Strafing is the military tactic used in modern warfare to attack ground forces, such as infantry, artillery, or armor units from low-flying fighters or light bombers using machine guns and small-caliber cannons. "Strafing" derives from the verb "to strafe", which in turn derives from the German verb "strafen", which means to punish. Using their biplane or triplane fighters, the German "Fliegertruppen" was the first air force to use this air tactic to attack enemy infantry troops that charged across No Man´s Land during World War I in their attempt to take the German trenches.
In the 1930s and during World War II new aircraft were specifically designed for ground attacks. The Germans used the Junkers Ju 87 Stukas, the Messerschmitt Bf 110, and the Messerschmitt Me 210 as ground attack dive bomber and fighters respectively. Strafing enemy troops with these aircraft was an integral part of the German Blitzkrieg. In the last three years of that war, the Americans had at their disposal the P-51 Mustang, a fighter/interceptor aircraft which was also used for strafing German armored units with rockets and anti-tank bombs. The last time strafing was used was during the Iraqi war when the US Air Force used the A-10 Warthog for strafing Iraqi tanks with 30mm-caliber gatling cannon that shot depleted-uranium amunition which pierced the Soviet-made Iraqi tanks steel armor.
The Maginot Line was a French defensive system of concrete fortifications which stretched along the border between France and Germany. It was built by the French government between 1930 and 1940 as a result of experience from World War I. Although it had originally been proposed by field marshal Joseph Joffre, the Maginot Line was named after the French war minister André Maginot. The main rationale for the construction of this defensive line was to give France time to mobilize its army in the event of war against Germany. The French politicians and Generals were convinced that this heavily defended line would effectively stop the German armies and, when the French Army were ready, then France would launch a counterattack.
The Maginot Line consisted of three interdependent fortified belts with anti-tank obstacles and machine gun pillboxes which stood in front of bombproof concrete artillery fortifications.The Line comprised of more than 500 separate fortifications, called “ouvrages” in French, which were built about nine miles from each other. Each concrete fortification housed 1000 soldiers with artillery. Between each fortification there were smaller forts which housed between 200 to 500 men depending on their size. Deep down in the earth, all these fortifications and forts were interconnected by a railway system which carried not only ammunition, but also the military personnel, from the mess or dormitories to their posts. It was impressive, but rigid. About 70 % of the French military resources had been fixed fast in the ground. So, it protected Germany rather than France.
The French were completely convinced that the Maginot Line and the Ardennes were impregnable, but they were wrong. World War Two would prove it. In 1940, when Adolf Hitler ordered the Western Offensive, the German forces invaded France through the heavily wooded and mountainous area of the Ardennes, an area, north of the Maginot Line. Seven panzer divisions led by Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian plowed through it and poured over the French border.