AMERICA AT WAR

Aviation's War Communique No 33

With air power continuing in the forefront of the victory push across France, the Allies, at this writing, not only had driven the retreating Nazis over the Seine and smashed beyond freed Paris but in addition had landed an airborne-spearheaded army on the south coast of France.

Quickly established, the latter army is seen working toward junctures both with the armies to the north and with our forces driving to the top of Italy.

Increasing air power enables Allied forces to continue strategic bombing of German industrial works at pre-invasion strength while building up tactical support of the ground forces. AAF-RAF superiority has driven the Nazi fighter front well back.

Bomber concentration is on German oil production, the weak link in Hitler's aviation whose breaking may start the inevitable collapse. It is indicated that during the past four months, oil supply has been the ceiling on Luftwaffe activity.

Germany has been taking increased punishment due to Allied shuttle operations between Italy, England. and Russian bases. First shuttle runs recently were made by all-fighter formations. Fighter-bombers, which are taking over the function of dive bombers in the Army, and medium bombers will add their devastation increasingly as the great Anglo-Russian squeeze narrows the range.

Germany's soft spot is oil, and Japan's is steel for the building of ships. The Secretary of Navy estimates that one-third to one-half of Japan's tonnage has been sunk or put out of action. The Allies believe the weakest link in Japan's war machine is ships, and they are trying to break it. The B-29s, as often as they can save up enough gasoline from the trickle over the hump, are hitting at Nippon steel production.

There will be more gasoline very soon for the 20th Air Force. The new Burma Road carries more cargo than the old one did. But more important, the B-29s can strike from islands now in Allied hands, drinking gasoline right out of the tanker.

Martin B-26s not long ago made the first American night attack; RAF has been going out of character, too — hitting by daylight. The War Department at last let out the secret that the Russians have been taking delivery of American planes at several bases in Alaska and Canada.

New weapons and methods are being unclassified from time to time. More is told of airmen's flak suits of mail, and supplementary metallic shawls and blankets which are saving lives. There will be further details in the field of radar before long. Fighter planes in Europe are re-fueling and reloading guns in 20 min, making shorter sorties but putting in satisfactory air time — without drop tanks.

This article was originally published in the September, 1944, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 43, no 9, p 204.