This week in the War, 1–7 January 1945: Operation Bodenplatte

Germany’s Arado 234B Blitz bomber, the world’s first jet-powered bomber [Public domain]

This week in the war, 1 January 1945, saw Germany’s jet powered Arado Ar 234 Blitz bombers (manufactured by the Arado aircraft company) launch their first night attack. The raid, which was against targets around Brussels, was part of Operation Bodenplatte, the Luftwaffe’s last major air offensive.

The launch of Operation Bodenplatte had been planned for mid-December and was meant to support Hitler’s Ardennes offensive (The Battle of the Bulge). However, the operation was delayed by bad weather and was launched a few minutes after the start of the new year, 1 January 1945, when almost a thousand Luftwaffe fighters attacked airfields in France, Belgium, and Holland.

Allied losses were mostly in planes destroyed on the ground. German losses were in the air and so included pilots. The Luftwaffe lost over 200 pilots, killed, missing, or captured. Viewed in this light, the operation was a failure.



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