50th anniversary of the design of the B-17 Flying Fortress cover signed by Curtis LeMay
Curtis Emerson LeMay (November 15, 1906 – October 1, 1990) was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party presidential candidate George Wallace in 1968.
He is credited with designing and implementing an effective, but also controversial, systematic strategic bombing campaign in the Pacific theatre of World War II. During the war, he was known for planning and executing a massive bombing campaign against cities in Japan and a crippling minelaying campaign in Japan's internal waterways.
After the war, he unintentionally initiated what is known remembered as the Berlin airlift, then reorganized the Strategic Air Command (SAC) into an effective instrument of nuclear war.
When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, LeMay was a major in the United States Army Air Forces (he had been a first lieutenant as recently as 1940), and the commander of a newly created B-17 Flying Fortress unit, the 305th Bomb Group. He took this unit to England in October 1942 as part of the Eighth Air Force, and led it in combat until May 1943, notably helping to develop the combat box formation. In September 1943 he became the first commander of the newly-formed 3rd Air Division. He personally led several dangerous missions, including the Regensburg section of the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission of August 17, 1943. In that mission he led 146 B-17s to Regensburg, Germany, beyond the range of escorting fighters, and, after bombing, continued on to bases in North Africa, losing 24 bombers in the process. The heavy losses in veteran crews on this and subsequent deep penetration missions in the autumn of 1943 led the Eighth Air Force to limit missions to targets within escort range. Finally, with the deployment in the European theatre of the North American P-51 Mustang in January 1944, the Eighth Air Force gained an escort fighter with range to match the bombers.
WW2 American USAF B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber leader signed cover
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