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In just six days, the United States Strategic Air Forces changed the course of military offense in World War II. During those six days, they launched the largest bombing campaign of the war, dropping roughly ten thousand tons of bombs in a rain of destruction that would take the skies back from the Nazis . . .
The Allies knew that if they were to invade Hitler’s Fortress Europe, they would have to wrest air superiority from the mighty Luftwaffe.
The plan of the Unites States Strategic Air Forces was extremely risky. During the week of February 20, 1944—and joined by the RAF Bomber Command—the USAAF Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force bombers took on this vital mission. They ran the gauntlet of the most heavily defended air space in the world to deal a death blow to Germany’s aircraft industry and made them pay with the planes already in the air. In the coming months, this Big Week would prove a deciding factor in the war.
Both sides were dealt losses, but whereas the Allies could recover, damage to the Luftwaffe was irreparable. Thus, Big Week became one of the most important episodes of World War II and, coincidentally, one of the most overlooked—until now.
In 1944, British and American military leaders knew that for the land invasion of Western Europe to succeed, the Allies would have to cripple both the German Luftwaffe and the country's aircraft manufacturing industry. Military historian Yenne (Aces High) uses memoirs of the pilots and commanding officers on both sides as well as official sources to document how the Allied thinking on aerial bombing campaigns evolved from tactical raids with limited aims to a strategic doctrine that included wiping out critical armament production centers in order to change the course of the war. But that evolution did not occur overnight and Yenne explores how the younger generation of military men gradually convinced their elders, who had cut their teeth in WWI, that to defeat the Third Reich, new thinking was essential. Those realizations culminated in the aerial assault on Germany during a rare week of clear weather in February that allowed the allied air forces to rain down 10,000 tons of bombs on key German factory cities. Yenne's sure prose and sharp insights on the men and aircraft that cleared the way for the Allies to launch the Normandy Invasion is a gripping account that aficionados of the era will savor.