Luftwaffe Fighters Shot down by the Eighth Air Force

In early 1944, General Jimmy Doolittle, the newly appointed commander of the American Eighth Air Force, made a critical policy change that would hasten the destruction of the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe.

Instead of flying strict close escort missions, Doolittle ordered his fighter pilots to fly ahead of bomber formations to seek out and destroy the Luftwaffe and sweep the area clear of enemy fighters. Once the bombers had hit their target, the fighters were released to attack targets of opportunity, often German airfields, trains and other vehicles.

Doolittle’s new tactic coincided with the introduction of the long-ranged P-51 Mustang and had an immediate impact on Luftwaffe effectiveness.  During the first week of the policy’s implementation, Germany lost as much as 17% of its fighter strength, crippling the Luftwaffe and allowing the Allies for the first time to achieve aerial supremacy. As General Doolittle proudly noted, “Adolf Galland (Germany’s General of Fighters) said that the day we took our fighters off the bombers and put them against the German fighters, that is, went from defensive to offensive, Germany lost the air war.”

For More on the Eighth Air Force Check Out:

Blood and Fears: How America’s Bomber Boys of the 8th Air Force Saved World War II

Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany

The Boys In The B-17: 8Th Air Force Combat Stories Of WWII

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