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On the morning of March 24, 1945, an enormous air armada crossed the Rhein River near Wesel in western Germany. The column, two-and-a-half hours long, consisted of more than 1,500 IX Troop Carrier Command airplanes and gliders. To their left were about 1,200 RAF airplanes and gliders. The entire assemblage was supported by 880 US and RAF fighters