The Second World War saw a major leap in the effectiveness of military aircraft. Advances in technology permitted bigger, faster and more capable designs. Radar provided the means to fly and fight in the dark, and the first jet aircraft were in service at the war’s end. Air power was used in a variety of roles and was of decisive importance during the war.
In the early years of the war, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) controlled the skies above Hitler’s armies and served as flying artillery, destroying enemy targets and helping facilitate the German advance across western Europe. This requirement for local air superiority, and the use of ground attack aircraft, became common to all battlefronts as the war progressed
The Royal Air Force In Britain
Aircrew in full flying kit walk beneath the nose of a Short Stirling Mk I of No. 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire in spring 1942.
Aircraft came to dominate the skies over the oceans too. The once-mighty battleship proved acutely vulnerable to air attack and even submarines could be sunk from the air.
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Strategic bombing put civilians in the front line. Although Germany was first to attack city targets from the air, the Allied bomber offensive proved vastly more destructive. Air power reached a terrible climax with the nuclear bombing of Japan.