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


In October 1910, former president Theodore Roosevelt was in St. Louis campaigning for the Republican governor of Missouri, Herbert Hadley. Upon learning of an “International Aeronautic Tournament” outside the city, the energetic and always inquisitive Roosevelt demanded to see it. “TR” and Hadley arrived at Kin – loch Field on 10 October by an eighty-automobile motorcade— the largest such procession St. Louis had then seen—just as one of the Wright brothers’ six aircraft landed near the grandstand. The pilot of the fragile machine was Arch Hoxsey, a pince-nez- wearing aviator who earlier that year had made America’s first recorded night flight, and who had recently set an endurance rec­ord of 104 miles by flying non-stop to St. Louis from Springfield, Illinois. Hoxsey jumped out of the Model В biplane and walked to Roosevelt’s car through an array of Missouri National Guard troops surrounding the vehicle.

“I was hoping, Colonel, that I might have you for a passenger on one of my trips,” Hoxsey said to Roosevelt.[1]

“By George, I believe I will,” Roosevelt replied. He accompa­nied Hoxsey to the Model В and, to the surprise of those who had arrived with him at the air show, sat down in the passenger seat and said, “Let her go!”

After a four-minute spectacle above Kinloch Field that included a series of climbs and dives—punctuated by “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd below—Roosevelt became the nation’s first pres­ident to fly in an airplane. During the flight he pointed to a Sig­nal Corps building close by and had Hoxsey pretend to attack it. “War, army, aeroplane, bomb!” Roosevelt shouted as Hoxsey

flew back and forth above the installation. Onlookers mobbed TR once he landed, despite the best efforts of the Missouri guards­men to keep them away. When the crowd finally parted enough to give him a chance to speak, he triumphantly exclaimed, “By George, it was fine!”2

Roosevelt’s flight befitted the sense of American adventurism that he embodied, and it also befitted his role as a leader of the progressive movement in the United States. Indeed, as a standard – bearer of the progressives, Roosevelt was on the lookout for ways to improve the daily lives of American citizens, and the airplane offered to do just that. The “flying machine” portended revolu­tions in transportation and communications; commerce and trade would benefit enormously from its continued development. Yet as Roosevelt’s comment to Hoxsey above Kinloch Field indicated, the airplane also offered tremendous potential as an instrument of war. A generation of American airmen would view the airplane’s military promise in progressive terms—as the key to winning con­flicts quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.

For most Americans, though, progressivism had nothing to do with war. The movement, which spanned the nation during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, affected many different groups and encompassed several disparate threads. All focused on progress and reform, and included efforts to reduce inefficiency and waste in manufacturing and business practices, eliminate corruption from government and business, increase the responsiveness of government institutions, promote fairness and equality for all social classes, improve working conditions and protect workers, and enhance the public’s general well-being. At its heart, progressivism promised change that was just, rational, positive, and efficient. Roosevelt emerged as a progressive leader of the Republican Party famous for his “trust busting” and would

later break away from the Republicans to form his own “Pro­gressive Party” in 1912. Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the winner of the 1912 election, also considered himself a progressive, and worked hard to assure the success of the “individual entrepre­neur” against the perceived evils of “big business.” The progres­sive movement’s span across political party lines demonstrated its wide national appeal.

The devastation and ugly realism of World War I ended the progressive era for most Americans; the repudiation of the Ver­sailles Treaty and Wilson’s League of Nations exemplified the pub­lic’s postwar rejection of the movement’s ideals. Yet for Army Air Service officers like Edgar Gorrell and William “Billy” Mitchell, the carnage and waste that they witnessed on the Western Front sparked the beginning of a progressive effort that was unique—an attempt to reform war by relying on its own destructive technol­ogy as the instrument of change. They were convinced that the air­plane—used as a bombing platform—offered the means to make wars much less lethal than conflicts waged by armies or navies.

The airmen contended that a clash of armies, with its subse­quent slaughter, was unnecessary to fight and win future conflicts. Instead, the truly vital ingredients of modern war—the essen­tial industries that produced weapons and fuel, key communica­tions centers, and lines of transportation—were vulnerable to at­tack from the air. The loss of those installations would not only wreck a nation’s ability to fight, it would also sap the will of the populace, because the same facilities needed to wage modern war were also those necessary to sustain normal, day-to-day life. Air­craft would destroy the vital centers through precision bombing— sophisticated technology would guarantee that bombs hit only the intended targets, and few lives would be lost in the process. The finite destruction would end wars quickly, without crippling [2]

manpower losses—maximum results with a minimum of death— and thus, bombing would actually serve as a beneficial instru­ment of war.

To assure the success of their ideas, the advocates of “progres­sive air power” also called for reforming America’s defense struc­ture, with the establishment of a separate air force as a new armed service. They set out to convince the nation of that perceived need, and along the way recruited a core of like-minded officers who took their ideas and further refined them. The conviction that the “strategic bombing” of vital centers offered the solution to fight­ing and winning future wars efficiently blended with the belief that service autonomy was essential to assure the bomber’s proper wartime use against industrial targets—not against armies or na­vies. Ultimately, the two notions became inseparable—the ability of air forces to fight and win wars independently of armies and navies justified an autonomous air force—and an autonomous air force was necessary to assure that air power could efficiently achieve victory on its own.

By the eve of Pearl Harbor, Mitchell disciples like Henry H. “Hap” Arnold and Frank Andrews, and a legion of officers in­culcated with Mitchell’s notions refined by the Air Corps Tacti­cal School, combined to produce a substantial coterie of airmen who subscribed to a belief in “progressive air power.” Most would not have used such a term to describe their convictions; Mitchell himself used the term rarely. Yet they were just as committed to reforming war as the muckrakers had been to reforming indus­trial working conditions.

Collectively, the airmen subscribed to the following central tenet: air power was a more efficient military instrument than land or sea power because it offered a way to fight and win wars more quickly and less expensively (in terms of lives lost on both sides) than did armies or navies. The plan devised by former Tac­tical School instructors in August 1941 for using American air power in the ongoing European war called for strategic bomb­ing to wreck Germany’s war-making ability to such a degree that an invasion of the continent might prove unnecessary. Arnold, by then Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, approved the plan, as did Army Chief of Staff George Marshall and Secre­tary of War Henry Stimson. The promise of progressive air power had broad appeal.

The reality of war—which revealed that American bombers and their crews were rarely capable of pinpoint destruction during com­bat conditions, and included an overarching political objective of “unconditional surrender” that allowed unlimited devastation— generated a momentum of its own that undermined several of the progressive notions that had guided American airmen before the conflict. By 1945, “progressive air power” meant quickly ending the war to reduce American casualties. Still, many air command­ers continued to believe that the destruction of vital centers— despite the accompanying death and desolation—not only has­tened the war’s end, but also ultimately saved lives on both sides. As a result, the progressive mindset that guided airmen on the eve of war never really disappeared during its conduct.

The progressive notions of beneficial bombing—germinated in World War I and tested in World War II—became the basis of doctrine for an independent Air Force in the immediate postwar era, and continue to guide Air Force thought today.

Target Germany, January-June 1943

On 27 January 1943, Eighth Air Force finally launched its first raid against Germany when heavy bombers attacked naval facil­ities at Wilhelmshaven. Only 91 bombers flew on the raid, and of those, only 53 located the cloud-obscured target. Still, only 2 B-24S and і в-17 were lost, and crews claimed 50 German fight­ers shot down.52 After dismal weather grounded the bombers for much of February, the Eighth attacked the submarine construction yard at Vegesack on 18 March with 91 в-17s and B-24S, record­ing many hits on the target while losing only 3 aircraft.53 When 107 B-17S raided the Focke-Wulf factory at Bremen a month later, fierce German defenses claimed 16 bombers, with another 46 dam­aged.54 Eaker tried to husband his strength in early 1943 by inter­spersing his attacks on Germany with raids on targets in France and the Low Countries, where he could count on fighter escorts. The Bremen mission indicated that stern tests awaited Eighth Air Force over the Reich.

Eaker faced the challenge of trying to achieve positive results with a bombing force lacking in potency, and to assist him in tar­get selection, Arnold created the Committee of Operations An­alysts (coa) in December 1942. The group was a mix of civilian professors, lawyers, industry executives, and Army Air Forces officers based in Washington DC who received intelligence infor­mation on German war-making facilities and tried to determine which ones to attack to achieve maximum impact. Major Gen­eral Muir S. “Santy” Fairchild, an Army Air Forces officer on the Joint Staff who had taught bombing theory at the Air Corps Tac­tical School, prodded Arnold to create the committee to deflect criticism from Army and Navy intelligence officers who ques­tioned the utility of Eighth Air Force bombing. Arnold directed Colonel Byron E. Gates, who oversaw the coa, to prepare a re­port analyzing how bombing could systematically wreck the Ger­man war effort and to determine “the date when the deterioriza- tion will have progressed to a point to permit a successful invasion of Western Europe.”55

In Arnold’s mind—as Flansell had likewise reflected in awpd – 42—the proper application of air power would dictate the tim­ing of the invasion, and that meant wrecking German capability and will to such a degree that the invasion would occur against minimal resistance—if any. Substantial ground forces might be needed to fight German defenders, but, if bombing did its job, they would become more important as an occupying force. “Even if we believe that Germany can be defeated by air power alone,” the coa’s Colonel Ed Sorenson wrote to Brigadier General Law­rence Kuter, the Eighth Air Force’s First Bomb Wing Commander in early January 1943, “we must concede the practical necessity of the presence of the strong ground forces of our own to take control, if not to fight, [then] to obviate the undesirable neces­sity of occupation being taken over by our allies from the farther East.”56 Kuter sent the letter to Hansell, who had just replaced him as First Wing Commander, and noted that Hansell should re­lay its contents to Eaker.57

In the meantime, the coa members divided themselves into groups examining the individual components of what they deemed Germany’s “Priority A” targets—those offering the most prom­ise in terms of wrecking German military power in 1943. Their conclusions paralleled Hansell’s earlier findings in AWPD-42. The coa initially placed aircraft, electric power, oil, rubber, transpor­tation, chemicals, and electric equipment at the top of their Pri­ority A list.58 Arnold placed enormous weight on their priorities, and directed that his commanders follow the committee’s recom­mendations in selecting targets.59 Initially skeptical of the group and prospects that it might “try to run the air war from Washing­ton,” Eaker relented after meeting many committee members, and for the remainder of his tenure as Eighth Air Force commander he frequently consulted the coa on targeting possibilities.60

Besides considering coa suggestions, Eaker also had to address Allied concerns. His success at Casablanca in preserving a day­light offensive had resulted in an official acknowledgment of day­light bombing in the “Casablanca Directive.” Issued at the con­ference by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the directive merged the American and British air efforts in a “Combined Bomber Offen­sive” that had as its objective “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic sys­tem and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weak­ened.”ei The directive came with its own set of target priorities, similar to those outlined in AWPD-42 and by the coa, but not ex­act. The directive’s priorities were, in order of importance: sub­marine construction yards, the aircraft industry, transportation facilities, oil plants, and other components of war industry. The directive further noted that its priorities would likely shift as the war progressed and “other objectives of great importance either from the political or military point of view must be attacked.” Ex­amples included submarine bases on the Bay of Biscay and “Ber­lin, which should be attacked when conditions are suitable for the attainment of especially valuable results unfavorable to the mo­rale of the enemy or favorable to that of Russia.”62 Also at Casa­blanca, General Marshall agreed that, until Army Air Forces air­craft outnumbered British airplanes—and Americans had proven the efficacy of daylight bombing—American bombers in Britain would remain under the operational direction of the British, who would dictate targets and times of attack, while operational pro­cedures and bombing techniques would remain the prerogative of American commanders.63

In reality, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles “Peter” Portal, Eaker’s nominal commander in the aftermath of Casablanca, did little to interfere with Eaker’s target choices, but the vagaries of weather, increasing strength of German defenses, and continued diversion of bombers to other theaters made Eaker’s successful orchestra­tion of an air campaign a thorny prospect. Dense banks of winter clouds frequently obscured targets in Germany. Meanwhile, the Germans increased their homeland fighter strength by transfer­ring units from the Mediterranean and Russian fronts to defend the Reich. Eaker had told Arnold at Casablanca that with three hundred heavy bombers per mission he could attack any target with a low rate of loss.64 He believed that a strong bombing force guaranteed an efficient air campaign and informed Arnold’s dep­uty, Brigadier General Barney Giles, that his bombers had a six – to-one kill ratio against German fighters.65 Not only were such claims excessive, but at the time of Casablanca, Eighth Air Force had still not bombed Germany, and the experience that bomber crews had thus far received did not compare to what awaited them over the German heartland without escorts. Indeed, statistics in early December 1942 revealed that Eighth Air Force bombers had a 2 percent loss rate when escorted, compared to a 7 percent loss rate without the “little friends.”66

Eaker appreciated the value of escorts to a degree, writing that “it is most important to have some fighter protection” on raids with fewer than three hundred bombers.67 His preference, though, was to increase the size of the bomber force until its own defensive firepower would suffice to protect it. On the eve of Casablanca he learned that Spaatz’s Twelfth Air Force would receive twenty – eight в-17 replacements originally slated for the Eighth. Eaker no­tified Arnold’s air staff that his average bomber group strength had shrunk from thirty-five to eighteen aircraft—the total needed to put in the air on combat missions—which meant that he now had zero bombers available for spares or as a reserve force.68 For the next four months he refused to commit more bombers and crews than he could replace with the meager numbers of aircraft and men heading his way.69

Eaker’s struggle to obtain more bombers merged with efforts to determine how best to use the force that he had. In early Feb­ruary he met with coa representatives to exchange views on tar­gets that Eighth Air Force might attack with precision bombing. Eaker offered that “no judgment could be made as to the results obtainable through precision bombing at this time inasmuch as the force requisite to put it into effect had not been available.”70 He asserted that more bombers would saturate German defenses and reduce the percent of bombers lost on a raid; with one hun­dred bombers on a mission he would likely lose 5 percent of his attacking force, while with three hundred only 3 percent would be lost, and one thousand would produce a negligible loss rate.71 Eaker’s calculations presumed that more bombers attacking would produce a corresponding increase in bombs on target and hence reduce the need to return to it; otherwise, his decreasing loss rates actually produced an increase in the number of bombers lost. The Eighth Air Force Commander initially persuaded the coa mem­bers to include a call for additional bombers in the March report that they submitted to Arnold, but that paragraph disappeared in the final draft that listed sixty key targets for attack.72 Eaker re­sponded with an angry memorandum to Arnold that proclaimed, “The current position of the Eighth Air Force is not a credit to the American Army. After 16 months in the war we are not yet able to dispatch more than 123 bombers toward an enemy target.”73 While he did not dismiss Eaker’s outcry, Arnold chose instead to focus on the prospects of an efficient air campaign portended in the coa report. Unknown to Eaker, the Army Air Forces Com­manding General had suffered his first heart attack at the end of February. Roosevelt waived the regulation that would have re­quired Arnold to leave the service, provided that the Command­ing General provided monthly updates on his health to the presi­dent. Accordingly, Arnold aimed to accent not only his fitness for command, but also the distinctive contributions of air power to the war effort. After receiving the coa report, he wrote Roosevelt’s trusted assistant, Harry Hopkins, that bombing could paralyze Germany’s war-making capability “by the destruction of not more than five or six industries, comprising not more than fifty or sixty targets.” As an example, he noted that “a stoppage, or a marked curtailment, of the production of ball bearings would probably wreck all German industry.”74

Arnold also wrote Eaker: “We know that the strength of our striking force will always be relatively limited. We must, there­fore, apply it to those specially selected and vital targets that will give us the greatest return.” Arnold added that the president, as well as the American public, was very aware of Eighth Air Force’s bombing and wanted to know its specific accomplishments. Thus, he told Eaker to provide him with bi-monthly bombing summa­ries that “will help us a great deal in defending your operations and in building up a correct picture of the results being accom­plished.”7-5

With his public relations background, Eaker appreciated the need to “sell” the air campaign, but his first priority was to as­sure that the effort had a reasonable chance for success, and that meant securing more bombers for it. His quest for additional aircraft ultimately reached the highest level. Lieutenant General Frank Andrews—who had moved from commanding Caribbean defenses to Commanding General, U. S. Forces in the Middle East in November 1942, and had also appealed for daylight bombing to Churchill at Casablanca—replaced Eisenhower as Commander of U. S. European Theater of Operations in February when Eisen­hower became Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Med­iterranean. The change thrilled Eaker because it placed an avid air power proponent in a high command position. He wrote Arnold that Andrews’s appointment “will be a big boon for us. We have been about bled to death by the African operation.”76

After arriving in Britain Andrews wasted no time in notify­ing his friend Marshall of how bomber diversions had depleted Eighth Air Force.7 The Army Chief of Staff, in turn, took that message to the president. “Up to the present time the Army Air

Forces have never been able to even approximate the technique on which they have built up the proposition of daylight precision bombing,” Marshall informed Roosevelt in March. “I might fur­ther say, without greatly exaggerating, that Army Air elsewhere in the world, except in the Australian theater, has been somewhat misused by the employment of Army planes and crews in a manner for which the planes were not designed nor the crews trained, all of which has been a constant embarrassment to the Air Corps.”78 Marshall’s blunt notice, Eaker’s continued clamor, and the real­ization among Allied leaders that an invasion of Europe could not occur without control of the air finally produced noticeable in­creases in Eighth Air Force bomber strength.

Bolstered by the rising numbers, Eaker came to Washington DC in late April to brief his plan for a Combined Bomber Offensive to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His proposal reflected extensive collab­oration with members of the coa, as well as assistance from raf analysts and commanders. Fie gave top emphasis to the destruc­tion of German fighter strength—“an intermediate objective sec­ond to none in priority”79—and then outlined a series of phased attacks on industrial centers and war-making facilities that would wreck the essential components of Germany’s ability to fight. A steady increase in bomber strength was vital to success. Eaker ar­gued that he would need a total force of at least 800 bombers to dispatch 300 on a regular basis, and ultimately he would require a force of 2,700 “heavies.” After limited debate, the Joint Chiefs concurred. They approved Eaker’s plan in early May and recom­mended “implementing it to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with aircraft production, available shipping, and cur­rent strategic commitments.”80

At the Trident Conference later that month, the Combined Chiefs of Staff endorsed Eaker’s plan as well. Moreover, they tied a cross­channel invasion—tentatively set for May 1944—to the successful conduct of the Combined Bomber Offensive.81 For American air­men, the approval of the Combined Bomber Offensive plan was a bittersweet success, because two of their leaders were not pres­ent to witness it—Frank Andrews had died in а в-24 crash in Ice­land on 3 May, and Arnold had suffered his second heart attack seven days later.82 Still, Eaker’s plan portended a significant in­crease in bomber strength for Eighth Air Force and the chance for it to have a decisive impact on the war. By the end of May 1943 Eaker wrote his British counterpart, Air Marshal Arthur Harris, that bombers and crews had begun to arrive “according to sched­ule” and expressed optimism that Eighth Air Force would receive 2,700 heavy bombers by April 1944.83

The plan that spurred Eighth Air Force’s bomber total was a masterpiece of mechanistic logic solidly anchored to progressive roots. It noted that the coa had identified sixty targets, the de­struction of which “would gravely impair and might paralyze the Western Axis war effort.”84 Eaker added sixteen targets to the mix and divided them all into six “systems,” comprising seventy-six precision targets that, once destroyed, would critically damage the German war machine. Those systems included: submarine con­struction yards and bases, the aircraft industry, ball bearings, oil, synthetic rubber and tires, and military transport vehicles. The plan linked Germany’s aircraft industry to the overriding inter­mediate objective of eliminating fighter strength in Western Eu­rope. Wrecking the associated targets would destroy 43 percent of Germany’s fighter capacity and 65 percent of its bomber ca­pacity and “produce the effect desired.”85

The plan also highlighted ball bearings, which the coa had em­phasized since early February. “The critical condition of the ball bearing industry is startling,” the plan observed. “The concentra­tion of that industry renders it outstandingly vulnerable to air at­tack.” Eaker noted that the destruction of the plants at Schweinfurt would eliminate almost half of Germany’s ball-bearing produc­tion and instantly stymie the production of tanks, airplanes, ar­tillery, and “all the special weapons of modern war.” Because of Schweinfurt’s importance, he recommended attacking it as one of two “deep penetration” raids in the first phase of combined op­erations. Yet he cautioned: “It would be most unwise to attempt it until we are perfectly sure we have enough force to destroy the objective in a single operation. Any attempt to repeat such an at­tack will meet with very bitter opposition.”86

While acknowledging the strength of German air defenses, Eaker insisted that they would not prevent effective bombing, provided that he received adequate bombers and crews. Once more he turned to statistical analysis to make his case. Eaker contended that the twenty daylight bombing missions that the Eighth Air Force had flown from з January to 6 April 1943 “definitely establish the fact that it is possible to conduct precision pattern bombing opera­tions against selected precision targets from altitudes of 20,000 feet to 30,000 feet in the face of anti-aircraft artillery and fighter defenses.” He rated twelve of those missions as “highly effective,” and added that the destruction produced by an average of eighty – six bombers was “highly satisfactory.” Thus, he surmised, “From this experience it may be definitely accepted that too bombers dis­patched on each successful mission will provide entirely satisfac­tory destructive effect of that part of the target area within 1000 feet of the aiming point; and that two thirds of the missions dis­patched each month will be successful.”87

Eaker likely knew that he had overstated his case. His First Bomb Wing Commander, Hansell, had written Arnold’s intelli­gence chief in February regarding the difficulty of discerning the number of bombs that fell in the target area and noted, “To date we have been unable to account for approximately fifty percent of the bombs which we take out.” He added that future bombing analysis should “not harp too much on small precision targets. We find they are hard to hit, particularly in the face of heavy aa [anti­aircraft] fire and determined fighter opposition.”88 Besides enemy defenses, Hansell remarked that the wind and sun also played a role in bombing accuracy. The Norden bombsight could not com­pensate for cross-wind bombing approaches when the winds ex­ceeded 80 mph, and on crystal clear days a haze developed that was “frequently literally impenetrable toward the sun.”89 The “pre­cision pattern bombing” that Eaker had mentioned in his April briefing to the Joint Chiefs was fantasy; LeMay’s technique signif­icantly increased the odds that a group formation bombed in uni­son, but even ideal conditions could not guarantee “precision.”90 Too many variables affected bombing accuracy, and Eighth Air Force bomber crews had no control over most of them.91

Eaker privately acknowledged that limitation as Allied leaders prepared to endorse his plan for the Combined Bomber Offen­sive. But he downplayed the significance of his admission by fo­cusing instead on the growing strength of Eighth Air Force, writ­ing Arnold in May 1943:

As a result of the additional force we have just received and the in­creased rate of supply of replacement aircraft and crews, we are chang­ing our operating policy. In the past as 1 told you, we have matched our rate of operation to our receipt of replacements, so that our Air Force would not waste away and go downhill. We have, therefore, in the past, waited for good days when we could be reasonably sure of seeing our targets from high altitude. We are going now on a new ba­sis when we will go out in force on days when we may not he able to bomb our exact small point targets due to more than y/ioths cloud cover, but we will at any rate be able to hit our second or last resort targets, the built-up industrial area, and what is even more important, we will be able to work on the German Air Force in combat.92

Eaker refused to allow paltry numbers, German defenses, and poor weather to halt the American experiment in daylight bomb­ing that he had fought so hard to preserve, but he could do little to improve the accuracy of his bomber force. Now, with the strength of that force increasing, he faced new challenges—to gain con­trol of the skies over Western Europe by spring 1944 to facilitate an invasion—and to demonstrate, in a year’s time, that air power could wreck an enemy’s war-making capability and will to resist. He still lacked the numbers that he felt were essential to accom­plish those objectives efficiently; the buildup envisioned in awpd – 42 had suffered substantial delays. British bombing would help to offset that deficiency to some extent, but the RAF would contribute little to achieving daylight air superiority. Still, adopting British area bombing methods during daylight might damage some vital industries on days when clouds obscured precision targets.

Eaker knew that area bombing was a bludgeon, not a scalpel, but he lacked the time and equipment to create an aerial razor. The longer he waited, the stronger his enemy grew. Intelligence reports revealed that increased production now bolstered Germa­ny’s homeland fighter force by more than one hundred airplanes each month.93 Trident, meanwhile, had started the clock ticking for air power to achieve decisive results. If the Combined Bomber Offensive defeated the Luftwaffe, air power could wreck Germa­ny’s vital centers with impunity, perhaps scoring a knockout blow that ended the war. Hansell believed that bombing could achieve an independent victory;99 so too did Brigadier General Frederick Anderson, Eaker’s new Commander of VIII Bomber Command. Anderson contended in late July: “The VIII Bomber Command is destroying and will continue to destroy the economic resources of Germany to such an extent that I personally believe no inva­sion of the Continent or Germany proper will ever have to take place with the consequent loss of thousands and possibly mil­lions of lives.”95 Provided the buildup of Eighth Air Force con­tinued, Eaker believed that his bombers might fulfill that progres­sive goal. Regardless, he had little choice in the matter—indeed, he had put himself in his current predicament with his successful arguments to Churchill and the Joint Chiefs. It was his turn to transform faith into fact.

Aerial Deluge

While much of the credit for the 9 March raid against Tokyo went to LeMay, in reality he simply implemented a strategic design set in motion by the Committee of Operations Analysts, approved by Arnold, and pushed forward by Norstad. Arnold endorsed area attacks because they offered the best prospect for rapid, tangible results—results that he also believed would prove decisive in end­ing the war. LeMay’s low-level tactics and stripping armament and gunners from his B-29S conserved fuel and doubled the bombs that his aircraft could carry. Yet the key decisions—the choice of targets and the type of ordnance to drop on them—came from Arnold and Norstad. As Michael Sherry notes, LeMay “had the illusion of making his own choices. . . because the details were left to him. LeMay would also sincerely believe that he made the command decision.”118 Arnold and Norstad were content to have him believe it. LeMay demonstrated that he could achieve the de­struction that they demanded and continued to display that ca­pability in the raids that followed. After returning to Washing­ton dc in mid-March, Arnold addressed his letters to LeMay as “My dear Curt.”119

LeMay’s low-level, night campaign continued against Japan’s major urban areas. More than three hundred B-29S attacked Zone I in Nagoya on n March and burned down two square miles of the city. Two nights later 274 Superfortresses torched the heart of Osaka and wiped out eight square miles. On 16 March 307 bomb­ers attacked Kobe, destroying three square miles. Finally, on 18 March, 290 B-29S again bombed Nagoya, wrecking another three square miles and completing the series of incendiary attacks on Japan’s four most populous cities. Combined, the five raids incin­erated nearly thirty-two square miles of urban real estate—which equated to 4 г percent of the destruction inflicted on German cities by the Army Air Forces during the entire war. The devastation re­quired less than i percent of the total bomb tonnage dropped on Germany, and it cost twenty-two B-29S and their crews.120 From the progressive perspective—as it had evolved among American airmen by 1945—LeMay’s series of five incendiary attacks marked the epitome of efficient destruction.

Arnold and Norstad now focused on how others would per­ceive that destruction—and how rapidly it would translate into decisive results. Banner headlines in many newspapers announced the devastation of Japanese cities. While grateful for the attention, Arnold cautioned LeMay and Norstad that “editorial comment [is] beginning to wonder about blanket incendiary attacks upon cities therefore urge you to continue hard hitting your present line that this destruction is necessary to eliminate Jap home industries and that it is strategic precision bombing.”121 Norstad continued that mantra in a 23 March press conference after he returned to Washington dc. Resorting to statistical analysis, he noted that the Tokyo raid alone resulted in “1,200,000 factory workers made homeless [and] 369,000 square feet of highly industrialized land… leveled to ashes.” Incendiary bombing was just “the econom­ical method of destroying the small industries in these areas. . . of bringing about their liquidation.” When asked if any change had occurred “in the basic policy of the Air Forces in pin-point bombing [and] precision?” Norstad replied, “None.”122

Many American newspapers accepteci that explanation and stressed the “precise” nature of attacks “to cripple the enemy’s war potential.”123 Yet Norstad and fellow Army Air Forces lead­ers knew the all too obvious truth—that LeMay’s bombers killed tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in some of the most hor­rible ways imaginable. Moreover, intelligence reports stated that most Japanese factories lacked the necessary resources to oper­ate them, and that cottage industries now made a meager contri­bution to the limited amount of front-line war production that remained.124

Still, the message that Army Air Forces commanders presented— both to themselves as well as to the rest of the world—was one highlighting their progressive faith in efficient precision bombing to wreck Japan’s industrial web. For the n March raid against Nagoya, Twentieth Air Force headquarters described the city as “home of the world’s largest aircraft plant.. . with the Mitsubi­shi aircraft engine works exceeding in size our own Willow Run plant,” even though the Mitsubishi factory was not in the target area and received only “minor damage” during the attack.12’ Like­wise, the XXI Bomber Command report summarizing the raids on Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe observed: “It is notewor­thy that the object of these attacks was not to bomb indiscrimi­nately civilian populations. The object was to destroy the indus­trial and strategic targets concentrated in the urban areas of these four cities.”126

Such internal statements demonstrated the depth of the convic­tion among Army Air Forces leaders to their progressive ideals. Indeed, for some, the vision had become reality—they saw no dis­tinction between the theory of precision bombing against specific industrial targets to achieve rapid, efficient results, and the reality of area attacks on residential districts to achieve the same goal. Colonel Cecil E. Combs, a member of the XXI Bomber Command staff with both Hansell and LeMay, wrote his former boss: “With­out abandoning the concept of precision destruction of priority targets the Twenty-first [wings] have been experimenting with in­cendiary missions and the results. . . indicate the high degree of vulnerability of Japanese industry as a whole.”127 After the war LeMay added: “Japanese targets being largely inflammable, we hit vulnerable areas with firebombs. Let me emphasize that this was not a deliberate deviation from precision to area bombing. We hit only areas when enemy war-making capacity was spread over large areas, as in the ‘cottage industries’ surrounding facto­ries or when weather forced us into radar bombing, visual preci­sion being impossible.”128

LeMay’s postwar comment was disingenuous, for at the time he knew that his four-city series of attacks had targeted Zone I in each—the densest area of population that also contained the least amount of industry. Norstad wrote him on 3 April with a new list of targets, noting that those assigned in March “were selected on the basis of a compromise between industrial importance and susceptibility to fire,” but that new areas “represent more nearly the top industrial areas. They also appear to be most susceptible to fire attack, but they do not represent any compromise.”129 Like Tooey Spaatz, his counterpart in Europe who had unleashed savage area attacks against German cities, LeMay hoped that his raids’ intensity would pay dividends with a quick end to the war. “The destruction of Japan’s industry by air blows alone is possible,” he declared on 15 April in a comment that drew a reprimand from Norstad for openly predicting victory through air power.130

While Spaatz did not announce that prospect, he harbored the same hope, and both he and LeMay could claim that their bomb­ing had a tangential connection to industrial capability. Yet Spaatz knew that his radar-directed area attacks missed most of the fac­tories that he targeted, and LeMay knew that his low-level area raids hit the parts of Japanese cities contributing the least to the war effort in terms of industrial production. For both, achieving rapid results had become the overriding concern, and brute force became the methodology to assure speed.

The enormous bomb tonnages, aimed at urban areas, ably sup­ported the overarching political objective of unconditional surren­der, while against the Japanese, the desire for retribution further condoned area attacks. As long as the Japanese (and the Germans) refused to yield, they would pay an indelible price. Roosevelt be­lieved that memories of such destruction would help dissuade the Axis populations from pursuing future war.131 Against the Japa­nese, American airmen generally reflected the sentiments of most Americans and felt little compassion for an enemy that they in­creasingly viewed as treacherous.132 By early 1945, the American public had learned of atrocities that the Japanese had commit­ted against captured American troops in the Philippines, which heightened the hunger for revenge that had emanated from Pearl Harbor.

Kamikaze attacks that began at Leyte Gulf in October 1944 also intensified the call for retribution. Arnold, who visited the Philippines in June 1945, noted in his diary: “There is no feeling of sparing any Japs here, men, women or children: gas, fire, any­thing to exterminate the entire race exemplifies the feeling.”133 Rosy O’Donnell wrote LeMay a week after the war ended that his service in XXI Bomber Command “gave me an opportunity, not only to repay the humiliating experience which I suffered at the hands of the Japs in the early days of hostilities, but also to put in a lick for the many fine men who were not so fortunate in get­ting out of their clutches.”134 The priority on quickly ending the war to save Allied lives meshed well with the desire for revenge. Yet even without the yearning for retribution, the emphasis on achieving rapid results with air power, when combined with the goal of unconditional surrender, virtually guaranteed the devas­tation of an urbanized, militaristic society that viewed the war as a righteous endeavor.

Genesis in the Great War

Accurate bombing on a large scale is a new science and requires the entire time and study of the man who is to shoulder the responsibility for success or failure during the coming year. • LT. COL. EDGAR S. GORRELL, 2 JANUARY 1918

One of those chanting was Edgar Staley Gorrell, a diminutive nineteen-year-old “yearling” from Baltimore. Gorrell’s small stat­ure and boyish features had earned him the nickname “Nap” from his classmates, and Nap was mightily impressed by the spectacle. From the day he viewed Curtiss’s flight—which arrived in New York City after two hours and forty-six minutes of air travel—Gor­rell determined that he too would become an aviator. Assigned to the infantry after graduation, he transferred to the Signal Corps’ Aviation Section in 1914 and then completed flight training. Two years later, as one of eleven pilots in the First Aero Squadron, he helped track Pancho Villa’s hand of outlaws across northern Mex­ico. He became the first American to fly an aircraft equipped to take automatic photographs, the first to fly an aircraft while con­ducting radio experiments, the first American Army officer to vol­unteer for a parachute jump, and one of the first officers to fly at night. He also developed the first plan for an American bomber offensive against an enemy nation.2

The Realities of Air War, July-October 1943

The objectives that Eaker now sought did not exactly match those touted by airmen before the war. The limitations of his force and the unforgiving environment in which it operated altered the pros­pects for “efficient” results within the time constraints set by the Trident Conference. Anderson acknowledged Eaker’s problem: “There are unavoidable conditions, not immediately correctable, which preclude present attainment of the desired results and which necessitate acceptance of less than maximum efficiency.”96 The premium was on fast results, and fast did not necessarily guar­antee efficient. Moreover, the overall war aim did not lend itself to rapier thrusts of air power; bludgeoning with bombs better suited Roosevelt’s goal of “unconditional surrender.” That objec­tive called for speed, but only from the standpoint of ending the war quickly to save Allied lives. It also demanded enough destruc­tion to erase the future desire for war from the collective psyche of the Axis populations. Roosevelt and Churchill—as well as Jo­seph Stalin—intended not only to wreck Germany’s war-making capability and will to fight, but also to destroy the Nazi philos­ophy that fostered the German war effort—and to assure that a similar world view never again materialized. “Practically all Ger­mans deny the fact that they surrendered in the last war, but this time they are going to know it,” the president would tell journal­ists in summer 1944. “And so are the Japs.”97

To the Commander of RAF Bomber Command, the April 1943

Combined Bomber Offensive plan ably reflected the ideals that he believed should guide an air campaign. Air Marshal Arthur Har­ris had directed the raf’s bombing of Germany for more than a year, and had staged his first “thousand plane raid” in May 1942 against Cologne. He thought that the opportunity to employ two “highly specialised and well equipped” bomber forces in tandem simply made sense, plus it offered the chance to achieve maxi­mum efficiency. “There is no difficulty in achieving our object at minimum cost in life, material and effort,” Harris remarked to Eaker in April 1943. “There is difficulty only in convincing those in whose hands lies the power to grasp the opportunity.” Having received the blessing of Combined Chiefs in May, Harris set out to achieve aerial effects in concert with his American ally that he believed would “decide all.”98

In actuality the Combined Bomber Offensive, officially desig­nated “Operation Pointblank,” provided few instances of genu­ine cooperation between the two bomber forces. Their distinctive targeting philosophies, exemplified by the raf’s night bombing aimed at morale and the Army Air Forces’ daylight effort aimed at industrial production—along with the intense American desire to demonstrate independent success to bolster the bid for service autonomy—led to largely separate air campaigns.99 A notable exception occurred at the end of July when Harris turned his at­tention to Hamburg. For more than a week, the raf and Eighth Air Force pummeled the city, with the American raids occurring on 25 and 26 July against naval installations and an aircraft fac­tory. Army Air Forces crews had difficulty seeing their targets be­cause of the thick smoke created by raf attacks after midnight on 25 July, when 733 bombers had unleashed 2,290 tons of bombs, almost half of which were incendiaries. One-third of the 147 b – 17s dropped incendiaries as well.100 The series of raids ultimately produced a massive firestorm; 42,600 German civilians perished, and 75 5,000 more lost their homes.101 Harris deemed “Operation Gomorrah” a success, and colored away the city’s burned out sections in the “Blue Books” he kept that displayed aerial photo­graphs of Germany’s major urban areas.

Hamburg also made a distinct impression on American polit­ical and military leaders. Roosevelt saw the raids as “an impres­sive demonstration” of what American air power might accom­plish against Japan.102 Fred Anderson, who flew aboard an raf Lancaster bomber over Hamburg on the night of 27 July, offered that the raids showed the German populace “that we can hit any place in Germany anytime we propose to do so.”103 Hamburg por­tended that bombs might break German morale, much like the 19 July attack by Spaatz’s bombers on marshalling yards in Rome that Arnold believed “had a deep psychological effect on the Ital­ian people” and led to the overthrow of Benito Mussolini.104 Ar­nold’s perspective downplayed the impact of Allied landings in Sicily the previous week and conformed to his belief that bombing could achieve independent success. Indeed, the Army Air Forces Commanding General had asked the coa in March to determine what targets air power could destroy “to knock Italy out of the war,” and requested a similar study on Japan.105

Arnold further envisioned three uses for incendiary bombs by Eighth Air Force: “burning down suitable precise industrial ob­jectives; starting fires by day in the densely built up portions of cities and towns to serve as beacons for the R. A.F. to exploit at night; [and] burning down the densely built-up portions of cities and towns by day attack alone when the occasion warrants.”106 Al­though he emphasized to his commanders in June that the bomber, “when used with the proper degree of understanding, becomes, in effect, the most humane of all weapons,” Arnold had relayed a very different message to his air staff two months earlier: “The way to stop the killing of civilians is to cause so much damage and destruction and death that the civilians will demand their govern­ment cease fighting. This does not mean that we are making civil­ians or civilian institutions a war objective, but we cannot ‘pull our punches’ because some of them may get killed.”107

Arnold condoned ruthlessness only as long as it did not tarnish the image of the Army Air Forces. He returned to progressive ide­als in specifying the message that he wanted Eaker and the Eighth Air Force to convey to the American people: “It is very important, for whole-hearted public and official support of our Air Forces in their operations, that the people understand thoroughly our Air Force’s precepts, principles, and purposes,” he wrote. “Still more, it is important for the people to understand that our prime purpose is destruction of the enemy’s ability to wage war, by our planned persistent bombing and sapping of his vital industries, his transportation, and his whole supply system. And finally, it is im­portant for them to realize that this takes time, as well as money and planes and planning and work—but that it will win the war and save perhaps millions of lives which otherwise would be sac­rificed in bloody ground combat.”108 As the Eighth Air Force pre­pared to attack Hamburg, he told Eaker to guarantee that post­raid press releases stressed “the mission aiming point rather than the city or town in which the aiming point is located.”109

Eaker appreciated Arnold’s concerns, but the Eighth Air Force Commander placed his emphasis on assuring that his crews could actually drop their bombs in the vicinity of the aiming point. The weather in summer 1943 had turned especially nasty, with clouds covering Germany during the months that should have provided ideal daylight bombing conditions. The British had developed various methods of radar bombing that allowed them to bomb at night, and Eaker wanted to use those devices to enhance the Eighth Air Force’s daylight efforts during periods of poor weather. “We are looking for a considerable degree of accuracy, sufficient at least that we can dump our bombs in the heavily built-up in­dustrial areas,” he informed Arnold—a far cry from the notion of precision bombing that he had espoused less than a year be­fore.110 The best of the British instruments was his, a ground map­ping radar that the raf employed with great effect against Ham­burg. The British were reluctant to provide their allies with it for the same reason that American airmen refused to share the Nor – den bombsight with the raf—they feared that a downed bomber might reveal its secrets to the Germans. At the end of July, Air Chief Marshal Portal relented, and Eaker reported that he would soon have a squadron “ready to go with one of these gadgets” in the lead aircraft.111

In the meantime, whenever the weather cooperated, Eaker re­mained true to the principles that had guided the development of an American bombing force. In August Eighth Air Force partici­pated in two dramatic raids against perceived linchpins of the Nazi industrial web. The first occurred on i August against the com­plex of petroleum refineries at Ploesti, Romania, which refined 60 percent of Germany’s crude oil needs. Eaker had mentioned Ploesti in his brief to the Joint Chiefs in April, and the coa had long had it on its list of targets. Eighth Air Force contributed two groups of B-24S for the raid, plus another slated for the Eighth, and the remaining two groups came from Spaatz’s Northwest Af­rica Air Force. They took off from the Libyan base at Benghazi and flew across the Mediterranean at only one hundred feet to avoid radar detection.

Chance disrupted the plan from the start. The aircraft carry­ing the lead navigator mysteriously crashed in the sea on the way to Ploesti, and the bomber with the deputy mission navigator de­veloped mechanical problems and had to return to base. Mission navigation devolved to a new second lieutenant; two of the bomb groups refused to trust his skills and mistakenly flew to Bucharest when the lieutenant had correctly called for a turn to Ploesti. By the time the B-24S arrived in staggered disarray over the target, German defenses were primed and downed 41 of the 177 bombers dispatched. Other factors claimed an additional 13, and 55 more suffered major damage. Although the raid wrecked 42 percent of the refineries’ total capacity, the Germans had operated them at only 60 percent, which meant that Ploesti suffered a long-term loss of only 2 percent in production capability. Within weeks it refined oil at a higher rate than it had before the raid.112

Eaker’s own dual attack on 17 August against the Messer – schmitt factory at Regensburg and the ball bearing complex at Schweinfurt met a similar dismal fate and produced similar mea­ger results.

Ploesti, Regensburg, and Schweinfurt exemplified the carnage that Luftwaffe defenses inflicted on Eighth Air Force throughout the summer and early autumn of 1943. Eaker tried to offset the losses by increasing his total of bombers and crews. He possessed almost 700 bombers by July, allowing him to launch some raids with as many as 300 aircraft, but he still lacked the numbers to do so on a consistent basis, plus his crew totals remained insuffi­cient.113 Production problems in the United States left him short 240 bombers, and the diversions that had plagued him during the spring continued.114 At his April briefing to the Joint Chiefs, he stated that he would likely need to replace a third of his force each month because of attrition,115 but loss rates often neared xo percent on the missions flown against Germany in August. Losses among new crews were higher still—four new groups that arrived in April averaged a loss of 21 aircraft in eighteen missions, while four experienced groups on the same missions averaged 9.116 Eaker told Arnold that new crews needed at least two weeks of train­ing to make them mission ready and that several losses occurred because “the formations are not always flown as instructed.” Yet he also acknowledged that part of the losses stemmed from “the unusual ferocity of the defense put up by the German fighter over his homeland as contrasted with the defense put up by him over occupied territory.”117

In the summer of 1943, Eighth Air Force had no real answer for the German fighter force, which was responsible for the vast majority of bomber losses.118 The p-47 “Thunderbolt” and the p-51 “Mustang,” two single-seat fighters with promising capa­bilities as escorts, lacked the range to venture far beyond the Ger­man border, and German fighter pilots waited until the escorts turned back to pounce. Engineers thus far had limited success de­veloping “drop tanks” to extend the American fighters’ range. At­tempts to protect bombers with the YB-40, а в-17 that carried no bombs and sported extra turrets and machine guns, failed miser­ably—the aircraft’s performance characteristics differed too much from standard bombers to keep place in formation. Eaker believed that with more bombers he could ultimately overcome the Luft­waffe, and that his bomber crews had already inflicted substan­tial losses on the German fighter force. He surmised that more bombers and larger formations offered greater firepower to shoot down German fighters. Eaker also pressed for fighter escorts, but he did not completely dismiss the YB-40, which he thought was “a good idea but we have not quite gotten the correct aircraft for carrying it out.”119

To the pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and gunners who bat­tled the Luftwaffe, the prospects for success appeared grim in­deed. Most bomber crewmen did not focus on whether their ac­tions contributed to Germany’s demise. Instead, their definition of success was simple—survival. In January 1943, Eaker and Ar­nold gave heavy bomber crews a requirement of twenty-five com­bat missions, after which they would transfer to assignments free of combat duty. The crew of the Memphis Belle was the first to complete the requirement and departed England in May 1943 t0 fanfare that included immortalization in a classic documentary by Hollywood director William Wyler. Other crews were not so fortunate. By August 1943 the life expectancy of a typical bomber crewman had dipped to fifteen missions—and would stay at that number for the remainder of the year.120 Eaker wrote Arnold in October, “I think it is perfectly marvelous the morale we have been able to maintain,”121 but the truth was better revealed in the first stanza of a poem written by one of LeMay’s crewmen:

They call him the “Aerial Gunner.”

His hopes, they say, are dim

And his life is said to hang by a thread

That is long and weak and slim.122

The progressive tenets of the Air Corps Tactical School had forecast a bomber offensive that achieved success by minimizing crew losses instead of through attrition. Yet the longer the day­light campaign persisted, the more it resembled an aerial slugfest that would continue until only one side demonstrated that it could still respond after absorbing massive punishment. Eaker could not allow that fight to persist indefinitely, but he could see no way to avoid the slaughter in the sky given the time constraints that he faced. Indeed, based on his receipt of intercepted German mes­sage traffic, he believed that the Luftwaffe fighter force had suf­fered severe losses that threatened its ability to control the air.123 If he could break that force through continued assaults on vital centers, then he might yet achieve daylight air superiority within the allotted time. The time available, though, continued to slip away. In mid-August, the Combined Chiefs of Staff solidified the i May 1944 date for the invasion of France and reaffirmed that the successful prosecution of the Combined Bomber Offensive was a prerequisite for it.

Still, Eaker did not abandon his faith that bombing could wreck Germany’s war-making capability. He continued to attack Point – blank targets that the coa had recommended despite suffering losses that again neared ro percent for raids over the Reich in Sep­tember and the first half of October. On 14 October—a date that bomber crews would dub “Black Thursday”—Eighth Air Force returned to Schweinfurt. Of the 319 B-17S that attacked the ball bearing complex, 60 fell to German defenses.124 The magnitude of the loss caused even Roosevelt to remark that the United States could not afford to have 60 bombers shot down on a regular ba­sis.125 Arnold called a press conference proclaiming, “Now we have got Schweinfurt!” and added that losses as high as 25 percent on some missions could be expected—and accepted.126

In truth the damage inflicted on ball bearing production once again had little impact on German war production, and Eaker had to send a notice to his crews that Arnold had been misquoted about condoning such a high loss rate.127 The grim assessment of the Army Air Forces Commanding General also did not go un­noticed by Time magazine writers, who summarized Eaker’s new measure of efficiency in their 25 October issue: “Suddenly the cost of victory loomed large. . . . The price was not exorbitant: without bearings the mechanized German war machine would be helpless. But the cost was high enough to elicit a spate of ex­planation.”128

Arnold wanted an explanation as well. Eaker sent him a ca­ble in the immediate aftermath of the raid confirming the loss of sixty B-17S in combat and another five when their crews elected to bail out over England rather than attempt landing with heav­ily damaged aircraft. Eaker further noted that his crews had shot down ninety-nine German fighters, with another thirty proba­bly destroyed and fourteen damaged.129 “This does not represent a disaster,” he asserted. “It does indicate that the air battle has reached its climax.” Eaker then asked Arnold to expedite the ar­rival of additional bombers and crews, provide auxiliary fuel tanks for escort fighters, and “send every possible fighter here as soon as possible. We must show the enemy we can replace our losses; he knows he cannot replace his. We must continue the battle with unrelenting fury.”130 Arnold agreed that the Luftwaffe had also suffered much but wanted proof that its end was near. “It appears from my viewpoint that the German Air Force is on the verge of collapsing,” he cabled Eaker. “We must not (repeat) must not miss any symptoms of impending German collapse. .. . Can you send me any substantial evidence of collapse?”131

Momentum Builds

The Japanese refused to succumb to the massive March bombings, and LeMay lacked the capability to continue constant incendiary attacks. Despite the terrible toll of civilians killed and the enor­mous destruction rendered to their cities, the Japanese kept fight­ing w’ith the same intensity they had demonstrated before raids. American Army and Marine forces invaded Okinawa on i April and did not control the islands until 21 June—at a cost of almost fifty thousand American casualties, of whom more than twelve thousand were killed or missing.135

The mounting losses in the fight for Okinawa intensified the de­mand for an air power-generated victory that would forestall an invasion of the home islands. LeMay’s March attacks had expended most of his supply of incendiaries, and, with the exception of two mid-April raids against Tokyo and another against Kawasaki, no more firebombing occurred until mid-May after the Navy had re­plenished his incendiary stocks. In the meantime, he returned to precision methods with high explosive bombs to strike new tar­gets that he received from Norstad. Those targets consisted of air­craft engine plants, oil, chemical production facilities, and, after 16 April, airfields to support the Okinawa invasion.136 The B-29S also conducted extensive aerial mining operations in the Sea of Japan that severely restricted movement among the home islands and ultimately sank or disabled eighty-three ships.137

Arnold was eager to reignite the incendiary campaign, which, unlike mining, produced immediate empirical evidence of the dam­age inflicted. He urged LeMay to “put the maximum weight of ef­fective bombs on Japanese targets” and noted that the Army Air

Forces “alone are able to make the Japanese homeland constantly aware of the price she will pay in this futile struggle.” Observing that LeMay would control almost a thousand B-29S by July (he had received XX Bomber Command’s Superfortresses when Jap­anese troops threatened Chengtu early in 1945, and newly manu­factured aircraft continued to arrive in the Marianas), Arnold as­serted: “Under reasonably favorable conditions you should then have the ability to destroy whole industrial cities should that be required.” Arnold left no doubt that it would be. Yet he persisted in emphasizing attacks on industry, remarking that “it is apparent that attacks similar in nature to that against Tokyo have a most significant effect on industrial production.”1,8

LeMay returned to his incendiary campaign on 14 May with a daylight assault on Nagoya. A follow-on night attack against the city on 16 May was so successful that it no longer appeared on the Twentieth Air Force target list.139 Fire raids against Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and Kawasaki followed, and by mid-June a total of 105.6 square miles in Japan’s six largest cities were smoldering ru­ins with an estimated 112,000 civilians in them dead.140 The dev­astation came at a price—in May alone eighty B-29S were lost, though many more made it to the emergency landing field on Iwo Jima.141 Meanwhile, the Japanese kept fighting.

New president Harry S. Truman called a meeting with the Joint Chiefs on 18 June to determine, “Can we win the war by bomb­ing?”142 Marshall answered that the United States could not, based on the example of the European war, and outlined the plan for an invasion.143 At the gathering—which Arnold missed because of touring Pacific bases—Truman expressed his intention “of econo­mizing to the maximum extent possible in loss of American lives” and that “economies in time and money [were] relatively unim­portant.”144 Time, however, was vital to Arnold. He sent LeMay to Washington DC in his stead to brief Marshall and the Joint

Chiefs on the progress of the в-29 campaign and its prospects for eliminating an amphibious assault on Japan.145 LeMay told the Chiefs, as he had told Arnold on Guam, that by 1 October B-29S would have destroyed all Japanese industrial facilities and Japan could not continue fighting with its reserve supplies wrecked.146 Marshall fell asleep during his briefing.147 Preparations for Oper­ation Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu scheduled for 1 Novem­ber, continued.

When LeMay returned to Guam he intensified his campaign against Japan’s urban areas. He began incinerating twenty-five of Japan’s smaller cities, often with as many as five hundred B-29S on a single raid. Arnold fully backed the effort, telling LeMay, “We have the Nip where we want him.”148 On 16 July Superfor­tresses attacked Oita, a town of sixty thousand that contained no industry and only “a vital naval air depot” that was not a tar­get.149 LeMay complemented his offensive in late July by having his B-29S drop leaflets that warned of attacks on potential target cities and urged surrender. The ability to announce future attacks and then conduct them made a powerful impression on the Japanese, and actually contributed to achieving the prewar progressive aim to avoid civilian casualties—many people who read the notices survived LeMay’s onslaught by evacuating the cities listed.1-50

While the B-29S mauled Japan, a debate over the viability of the incendiary effort raged in Washington DC between members of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (ussbs), a largely civilian research team analyzing the impact of American air cam­paigns, and the Joint Target Group (jtg), an intelligence organi­zation created by the Joint Chiefs in September 1944 to identify and evaluate Japanese air targets.151 Based on their examination of European bombing, the ussbs members argued that attacks on Japan’s transportation network, especially rail and watercraft traffic, would produce the most benefit, followed by raids on oil, chemical production, and electric power. They discounted the ef­fectiveness of the incendiary attacks, which they compared to the raf’s effort against German morale, and recommended that Twen­tieth Air Force return to precision bombing.152

Early Notions of American Air Power

Gorrell’s scheme for attacking Wilhelmine Germany called into question the basic purpose of an air force: whether to support the Army directly through air operations tied to the Army’s immedi­ate progress on the front lines or to conduct “independent” oper­ations, such as “strategical” bombing, that would ultimately im­prove the Army’s situation at the front but that also offered the prospect of a rapid, cheap victory by destroying the enemy’s war­making capability and will to fight. If air power could achieve victory independently of ground forces, it implied that the Ar­my’s “air” branch might deserve a measure of autonomy. Before World War I, however, such concerns were minimal, even among airmen. When Congressman James Hay proposed a bill in Feb­ruary 1913 to create an “Air Corps” equivalent in stature to the infantry, cavalry, or artillery, aviators were almost unanimous in condemning the proposal. Lieutenants Benjamin D. Foulois and Henry H. “Hap” Arnold testified that the Signal Corps’ control of aviation was satisfactory.5 Captain William “Billy” Mitchell, at that time a non-flyer and the lone Signal Corps representative on the Army’s General Staff, argued that aviation was essential to Signal Corps reconnaissance and communication. “The offensive value of this thing has yet to be proved,” he stated.4

The outbreak of war in Europe heightened interest in the air­plane’s military potential. That conflict, combined with a grow­ing rift between Signal Corps aviators and their non-flying su­periors, spurred Secretary of War Newton D. Baker to launch a General Staff investigation in April 1916 on the appropriate­ness of severing aviation from Signal Corps control. Many pilots bemoaned the “under 30, bachelor only” restrictions on flying, while many of their non-flying superiors regarded the young avi­ators as undisciplined. Baker decided that air autonomy was not the answer, but also admitted that combat in Europe had demon­strated that the air arm was more than just an auxiliary service.5 The next year, on the eve of America’s entry into the Great War, a joint Army-Navy panel recommended purchasing “a rigid air­ship of the zeppelin type” that could bomb an enemy’s homeland.6 Although the dominant focus of America’s air power vision re­mained on supporting the Army, that view did not exclude inde­pendent operations.

The failure of American civilian and military leaders to articu­late a definitive concept of military aviation likely stemmed from the paucity of military aviation available. When Congress de­clared war against Germany on 6 April 1917, the Signal Corps’ Aviation Section numbered only 65 officers on active duty, of whom 26 were certified pilots, backed by 1,100 enlisted men and 200 civilian personnel. The Army’s sole example of applying air power against an enemy was the use of eight Curtiss jnj train­ing aircraft in Brigadier General John J. Pershing’s expedition to Mexico, and all had broken down. That fiasco caused Congress to lavish appropriations of almost thirteen million dollars on the Aviation Section, but by the end of 1916 the Army possessed only 149 aircraft—mostly trainers and virtually all obsolete—while another 302 were on order but undelivered. Only twelve compa­nies were capable of building airplanes for the government, and they produced just 90 aircraft in 1916. In contrast, twenty-seven British firms built 5,716 airplanes that year. The chairman of the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics, the civilian pre­paredness agency that initially coordinated Army wartime avia­tion policy with American industry, warned: “Though millions may be available for a specific purpose in time of great need, no amount of money will buy time.”

Yet time would not be forthcoming. On 23 May 1917, French Premier Alexandre Ribot, responding to pleas from his generals for American material as well as men, cabled his ambassador in Washington dc and requested 4,500 airplanes for the 1918 cam­paign, along with 2,000 replacements per month. Given the state of Army aviation, Ribot’s request bordered on the fantastic— multiplied out for just the first half of the year, it totaled 16,500 aircraft! Moreover, the cable failed to mention what types of air­craft the United States should produce. With Foulois, now a ma­jor, serving as Signal Corps representative, the Joint Army-Navy Technical Board hurriedly sketched out a program for a 9,000- aircraft force with a reserve of 3,000 airplanes. Of those totals, the board slated 1,000 and 333 respectively as bombers; the remainder would be fighters and observation aircraft. The program’s magni­tude disheartened many members of the Army’s General Staff, who believed that the emphasis on aviation might limit the nation’s ca­pability to manufacture other needs for the service.8 Their reser-

vations led Brigadier General George O. Squier, the Army’s chief signal officer, to present the board’s proposal directly to Secretary of War Baker. Baker then took it to Congress, which appropriated a staggering $640 million to fund the entire program. President Woodrow Wilson signed the measure into law on 24 July.

Even before Congress approved the plan, an American mission departed for Europe to obtain information on the best aircraft de­signs to produce in the United States. Arriving in Liverpool on the twenty-sixth, the mission spent the next five weeks interviewing air officers and industrialists in Britain, France, and Italy. Led by Major Raynal C. Bolling, a former U. S. Steel lawyer who had or­ganized the National Guard’s first aviation unit, the group con­sisted of 105 military and civilian aviation experts. One of them was Captain Nap Gorrell, fresh out of мі г and sporting a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering.

Despite the group’s qualifications, Bolling faced a difficult task. Besides the time constraint demanding an immediate start to full – scale American production, the mission suffered from two key problems. First, it would not finish its work before the arrival of General John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force (aef) staff, which would evaluate air requirements from the vantage point of the force that would do the fighting. Bolling’s mission reported to General Squier in Washington DC, not Pershing, and the mission’s conclusions would not match those of Pershing’s of­ficers. Second, the group’s departure for Europe almost a month before Congress approved the air arm’s structure compelled its members to devise a structure of their own, and doing so required making determinations about air strategy that would dictate air­craft roles and the types needed to fulfill them.9 Many of their de­cisions stemmed from the ideas of Allied airmen. For Nap Gor­rell, the insights gained would endure, and would form the basis of his plan for a bomber offensive.


Bolling’s group spent its first week in Britain meeting with Brit­ish Director-General of Military Aeronautics and General Officer Commanding the Royal Flying Corps, Sir David Flenderson. He suggested that the Americans concentrate exclusively on bomber production and not try to develop a balanced force of fighters, bombers, and observation aircraft.10 The first attack on London by German Gotha bombers a fortnight before the Bolling mis­sion arrived may have triggered Henderson’s recommendation. In two minutes, fourteen Gothas had dropped nearly two tons of bombs, killing 162 people and injuring 432.11 The bombers attacked in daylight and with impunity; none fell to antiaircraft fire or fighters. Many of London’s East End workers, fearing the bombers’ return, stayed away from their factories. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his War Cabinet ordered two squadrons of fighters home from France. Britain’s leaders also looked to pay the Germans back in kind. Before the Gotha assault, the British had shunned the development of an independent bombing force. In April 1917, their air strength in France consisted of twenty-seven fighter squadrons, twenty-one army support squadrons, and two bomber squadrons. After the Gotha raid, the British government’s Air Board recommended de­veloping forty squadrons of long-range bombers.12

In France and Italy, Bolling’s group also discovered a strong preference for bomber development. The French could not pro­duce enough aircraft to satisfy both the demand for additional air support at the front and the desire for bombers to attack Ger­many. They hoped that the 4,500 figure mentioned by Premier Ribot could form a strategic force—that intent had been mistak­enly omitted from the cable—and they made certain that Bolling’s mission understood their wishes.13 In Italy, the Americans found bombing operations that were more than mere speculation. The Italians had begun a long-range air campaign against targets in

Austria and were, at the time, the only Allied nation conducting “strategic” bombing. Their air offensive, sporting as many as 140 aircraft on a single raid, impressed Bolling’s group.14 The group was also impressed by the man who had molded the Italian bomber force, the designer and theorist Gianni Caproni. Gorrell in par­ticular was inspired by Caproni’s vision of air power, which par­alleled the thoughts of Giulio Douhet, Caproni’s close friend and confidant.15 Caproni maintained that for bombing to be effective it had to be “systematic, thorough, and consistent.”16 This asser­tion became a cornerstone of Gorrell’s plan.

Submitting his initial report to General Squier on 15 August 1917, Bolling called for the production of training aircraft, air­craft to support American troops in the field, and “aircraft in ex­cess of the tactical requirements of the Army in France.”17 His group had selected four types of Allied aircraft for American pro­duction: the British Dehaviland DH-4 for day-bombing and obser­vation; the British Bristol and French spad for air-to-air combat, and the Italian Caproni Tri-motor for long-range night bomb­ing. He recommended that the United States build as many of all types as possible. Bolling contended that the number of airplanes needed to support the ground forces depended on the size of the Army and would vary in proportion to it. Combat aircraft in ex­cess of those required for Army support could conduct “indepen­dent” air operations, such as night raids on Germany. He further suggested a precise apportionment of aircraft types for this inde­pendent force: 37.5 percent of its aircraft should be fighters ca­pable of escorting bombers, 25 percent should be day bombers, and the remainder should be Caproni night bombers.18 He found the prospects of night bombing especially appealing, and noted that if it were conducted “on a sufficiently great scale and kept up continuously for a sufficient time, there seems good reason to believe that it might determine the whole outcome of military operations.”19 Yet Bolling’s “third-place mention of the strategic force was apparently taken to mean that it was third in order of relative importance,”20 and bombers did not appear in the initial American aircraft manufacturing program.

One individual had no intention of allowing the notion of an American air offensive to wither away—Billy Mitchell. Since op­posing an autonomous air service four years earlier, Mitchell had come to believe that air power might hold the secret to winning wars. After finishing his General Staff assignment in June 19×6, he became General Squier’s deputy in the Signal Corps’ Aviation Section and was promoted to major. He then took advantage of a provision in the 1916 National Defense Act lifting the ban on flight training for servicemen over thirty (Mitchell was thirty-six). From September 1916 to January 1917, he paid a dollar a min­ute for 1,470 minutes of off-duty flying instruction at the Curtiss Aviation School in Newport News, Virginia.21 His flying “exper­tise” likely caused the War Department to send him to Europe as an aeronautical observer, and he arrived in Paris four days after America’s declaration of war.22 Two weeks later he spent ten days at the front lines observing French General Robert Nivelle’s disas­trous offensive and visiting French aviation units. He recalled his thoughts after first viewing trench warfare from the air:

A very significant thing to me was that we could cross the lines of these contending armies in a few minutes in our airplane, whereas the armies had been locked in the struggle, immovable, powerless to advance, for three years. To even stick one’s head over the top of a trench invited death. This whole area over which the Germans and French battled was not more than sixty miles across. It was as though they kept knocking their heads against a stone wall, until their brains were dashed out. They got nowhere, as far as ending the war was concerned.22

In May, Mitchell visited the headquarters of Major General Hugh Trenchard, commander in the field of Britain’s Royal Fly­ing Corps (rfc). Mitchell arrived abruptly, wearing an extrava­gant uniform that he designed himself, but his unbridled exuber­ance persuaded the general who was “decided in manner and very direct in speech” to give him a three-day dose of RFC operations and Trenchard philosophy. Mitchell was particularly impressed by Trenchard’s commitment to a single, unified air command that would allow him to “hurl a mass of aviation at any one locality needing attack.” For the British air leader, a tightly controlled, con­tinuous aerial offensive was the key to success, and assigning air units to individual ground commanders for defense was a mistake. Trenchard highlighted the rfc’s General Headquarters Brigade, a force designed to destroy the German army’s means of supply and reinforcement, but which possessed too few aircraft to do so in the spring of 1917. He argued that air power should attack as far as possible into the enemy’s country, and noted that the devel­opment of new airplanes with greater ranges would make Berlin a viable target. He did not, however, contend during his first en­counter with Mitchell that the quickest way to defeat the German army was through an air offensive aimed at the German nation. While others around Trenchard stressed a “radical air strategy” against the German homeland, he remained focused on using air power to defeat the German army on the Western Front. None­theless, Mitchell emerged from his initial contact with Trenchard profoundly affected by the general’s ideas and convinced that an aerial offensive was a key to winning the war.24

As a result of observing Allied operations, Mitchell proposed dividing the American air contingent into categories of “tacti­cal” and “strategical” aviation. He made his proposal to Persh­ing’s chief of staff, who arrived in France with the commanding general in mid-June. Tactical aviation would consist of squadrons

attached to divisions, corps, or armies and would operate as any other combat arm. In contrast, strategical aviation “would be bom­bardment and pursuit formations and would have an independent mission very much as independent cavalry used to have…. They would be used to carry the war well into the enemy’s country.”25 This mission, he insisted, could have “a greater influence on the ultimate decision of the war than any other arm.”26 Soon after re­ceiving Mitchell’s plan, Pershing selected a board of officers to de­termine the proper composition for aef aviation. Because Mitch­ell was the senior American aviator in Europe, the general made him chief of the newly created Air Service, which had replaced the Signal Corps as the Army’s air organization in the aef.27 Mitch­ell’s appointment did not, however, guarantee his proposal’s ac­ceptance. On 11 July, Pershing outlined a comprehensive plan for aef organization that authorized fifty-nine squadrons of tactical aircraft for service with the field armies. It made no mention of an independent force for “strategical” operations.

The Intensifying Demand for Results, October-December 1943

Arnold’s request crystallized the great dilemma for Eaker as the clock continued ticking toward Operation Overlord, the codename given for the invasion of France. Intelligence assessments indicated that his bombing—and the air battles that accompanied it—had a detrimental impact on the German war effort, yet the question re­mained—how much of an impact? Eaker could not say with cer­tainty. He could express success in numerical terms—the amount of bombs dropped, the percentage that hit the target, the numbers of enemy fighters shot down—but even with photographic recon­naissance and Ultra intercepts he could not know for sure whether the destruction that he claimed had actually occurred, or, more importantly, if the actual destruction had produced the desired ef­fect on Germany’s capability and will to keep fighting.

Eaker’s inability to divine his enemy’s response to bombing was a problem that did not lend itself to easy solutions. Besides scru­tinizing intelligence reports, he examined German newspaper ac­counts of raids to determine if the tone of articles revealed the German public’s willingness to keep supporting the war.132 Many coa members relied on their knowledge of American industry to determine the likely impact of destroying similar features of Ger­man war production. Planning for the first Schweinfurt raid typ­ified the mirror-image approach. “Industrialists think in terms of what destruction of American ball bearing plants would mean to them, and they are completely unable to suggest a method by which they could long continue in operation if this [destruction] should occur,” wrote the coa’s Colonel Guido Perera. “There is every reason to believe that the German situation is identical, for in both countries the industry has the same essential character­istics.”133

Such logic ignored actions that the Germans might have already taken to forestall production losses or that they would take after­ward to replace their capability; it also presumed that German in­dustry operated at peak capacity (it did not, and would not until 1944). Thus, determining when aerial destruction would produce tangible results remained a tall order. Regarding future attacks on Ploesti and the German oil system, coa members concluded, “It is impossible to state the precise time when the effects of such de­struction would become apparent. German military leaders would at some point realize that the future was hopeless.”134

Until they did so, Eaker would keep bombing. With the onset of winter, the dismal weather that had plagued Eighth Air Force over northern Europe deteriorated even further. Eaker had no in­tention of giving the Germans a respite from his daylight cam­paign, but the losses that he had suffered limited his ability to at­tack deep inside the Reich. In addition, Arnold stripped away replacement aircraft and crews to help create the Fifteenth Air Force that would attack Germany from Italian bases.135 The cre­ation of the Fifteenth cut deeply into an already depleted Eighth.136 To preserve his bomber force, Eaker confined most raids to tar­gets within range of his escort fighters. Dense clouds compelled his crews to use radar bombing for the majority of those missions.

The need to protect bombers and use radar methods limited Eaker to attacking coastal targets in Germany, where the contrast be­tween land areas and water produced the strongest radar images and the distances were short enough to provide escorts most of the way. Bomber losses declined as a result, but bombing accuracy declined as well. Eighth Air Force analysts estimated that for the twenty-seven radar bombing missions flown between the end of September 1943 and the end of January 1944, only 5 percent of the bombs fell within one mile of the aiming point.137

Yet Eaker refused to believe that he had lost his chance for suc­cess. The emphasis remained on achieving rapid results, and he believed that radar bombing could help achieve that objective. On 16 November he wrote Arnold: “I am concerned that you will not appreciate the tremendous damage that is being done to the Ger­man morale by these attacks through overcast, since we cannot show you appreciable damage by photographs. . .. The German people cannot take that kind of terror much longer.”138 If the de­struction rendered to Germany’s industrial web and its homeland fighter force failed to wreck its capability to fight in the allotted time, the radar attacks appeared to offer the prospect for quickly breaking Germany’s will to keep fighting.

Eaker understood that his radar raids resembled the raf’s night area bombing in terms of destruction, but to him they were unique— and hence more terrorizing—because they demonstrated the abil­ity to bomb a city enshrouded in a dense cloud cover.139 He knew such raids killed large numbers of civilians but was untroubled by that result. “I have always believed that civilians supporting [the] national leadership were equally responsible with the mili­tary,” he reflected after the war. “I thought, and still believe, that the man who builds the weapon is as responsible as the man who carries it into battle.”140

Although many air leaders likely felt the same way, Eaker’s de­cision to stress radar bombing revealed how the war’s momentum had altered the progressive ideals that initially guided American airmen in World War II. Eaker had not abandoned those beliefs, but he had helped transform them into notions that stressed speed over all else, including the goal of minimizing casualties on both sides. The desire for an efficient air campaign that limited losses gave way to an air offensive that produced high American ca­sualties and now condoned a direct attack on urban areas that was certain to produce widespread civilian deaths. The failure to achieve air superiority, combined with the vagaries of weather, was largely responsible for the loss of lives that occurred both in the air and on the ground from the American portion of the Com­bined Bomber Offensive, and the emphasis on controlling the air as quickly as possible led to further losses in both domains. Fast results became the sine qua non of a victory through air power, but fast did not necessarily equate to efficient, especially in terms of lives spared. The emphasis on achieving rapid success endured for the remainder of the war.

Eaker’s shift to radar bombing did not impress Arnold, who downplayed the impact of the weather on Eighth Air Force. The aaf Commanding General wanted fast results as well, but thought that the best way to get them was by attacking aircraft factories. Air Chief Marshal Portal confirmed airframe and engine plants as the top targets in Germany at the end of October, stressing that “the success of ‘Overlord’ hangs on the extent to which, by the date of the operation, we have been able to achieve a reasonable reduction of the enemy fighter forces.”141 The coa echoed Por­tal’s message, noting that Overlord placed “increasing emphasis on the need for short-term results.”142 Accordingly, Arnold di­rected Eaker on i November to conduct radar bombing, when cloud cover prohibited precision attacks, against area targets that would adversely affect the Luftwaffe fighter force.143

Germany’s aircraft factories, though, were all small, “preci­sion” targets scattered deep inside the Reich. Eighth Air Force could not hit them using radar techniques; furthermore, Eaker lacked the strength to send bomber formations across Germany unescorted.144 At the end of November, after contemplating a mission against Berlin as a part of Harris’s offensive against the city, Eaker decided against it.14’ He continued to highlight the de­struction that his radar bombing had rendered to German cities, and hence to German morale.146 He further confided to Air Sec­retary Lovett, “I think those who discount and discredit the ef­fect that our overcast bombing on German cities is having on the enemy are unrealistic and unwise.”147 Yet he also acknowledged to Major General Barney Giles, who directed Arnold’s air staff, on 13 December:

There seems to be a feeling there of great irritation that we have not attacked the fighter factories recently. The plain truth of the matter is that there has been no day since November 1 when we could see these factories well enough to bomb them visually. We have not reached a state of either technical or tactical development where we can attack fighter factories with overcast devices. These factories, as you know, are scattered and isolated and they also require deep penetration. We are not justified in striking at them unless the conditions augur for success. These deep penetrations and the impossibility of fighter es­cort will cost us 80-120 bombers. We will suffer this loss any time we penetrate in force to these targets. We must, therefore, be reason­ably certain of their destruction before we launch any expedition en­tailing such cost.148

The Army Air Forces Commanding General—who had never commanded any force in combat—failed to empathize with Eak – er’s plight. Arnold could also hear the clock ticking to produce air power results, and he did not like his chances. Even though his di­versions of bombers to the Mediterranean and Pacific had helped emasculate Eaker’s force, Arnold felt that the situation demanded a new commander for America’s bomber offensive against Ger­many. Eisenhower would soon arrive in Britain to command the forthcoming invasion and had asked that Spaatz, who had served as his air commander in the Mediterranean, accompany him. The overall Allied air commander in the Mediterranean, Air Marshal Arthur Tedder, would join Eisenhower as well, creating a vacancy that needed to be filled by an experienced airman. In addition, Arnold had long desired a single air commander for “strategic” air operations, and with the creation of the Fifteenth Air Force, he now had two bomber forces engaged in the bombing of Ger­many. His solution was to make Spaatz the Commander of the “U. S. Strategic Air Forces,” which would encompass the bomber commands in the Eighth and the Fifteenth, and shift Eaker to com­mand the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.

Eaker, who had received a promotion to lieutenant general in September, was bitter over the transfer. He learned of it on 18 December, just as Eighth Air Force had finally begun to receive many of the bombers and crews originally promised in the сво plan, and fighters with long-range drop tanks had begun to arrive that would enable them to accompany bombers deep into Ger­many. Four days later, he wrote his friend Major General James Fechet, a former commander of the Army Air Corps: “I feel like a pitcher who has been sent to the showers during a world se­ries game.”149

Eaker, though, had done much to shape how the remainder of the “game” would be played. Spaatz and his subordinate com­manders, Lieutenant General James “Jimmy” Doolittle, the new Commander of the Eighth Air Force, and Lieutenant General Na­than Twining, Commander of Fifteenth Air Force, would adhere to the methods that Eaker had established for bombing the Third

Reich. The Air Corps Tactical School’s progressive proposition that bombing could precisely sever the strands of an enemy’s in­dustrial web to produce quick, inexpensive results had morphed into an air campaign that placed a higher priority on rapid suc­cess than it did on producing inexpensive gains. The emphasis on speed would guarantee—for the both the attacker and the at­tacked—that the American air offensive against Germany was anything but “cheap.”

Culminating Devastation

Tooey Spaatz, now wearing four stars and in Washington DC en route to the Pacific to command the United States Strategic Air Forces there, agreed with the ussbs representatives when he met with them in late July. Arnold had yielded control of Twentieth Air Force to Lieutenant General Nate Twining, and Eighth Air Force would reconstitute on Okinawa, commanded by its former European commander, Lieutenant General “Jimmy” Doolittle, while Spaatz oversaw both organizations as usstaf Commander, with LeMay serving as his chief of staff. Yet when Spaatz arrived on Guam at the end of the month, he continued the incendiary campaign in addition to attacking precision targets. Indeed, on the night of i August, B-29S burned Hachioji, another town of roughly sixty thousand people.

Spaatz also arrived on Guam with written orders to drop the atomic bomb. He was uncertain that such a device was necessary to induce Japanese capitulation. After examining the post-strike photographs from LeMay’s raids, he sent a message to Arnold that “unless the Japanese were intent to commit national suicide they would surrender under the present strategic bombing.”153 When they might surrender, though, remained the great unknown. LeMay believed that the bomb offered the chance to end the war but was skeptical that it would work as advertised. “I knew we had a big bang coming,” he later recalled, “but it really was a little be­yond my comprehension how big a bang it was going to be.”154 In planning the Hiroshima raid, LeMay determined that the mission would attract less notice from the Japanese if it appeared as a typi­cal attempt to gather weather information. Accordingly, only three B-29S participated on 6 August, with the bomb-laden Enola Gay flown by Colonel Paul Tibbets Jr.—the same officer who had pi­loted the lead aircraft in the Eighth Air Force’s first heavy bomber mission against Hitler’s Europe. Once over Hiroshima, the care­ful Tibbets polled his crew to verify that he was indeed above the target city, and then began the bomb run.155

Between seventy thousand and eighty thousand people, mostly civilians, died from the bomb dubbed “Little Boy,” though many others would later perish from burns and radiation sickness.156 Norstad’s thoughts on the attack revealed just how far his commit­ment to air power’s progressive ideals had taken him. In a private message to Spaatz on 8 August, he noted that he wanted pictures of Hiroshima released showing the aiming point in the city’s cen­ter so that “the accuracy with which this bomb was placed may counter a thought that the Centerboard [atomic bomb delivery] project involves wanton, indiscriminate bombing.”157 Spaatz dis­played a different mindset and tried to prevent a second atomic attack on an urban area. After Hiroshima, he called for dropping the second atomic bomb outside a city as a show of force.158 His plea went unheeded, and on 9 August at least thirty-five thousand people died instantly in the atomic raid against Nagasaki.159 On 14 August, with peace negotiations ongoing, 449 B-29S attacked Japan that day and 372 that night.160 Arnold “wanted as big a fi­nale as possible” and aimed to guarantee in no uncertain terms that air power played the decisive role in ending the war.161

Following Hiroshima, Spaatz informed reporters that the atomic bomb probably precluded an invasion of Japan and that a sim­ilar bomb against Germany could have shortened the European war by at least six months—remarks that drew the ire of George Marshall.162 After Nagasaki, had the Japanese failed to surren­der, Spaatz now wanted to drop a third atomic bomb on Tokyo to compel a rapid end to the war.165 Most American air command­ers agreed that the atomic attacks broke Japan’s will to fight and saved an enormous number of Allied lives.164

Allied political leaders reflected those sentiments as well. Tru­man claimed after the war that Marshall had estimated an inva­sion might cost five hundred thousand American lives,165 though in the 18 June 1945 meeting with the Joint Chiefs (that Arnold had missed), the president had received conflicting projections. Marshall’s calculation of thirty-one thousand casualties in the first thirty days of fighting on Kyushu was among the lowest totals, but that estimate omitted potential Navy losses and did not proj­ect when the fighting would end; Admiral William Leahy antici­pated Kyushu losses exceeding two hundred thousand.166 Ultra in­telligence intercepts in the month after the meeting indicated that triple the number of estimated Japanese troops actually defended the selected Olympic invasion beaches, and Marshall likely noti­fied Truman of the update in late July.167 The impetus to obtain a rapid, inexpensive victory—from the American perspective—led Truman to approve the atomic attacks even if his numbers were indefinite. Yet he framed the first atomic raid from a progressive perspective resembling Norstad’s and noted on 9 August that Hi­roshima was “a military base. . . because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”168 Brit­ish Prime Minister Winston Churchill provided a similar progres­sive view of the atomic bomb’s utility—with questionable num­bers as a rationale—in his typically vivid prose:

To quell the Japanese resistance man by man and conquer the coun­try yard by yard might well require the loss of a million American lives and half that number of British…. Now all this nightmare pic­ture had vanished. In its place was the vision—fair and bright in­deed it seemed—of the end of the whole war in one or two violent shocks. … To avert a vast, indefinite butchery, to bring the war to an end, to give peace to the world, to lay healing hands upon its tor­tured peoples by a manifestation of overwhelming power at the cost of a few explosions, seemed, after all our toils and perils, a miracle of deliverance.169