In the days before the closing of the Falaise gap, the 2 TAF averaged 1,200 sorties per day. The air war was particularly violent from August 15 through the 21st. Typhoons and Spitfires attacked the roads leading from the gap to the Seine, strafing columns of densely packed vehicles and men. Under repeated attack, some of the columns actually displayed white flags of surrender, but the RAF took "no notice" of this since Allied ground forces were not in the vicinity, and "to cease fire would merely have allowed the enemy to move unmolested to the Seine." Typhoons typically would destroy the vehicles at the head of a road column, then leisurely shoot up the rest of the vehicles with their rockets and cannon. When they finished. Spitfires would dive down to strafe the remains.
Because the Luftwaffe was absent over the battlefield. Broad-hurst directed 2 TAF wings to operate their aircraft in pairs. Thus, a "two ship" of Spitfires or Typhoons could return to the gap after being refueled and rearmed without waiting for a larger formation to be ready to return. This maximized the number of support sorties that could be flown, and, indeed, pilots of one Canadian Spitfire wing averaged six sorties per day. Nothing that moved was immune from what one Typhoon pilot recollected as "the biggest shoot-up ever experienced by a rocket Typhoon pilot." Another recalled the flavor of attack operations:
The show starts like a well-planned ballet: the Typhoons go into echelon while turning, then dive on their prey at full throttle. Rockets whistle, guns bark, engines roar and pilots sweat without noticing it as our missiles smash the Tigers. Petrol tanks explode amid torrents of black smoke. A Typhoon skids away to avoid machine fire. Some horses frightened by the noise gallop wildly in a nearby field.
Nor was Falaise strictly a 2 TAF operation; the AAF was also heavily committed. Over the duration of the Falaise fighting, air strikes gradually moved from west of Argentan to north, to east, and finally to east of the Dives River. One strike by P-47s on August 13 gives a graphic indication of the sizes of German forces open to attack:
That morning 37 P-47 pilots of the 36th Group found 800 to 1,000 enemy vehicles of all types milling about in the pocket west of Argentan. They could see American and British forces racing to choke off the gap. They went to work. Within an hour the Thunderbolts had blown up or burned out between 400 and 500 enemy vehicles. The fighter-bombers kept at it until they ran out of bombs and ammunition. One pilot, with empty gun