Strategic bombing during World War II

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby Paul L » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:59 pm

The establishment of the strategic bomber force dates back to the 2nd Reamament phase that was authorised by the previous regime. Historically Lufthansa was selected as the defacto airforce in the event of a crises involving Polish and or French argression. A force of 400 multi engined bombers were projected. The first bomber by default was the fleet of hundreds of Ju-52 transport planes converted into bomber as a strategic deterent. The interim replacement was the Ju-86 with the JU 89/Do-19 being the main replacement bomber.

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:10 am

boredatwork wrote:I was reffering to Kesselring who succeeded Wever as Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe, not Goering or Hitler. Given the state of the aero industry at that time the decision to build many twin engine bombers in the short term whose design and operation demanded fewer resources was undoubtably correct, with Britain not at that time seen as a threat and war with the soviet union not anticipated until the mid 40s.


This is where we disagree - on two points.

Firstly both Britain and the USSR were immediate threats to any German territorial expansion, not to mention that France was (on paper) an even bigger threat. That should have been recognised and addressed.
Secondly there is the question of resources and the allocation and utilisation of resources. The nazies were good at propaganda and very poor at technical and managerial handling of of complex problems - such as in the proper management and development of the armaments industries. Further they failed to properly mobilise for total war from the start. Had they done things which they should have done then the problems facing the aero and motor industries would have been addresed and they then would have been able to match the USSR in aircraft and tank production. Fascism has always suffered from the dichotemy of preaching an ideology of ultra-effeiciency yet in practice was the epitome of corruption and inefficiency. The record of Fascist Italy is a very good example of that, and Germany under the nazies was starting to head that way.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:14 am

boredatwork wrote:
If they vetoed the development of heavy bombers why was the requirement for the mcuh more advanced Bomber A issued immediately following the cancelation of the Ural Bomber program?


The word ''requirement'' is not the same as following the project through to ''completion'' is it? The same thing can be said about the KM Z Plan - there was no prospect of completion on the timescale envisaged by its authors.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:29 am

boredatwork wrote:The idea that the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain because they failed to develop a heavy strategic bomber and focussed on operational rather than strategic operations is IMO part a smokescreen encouraged by strategic bombing proponents to explain away the failure of bombing to deliver upon it's prewar promise. ?


Well this is a valid opinion, but I would say on my part that I am not a particular proponent of strategic bombing except as part of a wider strategy and add that in the Battle of Britain that the Luftwaffe bomber arm was a lightweight punch where a heavyweight punch was needed. They had insufficient bombing capability to completely knock out all the RAF airfields and radar stations in a short period of time. And in the blitz on London they were unable to achieve the wholesale destruction that was visited on Hambourg, Dresden and Tokyo. That was a German failing. Their ''bombing failed to deliver upon its pre-war promise'' because it wasn't heavy enough, albeit this is being said in hindsight.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:37 am

boredatwork wrote:The RAF had a "strategic bomber" force from the start - how much had it achieved prior to 1943?


I would say that it achieved a great deal prior to 1943, particulary in terms of ''spade work'' in preparation for the overkill saturation bombing that followed. RAF bombing up to December 1942 achieved a great deal of damage to the German economy and war industries, but perhaps in not such a visible way that actual battles did. One visible result was the Channel Dash - the RAF bombing of the French ports became too hot for the KM to keep its heavy ships there.

Another result that played a major role in 1942 was the diversion of heavy AA guns to the target areas - heavy guns that could not be deployed in places such as Stalingrad, or El Alamein in North Africa.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:47 am

lwd wrote:Hitler's concept of keeping the British either neutral or as an ally was a very sound strategic one. Of course he then proceeded to provoke a war that violated his wise strategy.


This is a very good point. Particulary as in the late 1930's Hitler could have taken full advantage of appeasement and used diplomacy to achieve major territorial changes in eastern Europe, regain some of Germany's colonies and build up to 35% of the strength of the RN. He could even have gone on to invade the USSR with British and French diplomatic support. All sunk because of the arrogant egotistical swallowing up of the rump Czechoslovakia in March 1939.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:03 am

alecsandros wrote:
But conquering France... the low countries... Norway... are strategic victories on their own. Think only of the industrial capacity of France... or the Atlantic position Denmark gave... Or the favorable position Norway gave for keeping an eye over the North Atlantic.


I put it to you that you don't understand the difference between tactics and strategy, or means and objectives.

France was the only substantial military power that Nazi Germany conquered. And that was due to the mistakes of the French as much as it was down to the success of German tactics. Had the French gone about things properly, Germany would have lost the war by early October 1939.

Conquering France was a limited strategic victory. It provided bases for Germany to attack Britain and its shipping. But in itself that is all it achieved, because it didn't finish the war.

Conquering Norway and Denmark - again didn't finish the war. As Richard Humble said in his book ''Hitler's High Seas Fleet'' it was a pyrrhic victory that in large part made Sea Lion impossible to carry out. If you can understand what is mean't by that then you can understand strategy. But the occupation of Norway didn't even break the British seaborne blockade - it actually strengthened it because the British occupied Iceland. And one consequence of that was that the RN then had the means to detect Bismarck at its break out point.

These are the wider concepts that need to be appreciated, and you don't have to necessarily go to Sandhurst or West Point to be able to appreciate this.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:17 am

alecsandros wrote:Yes, my friend. All of those facts are in the history books. They are very real. But let's remember that things could have gone very different, provided some key events woudl have happened. For instance Japan attacking Russian from the east in summer 1941. Or the Italians not sucking so much a** in North Africa. Or not going to NOrth Africa at all. Or Franco finaly deciding to go on the Axis side and blocading Gibraltar.

Any of those events were anticipated by the nazis in the early war. They HOPED for EITHER of those events to come to life.. But they didn't. And their "us against the world" gamble eventualy failed precisely because they were left alone, in real terms, for pretty much most of the war. Had they been supported properly... who knows... ?
.


Again this is rather shallow thinking. ''things could have gone very different, provided some key events would have happened'' - well, why didn't Hitler and Mussolini make them happen? And why should Japan attack the USSR in the autumn of 1941, just months after concluding a non-aggression pact with them, when they had a more immediate agenda?
And what is this about the Italians in North Africa? You don't even mention the one thing that would have completely changed the strategic position in the Med and North Africa had the Italians done it - take Malta on 11 June 1940 instead of the token air raid that was actually done.
Neither do you mention East Africa and the strategic opportunities the Italians had there in June 1940.

''Any of these events were anticipated by the nazies in the early war.'' I don't think so, certainly not from what Walter Warlimont has to say. Table talk is not strategy, still less doing things.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:19 am

alecsandros wrote:
Anyway, what I think I'm trying to say is that the failures of the german military were not strategic failures from a planing point of view... Or not most of them anyway. (They BECAME strategic when there was no turning back... such as Stalingrad) .


I rest my case - you don't understand the concept of strategy.
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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby alecsandros » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:29 am

RF wrote:
I rest my case - you don't understand the concept of strategy.


I'm sorry to disapoint you, oh noble and wise general.
Perhaps you know, in your vast knowledge, that there are over 1100 definitions of "strategy", put together by Henry Mintzberg.

It would be usefull if you would define precisely which one or which ones of those 1100 definitions you are thinking of, oh, great and fearless leader.

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby boredatwork » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:52 pm

RF wrote:
boredatwork wrote:
If they vetoed the development of heavy bombers why was the requirement for the mcuh more advanced Bomber A issued immediately following the cancelation of the Ural Bomber program?


The word ''requirement'' is not the same as following the project through to ''completion'' is it? The same thing can be said about the KM Z Plan - there was no prospect of completion on the timescale envisaged by its authors.


They issued the specification. Heinkel responded. The He-177 was designed. Close to 1000 were produced. That seems far closer to the definition of following a project through to completion then it does "vetoing" it?

And how many wartime projects meet the timescale initially envisiaged? I'm sure fewer than half. The RAF heavy bombers for example were all late - does that mean the RAF failed to create a heavy bomber force because they couldn't meet a pre-war target?
Last edited by boredatwork on Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby boredatwork » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:34 pm

RF wrote:And in the blitz on London they were unable to achieve the wholesale destruction that was visited on Hambourg, Dresden and Tokyo. That was a German failing. Their ''bombing failed to deliver upon its pre-war promise'' because it wasn't heavy enough, albeit this is being said in hindsight.


But the RAF, who had been developing a "Strategic Bomber" force for years couldn't have achieved the wholesale destruction that was visited upon Hamburg, Dresden, or Tokyo in 1940 either so it seems kind of biased to single out the Germans for lack of foresight, given that they had a heavy bomber comparable to the British heavies in hand, at a similar stage of design.

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby boredatwork » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:44 pm

RF wrote:This is where we disagree - on two points.

Firstly both Britain and the USSR were immediate threats to any German territorial expansion, not to mention that France was (on paper) an even bigger threat. That should have been recognised and addressed.


The initial worry wasn't territorial expansion - the initial worry of the services was a pre-emptive attack to forestall German rearmament. I forgot where I read the exact quote but Hitler said something in 1935 (1936?) along the lines of 'if France or Poland have any real statesmen they will attack within the next year.' or words to similar effect.

It was not forseen that there would be war of germany's choosing until 1942 at the earliest.

Secondly there is the question of resources and the allocation and utilisation of resources. The nazies were good at propaganda and very poor at technical and managerial handling of of complex problems - such as in the proper management and development of the armaments industries. Further they failed to properly mobilise for total war from the start. Had they done things which they should have done then the problems facing the aero and motor industries would have been addresed and they then would have been able to match the USSR in aircraft and tank production.


While undoubtably Germany made poor production decisions, given the lack of large scale armament production coupled with the effects of the depression it doubtful if any government could realistically have done much better pre-war. One only has to look at the Royal Navy's re-armament to see there can be a huge difference between issueing a requirement for a weapon and an industry's ability to actually deliver it. Only in America can they create factories out of thin air - and even then it took an additional 2.5 years of peace to do so.

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby lwd » Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:01 pm

boredatwork wrote:
RF wrote:And in the blitz on London they were unable to achieve the wholesale destruction that was visited on Hambourg, Dresden and Tokyo. That was a German failing. Their ''bombing failed to deliver upon its pre-war promise'' because it wasn't heavy enough, albeit this is being said in hindsight.

But the RAF, who had been developing a "Strategic Bomber" force for years couldn't have achieved the wholesale destruction that was visited upon Hamburg, Dresden, or Tokyo in 1940 either so it seems kind of biased to single out the Germans for lack of foresight, given that they had a heavy bomber comparable to the British heavies in hand, at a similar stage of design.

Indeed I'm not sure a "strategic" bomber force was in strategically in Germany's best interest. Looking at her potential enemies i.e. the USSR and to a lesser extent France Germany needed to win a quick victory. Even at the time it was far from clear that a strategic bomber force could win such a victory. Indeed the only case I can think of was vs Holland and that was combined with a very potent ground forces as well. Given that and Germany's limited means the production of a strategic bomber force would likely have come at the expence of the support to the Heer which would have slowed down German ground offenses.

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Re: Strategic bombing during World War II

Postby RF » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:00 am

boredatwork wrote:
They issued the specification. Heinkel responded. The He-177 was designed. Close to 1000 were produced. That seems far closer to the definition of following a project through to completion then it does "vetoing" it?


Yes indeed it does. However the He-177 wasn't used for large scale saturation bombing, even with the relatively small number of bombers produced.

And how many wartime projects meet the timescale initially envisiaged? I'm sure fewer than half. The RAF heavy bombers for example were all late - does that mean the RAF failed to create a heavy bomber force because they couldn't meet a pre-war target?


The RAF did produce a heavy bomber force and used it for such purposes, the Germans did not and that is the point I am getting at.
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