World Aviation in 1945

1 January
Operation Bodenplatte: the Luftwaffe’s last major attack attempts to destroy the maximum number of Allied aircraft on the ground. 800 Luftwaffe aircraft are involved in this surprise attack and a total of 465 Allied aircraft are destroyed or damaged. More than 220 Luftwaffe aircraft are lost during the operation.

16 January
Allied air and ground operations force the German bulge forces in the Ardennes to retreat.

13-15 February
Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Army Air Force (USAAF) night and day bombers attack Dresden in Germany. These attacks create a fire storm which virtually destroys the city. Estimates of the dead vary from 35,000 to 220,000.

16 February
United States Army Air Force (USAAF) C47s drop more than 2,000 paratroopers on Corregidor. The island has already been ‘softened up’ by a major bombardment of Japanese positions.

17 February
Softening up operations begin against Iwo Jima. United States Navy (USN) carrier aircraft and naval guns combine with the 7th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Consolidated B24 Liberators to pound Japanese positions.

19 February
United States Marines, with massive air and sea bombardment support, begin landing on Iwo Jima.

21 February
The American carrier USS Saratoga is hit and badly damaged by a Kamikaze attack.

23 February
The German Air Force sinks its last ship of the Second World War; the Henry Bacon belonging to convoy RA64.

28 February
The first manned flight of the Bachem Ba349 Natter kills the pilot, Oberleutnant Lothar Siebert. Three subsequent manned launches are successful and the aircraft is approved for operational use, although it will not see service.

March 9
German forces, including air units, continue to attack the bridge at Remagen in an effort to eliminate this allied bridgehead over the Rhine.

9-10 March
279 Marianas-based Boeing B29s begin a new campaign of low-altitude incendiary night attacks against Japanese cities with an attack on Tokyo.

16 March
Japanese resistance on Iwo Jima ends, but is a costly victory, with 6,891 Marines killed and another 18,070 injured. It proves a very useful emergency landing ground with 2251 Boeing B29s finding refuge here before the war ends.

17 March
307 Boeing B29s drop 2,300 tons of incendiaries on Kobe in Japan.

18 March
The largest United States Army Air Force (USAAF) daylight raid on Berlin takes place, with 1,250 bombers and an escort of 670 fighters.

20-21 March
The Luftwaffe mounts its last manned aircraft attack on the United Kingdom.

21 March
The first, unsuccessful, sortie is made by Japanese Yokosuka Ohka suicide aircraft.

21-24 March
A combined effort by Allied air forces in Europe is mounted against the Luftwaffe and its bases and virtually destroys the Luftwaffe as an effective force.

23-24 March
Allied forces make large scale crossings of the Rhine in Operation Varsity, which sees a large scale Allied airborne landing take advanced positions.

27 March
The last V2 rocket to fall on the United Kingdom lands at Orpington in Kent at 1654hrs, killing one person and injuring 23 others.

31 March
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan officially ends. 137,739 trainees have passed through, of which 54,098 are pilots. In addition, over 155,000 air crew members were trained in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Over 14,000 British air crew members were trained in the United States.

1 April
Japanese Ohka suicide aircraft score their first major successes, when they severely damage the battleship USS West Virginia and three other vessels. One of those other vessels is the British carrier HMS Indefatigable.

7 April
The 71,000 ton Japanese battleship ‘Yamato’, a cruiser, and four of eight destroyers are sunk by endless air attacks from United States Navy (USN) carrier aircraft as they fruitlessly attempt to disrupt the United States landings on Okinawa.

7 April
United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Boeing B29s receive fighter escort for all future missions against the Japanese Home Islands.

10 April
The last wartime sortie over the United Kingdom is made by an Arado Ar234B reconnaissance aircraft operating from Norway.

10 April
In an attack on targets in the Berlin area the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) loses 19 bombers and 8 fighters to German Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighters.

12 April
The destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele is sunk by a Japanese Ohka suicide aircraft off Okinawa.

18 April
At the request of the United States, Spain prohibits the landing of all German aircraft on Spanish territory.

19 April
The International Air Transport Associaition (IATA) is formed at Havana in Cuba.

6 August
Boeing B29 ‘Enola Gay’ of the 509th Composite Group, piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets Jr, drops the world’s first operational atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima. The bomb is dropped at 0815hrs local time at a height of 1,900 feet and generates a yield equivalent to 12,500 tons of TNT.

Of the 76,000 buildings in Hiroshima, 48,000 were destroyed and 22,000 damaged. The bomb destroyed 4.7 square miles of the city and over 80% of its buildings. Japanese estimates put casualties at 71,379 killed or missing and 68,023 wounded.

9 August
Lieutenant Robet H. Gray of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) is killed attacking a Japanese destroyer. Attached to the Fleet Air Arm and flying a Corsair, he is posthumously awarded the last air force Victoria Cross to be won.

9 August
A second atomic bomb is dropped over Nagasaki from Major Charles W. Sweeney’s Boeing B29 ‘Bock’s Car’. The primary target is Kokura but weather over this city forces a diversion to the secondary target.

Due to the topography of Nagasaki with its hills and rivers, damage was far less than Hiroshima. However, 1.4 square miles of a built up area of 3.8 square miles was destroyed. Japanese estimates, which were comparatively low, put the casualties at 25,680 killed and 23,345 wounded.

14 August
754 Boeing B29s and 169 fighters are sent on the last wartime mission of the 20th United States Army Air Force (USAAF).

14-15 August
The unconditional surrender of Japan is announced.

15 August
Seven Japanese suicide aircraft make the last Kamikaze attack of the war.

15 August
Andrei G. Kochetkov, Head of NII-VVS Fighter Testsection, becomes the first Soviet pilot to fly a jet powered aircraft, a captured Messerschmitt Me262A, at Shcholkovo near Moscow.

19 August
Two Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’ transports carry the Japanese surrender delegation to Ie Shima.

21 August
All existing United States Lend-Lease contacts are cancelled.

A captured Focke Achgelis Fa223 ‘Drache’ helicopter, flown by an ex-Luftwaffe crew, becomes the first helicopter to cross the English Channel.

2 September
Surrounded by the United States Pacific Fleet, the Japanese sign surrender documents aboard the battleship USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.

10 September
USS Midway, the first of the United States Navy’s 45,000 ton class carriers is commissioned at Newport News in Virginia.

6 November
Flying the mixed power plant Ryan FR1 Fireball, which has a conventional piston engine and a turbojet engine in the rear fuselage, Ensign J.C. West uses the jet engine only to make the world’s first turbojet-powered landing on an aircraft carrier, the USS Wake Island.

29 November
The first air-sea rescue by helicopter takes place when seamen are rescued from an oil barge by a Sikorsky R5 at Long Island Sound.

4 December
The United Kingdom government agrees to supply military equipment to the French Air Force and Navy.