Re: RAF bombing of Germany after 1943
- From: "Geoffrey Sinclair" <gsinclairnb@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 22 Dec 2009 10:38:09 -0500
"dilore" <dirklorek@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
On 19 Dec, 17:00, SolomonW <Solom...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
If say after 1943, Bomber Harris would have been replaced as I doubt he
would have changed the targeting now say the RAF targets was set to a
military and economic targeting would it have made much difference to the
Harris had the backing of Churchill and Portal, Portal and Harris
believed Bomber Command could win the war by itself by killing
or harming so many civilians, preferably workers, so that the Hitler
regime would eventually be overthrown by a revolution like in 1918.
Actually the target was the things down there, civilian casualties were
expected, but if the civilians were the real targets then armour
piercing bombs to hit shelters, fragmentation bombs to hit civilians
in the open and targeting the areas people moved to at night would
have been done. Civilian morale, from so much being destroyed,
not civilian deaths from so much being destroyed.
Churchill was, especially after the start of the V-weapon attacks, but
maybe already since the Blitz, thinking much in terms of reprisals.
Perhaps it would be best to actually show the evidence Churchill was
in this sort of mood.
Area bombing fitted well into this, but he also considered Anthrax
and poison gas.
Perhaps it might be mentioned the anthrax and poison gas plans
were all about if the Nazis started using chemical warfare.
These men had of course not solely the say in how the air war in
Germany was to be conducted.
They actually did until the start of 1943, and effectively for most
of 1943, given the overall strength of the 8th Air Force at the time
and the troubles it was having.
The Americans had the final word in what the 8th and 15th would
Actually the Combined Chiefs of Staff had the final say in setting overall
objectives, given it was a combined offensive.
and during the Normandy
invasion, Eisenhower made the final decisions. He listened more to the
British air commanders who preferred the bombing of transportation
Actually there were people in the USAAF advocating the same plan,
and in mid 1944 the transport plan was all about cutting German
Army communications. However it was controversial as the
experience from Italy appeared mixed and the French transport
system was bigger. It was adopted more as the only plan on the
table, rather than with great confidence. Things like fighter bomber
effectiveness against bridges still needed to be proved.
The evidence from France showed how disruptive it would be to
the German economy.
Eisenhower's authority over the allied bomber fleets ended in mid-Sept
44 but left its marks on the bombing strategy.
Actually the evidence from France was important. After something
of a what next period as the war went into another winter.
After the success of the 'Transportation Plan' in France, Portal began to
view these kind of attacks more favourably than before, but still
believed in city bombing as the war-winning strategy.
This would be rather contradicting his correspondence with Harris
asking for a more concentrated effort on specific target classes.
On the other hand, the RAF 'Oil- and
Transportation-lobby' (Tedder, Leigh-Mallory,
Bottomley) who had invented this very successful plan became less
influential after the invasion.
No actually, the oil plan was carried out, the transport plan was put
into proper service against Germany.
Leigh-Mallory was not very influential, he seems to upset most people.
And Churchill became first after the bombing of Dresden in March 45 an
opponent to area bombing.
Dresden was in February 1945, and Churchill shortly after wrote a
memo the air force chiefs asked to be withdrawn, as it looked like
Churchill was distancing himself from the policies laid down for
While Bomber Command in 1943 had devoted 80% of its bombs to area
bombing and almost 0% on communications and oil,
Which is not surprising given the problems in finding those targets
in Germany at night in 1943. Please note, bombing cities did plenty
of damage to the transport infrastructure there, they were simply
called area attacks, not transport strikes.
in 1944 and 1945 this changed to 35% on area targets, 18% on
transportation and 10% (44) / 30% (45) on oil.
Bomber Command did not start bombing oil targets until June 1944,
similar for ground support.
1944, 35% area, 9% oil, 19% transport, 18% troop support, 12%
1945, 37% area, 26% oil, 15% transport, 14% troop support.
Given the majority of the 1945 campaign was fought in winter
and early spring, and the winter had been a bad one, it is not
surprising area bombing was used.
Also the troop support had a disproportionate effect on the
campaign as it demanded the better weather.
This change occurred more or less against Harris believes, but
on the other hand he had vastly more resources at his disposal.
The 80% of area bombs in 1943 corresponded to 131 464 tons,
the 35% in 44/45 corresponded to almost double than that,
251 170 tons,
In 1944 Bomber Command dropped 48,034 tons of bombs on
oil targets, this compares with 157,457 tons of bombs dropped
for all of 1943, of which 136,433 tons were dropped on Germany.
Simply no oil campaign was going to work in 1943, the bomb
lift was not enough, the reduced set of targets would have really
helped the defences as well.
There was no possibility of a concentrated attack on a key sector
of the German economy without something approaching air
superiority. Also the accuracy the night bombers needed meant
it was not until 1944 they could really start such a campaign.
When it came to bombs dropped on Germany the mid point of
the Bomber Command campaign was the end of September 1944.
Churchill's, Portal's and Harris's
goals could still be pursued with emphasis.
One day the weather will be mentioned, instead of this assumption
it was all a free choice. The emphasis had switched to more
specific plans, with area attacks the bad weather option. There
is at least one large attack on a oil plant classified as an area
attack because of bad weather. Similar for a series of trial
attacks using the new GH bombing aid.
Also the Americans were adapting the British strategies
By the way, given the casualties in the Blitz why exactly does everything
start with the British? The Germans used sea mines with parachutes,
and also fragmentation bombs.
so it was not only Churchill, Portal, and Harris, there
were also LeMay, McNamara, Truman
and others who thought that targeting civilians was a war-winning
strategy, and this continued throughout the cold war.
Try the basic rule, to destroy the thing you really want the bombers
generally had to destroy lots of other things. The knocking out of
the supporting infrastructure was often more damaging than the
hits on factories.
There are plenty of villages destroyed because they had an important
bridge, or rail station etc.
If Harris had been replaced in early 1944, Churchill and Portal would
still set the overall tone for the RAF bomb war in Europe.
What about Eisenhower? Or should that be Overlord? What
happened to the Combined Chiefs directives?
Yes, Harris disobeyed orders to attack 'panacea-targets' from time
This seems to be a refrain based on his words, rather than a specific
and he was a rather obstinate and stubborn character, but one can
assume that he was well aware that he had the backing 'higher up'.
Perhaps fewer assumptions and more looking at the targets chosen
might be in order. Start with the weather.
For example, when the 8th Air force expected under 5/10 cloud at
the target they found this correct 155 times, found 5 to 7/10 cloud
42 times and 8/10 or more cloud 39 times.
When expecting 5 to 7/10 cloud the figures were under 5/10 cloud
31 times, correct 68 times, more cloud 83 times.
When expecting 8/10 or more cloud, the figures were 9, 16 and 81
Overall from 524 raids, 203 faced 8/10 or more cloud.
Would a change in RAF bombing strategy have made a difference? There
was no revolution in Germany, so obviously Portal's and Harris's plan
failed and most of the men and material spent on this plan was used
So since Britain did not surrender in 1940 the German attack on France
and the Low Countries was also in vain?
What a criteria, the enemy has to surrender otherwise the campaign is
What positive side effects were there of area bombing and what
alternative targets were possible? This has
been discussed in absurdum here during the years. IMHO the most
accurate answers can be found in the
strategic bombing surveys conducted by the British and Americans after
the war. The American Strategic Bombing
Survey came out with a figure which suggested that area attacks had
caused a loss of 9% in all German
production in 43 and 17% in 44. The figures of the British study are
8.2% in the second half of 43, 7.2% in the
second half of 44, and 9.7% during 45. Its estimates for loss of
specific war production such as armaments
were lower still: they averaged less than 3% for 43 and barely 1% for
Are you aware the UK methodology assumed some unbombed German
towns were controls, to be used to figure out production would have
been if other towns had not been attacked? That the more successful
the bombing the more the "control" towns have their production cut
as well, as everything is linked, and so the effects of the bombs are
therefore understated? (Unbombed town fails to increase production,
bombs on other towns therefore did little)
Hence the way as the attacks grew the figures for production loss
stay the same or go backwards? Heard that as the overall damage
grew to so much what were minor repairs were not done for low
priority factories very quickly, forcing extended shut downs? There
were not enough repair crews.
That things like the Atlantic Wall would have been tougher if the
construction assets working in Germany were released?
I note there is no answer to the what else was possible idea.
You are aware of the inefficiencies on the oil campaign, plants would
be back in production for a few weeks before being attacked again,
other plants would be attacked before they were back in production?
It is not like the allies had good intelligence on the damage being done
to German industry.
Almost half of Britain's war industry was allocated to Bomber Command.
This is simply wrong. You only have to look at the rest of the war
economy and the size of the army for example.
The British Bombing Survey Unit, the one with the effects of area
bombing calculation, decides Bomber Command overall cost 7%
of the British war effort, but 12% in the final 30 months of the war.
It lost 55 500 expensively educated
aircrewcrew, each killing about 10 Germans and destoying unvaluable
Apparently the bombers did not actually damage and destroy factories,
only art works and civilians.
And the above should be on average 1 Bomber Command crew member
died per 10 Germans killed in an air raid. Of course it appears only
Bomber Command killed German civilians using the 10 to 1 ratio.
The death toll has been put at 410,000 German civilians killed, then
add 23,000 police and civilians working in the military, 32,000 foreign
workers and PoWs plus 128,000 displaced persons, total 593,000.
This total is from the post war investigations of the German Statistical
Also note the 55,000 aircrew deaths figure includes training accidents.
Both studies found that oil- and transportation targets were the most
damaging attacks to the German war machine.
As expected, they were the most systematic.
The RAF Bomber offensive bound a lot of German resources, but one can
assume that this would have been the
case, probably even to a larger extent, if more vital areas of the
German war machine had been attacked.
Ah, so if the attack is more successful the Germans are going to have
more stuff to defend against the attack. Which presumably means things
like the German army have lots less? Oh, I see, even if the attack works
the Germans are granted more defences so the attack does not work.
Can it be explained why the Luftwaffe day fighter force did not return
to rule the skies over Germany then?
Alternatively the success means the air defences will be weakened as well.
Given the emphasis on civilians you are aware the U-boats killed tens of
thousands of civilians? The crews and passengers on the ships attacked?
Do any of say the people building U-boats become legitimate targets?
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