World War Ii

Black Thursday by Martin Caidin

By Martin Caidin

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Five In September, 1943, just before Mission 115 against Schweinfurt, the VIII Bomber Command underwent com- mand reorganization. The 1st and 2d Bombardment Wings were redesignated as the 1st and 2d Bombardment Divisions (H^), and the 4th Bombardment Wing was redesignated as the 3d Bombardment Division (H). The old 3d BombardiHeavy. BLACK THURSDAY lO ment Wing—^made up of B-26 Marauder medium bombershad been transferred in June to the VIII Air Support Command. Under the new system, several bomber groups flew in combat under command of a wing, and several wings made up an air division.

When may day for perhaps stretch out to four they have completed their meeting, they will have dissected in its most intimate detail an enemy city, its factories, labor force, products, shipments, its vulnerability. They man will have discussed its aerial pathway the bombers The route is Gerand along the anti-aircraft defenses, the fighter forces along the route to the target will follow to return to carefully chosen; it is England. impossible to avoid the Messerschmitts and Junkers and Focke-Wulfs and Domiers and Heinkels directly, but the route can skirt the bristling flak batteries of the Luftwaffe.

But this dispersal still lay in the future. Following a successful bearings industry attack, concluded the target analysts, "nonmilitary users would suffer most, with less critical military items such as trucks next in line. nine months* loss of output, however, would be bound to reach even to producers with top priority. " On the morning of August 17, 1943, the finger pointed for the first time at Schweinfurt. The date is significant for several reasons. Not only did it initiate the first of 40 air attacks to come on the entire bearings industry, the majority of which struck at Schweinfurt, but it marked the single greatest aerial assault so far in A the war against Germany.

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