Britain’s first ‘Thousand Bomber Raid’ was launched on the night of 30 May 1942 as a display of the Royal Air Force’s strength. It would additionally serve as a testing run for a number of new deployment tactics, most notably the ‘bomber stream’ which, following the introduction of the GEE navigation system, allowed large quantities of bomber aircraft to follow a course between enemy detection zones, thereby minimizing losses from enemy fire. Cologne was chosen as the target of the mission after bad weather ruled out Hamburg and its important naval yards, whilst secondary missions were launched against a number of other targets. The unprecedented display of force planned for Operation Millennium required the recruitment of trainees to fill crew positions and featured an array of different aircraft. The mission was a success, causing widespread devastation to Cologne and, from the total of 1,047 bombers that partook in the mission, only 41 were lost.
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