Shuttle bombing

Shuttle bombing is a tactic where bombers fly from their home base to bomb a first target and continue to a different location where they are refuelled and rearmed. The aircraft may then bomb a second target on the return leg to their home base. Some examples of operations which have used this tactic are:

  • In June 1943 the Royal Air Force (RAF) flew their first shuttle bombing mission of World War II it was code named Operation Bellicose. On night of 20/21 June they from their bases in the United Kingdom and bombed Friedrichshafen, landing in Algeria where they refuelled and rearmed. On the return leg they bombed the Italian naval base at La Spezia.
  • Operation Frantic was a series of air raids conducted by United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bombers based in Britain or the Mediterranean which then landed at bases built by the Americans in the Ukraine in the Soviet Union.
  • During the Warsaw Uprising the Frantic airbases were used for an airdrop to the Poles fighting in the city. On 17 September 1944 70 B-17s and 57 P-51s fly without bombs from Italy and land safely in the United Kingdom. On 18 September 107 of 110 B-17s dropped 1,248 containers of supplies to Polish forces in Warsaw and fly on to the USSR loosing one B-17 and seven more damaged. The next day 100 B-17s and 61 P-51s left the USSR and bomb the marshalling yard at Szolnok in Hungary as they return to bases in Italy.

Operation Paravane was based on a similar concept. In September 1944 No. 9 Squadron RAF and No. 617 Squadron RAF flew from their home bases in Scotland to a temporary base at Yagodnik, near Archangel in the Soviet Union. From there they bombed the German battleship Tirpitz in the Norwegian Kaa Fjord and continued on back to Scotland.


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