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Bomber raids

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

  1. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Yet, with relatively simple means, the British protected Suez. Which, is pretty obvious where it is. It's not like the Soviets sucked at creating diversions and misleading enemy recon.
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    The question was 4-engine bomber missions deeper into Soviet territory, against factories and industrial areas in the Urals, supposing a better preparation and availability (already in '41). The plans for the Mistels (which where were simple fighters with unpiloted bombers latched underneath packed with explosives; clumsier, cruder, but with larger payloads) and they weren't flying until 1943, not operative until later, and were basically always just a Nazi dream; the war was already lost before they were ready, and is why Ironhammer never took place.

    [​IMG]
    ...is not going to get more range than a dedicate 4-engine purpose-built bomber, such as the B-17... in fact, it has almost exactly half the range as a B-17, with less payload.

    Many of the missions planned for Mistels had the pilot bailing out far behind enemy lines.

    At the German high-tide mark, they could've reached most of the above marked areas on your map anyway, with the bombers they had. But they didn't have enough LW, ( enough planes with large enough payload to critically damage the infrastructure), and the overstretched resources they had were consistently pressed into service elsewhere. By 1944, well, it was pretty much wasted effort.

    The Mistels and the dream of operation Ironhammer was just one more pointless case of way too little, way too late.
     
  3. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    They had the Condor 4-engine plane, but from what I have read, four engines for one plane was a waste of the resources they had available when they needed fighters and twin-engine bombers.
     
  4. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    I would say it's a myth that the Germans didn't know the terrain in front of their army.
    They had the excellent pre-Great-War Russian military maps of Russia (it wasn't like the cities, towns, roads, rivers was going to change their locations), they had their aerial reconnaissance, and lots of captured in 1941 Soviet military and other maps.

    Below a part of a German map of Astrakhan from 1942 (the final goal of Barbarossa, the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, or A-A line):
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


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  5. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    The FW200 Condor as a strategic bomber was really a non-starter. it only achieved its very long range by cramming the fuselage full of tankage, and a VERY complicated fuel circulation system...and had to carry its four bombs - when operating against maritime traffic instead of just aeriel recce - in the back of the engine nacelles! The gondola added under the fuselage only contained a dummy concrete bomb for bombsight calibration at the start of every long range flight; it was actually there to allow extra defensive armament firing fore and aft.

    This whole topic was discussed in detail on AHF many years ago now and its worth tracking down that thread; the whole progression of the mid-'30s designs like the Do19 is a non-starter...the various designs had proved useless within a very short time, and were certainly never going to form the basis of any "improved" versions ;) The urals factories are very well camouflaged....and the "known" installations mentioned above like the great electricity generating parks were rapidly very well protected with local fighter fields, and both earth berms and concrete blast walls protecting the installations themselves from anything but direct hits.

    Long-range navigation purely by map/visual cues...was pretty hopeless on both sides, with notable exceptions, for many years. There are some gems recorded regarding Luftwaffe navigation at night over the UK...and Bomber Command was really no better. it was the various "blind bombing aids" and guide beams supported by visual navigation for confirmation that eventually made something like accurate "navigation" and bombing possible. The best they could hope for flying blind at night was good weather with the moon shining on rivers etc. correctly marked on maps...and there are too many stories of navigators mistaking one single visual cue and interpreting whatever they came across NEXT as a correct navigational waypoint, merely compounding the error further :( People have asked SO many times why couldn't they follow the railways....at night? And in the USSR in this period they were invariably single-track ways outside the most western parts of the country, far too easy to 1/ not pick up at all, and 2/ loose within a few miles due to bad visibility or light.
     
  6. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    The Germans rarely did night strategic bombing in Russia but when they did they were highly successful.
    For example in Gorky they were able to almost completely destroy the large, built by Ford Gorky Automobile Plant (27 thousands workers and a half a year were needed to restore it to operation).
    The results of the most destructive attack (there were several of them in 1942 and 1943), it should be mentioned it was a night attack, the size of the stars shows the weight of bombs in kilograms:
    [​IMG]


    Another very successful night raid was the destruction of the American Poltava Air Base in Ukraine in 1944 by just eighty German bombers.




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  7. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    To be fair - there were some 25 attacks on the GAZ plant at Gorky between 4th June and 5th July 1943 with this being the worst. The Luftwaffe flew a concerted campaign against the GAZ plant in the run-up to Kursk. That was a lot of effort on their part to achieve that degree of damage out of 25 raids.
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, that is open to debate...The German bombing mission was successful, but only 1/3rd so, argumentatively, 2/3rds so.

    One German bombing group, slated to attack Poltava, turned back because they ran short of fuel. One German bombing group struck their intended target -Poltava. And, one German bombing group completely missed their intended target of Myrhorod, and attacked the already marked target of Poltava.

    2/3ds of the incoming bomber force missing their intended targets is not particularly awe inspiring.

    Further, given the airfield conditions at Poltava, I am reminded of that line from "Tora, Tora, Tora"
    "The way they're parked right now, a one-eyed monkey hanging from a 10-cent balloon could scatter them all to hell with just one hand grenade."
     
  9. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Really? You think?

    So tell me.... What is the magnetic declination on your maps?

    Why might that be important to know for
    1) a grunt on the ground
    2) a pilot flying on an a mildly overcast day across more than 1,000 km?

    Just because the map appears accurate to you with it's 1:100,000 scale, and that it may have been accurate in 1913, says actually very little about how accurate it was in 1941, nearly 30 years later.

    1) Whole cities had been built in the 30's. (Magnitogorsk being just one example).
    2) Whole canals had been dug.
    3) People had migrated, large quantities of them.
    4) Railways had been built


    Here is a proper aviation chart of a region in the USSR.
     
  10. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    The declination info from the map:
    [​IMG]

    and for another region 200+ kilometers to the East of Stalingrad:
    [​IMG]



    I don't think it was any secret, German and Italian planes were successful overflying the entire USSR on their routes to Japan.



    Most of the 1:100,000 German maps of regions deep inside Russia were reprinted and translated captured Soviet military maps, they didn't even have to bother with aerial mapping. They were all the most modern and most accurate available.






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  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The whole German strategy was based on a quick victory. Building a heavy bomber force to go after industry is a strategy for a longer war. Germany couldn't afford a longer war so it could be considered a strategy for defeat. Of course there historical strategy was rather deficient as well (particularly in it's lack of intel).
     
  12. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    "The GAZ plant was struck from 4th June to 22/23 June, with the Bombers arriving in a 'Crocdile' (krokodil) stream. The target was severely damaged, only returning to full production on 18 August. However, it made T-70 light tanks (although the chassis was alos used ofr the SU-76 self-propelled gun), so the raid had little impact on Soviet tank strength. Among other targets hit during 1,813 sorties was Factory 292 in Saratov, the prime producer of Yak-1s, which some sources state was destroyed or severely damaged on 22/23 June."

    "The imminence of Zitadelle eventually forced Greim to abandon his campaugn, which needed four-engineed bombers with longer range and greater payload to be truly effective."

    E. R. Hooten, War Over the Steppes; the Air Campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-45
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Which Italian planes made this flight? Which routes were the Germans taking again? How many flights were done? Was that navigation done by map, or by celestial navigation?

    Three specially converted Ju-290's flew to Manchuria. In 1944.

    Ju-390's were said to go "via the Polar Route"... rendering any navigation by map pretty moot. The number built were.... 2. So they weren't exactly doing it bi-weekly.

    Rumours regarding the Me-264 flights are dubious, it was a single prototype, and had teething issues.

    Let's be honest and admit that the Italian aircraft flew from Ukraine to "friendly" held Chinese Warlord territory at Ningxia, and not to Japan proper, nor even Japanese controlled territory. It also flew well south of any developed Soviet centers. It did so in 1942.

    Let's also admit that flying to friendly held airspace through non-contested areas is more easy than flying indirectly towards a defended target (irrespective of how ineptly it is defended), dropping a bomb on said target, and then flying back home.

    So, yes; they did fly to Asia, but it wasn't a commonplace occurance, it wasn't standard aircraft, and it wasn't LW everyman Joseph Schmidt piloting the flights. These were experienced long-distance pilots from before the war. (IOW, masters at celestial navigation...)

    In fact, it could be said to be a shining epitome of everything the Nazis did wrong. Everything is an elite, unique, snowflake.
     
  14. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    Of course German bomber pilots lacked those skills, this is why there were led by pathfinders during their long range bombing missions.

    The point is the Germans had more than enough information to accurately plan and execute strategic bombing of the USSR.
    The maps were available, the USSR wasn't an inaccessible terra incognita (for example the Polish balloonist Zbigniew Burzyński starting from Warsaw reached Ryazan and Stalingrad in 1934 and 1935 respectively, and his colleagues recorded similar achievements - quite legally, using accurate maps of the USSR), and the targets were known.

    The initial German victories provide more than enough information thanks to the wealth of captured maps and documents.
    Another source of information could have been interrogations of some of the millions of captured Soviet soldiers, especially those living in industrial centers.
    The German Air Force extensive pre-strike aerial observation of European Russia in 1941 was very successful, and could have been repeated again later (or even was going to be repeated, bombing of the the Soviet territories behind Ural mountains after reaching the A-A line was in the plan).
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I think you vastly underestimate the difficulty involved in aerial navigation in those days. There's also the question of just how accurate the maps were. From some of my readings the ones produced by the Soviets had intentional errors in them. It might not be difficult navigating on a clear day especially pre war. Weather and night could make it considerably more difficult.
     
  16. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Incorrect.

    Balloonists are really reknown for flying in the worst of weather.... or Not. Balloonists do not need to differentiate between a shoe factory, a wharehouse, or of a munitions factory, with any degree of accuracy. Indeed, ballonists are pretty happy to end up in the general area they hoped to, even more so if it isn't in a lake or stuck in a tree.

    And there you are, merely speculating, about "the wealth of captured documents" (see below), with "another source could've been..."

    Conveniently ignoring the fact that the Soviets allowed the pre-Barbarossa recon flights. Something the Soviets are not going to do post Invasion. Sure the Germans "could" try (with their beloved LW decreasing daily), but so too "could" the Soviets shoot down their recon flights.

    Because the plan was that the Red Army (and therefore the Soviet Union) would have completely collapsed well prior to the "A-A line", and therefore that was merely the line drawn in the sand of somewhere to stop the tanks before they wore out completely, to establish control over and consolidate before considering new opportunities.

    If they had this supposed "wealth of documentation" that the Germans had captured in those euphoric months of 1941 , why then was it that:

    1) the Soviet Red Army didn't have this information themselves: Soviet forces in 1942 were suffering from "...outdated, very much imprecise maps." (Same source as below)
    2) The mapping of internal districts of the Soviet Union even at 1:100,000 scale had been ordered only in July 1941, supposedly for completion by the end of the year for territory as far east as the Volga. Yet the task hadn't been anywhere near completed, thereof the problems with maps even in the summer of '42...

    "The quality of the result was undoubtedly poor and 1:50,000 scale maps that would have been far more useful were provided simply by enlarging 1:100,000 scale maps. Fortunately, given the absence of up-to-date maps in many instances and Soviet secrecy, German and Axis forces were also poorly provided in this regard..."
    Alexander Hill - The Red Army and the Second World War
     
  17. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    LWD - that was certainly the case POST-war in preparation for SAC's potential activities over the Motherland ;) I don't know to what extent this policy was pursued pre-war however.

    In relation to the GAZ attack(s) - I'm not sure it's correct to call them "strategic" bombing as it had a much more limited tactical aim, to prevent the Red Army rebuilding vehicle losses...both AFV and softskins...in the immediate aftermath of Kursk. The old definition of strategic bombing was that the aeriel bombardment of an enemy on its own could achieve victory by industrial destruction, demoralisation of the enemy etc..
     
  18. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    Well, these German maps of "Russland" from 1943 look nice and accurate:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Are you saying it's impossible to reach a city, town, or village by air using a 1:100,000 map?
    That's possible because such a map would be uselessly too detailed for this purpose.

    I thought final target coordinates were supplied by reconnaissance flights, they weren't acquired from maps. German infantry needed detailed maps in their battles for a single crossroad, the German Air Force didn't.

    It wasn't like the American Air Force was planning their missions over Germany using German road maps, school atlases, or bought on Amazon German military maps.
    They actually made their own maps, and reconnaissance flights were the main source of (useful) information.

    The British needed just two overflights over the Baku (both were partial failure anyway) region to draw a detailed plan of the attack on the Soviet oil industry in 1940. I can't see why the Germans couldn't do the same.







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  19. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    1) Because we know how accurate bombing from high level was. The British, the Americans, and the Germans.

    The point isn't to terrorize local populace risking your pilots and aircraft for literally no benefit, but to ensure you get somewhere exact to bomb a factory successfully. The Germans didn't have the fleets of long range heavy bombers to saturate an area by night. So to be successful, they need accuracy... which they didn't have either.

    2) Recognizing significant structures immediately. Such as those instantly recognizable in a world metropol as London... yep.

    Operation Steinbock (bombing London, 21/22 Jan 1944)
    The first raid targeted the area designated as München—the Waterloo area of London. The attack was to be carried out using Leuchtpfad tactics—with the target marked with incendiaries. Pathfinders were expected to carry out plotting easily since the weather forecast the necessary visibility. On the first night Egon and Y-Verfahren were available to pinpoint the target with flares. From Montdidier, Staffelkapitain Hauptmann Schmidt, 2./KG 66, took off with a captured Gee set aboard his Ju 188 as he followed the bomber stream northward. An estimated force of 230 aircraft, carrying a total load of 500 tons of bombs and incendiaries took off between 19:30 and 20:00 CET.

    Despite the extensive use of Düppel and pathfinders, hardly any bombers reached London and only some 30 tons were estimated to have fallen on the capital, with bombs and incendiaries scattered throughout the Home Counties.

    British radar picked the first wave up at approximately 20:30 CET. Over 100 aircraft were recorded in the airspace over the next ninety minutes from ground control radar sites between Hastings and Dungeness. However, German navigation errors were rife, despite the use of aids. Only 15 German crews released their bombs on London.



    The point is to successfully navigate if the weather prevents celestial navigation (or if you just never learnt); by recognizing land marks.... but there weren't many significant landmarks across large chunks of Russia, and the maps in 1941 were inexact. Misnavigation was a significant cause of pilot and bomber losses (never mind friendly fire incidents).

    May 1940
    The crew of an RAF Whitley from No. 10 Squadron not only bombed the wrong country, they bombed their own country! Sent to attack an airfield in Holland, but due to a navigational error the Whitley instead bombed the RAF station at Bassingbourn.

    In June 1942, Luftwaffe pilot Oberleutnant Arnim Faber landed his Focke-Wulf FW 190A 3 at RAF Pembrey, apparently thinking he was at a Luftwaffe coastal airfield.

    And that is on the Western front, with lots of clearly recognizable land marks, such as... THE ENGLISH CHANNEL!

    At height, at Dusk, it is not easy to recognise the size of one dusty town. With some cloud cover, you can be quite some way off if you were slacking off.

    And really? Posting pieces of maps with absolutely no reference to where (other than somewhere in "Russia") and without specifying a source is absolutely pointless.

    You are significantly underestimating the challenges facing aircrew when trying to navigate across unfamiliar terrain. It takes a lot of training, honed skills, reliable maps. As the quality of the LW crews plummeted, it didn't matter that the Germans had better maps of Western Russia in 1943/44. By then, the LW was flying a significant amount of time over Germany, and they weren't able to mount credible bombing raids against one of the world's most significant and instantly recognizable capital cities, on an island, across a narrow body of water, situated on a river, aided by their pathfinders, and every technical solution they had available.


    SO in summary; they needed aircraft they didn't have, aircraft with more engines than they could produce, piloted by aircrew they didn't have time to adequately train, the aircrew needed maps/information of areas they didn't have, together with technical solutions they gained only through hard won experience of years of fighting, and they needed all this far earlier than their historic efforts in these areas allowed them to.

    But apart from all those trivial issues; Yes, those wonderful guys in the LW, they "could've" bombed Magnitogorsk and the Urals, Hell, why not help the Japanese and bomb Vladivostok, while they are about it. I mean, even the Italians flew "to Japan" unhindered "across the entire USSR", right?
     
  20. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    During the course of the war, belligerents improved their topographical intelligence while invading a country by ground-truthing the terrain and by capturing indigenously produced map stocks. Although maps captured can be attributed to a conquering country, it is important to distinguish between what topographical intelligence was known before the invasion and what was gained as a result of the invasion. The proprietary stamps on AMS map sheets indicate when topographical intelligence was available to a country. In true bureaucratic and librarian fashion, various national mapping agencies stamped accessioned foreign maps with proprietary stamps that often also include a date. As result, it is possible for the researcher to establish when topographical intelligence became available. For example, proprietary stamps with dates on indigenously produced maps of Latvia indicate that the Germans had copies of large-scale maps of Latvia as early as 1936, five years before this topographical intelligence was needed for the invasion of Soviet-held territory. By using similar logic, the researcher can date the Western Allies’ topographical intelligence through the proprietary stamps on indigenously produced large-scale maps of Italy to between 1937 and 1944.

    https://ejournals.unm.edu/index.php/historicalgeography/article/viewFile/2999/2476


    Whereas in the Soviet Union;

    Survey and mapping continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s, despite frequent re-organisations mirroring political change. However the Great Patriotic War presented the greatest challenge, specifically the need for large-scale topographic mapping from the western borders to the Volga. The effort was heroic. Mapping at 1:1,000,000 was completed in less than a year.

    https://images.jomidav.com/sovietmaps/VTU.pdf


    And finally, we have the German map of the British town of Ipswich, printed in 1940, which states in the lower left hand corner quite clearly

    "vergrösserung der 6 inch Map des Ordnance Survey 1:10560 aus den Jahren 1935, 1936, 1937"

    Which translated reads;

    "Enlargement of the 6 inch Map of the Ordnance Survey 1: 10560 from the years 1935, 1936, 1937"

    Further there is a note on the right hand side (I'll not bother with the original text), but its translation reads;

    "The note "picture" behind the milgeo explanations on the map border means that the image of the object in question is present in the folder of the responsible brochure.

    So this version wasn't published for use by tourists...
     

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