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By John Pimlott

Method & strategies of Air battle.

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Sample text

Destroy bridges over the in order to stem the the inevitable outcome: unescorted Fairey Battle light bombers - slow, under-gunned and vulnerable - made little 50 impact for very high losses. Some attempts were made to switch medium bombers such as Bristol Blenheims or Wellingtons to the tactical role, but with little success as their crews had even less experience or expertise. In addition, lacking air supremacy in the face of a large and well-organized Luftwaffe, the Allied aircraft came up against the problem of integrated air defence systems and interceptor fighters.

By 1973 the Americans had dropped ten times the weight of bombs on North Vietnam than had been dropped throughout the Second World War on Germany and Japan together, and were actually attacking targets within the urban centres, all to little avail. America came under intense pressure both from other World powers and from domestic opinion to stop the offensive entirely; fighter bombers were shot down by surface-to-air missiles and ground fire, and the crews who survived j j \ j ? became useful hostages to the enemy in the eventual peace negotiations; the North Vietnamese did not panic and, as they possessed no real war industries, being supplied in large measure from other Communist states, felt few effects in front-line units.

Firstly, the Americans refused to act as a mere reinforcement, wishing instead to make their own individual contribution to the air offensive. Secondly, they too had ideas about strategic bombing inherited from Mitchell and, secure in their development of the “self defending” bomber in the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator, refused to be dissuaded from delivering their attack upon Germany by daylight. Experiments had been carried out in California before the war which apparently proved that high-flying aircraft could hit extremely small targets with an impressive degree of success, and the Americans saw no reason to doubt that such results could also be achieved over Europe.

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