On this day, 8th Air Force bombers, dispatched from their bases in England, fly the first American bombing raid against the Germans, targeting the Wilhelmshaven port. Of 64 planes participating in the raid, 53 reached their target and managed to shoot down 22 German planes—and lost only three planes in return.
The 8th Air Force was activated in February 1942 as a heavy bomber force based in England. Its B-17 Flying Fortresses, capable of sustaining heavy damage while continuing to fly, and its B-24 Liberators, long-range bombers, became famous for precision bombing raids, the premier example being the raid on Wilhelmshaven. Commanded at the time by Brig. Gen. Newton Longfellow, the 8th Air Force was amazingly effective and accurate in bombing warehouses and factories in this first air attack against the Axis power.