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Strategic bombing in Europe

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by cksvnsk, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. cksvnsk

    cksvnsk New Member

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    Hi,

    Based on what criteria were scheduled within a given mission day the bombings in Europe in WW2? I'm better acquainted with USAF schedules, i.e., daytime missions, but I still cannot understand how the time of the day was selected. Sometimes, briefings were held 0400, with the take-off two hours later, some other times the briefing was 0600, with the take off 1100, etc. These schedules don't seem to correlate with the distance to the target.
    That being said about USAF, I know basically nothing about the corresponding RAF effort. How were these scheduled, what criteria were used for selecting the missions' time at night time?

    Thanks!

    Yours,
    cksvnsk
     
  2. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I'm not an expert on the planning of bombing raids, but I suspect that the weather had a lot to do with things sometimes. It affected the take offs and the target area a great deal I would think. Perfect weather is always preferred in strategic bombing, and we all know that the weather does not always cooperate as much as we would like it to. Hopefully someone else with more insight will chip in for us.
     
  3. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The AAF liked to bomb around mid-day to have a high sun angle for better visual clarity for the bombardiers and better photographic results for the strike photos. With no other factors involved, distanced to the target and desired strike time would dictate briefing and takeoff times. However, as A-58 pointed out, often takeoffs were delayed due to weather either at in the target area or at the bomber bases. The mission orders for many of those 11:00 takeoffs probably specified an earlier takeoff time, but were held up pending results from the weather reconnaisance aircraft, fog at the bases, etc. There were also numerous occasions where missions were briefed, crews manned aircraft only to have the mission scrubbed rather than delayed.
     
  4. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Would the return of British bombers from the daylight raids affect the take-off of the American bombers as well? There's just so many flight paths for those multiple raids of incoming and outgoing formations to occupy. And I've read that there were areas over the channel that were designated for returning bombers to dump their bomb loads if for whatever reason they were not able to do so at the target area (inclement weather, etc). I figure that there were many factors in planning raids now that I think of it.
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    how often would they dump over the channel vs enemy territory? I would think they would be better off dumping sooner than later
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm pretty sure that early on they were much more likely to dump over the channel. The raids weren't usually as deep and they were more sensative about collateral damage than they were latter in the war.
     
  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    except if they had problems or fuel low?? or wanted to be conservative with the fuel? what about using secondary targets? wasn't that the norm? ty for replies
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Early on the British had very strict rules about where they could drop. They weren't even allowed to drop on ships tied up at piers from what I recall. There targets were also close to the coast and thus Great Britain in these early raids. As time went on and the Germans became more indescriminate so did the British. I'm not sure about the details of thier emergency procedures or secondary targets early on. In the USAAF it was primary target, secondary target, targets of opertunity but don't bring the bombs back. I'm not sure if they tried to jettison over the channel or not.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    AFAIK, the rules were the rules. Dumping your bombs anywhere over Germany was OK, but you could not under any circumstances dump them on an "occupied" country - the exception being that the target had to be visually identified and then bombed. I have read and heard many stories of damaged US bombers dropping the bombs in the channel, and not on occupied France. A few desperate bombers may have done this, but they would be the exception, not the rule.
     
  10. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Today's date in 1944, the famous band director Glenn Miller's plane disappeared over the English Channel en-route from London to Paris I believe. Anyway his plane went down for unknown reasons. I saw a show on the History Channel years ago when it was still for the most part a history channel that speculated that Miller's plane, a small single engine job, flew into an area designated for bomb releases for returning bombers and was hit. It could happen I guess, but who knows.
     
  11. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Remembering that ordnance only had to be jettisoned if you were

    A/ expecting a particularly rough landing for some technical or battle-damage reason,

    or

    B/ the bombload had been already been "armed"...which was done inflight IIRC.

    If bombs weren't armed, and the commander expected to make a safe, controlled landing - noone was going to waste them :)
     
  12. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure a lot of bombs were dumped on occupied countries, but ''officially'' they were dumped on Germany
     
  13. cksvnsk

    cksvnsk New Member

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    Hi,

    And thank you all for the plethora of information I've acquired. Nonetheless, I don't know much more on the subject of my initial inquiry, so the question remains: How were scheduled for take-off the daytime bombing missions (remember, I cannot see that take-off times correlate well with the shortest distance to target: Possibly with the length of the route?)

    Yours,
    cksvnsk
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If better weather was expected in the afternoon then takeoffs likely would have been scheduled so that they arrived over the target then. The same if better weather was expected in the morning. The USAAF probably prefered that the planes land during daylight hours as well (takeoffs could be in the dark). If planes from the same base were hitting different targets then some prioritization of the raids would effect scheduling likewise if they were launching coordinated strikes with other bases. As you suggest route distance was probably more important than line of sight distance. Bomb load vs fuel load considerations could also apply. A longer route that was safer might take more fuel and thus result in a smaller bomb load but still be prefered and thus effect scheduling. Also consider that varius bombers flew at different speeds so if the strike was to be coordinated that could impact the scheduling as well.
     

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