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

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.”

Frustration and Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Prophecy to Plan

To understand Air Power, it must be realized that the airplane is not just another weap­on. It is another means, operating in another element, for the same basic purpose as the application of Military Power or Sea Power—the destruction of the enemy’s will to fight. The true object of war has never been merely to defeat an army or navy. Such defeat is only a means to an end. That end is the destruction of the enemy’s will.

The fundamental difference between Air Power and Military Power is that Air Power can be applied directly against the objective sought, without first having to overcome bar­riers and obstacles such as swamps, rivers, mountains, and enemy surface forces.


I do not believe that air attacks can be stopped by any means known….The best defense is a strong offense. We must have an airforce capable of going out and meeting an ene­my before he can get under way.

■ MAJ. GEN. FRANK ANDREWS, 20 MAY 1937 12 May 1938

Army Air Corps First Lieutenant Curtis LeMay felt his stomach churning as he trudged through a heavy morning downpour toward the в-17 bomber designated “Number 80” and parked at Mitch – el Field, Long Island. LeMay was a handpicked member of three в-17 crews who would fly their bombers as “blue force” aircraft in the Army’s spring maneuvers against a fictional “black force” invasion fleet bound for the northeastern United States. The Navy, participating in a simultaneous exercise in the Pacific, had been unable to provide any ships for the black fleet. To remedy that problem, the enterprising Lieutenant Colonel Ira Eaker, Chief of Air Corps Information, had devised an intriguing substitute. He learned that the Italian luxury liner Rex, traveling from Gibral­tar to New York City, would be roughly seven hundred miles east of New York on 12 May, making it a superb double for an ene­my aircraft carrier. The Air Corps had received permission from General Malin Craig, the Army Chief of Staff, as well as from the Italian cruise line to intercept the vessel. LeMay, as lead naviga­tor for the mission, was to guarantee that the three B-17S found the Rex in the Atlantic Ocean at the appointed time.

The idea of intercepting the Rex before its theoretical aircraft would be in range to attack the east coast delighted Major Gen­eral Frank Andrews. As Commander of the General Headquar­ters (ghq) Air Force, the Air Corps branch containing all com­bat aircraft, Andrews touted the merits of the в-17 as the nation’s first line of defense to all who would listen. The Rex intercept would emphatically demonstrate the bomber’s ability to thwart an invading carrier force far from American shores, and Andrews aimed to assure that it received maximum publicity. The Navy had downplayed the successful results of an “attack” on the battle­ship Utah by seven в-17s during maneuvers the previous August. For the Rex mission, an nbc radio crew would ride in “Number 80” and broadcast the event live to millions of listeners across the country, while newspaper reporters, including the New York Times’s Hanson Baldwin, would also fly in one of the bombers. In addition, Major George Goddard, the Air Corps’ ace photog­rapher, would record the scene using a specially modified Graf – lex camera.1

Shortly after 8:00 a. m. on 12 May, the aircrews and journalists crowded into the three B-17S on Mitchel Field. Sheets of rain cas­caded across the runway, and clouds clung just above the frothing Atlantic Ocean. Besides the vile weather, the Rex had not updated its position from the day before, causing the thirty-two-year-old LeMay to want “to go somewhere and hide.” General Andrews had emphasized the mission’s importance to his crews before they boarded their aircraft, telling them that the Navy had buried the results of the Utah bombing last year, and that the American pub­lic needed to understand bomber capabilities. As the crews de­parted the operations building, Andrews looked directly at LeMay and said, “Good luck.”2

Fortunately for LeMay, an update of the Rex’s position arrived just before takeoff, allowing him to revise his calculations as he bounced along through turbulence so severe that the aircraft’s al­titude often shifted by more than five thousand feet in a matter of seconds. He found that his original estimate placed the ship much closer to shore than was actually the case; now the intercept would occur more than 750 miles out to sea. Moreover, an intense headwind slowed the projected ground speed of the в-17s. Before takeoff LeMay estimated sighting the Rex at 22:25 p. m., and nbc decided to begin its live radio broadcast based on that prediction. But like any good navigator—and LeMay was deemed the best in the Air Corps—his original estimate contained a time cushion. At t2:2i the aircraft entered a squall. Two minutes later the clouds began giving way to patches of sunlight. Dead ahead was the Rex. “It was all a movie. It was happening to someone else, it wasn’t real, wasn’t happening to us,” LeMay recalled.3

The impact of the intercept was immediate. Goddard’s photo­graph of two B-17S flying past the liner at mast level appeared on page i in newspapers around the nation. Hanson Baldwin’s fea­ture in the New York Times noted that the в-27s “roared through line squalls, hail, rain and sunshine today in a r,300-mile overwa­ter flight unprecedented in the history of the Army Air Corps.” The mission was “a striking example of the mobility and range of modern aviation.”4 Andrews was elated, yet realized that most officers on the Army’s General Staff—who saw bombers only as vehicles for providing close air support to ground troops—would probably view the episode differently. “I notice from some press reports that there is a tendency to indicate that the Army ghq Air Force is planning to fight a war by itself. I would like to correct that impression,” he diplomatically remarked to journalists af­ter the flight. “We must realize that in common with the mobili­zation of the Air Force in this area, the ground arms of the Army would also be assembling, prepared to take the major role in re­pelling the actual landing forces…. I want to ask that you do not accuse us of trying to win a war alone.”5

Bludgeoning with Bombs

Germany, 1944-45

It has been an unhappy fact for the rest of the world that these gullible and warlike peo­ple [the Germans] should have developed a powerful industrial and technical organiza­tion to support a huge military machine. This machine depends on some 90-odd industri­al centers of which perhaps 50 are of major importance. If these centers can be destroyed or seriously damaged it must be obvious that her means to make war will be reduced. And in the process of destroying them the people can be given theirfirst searing lesson, in the heart of their hitherto untouched homeland that crime doesn’t pay. This should re­duce their will to fight. If, therefore, we can reduce the means to fight and the will to fight, the tasking of overpowering her is made easier or the time shortened. That, very simply, is the contention of the Air Forces.


Hit oil if visual assured; otherwise, Berlin—center of city.


As the crews of 311 B-17S approached their target, a smoky black haze arose from the city surrounding it and mingled with dense clouds. Dresden, the medieval capital of Saxony, was in ruins. More than 750 raf Lancasters had dropped 1,471 tons of high explo­sive bombs and 1,175 tons °f incendiaries on the refugee-filled city the night before, and now the Eighth Air Force would add to that total.1 The thick blanket of clouds across northern Europe had caused the target to change as the B-17S crossed the English Channel. Originally, it had been the vast marshalling yard on the southern bank of the Elbe. By the time crews could see the smoke rising from the city, the target had become a rail intersection in Dresden’s center, west of the main residential area.

Clouds obscured the rail junction, though, and when the lead bombardier signaled “Bombs away!” he was actually over Dres­den’s most densely populated district—the same area that the raf had pummeled just hours before. Using radar bombing techniques, the B-17S dropped more than seven hundred tons of bombs, al­most half of which were incendiaries. The next day, 211 B-17S at­tacked Dresden’s marshalling yard, and cloud cover once again prevented accurate bombing. Almost five hundred tons of high explosive bombs fell on the city’s center.2 The series of raids cre­ated a firestorm similar in intensity to the one almost two years earlier at Hamburg; between twenty-five thousand and thirty-five thousand German civilians died, and an estimated five hundred thousand lost their homes.3

On the afternoon of 15 February, raf Air Commodore С. M. Grierson conducted a press conference in Paris in which he high­lighted the Dresden raids. Grierson stated that bombing popula­tion centers caused the Germans difficulty because it forced them to send in trains carrying relief supplies and send out trains carrying homeless civilians, thereby disrupting transportation and contrib­uting “greatly to the break up of the German economic system.” Concerning Dresden, Grierson noted that the city was a commu­nications center that the Germans used to relay men and equip­ment to the Russian front, and that refugees fleeing the Russians clogged the city. He maintained that the principal reason for the raids was to stop communications rather than to kill refugees.4

Grierson’s comments had an immediate effect on the journal­ists in attendance. One of them, the ap’s Howard Cowan, wrote on page i in the 18 February edition of the Washington Star: “The Allied Air Commanders have made the long awaited decision to adopt the deliberate terror bombing of great German population centers as a ruthless expedient to hasten Hitler’s doom.” Cowan added that “more raids such as the British and American heavy bombers carried out recently on the residential sections of Ber­lin, Dresden, Chemnitz, and Cottbus are in store for the Reich, and their avowed purpose will be creating more confusion in the German traffic triangle and sapping German morale.”5 The arti­cle created an uproar at Army Air Forces headquarters in Wash­ington dc, and at Coral Gables, Florida, where recently promoted five-star General Hap Arnold was recovering from his fourth heart attack of the war. Arnold demanded an explanation. He cabled General Carl Spaatz, the Commander of the U. S. Strategic Air Forces (usstaf), and told him to “transmit as a matter of urgency the specific text of your present directive to usstaf, together with any further comments in order to clarify in my mind completely the entire present situation as to directives and priorities for stra­tegic bombing.”6

Spaatz was away from his headquarters near London visiting units in the Mediterranean, and his deputy commander, Major General Frederick Anderson, received the Cowan article as well as Arnold’s request from a Colonel Rex Smith, who lamented, “This is certain to have nationwide serious effect on the Air Forces as we have steadfastly preached the gospel of precision bombing against military and industrial targets.”7 Anderson replied to Ar­nold on 19 February, contending that Cowan’s article was an ex­aggeration that had slipped past the censors. “We have not, or do not,” he asserted, “intend to change the basic policy which has governed the direction of effort of the United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe from the time they first started operations in this Theater. Our attacks have been in all cases against Military objec­tives.”8 Colonel Alfred R. Maxwell, usstaf’s Director of Opera­tions, followed with another message written on Spaatz’s behalf: “It has always been my [Spaatz’s] policy that civilian populations are not suitable military objectives.”9 An Army Air Forces spokes­man in Washington DC mirrored those replies in a zi February press conference, remarking that Americans stressed precision bombing over “wasteful and ineffective” indiscriminate attacks and adding, “We have never done deliberate terror bombing. . . we are not doing it now… we will not do it.”10

Such statements were half-truths at best. Since May 1943 when Ira Eaker, then the Commander of Eighth Air Force, acknowl­edged that cloud cover prevented precision bombing, the Amer­ican bomber force had often resembled raf Bomber Command on days that weather obscured the target area. The distinction between the two bomber forces became especially thin once the Eighth Air Force received radar bombing equipment in autumn 1943 an<-I Eaker informed Arnold of his intention to break the morale of the German public. Spaatz had refused to state such an objective since taking charge of usstaf in January 1944. Yet he consistently bombed Germany using radar whenever the weather was disagreeable, and he possessed many more bombers than had Eaker.

Moreover, the longer the war progressed, the louder the clamor grew to end it, and the closer Spaatz’s targets crept to residential districts in German cities. Both Dresden’s marshalling yard and the rail junction selected for the 14 February attack were less than a mile from the heart of the city’s residential area. Even with the Norden bombsight in excellent weather, bomber crews were cer­tain to hit more than just their aiming point; using radar against a “precision” target in the midst of a city guaranteed many civil­ian deaths. Indeed, the “last resort” target for the 14 February Dresden mission was: “Any military objective definitely identi­fied as being in Germany and east of the current bomb line.”11 By February 1945 the impetus to end the war quickly provided few limits to the definition of “military objective.”

Spaatz and the Battle for Air Superiority

When Arnold tapped Spaatz in late 1943 to lead usstaf, the new command comprising the heavy bombers of Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces, both men understood that the paramount need for rapid results might forestall the conduct of an efficient air campaign. Spaatz had to gain daylight air superiority, and do so quickly— Overlord could not occur without it. He possessed a wealth of experience for the task at hand. A fighter pilot in World War I, Spaatz arrived at the front three weeks before the armistice and shot down three German aircraft, earning him the Distinguished Service Cross. During the interwar years, he commanded both a bomb group and a bomb wing, plus he helped set a flight endurance record of 150 hours (along with Ira Eaker and three other crew­men) aboard the Question Mark in 1929. He had been Arnold’s choice to command Eighth Air Force when it began the daylight assault on Hitler’s Europe, and competently led the Northwest African Air Force as it supported the American ground advance from North Africa to Italy.

Moreover, Tooey Spaatz was a man Arnold could trust, and trust implicitly, to get him the desired results. The two had es­tablished an enduring friendship through many assignments to­gether, and a 1920 incident in San Francisco typified the depth of that connection—after Colonel Arnold, who served as air officer for the Army’s Ninth Corps Area, reverted to his prewar rank of captain, Major Spaatz, who had been Arnold’s executive officer, requested a transfer rather than take command of a unit that he thought rightfully belonged to Arnold.12 Modest in appearance with a graying mustache, loyal and selfless, Spaatz commanded respect from all who knew him. Dwight Eisenhower rated him, along with Omar Bradley, as the two American generals who con­tributed the most in the war against Germany, and Bradley ranked Spaatz second, after Eisenhower’s chief of staff, Bedell Smith.15

Eaker, asked to rank Army Air Forces officers in November 1944 in terms of their merit for postwar leadership, listed Spaatz sec­ond behind Arnold.14

Arnold presented Spaatz with usstaf in January 1944 to achieve daylight air superiority over Europe and facilitate the Normandy invasion—and, if all went well, to score a knockout blow against German industry. Arnold had long believed that a single air com­mander was essential for the maximum efficiency of a heavy bomber force and to prevent ground commanders from taking air elements piecemeal to pursue their own objectives.15 With Spaatz he had the desired unity of command and the prospect that air power could make the decisive contribution to ending the European war.

Much like Eaker before him, Spaatz heard the steady ticking of a clock as he set out to snatch control of the European sky from the Luftwaffe. He would have preferred to have set his own time­table for destroying Germany’s capability and will to fight, and viewed the invasion “as a necessary temporary diversion of the strategic air forces, not a primary objective of strategic air war.”16 Indeed, when he heard that the Combined Chiefs of Staff had se­lected a date for Overlord, he reportedly said, “This means the death of the strategic air war.”17 Spaatz would support the inva­sion with all the force that he possessed, but to him, the primary reason for achieving air superiority was to enhance the bomber offensive’s prospects for independent success.

Compared to Eaker, Spaatz had a vast array of force at his command; American production had finally begun to catch up to wartime requirements. New crews began to arrive in theater as well. By the end of December 1943 Eighth Air Force possessed twenty-six heavy bomber groups compared to eleven the previ­ous May—so many aircraft and crews that Lieutenant General James “Jimmy” Doolittle, the new Eighth Air Force Commander, could regularly send out missions with a mix of seven hundred

B-17S and B-24S. Many of Doolittle’s B-17S were new “G” models, which had a combat radius of seven hundred miles—nearly three hundred miles more than most of Eaker’s B-17S—plus they could carry two thousand more pounds of bombs. The “G” model also possessed a chin turret under its Plexiglas nose to ward off head- on fighter attacks, a favorite tactic of the Luftwaffe pilots. The в-24 had received a nose-turret as well, though it was manned in­stead of remotely operated as in the в-17 and made the bomber a bit wobbly in flight, yet the “Liberator” could still carry the same seven-thousand-pound bomb load as the “G” model “Fly­ing Fortress.”18 B-24S comprised two-thirds of the heavy bomb­ers in Fifteenth Air Force, headquartered in Foggia, Italy, and ca­pable of attacking targets in southern Germany, Austria, and the Balkans. By February 1944, the Fifteenth possessed twelve groups of “heavies.”19

An increase in fighter strength for Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces matched the sizable gains in heavy bombers—and Army Air Forces engineers finally began to perfect 75- and 108-gallon drop tanks that allowed fighter escort for a distance of six hun­dred miles, enough to reach Berlin. The p-47 “Thunderbolt” and p-51 “Mustang” were the key escort fighters; both could fly in ex­cess of 430 mph above 25,000 feet, and the P-47 could approach 550 in a dive. At the beginning of 1944 Eighth Air Force possessed eleven fighter groups containing between seventy-five and ninety – six aircraft each, and by February Fifteenth Air Force would have four fighter groups of its own. In addition, Spaatz and Doolittle de­cided that Eighth Air Force fighter pilots, who had thus far flown escort by staying close to the bombers that they defended, could now roam freely to seek out Luftwaffe fighters. Eighth Air Force fighter pilots also received the same amount of credit for destroy­ing enemy aircraft on the ground as they did in aerial combat to encourage the strafing of airfields. Bomber crews were initially dismayed by these policies, but the new directives soon paid div­idends over Germany.20

Spaatz realized that “cutting loose” his fighters would produce increased combat—and hence increased losses—for his fighter force. Given the situation that he faced, he felt that he had little choice. He had three months to wrestle control of the air from the Luft­waffe; in April, General Eisenhower would take charge of usstaf (and kaf Bomber Command) for invasion support. Yet Spaatz also knew that he had an abundance of numbers and a steady stream of replacements, while Ultra intelligence intercepts told him that the German fighter force had suffered severely during Eaker’s fall offensive—so much that Luftwaffe commanders had reduced re­cuperation times for wounded pilots, and even ordered test and transport pilots to fly against American bombers.21

In late January, Spaatz wrote Arnold that he could not sim­ply wait for decent weather to bomb German aircraft factories— destroying them would not suffice to gain daylight air superiority in the time allotted. Thus, Spaatz would also bomb German air­fields, and he would further attack “objectives which force Ger­man fighters into combat action within range of our fighters.” In short, he would wage attrition warfare, and use his bombers as bait. “Losses will be heavy,” he stated, “but we must be prepared to accept them.”22 He was confident not just that he could sustain the losses, but also that the magnitude of destruction inflicted on the Luftwaffe would produce air superiority in the shortest amount of time. Spaatz even acknowledged a willingness to risk bombers without fighter escort if such attacks yielded corresponding dam­age to the Luftwaffe. “Under peculiar weather conditions when all of Germany is fog-bound,” he told Arnold, “raids might be made well beyond fighter cover on area targets, such as Berlin, to force the German fighters into the air under conditions which will re­sult in heavy operational losses to their fighters.”23

Until the weather cleared, Spaatz would continue radar bomb­ing, much like Eaker in late 1943. American engineers at mit had perfected their own version of the British H2S device, and the Amer­ican model, dubbed H2X, employed a shorter microwave length that resulted in a sharper radar picture of the ground. But H2X did not appreciably increase bombing accuracy, and the Army Air Forces official historians glumly noted that with radar “the aim­ing point became a highly theoretical term.”24

Arnold knew that radar bombing was far from precise, but he did not want his air commanders to convey that impression pub­licly. He directed Spaatz to avoid the phrase “blind bombing” when referring to raids with H2X, and Spaatz agreed to label such attacks “overcast bombing technique,” “bombing through the overcast,” or “bombing with navigational devices over clouds ex­tending up to 20,000 feet.”25 Regardless of the terminology used, Eighth Air Force bombers mounted six weeks of radar raids, in­cluding a mission by more than eight hundred B-17S and B-24S against Frankfurt on 29 January, which mirrored raf Bomber Command’s area attacks in terms of methods used and damage inflicted. Remarked the aaf historians: “It seemed better to bomb low-priority targets frequently, even with less than precision ac­curacy, than not to bomb at all.”26

While Spaatz likely agreed with that assessment, he could not wait indefinitely to achieve significant results. On 8 February he di­rected that “Operation Argument,” the anticipated assault against the German aircraft industry by the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces, would conclude by 1 March 1944. Primary targets would consist of airframe and final assembly plants for single – and dual-engine fighters as well as ball bearing production facilities, which mem­bers of the Committee of Operations Analysts (coa) and usstaf planners alike deemed essential to aircraft construction.27 Those targets all demanded “precision” bombing, and to attack them successfully Spaatz needed a week-long stretch of decent weather. Thick clouds had canceled Argument on numerous occasions, but Spaatz could no longer wait for ideal conditions and accepted that poor weather might lead to losses exceeding two hundred bomb­ers for a single mission.28

On 19 February usstaf’s weather officers predicted a period of clear skies across Europe, in contrast to the forecast made by weather officers at Eighth Air Force. Major General Frederick Anderson, Spaatz’s deputy commander who had led VIII Bomber Command for Eaker, urged Spaatz to begin Argument. Spaatz gave the order and risked that clouds and icing might ground many of his escort fighters. His fears proved illusory. The next day, six­teen combat wings of heavy bombers—more than 1,000 aircraft— supported by seventeen groups of escort fighters took off for tar­gets in southern Germany, usstaf’s forecasters proved correct, and 941 heavy bombers attacked fighter assembly plants in the vicinity of Leipzig and Brunswick. German defenses claimed 21 bombers, but the bombing results were good.29

The 20 February mission marked the beginning of a six-day se­ries of attacks dubbed “Big Week.” Not only did Eighth and Fif­teenth Air Forces jointly participate in many of the attacks, but the raf contributed as well by pounding many of the target cit­ies the night before American bombers attacked specific installa­tions in them. The Luftwaffe fought back fiercely and losses were heavy. On 22 February the Eighth lost forty-one bombers and the Fifteenth lost nineteen; on 24 February the Eighth lost forty-nine bombers and the Fifteenth lost seventeen; and on 25 February, when both Air Forces jointly attacked the Messerschmitt plants at Regensburg, the Eighth lost thirty-one bombers and the Fif­teenth lost thirty-two, which was 19 percent of the Fifteenth’s at­tacking force. All told, Big Week cost the Eighth Air Force alone three hundred aircraft, most of which were bombers, and 2,500 airmen killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.30 Yet on Spaatz’s bal­ance sheet, the advantage was decisively his—in February the Ger­mans lost 33 percent of their single-engine fighters and 18 percent of their fighter pilots, many of whom had shot down more than one hundred aircraft.31 Improved P-47S with water-injection en­gines were responsible for most of the damage done to the Luft­waffe; only two groups of Mustangs participated in the air bat­tles.32 The Thunderbolts tipped the balance for control of the skies in favor of the Americans.

Besides inflicting substantial damage in the air, Big Week also hurt the German aircraft industry. Radar bombing occurred on few missions; crews conducted most attacks with the Norden bomb – sight.33 B-17S and B-24S dropped more than ten thousand tons of bombs during the six-day span—more tonnage than the Eighth Air Force had dropped on all targets for all of 1943.34 The attacks completely wrecked the Regensburg complex and damaged other facilities as well, but analysts’ claims that the attacks had reduced production to 650 aircraft a month were wishful thinking. In ac­tuality, the large amount of slack in the German aircraft indus­try enabled the monthly production rate to increase despite the raids; many factories with only one shift of workers changed to twenty-four-hour operations.35 Still, Big Week stymied German production plans. Nazi economic leaders had calculated that they could produce 80,000 aircraft a year by 1945, Уег they reached only 36,000 in 1944.36 Big Week was a key reason that they could not produce more.

Buoyed by Big Week’s success, Spaatz turned his attention to the target that American airmen had most wanted to bomb since their first raid over Hitler’s Europe—Berlin. The first raid against the German capital was a feeble one, when 29 B-17S failed to get a weather recall message on 4 March and pressed on to their tar­get; they survived because three groups of p-5 is stayed with them.

Two days later, Spaatz unleashed 730 heavy bombers and 800 es­corting fighters in an aerial stream sixty miles long. The Luftwaffe defended tenaciously, and 75 bombers were shot down, crashed, or written off. Yet the statistic that mattered most to Spaatz was enemy losses, and his fighter pilots claimed 82 German aircraft downed for a cost of 14 American fighters.37

On 8 March the onslaught continued. Spaatz sent 600 bomb­ers and 900 fighters against Berlin, losing 13 bombers and 17 fighters. Three hundred bombers returned the next day, bombing through the clouds with H2X. Nine heavies fell to flak—but none were lost to Luftwaffe fighters, which did not oppose the attack. On 22 March 650 bombers returned to Berlin, and flak claimed all 12 that fell.38 For the month, Luftwaffe fighter units wrote off 56 percent of their single-engine fighters, while crew losses reached almost 22 percent of the pilots present for duty at the beginning of March.39 American bomber crews suffered as well; Spaatz lost 345 heavy bombers in March alone.40 Yet, in blunt terms, he felt he could afford the losses; he knew the Germans could not. At the end of the month, with the Luftwaffe reeling, Arnold raised the tour length for bomber crews from 25 to 30 missions. Spaatz had given him daylight air superiority.

Spaatz had achieved what Eaker could not because Spaatz pos­sessed an abundance of resources that allowed him to conduct an air campaign based on attrition.41 Eaker had counted on the Luft­waffe’s aerial losses to spur his quest for air superiority as well, but anxiety about the survival of his bomber force prevented per­sistent attacks deep into Germany. Neither Eaker nor Spaatz com­pletely abandoned their progressive belief that the destruction of key targets like aircraft factories and ball bearing plants would produce rapid results; their concern was whether the results would occur rapidly enough. As the countdown toward Overlord contin­ued, a negative answer appeared likely. Spaatz chose to forego the progressive goal of “cheapness” to obtain the higher priority ob­jective of speed, and, in the end, was successful. Yet the cost was enormous. Eaker’s painstaking commitment of a weak bomber force that lacked escort fighters, and Spaatz’s ruthless use of the strength that he possessed, combined to make a staggering 77 per­cent of all American airmen who flew against the Third Reich be­fore D-Day casualties.42

Eaker and Spaatz had accurately surmised the importance of the German aircraft industry to Hitler’s war machine. The Luft­waffe was not going to risk losing its production centers without a fight—which was exactly what Spaatz hoped in early 1944. Be­tween January and the end of April, the Germans had 1,684 pi­lots killed, and Ultra intercepts made Spaatz aware of the loss.45 Eaker, who now “owned” Fifteenth Air Force as a part of his Med­iterranean Allied Air Forces (Spaatz, as usstaf Commander, di­rected the heavy bombers of the Fifteenth and coordinated with Eaker on all missions for that force), gained bittersweet satisfac­tion in knowing that the plan he had set in motion finally bore fruit. Without the damage that Eaker’s Eighth Air Force had in­flicted on the Luftwaffe, Spaatz could never have gained air su­periority in the time allotted.

In one sense, the achievement of air superiority that enabled Overlord fulfilled the progressive goal of inexpensive results by guaranteeing that fewer Allied soldiers would die in the invasion than if the Germans had retained control of the air. Whether the Allies would have attempted a cross-Channel assault lacking con­trol of the air remains doubtful, though, especially in light of the disastrous Dieppe raid in August 1942.44 American air leaders hoped that the bomber offensive might eliminate the need for an invasion by wrecking German capability and will to fight once the air campaign gained control of the sky. Army Air Forces plan­ners designed both awpd-i and AWPD-42 with that goal in mind, and that objective still resonated at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, when the Combined Chiefs of Staff defined the purpose of the Combined Bomber Offensive as destroying Ger­man military, industrial, and economic capability, and the morale of the German people “to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.”45

By the time of the Trident Conference four months later, the Combined Chiefs defined “fatally weakened” as “so weakened as to permit initiation of the final combined operations on the Con­tinent.”46 Arnold, Eaker, and Spaatz would have defined it differ­ently if given the choice. Instead, they had to temper their expec­tations for independent success and hope that air power could still play a decisive role in Overlord’s aftermath. Arnold in particular would view the failure of the bomber offensive to forestall the in­vasion of France as impetus to make sure that a similar air cam­paign in the Pacific did not lead to similar results.

Lemay to the Marianas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technological Developments

By the mid-i930s many air power advocates believed that aerial technology had finally begun to catch up to air power theory. The outdated Keystone в-4, a two-engine, fabric-covered biplane that served as the Army’s primary bomber when the decade began, gave way to all-metal monoplanes, the Boeing в-9 and Martin b-io. The open-cockpit в-9 could fly at 186 miles per hour at six thou­sand feet, which made it 60 miles per hour faster than any cur­rent Air Corps bomber when it first flew in April 1931. At above twenty thousand feet—the estimated maximum range of antiair­craft artillery—it was faster than the Air Corps’ primary fighter aircraft, the P-26! The b-io was faster still, recording a speed of 207 miles per hour at twenty-one thousand feet in 1932, plus it sported internally carried bombs, enclosed crew compartments, and a retractable landing gear.6 Both aircraft had only two en­gines, however, which precluded them from carrying heavy bomb loads for long distances.

To overcome this deficiency, Air Corps Chief Major General Benjamin Foulois submitted a request to aircraft manufacturers for a design capable of flying 2,000 miles with a ton of bombs at a speed of 250 miles per hour. Three companies responded to the request, and one, Boeing, built a four-engine model designed for an eight-man crew. That prototype, the хв-17, could reach 250 miles per hour at fourteen thousand feet, could operate as high as thirty thousand feet, and could carry 2,500 pounds of bombs 2,260 miles or 5,000 pounds for 1,700 miles.7 For airmen it was the manifestation of nirvana. Hap Arnold recalled that the в-17 was “the first real American air power…. Not just brilliant proph­ecies, good coastal defense airplanes, or promising techniques; but, for the first time in history, Air Power that you could put your hands on.”8 The Air Corps wanted to purchase sixty-five B-17S, but the prototype’s crash in October 1935, stemming from locked flight controls—and the War Department’s desire for a bomber better suited for supporting ground troops—limited the order to thirteen. They began arriving at Langley’s Second Bombardment Group in March 1937.

Complementing the в-17 was a device that significantly im­proved bombing accuracy—the Norden bombsight. In October 1931 Air Corps observers witnessed use of the Navy’s new bomb – sight, the Mark XV. Carl L. Norden, a civilian consultant, and Navy Captain Frederick I. Entwistle had developed the device, and in 1932 Foulois requested twenty-five of them for the Air Corps. The main feature of the black metal bombsight was a gyro – stabilized, motor-driven telescope. The bombardier looked through it during the bomb run, after having inserted the wind speed, al­titude, and bomb ballistics information into the bombsight. Its primitive computer updated the aircraft’s speed over the ground, which enabled the bombardier to control lateral aircraft move­ments via an autopilot. Meanwhile, he synchronized the telescope’s vertical and horizontal crosshairs on the target. If he had inserted the proper data and aligned the crosshairs over the proper spot, the bombsight would identify the correct point to release bombs and drop them automatically. Under ideal conditions at twenty – one thousand feet, he might place one bomb out of all those that he dropped into a hundred-foot-diameter circle surrounding the center of the target, although conditions in combat would rarely be ideal. Still, the Norden bombsight dramatically increased the possibility that an air offensive could sever the strands of an in­dustrial web. In 1933 the Air Corps ordered seventy-eight more of the devices, and by the late 1930s the Tactical School had its stu­dents estimating the number of Norden-equipped bombers needed to destroy particular targets. The bomber type used in those ex­ercises was the в-17.9

Ground Support versus Independent Operations

On i April 1944, with daylight air superiority secured, Opera­tion Pointblank officially ended, and two weeks later Eisenhower assumed operational control of usstaf and raf Bomber Com­mand. He retained the authority for the next five months. Dur­ing that span he used the heavy bombers to disrupt transportation routes in northern France that the Germans could use to thwart the invasion, as well as to spur the drive of Allied armies across France after the landings. Winston Churchill initially balked over the prospect of substantial French casualties from the bombing, but relented when President Franklin Roosevelt stated an unwill­ingness to restrict any military action that “might militate against the success of ‘Overlord’ or cause additional loss of life to our Al­lied forces of invasion.”47 Approximately 4,750 French civilians died from the bombing of transportation lines before D-Day.48 To

Roosevelt and Churchill, those deaths were a small price to pay for a successful invasion that would shorten the war, especially since both leaders placed a higher premium on the lives of their own combatants than they did on the lives of civilians in occu­pied countries. Eisenhower sympathized with those views. On 6 June, he used B-17S to demolish twelve French towns and block roads in them that the Germans could use to move reinforcements to the invasion beachhead.49

American air commanders shared the progressive desire for rapid victory, but continued to maintain that independent bomb­ing operations, rather than those devoted to ground support, of­fered the most inexpensive way to end the war quickly. Before departing England for his Mediterranean command, Eaker re­viewed the Overlord plan and deemed the proposed use of B-17S and B-24S to support ground forces a mistake. “Heavy bombers are inefficient artillery,” he observed. “They have a more impor­tant assignment in the war effort which, incidentally, is more im­portant to winning the battle on the beaches as well.”50 Arnold concurred in his response for “Eaker’s Eyes Only,” which Eaker received in the midst of his effort to prevent widespread use of Fif­teenth Air Force bombers as “flying artillery” in the Italian cam­paign. “I have reason to fear that we will be dragged down to the level and outlook of the Ground Forces,” Arnold fumed. “Our airmen thoroughly know the capabilities of their Arm. They, and they alone, must control the operations of their Air Forces. It is, in my opinion, impossible for Ground Force officers to fully uti­lize vision and imagination in air action, since they are not well acquainted with air capabilities and limitations.”51

Spaatz despaired as well over the extensive use of his bomber force to support Overlord. In June, he scoffed at Eisenhower’s suggestion to have B-17S drop supplies to partisans in southern France, and also complained that British ground commanders “vi­sualize the best use of our tremendous air potential as plowing up several square miles of terrain in front of the ground forces to obtain a few miles of advance!”52 Yet without a massive infusion of air power, Eisenhower’s invasion may well have stagnated in the Normandy hedgerows. For almost two months after D-Day, German troops and tanks prevented Allied armies from moving more than twenty miles inland from the invasion beaches. Oper­ation “Cobra” made the difference. On 25 July, 1,495 American heavy bombers, 380 medium bombers, and 559 fighters blasted German positions near Saint-Lo.53 A follow-up attack by 200 me­dium bombers and five fighter groups the next morning broke the spirit of the German defenders, enabling American troops to pour into the gap and begin their drive to the German frontier.

Although he realized that air power had played a useful role in supporting Allied armies, Spaatz wanted to use his bombers inde­pendently, not as an auxiliary force, and in a way that would have a more decisive impact on Germany’s capability to fight—as well as highlight the distinctive contribution of strategic bombing to the Allied war effort.’4 He was of course familiar with awpd-i, AWPD-42, and Eaker’s proposal for the Combined Bomber Offen­sive, and all stressed oil as a vital component of Germany’s war­making capacity. In January 1944, coa members had examined prospects for attacking oil production and refining centers. They rejected such raids because they estimated that the Germans would not feel effects from them for at least six months, too long a time to influence the battle for air superiority that Spaatz had to win by April.5S Once he had gained daylight control of the air, the de­sire to attack those targets resurfaced.

In late March, Spaatz argued that destroying Germany’s oil sup­ply would provide the greatest support to the invasion by restrict­ing enemy troop movements, but Eisenhower thought that attacks on transportation lines in northern France and Belgium would pay more immediate benefits.56 Still, in his initial bombing directive on 17 April, Eisenhower called for continued pressure on the Luft­waffe, and Spaatz reasoned that raids on oil facilities would com­pel the Luftwaffe to fight—and suffer attrition—much like the Big Week attacks on the aircraft industry. Spaatz pressed Eisenhower for limited attacks on oil—and even threatened resignation over the issue.57 Eisenhower relented, and gave him permission to use two good-weather days to attack synthetic oil facilities.

Spaatz knew that the plans for bombing Germany called for six months of concentrated attacks on key industries to produce tell­ing results, yet he thought that he could inflict significant damage to the Nazi oil system with intermittent raids while the focus re­mained on supporting Overlord. He now possessed a vast force of more than three thousand heavy bombers, and Fifteenth Air Force provided the capability to attack key Balkan targets like Ploesti on a regular basis.58 In fact, Spaatz had already begun the assault on Ploesti under the guise of attacking the city’s rail yards to support the Russian advance in Romania—most of the bomb­ing in three April raids caused “incidental” damage to Ploesti’s oil refineries.59 Despite the scattered nature of the oil system, com­prising more than eighty facilities in Nazi-controlled Europe, the coa determined that certain targets were system linchpins—for instance, four Bergius synthetic oil plants produced half of Ger­many’s aviation fuel supply.60

Spaatz began the oil offensive with Eisenhower’s blessing on 12 May against the synthetic oil plants at Merseburg-Leuna, Zwickau, Bohlen, and other cities. More than eight hundred B-17S and B-24S attacked, with heavy fighter escort, and three hundred Ger­man fighters rose to intercept them. Eighth Air Force lost forty – six bombers and seven escorts, while the Luftwaffe lost sixty-five fighters.61 The enemy response following the raid showed that Spaatz’s bombers had indeed hit a vital part of the industrial web.

On 16 May, Spaatz received an Ultra intercept that the Germans had canceled the movement of nine flak batteries to France and sent them instead to synthetic oil plants, along with ten other flak batteries—some of which had defended aircraft factories.62 The Nazi Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, recalled: “I shall never forget the date May 12. . . . On that day, the technological war was decided…. It meant the end of German armaments produc­tion.” A week after the attack Speer told Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, “The enemy has struck us at one of our weakest points. If they persist at it this time, we will no longer have any fuel pro­duction worth mentioning.”63

The results of the raids pleased Eisenhower, and he not only approved additional attacks on German oil targets for 28 and 29 May, but also permitted Spaatz to make oil usstaf’s top priority target on 8 June. Heavy bombers knocked out nine-tenths of avi­ation fuel production before Spaatz had to return his focus to in­vasion support on 22 June.64 For the next month, attacks on oil facilities fluctuated according to the needs of the ground offen­sive in France.

coa members spent much of June examining Germany’s oil sys­tem and revised their earlier estimate. This time they determined that oil was particularly vulnerable to bombing. Analysts con­cluded that the Germans could not easily hide or disperse their sprawling refineries and synthetic production facilities. In addi­tion, the Germans possessed no excess refining capability. Ploesti was essential to the Nazi war effort, but other refineries in Ger­many, France, Belgium, and Hungary were also important. The coa identified twelve key refineries and five synthetic oil plants that, if destroyed in a single month, two months later would pro­duce “a very serious curtailment in German military operations.” One analyst estimated that after three months, if other refineries remained at current production levels, “you will have immobi­lized the German economy. They will not be able to either fight or manufacture.”65

Such assessments intensified Spaatz’s desire to wreck German oil. As the air power demands in the Italian ground war began to subside, he dispatched Fifteenth Air Force heavies to wreck the oil target at the top of the list once and for all. Fie had begun a di­rect assault on Ploesti’s refineries with attacks on 18 and 31 May, with almost 500 bombers participating in the latter raid. The last week of June he ordered three more strikes, and then five more in July. The July raids cost Fifteenth Air Force nearly 100 bomb­ers—by the end of the month it had lost 30 percent of its bomber strength. Spaatz, though, could count on a steady stream of air­craft and crews to replace the losses, and waged an attrition cam­paign against Ploesti similar to his Big Week battles against the aircraft industry. Four more attacks followed in August, with the raf joining in the assault with night raids. The Luftwaffe did not oppose the final mission against the refineries on 19 July; intelli­gence officers estimated that Ploesti’s oil production was now a mere 10 percent of its peak output. The Soviet army overran the smoldering complex at the end of the month. Fifteenth Air Force dropped almost fourteen thousand tons of bombs in the five – month campaign that eliminated nearly half of Germany’s ability to refine oil. In the process it lost 3 50 bombers, 200 fighters, and more than one thousand men.66

Spaatz wanted to continue hammering oil installations, but other requirements diverted him from that effort. Soon after D – Day, the Germans began launching v-i “buzz” bombs against Eng­land from northern France and Belgium. While the attacks caused little damage compared to the Luftwaffe’s blitz in the Battle of Britain, they killed almost six thousand civilians in two and a half months and produced widespread anxiety.67 Churchill persuaded Eisenhower to make the launch sites the top target for usstaf and raf Bomber Command. Spaatz began attacking them in mid – June, though he thought the effort yielded minimal results against well-camouflaged targets that had a minimal impact on the war. At the end of the month he met with Eisenhower and persuaded the Supreme Allied Commander to allow attacks against targets in Germany when the weather cooperated, the ground forces did not face an emergency, and the V-weapons did not demand the complete attention of the strategic air forces.68

Nonetheless, the demand for air support from Allied armies continued. Fifteenth Air Force heavies devoted substantial as­sistance to the “Anvil” landings in southern France in August. Operation “Market Garden,” the airborne assault in Holland, consumed much of Eighth Air Force’s heavy bomber fleet in Sep­tember. Spaatz reported to Arnold that using heavy bombers to resupply ground and airborne troops for ten days in Market Gar­den cost Eighth Air Force the equivalent of а в-24 wing for six weeks. During the ten-day span, Spaatz bemoaned, his bombers lost the chance to conduct precision raids against German targets on two days, and radar attacks on another six.69 Spaatz’s deputy commander, Fred Anderson, also voiced his displeasure over the need to provide air support to ground forces. “The Armies can­not move forward without help from the Air,” Anderson confided to Major General Curtis LeMay in early October. “They stay un­til we blast the way, and once the way is blasted they move the extent that their supplies allow; then they stop. And when they stop the German digs in, and the way must be blasted again be­fore they move.”’0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M. C.

Mount Vernon, Virginia



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

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

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

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

From Precision to Obliteration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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