today the blue line struck far north, and I walked closer
to see what the target was. The blue line ended at Florence
and then turned back out toward the coast for the course
home to Sardinia.
We were to bomb Florence! Florence had never been bombed
by any other group, had been left untouched in the long,
snarling war in Italy.
bombardier was standing beside me:
go to Florence. We're going to have to be good today."
said it." I was looking at the course in. Florence
would be easy to pick up.
didn't think they'd let us bomb Florence. It's supposed
to be a famous city. Must've decided they've got to
of that decision was the whole history of the German
effort in Italy on the one side, and the whole history
of the development of a superb technique of precision
bombing on the other. This was not just another raid
in a long series of raids on targets in Italy and Europe.
This was the culmination of all bombing everywhere.
a few groups of bombers in the world were capable of
doing that bombing. The airplane was the B-26 Martin
Marauder medium twin-engine bomber. The B-26 Marauder
had come a long way to perform this special mission.
Marauder had been designed for low-altitude bombing
and for attack. It had been used in this way in the
South Pacific over Rabaul and Lae and other targets
in New Guinea. It had flown over targets at low altitudes
and at speeds often exceeding 300 miles an hour. It
had flown in small formations of three ships. Because
of its dangerous landing and take-off characteristics,
it had remained almost an experimental airplane during
the first part of the war.
the Allied invasion of North Africa, in November of
1942, a group of B-26's had been activated for operational
flying in the Mediterranean. But so great were the losses
in low-altitude flying that it was necessary to withdraw
the group from operations, re-form it, and develop new
techniques in order to return the plane to combat status.
same story had been true of the first groups to operate
out of England over the Netherlands and northern France.
The Marauder had seemed completely abandoned as a combat
a second group of B-26's had arrived in North Africa.
It was the group with which Captain Ackerman and I eventually
were to fly. This group, in experimenting with various
methods of bombing and various bombing altitudes, found
that fine results could be obtained in bombing at certain
heights. The Norden bombsight was installed, and the
plane was found to be stable enough to make a high degree
of accuracy possible.
and larger bomber formations were developed while another
group of B-26's arrived in North Africa. This group,
together with others which had been re-formed and returned
to operational status, made up a wing which was to become,
through the months of flying and fighting ahead, the
finest wing of medium bombardment in the world. The
wing was under Brig. Gen. Robert M. Webster. (Continued)