Allied Forces Begin Operation Strangle to Disrupt German Supply Routes in Italy

Operation Strangle was a series of air operations during the Italian Campaign of World War II by the United States Fifteenth and Twelfth Air Forces to interdict German supply routes in Italy north of Rome from March 24, 1943, until the fall of Rome in spring 1944. Its aim was to prevent essential supplies from reaching German forces in central Italy and compel a German withdrawal. The strategic goal of the air assault was to eliminate or greatly reduce the need for a ground assault on the region. Although the initial goal of forcing the enemy to withdraw was not achieved, the air interdiction of Operation Strangle played a major role in the success of the subsequent ground assault Operation Diadem.

Two principal interdiction lines were maintained across the narrow boot of Italy. This meant that no through trains were able to run from the Po Valley to the front line, and that south of Florence substantially all supplies had to be moved by truck. The operation employed medium bombers and fighter bombers over a 150-square-mile (390 km2) area from Rome to Pisa and from Pescara to Rimini.

Operation Strangle was also the name of the unsuccessful rail interdiction operation of the United Nations Command air forces in 1951-52 during the Korean War.

Allied airmen soon devised their own bold plan to help crack the Gustav Line: use air power to severely restrict enemy resupply. The air offensive, appropriately named Operation Strangle, called for thousands of strategic and tactical aircraft to attack every rail route the Germans used, thereby forcing them to rely on an inadequate network of roads. Planners hoped that the weakened defenders, starved of supplies and pressured by a renewed Allied ground offensive, would be unable to hold the Gustav Line, the key to central Italy.