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The Breakdown. Finding Home.
Air War Over Europe Archival Films
The Influencers. Longevity Next Generation Leaders. Note: most every site, including the AF Official One, has conflicting numbers and the AF even has conflicts within their own documents on the same raids. Some missions I could not find out the losses before the target was bombed, nor the aborts that occurred before they crossed the coast. In the Operation Record of the 95th BG Supplement to the "Contrails" book published right after the war there is a chart showing casualties by crew position for aircraft shot down:.
There was an Air Force Wide casualty study just like the above published for each type of aircraft used in the war but I have never been able to locate it. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
B-17 Flying Fortress
It is not always one sided in air-combat. The US heavy bombers had 5 dedicated gunners on the Bs and Bs, and three other crew members whose secondary duty was to man guns also. Sometimes though, an aircraft that in all rights should have been shot down, or gone down, was able to make it back to the UK. See this story about one such BF flown by Charles L. Stigler, who lived in Vancouver B. Other losses occurred too.
Collisions, training accidents and so on. The table below summarizes all losses in the ETO during the war:. These figures came from the Army's statistical data files on losses. Around 14, were wounded and some 33, were captured and spent some time as Kriegies in a POW camp anywhere from North Africa to the Baltic.
One camp Stalag Luft 1 , held many a famous aviator. This site has pictures, stories and history of the camp. Total American Air Force losses worldwide during World War II: 27, aircraft, including 8, heavy bombers, 1, medium and light bombers, and 8, fighters as destroyed in combat.
This table of aircraft destroyed during training of aircrews is a real eye opener.
A War to be Won
War Deaths page has statistics a work in progress matrix by conflict showing civilian and military deaths as a result of war both declared and undeclared. To look up when a particular aircraft, group, or a specific date to see what aircraft were lost you can go to a MACR Missing Aircrew Combat Report site for researching this. A general purpose reference page on military personnel, ships, aircraft, grave locations online database and research links I put into my history section.
Crew training was important to all national air forces. Throughout the war the amount of time spent on training decreased for all air forces.
The premium was, of course, deducted from your pay. This Government offered life insurance is the only one where your relatives will actually get paid if you are killed while in the military. As the bomber formation circled the target, the tight combat boxes of Bs became easy targets for enemy fighters. Three passes were made and, the clouds had not broken, all while precious fuel was being burned and Bs were being shot down by fighters and anti-aircraft artillery. The Bs had been over the target for nearly thirty minutes when the bombs in the lead aircraft finally dropped.
The bombs missed the target almost completely. Forty-five Bs failed to return to England that night. The obvious confusion in the air over Stuttgart and the heavy casualties sustained yet again caused many men to begin to doubt the leadership of the air campaign. There were fewer and fewer guys returning every day. They were just aimlessly flying around. That leadership allowed the men to be exposed to enemy fire for what seemed like an eternity, for little or no results in terms of bombing accuracy, made the crews irate.
The morale among the Eighth Air Force crews was at a low point in September, yet the worst was yet to come. October yielded the heaviest casualties sustained up to that point in the air campaign. Beginning on October 8 and continuing until October 14, Eighth Air Force crews attacked targets all over Germany in an attempt to continue the pressure on the Germans.
"Hitler built a fortress around Europe, but he forgot to put a roof on it."
Luckadoo recalled that the enemy fighters attacked the bombers as soon as they crossed the border into France and continued all the way through to the target. Generally, when bombers approached the target and entered what was called the flak field, enemy fighters peeled away to land, refuel, and rearm. On October 8, they did not peel away.
The enemy fighters, so determined in their mission to deter the Bs, remained in attack mode over the flak field and flew through their own anti-aircraft fire in order to deliver their assaults. As they approached the initial point, or IP, the fighters pressed even closer.
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Aiming right for us … they kept coming, kept coming … they may have killed the pilot of the lead ship or else he was so determined that he was going to take down a bomber that he flew into … impacted the ship that I was formed on. When they went down … I had to dump my nose to keep them from taking me with them. By the end of the mission, the Eighth Air Force had lost 30 bombers and men. The th Bomb Group lost 17 of 19 deployed.
The st lost seven of 18 deployed. The men shot down were obvious casualties, but when the battered bombers returned to their home bases, they carried another wounded in their fuselages. The next day proved to be an even longer day, followed by another, and another.