Monday, 02 June 2014 03:31

D-Day from the air

70 years ago, allied forces stormed Normandy. To remember these events, to not forget all men and women who fought for our liberty, here is a short picturial of these days, seen from the air.

Part I - Photo reconnaissance - Low altitude


The 10th photo reconnaissance group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for flying at low altitude to photograph the English Channel coast from Blankenberge to Dunkirk and from Le Touquet to Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue prior to the D-Day invasion during 6–20 May 1944. They focused on Normandy beach defenses.

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Timber ramps, with mines and saw toothed blades to tear bottoms out of landing craft were another type of defense. Pump and hose for jet blasting holes can also be seen.
German soldiers are running from buzzing P-38

 

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Eight foot stakes, constructed of stell, timber or concrete formed first line of Normandy anti-boat defenses. They often had Tellermines or shells pointed seaward attached to top. Photo taken by 1st Lt Albert Lanker, 10th Photo Reconnaissance groupe, one month before D-DAY.

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Shown here are gun positions in caves and barbed wire entaglements along the top of cliffs northeast of Dieppe, France

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Three tunnels or artificial caves, similar to installations encountered by the Canadians at Dieppe in 1942 are spotted east of Le Treport, France. Affording excellent fields of fire, they probably contained light machine or anti tanks guns.

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 Another type of defense, steel gate-like boat barricade.

 

Part II - Gliders and Transports


13000 US troops will jump from 1660 C-47 or will land in 512 CG-4 Gliders. On the british side, 8000 men will land with 355 Horsa gliders or will jump from 733 Dakota ... The main role for gliders will be to bring mobile and armament like Jeep and light anti tank cannon. Even a few tanks will land within Hamilcar glider towed by Halifax bombers.

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Royal Air Force Tarrant Rushton on D-Day. Halifax bomber and Hamilcar heavy gliders

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This aerial view of unassembled gliders of the 9th Air force await only their wings to take off.

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Troops inside a Waco CG4-A

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C-47s of the 72nd ("CU") & 74th ("CN") Troop Carrier Squadrons, 434th TCG as well as their Airspeed Horsa charges pack the Aldermaston ramp (AAF-467) in preparation for the invasion of France. 32 Horsas - all visible in this image - made up Mission KEOKUK, the smallest glider operation on D-Day. It was also the first launched in daylight, around 1830 hrs on 6 June.

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C-47 and CG4 gliders over the coast of France

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Gliders and parachutes

 

Part III - Landing

1213 warships involved, 200 US and 892 british, 4126 landing craft, 805 US and 3261 british, 12000 aircraft, 4413 deads on the allied side, between 4000 and 9000 estimated on the german side on June 6th 1944 only. 

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France - Normandy beaches looked like this in the radar scopes of 8th AF bombers during pre-invasion reconnaissance flight. Despite solid clouds, coastline and built-up areas of the various towns showed up clearly

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France - Same beaches on D-Day. Plane has moved to within 35 Miles of the same coast, its position indicated by the bright spot in center. Invasion fleet is clearly visible massed just off shore.

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France - Plane has now passed over invasion fleet and is about to cross coastline.

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PART IV - Bombing and Strafing

 

Operation Overlord was one of the first large scale demonstration of coordinated support between air and ground troops. German troops were under the constant attack from fighter bombers and strategic location were the focus of intensive bombardment. Prior to June 6th, more than 5000 tons of bombs will be dropped on german lines. 

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Few german aircraft were present in the sky of Normandy on June 6th, this Fw190A had no chance, downed by a P-51 fighter group.

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Col. Thomas J.J. Christian Jr, commanding officer of a North American P-51 Fighter group escorting bombers over Europe during invasion of Normandy.

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Bombing of Arromanche by B-17

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B-26 Marauder were intensively used during D-Day operations

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 This Marauder is htit by the FLAK. Tail gone, debris can be seen still flying around. The pilot was KIA and 2 crews POW.

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Fighter bomber were essential to the success, disrupting german troops everywehere. Here P-47 attacking a german convoy.

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Strafing german airfields 

 

 

Photo source: USAAF - Photo selection: Benoit de Mulder - June 2014.

 

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