THE ROLE OF THE AVIATION IN THE BATTLE OF NORMANDY

The aviation played a key role in the Allied victory in Normandy.It should be said that the Allied air forces enjoyed an overwhelming superiority over the Germans, with 11,000 aircraft at their disposal. The Luftwaffe, on the other hand, had only a tenth of that number available – a little more than a thousand aircraft – and had to content itself with putting in sporadic appearances in the skies above Normandy, only showing any real activity under cover of darkness.

The heavy bombers of the RAF’s Bomber Command and the Eighth US Air Force continued to destroy roads and rail junctions in the days that followed the Landings in order to delay the arrival of German reinforcements. They were also used to “soften up” the enemy by carrying out carpet-bombing missions during major offensives, as was the case before the launch of Operations Charnwood, Goodwood and Cobra.

However, the most important role was without doubt that played by the tactical aviation, in tirelessly supporting the troops fighting on the ground. The indefatigable activity of fighters and fighter bombers belonging to the Second British Tactical Air Force and the Ninth US Air Force was one of the main reasons for the Allied victory. The construction – begun in the hours following the Landings – of at least fifty aerodromes on Norman soil, mainly in the Cotentin and Bessin regions, enabled them to extend their intervention capability still further.

Spitfires, Thunderbolts, Mustangs, Lightnings and Typhoons held the skies above Normandy, dive-bombing even the smallest concentration of German troops, remorselessly attacking enemy convoys, sowing death and terror on the roads. These, for example, were the aircraft which single-handedly smashed the Germans’ counter-attack at Mortain in the early days of August 1944.