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Allied and Soviet Air Forces Please use this forum to discuss the Air Forces of the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.

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Old 4th June 2011, 23:27
Gunther Gunther is offline
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8th Air Force weather

The 15th AF was established presumably because Italy offered more operating days per year than the UK. An obscure reference in my collection says that in 1944 the 15th operated on 251 days. Is there comparable info for the 8th?
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Old 5th June 2011, 02:16
Larry deZeng Larry deZeng is offline
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Re: 8th Air Force weather

How would you define an "operating day"? There were days when the main bomber force was not dispatched, days when only a few bombers were sent out, days when no bombers flew but recce aircraft did, days when just leaflet-dropping aircraft operated, days when just 8th AAF Fighter Command flew missions, etc. The various combinations and permutations are numerous.

The Freeman books, The Mighty Eighth and The Mighty Eighth War Diary, do not have this statistical information. I also checked 10 of the most obvious web sites and did not find it either. The Mighty Eighth War Diary shows and describes each numbered 8th AAF mission, but you would need to review these yourself to determine which ones meet your criteria for an "operating day". It's not just a simple matter of taking the last mission flown on 31 December 1944 (No. 773) and subtracting the first one flown in January 1944 (No. 172) because there were two and sometimes three numbered missions flown on a single day.

L.
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Old 6th June 2011, 01:21
Gunther Gunther is offline
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Re: 8th Air Force weather

Larry, you are right, of course regarding definitions. That's what's so frustrating about the available info--no definition of terms. Finally I consulted the AAF Combat Chronology which provides daily summaries of worldwide ops. For November-December 1943 the 8th launched major heavy bomber missions on 25 days (excluding one- and two-digit missions for harassment or leaflet drops) while the 15th logged 24, plus numerous medium bomber missions. (the B-25s and -26s were shortly returned to the 12th AF.) Anyone examining the same info might come up with somewhat different numbers, but it's clear that "Sunny Italy" offered no great advantage over "the Misty Isle", and that situation remained unchanged.
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Old 6th June 2011, 12:57
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: 8th Air Force weather

Something called the Alps.

However, you may simply be wrong in your presumption. The 15th AF was formed to provide the Middle East with a strategic bomber force, allowing it to hit targets out of range of bases in England. It provided an alternative approach to attack targets in Germany, thus stretching the limited German defences. Perhaps not least, England was full! These three reasons are probably sufficient, without considering weather.
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Old 6th June 2011, 13:22
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: 8th Air Force weather

You can use this website to check each day if either Air Force flew or not:
http://paul.rutgers.edu/~mcgrew/wwii/usaf/html/

But AFAIK the reason why a strategic air force was based in Italy was to hit targets out of range from England, or easier to hit from the south (like Southern France). The 15th AF could attack Berlin from its Italian base, but only did once at the end of the war as it had no more targets in Balkans.
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Old 21st June 2011, 03:34
Gunther Gunther is offline
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Re: 8th Air Force weather

Thank you gents.

Weather is cited in some early USSTAF planning documents but I do not have them at hand.

Anyway...

The Rutgers link is based on the AAF Combat Chronology, and it's possible to compile the number of days the 8th (or any other AF) flew, but some interpretation is required. Both the 8th and 15th flew single- to double-digit sortie days: mostly weather recon or leaflet drops, etc. Should those be counted with 400-1000 bomber days? Idunno.

Certainly a BIG reason for standing up the 15th was its accessibility to Romania. The Ploesti complex produced 1/3 of Germany's oil, which was unreachable from the UK.

Berlin was 900 miles from Foggia--nearly 2X the distance from East Anglia bases. By spring '45 it was pretty much a bounce-the-rubble evolution.
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Old 25th June 2011, 00:34
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drgondog drgondog is offline
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Re: 8th Air Force weather

Simply - you would almost have to get sortie levels to parse 'attempted to bomb' primary versus 'target of opportunity and I don't recall 'salvo blind' statistics.

That is a reaaly ddep dive on every BS history with many short of info. Good luck.
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