Bloody Skies U.S. Eighth Air Force Battle Damage in World by Nicholas A. Veronico

By Nicholas A. Veronico

A visible heritage of the U.S. 8th Air strength in global warfare II

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5, 1943, with 1st Lt. Harold W. Long flying 42-8475. The flight was en route to Biggin Hill for ground control intercept (GCI) training when the weather closed in. Lieutenant Long’s P-47 ran out of fuel; he bailed out too low and was killed. His aircraft, shown here, impacted in a field near Washford Reservoir. Also during the flight, Capt. Irving Venell Jr. in P-47D 42-7956 became disoriented and crashed into a house on Jail Lane in Biggin Hill. USAAF Returning from the Sept. 15, 1943, raid on the airfield at Romilly-sur-Seine, France, B-17F 42-5910 Hell-Cat was short on fuel and landed at Hawkinge, unable to make its home field at Chelveston.

These targets were outside the range of escorting Spitfires and required the bomber streams to fly tighter formations for mutual fire support from the formation’s guns. Flying in “V” formations of three aircraft, known as elements, eighteen aircraft groups were comprised of two boxes of three elements each. The second aircraft box was positioned 500 feet above and in echelon to the right or left, depending upon the angle of the sun. As the formations grew larger, the various aircraft boxes were positioned progressively higher, in 500-foot increments, above the lead element.

Donald Primeau turned back to Bassingbourn. With the brakes shot out, the bomber careened past the end of the runway and ended up in a ditch bordering a corn field. The crew was unscathed and the bomber was salvaged. USAAF BOMBER ESCORTS: EXPERIMENTING WITH THE B-40 AND B-41 In 1942 and 1943, as the Army Air Forces took the fight deeper and deeper into Axis territory, German Bf 109s and Fw 190s were extracting a heavy price in men and aircraft on every raid. The Army Air Forces needed a fighter that could escort bombers to and from the target.

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