1,329 Allied bombers and 700 long-range fighters meet heavy resistance by German jets and fighters over Berlin. The 8th Air Force loses six Mustangs and 13 bombers while the Lutwaffe, using the new jet powered Me 262s and air-to-air rockets, lose only two planes, despite being outnumbered 32 to 1.
Germany sends out 120 student pilots to face 1,000 American bombers in a suicidal operation. In a plan approved by Hitler, pilots are ordered to ram their planes into the American fleet and attempt to parachute to safety. Only a few German attackers will hit the bombers, and 3/4 of the Luftwaffe fighter pilots will be killed in action.
In what will become known as the “day of the great jet massacre,” Allied aircraft shoot down half of the German Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter planes. The loss proves fatal to the Luftwaffe and the defense of Berlin is abandoned.
Carl Spaatz declares that the Strategic Air War has been “brought to a close” and “won with a decisiveness becoming increasingly evident as our armies overrun Germany.”
The 8th Air Force bombs train yards in Dresden, Germany, killing 500 civilians.
The Luftwaffe shoots down five Allied bombers in a mission over Aussig, Czechoslovakia. These will be the last planes lost to the Luftwaffe.
American and Soviet Armies meet at the Elbe River.
With Soviet troops fewer than 500 meters away, Adolf Hitler commits suicide in a bunker by a combination of cyanide poisoning and a gunshot wound to the head.
The German Army surrenders to the Allied expeditionary force in Reims.
V-E Day — Europeans flock to the streets in celebration of the victory over the Nazis one day after the German Army surrendered to the Allied expeditionary force in Reims.
The 8th Air Force begins to return to the United States, but soon redeploys to the Pacific Theater where they will be reassigned to Okinawa under Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle, with the mission to organize and train new bomber groups for combat against Japan.
The Enola Gay, part of the USAAF's 509th Composite Group, drops the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
V-J Day — Japan surrenders to the Allies, officially ending World War II. Emperor Hirohito announces the unconditional surrender over Japanese radio, accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.
The Air Force becomes its own arm of the American Military, releasing its tie to the Army.
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My American Experience
Were you there for the storming of Normandy beach? The Bombing of Germany? The Victory in the Pacific? Or perhaps your friends and relatives have passed on stories of their own World War II experiences that you would like to share.