Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group fliying his P-51 Mustang (B7-R, serial number 44-13357) nicknamed "Tika IV". ©IWM (FRE 6210)
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How the Eighth Air Force defeated the Luftwaffe

The B-17 Flying Fortress was supposed to be a war-winning weapon, however, by the end of 1943, the American Eighth Air Force flying them was at breaking point.

German flak and fighters shot down B-17s in their hundreds, as the US strategic bombing doctrine came face to face with the realities of aerial warfare; something had to change. 

Just one year later, the Eighth Air Force were masters in the air over Europe, having dealt a killing blow to the German Luftwaffe. So how did they do it? IWM Curator Dr Hattie Hearn looks at the changes in leadership, tactics and technology that transformed the air war over Nazi-occupied Europe.


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A B-17 Flying Fortress bombs an German aircraft factory in 1943.  The USAAF hoped daylight precision bombing would prove a winning strategy during World War II which would justify the independence of US Air power if it succeeded. US official photo

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A P-51 Mustang (PI-W, serial number 44-15056) nicknamed "Jackie" of the 356th Fighter Group in flight, flown by Captain Jack W "Wild Bill" Crump. ©IWM (FRE 6075)

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