Luftwaffe vs Mighty Eighth: The battle to stop US bombers

Robert Forsyth details how the Luftwaffe attempted to defend the Third Reich against the mass daylight formations of US heavy bombers

From mid-1943, the Luftwaffe daylight fighter force in western Europe fielded two tried and tested, single-seat, piston-engined aircraft against the US Eighth Air Force.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109, undoubtedly one of the finest fighters in aviation history, was first blooded in the skies over Spain. ​In the hands of a small number of German pilots during the Spanish Civil War between 1936-1939, it gained a formidable combat reputation. Subsequently, the Bf 109 saw service as the Luftwaffe’s pre-eminent fighter in Poland, Scandinavia, the Balkans, the Mediterranean and Russia and during the air campaign against Britain in 1940.

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