Thursday, April 23, 2015

POINTBLANK (1942-1945)

USAAF P-47 Thunderbolt fighters, assigned to protect 8th Air Force bomber formations and to hunt for German fighters.

Allied code name for the Combined Bomber Offensive against Germany. U. S. and British air doctrine prior to the war had called for such an offensive, directed at the industrial potential of an enemy nation. This doctrine, formulated at the Air Corps Tactical School and the RAF Staff College, posited that a large long-range bomber force could disrupt and destroy an enemy's warmaking potential using high altitude daylight precision formation tactics. 

POINTBLANK was ordered by the Combined Chiefs of Staff on 10 June 1943, and its top priority was the destruction of the German aviation industry so as to achieve air superiority over the continent. Simultaneously, the bombers were to strike key industries such as oil, chemicals, and ball bearings. 

It was quickly realized, however, that fighter escort was necessary to protect the bombers on deep strikes into Germany. RAF Bomber Command moved to night operations. For the United States, this realization became painfully obvious in fall 1943 when unescorted U. S. bombers suffered heavy losses on missions against Schweinfurt and Regensburg. 

Long-range escort fighters-the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang-soon arrived in theater and made their presence felt. During Operation ARGUMENT in February 1944-unofficially known as BIG WEEK-Allied bombers struck aircraft and engine factories while escort fighters severely mauled German air defenders. Air superiority was finally achieved and then maintained for the remainder of the war. The bomber offensive in turn grew in size and power and by early 1945 had destroyed much of Germany's industrial potential.

References Craven, Wesley F., and James L. Cate, eds. The Army Air Forces in World War II. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948-1958. Hansell, Haywood S. Jr. The Air Plan That Defeated Hitler. Atlanta: Higgins-McArthur, 1972.

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