Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

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Richard Anderson
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Nov 2021 09:00

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Nov 2021 05:20
I'm wondering if this was the chap who advised the air forces would not be able to hit and drop bridges across France.
No, that was Solly Zuckerman.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Sheldrake » 16 Nov 2021 11:17

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Nov 2021 05:20
Sheldrake wrote:
16 Nov 2021 03:10
... Their distinguished OR expert Nobel Laureate professor Blackett tried to get the aerial bombardment cancelled in the days before D Day, claiming that it would be a friendly fire disaster, Parham in his D Day diary calls him a blighted, who had not read the fire plan until days before the operation and then caused a panic. It was an asymetric risk. A higher risk of friendly fire might reduce the overall casualties among soldiers, but without any up side for the navy....
I'm wondering if this was the chap who advised the air forces would not be able to hit and drop bridges across France.
Nope. Not that chap.

Patrick Blackett was the "father" of British Operations Research - much quoted on this forum. Chief of OR at the British Royal Aircraft
Establishment he worked with AA Command to apply science to make AA work better in 1940. Reducing the number of rounds per kill from 20,000 to 4,000. Off to the Navy as Head of OR. His OR team provided the evidence that a few large convoys were better than lots of small ones. He & team worked with coastal command to change the colour of aircraft - from black to white, thus reducing the range at which the aircraft could be detected by 20%. His team also ,recommended that depth charge settings be reduced from 100' to 25'. This increased the kill % from 1% to 7%. He is credited with the counter intuitive idea of armouring the parts of aircraft were least damaged on returning survivors.(Another finding much quoted but usually attributed to the USN) He was a critic of the area bombing strategy arguing from science that resources allocated to Bomber Command would be better used by other services - such as the Navy, his service. (He was a naval veteran of WW1 with a busy war, seeing action as a Midshipman on HMS Carnarvon at the Falkland Islands, Barham at Jutland before serving as a sub lieutenant on destroyers in the channel and north sea.)

He studied at Cambridge in 1919 and became an experimental physicst working with Ernest Rutherford. He was the first man to transmute one element into another and discovered evidence for the existence of the positron and made him a leadign expert on anti-matter. Work that disproved a hypothesis about gravity being a function of the earth's rotation led him into geophyics - where his wrk provided streong evidence fo continental drift. Hence a Nobel prize, a seat in the house of Lords, The Order of Merit, lecture halls and a crater on the moon in his name.

He was great man but was not always right.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Nov 2021 17:18

The problem is the closest fall of bombs that could be identified were 300 to 400 yards inland and then extended up to three miles inland. That was because of the bombing requirement made. First, all non-visual bombing had to be completed 10 minutes prior to H-Hour, thus for OMAHA NLT 0620. Next, bombing runs were timed to begin at 0600. Each "defended area target", eleven on OMAHA, excluding Port-en-Bessin, was target by six squadrons of six aircraft flying abreast, of which the center lead aircraft was the H2X-equipped Pathfinder (there were actually 2 for most of the six-squadron groups with on flying as backup). The Pathfinder guided the drop, with each succeeding wave calculating their drop based upon the anticipated rate of advance over roughly three minute intervals...assuming perfect formation and interval keeping. However, there was another kicker. Since the time of arrival could not be perfectly anticipated, a further delay from the drop point was instituted depending on when the squadrons of the group arrived. Those dropping at H-30 or earlier had zero delay, those dropping from H-30 to H-25 had a 5 second delay, those dropping from H-25 to H-20 had a 10 second delay, those dropping from H-20 to H-15 had a 15 second delay, and those dropping from H-15 to H-10 had a 30 second delay. At roughly 275 MPH rate of advance, a 30 second delay, meant that the bombers dropped at least 4,000 yards from the aim point, so roughly 3100 yards inland...if they were accurate.
This would make it a little clearer where it last went to s...t. Trying to time rolling fires/walking fires/scheduled shifts or whatever term one uses is tricky. Did 8th AF have any realistic experience at planning or executing this? We had the technique on the books, and occasionally considered/practiced it. In every case I can remember we decided to concentrate the maximum on the target & dropped any thought of timed shifts at this scale of seconds. Even well rehearsed they were too prone to friction.

Other actions for getting the bombs on target come to mind, but as we & others have seen looking at this the 8th AF did not have the skills sets in hand. They'd had to take significant time off their previous 90 days of missions to practice those, which does not sound desirable, or even practical in some cases.

They did get some other thing right, they were on their schedule which looks close enough to get the lingering Neutralization or shock effect desired. Not perfect but close enough. They were as far as these descriptions show were on course to their targets. Maybe the bombs were the wrong size, maybe not, I suspect we cant prove it one way or the other. So, for getting rounds on target they are batting close to 100% Go Air Force! Then theres this act of variable delays of X seconds adding friction to a already demanding attack.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Nov 2021 18:31

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Nov 2021 17:18
This would make it a little clearer where it last went to s...t. Trying to time rolling fires/walking fires/scheduled shifts or whatever term one uses is tricky. Did 8th AF have any realistic experience at planning or executing this? We had the technique on the books, and occasionally considered/practiced it. In every case I can remember we decided to concentrate the maximum on the target & dropped any thought of timed shifts at this scale of seconds. Even well rehearsed they were too prone to friction.
No, they didn't have any experience either planning or executing an operation using strategic bombers in a tactical role. Basically every technique they had learned and practiced went out the window. They changed the formation entirely and they made time of arrival at the drop point a critical factor. Part of it of course was the rush to get planning completed as the planning criteria continued to change. The addition of the German obstacle belt complicated the desire to land at low tide, just at dawn, and meant the air support program had to take off, assemble, and navigate to the IP in the dark. None of that helped the execution.

However, the biggest factor I believe is that the decisions were driven top-down, AFAICS without input from the guys at the pointy end. I suspect the Eighth Air Force mission planners knew the restrictions meant the bombing would probably have minimal effect, especially the last minute decision to shorten the end point of the non-visual bombing by five minutes. Then there is the factor that the Strategic Air Forces were placed under the operational control of SHAEF for the invasion, so like any tool available it needed to be used, regardless if it was actually a hammer trying to be a screwdriver. Boys and their toys.
Other actions for getting the bombs on target come to mind, but as we & others have seen looking at this the 8th AF did not have the skills sets in hand. They'd had to take significant time off their previous 90 days of missions to practice those, which does not sound desirable, or even practical in some cases.
Indeed, it was not a skill set they had in their toolbox as a strategic asset. It is pretty evident from the experience that the better tool for tactical bombing in support of ground forces were the medium and light bombers, and the fighter bombers, but nevertheless, they kept trying to fit a round peg into a square hole in GOODWOOD, COBRA, et al, with the Eighth Air Force eventually expending 35,951 tons of bombs in 1944 in the tactical ground support mission, versus 220,211 tons against other "tactical" targets and 173,000 tons against "strategic" targets. Overall, it was probably a waste of the strategic bomber force.
They did get some other thing right, they were on their schedule which looks close enough to get the lingering Neutralization or shock effect desired. Not perfect but close enough. They were as far as these descriptions show were on course to their targets. Maybe the bombs were the wrong size, maybe not, I suspect we cant prove it one way or the other. So, for getting rounds on target they are batting close to 100% Go Air Force! Then theres this act of variable delays of X seconds adding friction to a already demanding attack.
Yep, the only practical way I can see that they could have guaranteed some effect was by flying a parallel rather than perpendicular bomb run, as the 9th BD did, but that was impossible.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Nov 2021 18:45

Eliminating the rolling set back on drop time would have simplified the whole thing a lot. Raising the odds of steel on target. given the other two critical items sere correct dropping on the aim point vs the set back times would have had a percentage on target & gotten to the shock effect.
I suspect the Eighth Air Force mission planners knew the restrictions meant the bombing would probably have minimal effect, ...
Dolittle indicates that in his autobiograpy. Reading his & Bradleys bios side by side it looks like they, or the 1st Army & 8th AF staff were talking past each other. One not grasping how to get the effect they wanted, or if it was possible. The other not clear on what effect on target the 1st Army wanted.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Nov 2021 16:32

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
19 Nov 2021 18:45
Eliminating the rolling set back on drop time would have simplified the whole thing a lot. Raising the odds of steel on target. given the other two critical items sere correct dropping on the aim point vs the set back times would have had a percentage on target & gotten to the shock effect.
The problem is that even without the setback, it is unlikely the effect would have been better, given how inaccurate H2X bombing was.At the end of 1944, it was calculated the average in those conditions were that 17% of the bomb patterns fell 5 or more miles away from the intended aim point. For the remaining 83%, it was found the range error averaged 1.13 miles, the deflection error 1.38 miles, and the circular error 2,04 miles. If the number of bombs were decreased by increasing the proportion of 500-lb, then the chance of any effective hits remains tiny,
Dolittle indicates that in his autobiograpy. Reading his & Bradleys bios side by side it looks like they, or the 1st Army & 8th AF staff were talking past each other. One not grasping how to get the effect they wanted, or if it was possible. The other not clear on what effect on target the 1st Army wanted.
Yep. Worse, by COBRA, the disconnect seems to have grown instead of shrunk.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Nov 2021 19:06

That still gets 10 or 20 % of your 250lb bombs close enough for effect on target.

What I don't know here is how much they were expecting to actually fall within the effect one. Did they aim 88 tons at a target, expecting 66 to fall close enough for effect, or 33 tons, or 11 tons?

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 21 Nov 2021 00:54

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Nov 2021 19:06
That still gets 10 or 20 % of your 250lb bombs close enough for effect on target.
Not necessarily. I think you are missing that if the H2X Pathfinder misses, everyone misses, since it is a squadron of six-aircraft, dropping its bombs as the Pathfinder does. The six aircraft are arrayed in line, so the bomb fall will be a rough ellipsoid, 1,500 by however long it takes to salvo the bombs. However, statistically 17% of the Pathfinders will bomb at least five miles away from the aim point. Those that are closer, 83% of the Pathfinders, will have a CEP of 2.04 miles. Now the coastline likely helped in reducing the range errors, but it did nothing to reduce the deflection error.

At OMAHA, 20 Pathfinders were dispatched, nine of the groups with two, a primary and a reserve, and two with one. All those dispatched bombed, but do the math. The likelihood is that of the 11 groups, two missed by a mile, well, more than five miles. The remaining nine were probably within two miles of the aim point...at least for the lead group of six aircraft bombing with the Pathfinder, since the following groups had to time its drops from the Pathfinder...assuming it was in sight (it is not specified, but it seems likely the 13 or so squadrons that did not bomb did not because they missed formation with the Pathfinder or could not spot the Pathfinders drop). In total, only 300 of 446 aircraft dispatched even bombed.

BTW, the 250-lb AN-M57 GP bomb was not usually carried by the Eighth AF. For one thing, it meant they carried 16 bombs, instead of 12 500-lb bombs, which they did not consider a good trad off.
What I don't know here is how much they were expecting to actually fall within the effect one. Did they aim 88 tons at a target, expecting 66 to fall close enough for effect, or 33 tons, or 11 tons?
I doubt they considered that.
Last edited by Richard Anderson on 21 Nov 2021 17:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Nov 2021 13:50

Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Nov 2021 00:54
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Nov 2021 19:06
That still gets 10 or 20 % of your 250lb bombs close enough for effect on target.
Not necessarily. I think you are missing that if the H2X Pathfinder misses, everyone misses, since it is a squadron of six-aircraft, dropping its bombs as the Pathfinder does. The six aircraft are arrayed in line, so the bomb fall will be a rough ellipsoid, 1,500 by however long it takes to salvo the bombs. However, 17% of the Pathfinders will bomb at least five miles away from the aim point.
You May be mixing up Error from aim point with Error from target, but moving on.
Those that are closer, 83% of the Pathfinders, will have a CEP of 2.04 miles. Now the coastline likely helped in reducing the range errors, but it did nothing to reduce the deflection error.

At OMAHA, 20 Pathfinders were dispatched, nine of the groups with two, a primary and a reserve, and two with one. All those dispatched bombed, but do the math. The likelihood is that of the 11 groups, two missed by a mile, well, more than five miles. The remaining nine were probably within two miles of the aim point...
Still not clear if you are using Error from aim point vs Error from target here. When teasing out how well we were shooting it was necessary to separate the two errors. I've read others analysis of aiming with the 2HX onto the OMAHA Beach targets, but can't recall the details & don't have them at hand so not interjecting them into the conversation here.
BTW, the 250-lb AN-M57 GP bomb was not usually carried by the Eighth AF. For one thing, it meant they carried 16 bombs, instead of 12 500-lb bombs, which they did not consider a good trad off.
What I don't know here is how much they were expecting to actually fall within the effect one. Did they aim 88 tons at a target, expecting 66 to fall close enough for effect, or 33 tons, or 11 tons?
I doubt they considered that.
Actually thats something we automatically considered planning artillery or airstrikes. I've seen that consideration pop up in accounts of planning other air attacks of WWII. How much would actually have effect on target led directly to the question of how much ammunition was needed to get there. Across the Volumes of the FA Journal of the 1920s there was a standing question of the amount of ammunition required for a desired effect. Aside from US Army tests Of cannon and aircraft bombs the record from the Great War and some foreign armies thoughts were examined. Im skeptical 8th AF staff picked some numbers out of the air for their mission size. Thinking back over Dolittles remarks in his bio theres a vague suggestion this estimate was part of his objection to the mission.

In other directions:
Thinking over your description of the linear formations used by the six plane groups Im seeing a bit of logic. In attacking targets in a long linear string the battery/battalion sheafs were arraigned on line vs the standard closed or converged sheafs. That reduced rounds outside the effects zone through deflection error either putting round on the intended target or put them in the effect zone of a adjacent target.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 21 Nov 2021 18:39

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
21 Nov 2021 13:50
You May be mixing up Error from aim point with Error from target, but moving on.
Nope, aim point, it is how the Eighth Air Force OR teams measured error. In this case it gives them a slight advantage in hitting the target, since the aim point was not the target, but the point were water met land.
Still not clear if you are using Error from aim point vs Error from target here. When teasing out how well we were shooting it was necessary to separate the two errors. I've read others analysis of aiming with the 2HX onto the OMAHA Beach targets, but can't recall the details & don't have them at hand so not interjecting them into the conversation here.
The only description detailing how well the bombing did is from Eighth Air Force Tactical Operations in Support of the Allied Landings in Normandy, page 9 of the 6 June Mission Reports.

"The immediate beach areas showed only limited evidence of bombing damage as was to be expected in view of the extra precautionary measures taken to avoid short bombfalls...Areas behind the beachhead, ranging from 300-400 yds, to three miles revealed extensive evidence of concentrated bombing patterns."
Actually thats something we automatically considered planning artillery or airstrikes. I've seen that consideration pop up in accounts of planning other air attacks of WWII. How much would actually have effect on target led directly to the question of how much ammunition was needed to get there. Across the Volumes of the FA Journal of the 1920s there was a standing question of the amount of ammunition required for a desired effect. Aside from US Army tests Of cannon and aircraft bombs the record from the Great War and some foreign armies thoughts were examined. Im skeptical 8th AF staff picked some numbers out of the air for their mission size. Thinking back over Dolittles remarks in his bio theres a vague suggestion this estimate was part of his objection to the mission.
I may not have been clear. There is no evidence that the consideration "we need to put X tons on Y beach ever came up." For one thing, the distribution of bombers and tonnages allocated to beaches in the plan varied quite a bit.

2d BD
OMAHA Beach Defenses - 396 B-24
Port-en-Bessin Strongpoint- 54 B-24
1st BD
Longues and Arromanches Strongpoints and Coastal Batteries- 132 B-17
GOLD Beach Defenses - 102 B-17
Ver-sur-Mer and Mont Fleury Coastal Batteries - 36 B-17
West Sector JUNO Beach Defenses - 114 B-17
Choke points at Caen - 66
3d BD
East Sector JUNO Beach Defenses - 72 B-17
SWORD Beach Defenses - 138 B-17
Strongpoints between the Orne and Dives - 72 B-17
Choke points at Caen, Coastal Batteries, and HQ behind JUNO and SWORD - 180 B-17 and B-24

The choice of bombs also was odd. Only the 1st and 3d BD carried any 1000-lb GP, actually dropping 162 and 150 respectively, with little rime or reason. They were dropped on the Arromaches harbor strongpoint (43) and coastal battery (36), Caen (55), Ouistreham strongpoint (46), and the Merville and Franceville strongpoints between the Orne and Dives (104). The rest of the 1st and 3d BD dropped a mix of 100-lb and 500-lb GP and none of the 120-lb Frag used by the 2d BD at OMAHA. Again no discernible pattern, rime, or reason.

That is why I said it doesn't look like any really thought regarding assigning bomb tonnages for effect occurred.
In other directions:
Thinking over your description of the linear formations used by the six plane groups Im seeing a bit of logic. In attacking targets in a long linear string the battery/battalion sheafs were arraigned on line vs the standard closed or converged sheafs. That reduced rounds outside the effects zone through deflection error either putting round on the intended target or put them in the effect zone of a adjacent target.
I see why you think so and it did have some advantages in that if they were correct in range, but off in deflection, then the bomb pattern could fall on an adjacent WN. However, the area targeted, was around four and a half square kilometers (4.5-million square meters, which was populated by 11 targets, each with an area around 18,000 square meters or less. The total area of the targets was only about 4.4% of the area targeted. Even assuming a 500-meter diameter zone of effectiveness for a 500-lb bomb, then only about 25% of the area is actually populated by targets. Now again add in the likelihood that around 17% of the bomb patterns will not fall within five miles of the aim point and the use of heavy bombers in this role becomes even more suspect.
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Sheldrake » 21 Nov 2021 22:33

Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Nov 2021 18:39
I may not have been clear. There is no evidence that the consideration "we need to put X tons on Y beach ever came up." For one thing, the distribution of bombers and tonnages allocated to beaches in the plan varied quite a bit.

2d BD
OMAHA Beach Defenses - 396 B-24
Port-en-Bessin Strongpoint- 54 B-24
1st BD
Longues and Arromanches Strongpoints and Coastal Batteries- 132 B-17
GOLD Beach Defenses - 102 B-17
Ver-sur-Mer and Mont Fleury Coastal Batteries - 36 B-17
West Sector JUNO Beach Defenses - 114 B-17
Choke points at Caen - 66
3d BD
East Sector JUNO Beach Defenses - 72 B-17
SWORD Beach Defenses - 138 B-17
Strongpoints between the Orne and Dives - 72 B-17
Choke points at Caen, Coastal Batteries, and HQ behind JUNO and SWORD - 180 B-17 and B-24

The choice of bombs also was odd. Only the 1st and 3d BD carried any 1000-lb GP, actually dropping 162 and 150 respectively, with little rime or reason. They were dropped on the Arromaches harbor strongpoint (43) and coastal battery (36), Caen (55), Ouistreham strongpoint (46), and the Merville and Franceville strongpoints between the Orne and Dives (104). The rest of the 1st and 3d BD dropped a mix of 100-lb and 500-lb GP and none of the 120-lb Frag used by the 2d BD at OMAHA. Again no discernible pattern, rime, or reason.

That is why I said it doesn't look like any really thought regarding assigning bomb tonnages for effect occurred.
Adding some information here. There was a logic to the application of force. It was the result of different HQs bidding for resources

There are from Parham's files. He was BRA 2nd Army

The 21st AG Air instruction brought 11 May 1944
21AG_Air Instruction May 44003.pdf


Parham's notes in the Studland demo 26 April 1944
2A RA File note - on demo iof USAF Bombing at studland.pdf
File note on his visit to 8th USAAF
2A RA File note to CoS re visit to 8USAF.pdf
All of this potential application of huge aerial firepower was new to the 8th AF and to the armies and agreed over a period of about six weeks. Frankly I am impressed that they managed what they did.
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Richard Anderson » 21 Nov 2021 23:33

Sheldrake wrote:
21 Nov 2021 22:33
All of this potential application of huge aerial firepower was new to the 8th AF and to the armies and agreed over a period of about six weeks. Frankly I am impressed that they managed what they did.
Good finds, thank you! I am not surprised at the tight timeline. The NEPTUNE planning was completed under a very tight time constraint...essentially less than three months from laying out the initial intent to freezing the planning modifications (except for the last minute change to the 82d A/B drop_.
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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Nov 2021 03:09

Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Nov 2021 18:39
... The only description detailing how well the bombing did is from Eighth Air Force Tactical Operations in Support of the Allied Landings in Normandy, page 9 of the 6 June Mission Reports.

"The immediate beach areas showed only limited evidence of bombing damage as was to be expected in view of the extra precautionary measures taken to avoid short bombfalls...Areas behind the beachhead, ranging from 300-400 yds, to three miles revealed extensive evidence of concentrated bombing patterns."
Have read that one. I think you passed it along in one of these discussions. Tho its been floated elsewhere. Given the multiple release points of the Pathfinders I can't estimate a PE from that. Neither is it clear what they meant by "concentrated bombing patterns". That can men a lot of different things to different people.


In other directions:
Thinking over your description of the linear formations used by the six plane groups Im seeing a bit of logic. In attacking targets in a long linear string the battery/battalion sheafs were arraigned on line vs the standard closed or converged sheafs. That reduced rounds outside the effects zone through deflection error either putting round on the intended target or put them in the effect zone of a adjacent target.
[quote}... Now again add in the likelihood that around 17% of the bomb patterns will not fall within five miles of the aim point and the use of heavy bombers in this role becomes even more suspect.[/quote]

Tho in this specific case three miles was the maximum distance :wink:

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Nov 2021 03:31

Sheldrake wrote:
21 Nov 2021 22:33
Adding some information here. There was a logic to the application of force. It was the result of different HQs bidding for resources

There are from Parham's files. He was BRA 2nd Army

The 21st AG Air instruction brought 11 May 1944 21AG_Air Instruction May 44003.pdf

Parham's notes in the Studland demo 26 April 1944
2A RA File note - on demo iof USAF Bombing at studland.pdf

File note on his visit to 8th USAAF2A RA File note to CoS re visit to 8USAF.pdf

All of this potential application of huge aerial firepower was new to the 8th AF and to the armies and agreed over a period of about six weeks. Frankly I am impressed that they managed what they did.
Interesting fragments. I can't read much of the second, but the other two give some idea of the thinking.

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Re: Consequences if Omaha Beach fails

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Nov 2021 03:55

Richard Anderson wrote:
21 Nov 2021 23:33
Sheldrake wrote:
21 Nov 2021 22:33
All of this potential application of huge aerial firepower was new to the 8th AF and to the armies and agreed over a period of about six weeks. Frankly I am impressed that they managed what they did.
Good finds, thank you! I am not surprised at the tight timeline. The NEPTUNE planning was completed under a very tight time constraint...essentially less than three months from laying out the initial intent to freezing the planning modifications (except for the last minute change to the 82d A/B drop_.
I once had forty minutes to set up a battery for a schedule of fires. Cant recall how many targets there were, but the time lines covered three pages :|

Given the ongoing missions & other distractions I wonder if the 8th AF had split off one or more separate planning cells.

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