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Old 24th September 2006, 18:27
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Re: 15th AAF fighter escort tactics?

Csaba - I also wonder regarding the low probability of escorted bombers by the 332nd suffering zero losses?

The first question that comes to mind is whether they flew ONLY escort in which they were assigned a very specific bomb wing - and the bomb wings they escorted that day flew great formations, easy to cover, and the Luftwaffe NEVER attcked in force.

If they flew Area Patrol along the route, the claim of 'no losses' would be harder to pinpoint as several fighter groups were usually within 20-30 miles of the RV and Patrol area..

If they ever left their escorted bombers to strafe on the deck, then the bombers would be very lucky indeed to not lose some to a chance attack along the route.

As you know the Luftwaffe was very clever in finding weak spots along a bomber stream to enable a 'local superiority' mass attack which cut out many bombers then dive to avoid on coming squadrons of US fighters.

My father's group, the 355th FG, was one of the very best at 'discipline' in following escort assignements strictly - they never fell for the many ruses the Luftwaffe would pull such as sending a single flight to attack and dive away hoping to draw them away for either the larger force above or a trap below - but in two cases were overwhelmed by local superiority - in one case April 24, 1944 near Munich and November 26, 1944 near Hanover. In both cases the bomb wing was strung out over 20 miles. In both cases despite excellent coverage by three squadrons the Luftwaffe was able to attack and shoot down many bombers with one pass and an overwhelming local superiority - and lost 24 and 26 respectively to the 355th AFTER the attack was made.

So, either the 332 combined great discipline with equally great luck at never encountering a large gaggle, or there is a degree of myth to the story. Having said that they did a superb job of escort - the lack of a single air ace probably emphasizes the extreme discipline of sticking with the bombers...
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