Page:A Concise History of the U.S. Air Force.djvu/33

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To keep up the pressure, Spaatz and Anderson resolved to bomb industrial targets in Berlin, under the assumption that the Luftwaffe would make an all-out effort to defend its capital. Their assumption was correct. Two days of the heaviest fighting yet seen in the skies over Germany so depleted the defender's forces that on the third day, March 9, 1944, the Luftwaffe failed to rise and give battle. Anderson relished reports that Berlin radio was "squealing like a stuck pig." The Luftwaffe grew weaker and the USAAF grew stronger as new groups, both fighter and bomber, arrived from the United States. A flood of men and materiel bespoke Arnold's 1941 commitment to prepare for a long war. Further attrition of the German defenders would be necessary in future months, but air superiority was now firmly in American hands.

To Arnold and Spaatz, this hard-won victory finally opened German industries to destruction from the air. Two conditions affected the strategic bombing effort and delayed the final bombing campaign. The pending V-weapon assault by Germany on England forced a massive preemptive Allied bombing campaign against it, diverting 6,100 sorties from POINTBLANK strategic targets. The cross-channel invasion,

American air leaders in Europe. Center, Carl Spaatz, Commanding General, United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF), in the top command position over America's air chiefs; left, Ira Eaker, Commanding General, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF); right, Frederick Anderson, Deputy for Operations, USSTAF; and, below, William Kepner, Commanding General, Eighth Fighter Command, and Jimmy Doolittle, Commanding General, Eighth Air Force.