An uncle I never knew was a radio operator on a B-17 that crashed or was shot down in May 1943 while on a bombing run in France. I mention this because yesterday the local airfield held its annual Aviation Day. There was probably a couple of dozen aircraft, a few WWII vintage — a B-25 and a Dauntless — some private planes and even a couple of homebuilts.
When the United Sates entered the war, they based aircraft in England and bombers flew from there to bomb enemy strongholds in France and later taking the war to Germany. The B-17 was nicknamed The Flying Fortress because of its armor plating and its armament. But while well armed with machine guns top and bottom, fore and aft, it wasn’t very maneuverable which was a disadvantage against the Luftwaffe’s fighters once they were over Germany.
In April, 1943, American P-51 Mustang fighter planes fly their first mission over Europe. The Mustang was designed for use as a bomber and reconnaissance plane, but evolved into an escort aircraft as the war progressed. Because of its speed and its range, the Mustangs teamed up with the bombers and escorted them to and from their targets in Germany. Eventually, the Mustangs started flying ahead of the bomber squadrons to encounter and fight the Luftwaffe.The Mustang planes were heralded as an example of the Allied forces’ technological superiority in the air war.
For a timeline of the air war over Germany, go to WWII Bombing Timeline.
PS: I used to assemble model airplanes and hang them with thread and pushpins from the ceiling in my bedroom — oftentimes the threads broke.