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Video - The role of aviation in the Normandy landings : 6th June 1944

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On 6th., June 1944, 11,000 aircraft were involved in the support of the Allied landings in Normandy. On the occasion of the 70th., anniversary of that historical day we focus on just some of these aircraft and the role they played.


Among the 900 transport aircraft involved, the American Douglas C-47 Dakota nicknamed "Skytrain", by the British, dropped a very large part of the 17,000 paratroopers over the Normandy beaches. But this troop transport aircraft also played another role on 6th., June, 1944, that of towing many of the 1,000 military gliders, the Waco CG-4's in particular, used for dropping paratroopers discreetly.


Besides the transport aircraft, there were bombers, such as the British Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax. These four-engined heavy bombers were able to drop five to six tons of bombs, on average, over the enemy positions. There was also the Douglas A-20 'Havoc', whose main mission on D-Day was to produce the smoke screens off the Normandy beaches to hide the Allied ships heading toward the coast. The B-17 "Flying Fortresses", armed with thirteen machine guns also participated in the Battle of Normandy. In total, some 2,500 bombers dropped more than 8,000 tons of bombs on that one day alone.


The last type of aircraft in the battle that we highlight, were of course the fighters, such as the Hawker Typhoon. With its wing-mounted 20mm cannons and rockets under the wing, this British single-seater fighter-bomber was used mainly in the support of ground operations, and the destruction of German army trucks, locomotives and tanks. The British Spitfire, was used to carry out similar missions, together with reconnaissance missions for ground troops.

On 6th., June, 1944, therefore, it was a veritable flying armada that was deployed in the air, and more than 14,000 allied sorties were undertaken with just a handful of aircraft being lost. At the end of the day, only 27 aircraft were reported missing.


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