View Full Version : Allied Bombing- Was it effective?

12-03-2005, 04:49 PM
Just curious guys,
after reading some accounts of the losses of B17s during the daylight bombing, did the bombing actually effect the German Industrial/War machine?

please dont turn this thread into a red hate blue thread lol

12-03-2005, 04:56 PM
Alberts Speer's view on the subject:

The real importance of the air war consisted in the fact that it opened a second front before the invasion of Europe. The front was the skies over Germany. Every square metre of the territory we controlled was a kind of front line. Defence against air attacks required the production of thousands of anti-aircraft guns, the stockpiling of tremendous quantities of ammunition over the country, and holding in readiness hundreds of thousands of soldiers, who in addition had to stay in position by their guns, often totally inactive, for months at a time.

Albert Speer, Spandau, the Secret Diaries (1976)

12-03-2005, 05:20 PM
Allied Bombing- Was it effective?

Not as effective as the allied would have wanted it to be ...

But take this as an example:
The Dam Busters Raid in May 1943: it took some 50.000 workers to rebuild the dams, in some 3 or 4 months. Them workers were pulled away from the organisation responsible for the Atlantic Wall...

How would the Normandy invasion have turned out when those workers would have been able to put those 3 to 4 months of efforts in fortifying the Antlantic Wall?

And that's just one raid!

In the end: The Allies won the war. So, yes, it was effective.

(But, being effective or not, it was gruesome ... I've read the book "Und Deutschland staedte starben nicht"... pitcturing awesome destruction, awesome loss of civilian lives ...)

12-03-2005, 05:23 PM
It was very effective for the outcome of the war.

12-03-2005, 05:44 PM
In a nutshell: Yes.

12-03-2005, 05:47 PM
yep. it had to be. how ever it was a tradgic thing to have to happen. lady who works with my mom was a little girl at the time of the air war. she said she was lucky enough to have lived in a smaller town that was not bombed but had heard of the ****ge ect. one day id like to sit down and talk to her. she made the remark one time about how hard it was at the time because of shorteges ect. war sucks .

12-03-2005, 06:00 PM

12-03-2005, 06:01 PM
Some 1433 Me-262 ariframes were delivered to the LuftWaffe. However, more than 500 additional airframes were destroyed by bombing prior to them leaving the factories. So, in this case, more the 25% of production was destroyed before it could be used effectively against the Allies.

There were certainly mistakes and some diffusion of purpose in the course of the strategic bombing campaign. It never achieved its stated aims of destroying Germany's capacity and will to fight. But it certainly did influence the land battles, before either side had actually taken the field.

I'd call it a qualified sucess. Some areas like the Transportation Plan, Operation Crossbow, the POL strikes were very sucessful. Others like the 'Big Week' and the Rolling Offensives of 1941 and 1942, were less effective.

12-03-2005, 06:01 PM
No, totally uneffective, so uneffective it won the war http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif.

12-03-2005, 06:04 PM
What like Tea and Biscuits? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif

12-03-2005, 06:07 PM
who were u repling to

12-03-2005, 06:17 PM
I agree withthe statement posted by berg417448. Regardless of how effective or ineffective the bombing raids were, they tied up huge amounts of German resources that could have been used elsewhere.


12-03-2005, 06:53 PM

Bombing didn't stop German war production...their industrial output actually increased throughout the war.

But, as has been indicated, every JG stuck defending the Rhine/Ruhr Industrial complexes were sorely missed in France and Russia

12-03-2005, 07:04 PM
Originally posted by jds1978:

Bombing didn't stop German war production...their industrial output actually increased throughout the war.
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/351.gif and how much more would thay have been able to produce with out hords of bombers leveling there factorys,killing there workers,distroying stock piles of ammo and rations as well as tieing up manpower?

12-03-2005, 07:15 PM
Originally posted by jds1978:

Bombing didn't stop German war production...their industrial output actually increased throughout the war.

and how much more would thay have been able to produce with out hords of bombers leveling there factorys,killing there workers,distroying stock piles of ammo and rations as well as tieing up manpower?

agree 100%...however, the Germans ran out of manpower...not material. The aim of the bomber offensive was to cripple Nazi Germany's ability to mass produce tanks/planes/etc. That never happened.

The Germans became adapt at quickly repairing and re-adjusting their industrial plants.

in the end, they simply buried them underground to keep them safe from the bombers.

The biggest effect of the raids were probably related to the morale of the German civilian population.

12-03-2005, 07:21 PM
haveing to bury them and repair/readjust took time away from producing. i agree that it was not 100% effective as far as distroying there abilty to produce . how ever there is no dout as to its posative effect for the allies.

12-03-2005, 07:27 PM
haveing to bury them and repair/readjust took time away from producing. i agree that it was not 100% effective as far as distroying there abilty to produce . how ever there is no dout as to its posative effect for the allies.


plus the bomber offensive was the only way we could really hurt the Germans before OVERLORD

12-03-2005, 07:40 PM

Robin Neilland

"The Bomber War"
ISBN 0-7195-6241 4

Most of the bombs were mis(-ses) but finally there were enough scores. The aerial bombing (RAF) was inaccurate and often the daylight bombing (USAAF) turned out to be like aerial bombing.

If the question was about aiming or hitting scores, the answer is that the bomber war ineffective. But because of the consequenses of all kind the bomber war did cause harm to the defender. And as said, finally there were enough scores.


12-03-2005, 07:49 PM
plus the bomber offensive was the only way we could really hurt the Germans before OVERLORD

You must be forgetting Italy, and the Med. Theatre was being taken from the Germans at the time before Overlord.

12-03-2005, 08:13 PM
and how much more would thay have been able to produce with out hords of bombers leveling there factorys,killing there workers,distroying stock piles of ammo and rations as well as tieing up manpower?

Exactly. People point to the expansion of German production in 1944 as proof of the failure of bombing, but the truth is it was starting from a low base, and the expansion still didn't increase German production to the levels it should have been running at.

For example, the German aircraft industry might have turned out more aircraft in 1944 than in any other year, and even more than Britain did, but they did so by concentrating on single engined fighters, which were the cheapest and easiest to build. In terms of actual airframe weight, they produced about 175 million pounds in 1944 (compared to Britain's 185 million in 1943, and 208 million in 1944). And yet Britain had just over half the population of Germany.

12-03-2005, 08:21 PM
The bombing of oil fields, refineries, chemical plants, and above all, railroads, marshalling yards and rollling stock to make it all come together rendered the increases in actual production to near meaninglessness.

A tank sitting outside of a factory because there are no locomotives to transport it to the front may as well not exist.

Ditto a fighter that cannot take to the air because it's fuel tanks are empty.

The loss of civilian lives due to the bombing however, is very regrettable. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

12-03-2005, 09:17 PM

Some Signposts

1. The German experience suggests that even a first class military power -- rugged and resilient as Germany was -- cannot live long under full-scale and free exploitation of air weapons over the heart of its territory. By the beginning of 1945, before the invasion of the homeland itself, Germany was reaching a state of helplessness. Her armament production was falling irretrievably, orderliness in effort was disappearing, and total disruption and disintegration were well along. Her armies were still in the field. But with the impending collapse of the supporting economy, the indications are convincing that they would have had to cease fighting -- any effective fighting -- within a few months. Germany was mortally wounded.
2. The significance of full domination of the air over the enemy -- both over its armed forces and over its sustaining economy -- must be emphasized. That domination of the air was essential. Without it, attacks on the basic economy of the enemy could not have been delivered in sufficient force and with sufficient freedom to bring effective and lasting results.

3. As the air offensive gained in tempo, the Germans were unable to prevent the decline and eventual collapse of their economy. Nevertheless, the recuperative and defensive powers of Germany were immense; the speed and ingenuity with which they rebuilt and maintained essential war industries in operation clearly surpassed Allied expectations. Germany resorted to almost every means an ingenious people could devise to avoid the attacks upon her economy and to minimize their effects. Camouflage, smoke screens, shadow plants, dispersal, underground factories, were all employed. In some measure all were helpful, but without control of the air, none was really effective. Dispersal brought a measure of immediate relief, but eventually served only to add to the many problems caused by the attacks on the transportation system. Underground installations prevented direct damage, but they, too, were often victims of disrupted transportation and other services. In any case, Germany never succeeded in placing any substantial portion of her war production underground--the effort was largely limited to certain types of aircraft, their components, and the V weapons. The practicability of going underground as the escape from full and free exploitation of the air is highly questionable; it was so considered by the Germans themselves. Such passive defenses may be worth while and important, but it may be doubted if there is any escape from air domination by an enemy.

4. The mental reaction of the German people to air attack is significant. Under ruthless Nazi control they showed surprising resistance to the terror and hardships of repeated air attack, to the destruction of their homes and belongings, and to the conditions under which they were reduced to live. Their morale, their belief in ultimate victory or satisfactory compromise, and their confidence in their leaders declined, but they continued to work efficiently as long as the physical means of production remained. The power of a police state over its people cannot be underestimated.

5. The importance of careful selection of targets for air attack is emphasized by the German experience. The Germans were far more concerned over attacks on one or more of their basic industries and services -- their oil, chemical, or steel industries or their power or transportation networks -- than they were over attacks on their armament industry or the city areas. The most serious attacks were those which destroyed the industry or service which most indispensably served other industries. The Germans found it clearly more important to devise measures for the protection of basic industries and services than for the protection of factories turning out finished products.

6. The German experience showed that, whatever the target system, no indispensable industry was permanently put out of commission by a single attack Persistent re-attack was necessary.
7. In the field of strategic intelligence, there was an important need for further and more accurate information, especially before and during the early phases of the war. The information on the German economy available to the United States Air Forces at the outset of the war was inadequate. And there was no established machinery for coordination between military and other governmental and private organizations. Such machinery was developed during the war. The experience suggests the wisdom of establishing such arrangements on a continuing basis.

8. Among the most significant of the other factors which contributed to the success of the air effort was the extraordinary progress during the war of Allied research, development, and production. As a result of this progress, the air forces eventually brought to the attack superiority in both numbers and quality of crews, aircraft, and equipment. Constant and unending effort was required, however, to overcome the initial advantages of the enemy and later to keep pace with his research and technology. It was fortunate that the leaders of the German Air Force relied too heavily on their initial advantage. For this reason they failed to develop, in time, weapons, such as their jet-propelled planes, that might have substantially improved their position. There was hazard, on the other hand, in the fact that the Allies were behind the Germans in the development of jet propelled aircraft. The German development of the V weapons, especially the V-2, is also noteworthy.

9. The achievements of Allied air power were attained only with difficulty and great cost in men, material, and effort. Its success depended on the courage, fortitude, and gallant action of the officers and men of the air crews and commands. It depended also on a superiority in leadership, ability, and basic strength. These led to a timely and careful training of pilots and crews in volume; to the production of planes, weapons, and supplies in great numbers and of high quality; to the securing of adequate bases and supply routes; to speed and ingenuity in development; and to cooperation with strong and faithful Allies. The failure of any one of these might have seriously narrowed and even eliminated the margin.

12-03-2005, 09:43 PM
Thanks guys for your replies,
i sorta think now thta the bombing didn't do much ( i could be wrong) to Germanies production it more effected were their airforces were- they were defending the plants not Attacking the ruskies were they should've been

12-03-2005, 09:55 PM
Anyone who thinks that the Bombing Offensive didn't affect Germany's industrys is crazy!

I mean, it's really simple logic.

12-03-2005, 11:32 PM
chris455 is spot on regarding oil and communications. There were always plenty of 262s, just no fuel for them to fly a large number of sorties. I think I read the best day was something like 29 262 sorties in a day. They had hundreds deployed. (someone probably has a better number than that, but it's in the ballpark).

It was effective, but not as effective as it could have been if targetted on what really mattered more often.

In the Pacific War it was very very effective, both tactical and strategic. Airpower drove the war in thr SWPA in a way it realyl didn't elsewhere in the world due to the disconnected nature of the front. As for bombing the home islands, they were set on waiting out the invasion to get better terms until the ultimate strategic bombing happened---and they capitulated within days.


12-03-2005, 11:54 PM
To compliment SkyChimp's post:-

from rafbombercommand.co.uk

Assessment of the Campaign

'Bomber Command airmen flew operations on almost every day or night of the war. Their task demanded sustained and repeated acts of courage from individual aircrews in lonely and dangerous situations.

The bombing campaign was the only way by which Britain could hit back at an aggressive enemy who had invaded most of Europe, had bombed British cities from Glasgow to Plymouth, had taken the first steps to invade the UK by an aerial assault in the Battle of Britain and who represented the greatest danger Britain had faced for centuries.

The RAF€s bombing campaign also had important political value. It helped Churchill convince the Americans that Britain could strike effectively at Germany and therefore it was worth investing a substantial amount of the USA€s own airforce effort in the European war. Having been bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour, there were many Americans who wanted all the USA€s military strength targeted at the Pacific War. Had this happened, it would have been disastrous for Britain.

Bomber Command€s efforts also played a crucial role in Britain€s alliance with Russia. After Russia was attacked by the Germans, Stalin repeatedly demanded that Churchill open a second front to divert German forces. He wanted an invasion launched across the Channel as early as 1942 and accused Churchill of cowardice. Churchill knew it would up to two years before this was possible, but he argued that the RAF€s bombing of Germany already was a second front and this helped to convince Stalin that the British were committed to attacking Germany. Had he not believed this, Russia might have felt forced to agree a truce with Germany. This would have been extremely dangerous for Britain, for Hitler could then have turned all his military force towards a second attempt at invading Britain itself.

Statistics show that German industrial production was not affected as badly as might have been expected by sustained bombing. However, for much of the early part of WW2 German war industry was not operating at full capacity and many German factories continued to produce domestic goods.

Without the bombing campaign, German industry would have been able to increase war production capacity many times over if required. Bombing disrupted production and held the full potential of the German industrial machine in check. Equally importantly, bombing attacks on the German homeland forced the Nazis to divert over one million men and 55,000 artillery guns to anti-aircraft defence within Germany itself. German aircraft production had to focus on fighter production for defence against bomber attack, rather than, as Hitler desperately wanted, be able to produce more bombers for offensive use. These resources were urgently needed elsewhere, particularly on the eastern front fighting the Russians, who were finally able to overcome the Germans and force them into a retreat.

Historian Professor Richard Overy had studied the bombing campaign at length. He writes: €˜The critical question is not so much €œWhat did bombing do to Germany?€ but €œWhat could Germany have achieved if there had been no bombing?€€¦... Bombing was a blunt instrument. It was a strategy that had a long and painful learning curve. But for all its deficiencies the 125,000 men and women of Bomber Command made a larger contribution to victory in Europe than any other element of Britain€s armed services.€

Albert Speer, Hitler€s Armaments Minister, knew more than anyone else in Europe about the true effect of the bombing campaign. He summed it up thus: €˜It made every square metre of Germany a front. For us, it was the greatest lost battle of the war.€

12-04-2005, 02:40 AM
The strategic bombing campaign against German industry is only one section of the larger role played by the Strategic Airforces in WW2. While it is obviously the most famous and visible role, it is really just one part of a massive pattern of operations. Famous operations like "Big Week" (Operation Argument), should really only be taken into consideration along lesser known operations like Operation Bodyguard (the deceptive bombing campaign designed to draw attention away from Normandy), and Operations Cadillac and Carpetbagger.

You can't forget that the heavy bomber formations also targeted airfields, supply dumps, bridges, rail junctions, aquaducts, canals, submarine pens, ships at anchor, V1 deployment sites, V2 production factories, and even performed saturation bombing of German front line postions after the second European front was opened. Tactical operations were just as large a part of the role of the bombers as strategic operations were for the final part of the war.

They also performed less glamourous and well know operations, like dropping in training specialists and and enough weapons to equip 20,000 resistance fighters in Operation Carpetbagger and Cadillac or the mass leafletting of German cities in 1945 which encouraged the surrender of defenders with assurances of fair treatment.

So their sucess cannot be measured by its effect on German industrial output alone. It is far more complex than that. The bombing by the USAAF and RAF had a profound negative effict on the German capacity to sustain, make and conduct a war. On the home front, logistics front and on the battlefront, Allied bombing was devestating.

Take the Transportation Plan, probably the most effective and specific long term campaign of any bombing force during the war. Between the beginning of March and the end of May the RAF flew 11,000 sorties and dropped 37,000 tons of bombs on French rail targets alone. The USAAF effort, while more focused on German aircraft producion, was no less impressive. The result was a complete paralysis of the French rail network within 60-150 miles of the Normandy coast. The was no other striking force comprable in the war to the western Allied bombing forces, the combined might of the USAAF and the RAF.

Albert Speer said of the bombing of French railway targets;

"As far as I know they were decisive, tanks for example had to be off-laoded at Reims and moved by road to Normandy. This resulted in a considerable loss of MT (motorised transport) and substantial wastage before the tanks even got into action, quite apart from the great expenditure of fuel."

In his post-war interrogation Speer noted that by September 1944 the shortage of aviation fuel had made the situation in the war untenable. It didn't matter how many aircraft Germany produced, they simply didn't have the fuel to fly them.

When the heavy bomber formations were used in support of the land forces, the results were devestating, even when unfortunate mis-drops were made.

Field Marshal von Kluge, worte a letter to Hilter on July 21st, 1944, after his forces had been carpet bombed by the Allies;

"Whole armoured formations, alloted to the counterattack, were caught in a bomb carpet of the greatest intensity so that they could be extricated from the torn up ground only by prolonged effort , and in some cases only by dragging them out. The result was that they arrived too late... They psychological effect of such a mass of bombs coming down, with all the power of elemental nature on fighting forces, especially the infantry, is a factor which has to be taken into very serious consideration. It is immaterial whether such a carpet catches good troops or bad, they are more or less annihilated and, above all, their equipment is shattered."

12-04-2005, 02:42 AM
Speer's point is important as Stalin could be bought off, to a certain extent, in his desire to see a second front opened by the strategic bombing offensive.

The strategic bombing offensive was not as effective as it could have been due to issues of target selection and coordination between the USAAF and RAF (largely at Bomber Command's end unfortunately), plus technical factors. It did tie up guns and aircraft that would otherwise have gone to the Eastern Front.

Strategic bombing wasn't the only bombing, and the operational bombing leading up to D-Day and the tactical attacks thereafter were very effective. Some have suggested that the USAAF and RAF would have done better to concentrate more on this (ironically the original purpose of the Luftwaffe) than strategic attacks. Not to the exclusion of strategic attacks, but simply a different balance.

12-04-2005, 03:58 AM
the operations of 2 group are often forgotten http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

12-04-2005, 04:56 AM
Originally posted by p1ngu666:
the operations of 2 group are often forgotten http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

That's because 2nd group was mostly interested in night terror bombing large cities rather then actually attacking specific strategic targets.

12-04-2005, 05:06 AM
Bombing could have had better results had the technology been higher. Often, as others have mentioned, the bombs missed their targets. That means the missions had to be flown again and again until they got their targets. Remember, Dresden's communications and transportation was in full operation within days after an immense bombing campaign. It was really playing it by numbers, or like shooting at birds. As long as you keep shooting, you'll eventually hit a bird.

Just be happy the Nazis never put much effort as did the Allies in bombing campaigns.


12-04-2005, 05:30 AM
According to Speer the allied air campaign would have been far more effective & even fatal for the German industry if it had been focused. They hit the dams but didn't finish the job, same goes with ball bearing factories (which were very vulnerable due to the production method), synthetic fuel production could have been ended but again the allies moved to new targets. This, however, seems to point a finger at recon, intelligence & politics more than the strike forces. Of course we need to be careful putting too much weight on the words of Speer - after all he was probably the only person in the world who knew the soft spots in the German war industry. It's easy for him to say the allied bombing were ineffective. Interesting subject & one of the most debated post-WWII. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

12-04-2005, 06:15 AM
Originally posted by anarchy52:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by p1ngu666:
the operations of 2 group are often forgotten http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

That's because 2nd group was mostly interested in night terror bombing large cities rather then actually attacking specific strategic targets. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I thought 2 group was made up of B25's in support of ground forces after 1943?

As quotes have testified, attacking anything in German detracted from there man power in the front lines.http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

12-04-2005, 06:39 AM
2 group was the light/medium daylight group.
planes like blehiem, a20,b25,mossie, ventura etc

operated mainly over the occupied countries, and even accidentle damage to french civialians would result in disaplineray action, 1 guy for example was removed from ops, and never heard of again. his bombs had bounced into a french cottage.

so you is wrong http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

12-04-2005, 08:05 AM
Originally posted by p1ngu666:
2 group was the light/medium daylight group.
planes like blehiem, a20,b25,mossie, ventura etc

Oh. I thought you were talking about USAF/RAF instead of RAF night/RAF day

12-04-2005, 08:49 AM
no, they where part of bomber command, but they where the medium/daylight ops group

incidently what u said is abit errornoss about bomber command aswell

there where only a few aircraft which acuratly hit the target to what we would call resonable %.
stuka(and other dive bombers), ju88 in a dive, mossie, fighter bombers. thats pretty much it, i dont know much about japanease and russian bombers so i cant really comment.

but most bombs tumbled and wobbled on the way down, in HE111 was maybe worse as bomb was upside down when droped, so lots of tumbling and wobbling.

much is made of american precision bombing, but it wasnt really that much better than anyone else. they flew in formations, that where often a mile wide, so for a start the bombs will be in a 1mile wide strip (at best), which is fairly big, and they dropped on the signal from a lead bomber, so he hasnt aim early for the rest to bomb on time.

pretty much all level bombing was carpet bombing. exeptions like 617 squadron, oboe target marking (and the german equivilent)

its been said that the british precision bombed a area target, the americans area bombed precision targets.

nearly all the continuation of area bombing lies with "bomber" harris.

from what ive read recently the german bomber force went from being probably the best in the world, to being a farce in a few years

12-04-2005, 09:08 AM
I think they were attached to the 2nd TAF during and after overlord. So terror bombing wouldn't have been on there list but airfields, vehical columns, V1 sites etc.

American 'precision' bombing was about as precise as British night bombing. Send a hundreds of bombers up in a 20 mile wide formation and spam the target area with bombs. 1 bomber is bound to hit the building you wanted to destroy.

12-04-2005, 09:20 AM
they where doing similer operations before 2nd TAF, the mossie raids are famous, but blehiems and a20s where doing the bulk of that type of attack before (with a high chop rate too)

12-04-2005, 11:37 AM
Originally posted by Siwarrior:
Just curious guys,
after reading some accounts of the losses of B17s during the daylight bombing, did the bombing actually effect the German Industrial/War machine?

please dont turn this thread into a red hate blue thread lol

Yes it was very effective. Losses were high, but in the end it was worth it. The successful destruction of Ploesti starved the Reich of oil. Thats just one successful raid to name a few.

In fact most historian argue that Russia would have eventually overrun Germany through sheer numbers alone without the Normandy landings in 1944. General consensus is that the biggest Allied contribution was indeed the bombing campaign over Western Europe.

12-04-2005, 11:58 AM
Was it effective to slow down the increase of german industrial production? - Yes, no doubt a lot of resources was needed to build up new factories in mountains, or to build a camouflage.

Was it effective to destroy the german industrial production?
No, cause the german production reached the peak in Nov.44. and didn´t decreased dramatical till the Ruhr area was occupied.