Conservative Political Forum

General Category => War Forum => Topic started by: tbone0106 on July 15, 2012, 06:28:49 AM

Title: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on July 15, 2012, 06:28:49 AM
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?
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Annoying Armed Conservative on July 15, 2012, 08:36:16 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Solar on July 15, 2012, 09:32:51 AM
Quote from: AnnoyingArmedConservative on July 15, 2012, 08:36:16 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on July 15, 2012, 01:10:29 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on July 16, 2012, 07:07:40 AM
Quote from: tbone0106 on July 15, 2012, 01:10:29 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.
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Ford289HiPo on July 16, 2012, 02:27:11 PM
We have to admit that the bombing of Dresden went a bit too far. It was totally unnecessary.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on July 16, 2012, 10:21:18 PM
Quote from: Ford289HiPo on July 16, 2012, 02:27:11 PM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Solar on July 16, 2012, 11:10:39 PM
Quote from: Ford289HiPo on July 16, 2012, 02:27:11 PM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Possumpoint on July 17, 2012, 10:10:52 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Solar on July 17, 2012, 10:17:11 AM
Quote from: Possumpoint on July 17, 2012, 10:10:52 AM
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.
I'm willing to kill for what I believe in.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on July 17, 2012, 11:15:31 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Ford289HiPo on July 17, 2012, 12:47:30 PM
Quote from: mdgiles on July 16, 2012, 10:21:18 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on July 18, 2012, 01:18:23 AM
Quote from: Ford289HiPo on July 17, 2012, 12:47:30 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.
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on July 18, 2012, 11:14:08 AM
Quote from: Ford289HiPo on July 17, 2012, 12:47:30 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on July 19, 2012, 03:15:47 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on July 19, 2012, 01:35:33 PM
And what, exactly, is wrong with that?
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on July 20, 2012, 07:46:13 AM
Quote from: tbone0106 on July 19, 2012, 01:35:33 PM
And what, exactly, is wrong with that?
Nothing at all.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on July 23, 2012, 05:56:03 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on August 18, 2012, 02:33:28 PM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on August 22, 2012, 04:07:59 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: Shooterman on August 22, 2012, 07:02:03 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on August 22, 2012, 09:56:15 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on August 23, 2012, 05:19:13 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on August 25, 2012, 02:33:03 PM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: 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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on August 31, 2012, 03:52:15 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on August 31, 2012, 05:03:28 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: mdgiles on September 02, 2012, 03:02:51 AM
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.
Title: Re: WWII Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe -- Did It Pay Off?
Post by: tbone0106 on September 03, 2012, 05:52:12 PM
Quote from: mdgiles on September 02, 2012, 03:02:51 AM
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.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.
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.

Perhaps it was an intelligence failure. Certainly, the Wolfsschanze was well-protected and expertly camouflaged to avoid detection from the air, something Hitler feared greatly. In any case, air reconnaissance has its limitations, undoubtedly more then than now. And even with certain knowledge of the location of specific valuable targets, the technology of the day proved faulty when it came to "precision bombing," a phrase that in those times was a contradiction in terms.

And yes, German fighters posed a bigger threat early on than did the flak guns, though both took their toll. But it's also fair to say that the effect of the Luftwaffe's fighters dropped off markedly after 1943 in the face of the Mustang's opposition, while their 88's kept punching holes in the air, and in Allied bombers, right to the end of the war.