Allied planners for the Normandy Invasion scheduled for the late Spring or early Summer of 1944 knew that Air Superiority for the invasion would be vital. 70 yrs ago in February 1944 the Allies launched a series of air raids to target and destroy the German Luftwaffe. Thousands of bombers would set out to bomb German aircraft production forcing the Luftwaffe up to confront them or be destroyed without putting up a fight at all. The USAAF bombers flying from the UK and Italy were escorted by long range fighters notably the P-51 Mustang. The RAF would support the operation by ‘Area-Bombing’ the factories by night.
1,180 B-17 and B-24 bombers with 676 P-47, P-38 and P-51s were allocated for the operation. The Luftwaffe had 350 FW190 and Me109 single engine fighters supported by 100 Me110, 210 and 410 twin engined fighters. 50 Night fighters were also available.
During ‘Big Week’ The German aircraft production and ball bearing factories were pounded. The Americans lost 227 bombers and the RAF 157. 42 American fighters were shot down.
The Germans lost 700 fighters in production, 232 awaiting delivery and 262 were shot down. Also the Germans lost 100 irreplaceable veteran pilots.
The German Luftwaffe in the west had been mortally wounded. Allied Air Power would dominate the skies over Normandy.