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Juha 2nd October 2005 15:20

Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
in his book Der Brand, in Finnish translation Suuri Palo pp. 149 -51, German Historian Jörg Friedrich claims that for the bombing of Swinemünde/ Świnoujście on 12.March 1945 many of the bombs had very sensitive fuses in order to cause maximum casualties among the fugitives from East-Prussia and Pommern who were then in Swinemünde. According to Freeman’s The Mighty Eight War Diary the target was the marshalling yard of Swinemünde. Helmut Schnatz in claims that the Soviets had asked Spaatz to bomb Swinemünde because of the number of German warships there. And also writes that the bomb loads were entirely 1000lb GP bombs.
Many of the bombs clearly hit on the seaside parks where there were many fugitives and also some military units. And also in the harbour some refuge ships were sank. But also the railway station was badly hit.
Friedrich claims that the Germans saw the USAAF planes which flew exceptionally low and that there was also strafing. Now according to Freeman’s book the bombing was by H2X, Fry´s and Ethel’s history of the4th Fighter Group, Escort to Berlin, tells that the bombing was through 10/10ths cloud and “B Group attempted to go under the cloud deck and take pictures, but by the time the P-51s were down to 500ft over the water north of Swinemünde they were still in the soup.” I didn’t found anything from Merle’s 357FG history other than that the group made no ground claims between 4th and 18th March. Helmut Schnatz claims that there could be no ground strafing because it was clearly forbidden (11. Im Original: "G(rou)ps will not repeat not strafe ", Field Order 1742A, AFHRA Microfilm B 5022; "Strafing was prohibited", Report of Eighth Air Force Operations, S. 4, AFHRA Microfilm B 5021A.) and there was no ground claims on that day. On the other hand Osprey’s Down to Earth shows that orders forbidding the strafing not always stop it.
I’m writing a review on Friedrich’s book and because I had not paid more than a passing notice to Swinemünde bombing before, I’d like to know.
1) the fusing for the attack?
2) is there any information on possible strafing during the attack?

I hope that this will not start a flame war, I’m only interesting in answers on Swinemünde attack and my supposition is that Friedrich has when he describe this particular attack too easily waived off US sources when they run against German recollections. The book seems generally not be too imbalanced, even if the translation is awful in technical parts. And it is in some parts too moralistic to my taste.


A later addition: I forgot this, one possible explanation which explains some of the differences is that the target was the marshalling yard but some of the bombers bombed short. So part of the loads hit the harbour and the seaside parks. But that does not explain the differences in descriptions of the tactics used.

Delmenhorst 3rd October 2005 21:17

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Jörg friedrich is a bit wrong. There were no strafing US fighters in the Swinemünde area. Strafing was forbidden and there is not one report on strafing during the day. The only time that US fighters went 'down on the deck' was over Denmark where 339th FG shot down three German fighters near Haderslev.
It would also be a bit difficult for the fighters to strafe the target area after the bombing. The whole area was covered in smoke and lowhanging clouds.

The bombers dropped mainly 1.000 lb GP bombs. A third of these were with instant fuse and two thirds with short time delay .04 and .10. I have talked to one of the lead bombardiers and his bomb load was with .01 sec fuses.
The target was 'port area' and this was the normal procedure for attacking this type of target. Some of the bombs should detonate without penetrating the ground and give maximum blast effect against buildings and stores.

Juha 4th October 2005 09:31

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Thanks a lot, Delmenhorst!
I'm trying to understand why the stories of the two sides are so different in this case and Your answer on fuses helped in this. Or at least it didn't demolish the explanation I had figured out. I wrote a much longer explanation but it seemed to have disappeared into byte space and now I must begin to earn my living. The conflict on attack altitude and on strafing remains but Your info on strafing is in line of that of Schnatz and of the histories of FGs I have. I think that Friedrich had in this case relied too much on the stories of German survivors and had dismissed too lightly the documents of the USAAF. But who knows? The truth is probably possible to find out from USAAF archives but I don't know if somebody had researched this attack.

but anyway
thanks a lot again

Delmenhorst 5th October 2005 06:00

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Hi Juha
I won't say that I have researched the attack but I went through the files in the PRO about the attack on Swinemünde. I also spoke to a number of American fighter pilots that participated in the attack plus to a lead bombardier and a navigator who bombed Swinemünde. They considerered the attack to be 'just one of many'.

Juha 5th October 2005 13:37

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Thanks a lot again for Your answer, Delmenhorst!
I tended to agree with You. Even if an attack by 661 heavy bombers against a sea resort, not so important harbour and an unimportant marshalling yard seemed an overkill there was the request by Russian, troops moving through the town and probably a fair amount of rail traffic, lot of shipping in the harbour and at least in April 1945 IIRC Swinemünde was a fortress (we know that Hitler declared many towns as fortress but IIRC among other troops Swinemünde fortress had an A/T unit with 10 Hertzers in April 45). And if the clouds covered much of Germany on that day Swinemünde should have been easily recognizable from the cathode-tube of H2X and so a good target for blind/radar bombing.


Chris Going 11th October 2005 18:50

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Dear Juha

I happen to have the details of the Ordnance expended on March 12th 1945 by 8th USAAF.

They were:

100lb M30 x 6,657;
250lb M57 x 232
300lb M31 x 180
1000lb M44 x 130
1000lb M65 x 692
1000lb RDX x 257
500lb M17 x 442.

Fusing was:

Nose fuses
ANM 103 Inst x 3643;
ANM 103 0.1 x 952
M127 Mech. Time x 294
M138 Mech. Time x 150

Tail fuses:
M100A2 x 7073
M102A2 x 1084

I think I have the ammunition expenditures for this day as well, somewhere. This might be useful, I think


Juha 12th October 2005 08:49

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Hello Chris and thank You very much indeed!!!
Very useful, I must check the bomb types tonight from Freeman's 8th AF War Manual, but 100 and 300 lbs might have been frags, but I must check that.


Juha 12th October 2005 12:28

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Hello again, Chris
I added up the total weight of the bombs on Your list and got ”only” 2.077.700lb. Now Helmut Schnatz gives in his web-article different load and gives the weight of the bombs dropped on Swinemünde as 1.608,5 Tonne (US, 1.457,3 to metric). When I saw that first time I compared that to the figures Freeman gives in his The Mighty Eight War Diary. I did only rough adding but Freeman’s figure was appr. the same. And 8th AF attacked also other marshalling yards on that day according to Freeman.
Would You like comment that?
I’ll make a more exact calculation on Freeman’s figures tonight or tomorrow. The Society of Finnish Military Historians has a meeting today and I don’t know when I’ll be back home tonight.

And thanks again for Your list

Juha 13th October 2005 00:05

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
I checked from Freeman, others are GPs but M-17s which were incendiaries, air bursting with M-127 and M-138 fuses. 100lb bombs were usual in attacks on marshalling yards. According to Freeman bombers of 8th AF dropped on 12 March 45 3003 tons/tonnes of bombs of which 1608,5 on Swinemünde. Maybe the M-17s gave to German refugees impression that they were under fragmentation bomb attack.


Chris Going 13th October 2005 10:34

Re: Questions on 8th AF Swinemünde raid on 12 March 1945
Dear Juha

Small wonder my data gave you lower totals than the secondary sources indicated -I summarised the expenditures of 1AD only. Apologies. The ordnance Expenditures of 2 and 3AD still to come. A quick look at it indicates it is more of the same, although some oddities like 'P' (Progaganda) bombs etc. I'll try to get this data up at the weekend as I am a bit rushed for time at the moment. I'll give you doc citation should you want it.

Incidentally the article on Dresden in the North -does S give casualty citation in the 20,000 (twenty thousands) -or am I getting that bit wrong?

The Geheimentagesberichte Rep gives c 1500 casualties does'nt it???


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