The two different strategies of the American and British bomber commands were organized at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. The resulting "Combined Bomber Offensive" would weaken the Wehrmacht, destroy German morale and establish air superiority through Operation Pointblank's destruction of German fighter strength in preparation of a ground offensive.The USAAF bombers would attack by day, with British operations – chiefly against industrial cities – by night.
Operation Pointblank opened with attacks on targets in Western Europe. General Ira C. Eaker and the Eighth Air Force placed highest priority on attacks on the German aircraft industry, especially fighter assembly plants, engine factories and ball-bearing manufacturers. Attacks began in April 1943 on heavily fortified key industrial plants in Bremen and Recklinghausen.
Since the airfield bombings were not appreciably reducing German fighter strength, additional B-17 groups were formed, and Eaker ordered major missions deeper into Germany against important industrial targets. The 8th Air Force then targeted the ball-bearing factories in Schweinfurt, hoping to cripple the war effort there. The first raid on 17 August 1943 did not result in critical damage to the factories, with the 230 attacking B-17s being intercepted by an estimated 300 Luftwaffe fighters. The Germans shot down 36 aircraft with the loss of 200 men, and coupled with a raid earlier in the day against Regensburg, a total of 60 B-17s were lost that day.
A second attempt on Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943 would later come to be known as "Black Thursday". While the attack was successful at disrupting the entire works, severely curtailing work there for the remainder of the war, it was at an extreme cost. Of the 291 attacking Fortresses, 60 were shot down over Germany, five crashed on approach to Britain, and 12 more were scrapped due to damage – a total loss of 77 B-17s. A total of 122 bombers were damaged and needed repairs before their next flight. Out of 2,900 men in the crews, about 650 men did not return, although some survived as prisoners of war. Only 33 bombers landed without damage. These losses were a result of concentrated attacks by over 300 German fighters. This loss rate was unsustainable and something had to be organised to minimise the attrition. Was this the Defensive Box??? If so how was it organised??
05 March 1943 - July 1943
The battle of the Ruhr was one of three major bombing offensives launched by the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command in 1943-44. Its targets were the cities and towns of the Ruhr Valley, Germany's industrial heartland. The battle began with an attack on Essen on the night of 5 March 1943. The Ruhr, nicknamed "Happy Valley" by bomber crews, proved a difficult target to attack due to the haze generated by its industrial plants and a high concentration of German defences. Increasing numbers of German night fighters, equipped with radar and various electronic targeting devices, exacted a heavy toll on the attacking bombers. They were still able to inflict significant damage though, resulting in the relocation of a great deal of the industry located there. Post-war analysis, however, indicated that the impact upon German industry by the attacks on the Ruhr was not as great as had been believed.
The battle of the Ruhr also included renowned "Dambuster" raids mounted on the night of 16 May 1943 against three Ruhr valley dams - Möhne, Elder and Sorpe. The first two dams were breached, releasing destructive floods, but ultimately little disruption was caused to industry. The dams were repaired by October.
The concerted attacks against the Ruhr continued until July 1943 when Bomber Command's mounting losses (over 700 aircraft and crews) caused the offensive to be called off. On 11 June 1943 the command had 726 bombers crewed and operational, by the last raid of the offensive on 9 July this had fallen to 623. The battle of the Ruhr killed around 15,000 Germans and 5,000 British and Commonwealth air crew.
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call