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AM: .....JT's daddy flew B-17s. I think.

The B-17 was a flying coffin, IMHO. Big, slow, not very maneuverable, no armor, not able to get above the then current fighter aircraft. My hat is off to the men who flew them, even though they were aware of the risks.

Also pathetic is that the bombs were useless, due to lack of accuracy. They originally tried to bomb the submarine pens on the North Sea, and did almost no damage. When they tried their luck with industrial factories they had some success. The factories were spread out and had no armor. Given enough bombs they eventually hit something. I understand the city of Mannheim (A manufacturing center for precision machinery such as ball bearings) was flattened such that there was hardly one brick on top of another. The bombs also depressed civilian morale (Hey, my morale would be depressed if a bomb killed me!)

I read that after the war in Berlin, they piled all the debris together and made a ski hill in an otherwise flat area.

When I was in the army I was stationed in Heilbronn. Heilbronn had no industry and no military base, but they did have a harbor on the Neckar river. The Neckar also went to Stuttgart, which did have some worthy targets, and so was bombed regularly. I was told that there was one night when Stuttgart was covered with clouds (Night bombing was preferred as the bombers were harder to see and to shoot down.) so the bombers hit a secondary target: The harbor and docks in Heilbronn. (They had to off load the boats in Heilbronn and truck whatever cargo to Stuttgart because of so much damage in Stuttgart.) That one night 7,000 people died in Heilbronn. (Heilbronn was only hit the one time.) I visited the mass grave on the hill behind the city. They have built a model of before and after the bombing, showing the damage in some detail.* The model was in the City Hall when I saw it. [They said the bombers were British, not American. I can't vouch for the truth of that claim. Interestingly enough, I heard the same claim for the bombing of Vicenza, Italy. I had been stationed there earlier. The bombing target there was the railroad station. The center of the city was flattened. They cleared the debris and made a nice park, complete with some Roman ruins.]

My, I do run on, don't I?

*Mark Twain visited Heilbronn and wrote a witty piece "Rafting down the Neckar". He described the city hall in some detail. He was very impressed by the courtyard in front of City Hall. There were (and are) small pillars with heavy chains run between them, about 15"-18" off the ground. Twain said the children would sit on those chains and swing, dragging their feet on the pavement below. He said that nothing in Europe had so impressed him with age as the grooves the children's feet had worn in that pavement.
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