List of air operations during the Battle of Europe
|Timelines of World War II|
German OKW V-2 forces
Polish Air Force
French Air Force
United Kingdom Royal Air Force
Italian Regia Aeronautica
Soviet Union Red Army Air Force
Finnish Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Romanian Air Force
Royal Hungarian Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
United States Artillery Observers
Royal Bulgarian Air Force
This World War II timeline of European Air Operations lists notable military events in the skies of the European Theater of Operations of World War II from the Invasion of Poland to Victory in Europe Day. The list includes combined arms operations, defensive anti-aircraft warfare, and encompasses areas within the territorial waters of belligerent European states.
September 1: The Luftwaffe begins operation Wasserkante as part of the invasion of Poland. The first air attacks against Warsaw start.
September 3: Flying officer Andrew McPherson is the first RAF pilot to cross the German coast after Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. Flying a Bristol Blenheim from 139 Squadron, his mission is to identify German maritime targets around Wilhelmshaven.
September 3: The RAF launches its first raid of the war over Germany territory. Eighteen Handley Page Hampdens and nine Vickers Wellingtons are sent to attack the German warships moored at the Wilhelmshaven naval base. However poor visibility prevents the bombers from finding any targets before nightfall so they return.
September 4: The RAF launches another bombing operation against German shipping. Fourteen Wellingtons from 9 and 149 Squadrons attack Brunsbuttel and 15 Bristol Blenheims from 107 and 110 Squadrons raid Wilhelmshaven bay. Five Blenheims and three Vickers Wellingtons are shot down through a combination of Messerschmitt Bf 109s and flak. They become the first British aircraft casualties on the Western Front.
September 4: The first British airman to be taken prisoner was Sergeant George Booth, a RAF Observer from 107 Squadron. He was captured after his Bristol Blenheim was shot down over the German coast.
September 27: The Luftwaffe ceases its bombing campaign against Warsaw after its Polish garrison surrenders to German forces. Approximately 1,150 sorties were flown by a wide variety of aircraft, including obsolete Junkers Ju-52/3m bombers.
November 30 The Winter War between Soviet Union and Finland starts. Three hours after Soviet forces had crossed the border and started the Winter War, Helsinki is bombed. Throughout the war, the Soviet Union has the air superiority and several cities in Finland are targeted.
December 18: The first use of radar for defence (an "experimental Freya radar") gave warning of RAF bombers near the German Bight as they made an attack on Wilhelmshaven.:20 However the German fighters were not permitted to intercept until visual confirmation was made - the bombers were attacked after they had dropped their bombs.
April 21: A bombing raid on Norway kills the first American military officer killed in World War II.
May 15: The RAF lost the 100th of its France-based bombers. In 72 hours, it had lost half of its offensive force.
May 15/16: In the 1st large-scale World War II strategic bombing:53 and the 1st attack on the German "backcountry", just 24 of 96 dispatched bombers found the Ruhr Area power stations and refineries.
May 19: French fighters strafed advanced columns of Operation Abendsegen:4
May 27/28: A No. 10 Squadron RAF Whitley tail gunner was the first in the RAF to down a German fighter.
June 2: Robert Stanford Tuck led a wing of Spitfires from RAF Martlesham Heath, the first "big formation" of the war, against 8 Heinkel IIIs and about 25 Messerschmitt Bf-109s over the Calais area.:108
June 7–8: French Air Force raid is the first against Berlin.
June 26: The RAF Advanced Air Striking Force disbanded after beginning operations in France in May
July 24: Ferrying of Luftwaffe aircraft to the Channel Coast ended the first phase of the Battle of Britain:15
August 25: First RAF raid on Berlin
September 7: The Blitz bombing of Britain began with 57 nights of air raids
March 31/April 1: A bombing raid on Emden is the first use of the 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) HC "cookie" blockbuster bomb
April 15: The Belfast Blitz kills 1000, the greatest loss of British lives outside London from a night raid
June 22 - July 3: In the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa, the Luftwaffe achieved air superiority by destroying some 2,000 Soviet aircraft, at a loss of only 35 aircraft (of which 15 were non-combat-related).
August 8–9: The Red Army Air Force began a limited bombing offensive with a raid on Berlin.
c. August 15: Robert Stanford Tuck led the first air mission by fighters based in eastern England against enemy-occupied territories in a "Rhubarb" sweep of the Netherlands for ground targets by two Hawker Hurricanes .:215–219
December 7/8: 251 bombers target Aachen and Brest—the Brest attack was the first operational use of the Oboe navigation system
December 18: Blenheim aircraft conducted the first night intruder attack, successfully striking Soesterberg airfield in the Netherlands with bombs and attacking two German bombers in the air with guns
February 16: The first regular operations with the American Boston bomber were conducted.
April 8/9: The largest force to date (272 aircraft) bomb Hamburg
April 17: The Augsburg Raid is the first to attempt low-level daylight bombing for accuracy - in this case against the factory producing engines for U-boats. Half of the 12 bombers were shot down for little damage caused.
May 30: The first use of the bomber stream and the first British large scale operation, as part of Operation Millennium the first "Thousand Bomber" raid is sent against Cologne, Germany. Of the 1,047 aircraft sent, nearly 900 bombed the target area - the whole raid passing over in 90 minutes.
July 4: The first American bombing mission over enemy-occupied territory in Europe used 20 Boston bombers (plus 6 RAF-crewed Bostons) to attack the Alkmaar, Hammsted, and Valkenburg airfields -- :106 only two reached the target area (two shot down, the others heavily damaged):111
August 14: First German warplane downed by the USAAF. A German Fw 200 Condor reconnaissance-bomber is shot down by two US fighter pilots, flying a P-40 Warhawk and a P-38 Lightning, off the coast of Reykjavík, Iceland. All six German airmen are killed as the plane explodes and goes into the sea.
August 17: 12 B-17s of the 97 BG (including one with Eaker aboard) escorted by RAF Spitfires bombed the Sotteville railyard 3 miles (4.8 km) South of Rouen, France, in the "first combat action" of the Eighth Air Force and the first B-17 bombing of Europe.
August 21: 12 B-17's are dispatched to bomb the shipards in Rotterdam, Netherlands but is aborted due to an attack by Bf 109s and Fw 190s; 1 bomber is damaged; Lack of proper coordination with the Spitfire escorts is a major factor in the failure of the mission.
March 5/6: The first raid of the Battle of the Ruhr flew RAF Bomber Command's 100,000th sortie of World War II, with 160 acres destroyed and 53 Krupps buildings bombed at Essen.
April 16/17:A force of 327 Lancasters and Halifaxes set out to destroy the Skoda arms factory at Plzen, Czechoslovakia.271 aircraft raided Mannheim as a diversion the same night. The force mistook the mental hospital near Dobrany to be the factory at Plzen. The raid sustained the heaviest losses until that point in the air war. 
May 5: P-47s are first used for escorting bombers.
June 13: The heaviest fighter attacks to date against the Eighth Air Force claim 26 B-17s bombing Bremen & Kiel U-boat facilities.
c. June: A 100 BG B-17 surrendered and then escaped.
July 19: The first Allied World War II bombing of Rome drops 800 tons of bombs on Littoro and Clampino airports, causing immense damage and 2000 deaths:110
July 29 First use of unguided air-to-air rockets against American combat box formations of heavy bombers by JG 1 Oesau and JG 11, attacking with Bf 109Gs and Fw 190As each armed with pairs of Werfer-Granate 21 rocket ordnance, developed from the 21 cm Nebelwerfer 42 ground barrage rocket system.
August 1: Flying from North Africa Operation Tidal Wave bombs the oil refineries at Ploiești. A large number of the bombers are lost for little strategic benefit. Five Medals of Honor are awarded to American aircrew.
August 25: The first use of a guided anti-ship missile in wartime occurs over the Bay of Biscay, as the Royal Navy's HMS Bideford and HMS Landguard are damaged by Luftwaffe-deployed Henschel Hs 293 rocket-boosted, MCLOS-guidance glide bombs.
September 9: The Luftwaffe's KG 100 bomber wing is involved with the world's first successful use of a precision-guided munition in modern military history, through their sinking of the Italian battleship Roma, using the Fritz X armored gravity-propulsion PGM munition.
October 10: As a result of the June "surrender/escape" of a 100 BG B-17, out of the 13 B-17s of 100 BG attacking a railyard in Münster, only the B-17F of Robert Rosenthal survives to return safely to RAF Thorpe Abbotts in England.
November 1: A Combined Bomber Offensive progress report estimates that 19/19/9 German towns & cities have been virtually destroyed/severely damaged/more effectively damaged – another report claims 10% of German war potential had been destroyed
November 3: A Wilhelmshaven raid is the first Eighth Air Force blind-bombing mission to completely destroy the aiming point, the Eighth's first 500-plane mission, and the first use by the US of H2X radar
November 18/19: The "Battle of Berlin" aerial campaign bombing began
November 22/23: The largest force sent to bomb Berlin to date (764 aircraft) conducted the most effective World War II raid on Berlin
December 2: 100 Ju-88s bombed the port of Bari, hitting a secret store of US mustard gas (83 of the sailors died within a month). Autopsies indicated excess white blood cells, and the discovery led to the use of the gas to combat leukemia (the secret regarding the storage at Bari of mustard gas was subsequently declassified in 1959).:149
January 30: The first U.S. Intruder operation was conducted by P-47s and accurately preceded the bombers to strike fighters at Villaorba airfield.
February 6–27 During the Continuation War, between Soviet Union and Finlandseveral Finnish cities were bombed. The greatest air raids once again targeted Helsinki. In this manner the USSR hoped to force Finland to break its ties with Germany and agree to a peace settlement.
February 19/20: Handley Page Halifax IIs and Vs were permanently withdrawn from operations to Germany after 14.9% of those that did not turn back were lost on a raid to Leipzig.
March 6: The first large scale US attack on Berlin (some 600 bombers) dropped 1600 tons of bombs - 160-170 of 800-900 fighters are shot down:113
March–April: Bombing stopped aircraft production at Cantiere Navale Triestino
June 2–5: In preparation for Operation Overlord, Operation Cover bombed transportation and airfield targets in Northern France and "coastal defenses, mainly located in the Pas de Calais coastal area, to deceive the enemy as to the sector to be invaded".
June 14/15: The first V-1 was shot down by a fighter
July 3: 74 US military personnel died in (the most for one London event) when a V-1 flying bomb struck Sloane Court East / Turks Row.
July 23/24: The first major raid (629 aircraft) on a German city for two months bombs Kiel
July 25: Mission 494 (1581/500 bombers/fighters) supporting Operation Cobra was the most effective saturation bombing/carpet bombing/area bombardment of the Normandy Campaign, killing US General McNair.
July 26 The first aerial victory for a jet fighter in air combat history occurs as a Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Erprobungskommando 262 mortally damages a de Havilland Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft of No. 540 Squadron RAF.
July 28 The first operational use of rocket-powered point-defense interceptors occurs as Me 163Bs of I. Gruppe/JG 400 take off from Brandis to defend against a USAAF strategic bombing raid on the Merseburg/Leuna synthetic fuel production complex.
September 17: The last UK-USSR-Italy-UK shuttle bombing was completed as 72 B-17s and 59 P-51s flew from Italy without bombs to the UK; 70 B-17s 57 P-51s land safely in the UK.
January 5: The first mission of Operation Cornflakes begins when a mail train to Linz was bombed. Fake mailbags containing anti-Nazi propaganda were then dropped on the wreckage in the hope the letters would be unwittingly delivered by the Reichspost. The OSS dropped two million Das Neue Deutschland (German: The New Germany) propaganda newspapers during this psychological warfare operation; which ended in February.:104
February 3: The USAAF conducts its largest raid of the war against Berlin. The attack is led by Major Robert Rosenthal of the 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy). Judge-President of the People's Court Roland Freisler is killed in the bombing.
February 13–15: The controversial Bombing of Dresden in World War II firestorm consumes the picturesque centre of the city.
March 12: A Dortmund raid of 1108 aircraft was the heaviest World War II raid on a European city.
March 18: Against Mission 894 attacking Berlin (1,329 bombers and 733 fighters), the Luftwaffe makes its most concentrated and successful attacks to date with Me 262s.
March 22: 200 Piper L-4 Grasshoppers each carried one armed infantryman (instead of an observer) across the Rhine to establish a US 3rd Army bridgehead near Oppenheim.:2068 (light aviation became a major part of the Army Field Artillery fire detection center on June 4, 1942):104
May 3: Typhoons of 83 Group from the 2nd Tactical Air Force attack the passenger liners Cap Arcona, Thielbek, Athen, and Deutschland moored in the Bay of Lübeck (Baltic Sea). Hundreds of concentration camp prisoners are killed on the sinking ships because intelligence they are on board is not passed on to the flight crews.
- Irving, David (1964). The Mare's Nest. London: William Kimber and Co. p. 223. ISBN 0-586-06368-4. NOTE: V-2 rocket air operations were conducted by various German Army units, but operational orders were issued by a Joint Services (OKW) command.
- "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Archived from the original on 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
1940: May-June (Battle of France) July-December June-October (Battle of Britain) Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive
1941: January-April May-August September- December
1942: January, February Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine., March Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine., April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1943: January, February, March Archived 2007-05-15 at the Wayback Machine., April Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine., May, June, July Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine., August Archived 2012-10-11 at the Wayback Machine., September, October Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine., November Archived 2012-09-26 at the Wayback Machine., December Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine.
1944: January Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine., February Archived 2007-11-12 at the Wayback Machine. March Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine., April, May, June Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine.(D-Day), July Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive, August Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine., September Archived 2008-03-14 at the Wayback Machine., October Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine., November, December Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine.
1945 January Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine., February Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine., March Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive, April Archived 2012-07-28 at the Wayback Machine.
- McKillop, Jack. "Combat Chronology of the USAAF". Retrieved 2007-05-25.
1942: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1943: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1944: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1945: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September
NOTE: The Chronicles for August 13, 1944 inaccurately list the BATTY mission as an APHRODITE mission
- NOTE: Air offensive or defensive operations does not include cargo operations such as Operation Carpetbagger or reconnaissance from air.
- Falconer, Jonathon (1998). The Bomber Command Handbook 1939-1945. Stroud: Sutton Publishing Limited. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7509-1819-0.
- "Sgt. (Pilot) Albert Stanley Prince - The First of the Ten Thousand". http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca. Retrieved 22 May 2015. External link in
- Haarr, Geirr H. (2013). The Gathering Storm: The Naval War in Northern Europe September 1939 - April 1940. Seaforth Publishing. pp. 227–230. ISBN 9781473832732.
- Northway, B.S. (ed) (1963). A History of 107 Squadron. Tuddenham, UK: No. 107 Squadron RAF. p. 22.
- 88 Squadron history, Ministry of Defence
- "Bombing of Warsaw". University of Richmond. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
- Galland, Adolf (1968 Ninth Printing - paperbound) . The First and the Last: The Rise and Fall of the German Fighter Forces, 1938–1945. (translated by Mervyn Savill). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-553-11709-2. Check date values in:
- "German and Allied Air Forces". https://www2.bc.edu. Retrieved 22 May 2015. External link in
- Miller, Donald L. (2006). Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-7432-3544-0.
- Overy, Richard (1997). Why the Allies Won. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-393-31619-3.
- Jablonski, Edward (1971). Volume 1 (Tragic Victories), Book II (The Big League). Airpower. p. 71.
- Forrester, Larry (1973) . Fly for Your Life: The Story of R. R. Stanford Tuck, D.S.O, D.F.C. and Two Bars. Sir Max Aitken (Foreword). Garden City, New York: Nelson Doubleday. ISBN 0-553-11642-8.
- Jones, Reginald Victor (1978). Most Secret War. Hamish Hamilton Ltd. ISBN 0-2418-9746-7.
- Seversky, Alexander P. de (1942). Victory Through Air Power. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 145.
"Destruction of enemy morale from the air can be accomplished only by precision bombing."
- McBride, Gisela R.: Through my eyes: memoirs of Hitler's Berlin. Hamilton Books, 2006, page 209. ISBN 0-7618-3394-3
- "Whirlwind: Bombing Germany (September 1939 – April 1944)", The World at War, 1974
- Norddeutscher Rundfunk
- Lang, Walter (1998) . United States Military Almanac: a Chronological Compendium of Over 200 Years of American History. Avenel NJ: Random House. p. 102,106–7. ISBN 1-84065-001-X.
- Hammel, Eric. Air War Europa: America's Air War against Germany in Europe and North Africa 1942-1945. Pacifica Press, 1994, p. 56.
- Bauer, Eddy (original text) (1966) . Illustrated World War II Encyclopedia. H. S. Stuttman Inc. p. 1478 (Vol 11), 1999 (Vol 15), 2059,2068. ISBN 0-87475-520-4.
- A Shaky Do: The Skoda Works Raid 16/17th April 1943 Peter W.Cunliffe ISBN 978-0955795725
- Russell, Francis; et al. (1981). The Secret War. World War II. Chicago: Time-Life Books Inc. p. 104,145,149. ISBN 0-16-049376-5.
- Middlebrook, Martin (1982). The Peenemünde Raid: The Night of 17–18 August 1943. New York: Bobs-Merrill. ISBN 0-672-52759-6.
- Zaloga, Steven J. (2008) . German V-Weapon Sites 1943-45. Fortress Study Group (72). Johnson, Hugh & Taylor, Chris (Illustrations). New York: Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84603-247-9.
- Hill, Roderic (October 19, 1948). Air Operations by Air Defence of Great Britain and Fighter Command in Connection with the German Flying Bomb and Rocket Offensives, 1944–1945.
- Collier, Basil (1976) . The Battle of the V-Weapons, 1944–1945. Yorkshire: The Emfield Press. p. 174. ISBN 0-7057-0070-4.
- Levine, Alan J (1992). The Strategic Bombing of Germany, 1940–1945. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-275-94319-6. Retrieved 2006-06-30.
- Radinger, Will and Walter Schick. (1996). 'Me 262 (in German). Berlin: Avantic Verlag GmbH. p. 51.
- de Bie, Rob. "Me 163B Komet - Me 163B Airfields". Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- Levine, Alan J (1992). The Strategic Bombing of Germany, 1940–1945. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-275-94319-6. Retrieved 2006-06-30.
- Stalin's Private Airfields; The diplomacy surrounding the AAF mission to aid the Poles and the mission itself is extensively covered in Richard C. Lukas's The Strange Allies: The United States and Poland, 1941-1945, pp. 61-85. Warsaw Rising Museum
- "LT COL Robert ROSENTHAL". https://100thbg.com. Retrieved 3 July 2015. External link in
- "1944 air raids". Historisches Centrum Hagen. historisches-centrum.de. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 1944, 1945
- Smith, J. Richard & Eddie J. Creek (1997). Blitz!: Germany's Arado Ar 234 Jet Bomber. Merriam Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781576380079.
- "Remembering the last raid on Nazi Germany". BBC News. 9 June 2015.
- Till, Major Noel O (September 1945). Report on Investigations, WO 309/1592. No. 2 War Crimes Investigation Team.
From the Till report of June 1945: "The Intelligence Officer with 83 Group RAF has admitted on two occasions; first to Lt H. F. Ansell of this Team (when it was confirmed by a Wing Commander present), and on a second occasion to the Investigating Officer when he was accompanied by Lt. H. F. Ansell, that a message was received on 2 May 1945 that these ships were loaded with KZ prisoners but that, although there was ample time to warn the pilots of the planes who attacked these ships on the following day, by some oversight the message was never passed on... From the facts and from the statement volunteered by the RAF Intelligence Officer, it appears that the primary responsibility for this great loss of life must fall on the British RAF personnel who failed to pass to the pilots the message they received concerning the presence of KZ prisoners on board these ships." See: Jacobs and Pool, 2004 and Till, 1945