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GUNNER's INFORMATION FILE

FLEXIBLE GUNNERY

AIR FORCES MANUAL NO. 20
Excerpts from the AAF Gunnery School training manual.
(May, 1944)

 

INTRODUCTION

If anyone in the Army Air Forces needs proof that he is helping do a great job, he can find it in the words of a British corporal named William McLoughlan. Corporal McLoughlan once had a dangerous privilege. As a prisoner of war in a camp deep inside Germany, he watched a United States bombing mission as the enemy sees it.

Near Corporal McLoughIan's camp was a German airplane factory, busy turning out planes for the LUFTWAFFE. The Germans needed that plant— so one day the Eighth Air Force paid it a visit.

After Corporal McLoughlan returned to England, he described the bombing mission in these words:

"In two or three minutes—I give you my word for this—the factory had been flattened. Not a building except one shed was standing when the Americans went away. Everybody was thunderstruck by the whole thing. Every one of the bombs fell exactly inside the target area. It was perfection bombing."

"Perfection bombing"—or what we call precision bombing—is the ultimate goal of the Army Air Forces. It is the offensive weapon with which we hasten the day of victory by knocking out the enemy's munitions and airplane plants, cutting off his supplies, and weakening the very source of his power.


The pictures on these pages show why precision bombing strikes terror to the heart of the enemy. Using precision methods, we can pick out the most important target—the one which the enemy needs most—and methodically destroy it. A formation of heavy bombers, dropping their bombs with deadly accuracy, can level any enemy war plant within a matter of minutes.

The success of precision bombing depends on many things. It depends on the famous air forces bombsight. It depends on the quality of our bombers, which are tough and durable and can fly all day. It depends on careful planning by intelligence officers who pick out the most vital targets, on operations and flak officers who can route the mission over the least dangerous course, on an elaborate system of traffic control which enables bombers and fighters to rise from scores of scattered airports, meet in the air, and proceed together to the target.

But above all it depends on good crews: pilots who can handle the big ships smoothly, navigators who can steer a course to the pinpoint targets, bombardiers who can drop the bombs accurately—and gunners who can fight off any enemy planes which dare to interfere.    
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