PDA

View Full Version : The momentous cost of Bomber Command.


tcolvin
17th November 2010, 00:31
I have just been reading online "Britain 1939-1945; The Economic Cost of Strategic Bombing", by John Fahey at http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/664

This remarkable and original thesis of over 450 pages presents detailed evidence that BC cost the British taxpayer the enormous sum of £2.803 billion (£2,803,942,474) to £3.5 billion - out of a total defence expenditure of £23.1 billion and total government expenditure of £28.7 billion.

Britain was bankrupted by the war. Its wealth declined by £7 billion while its external liabilities increased by £2.9 billion - by coincidence the exact cost of BC. Britain ended the war as a client of the USA.

The 7,377 Lancasters that were built cost £477 million. It is interesting to me that the 7,368 Churchill tanks that were built cost by comparison only £82 million. Switching the money spent on Lancasters to Churchills would have given the Army 43,000 of them. This would have enhanced the chance of ending the war in 1944.

Another major point made by Fahey is that 30 to 40% of the bombs dropped by BC failed to explode because of faulty fuses, and were wasted. To this waste can be added those that were dropped on the open countryside. Therefore well over half of the £2.8 to £3.5 billion spent on BC was wasted, including half the 73,471 BC casualties, enough manpower to form three armoured divisions.

Does anyone know of any comment on, or critical review of, Fahey's work and conclusions?

Tony

RodM
17th November 2010, 01:48
Hi Tony,

Thank you for bringing this thought-provoking and stimulating paper to the board’s attention.

Of immediate interest to me was the figure of '30-40%' of unexploded bombs, which you have so readily pounced upon.

Upon reading parts of the thesis, the following comments were made by its author:

"Of the 11 fuzes most commonly used by Bomber Command, nine were ineffective, dangerous or unreliable. This suggests the failure rate of British bombs was much higher than the 15 percent suggested for one type of fuze by Harris and it may be that up to 30 percent of all British bombs failed to operate correctly because of bad fuzes."

I would like to point out that the author is extrapolating a percentage that may well be unquantifiable, and he fails to take into account that of the 11 fuses mentioned, at least two were not used in bombs at all, but on target markers and photoflashes.

The author goes on to further state:

"The likelihood is that somewhere around 30-40 percent of all of ordnance did not function effectively; that is they failed to explode at the right time. If this is so, it is reasonable to suggest that faults, particularly defective fuses, made useless somewhere between £43.7 million and £58.2 million worth of ordnance."

So now the figure has been nudged another 10% higher, and I would maintain that the author is speculating.

Firstly, the USSBS produced figures based upon German analysis of bombs dropped on 14 oil plans and refineries (reproduced on page 519 of, "The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany 1939-1945, Volume IV", by Webster/Frankland), and off the top of my head these are the only figures I recall seeing on unexploded ordinance. In this table, a figure of 18.9% of all bombs identified as dropped by the RAF is stated to have not exploded after hitting the target. The figure may be higher because of the percentage of unidentified unexploded bombs, but I doubt that all of the unidentified bombs would have been solely RAF, and I doubt that the figure would be double that given by the Germans.

Secondly, the percentage of unexploded ordinance would have probably varied during different phases of the bombing campaign, and unless comprehensive German analysis is preserved, the actual percentage is, IMHO, unquantifiable and subject to speculation.

Thirdly, I didn't notice anything within the thesis to fully explain the reason for defective ordinance other than design and handling faults; in other words, what percentage of ordinance may have been defective because of a lack of quality control during manufacturing?

Cheers

Rod

SES
17th November 2010, 10:23
Hi,
This can easily turn into one of these "what if threads", but please allow me a few comments. Without total air supremacy over the beachhead on 6 June 1944 those 43,000 tanks would never have come ashore. RAF BC contributed to the attainment of that.
The V-1 sites were being constructed from the end of 1943 and would have been ready to fire before the invasion - against the ports in Southern England, had it not been for the effort of BC.
bregds
SES
www.gyges.dk (http://www.gyges.dk)

tcolvin
17th November 2010, 14:48
Rod.
I agree the percentage of faulty ordnance will never be known.
But it's clear the problems existed throughout the war.
Harris knew the problem was serious, and called those responsible 'incompetent'.
According to Harris, the problem with the common No. 30 Pistol that was, he said, used in all medium calibre HE bombs throughout the war, were recognised only when BC started daylight bombing in the autumn of 1944. Crews now saw bombs exploding as they left neighbouring aircraft. No fix to this problem was found before the war ended. How many aircraft were in fact destroyed by premature bomb explosion rather than by the official explanation of Flak?

(And, by the way, why did BC never re-engineer the Lancaster to make it easy to bale out of compared with the Halifax? I found that statement by Fahey disturbing, and wonder how it could be true. I know the reason the crews called him "Butcher" Harris was because he butchered them).

That there was something very wrong with BC's bombs was clear from the first attack on September 4, 1939 when bombs were dropped by Blenheims on the Admiral Scheer in the Schillig Roads off Wilhelmshaven and failed to explode. Contrast that with the bombs dropped by two Russian SB-2s (an aircraft equivalent to the Blenheim) off Ibiza in May 29, 1937 that hit Scheer's sister ship Deutschland, killing 23 and wounding 83 members of crew.

Fahey suggests the ordnance problems in BC were endemic not just through poor design but also because;
- no one in BC coordinated the design and manufacture of the equipment needed to move and lift the bombs into the aircraft. So the stations created their own jury rigs that stressed and damaged the bombs
- HE Bombs were rolled along the ground, picking up mud
- the trolleys pulled by tractors also threw mud from the wheels onto the bombs and containers and into the fuses
- the AAEE, who were responsible for testing, were denied unrestricted range time by BC which monopolised the ranges for training
- there was no systematic evaluation of bomb types and therefore no way of identifying and correcting problems. I suppose this was because BC, like the whole RAF, was run by pilots who looked with scorn on civilian scientists. Manufacturing mistakes would have been picked up during this extensive testing that never happened.

By the way, the RAF was told by Zuckerman in his study of the total effects of air raids on Hull and Birmingham dated April 8, 1942, that heavy bombing did not break down civilian morale, and neither did it destroy productive capacity since; "The direct loss of production in Birmingham was about 5% and the loss of productive potential was very small."
The RAF dissed Zuckerman's report, and Lindemann misrepresented it to Churchill.

The evidence seems to be in that the strategic bombing campaign by BC was almost certainly worse than a crime, it was a futile mistake that ended up bankrupting Britain. The ultimate responsibility for that, of course, lay squarely with Churchill.

Fahey is, then, truly the first to quantify the total cost of BC's campaign.
That fact is significant given the great amount of work done on this subject.

Tony

tcolvin
17th November 2010, 14:55
Ses; no one I know suggests there should have been no BC.
The suggestion is that BC should have been a tactical rather than a strategic force.
V1s used tactically against the embarcation ports would naturally have been their responsibility.

Tony

Andrei Demjanko
17th November 2010, 15:42
The evidence seems to be in that the strategic bombing campaign by BC was almost certainly worse than a crime, it was a futile mistake that ended up bankrupting Britain.


I can't agree with this statement. BC did tremendous damage on Germany and surely was one of the greatest assets which Britain had at disposal to win the war. Casualties of the crews were undoubtedly heavy, but in just three BC raids (Hamburg, Dresden, Pforzheim) were killed more people, then the BC lost during the WWII including training losses. (Of course, it's not totally correct to compare aircrews and mostly civilian casualties and their impact on the war effort, but this figures helped to understand the scale of the campaign). The sacrifice of BC aircrews also helped to reduce Army casualties by direct support and by damaging German industry, which produced arms and equipment, helped the RN to win Battle for the Atlantic by forcing German capital ships to abandon bases in France and bombing of U-Boat bases, it also helped to save many civilians in Britain (Penemunde and campaign with USAAF against NOBALL targets). The great part of Germany's war effort was spent in attempt to counter BC campaign by exapntion of Nachtjagd, radars, flak, building of permanent shelters etc, and also required a great number of people to counter the threat, thereby reducing German potential on the other fronts.

In other words, BC was expensive for Britain, and in human lives too, but it caused far more damage and casualties to the enemy then it absorbed itself and if the Britain would not have the BC, the cost of victory would be undoubtedly much higher

RodM
17th November 2010, 16:29
Hi Tony,

you seem to imply that BC was the only user of bombs and fuses, while forgetting that the RAF in Europe and other theatres were using the same ordinance.

That there was a percentage of faulty ordinance is undisputed, and that a percentage of this faulty ordinance caused the loss of aircraft and crews is also undisputed, but it was not solely a problem in BC.

I find it interesting that you are prepared to take Harris' word as gospel for some facets of the bombing war and not others.

My own belief is that the role of BC was indespensible, but that Harris (and to a very much lesser degree the USAAF also in 1945) devoted too much effort to area bombing of cities in the last seven months of the war, when the means for greater precision were available.

As to the years 1939-43, that was the cost of waging war. I don't see anyone suggesting that the British army should have been completely dispanded and the available resources put in to the RAF because of Dunkirk, Greece, and Crete...

Cheers

Rod

SES
17th November 2010, 19:48
Ses; no one I know suggests there should have been no BC.
The suggestion is that BC should have been a tactical rather than a strategic force.
V1s used tactically against the embarcation ports would naturally have been their responsibility.

Tony

Hi Tony,
Engagements and battles are won through attacks on targets with a tactical importance if the right effect is inflicted.
Wars are won by succesful attacks on targets of strategic importance.
bregds
SES

tcolvin
17th November 2010, 22:23
Ses, you've lost me.

The RAF's doctrine, developed in the 1920s, was based on the proposition that the objective of all three Services was the same - to defeat the enemy nation, and not merely its Army, Navy or Air Force.
But, said the RAF, the Army in order to defeat the enemy nation, had first to defeat the enemy's army, while the RAF was different.
The RAF could defeat the enemy nation without defeating its armed forces first. It did so by destroying the enemy's warlike resources and the morale (will to resist) of its citizens.
Trenchard and the others foresaw opposing bomber fleets passing each other in mid-Channel on their way to bomb their opposing factories.
(In the 1920s the supposed enemy of the RAF was France).
The country with the stronger bomber fleet would win the war because its opponent with the weaker bomber fleet would be the first to cry uncle at the destruction of its warlike resources. It would be forced to withdraw its aircraft from attack and place them in defense against enemy bombers.
That's why the RAF built up its bomber fleet and was unhappy at releasing resources to Fighter Command. BC stationed its Fairey Battles in France in an AASF within striking distance of the Ruhr in order to dissuade the LW from attacking Britain's industry.

As for your "targets of strategic importance", consider this;
Britain won against Napoleon by defeating his army in the field and occupying Paris.
Britain won WWI by defeating the German Army in the field. President Wilson's Fourteen Points were supposed to compensate for occupying Berlin.
Russia won WWII by defeating the German Army in the field and occupying Berlin.
The 'target of strategic importance' is therefore the enemy's army in the field.
Hence my assertion that a tactical BC costing 10% of Harris' BC, together with a much larger and better equipped British Army would have given Britain more bang for its buck, and saved us from bankruptcy (together with other decisions).

The RAF stuck to its Trenchard doctrine; "The aim of the RAF is to break down the enemy's means of resistance by attacks on objectives selected as most likely to achieve this end".
The "means of resistance", however, ceased to be factories because BC couldn't hit them.
BC sold Churchill on the proposition that it would break Germany's means of resistance, and so end the war, by bombing/dehousing German civilians through area bombing; BC could hit cities.
Zuckerman had shown that bombing did not destroy the morale of the citizens of Birmingham, Hull and Coventry who continued to manufacture weapons under the bombs. Germans were no different.

The hypothesis has now been framed by Fahey that BC actually did more harm to Britain than it did to Germany.
As evidence compare the postwar Wirtschaftswunder in Germany and Britain's post war stagnation and fate of becoming the 'sick man of Europe'.

Tony

Icare9
17th November 2010, 23:08
Tony, you say SES has lost you with his statement that War is defeating the enemy strategically, then immediately state exactly that!
The RAF's doctrine, developed in the 1920s, was based on the proposition that the objective of all three Services was the same - to defeat the enemy nation, and not merely its Army, Navy or Air Force.
Your contention is that the fuses were faulty, therefore Bomber Command should not have used bombs. What should it have used, then?
You fight the enemy with the best weapons at your disposal.
As Andrei points out, without Bomber Command, Germany would have had her manpower and industrial capability freed to be more effective in all its campaigns.
Germany never freed its bomber force from that of the Army or Navy and never put into service an effective strategic bomber. BC aircraft carried a greater weight of bombs with a smaller crew than the USAAF.
One other aspect regarding "faulty" fuses might be explained by aircraft being damaged and jettisoning bombs unarmed.
Your take on this has been to swallow whole one aspect, being faulty fuses, and throw the baby out with that bathwater.
Why not ask why the RAF didn't simply mass produced thousands more Mosquitoes, only 2 crew, faster and with the same bomb load as a B17!! Mix night fighter variants with the bombers to pick off intruders and the War might have been won in 1944, without the need for all those Churchill tanks!!
Rather than re-engineer the Lanc for better crew escape, a more pertinent question would be the failure to provide heavy bombers with a ventral, not a nose, turret.
I remain convinced that BC was the War winning element, maybe not used as effectively with benefit of hindsight, but in the best way known at the time.
The courage of those young men to take to the skies night after night, contending not only with a determined enemy but also weather, navigation and formation problems is akin to those poor soldiers in WW1 on the Western Front.
Incidentally, faulty fuses were as great, if not greater, issue in WW1 artillery, so perhaps you'd give us an assessment of that?

Kutscha
17th November 2010, 23:44
So Tony, the American bombers (B-17, B-24, B-29) were also a massive waste?

ETO losses
B-17 - 4,754
B-24 - 2,112

That is almost the same as the number of Lancs built.

Britain won against Napoleon by defeating his army in the field and occupying Paris.

Only because of the massive amounts of money was spent on the RN. Was the RN a waste?

One German leader (Speer?) said that the SBC cost the Germans 30% of its manufacturing production. That is 30% more guns, tanks, airplanes that the 1,000, 000 persons that the Germans had manning the Flak, fighting fires, clearing rubble and so on that could have been better used on the front lines defending the Reich.

How were the petro and chemical industries to be knocked out without the bombers?

What did it cost the Soviets in their tactical ground war against the Germans? Would the British population have supported such massive causalities?

tcolvin
18th November 2010, 01:37
Andreij.
Richard Overy in “Why The Allies Won” argues your point that the strategic offensive played a significant role in defeating Germany by diverting essential manpower and weapons from the fighting fronts to homeland defence.
But this argument is a rationalisation.
And Overy never calculated the high cost of BC.

It cost Britain £2,911 to drop one ton of bombs, and much more than £6,000 to kill one German civilian.
The cost of a Churchill tank was £11,150 - two dead German civilians, or 3 tons of bombs.
The Churchill tank was a much more effective and much cheaper weapon than area bombing, which had little effect at vast cost.

Tony

Andrei Demjanko
18th November 2010, 09:27
Tony

BC not only killed civilians, but damaged industry and property far from the front lines and disrupted German economy. Production of tanks in great numbers could not inflict comparable ammount of damage and casualties upon the enemy.

SES
18th November 2010, 09:58
War is not a question of how much one kill or destroy and what it cost. War is a question of inflicting the effect desired on the enemy centers of gravity.
The Strategic Bomber Offensive had a tremendous direct and indirect impact on the entire Wehrmacht's ability to wage war. There was loss of production of every sort of weapons systems, POL and diversion of manpower and resources to air defence.
BC was instrumental in the delay of the operational introduction of V-Weapons.
From late 1944 fuel was a major - if not THE major limitation in the Wehrmacht's ability to conduct operation. This limitation had been achieved through strategic bombing.
bregds
SES

Laurent Rizzotti
18th November 2010, 13:06
Hi,

To be complete, you have to estimate the cost of BC and fighting against BC for Germans:
_ direct military losses (at least 3000 NJG aircraft lost, and 3000 aircrew killed, thousand more of soldiers killed in strategic raids).
_ military resources used against BC (thousand of guns, millions of shells, etc...)
_ manpower hours lost, or used to repair railyards/factories hit by raids.
_ production lost during the dispersion of factories.

I agree that until the summer of 1943, Bomber Command was not able to really hit hard Germany economy, but starting from there, it was able to devastate cities (starting with Hamburg) on an increasing rate. I guess that the devastation of Hamburg had a net impact on German war production.
But before 1943, having thousand more tanks will be of little use for Britain too.

Tapper
18th November 2010, 14:59
Interesting thread, can I also throw into the pot another thing to consider.

Without wishing to travel into the emotive subject of Dresden too deep as it generally ends in a big argument, I am in favour of the theory that Dresden was mainly to show the Russians that the massive city destroying capability of BC existed and would be unleashed against them if they carried on into France when Germany was beaten.

The cost has been pointed out but what cost can you put on winning a war?

Nick Beale
18th November 2010, 23:43
Wars are colossal wastes of material, let alone human life. Why else would the exceptions, where the pinpoint target was hit, the crackshot, the ace be so celebrated? These were the exceptions.

Were fighters worth building when the majority of pilots never shot anything down? Most torpedo aircraft never scored a hit, were they worth building? Were ships worth it when most escort sank a U-boat? Were armies worth it when postwar studies showed a high percentage of infantry never even fired their rifles? When most landmines were never trodden on, sea mines never struck?

The point was not what the war or any aspect of it cost in money, for Britain in 1940–42 it was the determination to do whatever it took to hit the enemy. With France out of the war, the arithmetic was transformed and the course embarked on then is wholly understandable. Britain could never raise a field army big enough alone to defeat a German one (too great a population disparity). The RN couldn't overcome the military capacity of a continental power occupying the greater part of Europe to its West and occupying or allied to everything to its east. And the people who'd been Blitzed understandably wanted to hit back.

I suspect that a partial dilution of BC's strength in favour of Coastal Command might have done Britain more good c. 1941–43 than sending that extra (say) 100 machines over Germany. Clearly there was obstinacy over various elements of strategy, tactics and equipment (highlighted by Max hastings and Bill Gunston amongst others) but hitting German with the means at Britain's disposal was a rational choice in the circumstances of the time. The later insistence on hitting cities with a force that had meanwhile developed enough accuracy to hit oil targets etc. is what I find inexplicable.

pstrany
19th November 2010, 05:10
I had the privilege of doing an interview with John Kenneth Galbraith many years ago (he was one of the authors of the USSBS.)

As regards Hamburg, Mr. Galbraith pointed out that the Germans were very slow to mobilize their war production. Hamburg was a thriving city, with a great deal of civilian economic activity. Once Hamburg was bombed, all that civilian infrastructure was destroyed, so that all the shopkeepers, hairdressers and other non-military activity ceased. As Mr. Galbraith put it, the British created an idle workforce. The Germans, realizing this, put them to work in military industries.

Keep in mind that peak German military industrial output came not in 1941, but in 1944, after several years of BC attention. That is not to say that they accomplished nothing, but just that they did not single-handedly bring down the German war machine.

One other note, both Mr. Galbraith and several other sources pointed out that German war production could have been brought to its knees fairly quickly if Bomber Command had focused on the power grid in Germany. Aside from the raids on the Ruhr dams, very little effort was made to destroy German ability to generate and distribute power to factories throughout the Reich.

Any weapon can be effective, but only if it is used properly.......

Paul

Jan Gazda
19th November 2010, 10:48
Tony,

To answer your original question first no critical review of Fahey’s book is known to me. As for the conclusions you’ve made:

1. I totally agree with you that given the vast resources at its disposal BC’s contribution to the ultimate victory inadequate although by no means negligible. Had the only goal been to defeat Germany as quickly as possible then BC would be a horribly inefficient tool. However, there was broader strategic planning at work there. In terms of casualties BC’s campaign was a cheap way of showing good will to Russians. It enabled Churchill to stand by and watch Russians and Germans to slaughter themselves which he undoubtedly enjoyed. From this point of view bombing Germany for four years from 15 000 feet above was a very smart thing to do.

2. I can not agree with you that BC’s campaign or even WWII bankrupted Britain. Surely there was some loss of wealth as in most wars and yes, Britain was in huge debt after the war, but so were most other countries and this situation had been there before. War debt did not make UK the sick man of Europe as there were many other and more important factors at play that caused steady decline of Britain’s economy. The only country that really got bankrupted by the WWII was Soviet Russia. For many reasons combined it was unable to ever fully recover from the damage war brought about. The GDP per capita gap between USSR and the West kept widening after WWII which finally led to collapse of the Soviet block.


Jan

Nick Beale
19th November 2010, 19:43
It enabled Churchill to stand by and watch Russians and Germans to slaughter themselves which he undoubtedly enjoyed.

Are you seriously suggesting that Britain alone could have raised and equipped an army sufficient to take on the Germans in Western Europe and win? Britain's entry to the war was predicated on an alliance with France and its (on paper) very powerful armed forces. When the greater part of those forces were taken off the board, Germany and the USSR were still in a non-aggression pact. Other than surrender, what were the viable options for Britain at that time?

I think you might also find that, at considerable cost, Britain and the USA poured material support of all kinds into the USSR to sustain it against Germany.

RodM
20th November 2010, 00:56
After having a read of the thesis, my own opinion is that it is an important addition to the debate of the strategic air offensive.

Having said that, I feel that the author has missed the point in several areas and not delved into several complex issues.

I actually find it offensive that the author should emphasize a calculation of the cost for each German civilian killed, as if this is the marker upon which the success of the SBC should be judged. In fact, the calculation is completely irrelevant. Of more importance would be comparing the cost to Germany of defending against and repairing the damage caused by the SBC, not to mention the simple expedient that Bomber Command was an offensive weapon that, along with the USAAF, diverted a fair portion of German output to defence - output that otherwise been used for offensive over the British Isles. I would maintain that Germany's failure to mount a proper and sustained strategic campaign against the UK as a base of war operations was a grave mistake. Whether Germany could have mounted such a sustained campaign, considering that it had ultimately 'bitten off more than it could chew' once America had joined the European war, is another matter.

In terms of the construction and maintenance of airfields and infrastructure, I don't believe that one can separate the needs of Bomber Command from that of the USAAF. To that end, if the investment had not been made in Bomber Command, how would the USAAF strategic bomber force have fared in establishing itself in the UK? The USAAF in the UK relied heavily on RAF support in a number of areas, including the infrastructure set up to aid Bomber Command. To suggest that the investment in Bomber Command infrastructure was a cost that Britain could not afford, would automatically call into question the parallel USAAF SBC. I don't believe these two issues can be separated.

Nor do I see detailed analysis of the offsetting of costs against reverse lend-lease. A question I would be asking is did Britain get full economic value from technological advances and research shared with America? While the military value of this sharing undoubtedly bore fruit in American manufacturing of and improvements to British technology in the fields of both the aeronautics and electronics, to what extent did America economically profit to the detriment of Britain in the post-war years because of technology provided to the Americans for no real direct economic recompense?

The author also places emphasis on the wastage due to the dissolution of a substantial portion of Bomber Command in the immediate post-war years, without exploring the late-war requirements of fighting Japan, and the planned deployment of 'Tiger Force'; plans only made redundant by the Japanese surrender after the Atomic bombings. That Britain could reduce this war material to scrap only came about because the Allies defeated the Axis powers and the Soviet Union did not 'liberate' western Europe.

Tony, most of your theories are based on the notion/belief that Bomber Command operations had no political or material effect against Germany and its ability to wage war, and were thus a complete waste of effort. Many people flatly disagree with this notion, including Webster/Frankland in the Official History (which, in my view, is one of the most forthright and courageous Official Histories ever published by any country. If you haven't done so, I suggest that you read all four volumes from end-to-end, and not selectively take what suits your own hypothesises).

What most people now agree on is that with hindsight the British SBC could and should have been more effective than what it was. This is obviously different from suggesting that Britain should not have embarked upon a SBC at all. Should Britain not have done so then I would suggest that the economic cost to Britain could have been much more dire because the war might have been lost.

Cheers

Rod

Jan Gazda
20th November 2010, 13:35
Nick,

I do not want to add any more heat to the thread. This has always been a very friendly board and discussion on a topic like this can easily get out of hand which is unnecessary. We are talking history here and it will be always open to different interpretations. Russians will always feel that the Western Allies could have done more and the Western Allies will always argue that they did what they could. I think that this is one of the matters on which there will always be split opinions. One of the reasons is that people in the West never came to fully understand the extent of the carnage on the Eastern front. The Russians really fought a completely different war out there.

Jan

Nick Beale
20th November 2010, 17:28
I do not want to add any more heat to the thread. This has always been a very friendly board and discussion on a topic like this can easily get out of hand which is unnecessary.

Jan, I admire your wish to keep the mood of this board amicable. I am less impressed by your throwing out an intemperate accusation which you then completely fail to justify, preferring instead to withdraw from further discussion. I can only hope that this is because you now regret what you wrote although it is difficult to see how "We are talking history here and it will be always open to different interpretations" could suffice either as an explanation or an apology.

tcolvin
21st November 2010, 18:43
I have been thinking about an approach that might move us all closer to a consensus, and I would be interested in your responses.

We can all agree that the Air Staff, Air Ministry, RAF and Churchill failed to deliver on their original promise that the RAF could win the war for Britain by destroying German morale and will to continue without the cost of committing ground forces in battle. It was claimed to be the economic option.
But although their programme was revealed by events as bogus wishful thinking, BC has never lacked for defenders, including many on this board, whose mouthpiece surely is Richard Overy in this opinion piece; (Source: http://warbirdsforum.com/showthread.php?t=1334).
"Bombing: The Balance Sheet. The effects of the bombing campaign went far beyond the mere physical destruction of factories and dwelling-houses .... The bombing produced serious social dislocation and a high cost in terms of man-hours ..... Evacuation, rehabilitation and welfare provision were carried out on the largest scale in an economy struggling with serious manpower losses and cuts in civilian production. Bombing also encouraged a strategic response from Hitler which placed a further strain on the war economy by diverting vast resources to projects of little advantage to the German war effort.
The net effect of the many ways in which bombing directly or indirectly impeded economic mobilisation cannot be calculated precisely (my emphasis). But in the absence of physical destruction and dislocation, without expensive programmes for secret weapons and underground production and without the diversion of four-fifths of the fighter force, one-third of all guns and one-fifth of all ammunition to the anti-bombing war the German armed forces could have been supplied with at least 50% more equipment in the last two years of war, perhaps much more. In an environment entirely free of bomb attack the German authorities and German industrial managers would have had the opportunity to exploit Germany’s resource-rich empire in Europe to the full. In 1942 the air force had begun to plan the production of 7000 aircraft a month, yet at the peak in 1944 a little over 3000 were produced, of which one-quarter were destroyed before even reaching the front-line.
Bombing took the strategic initiative away from German forces, and compelled Germany to divert an ever-increasing share of its manpower and resources away from production for the battlefield. ........."

Overy's opinion is not supported by the British Bombing Survey; “In terms of overall production decrease resulting from the RAF area attacks, the US survey, based upon limited research, found that in 1943 it amounted to 9% and in 1944 to 17%. Relying on US gathered statistics the British survey found that actual arms production decreases were a mere 3% for 1943, and 1% for 1944. However they did find decreases of 46.5% and 39% in the second half of 1943 and 1944 respectively in the metal processing industries. These losses resulted from the devastating series of raids the Command launched on the Ruhr Valley at these times.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Bomber_Command)

The evidence that strategic bombing had only marginal effect on arms production was predicted in Zuckerman's report on the bombing of Birmingham and Hull dated 8.4.1942 (source: 'From Apes to Warlords' page 405). His conclusions were misrepresented to Churchill by Lindemann. But Zuckerman's results were repeated in Germany, and negated the strategic bombing campaign.
His Summary of Conclusions;
1. Social Effects and Morale
a) The factor most affecting the population is the destruction of houses.
b) 35 people are bombed out for everyone killed.
c) Dwelling houses are destroyed by HE and not by fire.
d) Large towns have a high capacity for absorbing their bombed out population.
e) Other raid effects such as stoppage of water or gas have little effect on the population.
f) Steady employment and a high rate of wages are the major stabilising factors for the population.
(h) There is no evidence of breakdown of morale for the intensities of the raids experienced by Hull or Birmingham.
II. Production
a) Machine tools are rarely damage by HE but very extensively by fire.
b) Loss of production is caused almost entirely by direct damage to factories.
c) Factories are more seriously damaged by fire than HE. In Birmingham 30% of factories were damaged – 10% seriously (8% by fire and 2% by HE)
d) Most fires could have been prevented at the scale of fire attack encountered.
e) Indirect effects of raids on labour, turnover, health and efficiency are insignificant.
(f) The direct loss of production in Birmingham due to the raids was about 5% and the loss of productive potential was very small.
g) Transport activity is only partially interfered with and recovery is rapid in the absence of continuous raiding.
h) Docking was not interfered with and docking potential was diminished by about 10% in the raids on Hull.

It is surely up to Overy and those of his view to prove Zuckerman wrong and to quantify their Balance Sheet rather than just expressing an opinion.
I have quantified the balance sheet with respect to Wilhelmshaven. It is consistent with Zuckerman's report and shows a significant negative imbalance to Britain between the costs and benefits of strategic bombing. Those who want more on Wilhelmshaven can read my article published in Issue 148 of After The Battle Magazine.

Wilhelmshaven was throughout the war a priority target, being BC's first target (on 4/9/1939), and the first target in Germany attacked by 8USAAF (on 27/01/1943). The disaster of the Battle of Heligoland Bight in December 1939 drove BC to abandon day-bombing for night-flying. Fahey's analysis showed the total cost of bombing Germany was £2,911 per ton of bombs dropped. The 19,048 tons of bombs dropped on Wilhelmshaven, therefore cost £55.5 million. I show below that the cost of military damage in Wilhelmshaven was only £8.3 million. Extrapolating the Wilhelmshaven experience to the whole of Germany shows that while BC cost Britain £2.78 - £3.5 billion, it caused a maximum of £0.5 billion to the German military economy. This was not a viable method of waging war. Several cheaper and more effective methods can be listed.

Wilhelmshaven was the closest major German military target to the airfields of BC and 8USAAF. The target presented a clear image on H2S. Built of non-inflammable Victorian brick, it had an efficient fire-fighting service with plenty of water - there were no uncontrolled fires. Wilhelmshaven contained valuable military targets concentrated in the small area of the Bauhafen shipyard, including Tirpitz (cost £15.2 million) that was fitting out until 9/3/1941 and attacked unsuccessfully by BC in 17 raids with 281 sorties. Wilhelmshaven was the home port of Scharnhorst (cost £12 million) and a destroyer flotilla until 1941. 29 U-boats worth £370,000 each were launched from 16/11/1940 to 17/6/1944, of which only 2 were destroyed by 8USAAF and none by BC. Some 90 units of Section 2 of the eight sections that were assembled in Bremen and Hamburg into Type XXI Electric Boats, (each complete boat costing £483,000) were built in Wilhelmshaven without loss. Production in Wilhelmshaven was never interrupted except for periods of an hour or two when a raid was in progress. Loss of production in the shipyard was much less than the 5% in Birmingham reported by Zuckerman, with negligible destruction of productive potential. The shipyard functioned fully after the war until it was dismantled and shipped to Russia as reparations.

The area of Wilhelmshaven and the Jade was the second most defended locality in Germany after the Ruhrgebiet. The cost of LW Fliegerhorsts at Jever and Nordholz are excluded from the balance sheet. Outside Wilhelmshaven, Kriegsmarine Nord HQ in Sengwarden and the Aurich arsenal were never bombed.

In attacking Wilhelmshaven, BC and 8USAAF:
- despatched 5,668 sorties (BC 3,580 and 8USAAF 2088)
- lost 146 bombers (BC 97 and 8USAAF 49)
- lost 856 aircrew killed (BC 406 and 8USAAF 450)
- dropped 19,048 tons of bombs (BC 13,676 and 8USAAF 5,372)
- killed 452 Germans on the ground (358 civilians and 94 military)
- wounded 1,125 Germans on the ground.
NB: nearly twice as many aircrew died in the air as Germans on the ground.

Bombing Wilhelmshaven cost £8.3 million, comprising;




Loss of production of 2% of a total production due to disruption from air raids and the threat of air raids. The value of war production in Wilhelmshaven was £41.1 million, comprising Tirpitz (£15 million), Type VII submarines (£10.7 million), Section 2 of Type XXI submarines (£5.4 million) and sundry shipbuilding and repair (£10 million). The 2% loss of production was £0.8 million. Note that Birmingham's loss of production was 5%, but Wilhelmshaven had bomb-proof bunker air-raid shelters for every inhabitant close to home or place of work, which minimised disruption, and fires were quickly extinguished n the shipyard.
Damage estimated at £0.01 million (£10,000) was caused to the cruiser Emden on 4/9/1939 with 11 sailors killed and 30 wounded when Blenheim N6189 flown by Lightoller of 107 Squadron was shot down and crashed into it.
U-769 and U-780 (Type VII), costing RM4.4 million each, were damaged on the stocks beyond repair by 8USAAF on 27/1/1943. The maximum total cost, assuming they were completely ready for launch, was RM 8.8 million = £0.7 million.
Mariensiel arsenal was destroyed by luck on 11/02/1943 in probably the biggest explosion ever caused by BC. The arsenal was over 3kms downwind of the aiming point in the shipyard and it was blowing a NE gale. The explosion had no impact on military operations because the destroyed ordnance comprised surplus shells for the much diminished surface fleet and sea mines. Flak munition and current naval munitions were dispersed in a dispersed arsenal at Aurich that was never identified or bombed.
On 11/06/1943 two out of nine oil storage tanks were destroyed by 8USAAF. No record exists of how much oil they contained or its value, which is guessed at £0.2 million.
The Flakship Medusa was badly damaged in Jade Bay on 19/4/1945 by 15 RP Typhoon fighter bombers of 2TAF, killing 22 and wounding 41. These casualties are not included in the statistics as they were not caused by BC. The wreck was towed into Wilhelmshaven and decommissioned. The ship had been built in the early 1900s as a Gazelle Class cruiser costing £0.4 million but had no military value when it was destroyed because Allied air raids had ceased.
The cruiser Köln, which cost £3 million in 1930, was sunk in the Bauhafen by 8USAAF in their last raid on 30/03/1945. But the cruisers' guns were fired later against the Polish Armoured Division in April 1945 so its insignificant military value was not affected by its sinking.
Also sunk on 30/03/1945 was the Fleet auxiliary Drachenfels which cost perhaps £0.4 million in the late 1930s but had no military value when it was sunk. A training submarine and sundry lighters and tugs were also sunk, but had negligible military value.
Likewise the destruction of the liners Tanganjika and Monte Pascoal in air raids had minimal military value, although they were used as naval accommodation ships. The liner Nyassa was damaged, but functioned as Naval HQ after the destruction of the HQ buildings. 36,000 buildings were destroyed in the air raids, but few had military value.
Wilhelmshaven, the Jade Bay and Schillig Roads were defended by 2 Marineflakbrigade of 5,000 -7,000 troops (male and female) equipped with 60 searchlights, 6 early warning Freya radars, 92 units of 105-mm Flak, and 20 units of 128mm Flak in 24 batteries and two Flak ships all with Würzburg gun-laying radars. The price of an 88mm Flak 18 was £2,822. Assuming the 105-mm cost twice the 88-mm, the 128-mm cost three times as much as an 88-mm, the searchlight cost one quarter of an 88-mm, and the Freyas and Würzburgs cost the same as an 88-mm, then the total equipment cost of 2 Marineflakbrigade was about £1.0 million. The cost of the equipment's concrete emplacement, of ship conversion and of communications is guessed at £0.5 million. Ammunition expended is guessed at costing another £0.5 million. An unknown proportion of 2 Marineflakbrigade comprised women and Kriegshilfseinsatz der Jugend bei der Kriegsmarine, popularly known as Flakhilfer such as Pope Ratzinger, who were recruited from those born between 1926 – 1929. These men and women were not diverted from war work. The total Flak cost is estimated at £2.0 million.





Smokescreen generators were installed around the town in 1942. Actual cost is unknown, with a guess of £0.1 million.
A balloon barrage was installed in 1940 with perhaps 30 balloons. Actual cost is unknown , but guessed at £0.1 million
A decoy site was built on reclaimed marshes to the North of Wilhelmshaven at unknown cost. Also large numbers of reflectors were built and installed to try and disguise the port's H2S signature. The total cost is guessed at £0.2 million
Air raid shelters were built for the entire population of 120,000 at a cost of RM34 - 50 million = £4.2 million. The population actually declined to 80,000 by war's end so there was plenty of spare bunker room.

Tony

Nick Beale
21st November 2010, 19:02
"Extrapolating the Wilhelmshaven experience to the whole of Germany …"

And for me, that's where your methodology breaks down.

CJE
21st November 2010, 20:54
Fascinating discussion.

But how can we discard the waste of ressources and young men of Fighter Command sent in useless missions such as Rhubarb, Rodeo or Circus over the continent for over three years? No more than mosquito stings on an elefant's back.
Moreover with such an unsuitable aircraft as the Spitfire with its limited range and ordnance load.

When you have at hand thousands of aircrews and aircraft available, you just cannot let them idle about when the enemy is knocking at your back door.

The Air Ministry, the RAF and WC built up BC.
What else could they have done with BC?
They all were trapped inside their own strategy.
It's easy to blame WC or Harris, but the fault rests on Trenchard's shoulders.

David Ransome
21st November 2010, 21:09
I would concur with Nick, I feel that this sort of extrapolation would definitely have an extreme bias one way or another, certainly no balance.

Again , hindsight is a wonderful thing. At a Military college seminar several years ago many of the things that Tony mentions were discussed and consideration as to what would have happened if all that was known now was known back in WWII. The consensus was that individual items might have been useful but that a fuller knowledge could have lost the war for the Allies. Sounds perverse but there are occasions when too much knowledge dilutes the overall will to fight, especially where there appears to be no major need to put in 100% effort. Guess what can happen then?

David

tcolvin
22nd November 2010, 00:19
An extrapolation from facts is surely infinitely more valuable than the expression of an opinion based on no facts and contrary to some known facts.
Is that what you are denying?

I would let Zuckerman have the last word about trying to break enemy morale through area bombing;
"All the participants in the debate (about area bombing in WW2) were wrong. As we now know, bombing at about a hundred times the intensity of anything ever suffered by European cities during WW2 at no moment broke the spirit of the people of Vietnam against whom the American forces were fighting between 1964 and 1973. In those nine years, seven million tons of bombs dropped on South Vietnam (which received about half the total), North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - three times the total tonnage of British, American and German bombs dropped on European soil in WW2. And the seven million tons brought no victory - only death and destruction".

Tony

RodM
22nd November 2010, 01:00
Hi Tony,

as had been pointed out by others, taking extreme and specific examples doesn't provide balance. In the case of Wilhelmshaven, one could equally pick a target such as the oil refinery at Politz and prove via extrapolation that the overall BC SBC was considerably more effective than it really was.

As a New Zealander, I could take a similar (and unfounded) stance as yourself with regard to the British army, since The United Kingdom had a habit of committing the soldiers of my country to ineffective and costly land campaigns (Gallipoli, Passchendaele, Greece, Crete, Singapore). If I looked at these periods in isolation, I'm sure I could produce a theory that the British army and its command should have been disbanded because all it did was provide raw materials and labour to the enemy. I could look at the overall cost of the British army, especially between 1939-45 and find that most of the money was wasted because only a small proportion of the army actually met the enemy in battle during the war, and only a small proportion of those actually defeated the enemy in battle.

As to the breaking of morale, this was policy decision made above the auspices of Bomber Command, and few would disagree that in itself, it was a rather pointless and misguided exercise (based, IMHO, on some rather elitist and frankly quite racist assumptions about 'the Hun'). The fact is that from 1944 onwards, BC was able to significantly move away from solely targeting the enemy's 'morale'. Zuckermann's pronouncement in comparing Vietnam and Germany, while valid to a degree, is actually very misguided because the two cannot be compared. The United States never sought to systematically destroy the cities of North Vietnam in the same manner as had occurred in Germany and Japan.

I don't believe that the true effect of the British SBC can ever be precisely quantified other than to say that the campaign was considerably less effective in the years 1939-43 than in the years 1944-45. In addition, parts of the campaign (such as the area bombing of cities, and by this I mean when the aiming point was clearly the civil heart of a city, not industrial or military areas within a city) cannot be used in isolation to pronounce on the overall effectiveness of the whole campaign, especially in the 1944-45 period, when the SBC of both the British and Americans actually began to have a significant effect.

As Webster/Frankland point out, the USSBS didn't set out to really explore the city area bombing campaign in great detail, and the differences of opinion between both the USSBS and the BBSU highlight some of the assumptions that had to be made in attempting to quantify such a complex issue (by the way, I believe it is no co-incidence that Prof. Zuckermann sought control of the BBSU and then that body just happened to reach a conclusion that vindicated Zuckermann's theories. Thus when individuals or bodies that had a vested interest in the direction of the SBC pronounce on it, one should always ask in terms of what they had to say, "who benefits?").

I doubt that too many people would disagree that had BC been better directed from mid-1944 onwards, the collapse of Germany could have been brought about slightly quicker. This in itself clearly pronounces on the debate as to whether BC should have existed or not in the first place.

Cheers

Rod

Nick Beale
22nd November 2010, 01:29
An extrapolation from facts is surely infinitely more valuable than the expression of an opinion based on no facts and contrary to some known facts. Is that what you are denying?
Tony

I'm not "denying" anything, I am disputing an assumption. Specifically that extrapolation from the case of a particular city yields a valid result for the entire campaign any more that extrapolating from the Great War reliably predicted casualties in the Blitz.

You would have to show that the case of Wilhelmshaven was in some sense average or typical and that could be difficult. One might as well extrapolate from Pforzheim or Darmstadt to demonstrate that the campaign was utterly devastating and firestorms a regular occurrence but I suspect that an altogether more sophisticated approach is needed. For all I know, attacks on coastal targets could have been half as effective as those on inland targets (if X% of bombs fall within a notional circle, for a coastal target half that circle will be water). Did the local soil (Berlin is built on sand for instance) influence the number of UXBs or the propagation of shock waves from explosions? The potential number of variables in immense, I suspect.

Jan Gazda
22nd November 2010, 14:48
Jan, I admire your wish to keep the mood of this board amicable. I am less impressed by your throwing out an intemperate accusation which you then completely fail to justify, preferring instead to withdraw from further discussion. I can only hope that this is because you now regret what you wrote although it is difficult to see how "We are talking history here and it will be always open to different interpretations" could suffice either as an explanation or an apology.

Nick,

It was not meant to be apology of any sort but merely an acknowledgement of the fact that we will probably never reach an agreement on this topic. I am comfortable with that. History is not algebra which has a unique and correct answer for each problem. There is no “true story” hidden and waiting to be found in historical events. All we can do is take the data we have and proven or assumed relations between the agents in play and put them together in more or less coherent hypothesis or interpretation.

Your premise here, I suppose, is that Britain stood under-manned and ill-equipped against a stronger opponent and that more than three long years were needed to overcome this. For my part, I can not endorse with this picture. As in 1940, the population of UK was 48,2 million with total GDP (in 1985 international dollars) of 236,8 bn.$ and per capita GDP 4 910 $. For Germany, respective numbers were 69,8 millions, 273,1 bn.$ and 3 910 $. From 1941 on some two thirds of German war effort was vectored to the East, so corresponding portions of German figures for population and GDP should be subtracted. Thus UK was significantly wealthier, more productive and had an advantage in manpower over its opponent and yet it was unable or unwilling to wage a full scale war against Germany until mid-1944.

Now my interpretation of its low activity is that it was geopolitically-driven strategy behind it. Letting Soviets and Germans bleed to death in intense and bitter fighting in the East meant to improve Britain’s position after the end of hostilities. I’m sure you will have quite a different interpretation of the events and that you have compelling arguments to support it. For reasons stated above I can fully accept that you’ll adhere to your viewpoint and I will hold mine.

As for the Lend-Lease I am fully aware of it but you may have overlooked the reciprocity of the problem summed up candidly by Truman. Lend-Lease dollars were aimed at saving American lives: every Russian, British or Australian soldier who went into battle equipped by means of American aid reduced the danger to young Americans.

As for the efficiency of the bombing, the average GDP growth of UK between 1940 and 1944 was 2,75% per year, while in case of Germany it was 3% per year. Throughout this period Germany´s defense outlays as the percentage of national income increased from less than 50% to around 70%. It wasn’t until 1945 that German GDP decreased in year-to-year comparison. Strategic bombing campaign might have reduced productive capacity of Germany by a slight margin but it seems it was far from what was being expected.


Jan

tcolvin
22nd November 2010, 17:03
I'm not "denying" anything, I am disputing an assumption. Specifically that extrapolation from the case of a particular city yields a valid result for the entire campaign any more that extrapolating from the Great War reliably predicted casualties in the Blitz.

You would have to show that the case of Wilhelmshaven was in some sense average or typical and that could be difficult.

I see the problem; you are using the word 'extrapolation' statistically while I am using it evidentially.

I have quantified, rightly or wrongly, the effect of aiming 19,000 tons of bombs onto an area of 0.72 sq kms (the equivalent of 67,000 tons/sq mile).
BC & 8USAAF never put the shipyard out of action and never killed any of the workers, although much repair work was needed, because they were notoriously inaccurate.
They destroyed only two military targets of significance (U-boats on the stocks) in the shipyard. Significantly, this was done by 8USAAF operating in daylight and using their Norden sights.

Wilhelmshaven's shipyard was not egregious, but typical of what strategic bombing could achieve in 1939-45, or the LW in Birmingham, Hull and Coventry.
Pictures showed the roofs off the buildings and general dereliction.
Harris showed Zuckerman his famous Blue Book that was filled with such pictures of destruction, but both Zuckerman and Harris knew that reports coming out of Germany showed that all the while production was increasing despite the apparent devastation.

This effect is now quantified, as Fahey has quantified BC's costs.
BC's effectiveness was not static, and did improve over time.
But in Wilhelmshaven's case, as in most others except a virgin target like Dresden, BC's nightly visitations just made the ruins in the city centres bounce once more.
If you think Darmstadt was different, then there's nothing to stop you doing the analysis.
I'll warrant you'll find no difference.
BC knew their dossier was dodgy, but continued because they were convinced Germans couldn't take it and their morale was about to crack. Ditto the USA failing in their effort to bomb the Vietnamese to the negotiating table.

Tony

drgondog
23rd November 2010, 01:36
Ditto the USA failing in their effort to bomb the Vietnamese to the negotiating table.

Tony

Tony - you probably should be more reserved in this 'analysis'.

When PACAF was finally unleashed in 1972 during Linebacker II and destroyed strategic targets in Hanoi brick by brick, the North Vietnamese did come to the bargaining table - making one wonder what would have happened if all the Joint Chiefs of Staff and McNamara had died in an auto accident in 1967 - and quit acting as Wing Operations Officer for every Navy and USAF Wing.

Regards,

Bill

tcolvin
23rd November 2010, 11:46
Thanks for the correction, Bill.
In future I'll stick to what I think I know something about.

BTW, would you agree there's a disconnect between BC's and modern munitions?
If so, then Vietnamese-era munitions were presumably in the transition period.

Tony

SES
23rd November 2010, 12:49
Tony,
You are missing the point. The success and strategic effect of Linebacker II was a question of targeting, hitting the enemy where it hurt the most. Much of the ordnance used was no more advanced than that used during WW II, but the ability to find and hit the target had increased by orders of magnitude since WW II.
By mid 1944 RAF BC had the capability to actually hit specific factory areas and even pin-point target using Obee, this capability was not exploited due to the strategic guidance, which was partly beyond BC influence.
bregds
SES

drgondog
23rd November 2010, 18:41
Tony - SES correct - the Linebacker II results were far more dictated by a.) 'correct' targeting of key industrial targets and b.) much better bombsight/flight control systems in the B-52.

Additionally, and somewhat important is that the bombs used were the low drag Mk 82 (500lb), 83 (1000lb), 84(2000lb) and 118's(3000). They are a better munition aerodynamically speaking than the GP types used during WWII.

Regards,

Bill

tcolvin
23rd November 2010, 18:50
Ses, a free-flight bomb is inherently inaccurate, and they were still being used in Vietnam.
Theoretically BC hit pin-point targets using Oboe, but in practice BC continued to rain down thousands of bombs onto a single target in 1944.

The US/UK Pointblank Directive was implemented by the USAAF making precision day attacks on specified German aircraft plants and airfields, while BC made 'area-attacks' by night on German towns immediately concerned in aircraft production. (From Apes to Warlords page 222).

In the preparations for Overlord, Zuckerman calculated from the photocover of the precision attacks on V1 sites, that "on average as many as fifteen hundred bombs would have to be aimed at a single coastal battery to give a reasonable chance of it being significantly damaged..... I was emphatic that visual daylight bombing would not be adequate, and that if the attacks on the critical batteries were to succeed, the bombing aid called Oboe would have to be used at night, and then only by the specially trained 617 Squadron known as the Dam Busters....I find it extraordinary when I am reminded today (1978) that on the night before D-Day each of ten batteries in the assault area was bombed by more than 100 aircraft of BC, and that this single operation involved the whole of the Command's effort for the night, at an expenditure of some 6,000 tons of bombs" (ibid page 260).

Tony

mhuxt
23rd November 2010, 22:53
Maybe Zuckerman knows more than I do, but I was under the impression 617 never had Oboe.

SES
24th November 2010, 11:26
Ses, a free-flight bomb is inherently inaccurate, and they were still being used in Vietnam.


I find it extraordinary when I am reminded today (1978) that on the night before D-Day each of ten batteries in the assault area was bombed by more than 100 aircraft of BC, and that this single operation involved the whole of the Command's effort for the night, at an expenditure of some 6,000 tons of bombs" (ibid page 260).

Tony

But those free fall bombs still had the effect desired, because they were droped against the right targets.

Not until the advent of laser and GPS guided bombs was it possible to take out a gun in a bunker, which will withstand an overpressure of 6,000 psi. So if those batteries were to be taken out, there was no other option than to turn the entire battery area into a moonscape and hope that some guns would be damaged.
bregds
SES

tcolvin
24th November 2010, 13:47
mhuxt, Dave Wallace on this board implied that 617 Squadron might have had Oboe in Post No. 28 here; http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?p=90002

"617 Squadron Lancasters that carried tallboys could not be equipped with H2S. I have correspondence from Harris, Cochrane, Bennett, Saundby and others discussing this and also equipping Lancasters with Oboe, which also could not be fitted on a Lancaster with H2S.
While Oboe equipped aircraft could drop bombs or target indicators with the same accuracy in any type of cloud (the Oboe crews never used any visual references on a bombing run), the main force aircraft bombing the Oboe TIs were greatly affected by cloud. Sky marking was much less accurrate than groundmarking and the winter season Oboe attacks were on the whole less successful due to the weather. "

This makes sense. To achieve accurate aiming of large bombs, 617 Squadron would need to bomb with Oboe rather than bomb the markers dropped by Oboe Mosquitos.

Tony

Sid Guttridge
24th November 2010, 14:23
My first thought is that the cost of Bomber Command cannot be viewed in isolation from the impact of Bomber Command on Germany in damage and expenditure.

My second thought is that, if there was no Bomber Command, one has to find a viable alternative that would have caused the Germans equivalent damage, expenditure, lost production and redirected military assets.

43,000 Churchill tanks is a nonsensical alternative. Firstly, they could have addressed not a single one of the targets Bomber Command did; secondly, Churchill tanks did not use either the same materials or industrial plant and so were not a direct production equivalent; and thirdly, unlike the Lancaster, they were poor at what they did.

The article seems to assume that the number of duds and misses by Bomber Command bombs were a unique problem. However, only the smallest proportion of bullets or shells hit a significant target either. Less bombs does not automatically mean more of more accurate missiles.

Despite its unrealistically narrow focus, the article was an interesting read.
Nor does Bomber Command seem prohibitively costly, given that it absorbed at most 15% of defence expenditure.

Certainly winning the war cost Britain a fortune. However, the alternative of losing it doesn't seem particularly financially attractive either!

Steve Smith
24th November 2010, 15:00
I initially found this discussion of interest but that soon began to wear off. I think that Tony is just interested in a confrontation to voice his own opinion and using statistics to his own advantage to justify a point.

Is this discussion about, 1) the financial cost, 2) targeting, 3) strategy, 4) accuracy, or a mix of all.

As far as I am concerned the courage, determination and sacrifice of all those who served in the ranks of Bomber Command is unquestionable.

Like wise as far as accuracy is concerned No.3 Group who pioneered the use of GH and where the only main force group within the command to be thus equipped carried out a number of very accurate raids on Benzol / oil plants / coking plants as well as transportation targets from October 1944 onwards. Bombing accuracy was measured at times to within 500 yards, or better. The Group operated in all weathers and importantly did not require to see the target. We seem to be missing the contribution of this group.

tcolvin
24th November 2010, 16:56
I better explain my point then, Steve, which is to question Churchill's BC-based war strategy.
The question was raised in 1945 according to the following passage, and remains unanswered to this day.

"Tedder also told me that on his railway journey from the Crimea to Moscow (January 1945), he had passed through no town, other than Sevastopol, which was as badly damaged as were most of those of our own bombing targets which we had already over-run. He had also been interested to find that, however badly hit, damaged plants were soon back into production. The enormous strength of the Russian Air Force, mainly a fighter-bomber force, had impressed him, but his view was that the Russians had no understanding, in the sense that we had, of the proper use of an air force. To them it had been perfected as another form of artillery. In the note that I made of this conversation, I asked myself who was right - the Russians or us".
(From Apes to Warlords', page 320).

I believe the Russians were right, but expect few of the people on this board to agree.

Tony

SES
24th November 2010, 17:02
The role of Air Power is to gain, maintain and exploit air superiority in pursuance of strategic and operational objectives, everything else is rubbish.
bregds
SES
Been there, done that for more than 40 years.

Kutscha
24th November 2010, 17:08
I see the problem; you are using the word 'extrapolation' statistically while I am using it evidentially.

I have quantified, rightly or wrongly, the effect of aiming 19,000 tons of bombs onto an area of 0.72 sq kms (the equivalent of 67,000 tons/sq mile).
BC & 8USAAF never put the shipyard out of action and never killed any of the workers, although much repair work was needed, because they were notoriously inaccurate.
They destroyed only two military targets of significance (U-boats on the stocks) in the shipyard. Significantly, this was done by 8USAAF operating in daylight and using their Norden sights.

Wilhelmshaven's shipyard was not egregious, but typical of what strategic bombing could achieve in 1939-45, or the LW in Birmingham, Hull and Coventry.
Pictures showed the roofs off the buildings and general dereliction.
Harris showed Zuckerman his famous Blue Book that was filled with such pictures of destruction, but both Zuckerman and Harris knew that reports coming out of Germany showed that all the while production was increasing despite the apparent devastation.

This effect is now quantified, as Fahey has quantified BC's costs.
BC's effectiveness was not static, and did improve over time.
But in Wilhelmshaven's case, as in most others except a virgin target like Dresden, BC's nightly visitations just made the ruins in the city centres bounce once more.
If you think Darmstadt was different, then there's nothing to stop you doing the analysis.
I'll warrant you'll find no difference.
BC knew their dossier was dodgy, but continued because they were convinced Germans couldn't take it and their morale was about to crack. Ditto the USA failing in their effort to bomb the Vietnamese to the negotiating table.

Tony

Looks mighty devastated to me.

Before and after aerial photos of the bombing of Wilhelmshaven: The German port city of Wilhelmshaven was bombed twice in 1943 -- once by the USAAF on January 27, and again by the RAF Bomber Command on February 11-12. These aerial reconnaissance images show Wilhelmshaven before and after the two bombings. The second bombing, carried out at night, was especially challenging because of dense cloud cover. Planes equipped with the RAF's newly developed H2S ground-mapping radar located strategic targets, then illuminated them with parachute flares. A successful strike on a naval ammunition dump south of Wilhelmshaven caused widespread destruction of dockyards and the city.

http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/italy-falls-to-allies-8.jpg

http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/italy-falls-to-allies-7.jpg

Kutscha
24th November 2010, 17:15
I better explain my point then, Steve, which is to question Churchill's BC-based war strategy.
The question was raised in 1945 according to the following passage, and remains unanswered to this day.

"Tedder also told me that on his railway journey from the Crimea to Moscow (January 1945), he had passed through no town, other than Sevastopol, which was as badly damaged as were most of those of our own bombing targets which we had already over-run. He had also been interested to find that, however badly hit, damaged plants were soon back into production. The enormous strength of the Russian Air Force, mainly a fighter-bomber force, had impressed him, but his view was that the Russians had no understanding, in the sense that we had, of the proper use of an air force. To them it had been perfected as another form of artillery. In the note that I made of this conversation, I asked myself who was right - the Russians or us".
(From Apes to Warlords', page 320).

I believe the Russians were right, but expect few of the people on this board to agree.

Tony

At what cost to the Soviets Tony? You moan about the number of lives lost by BC yet that was minuscule compared to the Soviet military lives lost in the tactical war they fought.

Steve Smith
24th November 2010, 17:23
I better explain my point then, Steve, which is to question Churchill's BC-based war strategy.
The question was raised in 1945 according to the following passage, and remains unanswered to this day.

"Tedder also told me that on his railway journey from the Crimea to Moscow (January 1945), he had passed through no town, other than Sevastopol, which was as badly damaged as were most of those of our own bombing targets which we had already over-run. He had also been interested to find that, however badly hit, damaged plants were soon back into production. The enormous strength of the Russian Air Force, mainly a fighter-bomber force, had impressed him, but his view was that the Russians had no understanding, in the sense that we had, of the proper use of an air force. To them it had been perfected as another form of artillery. In the note that I made of this conversation, I asked myself who was right - the Russians or us".
(From Apes to Warlords', page 320).

I believe the Russians were right, but expect few of the people on this board to agree.

Tony

Tony,
Having amassed a number of books and primary source material during my 30 year of interested in Bomber Command, I am sure I can find within the pages or volumes a quote from any number of high ranking officers or Air Ministry or governmental "names" to answer this post, but to be honest I can't be bothered.
I am certain that any post that does not agree with your views you will I am sure find a quote in your favour and try and contradict it.

tcolvin
24th November 2010, 19:53
Kutscha,
a) The pictures you published are of the Mariensiel arsenal that was destroyed on February 11, 1943, and thought to be one of the largest wartime explosions in NW Europe caused by BC. It was covered in the audit I posted. The arsenal was over 3 kms from the aiming point in the Bauhafen, which says it all about BC's accuracy. The result of the explosion was of little strategic consequence at that stage of the war.
b) The losses in the Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions in NW Europe between June 1944 and April 1945 were proportionately greater than in BC, and I would not be surprised to learn they were higher than in the Russian infantry - if you have figures please publish them as I would like to compare them. The problem with the Anglo-Canadian infantry was crap infantry weapons, crap tanks, crap tactical aircraft support, crap artillery, and crap leadership compared with Russian. So I do not know what point you are trying to make.

Steve, You are obviously as tired as I am of argument. Why don't you just state your conclusions after studying BC for 30 years. Perhaps some of us will learn something. I promise to say nothing.

Tony

Icare9
24th November 2010, 23:57
The losses in the Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions in NW Europe between June 1944 and April 1945 were proportionately greater than in BC, and I would not be surprised to learn they were higher than in the Russian infantry - if you have figures please publish them as I would like to compare them. The problem with the Anglo-Canadian infantry was crap infantry weapons, crap tanks, crap tactical aircraft support, crap artillery, and crap leadership
Tony, you're moving this into an arena which few of us can contend with. If you are now claiming that (despite Churchill tanks, which you were anxious to have more of) the D-Day Invasion forces had inferior equipment, then your opinions should be voiced in a more broader forum such as WW2Talk, than in an Aviation based one.

I feel that you are determined that your view be correct and will brook no contradiction. That isn't a reasoned basis for debate, you may find a more stimulating environment for your views elsewhere now you have broadened your arguments into an OVERALL strategic overview.

Like BC, the Army did the best with what it had, not just equipment, but use of tactics to outflank the Germans doggedly resisting the Anglo Canadians. Again, by totally absorbing all the German effort against them, they drew away defenders to allow the Americans to break through, culminating with the Falaise Gap and the abandonment of France by the Germans. And how, if everything they used was poor, did they achieve such a resounding defeat on the Germans?

BC by its continued Operations succeeded in holding back a vast amount of German manpower and resources, slowing development of what could have been war winning weapons such as the V1, V2 and jets. That allowed the Russians to achieve battlefield superiority sooner. However, I am sure you will have yet another answer to support your view.

Just don't hint that the lives of those who died were "thrown away" wilfully.

Kutscha
25th November 2010, 03:15
Kutscha,
a) The pictures you published are of the Mariensiel arsenal that was destroyed on February 11, 1943, and thought to be one of the largest wartime explosions in NW Europe caused by BC. It was covered in the audit I posted. The arsenal was over 3 kms from the aiming point in the Bauhafen, which says it all about BC's accuracy. The result of the explosion was of little strategic consequence at that stage of the war.
Tony

11/12 February 1943

Wilhelmshaven. This was an interesting and important raid by 177 aircraft - 129 Lancasters, 40 Halifaxes and 8 Stirlings. The Pathfinders found that the Wilhelmshaven area was completely covered by cloud and they had to employ their least reliable marking method, skymarking by parachute flares using H2S. The marking was carried out with great accuracy and the Main Force bombing was very effective. Crews saw through the clouds a huge explosion on the ground, the glow of which lingered for nearly 10 minutes. This was caused by bombs blowing up the naval ammunition depot at Mariensiel to the south of Wilhelmshaven. The resulting explosion devastated an area of nearly 120 acres and caused widespread damage in the naval dockyard and in the town. Much damage was also caused by other bombs.

glider1
25th November 2010, 11:58
If I may join in the debate.
Kutscha,
a) The pictures you published are of the Mariensiel arsenal that was destroyed on February 11, 1943, and thought to be one of the largest wartime explosions in NW Europe caused by BC. It was covered in the audit I posted. The arsenal was over 3 kms from the aiming point in the Bauhafen, which says it all about BC's accuracy. The result of the explosion was of little strategic consequence at that stage of the war.
There can be little doubt that this was a lucky hit, however there is equally no doubt that by looking at the two photos the damage to the docks were extensive. Harsly a building left standing and more importantly no vessels in the docks, they had been removed. The raid achieved what it set out to do.

b) The losses in the Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions in NW Europe between June 1944 and April 1945 were proportionately greater than in BC, and I would not be surprised to learn they were higher than in the Russian infantry - if you have figures please publish them as I would like to compare them. The problem with the Anglo-Canadian infantry was crap infantry weapons, crap tanks, crap tactical aircraft support, crap artillery, and crap leadership compared with Russian.
I would expect the loss ratio of any front line Infantry Unit of any army to be at a similar level to BC. I would however not expect it to rival the Russian Units as their tactics were hard on the troops and they put less resources to the removal and treatment of the wounded.
As for the equipment, lets take them one at a time.
Crap Infantry Weapons
The Lee Enfield was and is one of the all time greats and cannot be described as Crap.
Bren Gun, again a first class weapon as good an LMG as any produced anywhere.
Sten Gun totally agree, absolute rubbish

Crap Tanks
Sherman 75 was roughly as good as the T34/76 and the Sherman 76 a good match against the T34/85. You can argue which was the best but there was little in it.
Sherman Firefly was vulnerable but it did at least have the firepower so that it could destroy anything that could destroy it which evens things up.
The UK/Canadians did lack a heavy tank of that there is no doubt but they had the edge in specialised tanks. But then again the Russians lacked equipment such as the M10/M36/Achilles so take your pick as to which approach you want.

Crap Artillery.
Sorry but on this you are very wrong. The 25pd and the 4.5in guns which formed that backbone of the Anglo Canadians were second to none. Plus they were supported by a far more sophisticated and flexible fire control structure.
6pd and 17pd AT guns were at least as good as anything else on the battlefield.

Crap Tactical Support
Again you are very wrong. There was a difference in approach, the Russian aircraft being designed to take heavy damage but were easier to hit being slower and larger, whereas the Typhoon was less robust but harder to hit. The advantage the Anglo Canadians had was that at a push every allied fighter could be a very effective GA machine. In the 2TA even Spitfires were being armed with 1,500lb of bombs. Russian fighters were unable to carry the payload.

Crap Leadership.
Both sides had a selection of good and bad.

What Russia totally lacked was a strategic air arm. The RAF/USAAF bombers would have had a field day attacking targets such as transport choke points and the losses would have been significantly smaller that those caused by the German defences. The Daylight would have belonged to the USAAF high level bombers as Russia lacked a decent high altitude fighter able to take on the B17/B24 and their escort. The night would belong to the RAF as Russian lacked radar in any was apart from warning. i.e. an almost total lack of radar fire control or radar in nightfighters.

mhuxt
25th November 2010, 12:33
mhuxt, Dave Wallace on this board implied that 617 Squadron might have had Oboe in Post No. 28 here; http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?p=90002

"617 Squadron Lancasters that carried tallboys could not be equipped with H2S. I have correspondence from Harris, Cochrane, Bennett, Saundby and others discussing this and also equipping Lancasters with Oboe, which also could not be fitted on a Lancaster with H2S.
While Oboe equipped aircraft could drop bombs or target indicators with the same accuracy in any type of cloud (the Oboe crews never used any visual references on a bombing run), the main force aircraft bombing the Oboe TIs were greatly affected by cloud. Sky marking was much less accurrate than groundmarking and the winter season Oboe attacks were on the whole less successful due to the weather. "

This makes sense. To achieve accurate aiming of large bombs, 617 Squadron would need to bomb with Oboe rather than bomb the markers dropped by Oboe Mosquitos.

Tony

That's all well and good, but I fail to see the "so what" in it. 617 did just fine without Oboe, and I can see no reason why one would even need both H2S and Oboe in the same aircraft. Oboe told you exactly where you were, but (without repeater equipment) had limited range. H2S had unlimited range, but could only give a rough location.

Again, 617 did just fine without either.

Steve Smith
25th November 2010, 12:58
Kutscha,
a) The pictures you published are of the Mariensiel arsenal that was destroyed on February 11, 1943, and thought to be one of the largest wartime explosions in NW Europe caused by BC. It was covered in the audit I posted. The arsenal was over 3 kms from the aiming point in the Bauhafen, which says it all about BC's accuracy. The result of the explosion was of little strategic consequence at that stage of the war.
b) The losses in the Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions in NW Europe between June 1944 and April 1945 were proportionately greater than in BC, and I would not be surprised to learn they were higher than in the Russian infantry - if you have figures please publish them as I would like to compare them. The problem with the Anglo-Canadian infantry was crap infantry weapons, crap tanks, crap tactical aircraft support, crap artillery, and crap leadership compared with Russian. So I do not know what point you are trying to make.

Steve, You are obviously as tired as I am of argument. Why don't you just state your conclusions after studying BC for 30 years. Perhaps some of us will learn something. I promise to say nothing.

Tony


Tony,

My 30 years of research tells me not to get into a argument with someone who obviously is conformational and argumentative. What I have learnt is that the death of 55,573 young men was not in vain.

tcolvin
25th November 2010, 14:17
11/12 February 1943

Wilhelmshaven. This was an interesting and important raid by 177 aircraft - 129 Lancasters, 40 Halifaxes and 8 Stirlings. The Pathfinders found that the Wilhelmshaven area was completely covered by cloud and they had to employ their least reliable marking method, skymarking by parachute flares using H2S. The marking was carried out with great accuracy and the Main Force bombing was very effective. Crews saw through the clouds a huge explosion on the ground, the glow of which lingered for nearly 10 minutes. This was caused by bombs blowing up the naval ammunition depot at Mariensiel to the south of Wilhelmshaven. The resulting explosion devastated an area of nearly 120 acres and caused widespread damage in the naval dockyard and in the town. Much damage was also caused by other bombs.

Much of this caption is nonsense.
The attached Google Earth photo shows the aiming point in the naval dockyard in the town was 4kms away from the exploding Mariensiel arsenal. The bit of dock shown in your aerial photos is the Westwerft, which was mistaken by the photo interpreters for the naval dockyard.
I told you the raid happened in a NE gale which blew the skymarkers over Mariensiel before the Main Force arrived.
No doubt Butcher Harris put your pictures in his Blue Book together with the misleading caption.
By the way, where are these Blue Books today? Rumour has it there were three copies - one on Harris's desk, one on Churchill's desk, and one in the British Embassy in Moscow for showing to Stalin.

Tony

tcolvin
25th November 2010, 14:55
Glider1, we're getting completely off-topic, but I will briefly comment on your points.

1. The Mariensiel arsenal explosion has been covered in my reply to Kutscha. The raid did not set out what it aimed to do, which was to destroy submarines on the stocks in the Bauhafen, 4 kms away from Mariensiel.

2.
- Crap infantry weapons; the British had nothing to equal the PPSh-41 or MG-42 in rate of fire, which is the important thing for infantry.
- Crap tanks; the only half-decent allied tank was the Churchill. The literature on this is extensive eg 'Death By Design' by Peter Beale.
- Crap artillery; the 25-pdr was 88-mm in calibre and could not match the weight of fire delivered by Russian 122-mm, or even German and US 105-mm artillery. No Katyusha or Nebelwerfer. No infantry divisional SP artillery after D-Day.
- Crap tactical support; no accurate dive-bomber, and no armoured IL-2, only vulnerable and inaccurate Spitfire and Typhoon fighter-bombers and mediums.
-Crap leadership; from Stalin down to battalion level, the Russians led everybody, including the Germans, in professionalism.

Tony

Kutscha
25th November 2010, 15:43
I told you the raid happened in a NE gale which blew the skymarkers over Mariensiel before the Main Force arrived.
Tony

So the bombs were dropped where they were suppose to be dropped, on the sky markers. Not the bombers fault the sky markers weren't where they were suppose to be.

The bit of dock shown in your aerial photos is the Westwerft, which was mistaken by the photo interpreters for the naval dockyard.Pure bull. You are saying that after years worth of photos taken of Wilhelmshaven, the photo interceptors didn't know what was what.

if you have figures please publish them as I would like to compare them

Soviet Union 1941–45, All branches of service - 10,725,345 KIA/MIA

British Commonwealth, All branches of service - 580,351 KIA/MIA

Hyde Park has a soapbox reserved with your name on it Tony.

tcolvin
25th November 2010, 19:02
Kutscha, you keep changing the subject.

1) BC went to Wilhelmshaven following instructions to destroy Type VIIC U-boats that were building in the Bauhafen. AFAIK the markers were dropped over the U-Boats on the stocks.
The bombs, however, dropped 4kms away on an arsenal full of sea mines and ammunition for ships like Graf Spee that were at the bottom of the ocean or like Hipper that were decommissioned.
It is but another example of BC's being unable to hit the target, which is one of the main reasons why its costs were momentous.

Your confidence in the photo interpreters is touching, but you have a problem; either they misunderstood what they were looking at, or they were lying. You say they knew what was what, which means you think they were lying - perhaps to make Butcher Harris's Blue Book look good?

2) The total for Soviet KIA/MIAs was not the answer to the question we were discussing, which was infantry losses. Your point, I thought, was that the Soviet method of waging war was more costly in terms of human life than it was for the Western Allies. The point I am making is that the Anglo-Canadian method of waging war after D-Day was equally and probably more costly because the Anglo-Canadians were less well-equipped than the Soviets. I asked you for figures for losses in Soviet infantry divisions as this interests me.
The astronomical total Soviet and German losses was the inevitable result of Hitler's attempt to seize Lebensraum from the Russian 'Untermenschen', and is tragically uninteresting. It is the basis of the valid Russian claim that they and not the West were instrumental in destroying the Wehrmacht.

Tony

glider1
25th November 2010, 20:09
Taking your points one at a time

Glider1, we're getting completely off-topic, but I will briefly comment on your points.

1. The Mariensiel arsenal explosion has been covered in my reply to Kutscha. The raid did not set out what it aimed to do, which was to destroy submarines on the stocks in the Bauhafen, 4 kms away from Mariensiel.
This is covered, I did say it was a lucky hit and there is hardly a building left standing. Also all the vessels had been moved (as far as I can say) so it was a damn good try.

2.
- Crap infantry weapons; the British had nothing to equal the PPSh-41 or MG-42 in rate of fire, which is the important thing for infantry.
You are being a little selective here. The PPsh-41 is a sub machine gun and I did say that the Sten was total rubbish, so we agree on that. I also agree that the UK didn't have anything like the Mg42, but neither did Russia.

- Crap tanks; the only half-decent allied tank was the Churchill. The literature on this is extensive eg 'Death By Design' by Peter Beale.
As is the literature for the performance of the tanks as outlined in my previous posting.

- Crap artillery; the 25-pdr was 88-mm in calibre and could not match the weight of fire delivered by Russian 122-mm, or even German and US 105-mm artillery. No Katyusha or Nebelwerfer. No infantry divisional SP artillery after D-Day.
The 25pd was at least as good as the Germand and US 105. It had a longer range than the former, it was reliable, flexible and in service from the start in good numbers. To compare it against the 122mm is a little off as the 122mm should be compared with the 4.5in which is a good match.
I certainly agree that the British had no Katyusha but I notice that you don't deny that the British fire control system was far more flexible which is a significant advantage in this kind of combat.
I also agree that the British Infantry divisions didn't have SP Artillery, but then again, neither did the Russian Infantry units. However the British Armoured divisions did, how many Russian Tank Divisions had SP Artillery?.


- Crap tactical support; no accurate dive-bomber, and no armoured IL-2, only vulnerable and inaccurate Spitfire and Typhoon fighter-bombers and mediums.
No more vulnerable or inaccurate than the Il-2 as I said before there was a different approach. Typhoons were well armoured for a fighter bomber. One thing is for certain, the Typhoon was more able to defend itself against fighters. As for the mediums Russia didn't have anything close to a Beaufighter or Mosquito, let alone the mediums.

-Crap leadership; from Stalin down to battalion level, the Russians led everybody, including the Germans, in professionalism

That I would question, both countries had their good and bad moments.

Allan125
25th November 2010, 20:32
Tony

Just where are we going with this continuing discussion, are you trying to batter us all in to submission to accept your points?

Whilst you have stated “I better explain my point then, Steve, which is to question Churchill's BC-based war strategy.....”

I find that I have to totally agree with the comment by Steve Smith “My 30 years of research tells me not to get into an argument with someone who obviously is conformational and argumentative. What I have learnt is that the death of 55,573 young men was not in vain.”

Are you writing your piece simply from your understanding of "Britain 1939-1945; The Economic Cost of Strategic Bombing", by John Fahey, and seeing matters with the benefit of 65 years of hindsight, and “reading online” at that – presumably in the comfort of your house - or did you actually take part in raids as a member of BC, or serve in an armoured unit in your much vaunted Churchill tank, where your comments might have more validity?

Personally, in my own family I had one serving in a fighter wing HQ in 2TAF from Normandy to Denmark, one flew a complete tour with Bomber Command between August ’44 – April ’45, one served in the 22nd Armoured Brigade of 7 Armoured Division from Normandy to the Baltic, and, finally, one served in the desert and Italy with the 8th Army. And all did their best with the equipment that they were issued with, and the orders that they were given at the time, which must have worked as we are deemed to be the victors!

Something which is confirmed by Icare9 in his comment “Like BC, the Army did the best with what it had, not just equipment, but use of tactics to outflank the Germans doggedly resisting the Anglo Canadians. Again, by totally absorbing all the German effort against them, they drew away defenders to allow the Americans to break through, culminating with the Falaise Gap and the abandonment of France by the Germans. And how, if everything they used was poor, did they achieve such a resounding defeat on the Germans?”

Whatever conclusions you come up with, as you do not appear to accept other peoples points of view, it won’t make a scrap of difference now as VE-Day was in 1945, not 2010.

Allan125

Juha
25th November 2010, 23:12
Just for the record
in summer 44 the artillery component of Soviet Rifle/Infantry Div consisted 24 76mm (3in) light field cannon and 12 122mm light field howitzer, the artillery component British Inf Div consisted 72 25pdr (3.45in) gun-howitzer. Soviet div also had 21 120mm heavy mortars and also some 76mm infantry guns, which were short range light guns for direct fire support. Both Soviet and British Armies also had plentiful medium and heavy artillery under GHQ/Stavka control which were allocated to Corps (next level up from division) according to need. While both Soviet and British field artillery guns were good, British divisions had more of them.

Soviet Tank and Mechanized Corps, these were in size nearer to German and British divisions than Corps, had 21 76mm SP guns, but British armoured divisions had 24 25pdr SP gun-howitzer plus 24 towed ones. All also had SP AT guns, Soviet 85mm SU-85s, British M10s (76mm)or Achilleses, M10 regunned with British 17pdr, also 76mm but much more powerful than US gun, in fact it had more penetration power than Soviet 85mm AT gun.

So in divisional level British seems to have more artillery support than Soviets, how much GHQ/Stavka allowed extra artillery support and ammo varied and so no absolute truth here if one doesn't want to go to individual cases.

Finnish experience was that also Il-2s were usually inaccurate.

Juha

tcolvin
26th November 2010, 00:22
Allan, I'm inclined to make this my last post on this thread as yours is evidence of mounting bafflement about motives, and shows there is no environment here for a cool exchange of views. I accept the blame for that.

Recall the thread was triggered by Fahey's publication of the first ever analysis of the momentous cost of BC. This raised the question whether and how our opinions about BC should now be revised.

For me Fahey confirmed one element of a complex answer to a simple question that first arose in 1947, and which I finally answered to my own satisfaction only in 1995.

In 1947 as an 8-year-old living in Germany, I was taken by my father to a battlefield where his unit, 2 Lincolns in 3rd British Infantry Division had succeeded at great loss in breaking through the German defences on March 2, 1945. We placed flowers on the graves of 24 soldiers who had died that day and whose remains were soon moved to the Reichswald War Cemetery - the CWGC's largest.

The question that arose then was later verbalised into this: why did the Allies, with control of the air and unlimited resources, lose so many men, and find it so difficult, to advance against the remnants of a beaten German Army within six weeks of the end of the war?

In the 1980s I spoke to Allied infantrymen, gunners, tank crews and Typhoon pilots, and to German paratroops, who had been on or over the battlefield to establish what had happened during the three battles fought over four days that led to the breakthrough by 2 Lincolns.

The answer to the question took a long time to produce, and is still subject to revision as more and more information gets published, such as Fahey's analysis of BC's costs.

That's all there is to it.

Tony

glider1
26th November 2010, 00:31
Juha
Thanks for the information, I didn't realise that the Russian Infantry Units had so little gun support. 24 x 76mm + 12 x 122mm vs 72 x 25pd is no contest let alone with the more flexible fire control.

tcolvin
26th November 2010, 00:52
Thanks, Juha.

The Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions that landed on D-Day were supplied with the M7, which they called the Priest 105-mm SP Gun. These were highly regarded, and the decision to replace them with towed 25-pdrs was resented because of poorer mobility and reduced weight of shell.
The gunners called the 25-pdrs 'crap' in comparison with the M7.

Tony

Kutscha
26th November 2010, 00:59
Kutscha, you keep changing the subject.

1) BC went to Wilhelmshaven following instructions to destroy Type VIIC U-boats that were building in the Bauhafen. AFAIK the markers were dropped over the U-Boats on the stocks.

The bombs, however, dropped 4kms away on an arsenal full of sea mines and ammunition for ships like Graf Spee that were at the bottom of the ocean or like Hipper that were decommissioned.

And with a gale blowing from the NE!!!! That is a wind speed of 40 -55mph. Guess where the gale will blow the sky markers.

So these mines could not be carried by other ships? So the 200mm ammo could not have been used by Battery Karola on the Ile de Re (4./Marine Artillerie Abteilung 282) and Battery Seydlitz on the Ile de Croix (5./Marine Artillerie Abteilung 264). And that is just the 200mm ammo.

It is but another example of BC's being unable to hit the target, which is one of the main reasons why its costs were momentous.

The bombs were dropped on the sky markers. Hardly an indication of BC's inability to hit targets.


Your confidence in the photo interpreters is touching, but you have a problem; either they misunderstood what they were looking at, or they were lying. You say they knew what was what, which means you think they were lying - perhaps to make Butcher Harris's Blue Book look good?

It means you think they were lying.

2) The total for Soviet KIA/MIAs was not the answer to the question we were discussing, which was infantry losses. Your point, I thought, was that the Soviet method of waging war was more costly in terms of human life than it was for the Western Allies. The point I am making is that the Anglo-Canadian method of waging war after D-Day was equally and probably more costly because the Anglo-Canadians were less well-equipped than the Soviets. I asked you for figures for losses in Soviet infantry divisions as this interests me.
The astronomical total Soviet and German losses was the inevitable result of Hitler's attempt to seize Lebensraum from the Russian 'Untermenschen', and is tragically uninteresting. It is the basis of the valid Russian claim that they and not the West were instrumental in destroying the Wehrmacht.

Tony

I would say with a ~20:1 difference in KIA/MIA it should be obvious to everyone that the Soviets method of waging war was very much more costly.

glider1
26th November 2010, 01:23
Thanks, Juha.

The Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions that landed on D-Day were supplied with the M7, which they called the Priest 105-mm SP Gun. These were highly regarded, and the decision to replace them with towed 25-pdrs was resented because of poorer mobility and reduced weight of shell.
The gunners called the 25-pdrs 'crap' in comparison with the M7.

Tony

You can support this statement? I say this as I can understand them being resentful of swapping the SP Gun for a towed gun where life is harder. But they would have been more ticked off if they had to use the M101 which weighed quite a lot more.

SimonE
26th November 2010, 04:09
Thanks, Juha.

The Anglo-Canadian infantry divisions that landed on D-Day were supplied with the M7, which they called the Priest 105-mm SP Gun. These were highly regarded, and the decision to replace them with towed 25-pdrs was resented because of poorer mobility and reduced weight of shell.
The gunners called the 25-pdrs 'crap' in comparison with the M7.

Tony

Do you have a reference for this?

Enemy assessments of the performance of the 25 pdr was that it was anything but "crap".

The Germans in and around Normandy were amazed by the rate of fire that the 25 pdr could sustain, to the point where it was believed the gun was mechanically rather than manually loaded. German PoWs spoke of the "automatic" 25 pdr. Ref. G Blackburn's, The Guns of Normandy.

While the Anglo Canadian ground and air forces had shortcomings in some areas, but so did the forces of the Germans/Soviets.

To label their equipment, and especially Anglo Canadian leadership, as simply "crap" is overly simplistic and needlessly derogatory.

John Beaman
26th November 2010, 04:55
OK, we're getting way off topic here. The topic is the cost of RAF Bomber Command's activities in WW2. Stay on topic or start a new thread.

Frankly, I'm inclined to shut this thread down as it seems exhausted to me. Agreement will never be reached on the ideas in this thread, so why don't you all give it a rest?

Steve Smith
26th November 2010, 10:48
OK, we're getting way off topic here. The topic is the cost of RAF Bomber Command's activities in WW2. Stay on topic or start a new thread.

Frankly, I'm inclined to shut this thread down as it seems exhausted to me. Agreement will never be reached on the ideas in this thread, so why don't you all give it a rest?

John,

Thank you. !!

I have checked over most of Tony's previous posts, the vast majority of posts are there to evoke a debate giving Tony the opportunity to express his own opinion.

The majority are on emotive subjects which divide opinions and will as per Tony's motive instigate a lively and futile debate, giving him the soap box opportunity to vent his opinion to a larger audience, i.e the poor members of this forum.

I was under the impression this was a site for research, not a debating forum. Tony has his own opinions and rightly so, but to use this forum to promote them does not do the forum justice.

I for one joined this forum to expand my acknowledge of the Air War over Europe and when I can help other researchers / historians, I did not join to be brain-washed by some-one with a grudge.

Bomber Commands campaign of 1939-1945 was politically and operationally misguided and Ill-advised at times, but is that not true of any war-time campaign. ? What is not open to criticism or argument is the bravery and sacrifice of those young men who fought and died, that is the true cost and I think a certain individual sadly as forgotten that.

Sorry John and members. !!

Juha
26th November 2010, 10:58
John
hopefully You accept one more off topic message from me just for the background info.

Hello Glider1
while the divisional artillery of Soviet Rifle divisions was rather weak, Soviet Army, like the British Army but contrary to German Army, had vast High Command artillery resources, so from mid-43 onwards, when Soviets wanted a breakthrough, they allocated plenty of artillery assets for the attack and as a rule, achieved breakthrough.

Hello Tony
the cold fact is, that it is always costly and difficult to crush an enemy which had a army with good fighting spirit and sound tactical doctrine, was it well equipped as German Army was during WWI and WWII or even rather poorly equipped poor Army as the Finnish Army was during WWII. On British artillery, Germans had high regard on it, IIRC they thought it was the best arm of the British Army.

On 25pdr vs US 105mm, there wasn’t so big difference in the weight of the HE shells (25pdr vs 15kg) but it is true that in the US shell had almost 3 times more explosive (2.2 kg vs 0.82 kg) so fragmentation was different. But IIRC there wasn’t enough 105mm ammo even for the US Army in 1944, thanks for the Congress which had curtained the 105mm ammo production to prevent “overstocking”, so IIRC the British gave some 25pdrs and ammo for them to US Army in ETO during the autumn 44.

Now on BC, heavy bombers could deliver very heavy concentration of HE in a short timeframe either to a tactical or a strategic target, that means flexibility. When they used right kind of ordnance it was very effective as during the opening of Oper Goodwood. It wasn’t BC’s guilt that the British Army had not understood how deep the German defensive system was, as a good army should, Germans had understood the need of depth in a good defensive planning and were good in camouflaging, even if not nearly as good as the Soviets who were masters in that and in deception. So the British attack was stopped south of the BC’s target area.

I agree that the use of BC wasn’t always most effective and that Harris’ obstinacy took off much of the potential flexibility of the BC. In fact I also agreed that BC got a too big portion of British defence spending, with cleverer use of it it could have achieved better results with lesser losses, so there would have been need for smaller production of heavy bombers and for fewer crews. The first part isn’t hindsight, some in the uppermost hierarchy of RAF saw that but thanks for Harris and Portal that was not achieved, the latter is because many who wanted more intelligent use of BC were also heavy bomber men who wanted more powerful BC.

Juha

Bill Walker
26th November 2010, 22:12
Just discovered an intersting set of quotes on this subject, from some people who were there.

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/general/8832-reichs-ex-leaders-explain-why-they-were-beaten.html

SES
26th November 2010, 23:30
Hi Bill,
Thank you very much, MOST interesting quotes, but some parties may still not be convinced or claim that they were extracted under moderate physical duress ;-).
bregds
SES

Bill Walker
27th November 2010, 03:12
I suspect that for many of them the greatest duress came from their own egos. "It wasn't my fault...."

Allan125
27th November 2010, 11:44
Tony

Thank you for giving us the background information to your question - perhaps things might have turned out differently with some replies if you had put your current reply in with your question.

"Recall the thread was triggered by Fahey's publication of the first ever analysis of the momentous cost of BC. This raised the question whether and how our opinions about BC should now be revised".

From the benefit of hindsight everybody can see how things could be done differently - my opinion is they did a necessary job with the tools and orders they were given. As, no doubt, did your father and others in 2 Lincolns, none of whom knew the war would end in 6 weeks and war is a messy business. And would those attacks costing 24 lives still have gone ahead even if they knew when VE-Day was - yes it would!

"The question that arose then was later verbalised into this: why did the Allies, with control of the air and unlimited resources, lose so many men, and find it so difficult, to advance against the remnants of a beaten German Army within six weeks of the end of the war?"

Simply put - they were fighting an invader of their country, with draconian measures being taken if they tried to fall back without orders, which must have concentrated the mind somewhat!!

Bill Walker appears to have found some quotes from leading German military figures with different views to yours.

Allan

tcolvin
28th November 2010, 03:56
Allan,
I thought this thread was finished, but it has sprung back to life.

Bill Walker's quotes from leading Germans do not support BC, and are not different from mine.

An analysis divides their reasons into four main (non-exclusive) areas;


Transportation got 13 votes (Galland, Jahn, Guderian, v Seidel, Veith, Wolff, v Vietinghoff, GM of Junkers Italy, Sperrle, Bodenschatz, Krupp, Dollmann, Goering)
Oil got 7 votes (Galland, Jahn, v Massow, Veith, v Vietinghoff, Goering, Wille)
Production got 6 votes, but production must include oil (Schacht, Thyssen, Wolff, Henschell, Siemens-Schukert, Steel director)
Unspecified strategic bombing got 7 votes. I don't know if 'strategic' includes transportation, although it must include oil (Lindemann, Kolb, v Rohden, Thomas, Kesselring, Ibel, Goering).

It is clear that the biggest number of votes for why Germany lost go to Transportation and Oil.


Both of these targets were, however, strongly rejected by BC as 'panaceas'. BC and Churchill/Lindemann were adamant that area bombing of city centres was about to end the war. BC must not be diverted to tactical bombing which had its own TAFs under Leigh Mallory.
Spaatz commanding 8 and 15 USAAFs, and not BC, chose Oil.
The AEAF and SHAEF, and not BC, chose Transportation.

Zuckerman produced an entirely convincing analysis of the effect of bombing on the Southern Italian and Sicilian railroads. Zuckerman argued that “the destruction of the railway network of W Europe should become a prime strategic target sui generis, and not just a series of targets related to Overlord” (Apes to Warlords, page 222).
Leigh-Mallory, Portal, Tedder and Eisenhower agreed with Zuckerman. But BC strongly disagreed and used one argument after another against it.


Harris sent a letter to Portal on January 13, 1944 listing 22 reasons why BC was not designed for, and was unsuited to doing, anything except area bombing of city centres.
This got everyone behind Harris' objection - the Air Ministry's Director of Bomber Operations (Bufton); the Intelligence Wing of the Ministry; the Enemy Objectives Unit of the US Economic Warfare Dept (Kindleberger, Rostow and Kayson); the Objectives Dept of the British Ministry of Economic Warfare (Lawrence); and Slessor in the Med.
Harris argued that BC at night was inaccurate and had an average error of 1,000 yards. It could not therefore do the job of bombing marshalling yards and bridges, and would kill 40,000 French civilians and wound 120,000 in making the attempt. Zuckerman showed that the calculation was fallacious and the right estimate was that 12,000 civilians might be killed and 6,000 seriously wounded. (Actual casualties were 10,000 killed and wounded).
The next argument was that military traffic on the railway was so small a proportion that it could not be significantly effected in any relevant period of time. The attack on railway centres would have to be continued for 12 months before the German war effort could be adversely affected. Kindleberger argued that the Germans had so many locomotives that they would be able always to get military traffic through to the front. Zuckerman pointed to the fact that in southern Italy the railroad system was paralysed even though there were plenty of locomotives.
Zuckerman pushed for the Transportation Plan to be generalised across the Reich. Bufton stated Harris' contrary view; 'Attacks on railway centres in the Reich will represent effort dissipated in some measure against one of the most invulnerable targets of the German economic system. The fact that the railway system is the one common denominator of the whole enemy war effort is a clear indication of its unsuitability as a vital target system in strategic attack” (Apes to Warlords page 244).
BC argued they could and would smash Germany through night raids on German cities, while the American Strategic Forces would do so by precise attacks on the arsenals of German air power – aircraft and aircraft component factories, and on Germany's synthetic oil plants. Not one member of the intelligence etc. staffs, nor even Tooey Spaatz, suggested prior to D-Day that the oil offensive would yield immediate results in the military field. That came later.
So Portal and Eisenhower decided on the Transportation Plan because they thought it the only target that could affect the Germans in the field in the first month of the invasion. On March 27, the Combined Chiefs of Staff gave control of the strategic air forces to Eisenhower. But Harris and Spaatz still went on arguing, and it was not until April 17, 1944 that Eisenhower directed implementation of the Transportation Plan and Pointblank. But still nothing but Pointblank was implemented. BC raised the spectre of massive French civilian casualties which Churchill sent to FDR on May 7, 1944. FDR replied on May 11 that it was Eisenhower's decision.
Harris finally got the message, complied, and implemented well starting in earnest on the eve of D-Day.
But Harris was not convinced, and soon topped bombing railroads to concentrate on area bombing. This came to light in an analysis by Zuckerman of how the Germans managed the build-up for the Ardennes counteroffensive, which could never have happened had the Transportation Plan continued to be implemented. Harris did not speak the truth in his memoirs when he said he had always supported the Transportation Plan.
Zuckerman saw the light when he studied the Southern Italian and Sicilian railroad results. From then on he argued that Transportation should be the sole target for all of the Allied strategic heavy bombers. German industry would then grind to a halt without the need for bombing cities or factories, because inputs and outputs could not be moved. It seems the Germans in Bill Walker's list of quotes agreed with Zuckerman. I certainly do, but my point has always been that destroying the Achilles' heel of transportation or electrical generation and supply was a job for TAF Mosquitos, which made BC redundant. Fahey shows how much money that would have saved. Tony

drgondog
28th November 2010, 16:14
Tony - those are well reasoned arguments but lend themselves to post mortems. The clear message is that Harris, like Spaatz had enormous influence for their points of views and the political clout to advance their theories despite heavy losses.

There is no doubt that Transportation was a critical strategic resource, as well as Power, as well as the Petro/Chem industry.

The challenge is that each thesis had to have enough analytics behind them that the argument could a.) be easily grasped and b.) easily presented to Churchill and FDR.. otherwise they depend on the senior officers in charge to make the decisions and be accountable for the results.

To the last point, it was only possible AFTER the war to parse through the German production and logistics and perspectives to gain true insight to the relevance and resources which "could" have been wiser and better choices. Facts were hard to come by during the day to day parsing of bombing results.

Juha
28th November 2010, 17:13
Hello Tony
IMHO Mossie was not nearly as good as a heavy bomber against marshalling yards, one key target type of transport plan, which needed to be saturated with bombs to make them inoperative. Also some sturdy bridges/viaducts were easier to knock down with superheavy bombs, of which only Lancs were able to carry in ETO.

Didn’t notice that earlier
Quote:” that first arose in 1947, and which I finally answered to my own satisfaction only in 1995.

In 1947 as an 8-year-old living in Germany, I was taken by my father to a battlefield where his unit, 2 Lincolns in 3rd British Infantry Division had succeeded at great loss in breaking through the German defences on March 2, 1945. We placed flowers on the graves of 24 soldiers who had died that day and whose remains were soon moved to the Reichswald War Cemetery - the CWGC's largest.

The question that arose then was later verbalised into this: why did the Allies, with control of the air and unlimited resources, lose so many men, and find it so difficult, to advance against the remnants of a beaten German Army within six weeks of the end of the war?”

At least the Soviet system didn’t produce a sure answer, look http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ilomantsi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ilomantsi), that battle ended 3 weeks before armistice between SU and Finland. Now Soviet losses might well have been only ½ of that mentioned in the article but still fairly high.

Juha

Kutscha
29th November 2010, 16:16
A comparison of the key issues raised in Hansen's account (Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-45) with those of Goebbels (diary) on the same subject follows:

Hansen: "It cannot be proved that bombing prevented the increase in arms production from being considerably greater than it was."

Goebbels: "The damage to our armaments potential is quite beyond repair"; "we are bombed day and night and damage to our ... armaments potential is very severe"; and "our armaments potential ... (is) being battered to such an extent that we shall be standing in a void."

Hansen: Destruction of cities "may have helped the war effort by releasing workers from non-essential occupations to work in the armaments industry."

Goebbels: "... bombed cities undergo pretty bad dislocation of public life as a result of which workers often stay away from their workbenches for weeks ... This explains the large production deficits we record"; "Destruction in the munitions industry can be more easily repaired than is the case with the disorganization in cities"; "the population ... is sunk in lethargy and looks upon events of the war with the greatest apathy. This is primarily due to months of uninterrupted enemy air bombing"; "Once again a major attack descended upon the Reich capital. One of the main targets was large munitions plants. The situation has become even more alarming in that one industrial plant after another has been set on fire."

Hansen: "The effects of these (British) raids on production (in the Ruhr) were minimal."

Goebbels: "... another exceedingly heavy (British) raid on Essen. This time Krupp has been hard hit"; "the night raid of the English on Dortmund has been extraordinarily heavy ... with industrial and munitions plants (having) been hit."

Hansen: "After two years, the effects of the (British) bomber dream was obvious to everyone but Harris himself."

Goebbels: "The Berlin munitions industry is still in bad shape. Alkett [which produced almost half of Germany's field pieces and was hit during a British raid] is almost completely destroyed"; "it is necessary that we overcome England's nerve-wracking air superiority"; "I cannot understand how the English can do so much damage."

Hansen: "They (the Americans) wanted to avoid hitting towns if they could"; "... the U.S. will not at any time direct (its) efforts towards area bombing."

Goebbels: "... frightful damage wrought daily by the American Air Force on unfortified and undefended German towns"; "The Americans over fly German territory almost unrestricted and are destroying one town after another"; "The Americans carried out heavy area bombing of (Berlin) causing fearful devastation. In extent, this raid was at least as heavy as the last terror raid."

Hansen: "Despite the failure of area bombing to deliver results ... it was clear, and increasingly so, that area bombing was not delivering results"; "... area bombing was a moral and strategic failure."

Goebbels: "... for in the last analysis all our setbacks are due to failure of the Luftwaffe to stop allied air attacks"; "Our entire military predicament is due to enemy air superiority"; "The reason for our military decay is to be found in the air terror."

more: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_6972/is_8_17/ai_n55363385/?tag=content;col1

Esprit de Corps Sept, 2010 by Michael Jarvis

Bill Walker
29th November 2010, 17:58
Thanks for these Kutscha. I'm not sure Goebbels was a great expert on production and military matters in general, but it clearly shows the bombing campaign was worrying high German officials. That alone counts for something.

If I may offer a general comment:

Global war is a complicated affair, with a need to deploy multiple weapons and methods in multiple locations. It is easy with what we know today to calculate what worked and what didn't, but at the time this information was not always available to the leaders on both sides. They had to try everything they could at every chance they got, or risk falling behind. I think that in the end it wasn't any one weapon or tactic that won or lost the war. Instead, it was the greater willingness of the Allies to try a bit of everything, and their greater ability to try a bit of everything (because of production capability, manpower resources, training strategies, etc.) that won the war.

tcolvin
29th November 2010, 23:33
IMHO Mossie was not nearly as good as a heavy bomber against marshalling yards, one key target type of transport plan, which needed to be saturated with bombs to make them inoperative. Also some sturdy bridges/viaducts were easier to knock down with superheavy bombs, of which only Lancs were able to carry in ETO.
Juha

Two points.
1). In his December 1943 report on the Sicilian and Southern Italian railways that persuaded Tedder and Eisenhower to insist on the Transportation Plan over BC's objections, Zuckerman wrote; "The two factors which contributed most to the outcome of the offensive ... were the destruction and damaging of rolling-stock and repair facilities. Largely because of this, the Sicilian and Southern Italian rail systems had become practically paralysed by the end of July 1943 - as a result of attacks on only six railway centres, Naples, Foggia, San Giovanni, Reggio, Messina, Palermo. ..... so too was the finding (unexpected) that the most economic way to disrupt communications was not to cut lines, but to attack large railway centres which contain important repair facilities and large concentrations of locomotives and rolling stock.... The efficiency of a railway system ... appears to fall very rapidly when bombing simultaneously leads to an increase in the calls upon, and a decrease in the capacity of the repair facilities."

2) Zuckerman does not specify the weight of bomb used in paralysing the Sicilian and Southern Italian railway system, but I would be surprised if any bomb larger than the 4,000 lb (1,182kg) bomb was used on that task in mid-1943.
And please remember that this large bomb could be carried by the 54 Mosquito B Mk IVs that were modified by BC with a bulged bomb bay. So I believe the Mosquito was up to fulfilling the Transportation Plan had that aircraft been available in numbers - which it would have been in the absence of BC.

Tony

Juha
29th November 2010, 23:58
Tony
geography of Italy and France is very different and so were their rail networks and as Zuckermann writes, the most effective way to knock out a railway system was to attack big marshalling yards, repair works were usually at marshalling yards and usually there were plenty of rolling stocks there. And most effective way to do that was a massive attack with heavy bombers, so USAAF and RAF had the right tools for that.

Juha

richard.k
30th November 2010, 00:14
3 Squadrons from the RCAF contingent in Africa attacked Foggia railyards with an average load of 4,500 lbs of ordinance from between 8 to 10,000 feet in mid August 43 at night with Wellington X's. Looking though other August attacks, there was nothing above 10,000 feet and some crews down to as low as 6,000 feet. Bombing accuracy would obviously be better, defences lighter. I wouldn't relish the thought of pounding over the Ruhr at between those heights, day or night. A whole different ball game.
Richard

Kutscha
30th November 2010, 01:25
And please remember that this large bomb could be carried by the 54 Mosquito B Mk IVs that were modified by BC with a bulged bomb bay. So I believe the Mosquito was up to fulfilling the Transportation Plan had that aircraft been available in numbers - which it would have been in the absence of BC.That would be 20 B.Mk IVs, not 54.

That would be the 4000lb 'blast' bomb, the Cookie. BC didn't modify the Mosquito, deHavilland did. deHavilland also built a few 'pregnant' B. Mk XIs of the 54 built and 390 'pregnant' B.Mk XVIs.

Bomb load was 4 x 500lb bombs.

Tell us Tony how the Mosquito could have been built in greater numbers. To carry a similar weight of bombs as the Lancaster and Halifax on a mission, up to 7 times as many Mosquitoes would be required. Where were all these extra highly trained pilots and navigators to come from?

glider1
30th November 2010, 05:55
That would be 20 B.Mk IVs, not 54.

That would be the 4000lb 'blast' bomb, the Cookie. BC didn't modify the Mosquito, deHavilland did. deHavilland also built a few 'pregnant' B. Mk XIs of the 54 built and 390 'pregnant' B.Mk XVIs.

Bomb load was 4 x 500lb bombs.

Tell us Tony how the Mosquito could have been built in greater numbers. To carry a similar weight of bombs as the Lancaster and Halifax on a mission, up to 7 times as many Mosquitoes would be required. Where were all these extra highly trained pilots and navigators to come from?

Depending on the range wanted Mossie's often carried 2 x 500lb bombs under the wing. The 'pregnant' mosquito could carry 6 x 500lb bombs internally.

The extra highly trained pilots and navigators would probably come from the crews not shot down in Lancasters and Halifax's. The Mosquito loss rate was a fraction of the Heavy Bombers and only heaven knows how many lives would have been saved.

Juha
30th November 2010, 10:00
Hello Glider
Lanc load to railway yards in France seems to have been 13 - 14 x 1000lb, 1 x 4000lb + 16 x 500lb or 18 x 500lb and in Western Germany 16 x 500 + 30 x 40lb, so one Lanc could carry a same load than 3 – 4 Mossies and that 13 – 14 x 1000lb load would have been uneconomical to divide to Mossies, unbulged Mk IV could carry 1 x 1000lb + 2 x 500lb, I’m not sure if even bulged bomb bay had enough width for 2 1000lb GPs. Marshalling yards were one of the target types which suited better to Lanc than Mossie or Boston.

Juha

Steve Smith
30th November 2010, 10:38
I thought this thread was finished, but it has sprung back to life.


For what we are about to receive !!!!!!!

Is it me or is this subject becoming somewhat stretched out and monotonous !!!

Allan125
30th November 2010, 11:04
I thought this thread was finished, but it has sprung back to life.

For what we are about to receive !!!!!!!

Is it me or is this subject becoming somewhat stretched out and monotonous !!!


hi Steve

I have to agree with you and cannot see where we go from here!!

Allan

SES
30th November 2010, 11:32
I concur. May I suggest this finishing note please:

RETURN AT DAWN



By Morris Marshall
(RNZAF Overseas, from Contact, Feb 1944)

The early dawn has seen their first homecoming,
Has seen them struggle grimly through the skies.
The skylark hearkens to the engines' pulsing
and feels akin to every man who flies.

The grazing beast lifts gentle eyes in wonder
To gaze upon the victors' brave return
But knows not of the dangers that beset them
Who flew into the dark of early morn.

And winging back from out the far horizons,
Now hidden deep in smoke from work well done
The bomber crews give thanks to One Almighty
Who gave them strength to battle till they won.


bregds
SES

CJE
30th November 2010, 13:25
If everyone could use the standard police size, it would help to read each post without us having gaping zombie eyes at the end of the thread.

Merci.

John Beaman
30th November 2010, 15:57
Well, I think this thread has outlived its usefulness. I'm closing it.