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Luftwaffe and USAAF Tactics - Attacking Bombers 1944
When bombers flew with a dense screen of escort fighters, the attacking fighters could face serious losses if they attacked the bombers directly.
Focusing on the bombers allowed the escorts to achieve a firing position on their tails easily (except in cases where total surprise was achieved and a quick attack was made).
Therefore, attacking fighters were divided into two formations: the attacking unit and the top cover.
(1) the attacking unit sent part of the fighters at full speed feinting an attack on the bombers. They would pass close, but not inside the fighter screen, and would speed away.
(2) the close escort would detach units to pursue the "attacking fighters"
(3) another part of the attacking fighters would dive to protect the decoys
(4) the top cover unit would bounce the enemy top cover to keep it busy
(5) the remaining attacking fighters would take advantage of the hole in the screen and would attack the bombers starting with the aircraft on the edges of the formation.

One variation was to use (3) and (5) fighters to attack the bombers to maximize the attack if conditions were favorable.

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