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The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission: The American Raids on 17 August 1943

The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission: The American Raids on 17 August 1943

by Martin Middlebrook


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On 17 August 1943, the entire strength of the American heavy bomber forces in England set out to raid two major industrial complexes deep in southern Germany, the vast Messerschmitt aircraft factory and the vital KGF ballbearing plant. For American commanders it was the culmination of years of planning and hope, the day when their self-defending formations of the famous Flying Fortress could at last perform their true role and reach out by daylight to strike at targets in the deepest corners of industrial Germany. The day ended in disaster for the Americans. Thanks to the courage of the aircrews the bombers won through to the targets and caused heavy damage, but sixty were shot down and the hopes of the American commanders were shattered. Historically, it was probably the most important day for the American air forces during the Second World War.

While researching this catastrophic raid the Author interviewed hundreds of the airmen involved, German defenders, ‘slave workers’ and eye witnesses. This took him twice to both the USA and Germany.

The result is a mass of fresh, previously unused material with which the author finally provides the full story of this famous day’s operations. Not only is the American side described in far greater depth than before but the previously vague German side of the story – both the Luftwaffe action and the civilian experiences in Schweinfurt and Regensburg, are now presented clearly and in detail for the first time. The important question of why the RAF did not support the American effort and follow up the raid on Schweinfurt as planned is also fully covered.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781848847606
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 08/02/2012
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 983,857
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Martin Middlebrook has written many other books that deal with important turning-points in the two world wars, including The First Day on the Somme, Kaiser's Battle, The Peenemünde Raid, The Somme Battlefields (with Mary Middlebrook) and The Nuremberg Raid 30-31st March 1944 (all republished and in print with Pen and Sword).

Martin Middlebrook is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives near Boston, Lincolnshire

Table of Contents

List of Plates 9

List of Maps and Diagrams 10

Introduction 11

1 A Dream Delayed 15

2 The Targets 29

3 Chain of Command 41

4 Briefings 65

5 Revised Plans 74

6 The Luftwaffe 89

7 Going in 105

8 On their Own 121

9 Over Regensburg 144

10 Under the Bombs 153

11 The Diversions 166

12 Up at Last 174

13 The Dream Fades 193

14 Over Schweinfurt 221

15 In Schweinfurt 233

16 The Cripples 241

17 'Herr Gott Sakrament!' 248

18 Distant Action 269

19 The Reckoning 279

20 The Aftermath 299

Appendix 1 American and Allied Operational Performance 318

Appendix 2 Luftwaffe Operational Performance 332

Appendix 3 Regensburg Briefing Notes 338

Appendix 4 The 'Wheels-Down' B-17 Crew 341

Appendix 5 A Gunner's Letter 346

Acknowledgements 347

Bibliography 353

Index 355

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