From inside flap
The western Allies flew 314 bombing missions to Berlin between 1940 and 1945. Germany’s capital was its largest city, the richest metropolitan center on the European continent, the sixth-largest city in the world—and a legitimate military target. It housed the headquarters of the Third Reich and the German armed forces. It had a dozen aircraft assembly plants and a similar number of factories for military vehicles. It was a vital rail and transportation hub. By any measurement, Berlin was the heart of the Reich, and it was protected to a degree befitting that status.
Berlin’s antiaircraft defenses stretched across more than forty miles of searchlights, flak batteries, and airfields brimming with German air force fighters—up to 1,600 combat-capable warplanes. Royal Air Force Lancaster crews ran this gauntlet under cover of darkness, carrying out the most sustained effort against a German city during the war. While the Britons went after cities at night, the Americans went after installations by day. Outgoing and returning bombers would sometimes pass each other in the early morning as the sun rose on the Reich.
The U.S. Eighth Air Force began its war on Berlin on March 4, 1944, followed by an all-out assault two days later, and, after a hiatus, continued from late 1944 until war’s end. The February 3, 1945, mission was the next-to-last major Eighth Air Force effort against Berlin and the largest bombing mission undertaken against a single target. Robert F. Dorr brings this mission to life through the words of official reports, airmen’s diaries, and his personal interviews of hundreds of veterans. From wake-up call until surviving bombers land back in England up to twelve hours later, the reader is along for the ride on a harrowing mission over enemy territory, enduring high-altitude cold, flak, and enemy fighters while trying to bring an end to Hitler’s Reich.