THE TACTICAL EXPLOITATION
By May 1944, the RAF and USAAF had won air superiority over Europe. It now fell to the British and American airmen to exploit this supremacy. There were two main dimensions to the task: pressing the battle on the ground and striking directly at the German homeland from the air. The tactical exploitation in support of the surface war is the subject of this chapter. The strategic exploitation to dry up the sources of fuel in the German homeland and to break down its transportation system will be examined in the next chapter.
Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz played a key role in both of these efforts. In the tactical campaign, though his legal authority did not extend to the operations of the tactical air forces assigned to AEAF, he was in constant contact with its leaders and had some influence on their thinking. At the same time, he directed the tactical operations of the heavy bombers as they supported the ground campaign. Through it all he strove to keep some strategic pressure on Germany to deny the Reich time for recuperation. He was also the policymaker for both personnel and materiel matters not only for the Eighth Air Force but also for the American air organizations assigned to Eisenhower under Ninth Air Force.
For several reasons the German response to Allied landings was to concentrate the main Wehrmacht strength against the British end of the line around Caen. First, Rundstedt still was not sure that the Normandy