Author Topic: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?  (Read 9460 times)

tbone0106

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I've heard/read a lot of different opinions on this one. The British and American air forces began more or less coordinated strategic bombing of German and European targets late in 1942. This campaign continued, with a few short interruptions, until the end of the war.

The cost to both nations was HUGE. Was it worth it? Did the Allies receive benefits commensurate with costs, in the overall sense? I'm not talking about specific raids or missions, just about the campaign in general -- although all discussion about specific raids or missions is certainly welcome.

As hard as the Allies tried to bomb certain industries out of existence -- ball bearing manufacture, for example, or oil refineries, both petroleum and synthetic -- Germany had plenty of oil and ball bearings when the war ended. On the other hand, the psychological effect of watching 1,000 or more enemy bombers flying in neat formations 20,000 feet above your head had to have an effect too.

What say you all?

Offline Annoying Armed Conservative

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2012, 03:36:16 PM »
Actually Germany DID have a problem with Oil.  During the fight for France in '44 Germany had suffered consist shortages in fuel.  Plus Germany was never awash in oil.  That title goes to America.
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Offline Solar

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2012, 04:32:51 PM »
Actually Germany DID have a problem with Oil.  During the fight for France in '44 Germany had suffered consist shortages in fuel.  Plus Germany was never awash in oil.  That title goes to America.
Correct, which is why today we have synthetics like bio diesel.
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tbone0106

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2012, 08:10:29 PM »
Yes, Germany was pinched for oil from about mid-1944. But was that because of the Allied bombing campaign, or for other reasons?

Hitler had planned, for example, to capture the oilfields of the Soviet Caucasus intact and bring their oil back to der Vaterland. That didn't work out too well, especially with that stop-off at Stalingrad, where the Sixth Army -- originally sent south to seal the Caucasus capture -- was destroyed.

Germany had controlled the Romanian oilfields from early on, and the Allies bombed the living shit out of them -- almost to their regret. The losses in bombers and aircrew were HORRENDOUS over those intensely defended targets.

I guess I'm wondering if the strategic bombing campaign was actually worth what it cost. The toll was huge, and so was the destruction wrought. But the war, I think, would have ended the same way without it, just at a different, probably later, time.

Offline mdgiles

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 02:07:40 PM »
Yes, Germany was pinched for oil from about mid-1944. But was that because of the Allied bombing campaign, or for other reasons?

Hitler had planned, for example, to capture the oilfields of the Soviet Caucasus intact and bring their oil back to der Vaterland. That didn't work out too well, especially with that stop-off at Stalingrad, where the Sixth Army -- originally sent south to seal the Caucasus capture -- was destroyed.

Germany had controlled the Romanian oilfields from early on, and the Allies bombed the living shit out of them -- almost to their regret. The losses in bombers and aircrew were HORRENDOUS over those intensely defended targets.

I guess I'm wondering if the strategic bombing campaign was actually worth what it cost. The toll was huge, and so was the destruction wrought. But the war, I think, would have ended the same way without it, just at a different, probably later, time.
If the 88's and fighters were defending Ploesti they weren't available to blow up Shermans  and T-38's. The joke the Germans in Normandy used to have was: "If you see a fighter-bomber painted blue, it was American. If you see one painted Brown it was British. If you see one painted so you can't see it at all, it's one of ours". The Luftwaffe was defending the Homeland from bombers, and getting shot out of the sky by their escort fighters. German Blitzkrieg was based on control of the air - and they had lost it.
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Offline Ford289HiPo

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2012, 09:27:11 PM »
We have to admit that the bombing of Dresden went a bit too far. It was totally unnecessary.
Do cannibals refuse to eat clowns because they taste funny?

Offline mdgiles

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012, 05:21:18 AM »
We have to admit that the bombing of Dresden went a bit too far. It was totally unnecessary.
Dresden was a rail head and shipping center through which supplies for the Eastern Front were moving. And there are questions as to whether the loses there were really as high (125,000) as Nazi propaganda made them out to be.
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Offline Solar

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2012, 06:10:39 AM »
We have to admit that the bombing of Dresden went a bit too far. It was totally unnecessary.
And Hitler didn't during the London Blitz?

War sucks, but once you go down the road of regret, you not only besmirch those that died fighting the campaign, you give fuel to the enemy in demoralizing your future efforts to protect yourself.

The only apology the US should issue is to the family of our fallen, and that should be with honors.
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Offline Possumpoint

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2012, 05:10:52 PM »
I've written this many times on many different forums. War is won by killing, hurting, injuring and starving your opponent into submission. You have the other guy dying for their ideals.

I support the use of all weapons of war to bring our enemies to their knees. I consider anything less to be a breach of trust to our troops who we expect to fight for us.

Offline Solar

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2012, 05:17:11 PM »
I've written this many times on many different forums. War is won by killing, hurting, injuring and starving your opponent into submission. You have the other guy dying for their ideals.

I support the use of all weapons of war to bring our enemies to their knees. I consider anything less to be a breach of trust to our troops who we expect to fight for us.
Well said PP and I agree.
Every armament should always be on the table.
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tbone0106

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2012, 06:15:31 PM »
Well said, fellas, and I agree. I guess my question is more in the line of -- was it all worth it? Sure we bombed the bejesus out of lots of European targets, but did it materially shorten the war and reduce the bloodshed? And if so, how?

We have to keep in mind, I think, that this is the era of "carpet bombing," simply because the technology of the day was such that dropping one within 200 yards of its target was considered a direct hit -- and a veritable miracle. The much-acclaimed Norden bombsight was less remarkable for its accuracy placing bomb strikes than it was in its amazing electro-mechanical complexity and its ability to literally fly the plane while the bombardier was doing his thing.

Of course we had to use strategic bombing as a weapon, but I wonder just how good a weapon it was, especially against small, important targets.

Offline Ford289HiPo

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 07:47:30 PM »
Dresden was a rail head and shipping center through which supplies for the Eastern Front were moving. And there are questions as to whether the loses there were really as high (125,000) as Nazi propaganda made them out to be.
At the time of the bombing, the war was practically over. Germany was on her knees, and Dresden itself was filled with refugees from the east. At that point, it was senseless destruction.
Do cannibals refuse to eat clowns because they taste funny?

Offline mdgiles

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2012, 08:18:23 AM »
At the time of the bombing, the war was practically over. Germany was on her knees, and Dresden itself was filled with refugees from the east. At that point, it was senseless destruction.
Had Nazi Germany surrendered? Did we continue bombing after they had surrendered? The German governmenrt could have surrendered at any point after THEY invaded Poland. What is it with this idea that the US should care more about the lives of people trying to kill us, than their own government does? If Germany didn't like the casualties - quit. That was the idea of the bombing in the first place. It was just that simple. Telling allied troops to "ease up" on the Germans was a nice way to get an awful lot of them killed.
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tbone0106

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2012, 06:14:08 PM »
At the time of the bombing, the war was practically over. Germany was on her knees, and Dresden itself was filled with refugees from the east. At that point, it was senseless destruction.

Nazi propaganda actually claimed 200,000 civilian deaths. Several other surveys, including a recent one conducted by Dresden city officials, limit the dead count to around 25,000 -- a lot of people, yes, but nothing like the half million that some claim or the 125,000 number that is widely tossed about. For its size and military importance, Dresden received relatively little attention from Allied bombers during the war. Essen, a city of roughly the same size but also a headquarters of munitions giant Krupp, received five times the bombing attention in terms of tonnage dropped on the city. Munich was a somewhat larger city, but had little military value, and still received nearly three times the bomb tonnage that Dresden received.

Much of the difference between casualty counts among German cities can be explained by their perceived military value. While Dresden did house something over 100 factories, many of which were contributing to the Nazi war effort, it was considered a fairly "soft" target, which explains why it was virtually ignored for much of the war. For this reason, when Dresden's turn finally came around, it was favored with an atypically high percentage of incendiaries, which caused the firestorms that killed so many. Essen, by contrast, was hammered with high explosives, the sort of thing that would break a forge or a press to bits or twist the steel frame of a factory building enough to collapse the upper floors and/or the roof.

In mid-February 1945, the war was very much still on. Hitler had just scared the living shit out of a lot of people with his armored blitzkrieg (minus the airplanes) into Belgium from the Ardennes, which we came to call the Battle of the Bulge. NOBODY thought the war was over, or that Germany was "on her knees." While it was clear that the Allies had the upper hand, it was by no means clear that, for example, Germany didn't have more secret weapons in the pipeline that might turn the tide their way. The Luftwaffe had been almost discounted as an airborne threat, yet the Me262 jet fighter had been introduced into service in April 1944, and was achieving squadron status around the time Dresden was bombed. The Germans had launched the first of over 3,000 V-2 ballistic missiles against Allied targets in September 1944; there was NO defense against this weapon -- NONE. In fact, no one knew for sure the status of the German atomic program -- but we knew for sure that they had one, and it was feared that they were ahead of us.

I think the bombing of Dresden was a sound military move.

Offline mdgiles

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Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2012, 10:15:47 AM »
BTW, I may have mentioned this before. Much was made during the Vietnam War of the idea of Free Fire Zone, where any unit, down to a squad on patrol could call in assets (artillery, air) as opposed to other areas where permission from higher command was needed. WW2 was fought as if all of Europe was a Free Fire Zone. Spend material, not men, was the idea.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

 

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