Flak—Survival Was a Matter of Luck, Not Skill
World War II’s Greatest Killer
“You see the flashes of the guns on the ground and then you sweat out the flak burst, wondering where in hell they’re going to crack. You see the ships ahead of you going through the flak barrage and know that you have to go through the same thing.”—Lt. Ralph G. McConnell, B-26 bombardier “FLAK, always a major cause of loss and damage, has steadily increased in relative importance to become the greatest single combat hazard in presentday operations. For instance, in June, July and August 1944, data based on interrogation of returning crew members of lost bombers as well as from crew members who returned safely to base...indicate that many more bombers were lost to flak than to fighters. In the same period, flak damaged 12,687 of our bombers and only 182 were damaged by fighters.”—“An Evaluation of Defensive Measures Taken to Protect Heavy Bombers from Loss and Damage,” Operational Analysis Section, November 1944.
A 15th Air Force B-17G wends its way through heavy flak over Augsburg on February 27, 1945. Between December 1942 and April 1945, the Eighth Air Force recorded an astonishing 54,539 aircraft damaged by flak— 20 percent of all sorties dispatched.