World War II
"There are scars on the ground for which we had no explanation. Now we can start to see why some of those exist." —Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson
This dataset combines digitized paper mission reports from WWII. It can be searched by date, conflict, geographic location and more than 60 other data elements to form a live-action sequence of the air war from 1939 to 1945. The records include U.S. and Royal Air Force data, as well as some Australian, New Zealand and South African air force missions.
Aircraft of World War II
The rickety biplanes of World War I played important roles in many battles, but they did not fundamentally change the nature of warfare. The planes of World War II, in contrast, were highly effective in warfighting.
Between 1939 and 1945, Allied planes dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs on Axis powers.
Use the Filter on the chart to see the top 5 aircraft for each of the war's theater of operations.
B-17 heavy bombers
Bombers—planes designed to carry a large amount of explosives and attack from high altitudes—flew the most missions, as recorded in the THOR data.
The powerful B-17 heavy bomber was developed in the 1930s. It proved so efficient that it served in every theater of the war. THOR data records 31,263 missions flown by the B-17 in all of the war's theaters.
A B-24 Liberator of the 15th USAAF wings its way over a towering column of smoke that rises from the Xenia Oil Refinery at Ploesti, Rumania. In all theaters, 33,674 B-24 missions are recorded in the THOR data.
—National Museum of the U.S. Navy Allied Air Raids in Europe, August 10, 1944.
Bombs and targets
Pilots braved clouds of antiaircraft fire to provide close air support to ground forces, and to destroy vital enemy infrastructure such as bridges and oil refineries.
But planes also attacked targets well beyond the front lines of the battlefield.
Use the Filter on the chart to see the top targets for each theater of operations.
Battle of Kasserine Pass
The Americans first faced the Germans in earnest at Kasserine Pass, Tunisia, in late February, 1943. Routed by General Rommel, the Americans retreated—though the Germans mysteriously never pressed their advantage. The THOR data reveals why: American air power mangled the German supply trucks.
For 70 years we wondered what were the losses that he was sustaining and who was causing them and now with THOR we know the reason.
—Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson
Bombing of North Africa
There are scars on the ground for which we had no explanation. Now we can start to see why some of those exist.
- Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson