Working Backwards from Berlin to the Bocage

Working Backwards from Berlin to the Bocage
Air National Guard Image Gallery by Roy Grinnell

Long-range missions striking Berlin in the spring of 1944 provided just as much support to Operation Overlord as fighters flying over the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. This claim establishes the foundation for a more holistic, unifying narrative for airpower's application in Europe. This approach also avoids the tendency to bifurcate airpower application into tactical and strategic airpower.[1] Flipping the traditional geographic narrative from Berlin to the bocage and back to Berlin again also highlights how long-range bombers and fighters seeking to achieve air superiority over Berlin enabled Allied troops to fight through the bocage, those much-reviled hedgerows of Normandy that favored German defenders. Throughout the rest of the war, short, medium, and long-range aircraft engaged in a single massive and mutually-reinforcing campaign rather than separate tactical and strategic campaigns.

Tactical airpower generally refers to airpower in direct support of what is occurring on the battlefield. The role of close air support epitomizes what often springs to mind when students of history think about tactical airpower. In this role, tactical airpower provides immediate support for troops on the ground through close communication and coordination.[2] It would be remiss, however, to stop there.

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