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I’ll try to answer the second question first.
As the number of available fighters to 8th AF increased during 1944-45, the profile of fighter missions changed. In the early days of 8th AF bombing missions, the fighter groups were assigned particular bomber squadrons/groups to escort from the rendezvous area to the target and back for the entire mission.
Later on, as the fighter groups in theater multiplied, the fighters did not have to stay with the bombers for the entire mission. Fighter squadrons or groups would be relieved by fresher squadrons or groups that took off later on that mission day. So the bombers were protected by continuous relays of fighters throughout the entire mission, hence the relay notation on the pilot record.
As to the A/D entry on the record, I can only hazard a guess. Another fighter mission profile late in the war was an area support role, where fighter squadrons or groups were assigned a particular geographic area to defend as the bomber stream flew through it. By 1945, there were so many fighter groups available to 8th AF that they could afford to simply station fighter groups to specific areas to smother any Luftwaffe attempts at bomber interception. So in my opinion (and just my opinion), A/D mission designations may stand for Area Defense over the city listed in the data block.
I pulled this info out of a great book by Roger Freeman, The Mighty Eighth War Manual (Motorbooks International, 1991).
I hope you find this information useful.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate your analysis of these codes. I read the John C. McManus book, Deadly Sky, which uses the Freeman book as a source. I think I’ll broaden my reading list a bit more. Thanks again for your insight!
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