Before getting here though, it managed to go down in history through several achievements. During the war years, it was “the greatest air armada in history,” with over 200,000 people enrolled. They tended to 2,000 four-engine bombers and 1,000 fighters, all of which could be deployed at once for a single mission, if need be.
It is because of this massive punch it packed that the Eighth Air Force became known to the world as the Mighty Eighth. It was involved in all the major operations over Europe, and that had its toll: the Eight accounted for half of all the Air Force’s casualties there, including 26,000 dead. It lost 5,100 aircraft, but also achieved a double number of victories.
The valor of the airmen deployed with this unit was recognized with 17 Medals of Honor, 220 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 442,000 Air Medals. 566 aces served with it, fighting together with the others in a total of 440,000 bomber sorties.
As it turned 80, the American and British Air Forces decided to honor the air army with a dedicated formation. The flight took place over Duxford, England, in early February, and it involved a B-1 Lancer, two F-15 Eagles, and an F-35B.
The main photo of this piece, released by the USAF at the end of last week, shows the four planes during their Happy Birthday flight.