This week in the War, 21–27 February 1944: Heavy bombing raids on Germany

US P-51 Mustang fighters [Public domain]

US P-51 Mustang fighters [Public domain]

This week in the war saw several heavy bombing raids on Germany.

The RAF had previously bombed Leipzig on 19/20 February (and suffered heavy losses in bombers), and the USAAF had already sent, on 20 February, over 1,000 bombers against German industrial targets, particularly aircraft factories. The Americans suffered only light losses because, for the first time in the war, their bombers were escorted by P-51 Mustang long-range fighter planes.

The raids continued for several days, with the USAAF suffering heavier losses on 24 February during raids on the ball-bearing factories in Schweinfurt and an aircraft factory in Gotha.

Following the American daylight raid on Schweinfurt, the RAF attacked the same target again that night. Success was minimal and over 30 British bombers were shot down.

P-51 Mustangs played a major role as bomber escorts for the remainder of the war. Their range was greatly enhanced by the use of external fuel tanks.

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