By Dan Sharpe
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Additional resources for D-Day: Operation Overlord and the Battle for Normandy
This weapon, already proven during use by Hurricanes, was devastatingly effective against tanks. Throughout the Normandy campaign, the crews of German armoured ﬁghting vehicles feared the arrival of Typhoon ‘jabos’ overhead. Analysis of destroyed tanks after the Normandy campaign showed a hit rate for air ﬁred rockets of just 4% but the psychological effect of the attacks had been dramatic. There were numerous instances where veteran tank crews, on spotting a Typhoon heading their way, immediately jumped out of their vehicle and ran for cover.
The Calais region was defended by 93 heavy gun emplacements and 39 mobile heavy guns, compared to Normandy which had 27 emplacements and 20 mobile heavy guns. All along the length of the wall were mineﬁelds, trenches, pillboxes, bomb shelters, command posts, tank traps and machine gun nests but, as an added defence, large areas behind the beaches were also ﬂooded to make them impassable. Coastal roads were blocked with solid concrete walls, huge tree trunks or dense coils of barbed wire, and seaside villages were turned into mini strong points with ordinary houses converted into bunkers and blockhouses.
After ﬁghter-bombers and ﬁghters, the other key form of air support for the Allied forces was the heavy bomber might of the RAF’s Bomber Command and the American Eighth Air Force. More than 2300 sorties were ﬂown by American heavy bombers on D-Day alone against German coastal defences and front line troops. Most commonly ﬂown was the ‘deﬁnitive’ Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress – the B-17G. Also used were the Consolidated B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell – the latter mostly by the RAF. Britain took delivery of around 900 examples in 1943.
D-Day: Operation Overlord and the Battle for Normandy by Dan Sharpe