened the prospects that a global struggle might engulf America and caused Air Corps’ plan­ning to shift away from the Japanese threat in the Pacific. On i September 1939—the day that the German attack on Poland com­menced—Lieutenant Colonel Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, chief of the Air Corps’ Planning Division, presented Arnold with an outline for a prospective air campaign against Japan.52 Spaatz maintained that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would be imprac­tical and unnecessary, while a sea blockade would achieve results too slowly. Independent air power, in the form of heavy bomb­ers from the Philippines, would wreck Japan’s vulnerable indus­try and achieve victory alone. Moreover, the presence of Amer­ican bombers in the Philippines might restrain further Japanese aggression.53 Ten days later, in an assertion that recalled the Rex intercept, Spaatz insisted that two groups of B-17S (eighty-four aircraft) on Hawaii would wreck any carrier force that Japan sent against the islands long before the carrier aircraft launched an attack.54

Although he deemed Spaatz’s observations valuable, Arnold focused his attention on Europe and sent handpicked observ­ers to Britain and France. Spaatz joined the group on the eve of Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain provided him with a firsthand appreciation for the difficulties of applying independent air power against a nation’s capability and will to resist. He concluded that the Luftwaffe would not win daylight air superiority—or wreck British will—by waging a poorly coordinated offensive against the city of London. In addition, because the Luftwaffe was de­signed to support ground troops, it lacked a four-engine heavy bomber and an accurate bombsight, and its bombers had mea­ger defensive armament and failed to maintain tight formations. They were no match for the Royal Air Force’s combination of a sophisticated command and control system based on radar; ma­neuverable, high-speed fighters flown by skilled, dedicated pilots; and astute leadership.55

From across the Atlantic, Roosevelt watched warily as the Luft­waffe spearheaded Hitler’s assaults on Poland, Denmark, and Nor­way. On 16 May 1940, after the blitzkrieg began to knife its way through France and the low countries, the president asked Con­gress to raise Army and Navy air arms to a total of fifty thousand airplanes with the capacity to produce fifty thousand more a year. Three days earlier, Arnold had asked the president for $80 million to purchase two hundred B-17S and $106 million for pilot train­ing—a brave request, given that two months before, Roosevelt threatened Arnold with an assignment on Guam if he did not sup­port the planned dispatch of aircraft to Britain and France.3’’ Ar­nold dragged his feet because he believed that the Air Corps’ needs outweighed those of the potential allies. He realized that aircraft production took time, and he knew that bombers were necessary to defend the United States and its possessions if war came.

For Roosevelt, an appreciation for the intricacies of bomber production would not occur until late 1940. At a 27 September White House meeting without Arnold—he remained “in the dog­house” for his stand against sending aircraft overseas—the presi­dent demanded that B-17S be sent to Britain. Marshall responded that, aside from a few squadrons stationed on the Philippines and Hawaii, the United States possessed a grand total of forty-nine of the heavy bombers for its own defense. “The President’s head went back as if someone had hit him in the chest,” recalled new Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who believed that Roosevelt “fi­nally saw the situation we were in.”-57 On 4 May 1941, the pres­ident ordered the production of five hundred heavy bombers per month. He told Stimson that the active defense of the United States required a fleet of heavy bombers, and added: “I know of no sin­gle item of our defense today that is more important than a larger four-engine bomber capacity.”38

Roosevelt’s emphasis on the bomber complemented Air Corps organizational changes that made air power’s independent appli­cation possible once America entered the war. After Andrews’s transfer to Fort Sam Houston, control of the ghq Air Force re­turned to the Chief of the Air Corps. The change thrilled Arnold, but it proved transitory. The buildup of Army ground forces that occurred concurrently with Air Corps expansion caused Mar­shall difficulty in getting his decisions through the General Staff. To decentralize the War Department, he established the ghq U. S. Army in July 1940. Brigadier General Lesley McNair—who had critiqued the Tactical School’s curriculum four years earlier— directed the new organization, which was slated to control the ghq Air Force. But Arnold believed “it would be suicidal,” as he told Marshall on 6 July, “to separate the G. H.Q. from the Air Corps right in the middle of an expansion program.”59

Arnold instead proposed establishing three Army deputy chiefs of staff—one each for ground, air, and service forces. General Staff officers rejected the idea, and their rationale revealed that many still harbored a hostile view of the Army’s air component. “The Air Corps believes that its primary purpose is to defeat the en­emy air force and execute independent missions against ground targets,” they wrote. “Actually, its primary purpose is to assist the ground forces in reaching their objective.”60 On 19 Novem­ber ghq U. S. Army consumed the ghq Air Force. Marshall, how­ever, had not discounted Arnold’s proposal. He made Arnold his deputy chief of staff for air on 30 October, and by March 1941 he gave Arnold authority to direct all air matters not pertaining to war plans or intelligence. Secretary Stimson believed that smooth air operations demanded even greater authority. As a result, on 20 June 1941, Arnold became Chief of the Army Air Forces (aaf), which comprised the Army Air Corps, the ghq Air Force (redes­ignated as Air Force Combat Command), and all other Army air units. He also remained Marshall’s deputy chief of staff for air.

The holy grail of autonomy now rested tantalizingly close to Ar­nold’s fingertips. The key to embracing it, Arnold believed, was independent air power.

The Offensive Begins from the Marianas

The August coa study went not only to Arnold, but also to Han – sell, the Twentieth Air Force’s Chief of Staff. As an early disciple of high altitude, daylight, precision bombing, Possum Hansell took its progressive message to heart. He had taught strategic bomb­ing theory at the Air Corps Tactical School during the 1930s; he was a principal architect of awpd-i and the primary architect of AWPD-42, both of which called for precision bombing offensives to forestall an invasion of Europe and knock Germany out of the war; and he had put theory into practice as commander of Eighth Air Force’s First Bomb Wing from 1 January to 30 June 1943. He had also served as de facto commander of Twentieth Air Force when Arnold had been incapacitated with his third heart attack. Arnold’s selection of Hansell to lead XXI Bomber Command from the Marianas came as no surprise. When he landed on Saipan at the controls of Joltin’ Josie, the Pacific Pioneer on 12 October, Hansell prepared to initiate the main в-29 offensive against Japan that Arnold had long counted on to produce decisive results.

From the Marianas, XXI Bomber Command could attack most of Japan’s major cities, but Hansell faced an array of problems before a raid against them could occur. Tokyo was the obvious choice for the first attack, and the coa had designated the Naka – jima aircraft engine plant at Musashino, in the northwest part of the capital, as the initial target in a series of raids designed to de­stroy the aircraft industry. Hansell, though, possessed only one partially finished runway on Saipan while Army engineers strug­gled to complete complementary airfields on Tinian and Guam. The prospect of constant long-range, high altitude attacks in for­mation also presented challenges. In stateside practice missions, flown from Kansas to Batista Field in Cuba (the same 1,400-mile distance as from Saipan to Tokyo), engines had caught fire after exhaust valves burned out, and the gunners’ plastic viewing bub­bles had frosted over above twenty-five thousand feet. Hansell had asked to fly his bombers from the United States to Saipan in for­mation to gain additional experience. Air Transport Command denied his request, he later observed, “on the grounds that the air­plane lacked the range to fly from Sacramento to Hawaii in for­mation, even without a bomb load and in good weather. The dis­tance was 2,400 miles. We would have to fly 3,200 miles, with a bomb load, in the face of enemy fighters, without weather report­ing or navigation aids.”51

Besides the difficulties encountered in long-range formation fly­ing, Hansell faced a dearth of target information, plus he also had to deal with crews and aircraft unprepared for the missions ahead. His initial orders were to destroy Japan’s aircraft industry, but he had no target folders to guide his mission planning. “Our strate­gic air intelligence was simply non-existent in regards to Japan,” he recalled.52 Not until the 1 November arrival of two B-29S spe­cially modified for photographic reconnaissance did Hansell ob­tain the needed targeting clues; the aircraft took seven thousand photographs from thirty-two thousand feet, beyond the range of

Japanese flak.53 More reconnaissance missions followed. Han – sell and his staff then had to review the photographs and prepare for the first raid, which Arnold wanted by the middle of Novem­ber.5’1 Hansell scheduled it for the seventeenth. In the meantime, the Seventy-third Wing, originally slated for General Wolfe’s XX Bomber Command in China and trained in radar bombing at night, had begun arriving at Saipan at the rate of two or three aircraft per day. Japan’s aircraft factories were precision targets that demanded visual bombing with the Norden bombsight. The Seventy-third’s B-29S had APQ-13 bombsights designed for radar attacks and ill-suited for precision bombing.55 Limited time was available for training, and with the first mission looming, several crews would fly against Tokyo without any practice flights in the combat theater at all.

Arnold’s impatience for a rapid start to the Marianas offensive stemmed in part from high-level developments in the orchestration of Allied strategy. At Quebec’s Octagon Conference in September 1944, the Combined Chiefs of Staff foreshadowed an invasion of Japan’s home islands by stating that the Allied mission in the Pa­cific included seizure of “objectives in the industrial heart of Ja­pan.”36 Once the invasion began, Arnold would lose his chance to score “decisive” results with air power in the Pacific. He knew that the clock had begun ticking for the B-29S to achieve indepen­dent success—much as it had for Eighth Air Force in May 1943 after the Combined Chiefs of Staff selected a projected date for Overlord. Three weeks before Hansell took XXI Bomber Com­mand from its training location in Colorado Springs to the Mar­ianas, Arnold wrote him:

As you well know the original conception of the в-29 was an air­plane that would carry tremendous loads for tremendous distances. We have not to date fulfilled this promise. We have flown great dis­tances but we have not carried any sizeable bomb loads. In fact we have not carried any more bombs and in most cases considerably less than the B-24S and в-17s carry. One of the greatest factors in the de­feat of Japan will be the air effort. Consequently every bomb that is added to each airplane that takes off for Japan will directly affect the length of the war. . . .

1 know that you, in your position as commander of one of our great striking forces, will do your utmost to help accomplish the ear­liest possible defeat of Japan. This can only be done by making the best possible use of the weapon at your disposal.57

In November, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a tentative plan for invading Kyushu in September 1945. Hansell’s race against the clock had officially begun.

On 24 November hi B-29S took off to attack Tokyo’s Naka – jima aircraft engine factory, responsible for an estimated 30 to 40 percent of all Japanese combat aircraft engines.58 Brigadier Gen­eral Emmett “Rosy” O’Donnell, the Commander of the Seventy – third Wing, led the mission, with Major Robert K. Morgan, who had commanded the famed Memphis Belle in the European the­ater, flying as his co-pilot. Vile weather had compelled Hansell to cancel the mission five times. Shortly before it finally occurred, he received a portent that it might not go well. O’Donnell, a Brooklyn native who had commanded а в-17 squadron in the Philippines after Pearl Harbor, and who had also served as a favored colo­nel on Arnold’s Advisory Council, came to Hansell with a hand­written letter. It concerned the forthcoming mission and warned that “the hazards and the lack of training produced risks which exceeded the limits of prudent military judgment.” O’Donnell thought that the raid could produce a “disaster,” and urged Han­sell to forego a daylight attack and instead bomb at night “until the command had a chance to build up its competence.”59 Han­sell thanked Rosy for his views, and then burned the letter in his presence to prevent misinterpretation if the raid succeeded.

The attack was far from successful, though not for the reasons that O’Donnell had suspected. Only twenty-four B-29S bombed the engine factory, while another sixty-four dropped their bombs on the city and its docks. An additional seventeen aborted en route to the target, and mechanical difficulties prevented the re­mainder from bombing at all.60 The chief problem encountered was unforeseen—jet stream winds of more than 150 mph that whipped through the high altitudes above Tokyo and tossed the bombs randomly across the city. Out of more than one thou­sand bombs dropped, only forty-eight landed within the Naka – jima plant’s boundaries.61 Two bombers were lost, one to a Jap­anese fighter that rammed it, and the other ditched after running out of fuel on the trip back.

On 27 November eighty-one bombers again took off for the Nakajima factory, but clouds obscured the target and none hit it; on 3 December seventy B-29S attacked it, again with dismal re­sults. Hansell’s crews had few answers for the jet stream, which pushed the Superfortresses along at a staggering 445 mph over the ground—much too fast for the Norden bombsight to compensate for its effects.62 If the crews flew perpendicular to the winds, they still could not correct for the wind velocity. If they flew into the winds, they risked flying so slowly that they would become easy prey for antiaircraft batteries. Hansell tried flying upwind during a 13 December raid against the Mitsubishi aircraft engine factory at Nagoya and had thirty-one bombers damaged by flak, although bombing accuracy showed marked improvements.63

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Providence soon handed Arnold the opportunity to map out a wartime strategy based on strategic bombing. The new Chief of the aaf quickly formed an “air staff” that resembled the Army’s General Staff. He asked forty-eight-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Harold Lee George, who commanded the Second Bombardment Group and its B-17S, to leave Langley in early July 1941 and come to Washington DC to establish an Air War Plans Division (awpd). George agreed and notified Arnold that his division was open for business on 10 July—with a grand total of four people.61 The pre­vious day, the president had sent a letter to the Secretaries of War and the Navy requesting their estimate of production requirements if the United States fought the Axis. To George, the president’s re­quest was a godsend. He asked Arnold to obtain permission for the Air War Plans Division to draft the air portion of the plan.

Arnold agreed that the time was ripe to make a concerted bid for the independent application of air power. He convinced Brig­adier General L. T. Gerow, chief of the Army War Plans Division, that George’s office was the best suited to determine Army Air Forces requirements. The significance of Arnold’s action was not lost on those around him. “We realized instinctively that a ma­jor milestone had been reached,” recalled then Major Haywood Hansell, who joined George’s group from the office of Strategic Air Intelligence. “Suddenly, without anywhere near the opposi­tion we expected, we found ourselves able to plan our own fu­ture. How well we would plan and what success we would have in getting that plan past the Army General Staff remained a mat­ter of uncertainty, but for the moment one of our fondest dreams had been realized.”62 On Monday, 4 August, Lieutenant Colonel George informed his officers that they would develop a plan for a prospective air war against Germany and Japan—and that they would complete the plan in nine days.

To guide the effort George assembled an extraordinary group of talented men. Lieutenant Colonels Orvil Anderson, Max F. Schneider, and Arthur W. Vanaman, and Majors Hoyt S. Vanden – berg and Samuel E. Anderson were among those who worked on developing the plan’s eighteen separate tabs.65 Yet the responsi­bility for the most important of those tabs, analyzing such top­ics as “Bombardment Operations against Germany” and “Bom­bardment Aviation Required for Hemispheric Defense,” went to George himself and the three men whom he handpicked to guide the plan’s development: Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth N. Walker, Major Haywood Hansell, and Major Laurence Kuter. George, Walker, Hansell, and Kuter knew each other well. All had taught at the Air Corps Tactical School, and all were stalwart disciples of the school’s strategic bombing theory. “We had one valuable asset going for us,” Hansell recalled. “We embraced a common concept of air warfare and we spoke a common language.”64

The red-haired Hansell, who bore the nickname “Possum” be­cause of a scoop-shaped nose and a pointed chin, had already be­gun analyzing Germany’s industrial web. As an officer in Arnold’s Strategic Air Intelligence office since 1940, his job had been to gather information about the economic structure and air forces of Germany and Japan. After receiving minimal help—and even active resistance—from individuals in the War Department’s In­telligence office, he turned to specialists from the civilian commu­nity who had recently entered the military in the wake of Hitler’s aggression.65 Hansell relied on “the services of a PhD in industrial economics and an expert in oil” to pinpoint the vital links con­necting the German war machine.66 He also benefited from the suggestion of Major Malcolm Moss, a former international busi­nessman who knew that American banks had provided the Ger­mans with most of the capital to construct their electric power system, and thought that those banks might possess drawings and specifications of the German facilities. The hunch proved correct, and also yielded diagrams of oil refineries. Using those materials, as well as information from scientific journals, the advice of his experts, and his own detailed knowledge of production require­ments, Hansell prepared target folders for the German electric power and petroleum systems.

The “abc” discussions between British and American military staffs in early 1941 triggered a summer visit to Royal Air Force (raf) intelligence offices in Great Britain. While there, Hansell ex­changed information on German targets. He found that his stud­ies on oil and electric power were superior to the raf’s but that the British information on transportation, aircraft production, and Luftwaffe organization eclipsed his own findings. The British allowed him to take copies of their reports, and Hansell eagerly did so. He departed in mid-July with a collection of target fold­ers weighing almost a ton, which he crammed into an American bomber. Upon returning to the United States, he joined George’s Air War Plans Division.

Ken Walker’s operational expertise, and Laurence Kuter’s staff work, complemented Hansell’s bent for technical data. A quick­tempered chain smoker from Cerrillos, New Mexico, Walker barely missed combat in World War I, earning his wings nine days before the war ended. His work in developing formation tactics at Lang­ley convinced him that defenses could not deter a well-orches­trated bomber attack, and he instilled this belief in his classes at Maxwell. After leaving the Tactical School faculty, he flew bomb­ers in California and Hawaii. George considered him “one of the most brilliant and far-sighted officers in the United States Army.”67

The restrained Larry Kuter provided a stark contrast to Walker’s nervous intensity. Kuter also possessed considerable experience in bombers and had followed Walker as operations officer for Lang­ley’s Second Bombardment Group. After his assignment to the Gen­eral Staff in the summer of 1939—as the sole Air Corps officer in the Operations and Training section—he worked on tripling the size of the Air Corps into a 5,500-plane force adequate to defend the Western hemisphere. Walker deemed his expertise essential to designing a viable plan for a potential air war, and persuaded Spaatz—now Arnold’s chief of staff and a brigadier general—to obtain Kuter’s temporary relief from the General Staff.68 Kuter arrived for duty in the War Plans Division on 4 August—the date that George notified his staff of their nine-day deadline.

George’s group accomplished their marathon planning session in the recently constructed penthouse on top of the eighth wing of the old Munitions Building, located on Constitution Avenue be­tween the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Hastily constructed during World War I as a temporary facility, the three – story, steel-and-concrete structure contained cramped offices sep­arated by numerous partitions and concrete pillars. The daytime temperature in Washington DC that August hovered near ninety, and the penthouse absorbed the heat.69 Oscillating fans did little to relieve the oppressive conditions. Hansell later described the penthouse as “intolerably hot,” and recalled that “literally, when you put your hand down on your desk, your papers would stick to it.”70 Despite the heat, the short deadline kept George and his staff working in the penthouse until nearly midnight every night, and on two evenings they did not go home.71 The heat and the long hours frayed nerves and led to angry confrontations. On one oc­casion Walker railed at George that he could no longer work with Hansell, precipitating a similar outburst from Hansell/2 George smoothed the ruffled feathers, and throughout the nine-day or­deal he worked to promote harmony through a mixture of hu­mor, aplomb, and dogged determination.

According to President Roosevelt’s directive, George and his staff were to determine Army Air Forces requirements that would guide American industry if war occurred between the United States and the Axis powers. The only restriction given George was that his proposal had to conform to rainbow 5, the overall war plan agreed to by the British and American staffs in May 1941. rainbow 5 designated Germany as the major Axis threat and stated that Anglo-American efforts would focus on defeating Germany first while maintaining a strategic defensive against Japan. Like Nap Gorrell in 1917, George realized that he could not estimate the number of aircraft needed without first determining bow air power would he used. In that regard, he faced a dilemma. Although he and his staff were convinced that strategic bombing could inde­pendently defeat Germany, they also had to submit a plan that was palatable to the Army hierarchy.

Just as Pershing had expressed concern over the airmen’s em­phasis on independent air operations in World War I, Marshall, while favorably disposed toward strategic bombing, was likely to reject a plan making no reference to air support for the ground forces. The Chief of Staff had recently called for twelve groups of “Stuka-type” dive bombers in a proposed air expansion to eighty – four groups.73 Accordingly, George listed the American air mis­sion as: “To wage a sustained air offensive against German mili­tary power, supplemented by air offensives against other regions under enemy control which contribute toward that power; to sup­port a final offensive, if it becomes necessary to invade the con­tinent; in addition, to conduct effective air operations in connec­tion with Hemisphere Defense and a strategic defensive in the Far East.”74

By stating that an invasion of continental Europe might not be required, George acknowledged the planners’ faith that strategic bombing would eliminate the need for it. Yet George also acknowl­edged that air power would be available to guarantee an invasion’s success if the need arose. Six years earlier, as an Air Corps Tacti­cal School instructor, he had asked his students whether air power could achieve a solo victory in war. He now aimed to construct an air campaign that answered that question with a resounding yes. The progressive notions of Tactical School theory formed the plan’s underpinnings; the challenge was to translate accepted be­liefs, based on hypothetical applications against generic enemies, into a specific design against an enemy that was very real. Ger­many—a “modern” nation waging “modern” war—appeared to be an especially apt choice for testing Tactical School principles. If the test proved successful, the bomber offensive would yield vic­tory—and serve as a vindication for air force autonomy.

Having determined that strategic bombing would be the es­sence of America’s air effort, George and his planners worked to identify those parts of Germany’s industrial web that contributed the most to Hitler’s war effort. Hansell’s studies while assigned to the Strategic Air Intelligence office were invaluable in this en­deavor. Using them, planners concluded that the electric power, transportation, and oil production systems were the key compo­nents of the German economy. They decided that those systems could be wrecked by destroying 124 vital targets—fifty electric power plants, fifteen marshalling yards, fifteen bridges, seventeen inland waterway facilities, and twenty-seven petroleum and syn­thetic oil plants. This bombing would not only destroy German war-making capability, but also the “means of livelihood of the German people.” George’s group noted that civilians might also be attacked directly once their morale had weakened due to sus­tained suffering and a lack of faith in Germany’s ability to win the war. “However, if these conditions do not exist,” the planners cautioned, “then area bombing of cities may actually stiffen the resistance of the population, especially if the attacks are weak and sporadic.” If the industrial web theory was correct, German mo­rale would crack without targeting residential districts.75

George and his planners realized that the destruction of Ger­many’s industrial apparatus would be no easy task. German air defenses—which now included radar—were formidable, causing the group to list “neutralization of the German Air Force” as an “intermediate objective, whose accomplishment may be essen­tial to the accomplishment of the principal objectives.”76 With­out achieving control of the air, the ability to wreck German war­making capacity remained problematic; moreover, an invasion of France could not occur unless the Allies first obtained air superi­ority. George’s planners determined that air control through at­trition was unlikely. Many industrial targets lay beyond the range of escort fighters, requiring bomber squadrons to rely on Walk­er’s formation tactics as they fought their way across Germany. “We knew that defensive firepower in the air would not suffice to defeat the Luftwaffe,” Hansell recalled/7 Neither would attack­ing German air bases, which were well dispersed and heavily de­fended. As a result, planners decided to attack the Luftwaffe be­fore it left the assembly line. They designated eighteen aircraft factories, six aluminum plants, and six magnesium plants as es­sential to aircraft production, and added them to the list of vital centers earmarked for destruction.

Until negated, German air defenses would likely hamper bomb­ing accuracy, and accurate bombing was essential to wreck Ger­many’s industrial web. Marginal weather also threatened to dis­rupt the precision bombing effort. Based on studies that Hansell obtained from the British, George’s group estimated that an av­erage of only five days a month would be suitable for daylight operations over the Reich.78 The best weather occurred between

April and September. The prospect of stiff defenses and poor fly­ing conditions, combined with George’s own experience from Ab­erdeen Proving Ground, caused planners to predict that raids on Germany would be 2.25 times more /«accurate than peacetime practice bombing.79 George demanded that bombers had to attack each target in sufficient force to achieve a 90 percent probability of destroying it—the same percentage deemed acceptable in sim­ilar problems at the Air Corps Tactical School.80 In addition—as Gorrell had pointed out in 1917—bombers would have to attack many targets more than once to prevent the Germans from repair­ing the damage. The planners anticipated that the Germans could repair most targets other than electric power facilities within two to four weeks; power plants would take longer to restore.81

George’s group next calculated the number of bombers required to guarantee a 90 percent level of destruction to the 154 key tar­gets selected, given the expected accuracy and the need for re­peated attacks. They determined that 1,100 bombers were nec­essary to ensure a 90 percent probability of destroying a single hundred-foot-by-hundred-foot target under combat conditions.82 A like number of aircraft would have to return to that target in two weeks to keep it out of action. Planners quickly realized that the aaf needed an enormous number of bombers to destroy the German war effort through constant pounding. George thought that dismantling German industry required at least six months of non-stop bombing, and planners anticipated an April-Septem – ber offensive to coincide with the most favorable flying weather. Given weather, maintenance, and crew rest limitations, they esti­mated that a bomb group containing seventy aircraft could send thirty-six of its bombers against Germany eight times a month.83 Thus, to wreck the 154 key targets in a six-month span would re­quire ninety-eight bomb groups—or 6,860 bombers—at the start of the offensive.

Those bombers would consist of ten groups of B-25S and B-26S, twenty groups of B-17S and B-24S, twenty-four groups of B-29S, and forty-four groups of B-36S. Planners noted that the ideal type of bomber for the offensive was the в-29, a recently designed four-engine marvel; two-engine в-25 and в-26 “medium bomb­ers” would suffice “only because they were available.”84 The vast numbers would swamp airfields in Great Britain, which would serve as home base for the B-17S, B-24S, B-25S, and B-26S. B-29S would operate against Germany from Northern Ireland and the Middle East. The в-36, a proposed behemoth with a four-thou­sand-mile range, could fly from Newfoundland, Greenland, Af­rica, India, or the northeastern United States. George’s staff antic­ipated that each group engaged in combat would lose 20 percent of its aircraft (and 15 percent of its flying personnel) per month, creating a requirement for an additional 1,272 bombers.8:1

Although the estimate of bombers needed to assault Germany dwarfed previous aircraft projections for the entire Army Air Forces,86 those bombers were by no means the only airplanes George and his planners envisioned. The massive air offensive against the Third Reich required fighters to defend air bases and support aircraft. Moreover, substantial numbers of fighters and bombers were needed to defend the Western Hemisphere, and the teeth of the strategic defensive in the Pacific would consist of B-29S and B-32S operating from bases in Alaska, Siberia, and the Philip­pines. All told, George’s group calculated that 239 groups and 108 observation squadrons were necessary to defeat the Axis—a grand total of 63,467 airplanes. If the United States began fighting, as an­ticipated, in the spring of 1942, planners thought that the nation would be hard pressed to produce such an armada before the end of 1943.87 Still, they believed that a land invasion of Germany in less than three years was unlikely, thus giving air power a chance to achieve an independent victory.88 A limited air offensive would start as soon as America entered the war, and the six month aer­ial pounding of the Reich would occur from April to September 1944. Charged with estimating manpower requirements, Kuter determined that by the start of the offensive the Army Air Forces would have expanded from its authorized limit of 152,000 men in August 1941 to 2,164,916, which was a half million more men than were in the entire Army at the end of 1941.89

On the afternoon of 12 August 1941, an exhausted Hal George delivered a copy of “awpd-i: Munitions Requirements of the Army Air Forces” to the Army War Plans office. The plan’s appearance reflected the rushed nature of the project. “It was not an impres­sive looking document,” Hansell remembered. “The pages were typed and mimeographed. Corrections were made in ink. The charts were black and white, hastily prepared and crudely pasted together.”90 Nevertheless, despite sweltering conditions and flar­ing tempers, George’s group completed their task on schedule.

Next came the job of persuading civilian and military leaders that the proposal was sound. George submitted the plan to the Army War Plans office without having it approved by Arnold, who was attending the Argentia Conference in Placentia Bay, but he knew that Arnold would have no qualms in endorsing it. Sterner chal­lenges were on the horizon. In the following month, the planners briefed awpd-i to Robert Lovett (the new Assistant Secretary of War for Air), Army Chief of Staff Marshall, and Secretary of War Stimson. Lovett received the briefing on 13 August, accompanied by General Gerow from the Army War Plans Division and General Spaatz. A World War I Navy pilot and an outspoken air power advocate, Lovett avidly supported the proposal. Arnold heard the briefing with General Marshall on 30 August. The Army Chief of Staff said nothing until after the presentation was over and dis­cussion had ceased. Then he commented that the plan had merit, and the next day scrawled “Okay, G. С. M.” on the cover of his copy.91 Andrews could claim a measure of credit for that signa­ture. Like most Army generals, Marshall believed that air support for ground troops was essential, but Andrews had opened his eyes to the potential of independent air power. This impetus, coupled with Marshall’s practical nature, helped him endorse awpd-i. He realized that the invasion of Europe could not occur immediately if war came in early 1942, and Germany could not go unscathed during the buildup for the ground offensive. If strategic bombing could topple Hitler and eliminate the need for a risky amphibi­ous assault, Marshall was willing to give it a try.

George’s staff culminated their “selling” of awpd-i on the af­ternoon of 11 September and the morning of the next day, when George, Walker, and Kuter briefed Secretary of War Stimson in his office in the Munitions Building. Stimson accepted the plan as “a matter-of-fact statement of the air forces required to defeat the Axis.” He cautioned, however, that the enormous number of men and planes necessary to implement the scheme “depended entirely upon the nation being in a war spirit or at war.”92

With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, America obtained the martial spirit that Stimson thought necessary to spur the large-scale production of combat aircraft. The turmoil created by Pearl Harbor canceled a scheduled briefing on awpd-i to the president, and Hansell later termed the lost opportunity “a cruel disappointment” because he believed that it prevented bombing advocate Roosevelt from fully understanding the value of a con­centrated air offensive.92 Yet the seemingly inevitable march to­ward war in the late summer of 194г, with the Japanese defying Roosevelt’s oil embargo as they advanced across China, and the Germans threatening Atlantic sea lanes while they plowed toward Moscow, was likely a key reason that both Marshall and Stimson endorsed awpd-i without complaint. As historian Michael Sherry has observed, “Strategy, then, along with Roosevelt’s wishes about

how to fight the war, made the War Department amenable to a vision of air war that would have seemed repugnant and fanciful a few years earlier.”94

Although advocating strategic bombing, air planners under­stood that their proposal could not neglect the air needs of Army commanders, most of whom were skeptical of air power’s ability to achieve victory alone. Just as Gorrell had worked to convince Pershing that his plan for bombing Germany would not deny air support to ground forces, awpd-i specifically noted that air power would support an invasion of Europe if such an invasion proved necessary. Some airmen viewed the obligation to demonstrate that they would support their parent service as genuflection.95 Yet air planners could not ignore the concerns of the theater commander or Chief of Staff, who had to consider the possibility that indepen­dently applied air power might not prove decisive. That airmen received the green light to conduct strategic bombing was a trib­ute to the Andrews-inspired vision of George Marshall.

Marshall’s approval of awpd-г on the eve of Pearl Harbor guar­anteed that the Army Air Forces would use it as a blueprint once war began, but the blueprint was not balanced. Air planners paid a great deal of attention to Germany—the designated primary en­emy—and scant attention to Japan. In keeping with the tenor of the industrial web theory, they brushed aside such characteristics of the German state as its totalitarian government and Nazi ideol­ogy to focus almost exclusively on a mechanistic economic analy­sis. They also provided meager allowances for the unexpected— what Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz called “friction”—and the impact that such elements as chance, uncer­tainty, danger, and stress might have on an air offensive.96 The Ger­many that they depicted had mobilized completely, with its indus­try running at full bore in the wake of the assault on the Soviet Union. George and his group believed that the taut nature of the


German economy would increase its vulnerability to a precisely aimed air offensive, because no reserve capacity would be avail­able to make up for the damage caused by bombing. The plan­ners, especially Kuter, were painfully aware of America’s failure to flex its economic muscle in World War I. They believed that American industry would not allow them to wage total war for two years, and they knew that the Germans were already waging war on a global scale. The logical conclusion, it seemed, was that German factories must be producing at peak capacity.

Awpd-i’s analysis of Japan’s war machine paled in comparison to the mountain of data accumulated on German industry. “The allowances for defensive measures in the Far East were skimpy, to say the least,” Hansell later observed. “It was presumed that the U. S. Navy would be the primary agency for this requirement.”97 While working in the Strategic Air Intelligence section, Hansell had tried to identify Japanese vital centers, but the attempt proved fruitless. “The Japanese had established and maintained a curtain of secrecy that we found absolutely impenetrable. There were not even any recent maps available,” he recalled.98 The lack of infor­mation on Japanese production capabilities plagued air leaders throughout the war, and Hansell would learn that frustration first­hand as commander of XXI Bomber Command in late 1944.

Though far from perfect, awpd-i marked the culmination of American air power thought from Billy Mitchell through the Air Corps Tactical School. Much of the plan—like much of the Tac­tical School theory that spawned it—was based on faith. “Op­portunities for reality testing were few”; most airmen dismissed the air power applied in Spain and China as too primitive,99 while the one concrete example of a modern air force attacking a mod­ern nation—the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain—did not con­form to American bomber technology, tactics, or strategy. Thus, the faith instilled by Mitchell, refined and dispensed by his Tacti­cal School disciples, and blessed by air leaders sharing his vision provided the fundamental underpinning of American air power convictions.

Several articles of faith stood out above the others: the concept of a generic industrial web theory, with its presumed ties between a nation’s war-fighting capability and will to resist; the presumed vulnerability of those ties to bombing, and the presumption that severing them would result in surrender; the belief that a prop­erly executed bomber offensive could not be stopped; and, finally, the progressive notion that a victory through air power would be quicker, and cheaper, than one gained through any other medium. At the same time, most airmen thought that an air power victory would vindicate an independent air force. The airmen subscrib­ing to those beliefs were both sincere and pragmatic. They ear­nestly believed in air power’s ability to win a war single-handedly, and in its ability to do so efficiently, yet they realized that with­out proof for their claims they were unlikely to obtain an auton­omous air force. Their faith in an independent air victory melded to their desire for an independent air service until the two became inseparable, as demonstrated by awpd-i.

In the end, individuals, as well as ideas, were the key elements producing a uniquely American bombing philosophy before Pearl Harbor. The distinctive backgrounds of Gorrell, Mitchell, George, Walker, Kuter, Hansell, Andrews, Spaatz, and Arnold—and count­less others—contributed directly to an American approach to air war that manifested itself against Nazi Germany and Imperial Ja­pan. Two years and eight days after the completion of awpd-i, the man who had found the Rex would lead more than one hun­dred B-17S in a dramatic raid against one of the major industrial targets of Hitler’s Third Reich. Curtis LeMay would play a key role in the effort to validate awpd-i’s progressive notions in both the European and Asian skies.

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

i. British Gen. Sir David Henderson pins the “Companion of the Distinguished Service Order” on twenty-eight-year-old Army Air Service Col. Edgar S. Correll in France,

April 1919. Relying extensively on British bombing proposals, Gorrell had authored America’s first plan for strategic bombing in 1917. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

2. William “Billy” Mitchell spurred the development of progressive air power notions that guided a generation of American airmen. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

3- Mitchell poses beside his command aircraft, the Osprey, a DeHavilland DH-4 from which he directed the bombing of the Qstfriesland in July 192.1. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

4- Billy Mitchell’s bombers attack the Ostfriesland off the Virginia Capes, 2i July 1921. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

j. Air Corps Tactical School students tackle mapping exercises during the 1930s at Maxwell Field, Alabama. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

6. Maj. Gen. Frank Andrews, commander of the ghq Air Force, sits in the cockpit of the first в-17 to arrive at Langley Field, Virginia, 1 March 1937. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

7. ghq Air Force B-17S intercept the Italian liner Rex seven hundred miles from New York City, 12 May 1938. (U. S. Air Force)


Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Generals George Marshall, Frank Andrews, “Hap” Arnold, and Oliver Echols pose beside a glider at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, early in World War II. Marshall provided key support to Andrews and Arnold and their plans for a heavy bomber force. (U. S. Air Force)

9. (Opposite top) Hap Arnold and members of his air staff in 1941. Left to right: Lt. Col. Edgar P. Sorenson, Lt. Col. Harold L. George, Brig. Gen. Carl Spaatz (chief of staff), Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Maj. Haywood S. Hansel! Jr., Brig. Gen. Martin F. Scanlon, and Lt. Col. Arthur W. Vanaman. George and Hansell played key roles in designing awpd-i, the Army Air Forces plan for bombing Germany, while Spaatz would attempt to bring that plan to fruition as Eighth Air Force commander in 1942 and the commander of U. S. Strategic Air Forces in 1944-45. (U. S. Air Force)

10. (Opposite bottom) Ira Eaker directed VIII Bomber Command in t942. During 1943, he led Eighth Air Force in the desperate battles for air superiority over Europe. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

її. (Opposite top) Brig. Gen. “Possum” Hansell, First Wing commander, Eighth Air Force, and Col. Curtis LeMay, 305th Group commander, stand beside a B-17 at an airfield in Britain in spring 1943. Two years later LeMay, a major general, replaced Hansel! in the Pacific as the commander of XXI Bomber Command. (U. S. Air Force)

12. (Opposite bottom) The Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” was the workhorse of Eighth Air Force. This “G” model sported a chin turret to ward off frontal attacks from Luftwaffe fighters. (U. S. Air Force)

13. (Above) The Consolidated B-24 “Liberator” was one of the two main heavy bombers for the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces in Europe. It could carry a larger bomb load than its counterpart, the B-17. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

14- The crew of the в-17 Memphis Belle at an air base in Britain on 7 June 1943 after completing twenty-five missions over enemy territory. For many bomber crews in 1943-44 the outcome was not as fortunate. (U. S. National Archives)

t5. (Opposite top) Luftwaffe defenses claim а В-Г7. The heavy bomber crews of Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces paid a steep price to win the daylight air superiority needed to launch the Normandy invasion. (U. S. Air Force)

16. (Opposite bottom) Bomb release in an Eighth Air Force raid on a ball-bearing plant and an aircraft engine repair facility in Paris, 3 r December Г943. Following the costly raid against Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943, Eighth Air Force primarily attacked targets within range of escort fighters. Improvements in the P-47 “Thunderbolt” and P-51 “Mustang,” plus the addition of external fuel “drop tanks,” enabled bombers to have escort fighters to targets deep in Germany in early 1944. (U. S. National Archives)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

17- A fighter pilot in World War I who shot down three German aircraft, “Tooey” Spaatz commanded Eighth Air Force in 1942 and then transferred to North Africa. He returned to Britain in 1944 as a lieutenant general and commander of the new U. S. Strategic Air Forces, with a mission to secure daylight air superiority over Europe to facilitate the Normandy invasion. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

18. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Tooey Spaatz, and Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, the Ninth Air Force commander, at an airfield in Britain, May 1944. A month earlier Spaatz had turned over control of his heavy bombers to Eisenhower, and Eisenhower kept control of them until September to assure invasion support. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1
19- (Opposite top) Fifteenth Air Force B-24S pound Ploesti oil refineries in summer 1944. Despite the emphasis on supporting the Normandy invasion, Spaatz convinced Eisenhower to let him begin a concentrated attack on oil installations. (U. S. Air Force)

20. (Opposite bottom) The Messerschmitt factories at Regensburg, Germany, remained targets long after Curtis Lemay’s B-17S first attacked them on 17 August 1943. Flere, B-17S attack the complex on 18 December 1944. (U. S. Air Force)

21. (Above) Eighth Air Force B-17S unload incendiaries and high explosive bombs over Dresden on 14 February 1945 following a massive area attack by the RAF on the city the night before. Cloud cover obscured the American crews’ target, a rail junction near the city’s center, and most of their bombs fell on Dresden’s main residential district. (U. S. Air Force)


Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

B-17S from the 398th Bomb Group proceed to Neumunster, Germany, on 13 April 1945. By this point in the war the American portion of the Combined Bomber Offensive had devastated much of Germany’s industrial capacity and transportation network, but the cost

had been high for the attackers as well as the German populace. (U. S. National Archives)

23. (Opposite top) Frankfurt-am-Main in the aftermath of the Combined Bomber Offensive. Bombing wrecked most of Germany’s cities. (U. S. Air Force)

24. (Opposite bottom) Henry H. “Hap” Arnold became Commanding General of the Army Air Forces in June 1941 and soon led the mightiest air armada yet assembled. A driven, demanding leader, Arnold suffered four heart attacks during World War II. His first combat command came when he took charge of Twentieth Air Force in early 1944, and he directed the B-29 assault on Japan from his office in the Pentagon. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1


Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

’ 5- (Opposite top) The Boeing в-2.9 “Superfortress” was the epitome in bomber technology, sporting pressurized crew compartments plus four gun turrets remotely controlled via General Electric analog computers. The aircraft was World War IBs most expensive weapon system, with a three-billion-dollar price tag. (U. S. Air Force)

z6. (Opposite bottom) Brig. Gen. Haywood S. “Possum” Hansell, XXI Bomber Command commander, briefs B-29 air crews before a mission to Tokyo in late 1944. His steadfast commitment to prewar progressive notions about bombing contributed to Arnold’s decision to replace him with LeMay. (U. S. Air Force)

27. (Above) Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, far left, replaced Brig. Gen. Possum Hansell, center, as XXI Bomber Command commander in January 1945. LeMay, who had previously commanded XX Bomber Command in China, was replaced in that job by Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, far right. (U. S. Air Force)

28. Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1
Brig. Gen. Lauris “Larry” Norstad, who served on Hap Arnold’s advisory council as a colonel in 1943 before becoming a staff officer in North Africa and Italy, replaced Possum Hansell as Twentieth Air Force Chief of Staff in summer 1944. Norstad wielded considerable power in that position, especially after Arnold suffered his fourth heart attack of the war in January 1945. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

29. The Etiola Gay dropped the atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

30. By June 1945 most of Kobe, one of prewar Japan’s four most populous cities, was in ruins. (U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1


Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

(Opposite top) Twentieth Air Force devastated Tokyo. (U. S. Air Force)

32. (Opposite bottom) Coi. Paul Tibbets’s Enola Gay is prepared to upload the atomic bomb for Fliroshima. (U. S. Air Force)

33. (Above) Nagasaki following the atomic strike on 9 August 1945.

(U. S. Air Force)

Sanctioning Progressive Air Power: awpd-1

34- In the post-Vietnam era Col. John A. Warden III emerged as heir to the progressive notions that had sparked Billy Mitchell and Air Corps Tactical School instructors. Many of Warden’s ideas underpin current Air Force bombing doctrine. (U. S. Air Force)

Frustration and Debate

Meanwhile, the invasion clock continued ticking, and Arnold grew increasingly frustrated. The Japanese had responded to the at­tacks on their homeland by launching two night raids from Iwo Jima against Saipan that wrecked four B-29S, left three more un­serviceable, and damaged six more.64 Hansell remained commit­ted to the high altitude, daylight, precision attacks. “I considered that the whole concept of strategic air warfare as a war-winning strategy, carried out by unified air command, was hanging in the balance,” he later wrote.65 At the suggestion of his chief of staff, he had attacked Tokyo with twenty-four bombers in a night raid at lower altitudes on 29 November with incendiaries—his B-29S had dropped high explosive bombs on the other raids—though the results remained disappointing. “I still feel that our primary effort should be by visual bombing, when possible, because it is always inherently more accurate,” Hansell wrote Arnold on 16 December, “but with the improvement in radar bombing, I feel that our efforts can be directed against our primary target every time and that it will not be necessary to waste our bombs on large city areas as a secondary effort.”66

Arnold likely never saw this bit of reasoning. Across the top of Hansell’s letter, he scrawled: “Gen. Norstad summarize for me— hha.” Brigadier General Lauris Norstad had replaced Hansell as Twentieth Air Force Chief of Staff when Hansell took over XXI Bomber Command. Norstad had been one of Arnold’s “fair haired boys” as an Advisory Council colonel in early 1943, and had served in staff positions in North Africa and Italy before returning to Washington DC in summer 1944. He observed Arnold’s impa­tience when Hansell delayed the initial в-29 raid against Tokyo, and watched the frustration mount as the poor bombing results from XXI Bomber Command arrived at the Pentagon. Norstad encouraged Hansell to send his problems to him, rather than Ar­nold. “If there are really serious major problems which you feel absolutely must be brought to his attention, don’t hesitate to do so,” he wrote Hansell on 7 December, “but I think the normal run of difficulties will only be an annoyance to him and can be better handled by me anyway.”67

Larry Norstad had developed his own ideas about how to ad­dress HanselPs difficulties, and many of those notions stemmed from observing targeting deliberations that continued among coa members. In September 1944, soon after he became Twentieth Air Force Chief of Staff, Norstad attended coa meetings regarding target priorities for Japan. Once more, the analysts considered the utility of attacking “urban industrial areas” and focused on the prospects of area bombing Zones I and II in Japan’s six most populous cities. Colonel John F. Turner remarked, “We have been intrigued with the possibilities.. . of complete chaos in six cities killing 584,000 people.”68 Turner noted that “successful” raids might produce even more casualties and that Japan’s industrial production would drop roughly 15 percent. Later calculations in­dicated that a drop of only 11 percent would occur, mostly from the output of machine tools, because Zones I and II contained fewer industries than originally thought.69

The analysts also considered the psychological impact that such raids might have. While their expert on Japanese culture thought that the panic and fear of fire might cause civilians to demand polit­ical reorganization, he did not believe that the Japanese would ac­cept unconditional surrender until the arrival of American troops.70 The coa members suggested that an “experimental” incendiary raid from Saipan or China against a densely populated area of a city would provide data from which they could make more accu­rate estimates. In the meantime, they agreed that aircraft factories, especially those producing engines, were priority targets and that the Saipan force should attack them, while XX Bomber Command in China should continue to attack steel production.

The coa’s September conclusions underpinned the 10 October 1944 report that they submitted to Arnold—their last formal prod­uct of the war. In it, the analysts culled the target systems that they believed would have the most telling impact on Japan’s war effort to three: the aircraft industry, urban industrial areas, and ship­ping. The analysts deemed that the U. S. Navy’s sea-control cam­paign had “checked the expansion of the Japanese economy and rendered the attack on steel through coke much less important,” and the same logic applied to other materiel resources.71

Most of the report focused on the forthcoming operations of the Marianas-based XXI Bomber Command. The committee mem­bers recommended that attacks begin against Japan’s five major aircraft engine plants, followed by “an attack upon the indus­trial areas of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka.” Such raids would “burn out all housing in Zones I and II” and likely “increase and prolong losses effected by precision attacks on war industries.”72 Still, the analysts noted that area bombing would minimally impact Japan’s “front-line strength” because of “the apparent existence of considerable stocks of air­craft components and of excess manufacturing capacity in tanks and trucks.”73 They recommended that area attacks “should be postponed until they can be delivered in force and completed within a brief period.”74 B-29S could also assist in isolating Japan by mining sea lanes.

The committee members further stressed flexibility in adopting their proposed program. They noted that once bombing began from the Marianas, it might reveal “that Japanese fighter defense is so ineffective that attack upon the aircraft industry should not be given precedence over a mining campaign or attacks on urban industrial areas.” The analysts further called for a “trial attack against an industrial area on Kyushu or Honshu” during the ini­tial phase of XXI Bomber Command operations before the force had built up to full strength.75 The target priorities listed in the re­port became the priorities sent to Hansell in November.76

Norstad in particular was impressed by the coa report and thought that its recommendations offered the best chance for air power to make a rapid—and decisive—contribution to victory. On 17 November he wrote Major General Lawrence Kuter, Ar­nold’s assistant chief for plans who frequently oversaw coa activ­ities: “The work of this Committee as represented by its report, was superior. Conclusions reached have been the subject of seri­ous study by this Headquarters and have lead [sic] directly to the directive covering the operations of this command for the next three months.”77 That same day Hansell was to begin bombing Japan’s aircraft industry from the Marianas, in accordance with the coa outline for operations. While those raids produced mea­ger results, they also showed that Japanese fighters offered fee­ble resistance to the в-29 force. Arnold remained impatient for bombing success, and Norstad deemed that the time had come to test the prospects of urban area attacks. On 18 December he sent Hansell a message to attack the main residential district of Nagoya with one hundred B-29S dropping the new м-69 gaso­line gel incendiary bombs.

Hansell responded to Norstad’s directive within hours. “I have with great difficulty implanted the principle that our mission is the destruction of selected primary targets by sustained and de­termined attacks using precision bombing methods both visual and radar,” he answered. “The temptation to abandon our pri­mary targets for secondary area targets is great and I have been under considerable pressure to do so, but I have resisted so far. I am concerned that a change to area bombing of the cities will undermine the progress we have made. However, I am accepting your No. s-18-2 [message number] as an order from you and a change in my directive and I will launch this operation next.”78 Norstad replied that XXI Bomber Command’s primary mission remained the destruction of Japanese air power, but the requested strike was a “special requirement resulting from the necessity of future planning.”79

Hansell did indeed attack Nagoya next. Yet he did so with forty – eight B-29S, not one hundred; his crews aimed at the Mitsubishi aircraft factory, not the city’s residential area; and they dropped м-76 incendiaries, not the M-69S that Norstad had requested— the five-hundred-pound м-76 could penetrate brick and concrete structures (like the roof and walls of the Mitsubishi factory), while the lightweight м-69 could not.80 On 27 December the bombers returned to Tokyo once more to attack the Nakajima factory with high explosive bombs, and once more the results were meager. That same day an exasperated Arnold, mindful of the impression that в-29 operations made on an American public eager for suc­cess against Japan—and retribution for the Bataan Death March and Kamikaze attacks—admonished Hansell:

To oversimplify our basic operating policy, it is our purpose to destroy our targets. For this reason we have avoided announcing in advance what we propose to do and we have carefully screened our news re­leases to avoid the public’s becoming overoptimistic. We want to let the results speak for themselves. However, we must accept the fact that we have a big obligation to meet. To fulfill this we must in fact destroy our targets and then we must show the results so the public can judge for itself as to the effectiveness of our operations. .. .

To me the best evidence of how you are getting along is the pic­tures of the destruction that you have accomplished against your pri­mary targets.81

On 28 December, Hansell’s press statement assessing his first raids against Japan appeared in several American newspapers. Despite praising the excellence of the в-29 and its crews, he also noted that “we have much to learn and many operational and other technical problems to solve.”82 Arnold decided that he had heard enough. He told Norstad to head to the Marianas and no­tify Hansell that he had been relieved from command.

Breaching Fortress Europe, 1942-43

War, no matter how it may be glorified, is unspeakably horrible in every form. The bomber simply adds to the extent of the horror, especially if not used with discretion; but when used with the proper degree of understanding, it becomes the most humane of all weapons.


I am concerned that you will not appreciate the tremendous damage that is being done to the German morale by these attacks through the overcast, since we cannot show you appreciable damage by photographs________________ Just imagine for yourself bombs hitting Wash­

ington and the Pentagon Building through a thick snowstorm. What will it do? The Ger­man people cannot take that kind of terror much longer."

• LT. GEN. IRA C. EAKERTO ARNOLD, NOVEMBER 1943 17 August 1943

Thirteen minutes after the last of 139 B-17S from Eighth Air Force’s Fourth Bomb Wing had crossed the Dutch coast, the first German fighters appeared. Instantly, the bomber crews knew that their mis­givings about the mission against the sprawling Messerschmitt factory at Regensburg were justified. The daylight raid would mark the deepest penetration into Germany yet for an Ameri­can bomber force, and would occur in tandem with an assault by 222 B-17S of the First Bomb Wing against the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, responsible for almost 50 percent of Germany’s output. Both the Regensburg and Schweinfurt formations would proceed to their targets largely unescorted despite sixteen squad­rons of Spitfires and eighteen squadrons of P-47S that accompa­nied them across the English Channel, because no Allied fighter possessed the range to fly beyond the German frontier.

Eighth Air Force planners, though, had devised a scheme to get the bombers to their targets and back relatively unscathed. The Fourth Bomb Wing would depart for Regensburg fifteen minutes before the First Wing followed it for Schweinfurt, which would prevent German fighters from attacking both formations on the way to their targets. The Regensburg mission would initially draw the Germans’ attention, and by the time the First Wing’s bombers approached Schweinfurt, the German fighters would have landed to refuel and rearm, which would allow the Schweinfurt force to proceed to its target unhindered. In the meantime, after the Fourth Wing bombed the Messerschmitt complex at Regensburg, it would avoid further combat by flying south across the Mediterranean to land in North Africa. The Schweinfurt bombers would then bat­tle the rearmed German fighters on the trip home to British bases. If everything worked as planned, the Germans would suffer ma­jor damage to two of their most important war-making facilities, and the American bombers would inflict that pain at minimal cost to the attacking force.1

Yet the plan that appeared so appealing on paper turned out to be lacking in practice. To succeed, it required near-perfect weather, crisp coordination between multiple layers of command, and zero mishaps as two large formations of heavy bombers took shape in the skies over East Anglia. Those demands were a lot to ask for from a bombing force that had never flown so far across hos­tile territory. Pre-mission briefers told crews to expect “negligi­ble” opposition, but the airmen had routinely flown missions that summer that produced loss rates approaching 10 percent, and ex­pected the worst. Their fears increased when dense fog shrouded their British bases that morning. “The mission itself started under a cloud of doubt and we didn’t know until the last minute whether it would be scrubbed or not,” Colonel Curtis LeMay, the Fourth Bomb Wing Commander, said afterward. “Finally, 26 minutes be­fore the take off, we received word from Bomber Command that the mission would go on.”2

The delayed notification plus the thick fog produced a cor­responding delay in getting the bombers airborne. LeMay had trained his crews extensively in instrument take-offs, but even he called the assembly of his seven groups of B-17S “miraculous” given that they had to climb through two dense layers of over­cast.3 The formation finally departed for Regensburg ninety min­utes behind the time originally scheduled. Meanwhile, LeMay’s counterpart commanding the First Bomb Wing, Brigadier General Robert Williams, did not receive the take-off order until almost an hour and a half after LeMay got the word—which resulted in a departure for Schweinfurt five hours later than the originally scheduled time and almost four hours after LeMay’s Fourth Wing had left. Rather than cancel the Schweinfurt part of the mission, the Commander of VIII Bomber Command, Brigadier General Frederick Anderson, determined that the importance of the tar­gets justified the risks involved in dispatching the two bomb wings individually.4 As a result, almost three hundred Luftwaffe fight­ers were available to attack both formations for the duration of their time over the Reich.

Unlike the dismal weather in Britain, German skies were crys­tal clear, making them ideal for bombing—and for fighter assaults against the bombers. LeMay’s B-17S formed a stream fifteen miles long at staggered intervals from sixteen thousand to twenty thou­sand feet. A Messerschmitt Me-i 10 quickly positioned itself along­side the formation, out of range, and relayed information to wait­ing German fighters. Colonel Beirne Lay Jr., who flew as a copilot in the bomber stream’s last squadron, later wrote: “I had the lone­some foreboding that might come to the last man about to run a gauntlet lined with spiked clubs.’” An enormous aerial melee soon engulfed the bombers. Lay described what transpired:

Swinging their yellow noses around in a wide U-turn, the 12-ship squadron of Me-i09’s came in from 12 to 2 o’clock in pairs and in fours and the main event was on.

A shining silver object sailed past over our right wing. 1 recog­nized it as a main exit door. Seconds later, a dark object came hur­tling through the formation, barely missing several props. It was a man, clasping his knees to his head, revolving like a diver in a triple somersault. I didn’t see his ‘chute open.

А в-17 turned gradually out of the formation to the right, main­taining altitude. In a split second, the в-17 completely disappeared in a brilliant explosion, from which the only remains were four small balls of fire, the fuel tanks, which were quickly consumed as they fell earthward. …

1 watched a B-17 turn slowly out to the right with its cockpit a mass of flames. The copilot crawled out of his window, held on with one hand, reached back for his ‘chute, buckled it on, let go and was whisked back into the horizontal stabilizer. I believe the impact killed him. His ’chute didn’t open.6

The hellish fury continued incessantly for an hour and a half, and abated only after the German flak intensified as the bomb­ers approached the target. Lay estimated that the formation had suffered more than two hundred individual fighter attacks, and took grim satisfaction in seeing a column of smoke rising from the Messerschmitt factory once the B-17S headed for the Alps.

The costs of the double strike on Regensburg and Schwein – furt were staggering. LeMay’s Fourth Wing lost 24 B-17S—each carrying ten men—and abandoned almost 60 of the aircraft that made it to North Africa because of heavy damage. Williams’s First Wing, which suffered through a barrage of fighters that met them on both the inbound and outbound legs to Schweinfurt, lost 36 bombers, with another 27 of those that made it back written off. All told, in terms of aircraft shot down, written off, and aban­doned, the missions to Regensburg and Schweinfurt cost Eighth Air Force 147 bombers—40 percent of the attacking force.

For their efforts the American airmen shot down forty-eight Ger­man fighters (they claimed in excess of one hundred), with another twelve too damaged to fly again.7 The Messerschmitt complex at Regensburg, responsible for half of Germany’s fighter production, lost three weeks of output, or roughly one thousand Me-io9S. The attack on Schweinfurt achieved meager results. While damaging three of the five ball bearing factories, Williams’s bombers had lit­tle impact on the machine tools that produced the bearings. The Germans negated the destruction that had occurred by turning to reserve stocks and buying additional bearings from Sweden. s

Despite his heavy losses and the limited damage inflicted, Ma­jor General Ira Eaker, the Eighth Air Force Commander, still con­sidered the industries in Regensburg and Schweinfurt worthy ob­jectives for his bombers. The balding, forty-seven-year-old Eaker was fond of late-night poker games with his staff, but to him Re­gensburg and Schweinfurt were not gambles—they were exactly the types of targets that would hurt Germany’s war-making ca­pability the most. Though a fighter pilot for most of his career, he was well-versed in the principles of high altitude, daylight, precision bombing and had graduated from the Air Corps Tacti­cal School in 1936. Hap Arnold had chosen him as coauthor for two books promoting air power during the late 1930s, plus Ar­nold had also made him Chief of Air Corps Information. With a degree in journalism from Southern Cal, a charming smile, and a tremendous ability to convey his ideas (his promotion of the Rex intercept was just one example), Eaker had been an apt choice to help carve the American public’s image of air power. Arnold believed him well suited to lead Eighth Air Force after its initial commander, Tooey Spaatz, departed England in late 1942 to take a command in North Africa.

Eaker had previously led VIII Bomber Command, the bomber component of Eighth Air Force, and had no illusions about the challenges of serving as the Eighth’s overall commander in 1943. Bombers, as well as air crews, arrived slowly in Britain, but Eighth Air Force was, at the time, the only American combat unit capa­ble of attacking Germany. Dismayed by the losses from Regens­burg and Schweinfurt—German defenses had shot down 15 per­cent of his attacking force—and disappointed that he could not accompany his crews in the air (his knowledge of the Normandy invasion and the cracking of the German “enigma” codes pre­vented him from leading the Schweinfurt raid),9 he had no inten­tion of slowing his air campaign’s momentum. He was convinced that the destruction of Germany’s vital centers would hasten the war’s end, and ultimately yield a victory less costly in Allied man­power than a war without strategic bombing. In the meantime he would continue his appeals for more bombers and crewmen while he continued his effort to deal a mortal blow to the Nazi war machine.

Lemay to the Marianas

LeMay was Arnold’s choice for a successor. With the establish­ment of bases in the Marianas, the offensive from China had lost its urgency, and Arnold directed his staff in late September to study the implications of withdrawing the B-29S from Chengtu.83 A month and a half later he told LeMay to prepare to take XX Bomber Command to a new location. Arnold added, “I cannot at this time tell you where you will go or when your bases will be ready” and thus LeMay would likely have to stay put “for a mat­ter of months.”84 HanselPs dismissal changed the equation. More­over, Hansell was a brigadier general, LeMay wore two stars, and LeMay was а в-29 commander who was in-theater and avail­able.8” Arnold ordered LeMay to proceed to Guam, the new site of XXI Bomber Command, and to arrive there immediately after Norstad. Once Norstad conveyed the news to Hansell, Arnold wanted LeMay available to discuss operations with the man that he would replace.

Hansell accepted his relief with a minimum of complaint, though his ten-page, typed letter to Arnold on the eve of his departure from Guam—a highly detailed discussion of problems that he had faced leading XXI Bomber Command—typified his commu­nications with his boss. At the end of his report, Hansell stated: “I feel, on reflection, that I have erred in not passing on to you my problems in more detail. I have felt that my first consider­ation should be to solve my problems as best I could, rather than to send complaints to you. Perhaps I have overdone this concep­tion.”86 Ironically, such lengthy explanations of why he had failed to achieve success probably contributed to Hansell’s relief. In con­trast, LeMay had provided short, pithy summaries of his results directing XX Bomber Command. Those synopses usually con­tained bomb tonnages along with the amount of damage inflicted to the target—“hard” data that Arnold could show his Joint Chief counterparts to justify his control of Twentieth Air Force and its expensive bombers—and that Arnold could himself use as sol­ace that his B-29S were on their way to achieving decisive results. “Statistics of tons of bombs dropped and of sorties flown are eas­ily compiled, seem factual and specific, and are impressive. Pho­tographs of burned-out cities also speak for themselves,” Han – sell later remarked.87

LeMay fully appreciated the desire for tangible results in Wash­ington dc, but his selection to lead XXI Bomber Command stemmed as much from his flexible attitude, especially his willingness to try new bombing methods, as it did from the numbers that he actu­ally produced. The initial bombing by XX Bomber Command, in­cluding several raids after LeMay had taken charge, was partic­ularly poor. A December 1944 study of the command’s first ten missions revealed that only 269 bombs out of 5,554 fell within one thousand feet of the aiming point, followed by the comment: “A look at planes lost on these missions brings the realization that it cost us one в-29 to place twelve 500 G. P. [General Pur­pose] bombs within 1,000 feet of the target.” Arnold underlined that sentence and wrote in the margin beside it, “Oh, Lord!”88 The numbers improved as a result of LeMay’s rigorous training policies, yet LeMay—like Hansell in the Marianas—stressed pre­cision attacks against specific industrial targets.

Not until an 18 December mission against the Chinese city of Hankow did LeMay conduct an area attack. He initially opposed the raid, but ordered it in response to requests from Lieutenant General Albert C. Wedemeyer, commander of American forces in China, and Major General Claire Chennault, Commander of Fourteenth Air Force, to attack the city that was a key staging area for a Japanese offensive. Eighty-four B-29S dropped 511 tons of incendiaries that burned down half of Hankow and produced a smoke cloud that billowed three miles high.89 Even though Ar­nold had not ordered the raid, he wrote Secretary of War Henry Stimson that it provided a valid test of the “efficacy” of firebomb­ing and was significant “from a long range as well as an immedi­ate viewpoint.”90

Arnold was always looking ahead, because he knew that he had limited time to affect the outcome of the Pacific War. Hansell later reflected upon the overriding importance of achieving rapid results: “‘Time’ had become an obsessive compulsion—the time for the invasion of Japan. Washington placed great stress upon the end of the war, emphasizing that this carnage must not go on a single week longer than necessary to achieve victory.”91 The pro­gressive vision had indeed become an obsession for Arnold, who realized that the в-29 offensive from the Marianas was the Army Air Forces’ last, and best, chance to secure the ideals espoused by his friend and mentor Billy Mitchell—which included service in­dependence. “I am still worried,” he wrote Norstad on 14 Janu­ary. “We have built up ideas in the Army, the Navy, and among civilians of what we can do with our B-29S. . . and yet. . . our average delivery rate against Japan is very, very small. . . . Unless something drastic is done to change this condition soon, it will not be long before the в-29 is just another tactical airplane.”92 Three days later he collapsed with his fourth heart attack of the war. The pursuit of decisive results with air power would continue, but, during its key phase in the Pacific War, the newly minted five-star Commanding General of the Army Air Forces would no longer appear at the forefront of the в-29 campaign. Instead, the stan­dard bearer of the Twentieth Air Force’s effort to score a knock­out blow now became its Chief of Staff, Larry Norstad.

LeMay and Norstad had communicated frequently during LeMay’s tenure with XX Bomber Command, and both shared Ar­nold’s views about the b-29’s importance to the war effort as well as to future force structures. “I think we all agree that the compo­sition and size of our post war Air Force depends a great deal on the в-29 performance in the Pacific,” LeMay wrote Norstad on 16 November 1944.95 Norstad concurred, telling LeMay after his assumption of command in Guam: “I am convinced that the XXI Bomber Command, more than any other service or weapon, is in a position to do something decisive.”94 Those perspectives mir­rored Arnold’s, and his guiding hand never truly left Twentieth Air Force as he read mission reports and message traffic from his recuperation bed in Coral Gables, Florida. Still, Arnold could not actively lead the force that mattered most to him, and he would have to count on Norstad and LeMay to make his vision of rapid success a reality. “General Arnold was absolutely determined to get results out of this weapons system,” LeMay recalled.95 The new commander of XXI Bomber Command did not intend to dis­appoint his ailing boss.

LeMay soon realized that satisfying Arnold—and Norstad— would not be easy. LeMay was especially upset with the staff that Hansell had left him, which he described to Norstad as “practi­cally worthless.” He further told Norstad that Rosy O’Donnell’s Seventy-third Wing was “in bad shape” and that “you better start warming up a sub for Rosy in case we have to put him in. … I get the impression from Rosy on down they think the obstacles too many and the opposition too heavy to crash through and get the bombs on target.”96 Much as he had with XX Bomber Com­mand, LeMay started an intensive training program for his crews in the Marianas. Yet he discovered that training alone would not cure the problems that had plagued Hansell.

Like his predecessor, LeMay believed in the merits of high alti­tude, daylight, precision bombing against specific targets essential to enemy war production. That faith could not overcome the ob­stacles of wind, clouds, and distance. Jet stream winds continued

to scatter bombs, clouds frequently obscured targets, and 1,600- mile flights to and from cities like Tokyo and Nagoya tested the limits of the b-29’s range, often leading to ditchings on the way back to the Marianas. From his 20 January assumption of com­mand through the first week of March, LeMay conducted six precision raids, and all produced miserable results. A 27 January attack by seventy-six B-29S on Hansell’s nemesis, the Tokyo Na- kajima aircraft plant, placed no bombs on the target at a cost of nine Superfortresses.97


While writing a work based to a substantial degree on historical records may appear to be an individual project, it is not—it re­quires a tremendous amount of assistance from many other people. Moreover, such an endeavor also requires a substantial amount of time. Accordingly, I must first thank Major General Robert Steel, usaf, and the staff of the National War College for providing me with a sabbatical year that allowed me the necessary time to com­plete a project that has long occupied my attention.

Archival collections provided many of my sources, and I must make special mention of some of the archivists who gave me in­valuable assistance. At the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Ms. Lynn O. Gamma, Dr. James H. Kitchens, and Mr. Joseph D. Caver all were tremen­dously helpful. Joe in particular was wonderful, tracking down answers to questions that I had, and finding many of the photo­graphs used in this book. At the Air Force Office of History at Bolling Air Force Base DC, Dr. Roger Miller and Ms. Mary Lee Jefferson also provided many excellent photographs, several of which I had never before seen. Mr. Jeff Flannery and Ms. Jennifer Brathovde at the U. S. National Archives offered essential guidance as I plowed through manuscript collections. In the Special Col­lections branch of the U. S. Air Force Academy Library, I received considerable help from the masterful archivist (now retired), Mr. Duane Reed, as well as from Dr. Edward A. Scott, the Director of Academy Libraries. The superb staff at the National Defense University Library, including Ms. Carolyn Turner, Ms. Rosemary Marlowe-Dzuik, and Ms. Kimberley Jordan, graciously and ex­peditiously responded to my many requests.

I must also thank the “it gurus” of National War College, Mr. Anthony Muschelli and Mr. Peter Pettigrew, who kept me “logged in” to the National Defense University network throughout my sabbatical. I could not have written this book without their tireless efforts. National War College’s Dr. Chris Bassford, who also has a considerable amount of it expertise (besides being our Clause – witz guru!), graciously gave much of his time to refine many of the photographs that I selected.

For suggestions, advice, and consultation, I am grateful to many people as well. Ms. Heather Lundine and Ms. Bridget Barry at University of Nebraska Press provided me with a multitude of use­ful tidbits that I would never have considered and made this book much better than it otherwise would have been; I also appreciate the sage advice of Ms. Sarah Steinke, the copy editor. Dr. David Mets, a dear friend and outstanding historian who taught with me at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, provided a critique of the first two chapters that I took to heart. Professor Emeritus Gerhard Weinberg—the historian of the Second World War—also provided me with an invaluable critique of my chap­ter drafts. Students from the National War College and Industrial College of the Armed Forces in my “Air Power and Modern War” class during the past decade never failed to challenge my thinking, as did Air Force Colonel Peter Faber—a wonderful air power his­torian—who twice taught the class with me. Air Force Lieuten­ant Colonel Rondall Rice, author of the excellent book The Pol­itics of Air Power: From Confrontation to Cooperation in Army Aviation Civil-Military Relations, read the manuscript and pro­vided me with sound recommendations. Rondall, a fellow North Carolinian, was one of my advisees when I taught at the Air Force Academy, and his assistance is a classic case of the student instruct­ing the teacher. My next-door neighbor, Dr. (and physicist) Les­lie Cohen, gave me many useful insights in frequent discussions. Former students at the University of North Carolina—and current

Air Force officers—Chris Holland, Sheila (Johnson) Baldwin, Jes­sica Rice, Bob Champion, and Wendy (Williams) Walker provided continued encouragement and advice. Air Force Colonel “BA” Andrews, who has taught at both National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, provided invaluable sug­gestions, both in terms of research and structure.

Professor Peter Maslowski, who has served as my mentor since 1982 when I became one of his graduate students at the Univer­sity of Nebraska, provided continual support and a tremendous critique of an early draft of this work. I never cease to be amazed by his continued drive for excellence and his absolute commit­ment to making his students better people—in all facets of life. Pete has been my definition of the ideal teacher for as long as I have known him, and he is the example I have tried to emulate throughout my teaching career.

This book would not have occurred without the guidance pro­vided by two key people in my life—my father-in-law and my fa­ther. My father-in-law, Dr. David Maclsaac, wrote the definitive study of World War II’s U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, and taught me when I was a senior cadet at the Air Force Academy—long be­fore his daughter Donna caught my eye. He was a rigid disciplinar­ian when it came to historical scholarship then, and nothing has changed in almost thirty-five years since. He read an early draft of this work and took me to task on many parts of it, and the result­ing product is far better than it would have been without his com­ments. I cannot thank him enough for his help—in this endeavor and many others—and I dedicate this book in part to him.

My dad—Walter Allen Clodfelter Jr.—is a part of Ameri­ca’s greatest generation, and served in a control tower on Tin­ian during the early morning of 6 August 1945 when the Enola Gay took off on its fateful mission to Hiroshima. His stories of what it was like in the closing stages of the war—to include talk­ing down a squadron of Mustangs through a solid overcast over

Tinian’s runway—planted the seed that got me interested in the Air Force and air power, and I’m sure were instrumental in my decision to attend the Air Force Academy. Fie also read an early draft of this work and, as the most meticulous proofreader I have ever seen, pointed out errors I would not otherwise have caught, as well as asked me “big picture” questions that I had not consid­ered. He is a continual source of inspiration, and I dedicate this book in part to him.

Despite the considerable advice and assistance that I have re­ceived, the responsibility for all that is written is mine alone, and my work does not necessarily represent the views of the National War College or any government agency.

I have already mentioned the role that my father played in help­ing me craft this work, but I must also mention Mom as well, for together my parents provided an unceasing amount of guidance and support. I also cannot fail to mention Donna, for without her this project would never have happened. She never doubted my instincts, constantly encouraged me through difficult peri­ods, plus gave me that greatest of all commodities—time—and she never laughed too much when I came bursting through the door after a run on the GW Parkway Trail and madly scrambled to find a pen and paper.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Coach Roy Williams and the National Championship North Carolina basket­ball team of 2008-9. As a die-hard Tar Heel who will have part of his ashes scattered at the Old Well, I was consistently thrilled and inspired by the exploits of Tyler Hansbrough, Ту Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, and company as they brought back a fifth ncaa Championship to Chapel Hill. I can’t guarantee that it helped the quality of my research and writing, but I’m certain that it didn’t hurt.

M. C.

Mount Vernon, Virginia



Portions of chapter 2 previously appeared in “Molding Airpower Convictions: Development and Legacy of William Mitchell’s Stra­tegic Thought,” in The Paths of Heaven: The Evolution of Air – power Theory, ed. Philip S. Meilinger, 79-114 (Maxwell Air Force Base al: Air University Press, 1997).

Portions of chapters 2 and 3 previously appeared in “Pinpoint­ing Devastation: American Air Campaign Planning before Pearl Harbor,” Journal of Military History 58, no. 1 (1994): 75-102.

Portions of chapter 5 previously appeared in “Aiming to Break Will: America’s World War II Bombing of German Morale and Its Ramifications,” Journal of Strategic Studies 33, no. 3 (June 2010): 401-35.

Portions of chapter 7 previously appeared in “A Strategy Based on Faith: The Enduring Appeal of Progressive American Airpower,” Joint Force Quarterly, no. 49 (2008): 24-31, 150-60.

Preparing to Bomb Hitler’s Reich, January 1942-January 1943

In the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, most American air­men could not foresee the savage war of attrition that would soon transpire in the skies above Germany. Instead, as they prepared to mount an air campaign against Adolf Hitler’s “Fortress Europe,” most embraced the progressive views espoused by the Air Corps Tactical School and reflected on paper in awfd-i. Air leaders like Eaker and Spaatz intended to demonstrate that high altitude, day­light, precision bombing was not only the correct way to apply air power against an enemy nation, but also that its decisive ef­fects justified an autonomous American air force.

In June 1942, Spaatz arrived in Britain as the commander of Eighth Air Force, and he quickly shunned the night “area bomb­ing” campaign against German cities started by Air Marshal Ar­thur Harris and raf Bomber Command earlier that year. Spaatz had observed firsthand the German attempt to break British mo­rale with bombs during the Battle of Britain. He disdained the Brit­ish approach because he thought it much less efficient than the Americans’ precision efforts in daylight. “It wasn’t for religious or moral reasons that I didn’t go along with urban area bombing,” he later confided, but instead because precision attacks “could win the war more quickly.”10

Brigadier General Haywood “Possum” Hansell, a key archi­tect of awpd-i who twice commanded an Eighth Air Force Bomb Wing, agreed. “We preferred to avoid mass killings of civilians and we thought there was a better way to ‘fatally weaken’ an industrialized modern state,” he reflected.11 Hansell noted that “selective strategic air attack served to keep the losses of land war in Western Europe in World War II far below the levels they would have reached if decision had rested entirely upon victory on the battlefield.” American air commanders preferred “selective targeting” rather than area bombing to cripple “the entire war­supporting activity of the enemy nation, not simply making the Army’s task feasible and easier.”12

Hansell’s observation blended the notions of efficiency and effectiveness with the other great goal of American airmen—to achieve an independent air force. Hansell was not afraid to state that desire openly, and others did as well. Billy Mitchell’s former confidant, Frank Andrews, had worked hard for service auton­omy as commander of General Headquarters (ghq) Air Force before the war, and he continued his campaign once the war be­gan. As the Commanding General of Caribbean Command in July 1942, he implored Army Chief of Staff George Marshall’s deputy, Fieutenant General Joseph T. McNarney: “We must go further and place air power on an entirely equal footing with the

Army and Navy—and do it soon; a united Air Force entirely and completely coequal with the other two services, with one com­mander for all three.”

Andrews knew that his line of reasoning found a sympathetic audience. While ghq Air Force Commander, he had befriended Marshall and given him a favorable impression of air power, es­pecially air power in the form of heavy bombers. In addition, Mc – Narney, Marshall’s deputy, was an Army Air Forces pilot who had directed much of the St. Mihiel air offensive for Billy Mitchell in World War I. “I am firmly convinced that we must fight this Air Force question out now,” Andrews continued. “We are obliged to put our own house in order before we can win this war and you know as well as I do that our leadership in the Air Force is uncer­tain and worried and continually upset, and will remain so until this problem is solved.”13

Hap Arnold—the man at the pinnacle of the Army Air Forces pyramid—was indeed concerned about the status of the organi­zation that he led. Receiving his third star a week after Pearl Har­bor, he intended for the Army Air Forces to make the decisive con­tribution to victory over the Axis.14 To Arnold, the best way to achieve a telling impact was a bomber offensive against the Axis homelands. He wrote Robert Lovett, the Assistant Secretary of War for Air, in October 1942 that the mission of the Air Forces was “to destroy the capacity and will of the enemy for waging war,” adding that “no other offensive effort open to us can bring us this success.”15 Arnold emphasized air power’s ability to achieve “independent” results through strategic bombing, rather than its role in supporting ground or sea forces, not only because he be­lieved that strategic bombing could yield victory, but also because he thought that the success of the independent mission could lead to service autonomy. He told his commanders in June 1943: “Air power is still but an infant among the arms, and its useful growth

is dependent upon proper handling now. This is particularly true of heavy, long-range bombardment aviation which comprises the main striking power of air forces and which, alone, lifts an Air Force from the status of an auxiliary arm to that of an equal with arms which serve in other mediums.”16

Arnold worked relentlessly to assure that the strategic bombing mission spurred air force independence. No detail was too small to avoid his attention, and his intensity often rattled those who worked with him—one materiel officer fell dead from a heart at­tack after Arnold berated his performance early in the war.17 The non-stop parade of seven-to-seven days ultimately took its toll, and Arnold would have four heart attacks of his own in a twenty – three-month span from February 1943 to January 1945. As a re~ suit, Lovett and others close by, including relatively junior offi­cers like Lauris Norstad, Jacob Smart, and Hoyt Vandenberg, who served on Arnold’s handpicked Advisory Council, would some­times speak on Arnold’s behalf.18 All of them understood—and accepted—the Commanding General’s unwavering commitment to wrecking the Axis with air power—and to accomplishing that goal in such a way that air power’s contribution to victory would provide an unmistakable impetus for an independent air force.

Marshall did little to curb Arnold’s zeal. After becoming Chief of Staff, Marshall had added the study of air power to the Ar­my’s Command and General Staff College curriculum.19 Following Pearl Harbor he emphasized his “desire to impress upon higher commanders especially their responsibility for taking all measures which will contribute to our control of the air.”20 Andrews’s pre­war overtures influenced Marshall’s favorable view of the Army Air Forces, but so too did a shared strategic vision with the aaf Commanding General. The Army Chief of Staff seldom overruled Arnold during the war, and in many respects the Army Air Forces had already obtained the autonomy that so many of its leaders


sought.21 Arnold was free, for the most part, to direct his air com­manders as he thought best, and he kept especially close tabs on those like Spaatz and Eaker who controlled heavy bombers. Mar­shall commented after the war that he had intended to make Ar­nold “as nearly as I could Chief of Staff of the Air without any restraint,” but added that Arnold was “very subordinate” and complemented Marshall’s strategic inclinations.22 Indeed, Arnold once confided to Eaker, “If George Marshall ever took a position contrary to mine, I would know I was wrong.”23

Marshall’s support proved insufficient, though, to give Arnold and his cohorts a true appreciation for the magnitude of the task they faced at the start of their air offensive against Hitler’s Eu­rope; moreover, they could not envision how the momentum gen­erated by a war against an equally committed foe would trans­form their progressive notions about bombing. The men who had crafted awpd-i’s requirements had done so based on their faith in a uniquely American approach to applying air power, but had no empirical evidence to back their claims. They largely dismissed pre­vious examples of bombing because those episodes did not corre­spond to the theory, equipment, and techniques that they deemed essential for a successful air campaign.24 Instead, as they began to assemble a bombing force in England, they did so with the be­lief that their precision air offensive would quickly and efficiently wreck German war-making capability—and hence its will to re­sist—in contrast to the raf’s bludgeon aimed directly at German morale. They were reluctant to heed their British counterparts who sported more than two years of bombing experience, including a disastrous daylight effort against Germany in r939-40.25

In July 1942, Eighth Air Force finally received its first comple­ment of 180 aircraft, which included 40 в-17 “Flying Fortresses.”26 Those B-17S were “E” models and differed significantly from the “C” models that the British had acquired in 1941. Unlike its pre-

decessor, the “E” model boasted increased fuel capacity that ex­tended its combat radius to four hundred miles with a five-thou- sand-pound bomb load, plus it had an armament of eleven.50 caliber machine guns, many in electric-powered turrets, that of­fered far more protection than the “C” model possessed.27 The protection was vital for a bomber force that would rely on self – preservation rather than fighter escort to survive its most grueling missions during its first year and a half of existence.

The fighters that initially arrived as part of Eighth Air Force did so to protect friendly bomber airfields from German attack; awpd-i’s designers had intended them for that purpose, not to protect bombers in flight.28 Although Hansell and a few others argued before the war that pursuit aircraft (fighters) would prove useful as bomber escorts, their pleas fell on mostly deaf ears, and those who listened did not believe that a suitable single-seat fighter could be built with sufficient range to accompany bombers to tar­get.29 The в-17 and the в-24 (the other four-engine bomber that comprised Eighth Air Force’s “heavy” bomber force) would have to fight through the toughest German defenses alone, as would two-engine “medium” bombers such as the в-25 and в-26 that also were a part of the Eighth.

Spaatz, for one, expressed little concern about the challenges ahead. One week after the Eighth Air Force’s first bombing raid of the war, a 17 August 1942 attack by 12 B-17S against a marshal­ling yard near Rouen, France, he wrote Arnold that with 1,500 heavy and medium bombers, plus 800 fighters to defend his air­fields, he would have “complete aerial supremacy over Germany within a year, with the resultant insurance of her rapid defeat.” He added: “The force listed above is considerably less than that proposed in awpd-i. However, the experience so far in this the­atre and our experience in the Far Eastern theatre indicates that contrary to the assumption in awpd-i, bombing accuracy does


not diminish under fire, but rather increases. As a result the force set up above, plus what the RAF may have, will in my mind ac­complish the objectives set forth in awpd-i.”30

The Rouen attack belied Spaatz’s optimism. He and Eaker, then Commander of VIII Bomber Command, had carefully selected the relatively friendly confines of French airspace for Eighth Air Force to make its first strike, and they had also picked their top crews to fly the mission. The pilot of the lead aircraft was one of the best in the Army Air Forces, Major Paul Tibbets Jr., and the gifted commander of the Ninety-seventh Bomb Group, Colonel Frank Armstrong Jr.—who would serve as the model for “Frank Savage” in the novel and movie Twelve O’Clock High!—flew as copilot. Eaker was also aboard one of the aircraft, despite having been stung by twenty-seven hornets while hunting the previous day.31 The target chosen was one that endangered few French ci­vilians, the weather was superb, and 108 Spitfires escorted the 12 “Flying Fortresses” to and from Rouen, which was well within their range. Yet, despite the fanfare resulting from America’s first bombing raid in Europe, few bombs hit the target, and the over­all results were marginal, though no bombers were lost.

Four similar missions against French targets followed, again with no bombers lost. When Arnold received Spaatz’s glowing assessment of the Eighth’s first week of activity—which claimed that fifty-eight of seventy-two B-17S had hit their targets, drop­ping 107 tons of bombs at twenty-two thousand feet—the aaf Commanding General proudly announced to a gathering of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in early September: “I realize that these operations were too limited to permit the drawing of definite con­clusions but the following statements are of interest: (1) Precision bombing can be conducted against the continent with B-i7’s from high altitudes. (2) These operations lend encouragement to a belief that daylight operations may be extended into the heart of Ger­

many, with or without fighter protection—if the proper size force is used.”32 Arnold aimed his ebullient declaration to mollify Brit­ish colleagues skeptical about the prospects for daylight bombing and eager for Americans to join the raf’s night campaign against Germany proper. Still, he wanted to see more such updates, which he considered tangible revelations of progress.

As the first week of Eighth Air Force operations drew to a close, President Franklin Roosevelt asked for an estimate of the num­ber of combat aircraft that the United States and its Allies should produce in 1943 to have “complete air ascendancy over the en­emy.”33 Arnold turned to Possum Hansell to provide the answer. Hansell, who served in England as air planner for Eieutenant Gen­eral Dwight Eisenhower, relied on his expertise in crafting awpd-i after he returned to Washington DC along with Eaker. Ten days later, Hansell and a small staff produced AWPD-42.

Much like awpd-i, AWPD-42 estimated America’s air needs in broad terms that went beyond the scope of the original request, and it also hearkened to the progressive notions that had guided the earlier plan. Hansell concluded that the United States would need to produce 139,000 aircraft in 1943, which the Army Air Forces would require 63,000 combat aircraft, organized into 281 groups. In the Pacific, defensive operations would dominate, but in Europe Hansell envisioned that 78 groups would fly from Great Britain, and many of those would begin a bomber offen­sive against Germany. That campaign would destroy German war­making capability in six months of constant bombing once the at­tacking force reached maturity.

AWPD-42 “contemplated a degree of destruction of internal Ger­many which would make invasion feasible and relatively inexpen­sive in terms of U. S. lives,” Hansell reflected.34 The destruction of the Luftwaffe again received emphasis as “an intermediate objec­tive with overriding priority,” followed by submarine yards, trans­

portation systems, electric power facilities, oil installations, and aluminum and rubber plants. The U-Boat scourge during the Bat­tle of the Atlantic dictated second billing for the submarine yards, but the remainder of the list differed little from awpd-i’s priori­ties. Hansell estimated that forty-two groups of heavy bombers, composed of 48 aircraft each and totaling 2,016 aircraft, would arrive in the United Kingdom by 1 January 1944, along with 960 medium bombers. The plan estimated 2,500 fighters as well, but did not consider them as bomber escorts. “Our heavy bombers are far superior in fire power and capacity to absorb punishment to the bombers used by the Germans,” AWPD-42 observed. “Our daylight penetration of German defenses has up to this time in­dicated a relatively low attrition rate to our bombers and a rela­tively high attrition rate to German fighters.”35

Despite awpd-42’s optimistic appraisal, prospects for bomb­ing Germany were dim, and the Rouen raid set the pattern for the next five months of Eighth Air Force operations. Spaatz never came close to receiving the 1,500 bombers he had mentioned in his prediction to Arnold and was unwilling to risk his meager force against targets in Germany. President Roosevelt had spurred bomber production with his May 1941 order to build 500 “heav­ies” a month, but it took time for assembly lines to gear up for that total. By March 1942 American industry topped the 4,000 mark in monthly aircraft production, yet 40 percent were train­ers, and transport aircraft and fighters consumed a sizable chunk of the rest.36 In October, just as the Eighth Air Force had gained four more groups of heavy bombers, each containing 35 aircraft, Spaatz received word that he had to surrender 1,250 airplanes and their crews to help create Twelfth Air Force for the invasion of North Africa.37 Eighth Air Force would have only seven “heavy” groups remaining, and of those, only two were fully operational at the end of October.38

Moreover, many crews arriving in Britain had minimal training in the types of missions they would have to fly. Most bombardiers trained at “high” altitudes of twelve thousand feet, rather than at the twenty-thousand-foot level they would frequently use for com­bat.39 Gunners arrived without having fired at tow targets. Pilots arrived with no experience in formation flying, essential not only for mutual protection, but also to assure concentrated bombing patterns. Not until LeMay appeared with his 305th Bomb Group in November 1942 did Eighth Air Force truly begin to solve the problems of formation flying. After several days of directing train­ing missions from the top turret of his в-17, he devised the “com­bat box” formation that massed three squadrons of six aircraft each to form a combat group of eighteen aircraft.40 Two or more combat groups formed a combat wing.

LeMay further took his best pilots, navigators, and bombar­diers, and made them “lead” crews who dictated by radio when the entire group formation dropped its bombs. Most B-17S had their bombsights removed and replaced by a machine gun in the aircraft’s Plexiglas nose. The resulting “pattern bombing” tech­nique ultimately became standard operating procedure for Eighth Air Force. “At one stroke you raised the accuracy of the whole Group from the common denominator to the level of your best man, and navigation improved accordingly,” he later remarked.41 LeMay also mandated that his crews fly “straight and level” two minutes prior to target to allow the gyro in the Norden bomb – sight to stabilize while the lead bombardier fed in ground speed and cross-wind information. Though initially apprehensive about the inability to take evasive action on the bomb run, crews found that their loss rate to German flak actually declined with a steady approach to target. LeMay had already reached that conclusion by using the artillery manual from his Ohio State rotc course to calculate that each piece of German antiaircraft artillery would have to fire 273 rounds to score one hit on а в-17.42

Yet LeMay’s innovations could not instantly—or entirely— erase the difficulties of bombing factories or rail yards from four miles up while under fire, and after five months of attacking targets in occupied Europe, Eighth Air Force’s loss rate inched upward, with little to show for the effort other than increasing claims of German fighters shot down.43 British concerns for merchant ship­ping losses mandated that many missions went against German submarine pens in French ports, but the sub pens were relatively small structures with thick concrete ceilings that were difficult to hit and more difficult to damage.44 In December, Spaatz left Eng­land to take command of Twelfth Air Force in North Africa, and Eaker took charge of the Eighth, with Brigadier General New­ton Longfellow taking Eaker’s former job as Commander of VIII Bomber Command. Eaker soon found himself on the defensive from the British, led by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who contended that the Americans should abandon daylight bombing and join the rap’s night campaign against German cities.

On the evening of 13 January 1943—while hosting his first dinner guests after becoming Eighth Air Force Commander— Eaker received a telephone call from General Eisenhower, order­ing him to report at once to Casablanca, where Churchill would meet Roosevelt in top-level strategy discussions. Arnold and the rest of the Combined Chiefs of Staff would attend as well, and Arnold wanted Eaker to dissuade the prime minister from recom­mending American night bombing to Roosevelt. Eaker needed lit­tle persuasion. Three months earlier, after comparing British and American bombing methods, he had written Spaatz: “I believe it is clearly demonstrated that the efficiency of day bombardment over night bombardment is in the order of ten to one.”45 Churchill had spoken favorably of Eaker in the past, and Arnold believed that he had the best chance to change Churchill’s mind. Eaker would return to the notion of efficiency to do so, but his version of efficient was one that maximized the experience of each force. When the prime minister appeared before the Eighth Air Force Commander in the uniform of an raf air commodore, Eaker was ready with a one-page memo stressing the persistent nature of a “round-the-clock” offensive that would give the Germans no re­spite from air attack. Churchill found the notion appealing and relented, though his change of mind also came at a price—Eaker promised the prime minister that the Eighth Air Force would be­gin bombing Germany before the end of the month.46

Yet at Casablanca it was a statement made by Roosevelt, not Churchill, that had the greatest impact on future American bomb­ing. The president and the prime minister had both determined well before the conference that they would pursue a policy of com­plete surrender for the Axis powers; Roosevelt believed that the failure to crush the German regime in World War I had spawned the stab-in-the-back theory that facilitated Hitler’s rise, and af­ter Pearl Harbor he contended that total victory was necessary to erase the threat of future militarism from Germany, Italy, and Ja­pan.47 At Casablanca, following the November 1942 North Afri­can landings, Roosevelt and Churchill aimed to assure their do­mestic publics—and their Soviet ally—that the Anglo-American forces would not make deals with German collaborators, nor would they make a separate peace with the Germans.48 As a re­sult, on 24 January 1943, the president announced to a group of reporters that the war aim sought by the Allied powers was the “unconditional surrender” of the Axis nations, which called for “the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and subjugation of other people.”44 He repeat­edly emphasized that objective for the war’s duration.’0

The ramifications of Roosevelt’s declaration were profound for

a bomber force that had yet to bomb the homeland of its stron­gest foe. On one hand, if American political and military leaders adhered to the guidelines of awpd-i and AWPD-42, and those es­timates proved correct, then the American air offensive against Germany should result in an efficient air campaign that eviscer­ated the Third Reich six months after intensive bombing began. On the other hand, if political and military leaders deviated from those guidelines—and Eaker’s promise to Churchill and the high demand for bombers in North Africa and elsewhere guaranteed that the Eighth Air Force would begin its portion of the “Com­bined Bomber Offensive” (сво) with less than the desired num­ber of aircraft—then the time required would take far more than half a year. Moreover, the six-month estimate assumed (1) a high degree of bombing accuracy on a consistent basis, (2) the bomb­ing force would prevail against German defenses in a reasonable amount of time, and (3) the Germans would yield as a result of destruction rendered. Those premises were thin reeds at best, and “unconditional surrender” made the final notion especially prob­lematic. Roosevelt’s declaration now defined German defeat not only as military loss, but also as the eradication of the Nazi re­gime. Using bombs to sever the delicate strands of Germany’s in­dustrial web might not suffice to cause the Germans to throw in the towel.51

From Precision to Obliteration

The bleak production dismayed LeMay, Arnold, and Norstad, who all searched for alternatives to achieve success. Three days before he had taken charge of XXI Bomber Command, LeMay asked his friend Major General Fred Anderson, the Deputy Com­mander of Eighth Air Force Operations, for information on night photography that could assist in night bombing missions. “This weapon [the в-29] has tremendous possibilities, and I do not be­lieve that we have more than scratched the surface of new devel­opments, modifications, and methods,” LeMay stated. “Certainly, I will never permit the operations of a Command to which I am assigned to become routine and if there is a means of getting more bombs on to the target I propose to find it.”98 Arnold revealed similar thinking in his scribbles on a 30 January memorandum brought to him by his deputy, Lieutenant General Barney Giles. Giles noted that Japanese fighter opposition had increased in in­tensity over Tokyo and Nagoya, and wrote: “To offset this appar­ent concentration of fighter strength, we are instructing LeMay to direct his efforts at more widely dispersed targets and to engage in night fighter operations until our long-range fighters are avail­able for employment, which should be in the latter part of Feb­ruary.” Arnold marked out the second use of the word “fighter” and put parentheses around the word “night,” and then wrote “ok” across the sentence."

Norstad’s answer to overcoming the lack of precision was the same that he had provided Hansell—area attacks on the densely populated centers of Japanese cities. He had failed to get Arnold’s endorsement for his plan to commemorate Pearl Harbor’s anni­versary with a fire raid on the emperor’s Tokyo palace, though Arnold’s response indicated that he opposed the target, not the concept of incendiary attack. “Not at this time,” Arnold wrote on the proposal. “Our position—bombing factories, docks, etc., is sound. Later destroy the whole city.”100 He had not demurred earlier when Norstad directed Hansell to attack the center of Na­goya with incendiaries, which Arnold could convey to the press and the public as an attack on Japan’s cottage industry.

That rationale still applied, Norstad surmised, after the change at the top of XXI Bomber Command. Norstad suggested firebomb­ing the most densely populated part of Kobe, and LeMay com­plied. On 4 February—one day after almost one thousand B-17S targeted government buildings in Berlin’s main residential district with 2,279 tons °f bombs—sixty-nine B-29S attacked the cen­ter of Kobe with 159 tons of incendiaries.101 Norstad deemed re­sults of the raid “inconclusive” after reconnaissance photographs showed fire damage covering 0.15 square miles of the city and three of twelve industrial targets damaged.102 Eight days later he told LeMay to prepare to create a “conflagration that is beyond the capacity of fire-fighting control” in Nagoya.103 The following week LeMay received a directive stating that aircraft engine plants remained his primary objective, but “selected urban areas for test incendiary attack” were now second in priority.104

On 20 February Norstad requested a maximum effort, telling LeMay to choose between Nagoya and Tokyo and send as many aircraft as possible from the 73rd, 313th, and newly arrived 314th

Bomb Wings. LeMay countered that he needed additional time for training. Norstad responded that “circumstances beyond our control” dictated the mission, which historian Michael Sherry suspects was the savage fight for Iwo Jima then underway. Simi­lar logic had helped persuade LeMay to firebomb Hankow, and now the effort would support his own force—the capture of Iwo Jima would eliminate Japan’s ability to attack the Marianas and would provide an emergency landing field for battered B-29S that could not make it to the Marianas after a raid.

Yet another reason likely caused Norstad to demand an attack. On 16-17 February, Navy fighters and fighter bombers of Ad­miral Marc A. Mitscher’s Task Force Fifty-eight flew almost one thousand sorties over Tokyo, despite taking off in rain and snow squalls for many of their missions. They claimed more than five hundred Japanese aircraft destroyed, plus they also attacked the Nakajima aircraft engine factory and damaged it severely.105 The carrier raids garnered headlines in the United States, including from the New York Times, which described them as “the most daring operation of the Pacific war to date.”106 Recuperating in Florida, Arnold noted the attention that the Navy attack received, as well as another headline announcing the one-thousandth в-29 pro­duced by Boeing’s Wichita plant. He commented to Giles that if only sixty or eighty B-29S could attack Japan at a time, “a change in management is certainly in order.”107

LeMay needed little prompting in the aftermath of the Navy’s attack on Tokyo. On 19 February he sent 150 B-29S against the same Nakajima factory that he and Hansell had bombed so many times—and that the Navy had now bombed successfully—and once again scored no hits on it, this time at a cost of six bomb­ers.108 On 25 February, in response to Norstad’s prodding, XXI Bomber Command mounted its largest mission to date with 172 Superfortresses using radar to bomb Tokyo’s Zone I with 411 tons of м-69 incendiaries.109 The B-29S attacked at altitudes of twenty – three thousand to thirty thousand feet, though most crews bombed individually because heavy cloud cover prevented attacks in for­mation. LeMay had originally wanted them to return to the oner­ous Nakajima factory, but the prediction of dense clouds over the target—along with the lack of success against it thus far—per­suaded him to condone the area attack. Despite the B-29S’ disper­sal, the raid was brutally effective, and the bombs—which fell in the midst of a heavy snowstorm—burned out one square mile of the city. No B-29S were lost to Japanese defenses.

In his report to LeMay following the mission, Brigadier Gen­eral Thomas Power, commander of 314th Wing that had recently arrived at Guam, posed a question: If the crews had attacked at a lower altitude with a larger bomb load, would more destruction have resulted? The vile weather forced Power to fly his в-29 at a low altitude to Japan before climbing to twenty-five thousand feet to release his bombs, and the lower altitude reduced fuel con­sumption by producing less stress on the engines—which could have permitted his aircraft to carry more bombs.110 In the mean­time, LeMay dispatched 192 Superfortresses on yet another pre­cision strike against Tokyo’s Nakajima factory, and once more the results were dire; cloud cover obscured the target and most bombs fell in the city’s urban areas.111

LeMay began to accept the reality that the high altitude, preci­sion bombing of Japanese targets was impossible. In early March he ordered twelve of Rosy O’Donnell’s crews to bomb a tiny is­land near Saipan at an altitude of fifty feet with delayed-fuse bombs to determine the feasibility of a low-level attack.112 He also wrote Norstad:

We have been having a hell of a time with the weather lately. … If

we put our formations on top of it going in, the bomb load drops to

practically nothing. To try and beat these weather conditions, I am going to try to assemble a formation over Japan itself. I think we can get away with it a few times anyway.

Another out is to try some night bombing. I don’t believe it is an efficient method of operation but this is another case of a few bombs on the target being better than no bombs at all.113

LeMay knew that this letter would likely not reach Norstad before he saw Norstad in person; perhaps he wanted to provide a written rationale to justify the radical approach that he planned to take. On 2 March Giles had notified Arnold, “I am sending Norstad out to the Pacific to discuss questions with LeMay that can be ironed out only through personal contact,” and LeMay received word of the impending visit.114 He had little doubt what it meant, or that its impetus came from Arnold. “General Arnold needed results,” LeMay recalled. “Larry Norstad had made that very plain. In effect, he had said: ‘You go ahead and get results with the в-29. If you don’t get results, you’ll be fired.’”115

Norstad’s directive to attack Zone I in both Tokyo and Na­goya had not changed, and area bombing—with incendiaries— offered the best means to inflict some damage to Japan’s war effort as well as provide photographic proof of the damage ren­dered. LeMay knew that the night, low-level area attacks that he envisioned were certain to kill thousands of Japanese civilians, yet, based upon his calculations of Japanese defenses, they also provided the best chance for his crews to survive. His goal now matched the cold-blooded thinking that rationalized the obliter­ation of German cities—an air power-induced early end of the war that would save American lives. LeMay aimed to achieve it by losing the minimum number of his own men in the process,116 and he viewed his action as ethical as well as laudatory. “Actually, I think it’s more immoral to use less force than necessary, than it

is to use more," he later wrote. “If you use less force, you kill off more of humanity in the long run, because you are merely pro­tracting the struggle.”117

Like his counterparts in Europe, LeMay’s logic presumed that increased brutality would hasten victory, and that fewer people would die from his incendiary campaign than would perish if he failed to initiate it. That projected outcome, though, remained un­certain, and many Japanese would reach a different conclusion.