By Sam McGowan In the summer of 1944, the Third United States Army under Lt. Gen. George S. Patton made a spectacular dash across France, a daring advance that ranks high on the list of great military endeavors. To a large extent, the gains made by Third Army were possible only because of the cooperation between the ground units and air units of the XIX Tactical Air Command (TAC). More so perhaps than anyone else, Patton knew how important the young fighter-bomber pilots and their Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and North American P-51 Mustangs were to the success of the operations he planned for his army. Few, except perhaps the young men in the tanks and those fighting alongside them on the ground, realized just how detrimental bad weather that kept the fighter bombers on the ground could be. But the Germans knew and they planned their movements to avoid the deadly “Jabos,” as they called the Allied fighter bombers. Third Army had learned how air and fast-moving armor could complement each other and allow a particularly audacious army to quickly overwhelm and defeat superior forces. During the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941, Third Army demonstrated just how effective the combination could be as armored forces supported by air moved so fast and occupied so much territory that umpires were called to question the legitimacy of the tactics. Third Army’s success enhanced the reputation of its commander, a German immigrant named Walter Krueger. Krueger’s “sledgehammer” in


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