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70 years ago this week, the decisive battles of the air war over Western Europe were fought, in what today is known as “Big Week.” During the series of massive aerial incursions into Germany, along with others in the weeks that followed, the U.S. 8th and 15th Air Forces struck targets deep inside Germany, with the specific goal of destroying Hitler's Luftwaffe and paving the way for Allied air supremacy for the remainder of World War II. Big Week was more than just a Maximum Effort” by the American air forces, but a complete revamp of the U.S. strategic air campaign which had suffered crippling losses for over a year. But new leadership in the form of the legendary Lieut. Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, the introduction of the revolutionary P-51 Mustang fighter, and a radical tactics change turned the tide in the European air war. By making the Luftwaffe the primary target of the American air campaign, instead of targets on the ground, Doolittle and his flyers rapidly created the conditions to make Allied victory in Europe possible.
To learn more about Big Week and the American bombing campaign in Europe during World War II, join military historian, author and journalist John D. Gresham for Military Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern. His guest this week is Robert F. “Bob” Dorr, author of the book Mission to Berlin. Together they will talk about this turning point in World War II, along with telling the stories of the young man who flew these critical and deadly missions. Listeners will learn that these were not just “raids” into Germany, but major battles fought on the edge of the stratosphere, lasting up to 10 hours, and costing thousands of young Allied airmen. Listeners are encouraged to call in and offer questions and opinions, in what is going to be a commemoration to the young flyers of America's “Greatest Generation.”
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