bomber crews operations were soon to begin, their first target
would take them to the heart of Germany, to “The Big
City” as they called it, to the most fortified city on
earth…. The Capital… Berlin!!!
miles from England, 600 miles from safety, 600 miles from “Home”.
being rearmed for the next mission.
defended city was ringed by thousands of 88mm anti-aircraft
guns that could fire 150 to 200 high-explosive
shells per hour into the skies over Berlin. New developments
in radar called “Himmelbett” would also protect
the capital and assist the German 88mm anti-aircraft ground
crews in co-ordinating and informing the Luftwaffe of expected
bomber attacks, combined with hundreds of night-fighter aircraft
and fanatical pilots standing by ready to intercept the allied
bombers, they would be ready for the onslaught that would come,
they would defend their capital to the last plane… the
last man. The defences around the city proved very successful
and many hundreds of allied bombers were shot down. But Bomber
Command having established it’s massive 1,000 bomber
raids on Berlin was able to penetrate all the defences by sheer
numbers of bombers, and continue the “Whirlwind” of
destruction. (Known in Germany as terror
Flying Fortress |The might of the United States 8th Air Force with over 350,000
men would assist in the air war and would now join with Bomber
Command and establish massive bombing offensives against the enemy.
By late summer of 1942 the USAAF would begin their daylight bombing
missions over Germany.
U.S. 8th Air Force used an array of heavy bombers including
the famous B24 Liberator of which 18,000 were built. But it
was the B17 Flying Fortress that would become a legend to the
USAAF, and it’s heroic crews. The total production of
B17s reached to over 12,000 during the Second World War. The
B17 carried a crew of 10… 2 pilots, 1 bombardier, 1 flight
engineer, 1 navigator, and 5 gunners.
After 25 missions the crew would complete their tour of
duty and return to the United States.