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Deception

Deception of one sort or another was as much from 1,000 feet.


a stock in trade of flak batteries as was their ammu­ Traps for Fighter-bombers
nition, and the Hun became quite proficient in In the German handbook of tricks there was
deceptive tactics. always a chapter on luring fighter-bombers within
Frequent Changes of Positions easy range of flak guns. Various types of bait were
Accuracy of Allied used.
air reconnaissance com­ In Western Germa­
pelled flak batteries to ny a section of highway
make frequent changes had foxholes dug every
of positions. Movements fifty feet, and moving
were mostly at night, back and forth along
and often a two-hour the road were three
fire silence in the new trucks. When fighter-
positions was enforced bombers dived in for an
for the purpose of "suck­ attack, the truck drivers
ing in" unwary fighter- dove into the foxholes,
bomber pilots. and light flak opened
fire from positions on
Dummies both sides of the road.
In the vacated posi­ Sometimes the bait
tions dummy guns were was a locomotive with
left, and detection of the steam up, but unmanned.
dummies was an extreme­ Planes which went in
ly difficult and often for an attack received
impossible task for photo strong light flak fire.
interpreters, because of Another trick was
the height from which to drive two trucks down
pictures were taken. Sketch of 20mm flak on tower a highway. If they were
Since this German poli­ attacked, one truck, a
cy was well known to flak officers, it was no surprise van type, dropped its sides, exposing light flak guns.
when a ground inspection of overrun defenses Very seldom were heavy gun emplacements
revealed a number of dummy positions which had camouflaged, probably because the expense and
been plotted as "occupied" positions. Though not difficulties involved were not worth the results.
elaborate, the dummy guns and fire control equip­ Frequently light gun emplacements were camouflaged
ment contained all the component parts of the for the purpose of surprising low level attackers.
simulated materiel and were often realistic even Guns around a flak trap were always concealed.

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Flak with the Army

Whereas flak units in the rear areas were usually Flak weapons were allotted top priority in tha
static or semi-mobile and concerned only with offensive, even though it was planned to take ad­
defense against Allied aircraft, flak with the armies, vantage of weather prohibitive to flying.
particularly those units well forward, were equipped The crisis created by the First Army's capture
as highly mobile and powerful striking forces. The of Remagen bridge and establishment of a foothold
versatility of the 88mm and 20mm weapons were on the east bank of the Rhine was met with a strong
exploited offensively and defensively. holding force of mobile 88mm and 20mm flak guns
During the African Campaign 88mm flak guns pulled from active defenses of Cologne and the Ruhr
were used to seek and destroy Allied tanks. Though and redeployed in a half circle around the bridge­
such offensive action was infrequent during the head area.
European campaigns, these weapons always revert­ Mobility and high muzzle velocities of flak guns
ed to anti-tank roles when Allied armies approach­ made for flexible adaptability to the many purposes
ed gun positions before they could be evacuated. necessarily consigned them by the Germans. How­
Their use, and subsequent sacrifice, in road blocks ever, the vacillating policies of the higher command
and strong points were often planned rearguard, in deploying their AA in air, ground, air-ground,
delaying actions to allow withdrawal of main ad infinitum roles so frustrated the flak field com­
German forces from untenable positions. A prime manders that they were among the first Germans to
example of this was the enemy's retreat from the realize the futility of their further resisting the Allied
Ardennes region in January and February 1945. hordes which were striking them mercilessly and
As major flak defenses were approached by unrelentingly from the air and the ground.
Allied ground forces, a great lessening of fire was
noted by flak officers studying pilots' reports of fire Army flak firing as field artillery
received over the defenses. The principal reason for
this decrease was not that the guns had been with­
drawn to positions farther beyond the battle lines,
but, rather, that they had been redeployed in a
ground role. Army commanders studied such re­
deployment of flak guns and divined from it the
keynote of the Hun's defensive preparations.
German Panzer Army spearheads which drove \
deep into the Ardennes in December 1944 fairly
bristled with light flak guns which were to protect
the crack armored units from the much feared and
respected "Jabos". Close behind the advancing
troops came large numbers of heavy flak guns to
protect vital crossroads and communication centers.
Organization

To the German Air Force was delegated re­ command ran down through divisions (or brigades),
sponsibility for defense of the Reich and its military regiments, battalions, to batteries. In static defenses
installations against Allied aerial attacks. Tools for brigades often took the place of divisions.
this task, in addition to aircraft, were the huge A parallel set-up for mobile flak was main­
numbers of flak weapons of all kinds. Four-fifths tained by the GAF, parallel except that the command
of all flak was controlled by the GAF; 15%, by channels were headed by Corps instead of Luftgaue.
the Army; and 5%, by the Navy. The GAF furnished the great majority of flak units
For purposes of administration the GAF divided required by the Army, retaining administrative
Germany and occupied countries into areas known control while passing operational control to the
as Luftgaue (similar to American Corps areas). To Army. In addition the Army had separate flak
the headquarters of these Luftgaue was given control battalions of its own; from these were often formed
of all flak within the areas. Units operating in Luft­ battle detachments which operated offensively in a
gaue were generally either static or semi-mobile. ground role in conjunction with regular ground
forces.
Flak organizational structure was very flexible,
Channels and its composition was governed by exigencies of
Under Luftgaue headquarters the channel of particular circumstances.

Personnel

More than 1,000,000 persons were involved in the areas where these people were used accuracy
in German flak defenses, and this total was main­ and volume of flak fire suffered.
tained even during the acute manpower shortage
occasioned by the German reverses in the East and Military* Civilian Men, Women Used
the increased scale of air attacks in the West. As Most of the flak personnel continued to be
flak units were called upon for trained personnel to military, but 30% were civilians and foreigners,
set up new flak units and for replacements for other who carried on their normal occupations and were
branches of the service, Goering scraped the bottom called upon for service during air attacks and for
of the manpower barrel and dragged out personnel training. Russian prisoners, under inducements of
who normally would not have been called upon for better rations and living conditions, were employed
military service. Thus the regular ranks of GAF flak to considerable extent in flak batteries.
were diluted with Hitler Youth, old men, prisoners Five percent of the total flak personnel were
of war, Italian nationals, and women. Consequently, women. Generally they were used in headquarters

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staffs, searchlight and balloon units, though some- suitable than men for operation of the director,
times they were used to operate fire control equipment height finder, and radar; women showed keener per-
for the heavy guns. Women were found to be more ception, though men possessed more technical skill.

Training

Normal detachment for the range finder- crews had five weeks of training; radar operators,
director was a crew of six; for radar, six; for a single four to six weeks. Only the non-commissioned
88mm gun, seven. Types of training fell into three officer in charge of an 88mm gun crew went to a
classes: basic, specialist and practical. specialist school — this for three weeks; other
Responsibility for basic army training and basic members of the gun crew were taught their jobs
gunnery training belonged to the flak Ers Division. at the flak Ers Division and on the gun site.
Period of training was from six to eight weeks. Normal detachment for the single barrel 20mm
Specialist training was carried out at the various gun was a crew of six. For the 20mm Vierling three
schools conducted by the flak school division. Range more loaders and three more ammunition men were
finders went through a six-week course. Director required, making a crew of twelve.

Supply

Unrelenting pounding of German arsenals of Barrage fire was strictly forbidden. Firing at ranges
war and transportation systems by Allied bombers greater than 20 seconds time of flight was not
and fighter-bombers so plagued the enemy that his allowed, nor was fire past the mid-point or after
supply problem was a major headache and contri­ bombs-away allowed. Instructions stated that guns
buting cause to his final collapse. were not to be fired unless there was reasonable
Shortages of ammunition, as well as of replace­ expectancy of scoring hits. Unseen targets, forma­
ments for worn - out guns, seriously affected flak tions using anti-radar measures, or planes taking
fire during the last months of the war. Not only were effective evasive action probably obviated that
factories making parts of flak equipment hard hit, requisite "reasonable expectancy" in many in­
but assembly of parts into a finished product was made stances and caused battery commanders to withhold
doubly difficult because of the blasted supply lines. fire in compliance with the stern orders.
Even when there was sufficient ammunition for Sole exception to the restrictions were the vital
all batteries, distribution fell down. Batteries in some oil industries, which required continued protection
sections of Germany had plenty of shells, while at all costs.
others had scarcely enough for firing against a The Hun was never able to surmount his supply
crippled bomber. and distribution problems, and that failure afforded
The supply and distribution situation became many an Allied flyer the unusual and pleasant
so acute that high-level directives were issued experience of flying within range of long known
severely curtailing flak fire against Allied aircraft. strong defenses without drawing a shot.

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62

Fighter-bombers of Ninth Air Force — Thunderbolt, Mustang, and Lightning

Because personnel and equipment will always have certain capabilities and
limitations, no single person nor military weapon in this war ever proved infallible
or invincible. So it was that the threat of the German flak defenses was mastered by
the prudent and skillful use of countermeasures. The measures described in the
following paragraphs allow a brief insight into the major methods used in this Air
Force — an air force which met the full fury of German flak and came through a
winner.

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FACTS

Poster Number 1

Medium Bombers each other. The ideal conditions were to have the
In the absence of enemy aircraft, the principal wind and sun at the tail of the formation and the
routing problem was to avoid all known or suspected flak deployed in such a way that on this heading
flak defenses. This was usually possible, although at the bombers came in over the weakest sector. How­
times the bomber range did not allow the use of the ever, such a combination of conditions was seldom
best circumferential routing. In the Ninth Bom­ achieved. In the presence of very strong flak
bardment Division both flak officers and air crews defenses other considerations were occasionally made
were so flak conscious that routes were sometimes secondary. However, it was very seldom that flak
changed to avoid a spot where flak fire had been was considered of sufficient import to send the planes
reported but once previously. in on a heading where bombing accuracy would
Under blind bombing conditions the planners have been very low due to sun glare or poor visi­
had little latitude because the final 30 mile run bility. In most cases a compromise was arranged.
could be made on only two different headings at the
most, and often on only one, depending on the Fighter-bombers
location of the ground control stations with relation On armed reconnaissance missions fighter-
to the target. However, as was pointed out elsewhere, bomber pilots were briefed on the major flak zones
the unseen fire of enemy batteries could in no way in their area, but in general they depended on
compare in accuracy to visual shooting. In routing aircraft maneuverability and knowledge of enemy
the ships the chief worry was that visual fire would flak deployment tactics to keep themselves out of
be encountered through breaks in the cloud, and trouble. Light flak was so mobile in the close up
this actually happened on various occasions. tactical area that it was not possible to brief fighters
In routing over a visual target, many conflict­ with the same degree of accuracy as the bombers.
ing problems were considered and balanced against Our experienced fighter pilots soon got to know

Wing shot off, B-26 goes down in flames over Pas de Calais, France
where flak was and where it could be expected, and 140 mph), troop carriers were very vulnerable to
the low damage and loss figures proved they used anti-aircraft fire of all categories. It was usually
this knowledge to good advantage. On more specific not possible to take the formations over absolutely
target missions fighter-bombers of course took flak free routes, because this required a zig-zag
advantage of altitude and careful routing to reach course of detours around individual gun positions
their targets undamaged. which was impossible for the unwieldy transport
and glider teams. In addition, the tactical mission
of troop carrier command required the element of
Troop Carrier surprise, and formations had to go in on as short and
In operation of troop carrier transports and as direct a route as possible. Therefore the best route
gliders, flak was always one of the most important as regarded flak was always a compromise with
considerations. As a result of the altitude of forma­ other important factors of navigation, nature of the
tions (500—1500 feet) and the speed flown (110— mission, and length of route over enemy territory.

Flak casualty over Munstereifel

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SUCCESSFUL
ATTACK/

- Poster Number 2
NINTH AIR TORCr FLAK SECTION
BOUGHE

/ /

TOUGHEST

EVASIVE

TACTICS/

Poster Number 3 NINTH AIR FORCE FLAK SECTION


Medium Bombers there until the start of the bomb run, these flights
In the early days of the war evasive action was flew parallel courses and executed the same evasive
usually left up to the individual fancy of the forma­ maneuvers. The bomb runs were therefore con­
tion leader. As studies were made and tactics devel­ vergent, provided the three flights had the same
oped, it was found that very carefully planned aiming point, thus also employing saturation tactics
evasive action would invariably lead to lower loss against the flak gunners.
and damage and therefore better bombing. As the ships were most vulnerable while on the
It is now known that change of altitude has bomb run, shorter runs were attempted, but assess­
very little effect on evasive action unless it is vio­ ment of bombing damage proved that proper
lently made, and unless it is incorporated with synchronization could not be made, and a run of
evasive action in course. On the approach to the 45 to 60 seconds was highly advisable. A sharp turn
target this Air Force used altitude changes on but away and loss of as much as 1,000 feet altitude after
few occasions. bombs away has long been a standard procedure.
Planned evasive action was usually begun 40 The evasive turns were then begun again until the
seconds or more before coming within range of the ships were out of range of the defenses.
heavy flak. S turns were attempted and later aban­
doned, because it was found that planes were often Fighter-bombers
hit by predicted bursts when coming back over Ninth Air Force fighters have developed some
the original straight course line. Instead of these, a novel and also extremely successful evasive tactics.
definite but irregular series of turns was used, the In a low level strafing attack, for instance, the first
minimum rate being about 2°/sec. The straight principle is surprise. This is mainly accomplished
portion between turns became progressively smaller by staying low and making use of terrain features.
as the target was approached, varying from 20 After passing over the target the pilots were taught
seconds down to 5 seconds. Because of operational to stay low and head out of the area, as climbing
requirements the turns themselves usually were would expose a large surface to enemy gunners.
between 150 and 45 0 . This action continued until Another ruse was to split up into elements of two
the start of the bomb run. It was also found that or three planes each, which came in on different
the last turn into the bomb run should be as large headings from 300 to 1200 apart. This tactic con­
and sharp as possible. fused and tended to saturate the defense in a similar
When an 18-ship box arrived at the IP, the manner to bomber practices, as the gunners could
inside flight made the turn first. The lead flight and only fire at a small percentage of the attacking
outside flight continued on the same course for 10 planes. Another bit of deception used was to send
seconds, at which time the lead flight made the one flight over the target area just out of light flak
same turn. The outside flight continued on for 10 range. This flight simulated a dive-bombing attack
seconds and then it also made the same turn. From and drew fire, and while the flak gunners were thus

69
engaged the other flights sneaked in on the deck in a at this critical stage was inconceivable.
surprise sweep. After the transports released their loads, more
Very little other planned evasive action was evasive action was possible. Going into a slight dive,
necessary, as the maneuverable fighters could per­ thus gaining speed to leave the area quickly, was
form what aerial acrobatics were necessary as the found to be one good expedient, as loss or gain of
occasion arose. altitude often confused flak gunners. Steep banks
were not advised as these exposed a large surface
Troop Carrier of the plane. Profitable use was made of cloud cover,
Evasive action by troop carriers was often as well as defilade caused by hills or trees. However,
difficult or impossible. While tugging gliders and the maximum use of low altitude flight increased
carrying paratroopers tug planes could not "jink" the hazard of small arms fire. In view of vulnerabil­
all over the sky, as the very nature of the equipment ity under all conditions, troop carrier missions which
did not permit it. The landing and drop zones were did not sustain some damage or loss were rare, yet
small areas which required very precise navigation the complete success of such missions flown over
to find. When coming in for para or glider drops the the battle grounds of Europe at extremely low loss
run resembled a bombing run, and evasive action is a tribute to the pilots and to flak intelligence.
A medium over Armentieres, France
BEWARE 0
NINTH A I R FORCE FLAK SECTION
TRAPS/
DEFEND THAT MISSION/

Number 5

NINTH AIR FORCE FLAK SECTION


Air power is not as powerless to hit back against were used in the last months of the war, and showed
flak as was originally supposed. Various methods of great promise.
neutralizing flak from the air have been developed Peeling off
and used in this Air Force with excellent results.

Medium Bombers
The mediums employed high explosive and
fragmentation bombs with good success against
heavy flak batteries. Clusters of three 260 lb. frag
bombs or six 90 lb. bombs were used. The former
cluster parted upon release, whereas the latter had
either an instantaneous or a delayed release mecha­
nism. Usually a box of twelve ships went out
slightly ahead of the main bombing formations and
did this work. Of course, direct hits put the flak
out of business completely, but near misses often
discouraged the flak personnel or ruined the delicate
directors. Crew experience proved that this anti-
flak measure worked well, provided that timing was
correct, since fire received was often far below the
unhindered capabilities of the defenses.

Fighter-bombers
Concerning fighter operations, the standard
procedure was to assign several fighters the task
of strafing the emplacements around a target, while
the remainder went about the business of strafing
or bombing the target itself. Here again it was found
that the average flak gunner took cover first and
worried about his job later, so this system became
standard on all well-defended targets such as air­
fields or ordnance depots. The fighters also carried
90 lb. frag bombs under the wings, and these were
used against flak positions in a manner similar to
bomber tactics. Proximity fused anti-personnel bombs
FIRST COORDINATED AIR ATTACK aqaWdt'cffaJL

fighter Bombers i

bombers to i.R

lighter 3ombers
Left mamjbrmation
on signal, ID dii>e
TAR0£T5 bomb and strafe
v. A A. Batteries flak guns around
)L Hie target

Medium Members
began run asjirst
of the Fighter
JSomhers attack
the flak positions
,,HflK
H

i
r
lwbot3cnnb
\
launch/'thj
itlLltb

8tf2_
Calais Combined Operation

On the gth of May 1944 the first combined Immediately on the dive-bombing of flak positions
air operation in this theatre simultaneously employ­ the flak over the entire area went from "intense
ing medium and fighter-bombers at the same target accurate" to "nil". Medium bombing results were
was successfully accomplished. The general plan generally excellent; there were no losses and flak
was to achieve the best possible medium bombing damage was received by only a few aircraft from a
accuracy against a target strongly defended by flak battery which was attacked slightly behind
heavy flak. schedule. This reaction was quite different from a
Obviously the major problem was to achieve previous attack when 3.5% of the mediums were
such timing that the short bombing periods of the lost and 57% damaged against the same target
fighter bombers would occur during the critical - similarly protected. Bomber and fighter crews were
period just before and during the mediums' bomb­ all very enthusiastic, viz:
ing run on the two main targets, Calais and Bombers. — "As our group approached target
Sangatte. In the actual attack the entire medium on the bombing run moderate to intense flak was
and fighter-bomber force rendezvoused at North seen coming from the Calais defenses apparently
Foreland, proceeded generally to a landfall five directed at the bomb group ahead. At that moment
miles west of Dunkirk, thence to the B-26 initial the P-47S dive-bombed and the flak appeared to
point east of Calais where the mediums started stop in the entire area."
their bombing run. To obtain the timing necessary, Fighter-bombers. — "It is my opinion that
the medium bombers gave a radio signal on landfall this is a very effective type of attack. The coordina­
indicating they would bomb six minutes later, and tion with the bombers was perfect. The flak was
again a signal at the IP meaning they would bomb firing at the fighter-bombers when they attacked
one minute and forty seconds later. Excellent the gun positions. We smothered practically all
timing resulted. ground opposition. There was no flak to interfere
The attack proceeded according to plan, the
with bomb run of medium bombers. Results, so far
medium bombers starting their bomb runs just as
as attack by fighter-bombers and medium bombers,
the first of the flak positions were being dive-bombed.
declared excellent."

Mediums cross the enemy coast


THANKS TO GROUND SUPPORT

NINTH AIR FORCE FLAK SECTION


Shortly after the beachhead was established in and fighter-bombers were in the area. In many
Normandy, Allied ground artillery fire was directed cases our artillery could not reach all of the flak
against certain dense flak areas in the immediate batteries within range of the air targets, but even
battle line in attempts to neutralize some of the partial neutralization often allowed the lay-on of a
German AA positions. These early artillery missions mission which would otherwise have been beyond
proved so beneficial to our air effort that, in the late the capabilities of our aircraft flying at very low
fall when the flak situation was again stabilized as and medium altitude against tremendous flak den-
at Caen and Brest, counterflak artillery missions sities.
were again employed and definite operating pro- The extract from a First Army operations
cedures between air units and the ground artillery memo below is an example of SOP which all Allied
were established. armies possessed to lay on these air-ground missions.
During these operations every caliber of gun The flak intelligence section in each differed slightly
and howitzer from 90mm to 240mm was used to due to differences in photo interpretation sources.
blast the enemy flak positions while our medium

Extract
HEADQUARTERS

FIRST UNITED STATES ARMY

APO 230

OPERATIONS MEMORANDUM)
NUMBER 46) 18 December 1944

COUNTERFLAK FIRES

I Counlcrflak Fires.
1. Responsibility
a Counterflak artillery support can be made available for the majority of air missions flown in sup­
port of First Army. Consistent with the availability of ammunition, all echelons are charged with furmsh­
inq maximum protection to air support activities within their sectors. . .
b. Responsibility for arrangement of counterflak fires rests with the echelon (Army, Corps, or Division)
imtl
T%ipln7bUilityfor obtatningmd transmitting to corps certain information data required (targets,
routes, altitude and estimated time over target) rests with G-3 Air section at IXTAC.
d. Unit G-3 Air officers should coordinate plans with the appropriate artillery commander prior to
submitting requests through the air support officers to the IX TAC.

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2. Flak Intelligence
In order that accurate data on enemy flak posilions will be available the following procedure has been
inaugurated.
a. The Army Photo Interpretation Section (APIS) will publish weekly hostile flak lists based on
second phase interpretation of latest basic cover. Distribution will include divisions.
b. Between publication of hostile flak lists, as new photo coverage becomes available, APIS, through
the Army Artillery Section (Army Artillery Officers' Radio Net, telephone, or messenger), will disseminate
changes in enemy flak positions to the corps artillery, for further dissemination to the division artillery.
c. For large scale "carpet" bombing by heavy and medium bombers APIS will provide special coun­
terflak maps and lists of coordinates.
3. Type of Counterflak Fires
Based on the present availability of ammunition, it is contemplated that counterflak fires should take
the following form :
a. Fighter-bomber support of divisions and corps : Neutralization of all enemy flak on and in the
immediate vicinity of selected bomber targets just prior to and during attack.
b. Medium bomber support of divisions and corps : Neutralization of target area as above, plus
neutralization of heavy and medium flak along bomber routes when such are previously known.
c. Large scale heavy and medium bomber "carpel" bombing : Neutralization and maximum destruc­
tion of all known and suspected enemy flak positions capable of interfering with the effort. Fires to be
characterized by 10—Jo minutes of intense concentrations preceding the attack and neutralization through­
out the attack.
d. Field Artillery Air OP patrols should be maintained in connection with all counterflak fires in
order to neutralize active flak unaffected by the planned fires.
By command of Lieutenant General HODGES :
W. B. KEAN,
Major General, G. S. C,
Chief of Staff.
OFFICIAL :
Is I S. E. Senior
/// S. E. SENIOR
Colonel, A. G. D.

Asst. Adjutant General.

P-6i "Black Widow" night fighter


Medium Bombers tight pattern which cannot be achieved in our type
As the Luftwaffe became neutralized, bomber bombing if the ships are in a widely scattered for­
formations were gradually altered to more success­ mation.
fully counter the potent flak hazard. Aircraft An optimum solution had, therefore, to be
spacing in any formation has been the subject of determined. On the following page the top picture
many discussions and studies. If the ships fly too shows the lead and low flights of a normal 18-ship
closely together, one shell burst may damage more box enroute to a target. The bottom picture shows
than one plane, or a shot aimed at one may miss a flight of six. Distance between planes of each
but still hit another. The latter is called single shot flight was sufficient to provide protection against
probability. If, however, the ships are spaced too one flak burst hitting more than one ship. However,
widely apart, the battery will be able to get in more since this spacing did not achieve a tight bomb
shots at a given number of planes because they will pattern, the two Vees of three contracted in breadth
take longer to cross over the effective area of fire. and trail while on the bomb run. Thus a satisfactory
On the other hand bombing accuracy requires a pattern was attained.

Hit the silk!


Aledium
bombers
in flight
Spacing between the three flights of a box was vicinity of the target while waiting to bomb, the
also a problem. Each 5,000 feet of altitude above pilots were carefully briefed on all heavy flak posi­
10,000 feet diminishes by about one-half the proba­ tions within range. The general looseness of fighter
bility that an aircraft will be hit. Hence as flights and fighter-bomber operations did not make elabo­
are stacked down from maximum altitude to reduce rate planning of formations for flak feasible or
the single shot probability, this probability increases necessary.
at a high rate. A limited amount of stacking was
therefore advisable, and 500 feet between flights Troop Carrier
was agreed upon. The usual formation for glider operations was
Some reduction in flak loss and damage was a long column of 48 aircraft and 48 gliders. The planes
accomplished by saturating the defenses. This was flew in pairs echelonned to the right. Serials of 48
done by moving the attacking forces across the target ships were seven minutes apart. Parachute trans­
area in the shortest possible time. Under simultan­ ports flew in nine ship Vee of Vees in serials up to
eous attack by different formations the flak batter­ 45 aircraft in trail, with 4 minutes between lead
ies were forced to choose one as a target, thus aircraft of serials. These formations were primarily
allowing the others to fly almost flak-free. Saturation designed to achieve sufficient maneuverability of
of continuously pointed or predicted concentration the column and at the same time deposit the highest
flak fire was accomplished by closing up in trail so possible concentration of paratroopers and gliders
as to reduce the time between attacks of successive on the ground in the target area.
bombing formations. Our boxes were usually 2 Although not designed primarily to counter
miles apart (40 seconds). When encountering bar­ the hazards of flak these formations proved suffi­
rage fire, risk to aircraft was reduced by increasing ciently flexible to allow the troop carrier sky trains
the formation spread in altitude and breadth. to follow the planned flak-free routes.
Fighter-bombers enroute
Fighter-bombers
In fighter operations it was also found that the
use of small numbers of aircraft worked out best.
Except for an occasional low angle engagement by
heavy guns, fighter aircraft were for the most part
concerned with light flak weapons which, with their
high rate of fire, could do serious damage to any
large group of planes within range. Therefore the
fighters frequently operated in pairs or trios.
One squadron of fully-bombed fighter-bombers
was the largest unit used. Here too the larger forma­
tions drew more fire and also caught grossly inac­
curate shots, as well as near misses aimed at aircraft
in the same group. If top cover was employed on
those operations, or if planes had to stay in the
CHAFF CAN TAKE I
YOU C

CHAFF

Poster Number 'NTH AIR FORCE FLAK SECTION


Radio countermeasures have played an impor­ depending on the wind direction with relation to
tant part in neutralization of enemy flak. Under the direction of attack. The usual procedure was
"unseen" fire conditions the enemy was completely for the "window" ships to leave the formation at
dependent on his radar for direction of his AA guns, the IP. They each dropped twelve bundles of
and with effective use of RCM he was forced to "window" every six seconds, while all other ships in
resort to the inefficient barrage method of fire. the group dropped six bundles every thirty seconds.
When "seen" conditions prevailed the usual method "Window" can well be credited with saving many a
was to use radar for range finding, but optical ship, as well as allowing much better bombing
sighting for elevation and azimuth. Here again with through great reduction of the flak hazard. The
RCM in use the enemy's radar was denied him, Ninth Air Force has been credited by POW state­
and he had to use optical range finders alone — ments as employing "window" more successfully than
instruments which required high type personnel for any other air force operating in this theater.
exact functioning and which decreased the length The jamming, or "carpet", technique used by
of effective engagement due to their limitations. the Eighth Air Force was experimented with in this
This Air Force used three "window" ships per Air Force, but it was found that our smaller bombers
medium bomber group. One ship flew in each of the could not carry the necessary equipment to make it
flights of the lead box until the time approached effective, nor did our A-26 aircraft, to which our
for their dropping operation. Then they went out entire Bomber Division was slowly converting, have
one mile ahead and 1,000 feet below the lead ship. the air crew necessary to operate the "jammer".
The position of these "window" ships varied slightly
Clouds and "window" protect our mediums
Flak was everywhere

84
85

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Prc-Invasion , Campaiqn m*

Shonq
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Robomb

LICHTLY OEFENDED
L-ri:-•-,*>• :• >*.