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"The World at War" Whirlwind: Bombing Germany - September 1939-April 1944 (TV Episode 1974) Poster

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Laurence Olivier - Narrator: The American air chiefs believed they could succeed in daylight, without suffering the losses the British had done. They were convinced they could bomb accuratly by day. Their aircraft were very heavily armed. Some carried up to twelve machine guns, and they were trained to fly in close formation.

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James Stewart - Squadron Commander: Formation flying was really the name of the game for us, 8th Air Force. there's never anything like it happened before or since. thay actually were, sort of, making their own rules up as they went along, because it was a brand new concept. It made it possible to have a more concentrated firepower from the gunner's positions on all the airplanes. the fact that you could depend on good formation, tight formation, not only helped you in defense of fighter attack, it made your chances of achiving good bombing results much better, because, if your bombing, a squadron of aeroplanes was bombing, and the pattern was a good, tight pattern, your results were bound to be good.

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Laurence Olivier - Narrator: [On American tactics] Early raids into France seemed to bare out the American optimisim. Later, over Germany, it was a different story.

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Arthur Harris: The effectiveness of the first Hamburg raid was due to us, at *last* getting permission to use something we'd had in the bag for a long time, which was known as "Window". It was the dropping of aluminium paper strips, which upset the German location apparatus, and also their gun aiming apparatus.

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Laurence Olivier - Narrator: [Over footage of the aftermath of the Hamburg raid] The effect of the bombing, combined with the summer heatwave, was to create a man made tornado of flame - a firestorm. At the time, Speer said that six more raids like that would have finished the war. The Allies did not have that capacity. The shock passed.

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