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Did the US bombers destroy most of German industry?

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by DerGiLLster, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. DerGiLLster

    DerGiLLster Member

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    How much damage did the US bombers actually put on the German war machine? I remember recounting Albert Speer saying that the bombing raids only reduced armaments work by 32%. I am aware that Speer has sometimes questionable statistics but how effective was the bombing campaign? I know that some of the worst bombings happened in Germany such as Hamburg in July 1943 and Dresden in February 1945.Are the bombing runs in Germany over exaggerated or did they level down a huge portion of German industry?
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    What exactly do you mean with your terms "war machine", "armaments work" and "industry"? These are three very different fish.

    Why are you focusing solely on the US effort, and not including the Commonwealth? From the German perspective, the nationality of the Bomber didn't really matter when considering the consequences.

    The biggest contribution IMO was the daylight bombing by the USAAF forced the Luftwaffe to defend Germany. The destruction of the LW in the air over Germany, meant D-Day, operation Bagration, et.al. could operate almost free from German airpower.
     
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  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Hm : the correct question would be : how much damage did the ALLIED bombers to the German war machine : From january 1943 til june 1944 the RAF 68000 sorties over Germany, the USAAF only 46000.I know it is an American forum but this is no reason to do as if the RAF did not exist .
     
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  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I just saw a quote in one of the threads here that the bombing of the transportation infrastructure was far more effective than that on industry. That makes sense since you can disperse or hide much of your manufacturing (as the Germans certainly did), but bridges and rail yards are exposed no matter what you do.
     
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  5. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    There was an exception. The destruction of the oil refinerys was effective. And these plants were so huge, you barely can hide them.
    Bridges were very difficult to hit and ground attack missions (against trains or ships) were still very dangerous, the germans had a lot of Flakvierlings and they were starting to build more and better anti aircraft tanks. All these pilots and crews must have been very courageous and not to forget: they operated over enemy territory. After being shot down, some pilots were even lynched by the furious population.

    The terror bombing missions were ineffective, they gave the Nazis the opportunity to help the victims. I often read, that in late 1944 and early 1945, even the Red Army was considered "fair" only because there was no strategic air warfare.
     
  6. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    That's a good point. I've read that Nazi-Germany spent almost half of its war-budget to the air warfare and even then, they were wiped out of the skies by late 1944.
     
  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The RAF Night bombing campaign did have an impact:-

    1. It demonstrated that the war was not over. When some Nazi at a German - Soviet meeting in Berlin commented to Molotov that the war was won. Molotov's comment was "Why are we holding the meeting in a air raid shelter?"

    2. It forced the Germans to divert resources to air defence, starting with the pin prick raids in August 1940.

    3. Although both the British and Germans claimed that bombing hardened resolve, not all were brave on the home front. The time spent on air and civil defence work left even brave workers tired and distracted. The V weapons were thought to reduced production in SE England by 20% in 1944. No one knows what German production would have been if there had not been any allied bombing. The destruction of Hamburg in July 1943 was a crisis that worried Goebbels. Furthermore concern about families was a distraction for fighting troops.
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I have always thought it was more of a collaborative effort between the USAAF and RAF's Bomber Command.
     
  9. green slime

    green slime Member

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    There's a collection of sob stories blaming the (Western) Allied airforces for Germany's defeat, primarily pointing at the known; Oil, ball bearings, and transport / communications.

    What's indicative as well, is that at this stage they are discussing, the Luftwaffe has the fighting capacity of a wet noodle, when compared to its adversaries.

    Bad planning, together with the constant pressure of crises on the Eastern Front siphoning off pilots, and the forced defence of home meant the collapse was always going to be spectacular.

    Apparently, however, total annihilation is preferable to surrender.

    Operation Bagration destroyed Army Group Center while the Germans still had use of their Communication's network in the East; it wasn't a sudden lack of ball bearings that crushed their morale either.
     
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  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The Air War over Germany was as complex and evolutionary as the Battle of the Atlantic was at sea.

    First the number of sorties per service are slightly misleading. The RAF began bombing missions over Germany in late 1940, and had non-lethal propaganda missions prior to that which may be included in their totals. US bombing missions began in early-mid 1942 and did not began striking Germany in until early 1943.

    RAF night raids forced Germany to invest resources and aircraft to counter these raids, Britain counters with new tactics and technology. American raids force more day fighters to take up station within the Reich as well as even more resources (shelters, flak etc,). The combined effects turns Germany to the expenditure of vast sums for 'vengeance' weapons of marginal value. As noted US daylight raids created a primary condition for the success of Overlord, air superiority in the west. Night and day raids force Germany to spread their meager resources ever more thinly and to go to extreme, even absurd, lengths to produce weapons like a hollowed out mountain to assemble ME 262's.

    It was truly collaborative effort, and it would be grand to say it was planned that way, but in truth it was just a case of making the best out of two powerful services determined to do things their own way. Still its hard to calculate what overall effect it had, but it was significant. Perhaps half a million people or more tied up defending/repairing/retaliating against these raids and tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of Reichsmark's to pay for it.
     
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  11. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Interesting discussion. It caused me to look a little further at the topic. I realize that some of these comments are self-serving, but there seems to be a general agreement by the surviving leaders of Germany that the Allied air war was key to the Nazi defeat. Industry, infrastructure, and oil production are all mentioned by these men. You can read their comments here http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ww2/nazis/nazidbrf.htm#0001_0001
     
  12. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Bombing industry would have inflicted more casaulties on slave labourers than on the enemy. Lack of precision was another problem. Hence, the real and main objective of bombing was de-housing of German laborers. German towns were bombed, not factories which were Speers' concentration camps.
     
  13. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    The leaders of Nazi-Germany were criminals, murderers. Unconditional surrender wasn't an option for them, they knew what will follow afterwards. And the generals and admirals knew what happened to polish officers in Katyn.

    To me, most of the carpet bombings in the last stages of the war were stupid and sometimes the Wehrmacht even benefited. Ruins are ideal for defenders and the Wehrmacht learnt the lessons of Stalingrad.
     
  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It is impossible to answer the OP in the terms it was put:the bombings hurt the production, but there were other things that hurt the production,as shortage of workers,raw materials,etc;

    All we know is tat the armament production increased till the second half of 1944 notwithstanding the bombings .What would happen if there were no bombings in 1943 ? Would the production increase more than in the OTL ? And how much ? Or would the production stagnate or even decrease ?

    Exemple : tonnage transported by the railways (in millions of tons )

    1940: 955

    1941 :1014

    1942 :995

    1943 :1043

    1944 : 966 (provisional figure )

    Can one draw any conclusions ? The bombings of 1943 did not prevent the railways to carry more tonnage than before,but in 1944 the tonnage decreased but still was higher than in 1940 ? Why did it decrease and why was it still higher than in 1940 when there were less bombings .
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member

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    The dehousing paper was presented first on 30th March, 1942. The conclusions drawn in that paper, were based on the British experience of the blitz, as well as the problems of accuracy. It was not immediately accepted without debate.

    Furthermore, it is obvious to even the casual reader, that the degree of precision for night bombing was so bad in the first half of the war, that they were unable at that stage to accurately hit anything smaller than a large city; of the night bombing raids only one in three aircraft that recorded that they had reached their target actually came within 5 miles, or 8 kilometers (Butt report, 1941).

    It was an escalation over the course of the conflict, a conflict and an escalation started by Germany, but the conflict and escalation was one they could ill-afford.

    As accuracy increased, and the amount of resources available increased with the arrival of the USAAF, factories were indeed targeted. By April 1945, there wasn't much left to target at all.
     
  16. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Those statistics may be misleading. By 1944, Germany was fighting a two front war (three if you count Italy) and each of those fronts was broadening by the day. So, even though the gross tonnage didn't change much, I would assume that the NEED for greater tonnage in 44 was double or triple that of 40, 41, 42... Germany was unable to keep up. Also (and this is an assumption on my part), the gross tonnage doesn't really tell you where it was being moved. For example, a trainload of rations or ammunition which can only be delivered to Cologne in the fall of 44 is much less desirable than the same amount being delivered to Aachen. And of course, the same is true on the eastern front. The figher-bombers prevented much of the rail movement close to the fronts even when routes were intact.
     
  17. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Can't draw any conclusions from these few facts at all, as:

    Other means of alternative transport are not included (roads, canals)

    There is no measure of distance actually traveled/hauled. Hauling a ton 10 km, is a different feat from hauling it 2000 km.
     
  18. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    In answer to your question No the US bomber did not destroy most of the German industry.

    Allied bombers forced German factories to disperse. Then damaged the infrastructure and chemical producing facilities that Germany relied on.

    So overall the Allied bombers managed to prevent German industry from growing. Which helped the allies immeasurably.
     
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  19. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    The air war as just as important of a "second" or another front as any other theater. The number of troops, anti-aircraft guns, logistics, planes required to fight the air war took up resources as another front would.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Indeed "disrupt" is IMO a much better description than "destroy" even then it wasn't total but it and the responses it provoked had a significant negative impact on the German ability to conduct the war.
     

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