010378 - 9th AIR FORCE : American Tactical Aviation in the ETO, 1943-45
By Gregory Pons
Dedicated to the memory of the airmen and soldiers of the 9th AF who gave their all for the liberation of Europe.
During the preparation of the Normandy Invasion, the American high command realized soon enough that the 8th Air Force, which was wholly committed to strategic bombing, could not undertake the close support of ground units in this major offensive. The keystone of operation “Overlord” would indeed be mastery of the skies: tactical aviation had to be able to intervene quickly and precisely, and to operate from bases on the Continent. The heavy bombers, as they were dependent on large and permanent airfields, could not be called upon for such tasks. The concept of on-call tactical air support was therefore paramount in the Overlord plans and the 9th Air Force was transferred to England for this purpose. The hundreds of hitherto unpublished photos copied out from the pilots and crews’ albums, and the full-color reconstruction of their flying gear are a unique testimony to the day to day life of 9th Air Force personnel and the missions of combat crews. Let us look at these men’s faces, they belong to the Past but we owe them our Freedom.