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Bomber raids

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by GunSlinger86, Dec 22, 2016.

  1. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    This is a two-parter:

    After Operation Barbarossa began in the summer of 1941, and then from mid-1942 on when the US and England started double-teaming Germany day and night, did Germany continue to send bombing raids at this point of the war, or did they totally stop and focus on home air defense and not send air attacks until the Vengeance weapons were available?

    During the Blitz, German bombers successfully got through at night to cause sufficient damage. It seemed that British ground defenses against night bombing were barely if at all effective at shooting down bombers, but when the British began the huge night raids with the heavy bombers, the German flak and ground AA guns seemed to do much damage, forcing both British night bombers and American daylight raids to suspend their operations at different times. How come Germany's ground fire was much more effective than England's?
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    Certainly things were quieter in the second half of 1941 but the 'Baedecker' raids of 1942/43 and the Steinbock raids in 1944 ( the 'Baby Blitz' ) leading directly into the V1/V2 attacks meant that the British Isles were not freed from the actuality of aerial bombardment until the very last days of the War ( a fact which is surprisingly often overlooked these days, even in this country ).

    German aerial defence was very effective, mainly due to vastly increased pace of both ground and aircraft-based radar and weaponry design. Although this is a huge subject with vast numbers of books devoted to it, several fundamentals apply - Allied aircraft had to fly much farther over enemy-held territory before reaching their strategic targets which made preparation of effective defence much easier ( hence 'spoof' raids, decoys, etc etc ). One also has to bear in mind that many more Allied aircraft were involved in the later raids, so although many were brought down, the actual percentage was 'acceptable' ( I'm using the word in official terms ). The most devastating blows against both British and US efforts ( eg Nuremburg, Regensburg/Schweinfurt etc ) were delivered by the Luftwaffe.

    A caveat to the above - this is a very brief reply to a very large subject........
     
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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    You asked two questions.

    Martin has already answered your question about German effort against the UK after the Blitz. There were also fighter bomber attacks on the seaside towns of the South East

    Re relative effectiveness of air defences.

    Comparing air defences in 1940 with 1944 is an apples and pears comparison. There were quantitative and qualitative differences between Britian 1940-41 and Germany 1943-44:-

    In January 1941 AA Command had 1,486 heavy anti-aircraft guns (a shortfall of 60%), 929 light anti-aircraft guns (a shortfall of 78%), 6,369 rocket launchers and 4,519 searchlights had been delivered to the command.

    On 7th September 1940 when the night Blitz iof London started the British had no night fighters with the capability to find or catch German bombers. AI radar was in its infancy and mounted in Blenheim aircraft no faster than the Bombers.

    In 1943-44 the Germans had around 15,000 88mm guns in the AA defences of the Reich and deployed hundreds of radar equipped night fighters .

    British Air defences improved dramatically between September 1940 and May 1941. Gun laying radar had been improved and made to work. The Beaufighter night fighter with AI Radar was introduced and shooting down lots of German bombers. It was replaced with the even faster Mosquito with better and better AI radar.

    The British 3.7" AA Gun improved in effectiveness by a factor of a hundred between 1940 and 1944. In its original form the 3.7” gun fired a 28lb (12.7kg) HE shell fitted with a powder-burning Fuze Time No 199 to an effective ceiling of 23,500ft using Predictor No1 at a maximum 8 rounds per minute with manual fuse setting and loading. By the end of the war the Mk1-3 equipment firing the same shell with a proximity fuse and predictor No 11 and autoloading had an effective ceiling of 32,000 and a rate of fire of 32 rounds per minute. In the 1940 blitz 18,500 rounds were fired for each aircraft shot down. By 1944-45 the guns averaged 156 rounds per V1 brought down, a 100-fold improvement.
     
  4. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    The British and German AA guns, did they just point up and shoot, or did they have some kind of system that guided the shells to the target?
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well the post just above yours mentioned radar fire control. It also mentioned the proximity fuses. For a good read on US Army AAA try:
    http://www.skylighters.org/hammer/index.html
    For an article on RN AAA see:
    http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-066.htm
    There's also reports on line detailing the effectiveness of USN AAA in the Pacific over time but I can't seem to find it now. It may be linked in some of the threads where we've discussed such things.
     
  6. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    To be fair, the British DID have designated "nightfighter" squadrons in the autumn of 1940; the "day/night squadrons" of Hurricanes and Spitires that exercised with searchlight batteries etc. Unfortunately they turned out to be damned useless LOL According to John ray more of these aircraft and pilots were damaged, injured or lost in collisions and landing accidents than enemy aircraft were ever brought down.

    There were also wonderful expedients like the "turbanlite" searchlight-equiped Douglas Havoc aircraft that were supposed tooperate with pairs of monoplane RAF fighters and illuminate targets for them - a sort of airborne version of ground searchlights "pinning" enemy bombers long enough for fighters to intercept them. they were equally useless IIRC.

    Fighter Command had spent a LOT of time and effort developing and exercising these various expedients before the Battle of Britain - but their uselessness when put to the test was one of the main sticks used by Sholto Douglas to beat Hugh Dowding with in late September and october 1940.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    As Sheldrake has pointed, Radar technology had advanced significantly by the time of the big Allied strategic raids.

    The Allied bomber formations flew at high altitudes, so the German guns were not firing at individual 'targets'. German radar tracked the formations, their height and direction. This information was passed to the AA batteries who would use this information to put up a 'box barrage' - that is, as many shells as possible in an area of sky through which the radar had predicted the formation would fly. We've all heard the US bomber crews reporting 'Flak so thick you could get out and walk on it' - they'd flown through radar-predicted flak.

    It's just the same for a big artillery barrage on the ground - the gun doesn't aim at Private Schmidt ; it drops as many shells as it can on the co-ordinates it's given and if it's got Private Schmidt's number on it........

    The Allies played the percentages - put as many aircraft over the target as quickly as possible and try to keep the enemy guessing about the identity of the target until the last moment.

    Of course, low-level flak ( 2cm/3.7cm ) against tactical attacks was very different ( eg the Dams Raid, Ploesti etc ). In such cases, the gunner was indeed often firing at his own target.
     
  8. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    Why didn't Germany build a bomb fleet that could have reached the factories deep into Russia, or was that plain impossible even at 4 engines?
     
  9. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    What do you suggest that they not build in order to do so?

    Every opportunity costs.

    Further;

    Technically, the B-17 had a range of ca 3,200 km (but you never fly in a direct line, that would be stupid). So assuming they built something like it.

    The distance from Kiev (captured in 1941) to Magnitogorsk, is round about 2,200 km.

    But; Maps of Soviet Russia were notoriously non-existent. The whole country was pretty much off-limits, so there was very little knowledge of what really existed where; at least to accurately send bombers. Accuracy was something everyone struggled with, even with maps, guidebeams, etc.

    The Assumption in 1941, indeed, the whole premise for tackling the Soviet Union, is that it would collapse as did France within a few months. There really was no need for a strategic bomber; Strategic bombers are only useful in a war of attrition, which Germany desperately neeeded to avoid.
     
  10. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    I wasn't suggesting anything, just wondering if they could have used a strategy on Russia like the West was using on them in terms of bombing, but I didn't realize knowledge of Russia is that non-existent.
     
  11. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    The Germans and the Soviets extensively cooperated till 1933, and actually it was American, German, British businessmen and engineers who built many of of the Soviet largest industrial centers (like Magnitogorsk, the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station. Gorky Automobile Plant, Leningrad Kirov Plant). American engineers worked in Baku, building and operating oil refineries, even in 1940.
    People like journalists, writers, especially diplomats thanks to their diplomatic immunity, were able to travel all around the USSR, although it wasn't easy. Many books and reports were published by such people in the thirties.
    The Soviets themselves didn't ty to hide their achievements, because actually they were proud of them.
     
  12. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    US/Western Capitalists helped build up both Nazi Germany and the USSR. The Profit motive/corporate Fascists existed in the West. Plus they could play the economic blocs off each other.
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Irrelevant.

    Because, just as with the foreknowledge of the secret German Submarine base in Northern USSR leased until the fall of Norway didn't help one iota the German operations intended to take Murmansk, the kind of generic knowledge by provided by expatriate workers gave no real means of navigation for pilots.

    They didn't travel that extensively and take the kind of notes so they could piece together anything remotely near the quality of maps like what existed for the rest of Europe. Like what you need to actually navigate with accuracy.

    It is precisely one of the complaints of the German army as they penetrated deeper into the USSR. They didn't know where the features were, or which dirt tracks lead where.

    It is completely useless knowing Magnitogorsk is a huge industrial center on the Urals, if you can't navigate to the place.
     
  14. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    That was the point I was conceding, I didn't realize the Russian landscape was so unknown. Had it been known, do you think that would have helped Germany, to send heavy bombers deep into Russia to bomb factories, or could the Soviets put out the fighters to intercept? But would their training be adequate?
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    What German heavy bombers?
     
  16. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    hypothetically, if Germany saw in the Western Allied air strategy of heavy bombing of industry, and tried their own hand at heavy bombing industry deep into Russia. Could it have worked for them if they had bombers capable of reaching factories deep into Russia, or would lack of fighter escort and long distances over enemy territory make it moot?
     
  17. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    If Wever had not died designs between the Do 19 and He 177 will be available, and if heavy bombers design had not been interrupted they might have avoided that waste of resources that was the historical He 177. The British eventually "recovered" from the Manchester that had very similar issues, but to get to the 277, that was a pretty advanced concept, you need a long range strategy and some breathing space, otherwise you are stuck with attempting to fix the DB610 problems with the results we all know.

    I do not believe navigation would be an insurmountable issue, it's hard to hide a huge conventional industrial complex and the high altitude recon squadrons would not require long to get enough good photos to produce decent aerial maps, one thing the Germans did not lack was good cameras.

    The real issue was, as noted, that strategic bombing is attritional in nature, and Germany had no chance at winning an attrition war, it might have been a good idea to have a couple of heavy bomber gruppe to "keep the enemy honest",and occasional high intensity raids might tie up a huge amount of allied resources in an attempt to "protect everything", but anything more was a luxury Germany could not afford, they did not have the spare industrial capacity, pilot training capability and fuel a sustained bomber offensive requires.
     
  18. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    Its shows that even though Germany conquered and put to use the resources gained from the territories of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, had the satellite allies of Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and conquered vast territories of the USSR, they still did not have the economic and industrial resources to match just the US, for the most part.
     
  19. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    Using the 1938 numbers, the occupied Europe (excluding the occupied parts of the USSR) and American economies were more or less equal in size - according to The Maddison Project the American economy was actually ten percent smaller.
    But the American economy was more advanced, more modern, and before the war was running at half throttle. The German economy were maxed-out even pre war.
     
  20. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    To precisely locate worthwhile targets just a few aerial reconnaissance missions were needed, it wasn't like the Soviets were able to hide their power stations, oil refineries or aircraft-engine plants.

    Below the known to the Germans Soviet generating stations from the German Operation Eisenhammer, a decapitations strike against the Soviet defence industry. The Germans hopped that by attacking carefully selected critical points of the Soviet electrical grid the Soviet industry would be deprived of about 75% of of the power it needed, for a quite a long time. Mistel long-range bombers were going to be used, but the operation eventually ran out of time.

    Similar, but less advanced plan existed of an attack on five (the rest, in Molotov and Oms were beyond reach of available German bombers) main Soviet aero-engine plants: Ufa, Kuibyshev, Kazan, Gorky, Moscow.


    [​IMG]
    from Oleg Hoeffding, German Air Attack Against Industry and Railroad in Russia, 1941-1945.

    View attachment 25360
     

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