GIANT BLOW IS STRUCK BY EIGHTH AND NINTH AIR FORCE PLANE FLEETS

2,000 U.S. Craft Alone Batter Nazis: French Fields Now in Use

From the July 15, 1944 Edition of Stars and Stripes

The greatest single blow since D-Day in support of Allied ground troops on the Continent was struck yesterday by a force of up to 2,000 American warplanes in a savage assault on a wide variety of enemy installations in France.

About 1,000 Eighth Air Force Fortresses and Liberators, escorted by a like number of P47s, P38s and P51s, bombed German coastal batteries, bridges and viaducts as other Allied aircraft covered advancing ground forces and bashed Nazi supply and communications lines.

The weather deteriorated slightly yesterday after the heavies roared forth on their morning mission, but so adequate was the umbrella thrown over every inch of the 50-mile battlefront that it was called the closest air support ever given ground operations.



381st bomb group 8th air force

B17s of the 381st Bomb Group on their way to Germany



Operating From France

Joining in the fray for the first time with British-based planes were Allied aircraft operating from two emergency landing strips and one renewal and re-armament strip on the Normandy coast.

Even as the heavies were heaping their explosives on vital enemy targets, Ninth Air Force P47 fighter-bombers were sweeping over the Normandy battle zone to dive-bomb railroad tracks, a round-house and other objectives.

Marauders and Havocs, ranging from as far as the Bay of Michel to a few miles northwest of Paris, pelted six targets, while Ninth Mustang fighter bombers dive-bombed two railroad bridges and a railroad repair shed on the Vire River south of St. Lo. Carrying out widespread attacks in two missions. Thunderbolt fighter-bombers hammered motor vehicles, radio installations, a railway yard a round-house, a factory and railway yards at Courance.

From all these operations, one Marauder, two Mustangs and three Thunderbolts failed to return.

Making their second air evacuation mission of wounded soldiers since the landing, Ninth Troop Carrier Command skytrain flying ambulances returned to beachhead landing strips yesterday morning with a strong P51 escort and brought out more wounded Allied soldiers.

One the Cherbourg Peninsula, one force of P47s dived through thick could to attack a German troop convoy moving toward Cherbourg. About 30 trucks were deployed as the fighter-bombers dropped more than 500 20-pound fragmentation bombs on the convoy near Briguebec about 12 miles south of Cherbourg. Not one enemy plane rose to protect the convoy.

Yesterday’s activity followed a mighty RAF night offensive against German supply lines. Pounding four rail centers through which the Germans are shipping troops and supplies to the battle area, a strong force of Lancasters and Halifaxes hit Orleans and Dreux, within a 90-mile radius of Paris, and Versailles and Acheres, near Paris.  Twenty bombers were lost.

It was announced yesterday that from the first Marauder mission on July 16, 1943, to D-Day, Ninth Bomber Command dropped 47,000 tons of bombs on Europe in 38,600 sorties. On D-Day alone the command mounted 818 sorties and dropped 1,500 tons.

Although weather limited activity yesterday, by 6 PM the Allies had flown about 4,000 sorties and dropped more than 4,000 tons of explosives. In that period, only three small concentrations of German aircraft were encountered. Six were shot down.

A medium-sized force of B17s and B24s opened the weekend offensive Saturday morning by bombing enemy airfields in Brittany and Normandy and gun positions and defended areas near the north French coast. All of the escorted bombers returned, but 23 U.S. fighters were lost.



For Further Reading Check Out:

The Mighty Eighth: The Air War in Europe as Told by the Men Who Fought It




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One thought on “GIANT BLOW IS STRUCK BY EIGHTH AND NINTH AIR FORCE PLANE FLEETS 2,000 U.S. Craft Alone Batter Nazis: French Fields Now in Use

  • Bill Getz says:

    I flew B-24 missions on July 13 and 16. These missions were more tactical than strategic to support the ground forces in their push into France after the Normandy landings.

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