By the early winter of 1944 Allied bombing missions to Germany had become an almost daily occurrence. Most Luftwaffe fighters had been re-assigned to “Reichs Defence” duties in an attempt to prevent the ever-increasing destruction of German cities.
One German fighter which played a significant defensive role was the advanced Focke-Wulf Fw-190D. With its superb high altitude performance ability and heavy hitting 20mm guns, it could do severe damage to any aircraft it found in its sights. Usually three or four well-aimed 20 mm rounds could mean the end of service for a bomber.
On the other side, the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator were dangerous not just as bombers, but as defensive fire platforms, hence the name ‘Fortress”. Each bomber was equipped with about 10 -12 .50 caliber machine guns which could hit targets a mile away with accuracy and lethality. Luftwaffe pilots didn’t relish the idea of attacking the bombers streams and they calculated their odds of making it though one firing run on heavy bombers as 50:50.
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