The Lesson at Ijmuiden. The Tragedy at Arzfeld.
“Everything is very simple in War, but the simplest thing is difficult.”
General Carl von Clausewitz
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
On May 17, 1943, eleven Allied B-26 Marauders in their second ever European Theater mission skimmed across the English Channel for IJmuiden and Haarlem, port and industrial cities in Holland. Their assignment was to knock out German torpedo boats based in Ijmuiden and the generating station that powered industrial facilities in the twin cities critical to Germany’s war efforts.
What began in heady confidence ended in disaster! Mechanical failure spared one Marauder, forcing it to abort the mission and return to England. The remaining ten with five-man crews were destroyed by Luftwaffe fighters and flak from German anti-aircraft batteries. Low-level operations by Marauders over Europe stopped dead in its tracks with this disaster. The top brass of the Eighth Air Force to whom the B-26 was assigned had to rethink the operational doctrine passed on to them from the Pacific Theater for this airplane.
This event helped usher in the the 9th Air Force's use of Light Attack Bombers like the A-20s and the A-26s. It also placed Gen. Vandenberg into the 9ths driver's seat. Unfortunately, the failure at IJmuiden was forgotten leading to the castrophic 23 January 1949 strafing run of a group of A-26 Attack Bombers. Read about the tragedy below.
How Operational Doctrine Changes and Why It is Important
Medium Bomber Doctrine Evolution.doc
Microsoft Word document [80.0 KB]
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