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WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?

Started by tbone0106, July 15, 2012, 06:28:49 AM

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tbone0106


mdgiles

"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

Possumpoint

I've heard it said that we were able to defeat our enemies in WWII because our industrial base and transportation system was never attacked. We could out produce the materials of war and supply both our troops and our allies. Our problem was protecting our supply lines. Europe and Japan didn't have the protection. Once our supply lines were secured, it was a war of attrition.

mdgiles

Quote from: Possumpoint on July 20, 2012, 10:28:31 PM
I've heard it said that we were able to defeat our enemies in WWII because our industrial base and transportation system was never attacked. We could out produce the materials of war and supply both our troops and our allies. Our problem was protecting our supply lines. Europe and Japan didn't have the protection. Once our supply lines were secured, it was a war of attrition.
The US assumed it would have to fight across oceans, so it designed ships, planes and other methods to do so. The Germans and Japanese never seem to have made that intellectual leap. Hitler for example, from the first wanted to go to war against the Soviet Union, but never designed bombers capable of striking deep into his potential target. He never mechanized his army to allow it to cross the great distances involved. The Japanese went to war with a nation on the other side of the Pacific, but seem to have given no thought to the logistics involved in striking the US. Again, no long ranged bombers. No logistics train for their fleet. Few troops specially trained, with special equipment to land on islands. They also should have stopped on the way and seized Midway on the way back from Pearl Harbor. And - for the 59 millionth time - how could an island nation neglect anti submarine warfare! Plus a few bombing raids on California, and the hue and cry to bring our forces back to defend and fight against the Japanese would have made the Germany first policy untenable.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

tbone0106

Quote from: mdgiles on July 23, 2012, 05:56:03 AM
The US assumed it would have to fight across oceans, so it designed ships, planes and other methods to do so. The Germans and Japanese never seem to have made that intellectual leap. Hitler for example, from the first wanted to go to war against the Soviet Union, but never designed bombers capable of striking deep into his potential target. He never mechanized his army to allow it to cross the great distances involved. The Japanese went to war with a nation on the other side of the Pacific, but seem to have given no thought to the logistics involved in striking the US. Again, no long ranged bombers. No logistics train for their fleet. Few troops specially trained, with special equipment to land on islands. They also should have stopped on the way and seized Midway on the way back from Pearl Harbor. And - for the 59 millionth time - how could an island nation neglect anti submarine warfare! Plus a few bombing raids on California, and the hue and cry to bring our forces back to defend and fight against the Japanese would have made the Germany first policy untenable.

Yeah, Hitler and Co. never figured out the difference between "strategic" and "tactical." They were forever stuck on "tactical." One example: the never-ending insistence on every new aircraft being able to dive-bomb. The Ju-88 was a damn fine medium to long-range bomber, but was crippled by the dive-bombing requirement. Even the world-changing Me-262, the first ever operational jet fighter, was delayed and shackled by the same inane mandate -- the ability to dive-bomb.

This is what top-down command gets you every time. In a general sense, this is the attitude that resulted in the Vietnam mess.

mdgiles

Quote from: tbone0106 on August 18, 2012, 02:33:28 PM
Yeah, Hitler and Co. never figured out the difference between "strategic" and "tactical." They were forever stuck on "tactical." One example: the never-ending insistence on every new aircraft being able to dive-bomb. The Ju-88 was a damn fine medium to long-range bomber, but was crippled by the dive-bombing requirement. Even the world-changing Me-262, the first ever operational jet fighter, was delayed and shackled by the same inane mandate -- the ability to dive-bomb.

This is what top-down command gets you every time. In a general sense, this is the attitude that resulted in the Vietnam mess.
You mean things like American planes not having guns, because some Pentagon whiz kid decided the "era of dogfights was over" - until it wasn't. How about arming our planes with missiles that didn't lock on until a certain range, and then requiring that our planes be inside that range to make visual identification. Which made the missiles worse than useless. How about replacing our rifles with a new one - when all the bugs hadn't been worked out yet - because it was cheaper and McNamara was a bottom line guy.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

Shooterman

Quote from: mdgiles on August 22, 2012, 04:07:59 AM
You mean things like American planes not having guns, because some Pentagon whiz kid decided the "era of dogfights was over" - until it wasn't. How about arming our planes with missiles that didn't lock on until a certain range, and then requiring that our planes be inside that range to make visual identification. Which made the missiles worse than useless. How about replacing our rifles with a new one - when all the bugs hadn't been worked out yet - because it was cheaper and McNamara was a bottom line guy.

Truth, that.
There's no ticks like Polyticks-bloodsuckers all Davy Crockett 1786-1836

Yankees are like castor oil. Even a small dose is bad.
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tbone0106

Right, right, and right. LBJ's WWII experience was brief and inconsequential, and he was in no way qualified to run the Vietnam War as he tried to do.

Foreigner

Here in Germany one of the things people criticize at least non-publicly is the bombing of Dresden when the war was already pretty much over.

I'm not a WW2 expert, but I guess that was mainly the British, wasn't it?

Also, from a human point of view, I even think that revenge was emotionally justified.
From an ethic point of view, though, that was probably wrong.

Oh, and if we're talking about strategic bombing in Europe, I'd like to put something else here: The lack of bombing of rail roads to the concentration camps. Not that I think those were intentionally not bombed, but I have to admit that my grandma sometimes implied just that, saying "If the Americans knew about such things, why didn't they bomb those railways?".

Now I know that my grandma is honestly quite uneducated when it comes to politics. But I never asked any American for an opinion on that stuff. And who knows, maybe that is an legitimate question after all?

Since when did the US know about the concentration camps anyway? I honestly don't know.

mdgiles

Quote from: Foreigner on August 22, 2012, 12:13:07 PM
Here in Germany one of the things people criticize at least non-publicly is the bombing of Dresden when the war was already pretty much over.

I'm not a WW2 expert, but I guess that was mainly the British, wasn't it?

Also, from a human point of view, I even think that revenge was emotionally justified.
From an ethic point of view, though, that was probably wrong.

Oh, and if we're talking about strategic bombing in Europe, I'd like to put something else here: The lack of bombing of rail roads to the concentration camps. Not that I think those were intentionally not bombed, but I have to admit that my grandma sometimes implied just that, saying "If the Americans knew about such things, why didn't they bomb those railways?".

Now I know that my grandma is honestly quite uneducated when it comes to politics. But I never asked any American for an opinion on that stuff. And who knows, maybe that is an legitimate question after all?

Since when did the US know about the concentration camps anyway? I honestly don't know.
I've always felt that any general who risked American lives for any reason, other than our war aims should have been removed from command. Those trains were carrying people to the camps, not supplies to be used against our ally on the Eastern Front. Tough on the people in the trains, but not our business. Flying in bombers was dangerous. They had a higher casualty rate that any other American service. No matter how sorry I felt for those people going to the camps, I don't think that gave them a claim on the lives of some kid from Iowa or Brooklyn. It was enough that those kids were fighting to end the war and stop the people who were killing them, rescue missions shouldn't have been included. I have nothing against the Jews, but it irritates me when some suggests we should have risked our troops lives for a subset of French, Dutch,German, Polish, Italian, etc., citizens.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

tbone0106

Quote from: Foreigner on August 22, 2012, 12:13:07 PM
Here in Germany one of the things people criticize at least non-publicly is the bombing of Dresden when the war was already pretty much over.

I'm not a WW2 expert, but I guess that was mainly the British, wasn't it?

Also, from a human point of view, I even think that revenge was emotionally justified.
From an ethic point of view, though, that was probably wrong.

Oh, and if we're talking about strategic bombing in Europe, I'd like to put something else here: The lack of bombing of rail roads to the concentration camps. Not that I think those were intentionally not bombed, but I have to admit that my grandma sometimes implied just that, saying "If the Americans knew about such things, why didn't they bomb those railways?".

Now I know that my grandma is honestly quite uneducated when it comes to politics. But I never asked any American for an opinion on that stuff. And who knows, maybe that is an legitimate question after all?

Since when did the US know about the concentration camps anyway? I honestly don't know.

The plight of European Jews was not widely known in the US during WWII, and in fact was little known even in Germany among the general population. Rumors out of Poland and other occupied countries hinted at the devastation, but there was no concrete proof until Allied troops began to overrun the camps late in 1944.

The bombing of Dresden, which killed roughly 25,000 Germans and refugees from the east (nothing even close to the 200,000 or 500,000 claimed by various sources) took place in February 1945, and was conducted by both the RAF and the USAAF. Understand, please, that these bombings happened only three weeks after the official end of what we in the US call the "Battle of the Bulge," in which Hitler sought to split and shatter the Allied armies in western Europe by attacking through the Ardennes and seizing Antwerp. On February 13, 1945, when the first bombing of Dresden occurred, no one on either side supposed that the war was "pretty much over."

Dresden was very much a legitimate military target. Start with a Google search; you'll learn how history has been twisted.

Giles is correct. We and the British bombed what we bombed for military reasons. When a nation decides to eliminate a sector of its population, as Germany did after 1938, that is not a military matter. We bombed and strafed the railroads that were used to bring munitions and troops to the front.

Foreigner

Alright, thanks for your replies you two. Interesting stuff.

I still doubt that the bombing of Dresden the way it happened happened just for military reasons, but I still need to do some research on this.

What I didn't know, though, was that the risk of Americans bombers was that high. All I know is that my dad's father was forced to help operating one of those huge cannons we used to shoot down your planes when he was just 16 years of age, but that was here in western Germany, not over there near Dresden.

On the other hand, if you would have known what was actually happening to Jewish people over here, I still like to believe that you would have done something about it. I get that you don't want to risk your soldiers' lives without a good reason, but in my opinion you risked those lives for far less good reasons, at least after WW2. Also to me America has always been about heroes, growing up with Hollywood movies and stuff. Sure, Hollywood is just Hollywood... but it's an important part of America that's going out to the world and inspires lots of people.

I think Americans under-estimate their power, when it comes to this kind of inspiration. I know of young people in Iran, for example, who like the kind of American culture they see on TV or the internet a lot (they probably copy and spread this stuff illegally on CDs and thumb drives due to censorship). Now if the way they experience America in real life is completely different, those people may turn their backs on America and possibly on all of western civilization. So I'd like to see you guys living up to it, you know. It matters more than you think.

mdgiles

Quote from: Foreigner on August 30, 2012, 12:21:03 PM
Alright, thanks for your replies you two. Interesting stuff.

I still doubt that the bombing of Dresden the way it happened happened just for military reasons, but I still need to do some research on this.

What I didn't know, though, was that the risk of Americans bombers was that high. All I know is that my dad's father was forced to help operating one of those huge cannons we used to shoot down your planes when he was just 16 years of age, but that was here in western Germany, not over there near Dresden.

On the other hand, if you would have known what was actually happening to Jewish people over here, I still like to believe that you would have done something about it. I get that you don't want to risk your soldiers' lives without a good reason, but in my opinion you risked those lives for far less good reasons, at least after WW2. Also to me America has always been about heroes, growing up with Hollywood movies and stuff. Sure, Hollywood is just Hollywood... but it's an important part of America that's going out to the world and inspires lots of people.

I think Americans under-estimate their power, when it comes to this kind of inspiration. I know of young people in Iran, for example, who like the kind of American culture they see on TV or the internet a lot (they probably copy and spread this stuff illegally on CDs and thumb drives due to censorship). Now if the way they experience America in real life is completely different, those people may turn their backs on America and possibly on all of western civilization. So I'd like to see you guys living up to it, you know. It matters more than you think.
I've always found it fascinating the things civilians, with absolutely no personal knowledge of war, feel willing to risk soldiers lives for. For example the movie "Saving Private Ryan" has always enraged me. as an former Marine, sending all those men out on a mercy mission was stupid. As for your father having to operate anti aircraft guns at 16, that was the result of the German people allowing themselves to be taken in by a bunch of madmen. And foreigners liking American culture is all well and good, but that doesn't mean we should risk soldiers lives to spread it. The fact of the matter is that the death camps weren't military targets in most cases. So attacking them would have made no military sense. In reality the only thing that bothers me about the Air War over Germany is that the B-29 and the A-bomb weren't ready a year earlier. Think of how many lives would have been saved had they been able to A-Bomb Hitler's eastern headquarters in July 1944.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!

tbone0106

Quote from: mdgiles on August 31, 2012, 03:52:15 AM
I've always found it fascinating the things civilians, with absolutely no personal knowledge of war, feel willing to risk soldiers lives for. For example the movie "Saving Private Ryan" has always enraged me. as an former Marine, sending all those men out on a mercy mission was stupid. As for your father having to operate anti aircraft guns at 16, that was the result of the German people allowing themselves to be taken in by a bunch of madmen. And foreigners liking American culture is all well and good, but that doesn't mean we should risk soldiers lives to spread it. The fact of the matter is that the death camps weren't military targets in most cases. So attacking them would have made no military sense. In reality the only thing that bothers me about the Air War over Germany is that the B-29 and the A-bomb weren't ready a year earlier. Think of how many lives would have been saved had they been able to A-Bomb Hitler's eastern headquarters in July 1944.
B-29s and A-bombs would certainly have ended the war in Europe a whole lot sooner. But the B-17s and B-24s in service at the time could easily have reached and carpet-bombed the Wolfsschanze in July 1944. They didn't simply because we didn't know where it was.

FWIW, Saving Private Ryan was, I've always thought, a cheap Hollywood vehicle for Tom Hanks, and nothing more. It wasn't based on any true story, and, as you point out, it made no damn sense at all. An extrapolation of The Fighting Sullivans story, it was just sentimental hogwash.

Foreigner, we make movies and write books about things for very good reasons. Consider "Memphis Belle" for instance. The book was written, the movie was made, and the plane was remembered because it got from England to Germany and back 25 times -- an incredibly rare and difficult achievement. Your grandfather was very good with his 88-mm Flugzeugabwehrkanone. He and his like shot down our bombers wholesale. You have reason to be proud, and so do we.

mdgiles

Quote from: tbone0106 on August 31, 2012, 05:03:28 AM
B-29s and A-bombs would certainly have ended the war in Europe a whole lot sooner. But the B-17s and B-24s in service at the time could easily have reached and carpet-bombed the Wolfsschanze in July 1944. They didn't simply because we didn't know where it was.
Then that's a first class intelligence failure. The enemy leader has an a major headquarters, And you have no idea it's there? Shouldn't air reconnaissance have shown suspicious activity? I mean some one must have wonder what was being built with the equipment flowing into the area. Shouldn't we have had at least a few people on the ground, perhaps working through the Polish government in exile.
QuoteFWIW, Saving Private Ryan was, I've always thought, a cheap Hollywood vehicle for Tom Hanks, and nothing more. It wasn't based on any true story, and, as you point out, it made no damn sense at all. An extrapolation of The Fighting Sullivans story, it was just sentimental hogwash.
If I was the Hank's character and I was handed a mission like that, I'd have taken my men out a couple of clicks, checked with any troops I found, and then come back and said we didn't find him. Take my men out and get them killed over Bullshit like that. Hell, I'm surprised his commanding officer didn't take him aside and give him those exact orders. I think the plot had a lot to do with the Hollyweird belief that military men will follow any old stupid order.

QuoteForeigner, we make movies and write books about things for very good reasons. Consider "Memphis Belle" for instance. The book was written, the movie was made, and the plane was remembered because it got from England to Germany and back 25 times -- an incredibly rare and difficult achievement. Your grandfather was very good with his 88-mm Flugzeugabwehrkanone. He and his like shot down our bombers wholesale. You have reason to be proud, and so do we.
Actually it was the German fighter planes that were the biggest problem. Once they brought in the long range Mustangs, bomber losses plunged. Interestingly enough, many of the German flak shells were manufactured by forced labor, and they managed to sabotage more than a few of them - especially the fuses. So the often went off at the wrong altitude - luckily for the bombers.
"LIBERALS: their willful ignorance is rivaled only by their catastrophic stupidity"!