Master of Airpower: General Carl A. Spaatz

By David R. Mets | Go to book overview
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Chapter IX

The main preoccupation of Spaatz and USSTAF during the summer of 1944 had been tactical support of the battle on the ground. By the fall, however, the emphasis had shifted to attacks on the vital centers of the German industrial system. While Charles Portal believed in the primacy of the oil target, advocates of attacking the transportation system inside Germany continued to raise that issue. This time, however, no choice between the two was necessary. A torrent of bombs fell on Germany through the fall, and there was disappointment on the Allied side that the Reich did not collapse from the pressure. The disappointment was greater still when, just before Christmas, the fuel-starved Wehrmacht launched a massive offensive against the Western Allies which severely upset their timetable. Yearning for the end of the war, despite the astonish­ ing resilience of the Reich, made many believe that the Germans were on the verge of collapse, and some dreamed of a knockout blow that would bring the peace. The single dramatic blow never occurred, and Hitler staggered on until May 1945 before the German state capitulated.

Keeping the Pressure on Oil

Before the Normandy landings, Spaatz had threatened Eisenhower with resignation in order to win the latter's consent to some attacks on oil targets in the German homeland. 1 After the Allies were ashore, Eisen­ hower was so pleased with the air superiority his forces had achieved that he allowed the bombing of oil targets to continue, but only on the


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