World Aviation in 1944
United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe is activated.
Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz assumes command of the United
States Strategic Air Forces in Europe and Major Generaa James
H. Doolittle takes command of the 8th United States Army Air
Force (USAAF) in the United Kingdom.
United States Navy (USN) Consolidated Catalinas, equipped
with Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) equipment, begin to
patrol the Straits of Gibraltar. This action is intended to
prevent German submarines from entering the Mediterranean.
During Ango-American landings at Anzio, 50,000 troops are put
ashore with massive air support and without opposition.
The Japanese launch a new offensive in Burma, with a plan to
capture the port of Chittagong and then the Allied bases of
Imphal and Dimapur in Assam, and then to invade India.
222 allied bombers attack the monastery of Monte Cassino in
Italy. The Germans had not occupied the monastery buildings
but immediately after the raid they turn the ruins into a
bastion. Successive attempts to take the monastery fail and
it is not until 18 May that Polish forces succeed in
occupying the heights.
Twelve radar equipped United States Navy (USN) Grumman TBF1C
Avengers, from the USS Enterprise, attack Truk by night. This
is the first night bombing attack launched by an American
5th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft support
landings in the Admiralty Islands.
Brigadier General Orde Wingate's special force lands at
'Broadway' in North Burma, in a night glider (sailplane)
During the first United States Army Air Force (USAAF) attack
on Berlin, 69 of the 660 heavy bombers deployed are lost and
11 escort fighters are shot down.
The 15th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) makes the first
operational use of the VB1 Azon bomb, a general purpose bomb
with a pair of radio controlled rudders in the tail.
Prior to the Allied Invasion of Northern France, a programme
of air attacks on all forms of enemy transport is given
A major allied offensive against the rail transportation
system in Europe begins.
A major engineering task to construct bomber and fighter
airfields in China, the Chengtu Project, is completed. The
project used over 400,000 Chinese coolies, often using the
most primitive of equipment, to finish the task.
A United States Navy (USN) airship crosses from South
Weymouth in Massachusetts to Port Lyautey in Morocco via the
Azores, to complete the first Atlantic crossing by a
non-rigid airship. .
A Luftwaffe Junkers Ju290A transport lands in Greenland to
evacuate 26 men of the Bassgeiger weather station who have
been based there for 10 months.
The Allied invasion of Normandy begins. The amphibious
landings, which are the largest in history, are preceded by
airdrops. The whole operation is supported by massive air
operations, with the allied air forces flying 14,674 sorties
in the 24 hours up to midnight on the 6 June.
The first allied airstrip in Normandy at Asnelles north east
of Bayeux, is completed and becomes operational.
Allied aircraft begin to operate from airstrips in the
States Navy (USN) Task Force 58, comprising seven heavy and
eight light carriers, is assembled and begins the opening
phase of the Mariana Island campaign.
The first German V1 to be launched against British targets
falls at Swanscombe near Gravesend and a few minutes later,
another drops at Cuckfield in Essex.
With massive air support from Task Force 58 carrier aircraft,
United States forces begin landings on Saipan in the Mariana
Boeing B29 Superfortress aircraft of the 20th United States
Army Air Force (USAAF) carry out their first raid against
Japan from airfields near Chengtu in China. The raid is a
night attack on the iron and steel mills at Yawata, Kyushu.
The Luftwaffe uses the Mistel composite aircraft for the
first time. This initial night operation sees five composite
aircraft, combining the Messerschmitt Bf109F and Junkers
Ju-88A deployed against Allied shipping in the Seine Bay.
2,400 Allied bombers make a saturation raid on German
positions at St Lo in France. The operation occurs in front
of the American positions, in an attempt to 'soften up' the
enemy prior to an allied breakout.
United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Lockheed P38 Lightnings
use napalm for the first time, during attacks on a fuel depot
at Coutances, south-west of St Lo in France.
The first jet aircraft combat takes place, when a German
Messerschmitt Me262 from the experimental unit Ek262
intercepts a Royal Air Force (RAF) Mosquito reconnaissance
aircraft from No.544 Squadron over Munich. The British plane
managed to survive the encounter.
A battle damaged Boeing B29 Superfortress of the 20th United
States Army Air Force (USAAF) lands at Vladivostok and is
immediately seized by the Soviets, followed by another three,
seized later in the year. The aircraft are carefully
dismantled, examined and serve as pattern aircraft for the
construction of the Tupolev Tu4 'Bull' aircraft.
The 1st Allied Airborne Army is formed under the command of
Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton.
The first 'Aphrodite' mission is undertaken by the United
States Army Air Force (USAAF). Radio-controlled Boeing B17
Flying Fortresses, packed with 9,072 kilos (20,000 pounds) of
TNT, are launched against German V2 sites under
constructionin the Par de Calais in France.
United States Carrier Division 11 is commissioned. This is
the first division intended for night operations and consists
of the carriers USS Ranger and USS Saratoga.
Mediterranean Air Forces begin dropping arms and supplies to
the Polish Home Army in Warsaw.
Mediterranean Air Forces, with 2,000 aircraft based in
Corsica, begin the invasion of southern France This is the
start of over 4,000 operational sorties and the transport of
more than 9,000 airborne troops. 400 gliders (sailplanes) are
used in the landings.
Messerschmitt Me163 rocket interceptor fighters are used
operationally for the first time, to make attacks on Boeing
B17 Flying Fortresses of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
The 78th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
claims the destruction of the first Messerschmitt Me262 to be
shot down in combat.
Germany begins the launch of V1 rockets against targets in
An unsuccessful German attempt to assassinate Stalin,
Operation Zeppelin, begins. A task force flies from near Riga
in Latvia to a point near Moscow where the Arado Ar232B
transport aircraft they were using crash lands. The assassins
drive off by motorcycle but are soon caught by Soviet
Two German V2 ballistic rockets land in Paris and, later in
the day, the first V2 launched against England lands at
Chiswick in West London. Two people are killed and several
In an attempt to secure bridges over the Maas, Waal and Lek,
Allied paratroopers land at Arnhem, Eindhoven and Nijmegen.
The operation is only a partial success as the British 1st
Airborne Division is defeated at Arnhem. 2,200 survivors are
evacuated but 7,000 are left dead or prisoners.
A Messerschmitt Me262 is shot down by the 32nd Fighter Group
of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF).
The Battle of Leyte Gulf begins and the Japanese introduce
Kamikaze suicide attacks, which sink the light carrier USS St
The Battle of Leyte Gulf ends, marking the end of the
Japanese fleet as an effective fighting force. Japan lost 3
battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 10 cruisers and 11
destroyers during the battle and the Americans lost 3
aircraft carriers, 3 destroyers and a submarine.
The 9th Fighter Squadron of the United States Army Air Force
(USAAF) operates from Tacloban airstrip, in first American
air operations from the Philippines since 1942.
A United States Army Air Force (USAAF) F13 reconnaissance
variant of the Boeing B29 Superfortress aircraft becomes the
first American aircraft to fly over Tokyo since the Doolittle
raid of 1942.
The Japanese 'Fu-Go Weapon' (balloon bomb) offensive against
the USA begins.
88 Boeing B29 Superfortresses of the 21st United States Army
Air Force (USAAF) Bomber Command make the first major bombing
attack on Tokyo from the Mariana Islands.
The first Soviet turbo-jet TR1 (VDR3) completes its official
bench running tests.
USS Chourre is commissioned as the first United States Navy (USN)
aviation repair ship.
The Convention on International Civil Aviation is signed in
The 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Force
(USAAF) is formed in Utah, to carry out United States atom
Major Richard Ira Bong, the United States Army Air Force's
most successful fighter pilot of the Second World War, scores
his 40th and final victory.
The first vertical launch of the German Bachem Ba349 Natter
takes place. The aircraft is intended for operational use as
a manned, vertically-launched rocket-powered interceptor, but
this first flight is un-manned.
General Henry H. Arnold becomes General of the Army. He was
the first American air officer to hold this five star rank,
which had only been created by legislation signed on 15
December by the United States President Roosevelt.