The Air War Over Europe During World War Two
by Edward Carr
World war two in Europe was largely fought in the skies by the Americans from the years 1942-1944. Even after 1944, allied air power was a large key to victory over Nazi Germany. From 1942 until D-Day however the American war in Europe was largely in the skies over Germany and occupied Europe. America had no air force at the time and the air armadas belonged to the United States army.
From 1942 through 1943 B-17 F's and B-24 Liberators were the Amrican heavy bombers which flew in the skies dropping bombs on German cities and industry. The allies bombed day and night. Americans bombed by day and the English, with their Lancaster bombers, bombed by night. The problem for the Americans in the earlier part of the air war was a lack of interceptor/fighters that could make the the trip all the way to Germany. Allied fighters like the p-38 Lightening and the P-47 Thunderbolt had only a limited range even with drop tanks that carried extra fuel. They had to turn back before reaching Germany. When they turned back, the Germans would open up with Flak, which is anti-aircraft artillery. Shells would explode sending shrapnel into bombers threatening both planes and crew. A direct hit from a flak shell would easily down any heavy bomber that the allies had. Then the Luftwaffe would come up.
The Luftwaffe was the German Air Force. These fighters and men had experience fighting much in the skies dating all the way back to the Spanish Civil War. These pilots had sometimes in excess of three-hundred aerial kills. With precision they shot down bombers over the skies of Germany, so much so that Americans seriously thought about discontinuing daylight bombing as losses were becoming too high to sustain. B-17 F's were largely the bombers used at this time and B-17 F's had no chin turret the bombardier could use to defend himself against German fighters. German fighters kndew if they killed the bombardier, the plane could not drop its bombs. The herefore, the life expectancy of B-17 F bombardier was one in three missions.
Around 1944, the allies had a knew fighter and the B-17 had added a chin turret for the bombardier to use, making the plane the B-17 G. The new fighter was the P-51 Mustang, which saved the air war over Europe for the Americans. The P-51 Mustang could fly all the way to Germany and back. Now there were massive dogfights over the skies of Germany and occupied Europe. The allies had a superior fighter to the Luftwaffe's older Me-109's and Focke Wulf 190's.
The Mustangs and their pilots downed a good portion of the Luftwaffe's intercepting forces over the skies of Europe and the air war was saved for the Americans. The bombers then could bomb at will and the Mustangs were free to wreak havoc on air and land targets. Once allied air supremacy was gained, D-Day became possible. Only with allied air supremacy could ann allied naval invasion be possible, otherwise the ships themselves would be in danger. Allied air power was so key in Europe that when the weather turned bad and allied fighters and bombers could not fly, the Germans launched a massive land counter-offensive resulting in the Battle of the Bulge.
The Germans counterattacked in Europe and gained significant victories, resulting in a bulge in the lines. It was all over however once the skies cleared and allied planes could attack Geramn ground targets which could only move by night because allied air power was so effective. After the battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944, the Germans were completely on the defensive as the allied ground troops kept pushing further east towards Germany. The Allied Air Power was the key in the victory in Europe and in particular it was the P-51 Mustang, developed by North American that saved the day for the Americans in the skies over Europe. Once the Luftwaffe was eliminated, ground troops held sway. Germany then fell in 1945.
In conclusion, the air war over Germany and occupied Europe during World war Two was a large key factor in the Allies winning the war. An sea-born invasion would not have been possible without complete aircover. The P-51 Mustang ensured complete aircover and downed many seasoned Luftwaffe pilots, which Gemany could not replace. With allied air power ground units could proceed in their advance and liberate occupied countries and proceed all the way to Germany itself.
Originally published on SearchWarp.com for Edward Carr Friday, March 14, 2008
Article Source: The Air War Over Europe During World War Two
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