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How effective was British bombing of German civilian/industrial areas?

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by VeteranGunner, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. VeteranGunner

    VeteranGunner Member

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    I'm wondering how effective British RAF bombing really was? Was it just gratuitous or did it play a key role at all in the war? What I mean is to ask whether its military effectiveness could really justify its cruel targeting...? Also, it looks to me like Churchill pushed this strategy more out of anger (and desperation too) than any cool-headed calculation... am I wrong to think this?

    thanks
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    In one respect it was very successful. By 1944 the German populace living in larger cities was quickly abandoning them. Up to 50% of the workforce in some cities regularly failed to show up for work largely due to bombing related issues. Many families simply fled cities due to the danger, choosing to live in the countryside instead.
    The Nazi government had to adopt extremely punitive measures to prevent the wholesale absence of workers from their jobs. Punishments ranged up to death for abandoning work. There were also controls imposed to prevent workers fleeing their homes in cities.
    While most would agree that the German civil morale never completely broke down it was certainly impacted heavily by bombing.
     
  3. uksubs

    uksubs Member

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    I would just take a look at some of the bombing raid 617 sq done during the war for a start , some of the best bombing of the war
    What I find interesting is that you aimed the question about the RAF , but not at the 8'th Air Force
    The US 8'th Air Force were no better than the RAF for area bombing & the accuracy of the Norton bomb site was not great as they would have you believe
    The RAF were the ones bringing out new technology like Hs2,Gee , Oboe . & big bombs like Tall boy + Grand slam witch were used to great effect on Sub pens & V1,V2 & V3 sites
     
  4. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    My answer to the initial question is Yes. One instance: without the bombing of the Marschalling yards, the Germans could have sent reinforcements much easier to the Normandy front. another example: the destruction of dozens of V1 sites saved lives in London, Antwerp etc... A third example: facilities in cities had to be reconstructed, while doing so , Germans could not build others items at the same pace, it also used precious material.
    Yes, many civilians died, but that was the price to pay and civilian victims there were on both sides. There were blunders too , but what did you expect, there is no clean bombing in a dirty war and I have the highest respect for the airmen who risked their lives and joined the bombing crews. When I say that, I mean both sides.
     
  5. tommy tater

    tommy tater Member

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    It wasn't really that effective untill around 1942, but if you have seen the losses that the british took in the first air raid over Berlin? by the time that the raids truly started to make an effect it the soviets would swallow most of the site in a day! look at dresden for example the RAF turned it to rubble so the soviets would have less resistance, In the end they didnt even bother with it.
     
  6. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    There is strategic bombing and there is strategic bombing. Within the overall campaign there were many, may efforts aimed at different targets. The terror raids by and large was a failure. You know which ones I speak of. on the other hand, the strikes against Germany industrial capabilities such as oil was phenomenally successful even though Speer's industrial mircles disguised the greivous damage to the economy to and extend. The air battles of Germany also forced Luftwaffe to pull the absolute majority of the fighters from the East, abandoning the tactical requirements of the Heer, to defend homeland Germany. We all knew how that one ended.

    So I would say over all strategic bombing worked but in ways unexpected by the early air power theoretics and not to their ambitious expectations.
     
  7. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Absolutely they did! If you change one ingredient, the soups not the same!
     
  8. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    Without wishing to enter into the morality of area bombing Mr Middlebrook gives an interesting fact on page 223 of his Berlin book...'The attacks of Bomber Command on German cities are blamed for holding up SN-2 production through the destruction of small workshops making the 20 valves which each set required.'

    SN-2 was a German radar which could see through window and had only been introduced late 43/early 44.....so his comment does IMHO show an advantage of area bombing...how many more bombers would have been shot down if the smaller supplies of valves hadn't had their production destroyed or interrupted?
    My guess would be a lot more.....
     
  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    On the not airborne medic raised. I read recently and cant remember...read too much...
    about the bombing affecting German radar innovation and material production.
    Which if had followed its course would surely have given folk in Normandy and Calais a pretty clear picture of what was facing them out at sea in June 44.

    The details of what was bombed though and probably not for this particular reason escape me for the time being.
     
  10. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    A significant side effect was the retention of large ammounts of artillery in Gemany for antiaircraft defenses. While the crews were largely men who for age and health would not serve in a field army the techincally skilled leaders of the FLAK units were needed elsewhere. The production of FLAK guns and the supporting equipment was needed for field artillery, and the ammunition consumption drew off from production of field artillery ammunition. The German army was short artillery from the start and ammunition shortages influenced German performance in battles from late 1941.

    John Ellis wrote compiled over fifty charts comparing Allied and Axis production and effectivenss of various weapons. Table 9 shows the monthly weight of bombs dropped by Bomber Command & 8th Air Force. From March 1940 to January 1943 Bomber Command starts at 31 tons, rises to 2300 tons in June 1940 and fluctuates between 992 & 5783 tons, until Febuary 1942 when the weight increases to 11527 tons and then steadily inceases to 24148 tons in August 1943, drops a little until January 1944 when it reaches 28960 tons. In March it takes off to 47590 tons and more than doubles at 111471 tons in June 1944. From August 1943 to January 1944 the 8th AF accounts for between 25-30% of the total weight. From Febuary it averages half the gross weight for the remainder of the war.

    For comparison Table 28 shows the German Air Force weight dropped on Britian from October 1940 thru Febuary 1941.

    Oct 7044, tons per sortie .9
    Nov 9113, tons per sortie .9
    Dec 6510, tons per sortie 1.1
    Jan 3844, tons per sortie 1.1
    Feb 2465, tons per sortie .9
    March 1401, tons per sortie .8

    And the Allies in 1944
    June 111471 tons per sortie 3.1
    July 98399 tons per sortie 3.2
    Aug 109875 tons per sortie 3.8
    Sept 88919 tons per sortie 4.0
    Oct 100165 tons per sortie 3.7
    Nov 89113 tons per sortie 3.6

    Ellis has a chapter devoted to describing the effect on German production. He makes it clear that the culmative effect of the bombing of 1944 did affect industrial output, with the largest effect on transportation. Specifically the railroads and oil industry.
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Ellis' book does a good job of explaining the useless and usefullness of the Allied bombing campaign. Early in the war, the bombing accuracy was at best atrocious, with a "hit" being anything with a 5 mile radius of the actual target. I like the term I often read to describe this part of the bombing campaign-agricultural bombing, due the large number of bomb hits in the countryside. He also mentions that there several raids that were so dispersed that the Germans weren't entirely sure what the target was.
     
  12. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Its unfortunate Ellis could not fill out with yet more details. One of the things his text does not note is the weight of bombs applied to the German transportation system by the US 9th AF. Tthe same medium bomber groups that trashed the western French railroads in early 1944 were in position from October 1944 to do the same to the entire transportations system along the the Rhine river industrial corridor. That effort was slowed by the weather in November and the Ardennes offensive in December. But by late January the 9th AF medium bombers were averaging 500 tons a day exclusively on bridges and rail switchyards.
     
  13. YelloShirtUSN

    YelloShirtUSN Member

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    The bombing had several affects. At the time, Germany hadn't been attacked. This served to terrorize the German public. This was directly brought on by the Germans navigation error which brought about the bombing of London which had no stratgic effect to speak of. As with the Doolittle raids, an attack on the homeland was an eye opener. The second point as the others pointed out, the RAFs bombing was effective.
     
  14. Sbiper

    Sbiper Member

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    This topic has been endlessly debated in many books and still shows no sign of reaching a definative conclusion. The initial 'authorative' study carried out immediately after the war the United States Strategic Bombing Survey drew contradictory conclusions, though it detailed falling production in certain critical sectors, overall German armament production increased steadily in the face of heavier and heavier allied air attacks, until it finally begane to decline in early 1945. The USSBS drew the conclusions that allied strtegic bombing had on the whole been of only moderate success (outside of the Oil and Transport campaigns) and much of the reduction in German Armaments production in 1945 was as the result of the Reich losing territory.

    The USSBS was long regarded as the authoritative source on the subject, along with the RAF's own official 3 part history (of which I have a copy), but in recent years new research has questioned this view. For a start Speer had allways stated that the allied bomber offensive (both by day and by night) was the decisive factor in defeating Germany, and that better application by the allies against the 'natural' choke-points of the German war economy could have yielded quicker results. The recent book 'The Wages of Destruction' is a very good example of modern historical work on the subject of the German war economy. It shows that from March 1943 German economic output started to decline, even though armament output was rising; in March 1943 the RAF began the Battle of the Ruhr and I think it is no conincidence that the drop in overall GNP figures for Nazi Germany start around this time. The crucial factor for Germany was that she was a 'closed' economy i.e. she had little or no access to world markets once she started the war, and much of her conquered territory could not be exploited fully as it relied heavily on external inputs to function (Danish Agirculture dependant on Imported feedstock, French Agriculture dependant on foreign oil, French steel industry dependant on imported iron ore).

    Sbiper.
     

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