View Full Version : D-Day air support?

03-23-2004, 12:27 PM
I am quite a rookie in a history of a D-day. But it seems that those bunkers coul've been destroyed or supressed by diving bomers or ground attack aircrafts. Have any sort of ground attack been used in that operation?

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03-23-2004, 12:27 PM
I am quite a rookie in a history of a D-day. But it seems that those bunkers coul've been destroyed or supressed by diving bomers or ground attack aircrafts. Have any sort of ground attack been used in that operation?

"One day there is certain to be another order of the Soviet Union. It will be the Order of Zhukov, and that order will be prized by every man who admires courage, vision, fortitude, and determination in a soldier." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945

03-23-2004, 12:35 PM
typhoons and p47 surported later
most bombs didnt do much to bunkers. they did bombard stuff in pacfic to not much effect


03-23-2004, 12:37 PM
They were attacked from the air by all sorts of aircraft, from fighters to lancasters using bloody great big 4000 pounders, and even may the 18000 pound? block busters on them. Even the Navy called in to shell them

the results in general did nothing but scratch the bunkers really, although some were rendered useless when the weaponry inside them blew up

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03-23-2004, 01:43 PM
Don't forget for every real bunker there were dozens of decoys too. Easier said than done.

03-23-2004, 02:07 PM
If the bombing couldnt do much damage to bunkers, why they didnt smoke the beach. It would make German machineguns not so deadly.

I know thet Russians used the smoke at Stalingrad. It was sroped by IL2 before infantry attack.

03-23-2004, 02:21 PM
D-Day was a surprise attack on a portion of coast where German defense was light.

Sure they had to fight their way off the beach, but beyond the beach it was relatively light, at least compared to German forces elsewhere on the continent.

The German armor was miles inland waiting on orders from higher up the chain of command. They never had a chance to get to the beach.

In most cases the Allied infantry simply went around the German bunkers. It's easier to scare them into surrendering, or send in engineers once you've got the bunker surrounded.

03-23-2004, 02:29 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by maxim26:
If the bombing couldnt do much damage to bunkers, why they didnt smoke the beach. It would make German machineguns not so deadly.

I know thet Russians used the smoke at Stalingrad. It was sroped by IL2 before infantry attack.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>\

Probably wouldnt have made much of a differnece they would have probably opend fire through the smoke (spray and pray), but in the long run they maybe might not have been too many casualties due to them not seeing their targets.

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03-23-2004, 02:40 PM
First of all, close air support was literally in its infancy for the units of the 9th and 8th AF. Even experienced ground attack units of the time were not very accurate, particularly when compared to the Naval Gunfire Support available for target as far as 10 miles inland. High altitude bombing before the predawn launching of the landing craft was simply not considered possible, given the known accuracy of the bombers at that time.

Allied commanders wisely decided that attempting to reduce the bunkers by air would have resulted in at least as many Allied casualties as German.

There was also the question of all those ships expecting a massive air attack from the LW. The Allied air cover over the invasion fleet was limited to the P-38 Groups, because they figured even sailors would be able to recognize its planform as a 'friendly.' A number of Lightnings limped back to England after being hit by friendly fire.

In any case, on D-Day itself, the Allied Fighter Groups were inland, concentrating on cutting German reinforcements off from the coast, and preventing German aircraft from reaching the beachhead. Generally, they did a pretty good job, but the escort specialized groups suffered greater casualties per sorty than usual throughout the June campaign.

Hope this helps clear up your questions.



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03-23-2004, 03:10 PM
The 20th. (and I believe 55th.) Fighter Group flew top cover for medium and heavy bombers on June 6, 1944. The bombers did bombard several areas where known fortifications were but their primary targets were a little further inland, clearing paths for when the invasion force got deeper inland.

Each of the three sqaudrons of the 20th. (the 55th., 77th. and 79th.FS) all flew three missions each that day and some pilots racked up a total flight time of over 10 hours. The only excitement was on the final mission when a 20th. HQ pilot overran the runway and trashed a P-38 upon returning to King's Cliffe.

03-23-2004, 03:25 PM
On the American beaches the big bunkers housing the canons were blown up by the infantry by blowing up the ammunition chambers with the complete storage. Only this could destroy the bunker
It also shows, since the roof collapsed in the back.
From the outside little damage could be done. One bunker on the English beaches was put out of order by a (lucky) hit from a canon on the beach.

I've spoken to an RAF veteran and he told me that while the troops were on the beaches, the aircraft (fighter) were ordered to stay far away from the beaches. This because the command feared that the troops would shoot on anything passing over them.

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03-23-2004, 03:27 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by maxim26:
If the bombing couldnt do much damage to bunkers, why they didnt smoke the beach. It would make German machineguns not so deadly.

I know thet Russians used the smoke at Stalingrad. It was sroped by IL2 before infantry attack.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The didn't use smoke because it would also disorient Allied troops. The prevailing winds were not interested in the fight. Imagine the Rangers not finding Point du Hoc in the smoke, or artillery spotters not being able to call targets in to the Navy, or Beach Masters not being able to co-ordinate traffic, or US troops mistakenly travelling at an angle down the beach onto a British beach and starting a firefight with their own allies, or the swimming tanks not being able to see shore, or medics not finding wounded men, or officers not rallying men or...well you get the idea.

Also, remember that while History books tend to indicate that the landing craft just drove up near the shore and disgorged troops, in actuality, individual bosuns and infantry commanders on the LCIs were able to choose better disembarkation points for the landing craft in many cases- because they could see the difficulties or impossibilties of landing exactly were they were supposed to.

The Overlord landings had already been delayed and we didn't want to delay again. There wasn't really the luxury of waiting to see if the bombs had any effect, and now, well, let's smoke the beach and see if that helps.

If the allies couldn't see, it would have negated much of the training they did for the operation. The training for Overlord was long, hard, and costly (I don't mean in monetary terms. The Germans actually destroyed LCIs that were in training one night, well before June 6th). It would have been disastrous to train all these men for the operation and then blind them with smoke.

A last point to remember is that the Germans still anticipated the real invasion at the Pas de Calais, and another reason not to use smoke to cover the entire beachhead is that it's a lot of smoke! It might have been an indication that this was in reality, the real invasion after all. Lots of reasons not to use smoke.

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03-23-2004, 05:28 PM
Like someone said Close air support was a new thing and wasnt regarded on as having much effect (Bomber Harris). Which to a point due to in accuracy was nearly true. Things are far different these days.

Carpet bombing was the preferred method. And even then when came to small targets quite often missed the mark.

Back to the bunker. Anyone in it when a bomb hit would have been killed through massive heamoragh or at leats unfit for further duty.

Most of the beach defenders were either russian defectors from the eastern front/invalid german soldiers or kids. Not first class by any means.

03-23-2004, 06:39 PM
Well, Arthur Harris wasn't in charge on D-Day http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

The worry with carpet bombing (called area bombing at the time) on D-Day was that it was far too innacurate to distinguish friend from foe.

Although the US had a doctrine of 'precision bombing', in fact almost all bombing was, in practice, area bombing.

Consider allied airpower on D-Day and it's use with this in mind:

After D-Day, during Operation Cobra, allied heavy bombers were dropping bombs parallel to the front lines. This was July 24 and 25, 1944. Marker panels were in place, and a bombline of 1500 yards was in effect.

102 Americans were killed in the bombing portion of the Operation, by their own bombs. The highest ranking US Officer of the war to be killed was killed in this action by friendly bombs, Lesley J. McNair.

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03-23-2004, 06:50 PM
the allies had no experience in coordinating close air support like the germans and russians. it took the luftwaffe a long time to get close coordination with ground units to work effectively. at first only predesignated targets were attacked a few minutes before ground units attacked. then radio-equipped command vehicles were deployed at divisional level. all kinds of methods were tested like smoke, signs on the ground like arrows pointing to targets and etc. on the eastern front some commanders circled in storch aircraft in radio contact with ground attack units - even giving specific pilots of a staffel detailed instructions on what they should attack.

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03-23-2004, 07:00 PM

On the contrary, the Germans had close air support experience from the Spanish Civil War.

The cousin of Manfred von Richtofen, Wolfram von Richtofen (himself an ace from WWI), had the task of "Air Commander for Special Purposes". It is a role in which he excelled.

During the invasion of Poland, von Richtofen had Special Air Detachments riding around in armored cars with radios, co-ordinating air strikes.

Von Richtofen himself would fly a Storch into the battle and from the air he would direct his air to ground operations in support of the advancing army.

Near the end of the Polish campaign, the Poles actually manged a counter-attack that threatened to cut off the German 10th Army.

Richtofen's Special Air Detachments were serving with the 10th Army, and the Polish attack was halted by Stukas and Hs 123s that were trying out variations of air to ground tactics developed in Spain.

The world remembers the name von Richtofen from the Red Baron in the first World War, and almost no-one knows what his cousin did in WWII.

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03-23-2004, 07:58 PM
In regards to the smoke had it been used resulting in less casulties. Possibly but not necessarily the case.

I cannot recall the title of that individual program but I was watching a History channel program On D day and they interveiwed a German who was at one of the bloodiest sections of Omaha.

Through an interpreter he said that " We flung our grenades down into the massed men, we fired as fast as we could reload and change barrels. It was impossible to miss. When the Stilgernades exploded, they caused casulties, where we pointed our weapons there were casulties. It was carnage.

If you read some of the 1st hand accounts from the beaches there were many places where spay and pray would have been all that was needed to inflict some serious damage smoke or no.

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03-23-2004, 08:29 PM

In regards to the comment that the D-Day beaches were lightly defended... Bull.

They were heavily defended with concrete emplacements, dugin infantry, barbed wire, mining, beach mines on obstacles, and artillery of all sorts, from light mortars up to 170mm.

The Allies only succeeded in getting ashore because of the comprehensive and detailed planning by 21st Army Group Commander General Montgomery, and his SHAEF Staff, and the extraordinarily high level of training of the assault forces, all of which had practiced dummy runs on replicas of the beaches.

Fire support required was tremendous, and ranged from Rocket firing assualt craft, up to Battleships, whose fire was controlled by a multitude of spotters both on the beaches and in the air.

Air support was also extensive, but was generally not focused on the beaches once the first wave had landed, as there was too much of a chance of friendlies being mistakenly attacked. Instead it was directed at the German reinforcements which were moving up once the Germans realized the invasion was underway.

Here is a map showing the German movements during D-Day:


Those reinforcements included many armoured formations, the closest of which were the 12 SS Panzer Division, which showed itself as the best of all the SS divisions during the subsequent fighting, and also the 21st Panzer division, which was close to the British and Canadian Beaches.

The 21st Panzer was the only formation to actually get into action and drove forwards through the gap between the British and Canadians. It was defeated by advancing British and Canadian armour and infantry as well as Naval gunfire. It's tanks did get in sight of the beach. It was largely rendered ineffective by the events of June 6th and wasn't a big factor after that.

The 20,000 man excellently equipped 12SS Panzer division was heavily attacked from the air in its approach march to the battlefield, and this is the main reason it did not get into action during June 6th. On June 7th it immediately went into action, counterattacking the 3rd Canadian Division, and only succeeded in taking one village before its advance was stopped. In the next few days it was engaged in vicious combat with the Canadians before being thrown back. This is the period when its troops executed 125 Canadian prisoners they captured during the first day's counterattacks.

Here is another map showing the advances between June 6 - 12:


[This message was edited by RAF74BuzzsawXO on Tue March 23 2004 at 08:19 PM.]

03-23-2004, 08:36 PM
Very nice post.

Just the mortars alone could cover every square inch of beach and had been zeroed in to key positions.

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03-24-2004, 12:20 AM
as others already said: precision was not really possible with the heavies so all that's left is the Typhoons and other Jabos. There you have the problem of friendly AA fire AND the fact that German AAA was quite heavy in the normandy area. I read an account by a Typhoon pilot saying that it was quite hard to attack German positions from the sea. He said you could choose if you come in slightly underneath cloud level where you'd have the best visibility but then the German flak would blow you to pieces or you went in low at sea level which meant you didn't see the target before you were practically in shooting range and many pilots especially younger ones died because they pulled high too late (don't we all know that from the game http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ) or got blown up by explosions.


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03-24-2004, 12:58 AM
I thought there was massive aerial bombardment right before the landings so as not to alert the Germans exactly where the landing were going to take place. There was also somthing like 5 battleships, 20 cruisers and 60+ destroyers between the 2 groups which gave fire support all the way till the allies reached Caen.I think there was little success with taking out German ground positions cause they were to well dug in and as mentioned allied bombing wasn't very accurate for a number of reasons.

I know there was allot of support from the RAF/USAF where they could give it cause my Grandfather was a triage nurse in the RAF treating injured pilots when they returned.

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03-24-2004, 01:12 AM
A lot of things went wrong in the D-day landings, as in every other operation. I think that air support was not used due to various reasons:

1st, landings were executed in very early morning. Even if ground attack planes with skillful pilots could be deployed, they would not have time for proper identification, let alone enough time for attack in the pre-dawn darkness, until it would be too late(read friendly forces in close combat with enemy).
2nd, consequent to 1st, if attacks were to be executed, they had to be performed the day before, thus alerting the germans that "something is going on". Because of the rigid structure of the bunkers, only trenches and light machinegun emplacements(sandboxes) would be be destroyed, targets that are fairly light to repair. This would mean only light damages of enemy lines at the cost of alerting germans and giving them a full night to regroup. I still think that it would be wise to send some bombers in order to attack the obstacles and the beach itself, allowing easier deployments of troops and enabling close support by armor on the beach, and also providing the infatry with cover during the advance at the beach, during the early stages of combat. What I mean are bomb craters. I still remeber the phrase of Tom hanks in "Saving private Ryan" when he was talking to some demolition engineer at omaha beach "Those obstacles are the only cover on the beach"
But on the other hand there could be the danger of unexploded bombs

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03-24-2004, 03:06 AM
Would unexploded bombs been present? I know that some did not go off but in the case of unexploded bombs during say Londons 'blitz' they were deliberatly made like that so they exploded later or exploded when they were tampered with by engineers disarming them. I would have thought that during any pre D-Day assualt they would have used bombs with no time based fuses to avoid this sort of problem?

Just some thoughts on the topic.

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03-24-2004, 03:16 AM
Many costal batteries didnt have bunkers, like point du hoc. They got their guns deployed inlands but no bunkers.
Other costal batteries had bunkers but not the planned guns like Merville batteriy. The got some old 7cm guns.
Both batteries was highpriority targets to commandos.
Other batteries like the in Crisbecq had two guns in bunkers and two outside.
Althoug the heavy bombardment with 25m wide craters that intersected each other, managed the gunners to get their guns in fighting order, and sunk a cruiser in a duell during the d-day.

The bunkers where actually imune to bombers but could be destroyed by a direct hit in the gunslit.
Some guns where destroyed because they where hit by naval artillery direct into that slits.
The coastal bunkers where only woulnerable to direct hits, which was one hit out of 10000 bombs I think.