Operation Big Week

This was the US unofficial designation of the concentrated Allied (especially US) air attacks against German aircraft production centres within ‘Argument’ (20/26 February 1944).

The object of this ‘Argument’ offensive was to destroy as much as possible of German fighter production capability and, more importantly, to entice the German fighter arm into the air in large numbers so that its strength in men and machines could be decimated by the Allied fighters escorting the bombers. In the event, German fighter production was damaged only slightly (as a result of the programme of decentralised production already under way) and delayed by about two months, though Germany’s losses of experienced fighter pilots proved more damaging.

The USAAF lost 261 bombers and 33 fighters, and the RAF 131 bombers in 'Big Week', which cost the Germans 355 fighters and almost 100 pilots killed.