The Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte on 1 January 1945 in an attempt to overturn Allied air superiority on the western front and assist German ground troops during their Ardennes Offensive. The offensive targeted airfields and aircraft, aiming to inflict maximum damage to Allied air capabilities, which had proven decisive in recent engagements along the front. In order to maximize numbers involved in the attack, the Luftwaffe had to draft in trainees who demonstrated their inexperience during the raid, with numerous sorties going off course or being outgunned in dogfights. Knowledge of the operation was top secret amongst the Luftwaffe chain of command, which only added to the general disorganization and instances of friendly fire. Despite destroying over 300 Allied aircraft during the raid, the Luftwaffe lost over 200 pilots either killed or captured and, unlike the Allies, were unable to replace them.
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