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D-Day, in the air above and around the beaches

The bombers rise ponderously from their fields scattered across southern England, climbing in great circles through the clouds as the squadrons form up into their boxes, reach their cruising altitudes, and head out across the Channel, with 4 missions in direct support of the largest sea-borne invasion yet attempted in history. Other bomber streams head off into other areas of Europe, to keep the Germans off-balance.

At first light, 659 of 882 B-17s and 418 of 543 B-24s in 8th Army Air Force hit coastal targets in the area of the invasion beaches between Le Havre and Cherbourg. The overcast and problems with the Pathfinders causes some bombers to not find their targets. Only one B-24 is lost, with 2 B-24s damaged along with 14 B-17s. 12 aircrew died during the mission, with two wounded and 13 MIAs reported upon the return of the bombers to their home fields.

A second group of 84 B-17s and 259 B-24s sets out to isolate the invasion area by bombing transportation chokepoints such as bridges and railyards. The low cloud base causes the majority of these aircraft to return with their bombs undropped. 37 B-24s find their secondary target of Argentan, with a loss of 2 B-24s, which manage to return to base but are written off. The third mission has 73 B-24s go out against Caen, 58 manage to find their target and bomb the city with no aircraft losses.
 
The final mission is, like the others, designed to isolate the landing beaches from reinforcement. This mission targets transportation chokepoints in towns immediately S and E of the assault area. 325 of 409 B-17s and 125 of 300 B-24s hit targets including Vire, Saint-Lo, Coutances, Falaise, Lisieux, Thury-Harcourt, Pont-l'Eveque, Argentan, and Conde-sur-Noireau Losses again are light, with B-24 shot down, 1 B-24 damaged beyond repair and 11 B-24s and 5 B-17s taking flak damage; 10 airmen are KIA.

The fighters are not sitting idle. VIII Fighter Command has three missions on D-Day: escorting bombers, attacking any movement toward the assault area, and protecting Allied shipping. From the official history of the 8th Air Force, "The fighters fly 1,880 sorties including fighter-bomber attacks against 17 bridges, 10 marshalling yards, and a variety of other targets including convoy, railroad cars, siding, rail and highway junctions, tunnel, and a dam. Very little air opposition is encountered.
 
The fighters claim 26-0-8 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 4-0-9 on the ground. Also destroyed are 21 locomotives and 2 carloads of ammunition. Numerous targets are damaged including locomotives, trucks, tank cars, armored vehicles, goods carriers, barges, and tugboats. Targets attacked with unreported results include warehouses, radar towers, barracks, troops, artillery, staff cars, 85 trains, and a variety of other targets. 25 fighters are lost."