Auxiliary Gas Drop Tanks
The limited ranges of early fighters left the bombers alone to fend for themselves soon after crossing into the European continent. With the development of the auxiliary drop tanks, this problem was overcome, fighters were then able to escort the bombers all the way to the German border. Eventually, Allied fighters roamed anywhere in Nazi held territories.
Hermann Goering was head of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe. In the early part of the war, he remarked, "If Allied planes ever bomb Berlin, you can call me Meyer."
In December of 1943, B-17 Flying Fortresses- escorted by P-51 Mustangs- bombed Berlin.
After the war, Hermann Goering told American General Carl Spaatz: "When I saw American fighters over Berlin, I knew [we had lost the war]."
Goering's Berlin statement above would come back to haunt him. As Allied bombers devastated Germany; many ordinary Germans, especially in Berlin, took to calling him "Meyer." It is rumored that he once himself introduced himself as "Meyer" when taking refuge in an air-raid shelter in Berlin.
Allied aircraft used metal and paper drop tanks, both of which can be seen above. The paper drop tanks appear brighter because they painted with a silver ‘dope’ that seal the tanks. The dull tanks are aluminum.
The radio code name for drop tanks was "Babies."
Paper Drop Tanks
To conserve strategic metals the British developed a method of laminating paper with glue that would hold fuel — for just one mission. Fuel stored in the tanks for more than a few hours would break down the glue and the tanks would disintegrate. Paper drop tanks were too fragile to land with.
If a mission was suspended after the fighters took off, they had to approach single file to a location, like low-level bombing, to drop the tanks and then land.
A P-51 air group consumed more than 7,400 gallons of gasoline for an average mission and drop tanks carried about a third. It seemed like a waste considering that citizens in America were rationed four gallons a week.
Compared to their metal counterparts, paper tanks were light and easy to handle. As shown to the right — just climb up and toss them down.