The Combat Box was a tactical formation used by the bombers US 8th and 15th Air Force, which concentrated the power of the bombers’ guns and also ensured they landed on target. Even when the bombers were accompanied by fighter escorts, which happened increasingly from 1944 onwards, the combat box was used as it concentrated bombing accuracy from aircraft flying at high altitudes. The first missions that flew from England in 1942 were six-plane squadrons, but as missions grew larger in size and required deeper penetration the ‘box’ formation was manipulated to suit a variety of challenges. Permutations consisted of boxes comprising 18, 21, 27, 36, and 54 aircraft. By 1945 the US 8th Airforce was flying 36-aircraft Combat wing formations, which consisted of four squadrons of nine aircraft, each at different altitudes, with each formation flying at 4-mile (7-km) intervals, which made them easier for escorts to protect. However, there was always a risk of the lowest squadron in the box being hit by bombs released by planes above it and in situations with poor visibility the lowest squadron was eliminated.
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