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Operation Pointblank: A Tale of Bombers and Fighters

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by William R. Emerson, Assistant Professor of History, Yale University, Harmon Memorial Lectures in Military History Number 4, U.S. Air Force Academy, 1962, 54 pages, 1 map, 1 table. Operation POINTBLANK was the wartime code name for our strategic bombing offensive against the industrial potential of Germany in 1943 and 1944, and especially against the German Air Force. POINTBLANK was itself part and parcel of a larger Anglo-American air effort—the Combined Bomber Offensive—which brought Germany under round-the-clock aerial bombardment by American heavy bombers by daylight and RAF Bomber Command by night. Unfortunately, time does not permit me to examine the massive and important contribution of the RAF's night bombers—the Halifaxes, the Wellingtons, the Lancasters, the Mosquitoes—to the air offensive. In our enthusiasm for the accomplishments of our own bombers, Americans have sometimes underestimated the achievements of Bomber Command. But I have not time to consider them. The appearance of the official history of Bomber Command—The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany, 1939-1945, by Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland—has set that record to rights. It was an impressive achievement; and it is an impressive history. POINTBLANK is one of the U.S. Air Force's great accomplishments, a famous victory. But it was very far from being a vindication of the Air Force's strategic doctrine. Indeed, because of shortcomings in that doctrine, POINTBLANK came within measurable distance of being a great defeat—even a disaster—for American arms. In this fact lies its continuing interest for the military historian. The weapons and tactics by which it was prosecuted are quite obsolete now, of course. Nevertheless, Operation POINTBLANK still holds some lessons for us. A Merriam Press Military Archives PDF file. FREE

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