By John T. Bookman
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Additional info for The march to victory: a guide to World War II battles and battlefields from London to the Rhine
However sobering these facts for the RAF commanders at High Wycombe and the political leadership in Whitehall, RAF bombers continued their flights over the Reich. In order to boost the morale of blitzed British families and to persuade a neutral United States and an invaded Russia that Britain could attack, Churchill grasped the only offensive weapon he had Bomber Command. There were developments in train that held out some promise that the bomber offensive could be made to work or, at any rate, to work better than it had.
The Luftwaffe had operational four hundred single-seat Bf 109s and Focke-Wulf 190s and eighty twin-engine Bf 110s to fight the battle by day. All had been fitted with more armament. These modifications better enabled the German fighters to bring down the tough American bombers; they also markedly affected flying performance. This would tell later in dogfights with American fighters. The Luftwaffe did not yet, however, have to contend with a fighter escort over Germany. American air commanders had begun to acknowledge a need for escort, but no suitable plane with sufficient range was available.
Some 450 anti-aircraft guns and 100 searchlights were clustered around the major industrial centers. Without a precise radar system for tracking the British bombers, the flak batteries enjoyed scant success. In order to firm up the night air defenses, Goering began to expand the night fighter force. Here too, really effective fighter interception would await the introduction of more sophisticated radar. The very difficulties that plagued the defenders of the German homeland in the early years of the war also affected the attacking British bombers.