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Conquering the Night Army Air Forces Night Fighters at War

Conquering the Night Army Air Forces Night Fighters at War

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Published by Bob Andrepont

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 27, 2011
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05/04/2014

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The U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II
Conqueringthe Night
Army Air Forces Night Fighters at War
Stephen L. McFarland
AIR FORCE HISTORY AND MUSEUMS PROGRAM
1997
 
Conquering the Night
Army Air Forces Night Fighters at War
The author traces the AAF’s development of aerial night fighting, in-cluding technology, training, and tactical operations in the NorthAfrican, European, Pacific, and Asian theaters of war. In this effortthe United States never wanted for recruits in what was, from start tofinish, an all-volunteer night fighting force.
 
Cut short the night;use some of it for the day’s business.Seneca
For combatants, a constant in warfare through the ages has been thesanctuary of night, a refuge from the terror of the day’s armed struggle.On the other hand, darkness has offered protection for operations madetoo dangerous by daylight. Combat has also extended into the twilight asday has seemed to provide too little time for the destruction demanded inmodern mass warfare.In World War II the United States Army Air Forces (AAF) flew night-time missions to counter enemy activities under cover of darkness. Alliedair forces had established air superiority over the battlefield and behindtheir own lines, and so Axis air forces had to exploit the night’s protectionfor their attacks on Allied installations. AAF night fighters sought to denythe enemy use of the night for these attacks. Also, by 1944 Allied daylightair superiority made Axis forces maneuver and resupply at night, by air,land, and sea. U.S. night fighters sought to disrupt these activities as anextension of daylight interdiction and harassment efforts. The AAF wouldseek to deny the enemy the night, while capitalizing on the night in sup-port of daylight operations.
Airmen Claim the Night Skies
Airmen did not wait long to exploit what writer George Sterling calledthe “star-usurping battlements of night.” Aviation pioneers flew their frag-ile aircraft into the gloom, in search of the camouflage of darkness and inpursuit of enemy aircraft seeking the same edge. In 1909, Wilbur Wrightand Army 2d Lt. Frederick E. Humphreys became the first Americans tofly at night, orbiting College Park, Maryland, in Signal Corps Airplane No.1 for forty-two minutes and drawing a large crowd from Baltimore and1

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