1994 29¢ B-17s on Bombing Raids
World War II – 1944: Road to Victory
Issue Date: June 6, 1994
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Before World War II began, aviation experts claimed the long-range bomber was the most advanced weapon in the world, capable of wiping out cities and destroying an enemy’s ability to continue fighting. By the end of the war, their theory had been proven true.
Relying on the cover of darkness to evade the enemy’s fire, Great Britain favored “area bombing” - heavily bombing an area in hopes of hitting a target - a campaign that was both costly and ineffective. In 1942, the United States joined the air war against Germany. Favoring day raids on specific targets, the U.S. used the popular B17 to carry out its bombing campaign. Fitted with heavy armor and numerous guns, these “Flying Fortresses,” as B17s came to be called, were able to withstand fierce fighter opposition.
A year later the U.S. and Great Britain launched a bombing campaign against Germany that lasted until the end of the war. After heavy initial losses however, it soon became apparent that for the raids to be truly successful, long-range escort fighters such as the P51 Mustang were necessary. By the end of the war the U.S. Army Air Force had dropped more than 2 million short tons of bombs and destroyed over 40,000 enemy planes.