tv U.S. Army Air Forces in Africa and Italy 1942-43 CSPAN March 30, 2018 8:16am-9:04am EDT
is not in the paris climate accords is a travesty. every other country in the world has recognized the detrimental impacts of climate change, currently we have not stayed on course with the other countries. >> we are the richest nation in the world, yet we have citizens that go bankrupt trying to cover basic health care costs. that is an outrage and we should be ashamed. >> sunday night on c-span's q & a. >> christopher rein talked about his book. mr. rein described how the fledgling u.s. air forces supported ground operations and helped rid the north african skies of the previously dominant
german luthwatha. this is 45 minutes. >> our next speaker is a brave man, he's going to take on the post lunch kroid. he's not afraid, he knows what he's up again and he's ready to concur the challenge. i'm pleased to introduce chris rein. who in addition to being an air force officer and navigator, happens to hold a ph.d. from the university of kansas. and he has the added bonus of being an esteemed native of pearl river louisiana, which makes him a good guy in our books automatically, he's taught at a number of the nations professional military education colleges in schools and he's going to talk to us today about an often overlooked and important component of the war that would be aerial operations
in the mediterranean theater. welcome chris. >> good afternoon, folks, thanks for coming out, thanks especially to the museum staff, and certainly the organizers of this distinguished conference or panel. for the concept. jeremy for all the hard work you've done. all your staff. i appreciate it very much. being a native of the area, i remember back in 2000 i was just a face in the crowd up at southern university in baton rouge. and i remember seeing the joy on the faces of the vets as they rolled through town. not just for the recognition they were getting on that day, but for knowing that their stories were going to be preserved and relayed and handed down to the next generation, so i commend and thank the museum for all its efforts in taking up
that vital and important miss n mission. today i want to talk to you about my -- what was my dissertation and first book, which is a north african air campaign. for the folks that don't have this on the screen at home. i'm going to try to prove that in north africa, american airmen properly and profitably employed air power against the access ground naval forces, achieved more than they could have in an air only campaign at the time. the reason i took this up, i would like to say that i hope to follow in his footsteps. rick atkinson had recently published an arm my at dawn and described the efforts the ground forces went through in this campaign. i realized it was a similar process in terms of refining
doctrine, leaders, which ones would fail and which would succeed and go on to lead the campaigns. we heard a little bit about some of the trials that the army had with its equipment. and so this question, i think is one that comes out of the campaign, and it's still somewhat contentious or was at least in the post war air force. whether there should be air only campaigns, whether tactical air command would provide more of a conventional or tactical focus. and to some degree, that debate continues to this day. i thought this would be a profitable avenue to explore that. i'm going to do that in three main parts. the prequel, the main story and the sequel. we'll start with the western dez desert. the initial commitment. roosevelt was concerned that the ground forces were not yet engaged in the axis powers. for the air forces that was not yet true. the u.s. army air force sent a
small delegation to egypt and palestine to the western desert where they fought along the arf. and did not necessarily provide a significant force to the battle. they would have turned out the way it did, even without the american commitment, in terms of what the airmen learned alongside the british, it was significant for them. just because the ground forces aren't engaged yet, doesn't mean the air force isn't already busy. desert storm comes to mind. the airmen were engaged in shaping the situations from kuwait into iraq. >> this is very much the focus today, and we spent a lot of time on kassarine. that was a two-week period of what was at the very least a 6-month long campaign for the conquest of north africa.
you roll in the british efforts it becomes a several years long campaign. i want to place it in context, of the larger, the exploitation and so i'll finish that briefly with how we applied the lessons we learned in north africa, the invasion of sicily, and landing at salerno, and maybe misapplied some lessons. in terms of the raid. i'll start where all american history seems to start, it seems, which is over in the u.k., we'll look quickly at the raf, and what they were doing in the western desert. i mention this not in an attempt to steal any of the valor of the british forces. it was a commonwealth victory, the american contingent was small. maybe 10% of the force flying in the raf. this is sort of the last great victory for the british, before the americans came along and ruined everything.
i appreciate that, i don't want to steal any of their success, this was very important for the airmen that were involved in this campaign. you see two of the officers there. while the merges only formed a small portion of the british tactical force, they formed almost 100% of the raf's heavy bombers in the theater. this is significant because british doctrine stressed the importance of strategic raids which they were involved in on bomber command with germany. the americans, while also having a similar theory of how to employ air power were willing to deploy some of the heavy bomber assets to north america. they make a substantial contribution to that campaign. in terms of setting the stage. there's an old saying that
amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics. the logistics of the supply line certainly bears discussion. this is a quick diagram of how the supplies were flowing forward to ramal's position here.ramos' position just behind the front at ella main. so, you see the various shipping lines that stretch across the mediterranean in the various ports where they terminate. these were primarily the objectives, the targets for the american heavy bomber force. there were two groups, the 98th and 376 groups that were based in palestine. lit an air base what is today israel and they were primarily assigned to interrupt this logistics, the supply chain striking ports either in italy and greece. obviously very difficult to hit the ships en route. once they pulled into the north african place like benghazi, there they were vulnerable to air attack as they were off loading. especially the oil tankers which as rob mentioned earlier, fortunately they didn't realize it, he was sitting on one of the world's largest air reserves in
libya. a lot of that is still imported during this time. but there was a very famous quote from one of the german generals who said, there were three ships en route, oil tankers scheduled to dock two weeks before. he said on these three ships rest the german fate of armies in africa. all three why sunk in port before they could unload their cargo. that contributed to as we mentioned earlier the logistics especially the oil difficulties the german forces suffered. so, this was one of the aircraft. and i show this photo just to kind of emphasize the ad hoc. these are not fixed bases. they are not where air crews can prepare. this is very much thrown together. you see in briefing the mission plane side before they step in and take off. and so the american commitment was, as i mentioned, small, but had, in terms of the logistics effort, an impact sort of out of, out of much more important
than the scope or the level of effort. that is going to be a lesson that gets carried forward into the rest of the north african campaign. i'll talk briefly about el alamein, 1942. one of the things that enables montgomery to win over romel is the fact they have uncontested air superiority in this battle. and a big part of that is because as you know it is very busy in other affairs summer and fall of 1942. this is the campaign towards the caucus that will terminate in the battle of stalin grad. typically what would happen is the luf twa ffe, they would shift to the mediterranean. this would allow them to beat up the british bases. this was important to interrupt the german supply lines across the mediterranean. in the spring when weather
improved they would ship them back to russia to support what was going on there. unfortunately because of the battles around stalin grad, that allowed them to maintain supremacy largely through this time period. in interdicting the supply lines, a lot of accounts written immediately after the war minimized the war of ultra because it remained classified. we know now as the work initially polish and code breakers we had most of the access sailing schedules which made it easier to inter diplomatic the supply line when they would arrive. that made the campaign that much more effective. lastly, as i said, in addition to the heavy bombers we sent two tactical groups. p-40s and one medium bomb group equipped with p-25 mitchells, the 12th bomb group. they're flying alongside, in
many cases sort of parsed out to the r.a.f., to the western desert air force. and because of the very heavy air pressure, they really restrict romel's mobility. any time he attempts to concentrate his forces for counterattack it brings down a heavy weight of air strikes that not only have we limited his logistics pipeline, but now we are restricting his mobility on the battle field. and eventually in this two-week battle, you see there in the various units from across the commonwealth a raid that wind up enabling montgomery. again, all the criticism, he's slow, he's plotting, it's a set piece. but you know what? he usually wins, so he deserves credit for that at least, which is a substantial difference than what we saw with many of his predecessors. so the victory results in a final end to the seesaw campaign across north africa. the italians attacked, the brits pushed them back. romel showed up. the defensive greece enables ramos to get back to the
egyptian libya border. they have a second counter offensive which is successful. this ebbs and flows based on, in many cases, the air strength in the theater. but finally the attacks by the japanese in the pacific theater force another siphoning of the australian out of the western desert and allows them to get to the counter offensive. the positive of this is that ramel is finally in retreat and he'll not be back in egypt again. but the negative is the time frame that it occurs. it's november, december, you're starting to get into the rainy months in north africa. as anyone who has spent a winter at any other air bases in the desert, it doesn't drain very well. it looks flat, it's sandy, it's hot, it's desert. but when it does rain it can create a lot of problems. so, that's some of the things that montgomery is up against in his pursuit. one of the ways around that fortunately is through air
power. i was very excited to see this picture prominently featured in the road to berlin exhibit yesterday as i walked through the museum. it's the c-47 of the 16th troupe carrier group. an entire c-47 group four squadrons that deploys to egypt primarily to support the american air forces in theater. the main air depot was actually back in eritria. they were pressed into service through logistic cal effort. flying fuel forward to keep montgomery's forces moving as they are moving along the single road basically the stretches along the northern coast of africa. and so -- and that was an aircraft that was not present in the r.a.f. in fact, we loaned many of these dakotas as they're known to the royal air force. this was a capability at the time that was fairly unique within the u.s. army air forces.
so i move forward to the tunisia campaign. two things i want to my light here. first it's operational talctica campaign. even though we have heavy bomb era sets. we ship from the u.k. down to 12th air force in north africa. but it's a tactical, as it would have been called then or today more of an operational campaign. these heavy bombers are working over ports, they're working over air fields. they're not present on the front lines. that's one of the things, one of the spheres the air force takes in this is that the ground forces don't see them very often. and so become in some cases unaware of the work they're doing behind the lines to restrict the flow in. air superiority is going to be critical and it's going to be difficult to achieve during this time period. i have a few slides that will show you hopefully why that was. this is one of the last times where the ground forces are going to have a very seriously contested air environment and won't operate with the benefit
of air supremacy that they've had, almost unbroken since this time. and then the big part, of course, is the interdiction campaign is dee isicisive. certainly the fighting is important. if you don't have ground forces there, if you don't have people willing to trite the stuff already on the ground you're not going to win. romel argues in the book path to victory, by choosing to fight, they stick their ned in a noose. the noose is the supply lines that stretch across the mediterranean the boot between sicily and tunisia. it is not just aircraft, submarines operating out of malta. that largely, i think, contributes or makes an outsize contribution to the ally success. this is a variation of what we saw this morning in terms of the allied plans for the torch landings. and the thing that i want to point out here is we mention
three divisions at el alamein. the red bull, the 34th infantry division, first arm orred and first infantry. the british 78th division which is charged with the primary attack on tunisia and the folks that wind up fighting just short. but the party want to point out is on the far left there are three more american division, second armored, third infantry and 9th infantry not involved in the pass battle. why would you fight a battle with half of your force not on the scene. the reason for that is and the reason paton lands in morocco, we were concerned as we launched this operation, operation torch, that franco and the nationalists in spain would somehow close the straits of gibraltar or otherwise close the supply line which would cut off our forces. we would have the same problem the germans did, no supply line to our rear. those were kept back in morocco to guard against the possibility
and make sure they can keep that critical supply avenue open because, again, most of the logistics are still arriving via ships, convoys from either the states or the u.k.. and so if you close down that vital line of communication, that certainly inhilb its your combat capability. so, those three divisions now, the 9th i.d. gets there just in time and is one of the reasons they stop the attack. but the others are still back in the rear. also most of the air establishment, the main depot for 12th air force is at casa blanca. so, when we talk about quad rsqs fighting in tunisia, logistics fighting, you can see some of the challenges the air forces are up against. we haven't talked a lot about the navy today, and i don't think that's intentional. but it was primarily a ground and certainly an air force. i do want to acknowledge the contribution, again, without the mercha merchant mariners, running the convoys through heavily boat infested waters. the navy itself sends several
carrier loads of planes to the north african campaign. this is one in particular. the uss escort carrier which flies off all of the 33rd fighter group during the north african campaign. so, you have actually advanced attrition for the group. but here you see army aircraft operating from aircraft carriers which is not a typical scene in the second world war, but it's certainly a vital contribution in terms of building up allied air power. most of the air cover for the torch landings was provided by the carrier forces, but the uss ranger, u.s. navy and two british carriers inside the mediterranean. but they could not stay in those very heavily u-boat infested waters for long so it was vital to build up the air strength as quickly as possible. i'll talk quickly about kasserine pass. the aaf deserves some of the spears thrown at it, but it
wasn't i don't think a willful case of neglect. one of the arguments, one of the many debates that comes out of this period is that the army air forces were so focused on strategic bombing they completely neglected tactical development. they didn't have aircraft. they didn't have the equipment, they didn't have the doctrine. in reality, they proved that they did because for six months they did it alongside the brits at el alamein. it doesn't have the opportunity to filter into the kasserine forces. interest were other difficulties as well. the equipment, the p-40s inferior to the 109 in many respects. the radar, there's no radar site. so why do they not know when the air raids are coming? they haven't fully integrated the communication ands electronic capability into the force. the weather is absolutely horrendous. as i mention now we're getting into february so we're still in the rainy season. for the 18th through the 20th, the 12th air floeorce does not in the sorties. the weather has closed in so badly. what are the lessons the allies
learned? rob can speak to this with more authority than i can. there are lessons for the access forces to learn as well. if you're going to launch a counterattack, do it when the allies can't fly especially when they have control of the air. we see that again two years later when we talk about the rden offensive in the battle of the bulge. but there are significant difficulties, the air field and logistics i think are probably the biggest. this is a quick diagram just to show you when the allies get stopped in front of tunis what they're up against in terms of the air forces. and so the germans are flying largely from fixed air fields. these were pre-war obviously french colonial air field, concrete for the most part, hard surfaced, all-weather air fields in and around tunis. whereas the allies are out in dirt fields out in the desert. as soon as it rains basically turn to mud and shutdown operations. the german air crews have the benefit of fixed bilets. the allied are lodged in fox holes and tents. logistics capability i think is
very significant when we discuss the kasserine battle. i won't go into too much detail. you've seen a variation of this map already. i do want to point out, though, that the air fields, ford air fields designed to support the line on the western dorsal are actually to the left of the screen there and overrun in the opening stages. the flyable aircraft are flown out. even today in our air force, 80% of availability rate is considered pretty good. at the end of this attenuated logistics supply line it was probably close tore 50% for the allies. when you have aircraft that are disabled, that are awaiting parts, things like that, unfortunately they have to be left on the runway and these are the ones that the germans overrun and capture along with probably most critically 60,000 gallons of fuel that's been brought forward at great expense, great effort to these air fields that now are no longer available. so a lot of the close report
squadrons are pulling back. the weather as i mentioned is not ideal during the early part of the battle. and another similarity with the bulge or with the arden offensive, the top left of the screen there, this is really what, after the germans breakthrough at kasserine pass, this is their objective. they don't have the logistic cal tail to drive all the way through. if they can destroy the supply base, certainly supplies are not available to anderson's first army to resume the offensive against tunisia. it gives romel a shot in the arm if he's able to hold montgomery behind the line. the fact he doesn't get to tabessa, yes, he breaks through at kasserine pass, but he doesn't get the supplies he needs like the battle of the bulge. they don't get to some of the other allied supply centers. when we debate whether it's a victory or defeat -- and i'm
sure we will in the next session -- that's one of the factors we have to keep in mind. this is a slide that i found, research up at the national archives. i was there with one of my colleagues fort levin worth, mark calhoun. mark, here's the book in one picture. so, what this demonstrates, really the only two lines you have to worry about are the one that's labeled naf or north african air force combat aircraft. that's the green line you see in a vertical slope. and the very top line which is access combat aircraft, the brown line. and as you can see when we start out, the race for tunis, the allies are at a huge disadvantage in terms of combat aircraft. at the kassarine battle, february toward the bottom middle of the screen you can see there is still a significant disparity between access and the combined british and american or northwest african aircraft. but about the time that of the battle that leo talked about this morning at el guitar in the middle of march you can see the
lines almost start to cross. if you ask yourself why was it that before el guitar we weren't doing so well and afterwards we seem to do much better, well, the ability to employ more aircraft and more successfully as the weather starts to improve in the spring season and inter diplomatic those supply lines leading into tunis and gain control of the battle field i would argue are some of the things, first off, fredondal didn't have and paton and bradley will have during their tenures and command of second core as we get later on into the tunisian campaign. so, what did we learn in north africa? certainly there were failures and i think observation was probably the biggest one. this was the branch of aviation assigned to work closely with the ground forces and it failed miserably. our tactical reconnaissance capabilities were nowhere close to what the british put together in the western desert air force. that aspect, the ability to get photo reconnaissance down to the commanders, this is something we learn we have to work on and we do.
we mentioned teddy roosevelt's son, but another famous roosevelt's son, elliott roosevelt in charge of the american tactical reconnaissance capabilities in north africa. he writes a very detailed report and goes back and is instrumental in getting the american tactical reconnaissance establishment back on its feet both at will rogers field down in oklahoma city and also key field outside meridien mississippi where the tactical schoolhouses were respectively. we start to rework our doctrine, we get better equipment, better aircraft, f-5s, f-6s, p-31, p-38. we test them, we train alongside. it was very excited to see in the louisiana war exhibit mention of the louisiana maneuver area, also in tennessee, out in california at the california/arizona maneuver area, along the colorado river where we gradually get better at this. we realize we have problems. we go home, we refine doctrine, we train to it and by the time these units that have trained
here deploy in 1943 and '44, they're much more capable than the units we sent over in '42. sometimes there are lessons you learn what you can't do. you learn what you can do. operation power has been vindicated. the air force doctrine at the time which is then enshrined in this document here which is field manual, the air force sees very much a priority, a trinity. it is still true today in air doctrine, air superiority is the first, if we're not attacked, ground support, anything like that. second priority becomes interdiction or what was known in the parlance of the day, isolating the battle field, cutting off the flow of resupply and equipment. and those two missions absolve -- absorb the bulk of the allied effort in north africa. that is part of the reason they never get to the third one which is closer direct support of ground troops. i think it was said this morning that there was no air support at
kasserine. i would qualify that somewhat. there was no direct air support. it wasn't the cast the troops were expect thing or counting on. there was air support and the size of romel's force had been limited by the sustained attacks, especially the interdiction attacks on the axis supply line. some of the aircraft that are doing this are the ones that we see here, the aaf in addition to sending the b-24 groups to the western desert, sends four b-17 groups to north africa. the commander of the air force in u.k. is screaming at this diversion from the combined bomber offensive that he wants to achieve a critical mass and use these aircraft, you know, to beat down germany in preparation for operations there. but they actually render much better work in north africa. for one thing the weather is a lot better and the resistance is much lighter. so, the air crews you may know from the memphis bell, you fly 25 missions you get to go home. in north africa that number is 50 because if they send everybody home at 25, they'd run out of air crew.
they extend the guys to 50 missions so we get twice the pay back for the investment that we've made in terms of training these air crew. we also start to learn that with our p-38s and there's three groups of p-38 fighters in north africa, that when we escort missions we get much better results. one, because the guys in the airplane aren't constantly dodging or shooting back but they're focused on their bomb runs and on their targets. 9 p-38s perform well in this role. both of these efforts are under the command of lieutenant colonel james jimmy do little. everyone knows about the do little run and everlasting fame. what most people don't know is he's part of 12th air force. in fact, he's in charge of the north african strategic air force which is the american heavy bombers and their escort fighters. i would argue the service he renders there organizing and fielding that force is equal to in importance if not greater than the effects he achieved with the morale rate on tokyo. so, moving forward in the time that i have remaining, the so what, the exploitation phase, one of the first things in the
invasion of sicily, command of the air enables us to take the next step. in 1942 we can't run a convoy through to malta without serious losses. massive amphibious force capable of deploying allied force in sicily. the failed rate is something the strategic air advocates had favored. unfortunately the timing for this raid on 1 august 1943 comes just prior to the german evacuation of sicily. as a result of the heavy losses that we sustain in that raid out of 177 aircraft that are launched, 54 of them are shot down. total of over 100 planes never fly again. we really decimate and these are all b-24 groups. we decimate much of our heavy bomber force right at the critical time when we're trying to -- the german s are trying to evacuate sicily. but then in terms of the positives, we do learn at solerno even though we don't have a very lengthy air campaign, we finish up sicily in
mid august. we land in salerno, we don't get the chance to do air prep like we'd like to do. we had two months between tunis and sicily. that is why solerno is as close as we come to being pushed back into the ocean from our amphibious assaults in the war. very quickly, the sicilyian campaign, the u.s. is kind of the junior varsity, the left flar flank, the vets get the eastern coast of the island towards mussina. paton is supposed to be in flank support keeping the germans off the side of montgomery's forces and then that turns into, as we heard earlier, very contested rivalry. paton actually gets to mussina first which looks like a p.r. success, but in reality the germans have already evacuated because we have failed to block the straits of mussina and prevent two entire german
divisions from making it out. and those two divisions oddly enough we'll see again at solerno. the poletsdi rate, we send five groups to try to destroy a complex of refineries producing about a third of the german oil during this time frame. unfortunately what we don't know is refineries only have enough crude to run at about half capacity. and so even though we destroy 50% of the refining capacity, the remaining 50% is more than enough to continue to process the same volume of crude. unfortunately it's taking out unused capability. and there are some minor disruptions that the romanians or germans are able to ship crude elsewhere to some of the other refineries in europe. so, unfortunately for the very high cost that we paid for that raid do not see the results that we would like to have seen from it. finally, i'll mention the landings at solerno. again, there is some hard luck divisions in world war ii. god bless the texans if you ask
them, they won all the hard jobs, but they have a tough job at the river and solerno is another one. we send in the tea patchers and they're hit almost immediately with a heavy counterattack from the axis forces there, just the germans at this point. the italians are dropped out. but a couple things that saved them. one, heavy naval gunfire support. two, the strategic bombers which had been working over marshaling yards in rome and some of the airfields far afield of southern france are diverted in the strategic air power guise parlance to bombing the concentration areas for the german counterattack of the beach head. so, that helps and then of course the airborne that we drop, again the airborne operations in sicily had been very costly. we flew in directly over the invasion force just after they had been attacked by a few german bombers which result ed in very heavy losses to the airborne forces. we learn at solerno, we route the air routes for the transports away from the
invasion fleet. they're much more accurate because we use path finders with beacons. again, this is a lesson we learn obviously if you're familiar as i'm sure you all are in normandie, the ingress route for the forces is to the west of the peninsula so that it does not overfly the invasion convoy that's headed towards the beaches. probably the biggest thing, most important thing, though, is once we get ashore, we capture naples which is incredible port. but also we get the air field complex around fojia. we can stand up 15th air force which i'm sure many of you are familiar with one of dr. ambrose's books, the wild blue about the heavy bomber forces in 15th air force in southern italy. from there we can now strike targets in southern jefrm any. we can hit poletski with accurate weather because we're to the west of them so we know what the weather certificate going to be over the target. but also with escorts. there is sustained campaign over the course of '44 that finally reduces that 50% refining
capacity down to about 10% by the time the soviets get there i think in august of 1944. and so the taking of that air field complex winds up being the strongest or most important part of the campaign. so, i'll wrap up right here. again, for those who don't have the advantage of seeing it on the screen at home, i'll read this for you. so, my conclusion, the tactical uses of air power, including the use of heavy bombers to establish air superiority, interdict axis supply lines and provide direct support to land and naval forces as well as the use of tactical air lift assets to support ground campaign played a critical role in north africa. this is not just a sort of acute or academic history. it's actually something that has continued forward, not just in northwest europe and influenced our employment of air power there, but even still today, the lessons that we learned in north africa as i mentioned earlier, the bed rock of our current tactical air doctrine. today there's a bit of a doctrinal renaissance afoot in the defense department.
many folks are talking about a thing called multi domain battle which is an extension of the air land battle that we saw in the 1980s that resulted in the successful operations in iraq in 1991 and operation desert storm. i think as we come out of this long period of a small wars and get back into sort of wrapping our head around large scale combat operations, the idea, the could concept of multi domain battle, air, land, naval, as well as cyber forces and information domain in order to facilitate american success on the battle field, and finally i would be remiss if i did not have at least one mention of klauso vitz in the presentation. [ laughter ] >> if you read it, he argues the correct employment of military forces against the fielded forces rather than attempting to take land or capital. you want to destroy the enemy's army. once you've done that, that will provide your quickest path to victory. and so an employment of air forces against fielded forces i think lines up with the master's
ideas on warfare as well. so, with that i apologize i'm a bit over my allotted time. i apologize for stealing some of your questions time, but i look forward to hearing your thoughts and responses. [ applause ] >> thank you, chris. the benefit of being the last speaker on the slate, maybe those questions can go to you at the round table. so, please raise your hand. i'll bring the microphone to you. i haven't checked upstairs yet. everybody is full. [ laughter ] >> either i covered everything or was not interesting at all. one of the two. >> as an army guy, i don't think investigate about the air force. i was going to say i don't think much about the air force, but that wouldn't sound right. but it's interesting, the attack into romania and the loss there.
while bill donoman was directed to put the oss into yugoslavia to get the air man back, which he wasn't going to do. in world war ii, that was probably the first episode that we've actually thought about getting air crews back with the seesaw which we do now on a routine basis. >> it was critical. as the air force launches this, they don't publish it the next day in the newspapers. it's difficult to find out how much damage we had done. in terms of lost capacity, what we subsequently found out was a lot was german deception, misinformation. they overemphasize the damage in hopes the allies wouldn't return when in reality they put the facilities back online fairly quickly. interesting howal that wor all . collecting information is good,
collecting accurate information is even better. >> chris, all the way to your right. >> sir, if the number of missions was twice that of the 8th air force, were the casualties proportionately lower? >> yes, there was much lighter resistance. that is gaining superiority and pounding the german air fields. ramping up in intensity by the summer of 1943, you see the german strength sort of flat lining, it's not that they're not having any impact on it. they are inflicting very heavy casualties on ti forget the exact numbers, but he has them in his book. again, ground forces it's easier to restrict flow back in. with air forces it's very difficult because you can send another squadron down and another one. but we do know that by the summer of '43, the casualties on the german force were very high, which again leads to lower casualties for the allied forces. there's a stein hoff, one of the commanders in sicily reports having three planes either shot
out from under him or destroyed within the time span of a week just because of the very heavy raids the b-17s were making on places like kamiso and triponi preventing him from getting his force in the air. and the replacement pilots he are so poorly trained they can't floo fly formation. his force is being tried very heavily during this time frame. >> in the very back center. yes, sir. >> given the problems of coordination, close air support, american air, american ground, what was the experience in trying to coordinate close air support from allied air forces? >> so, that was -- the way it was set up, the idea was that the british would support the british forces, american would support the american forces initially. now as the american effort sort of declines, it winds up that -- right after the kasserine battle -- remember when romel shows up so does cunningham. it is integrated into the force
that's were fighting. now it's the north african air forces. just as doolittle is running, they had very refined capabilities. they had tentacles. the forces already in tunisia, it becomes where any allied aircraft can support ground force. that system gets much better over the course of the war. but it's not there yet. my current project in actually looking at the development of tactical air doctrine and how we go from this to 1944 which is i'm sure many of you know is very effective, probably best ground support we've had up to desert storm. and it is a long process. it takes awhile for that experience, a lot of the guys that fly in north africa as they reach their 50 missions or whatever, they get sent home to
the training establishment. so, now you start to have better instructors, more experienced, more knowledge training the force up. so that helps quite a bit as well. >> i believe there was a question here in the center. right here. >> any instances in the beginning of friendly fire drops -- >> oh, absolutely. especially if you read pal robinette was one of the most vocal critics of air tactical support. he was one of the first units thrown in december as blade forces stalled in tunisia. he wrote scathing reports about the inability to obtain air support from british or american tactical aircraft. robin's flaw was he didn't send those to his superiors, division commanders or eisenhower theater commander, he wrote to george marshall directly. if you go to the marshall papers in lexington, the letters are still there and he absolutely
rips it apart. he forwards it. you this is something you may want to look into. it filters down. he sends it to theater commander. are you unhappy with our air support? eisenhower gets to call and go, why are you doing this? and marshall's papers, too, there is a response from eisenhower. yes, we've looked into this. there are issues, but robinette, while skilled capable combat leader, it will not ascend and unfortunately he's wounded which is a big part of it. he does not ascend to higher command. there are certainly instances. there is a heavy bombing raid at the end of kasserine. they sent b-17s to find the forces. they tool around for an hour. the weather certificate bad. they wind up bombing i think tabessa or near that. it is entirely friendly fire. but again, that is not what they trained for to find tactical forces in the field. they were used to bombing ports and air fields in tunisia, in sicily and in italy.
so, finding something out in the middle of the western dorsal was probably a little bit beyond their capability at the time, so. >> thank you very much, chris. [ applause ] >> there is more american history and tv am primetime friday evening when our focus will be on the nation's 16th president, abraham lincoln . we'll show you a symposium on lincoln 's life, career, and legacy. also a discussion on president lincoln 's relations with his cabinet and congress in 1862. american history tv primetime begins friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. >> this weekend, on the c-span networks, saturday at 9:20 p.m., on c-span, a debate on the suit by a same-sex couple against a colorado bakery for refusing to make their wedding cake.
from the national constitution center in philadelphia. and sunday at 6:30 p.m., daniel mark, chairman of the u.s. commission on international religious freedom on the current state of religious liberty in the u.s. and around the world. saturday on book tv, c-span2 at 10:00 p.m. eastern, on after words, james swanson talks with associated press writer jesse holland about events leading up to the assassination of martin luther king, jr. and sunday at 10:00 p.m., second lady karen pence and her daughter charlotte share the story of their family's pet rabbit, marlon bundo. saturday on american history tv. c-span3 at 8:00 p.m. eastern, on lectures and history. tulane university professor blake gilpen on moon shine drivers and the origins of nascar. and sunday at 8:00 a.m., landscape historian jonathan pliska about the annual white house easter egg roll which began in 1878. and the changes that have been made along the way.
this weekend on the c-span networks. >> monday, on landmark cases, griswold v. connecticut, griswold of planned parenthood challenged the connecticut law banning the use and prescription of birth control. it was ruled to be unconstitutional and established a right to privacy that is still evolving today. our guests are helen alvare law professor at george mason university antonin scalia law school and rachel re boch e, law professor at temple university. watch landmark cases monday. and join the conversation. our hashtag is landmark cases and follow us at c-span. and we have resources on our website for background on each case. the landmark cases companion book, a link to the interactive constitution and the landmark
cases podcast at c-span.org/landmark cases. >> tunisian victory was a world war ii propaganda film on the north africa campaign co-produced by the british and u.s. governments and released in early 1944. the documentary used combat footage and reenacted scenes, animated maps and segments with president franklin d. roosevelt. british prime minister winston churchill and french president charles de gal. they told the story with alternating british and american narraters. the campaign ended with an allied victory in may 1943. when approximately 275,000 axis soldiers surrendered. this is an hour and 15 minutes. ♪ ♪