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"The Failure of Strategic Bombing and the Emergence..." Topic

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10 Jun 2017 8:14 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

… of the Fighter as the Preiminent Weapon in Aerial Warfare

The Bomber

The aircraft family tree began to split into specialties at the beginning of the Great War in 1914. From the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903, the airplane developed into single and twin engine variants carrying one or two crewmembers whose primary duty was observation and reconnaissance. Immediately before the advent of hostilities, the need for specialized aircraft became apparent and the combatant powers followed similar lines of development of fighter, bomber, and reconnaissance aircraft. Fighter aircraft were generally lighter, smaller, faster and more maneuverable in keeping with their mission to shoot down other aircraft while bombers were larger, longer ranged, carried multiple crew members and a heavier payload in keeping with their mission of being bomb haulers. When man first dropped explosives from an aircraft is unknown. However, the concept of using aircraft as bombers predates fighters by several years. Prior to the Great War, the Germans, Russians, French, and Austro-Hungarians were developing aircraft that were specifically designed to carry and release bombs. However, the honors of the first bombing raid in history goes to the French who used a "Voisin" twin engine bomber to drop 132 pounds of bombs on the Zeppelin hangers at Metz-Frascaty on August 14, 1914. From this humble beginning, the bomb carrying capability of aircraft rapidly increased. The tiny 132 pound bomb load of the "Voisin" of 1914 was surpassed one year later by the four engine Russian Ilya Mourometz with a bomb load of 1543 pounds, which, in turn, was surpassed by the British Handley Page bomber of 1916 that could carry a 1750 pound bomb load from England to the Saar region of Germany and return …"
Full article here


rmaker10 Jun 2017 5:05 p.m. PST

First, IIRC Armand, you have posted this link before.

Second, the author's thesis and arguments are weak. I think that Hiroshima and Nagasaki proved the effectiveness of strategic bombing in a decided (and horrible) fashion. Even before that, the Anglo-American air offensive had seriously crippled German production, and the Americans alone had devastated Japanese industry.

Yes, I know that German war production in 1944 was significantly higher than it had been in 1940, but that overlooks the nasty little fact that Hitler had neglected to mobilize his war industries until 1941. How much larger would German production have been without the bombing campaign?

Ottoathome Inactive Member10 Jun 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

The effectiveness of Strategic Bombing is proven by the amount of verbiage wasted in condemning it.

Most importantly the effect of strategic bombing is political. The fact that you can at will devastate an opponents cities while he cannot do the same to yours is prima-facia evidence you are losing.

The whole of the strategic Bombing campaign is vindicated by the raid on Berlin where Molotov was cowering in a dugout with Hitler and Goering listening to them tell him that the British are finished, and him asking them "If they are finished, then whose bombs are raining down on them."

It is also far more effective than leaflets and radio broadcasts in Dictatorial states in showing the people that all is not as well as their leaders assert.

Finally it it's so ineffective then the demonstrated fact that so much material, manpower and effort can be wasted on such an inefficient effort to bring the war to the enemy testifies to the hopless imbalance of the side being bombed. It's like the Kaiser ships. They can be made faster than the U Boats could sink them.

For more proof of this I refer you to the famous interview of Colonel Hessler and his commander also called "The Chocolate Cake affair."

Lost Wolf13 Jun 2017 4:58 p.m. PST

Thanks Tango, first time I've seen this.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2017 11:17 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)


hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2017 6:52 p.m. PST

The effectiveness of Strategic Bombing is proven by the amount of verbiage wasted in condemning it.

True that there is substantial historical opinion questioning the cost-effectiveness of WWII strategic bombing. However, arguing that the quantity of this criticism somehow reduces its validity is ridiculous. Common sense tells you that it's the other way around.


Blutarski27 Jun 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

One might reasonably argue that "strategic bombing" DID actually succeed ….. just not in the way that Douhet and his acolytes imagined. Strategic bombing did not cow the population; it did not provoke a regime change; it did not collapse Germany's war industries; it did not bring the war to a quick end. What it did ultimately succeed in doing over five years of huge, intensive and fabulously expensive effort was (a) divert about one-third of German artillery and artillery ammunition production and a million people to homeland air defense; (b) force the withdrawal of the Luftwaffe from the fighting fronts for commitment to homeland defense; (c) ultimately ruin the Luftwaffe as a fighting force in the airspace over Germany. The Law of Unintended Consequences in action.

My opinion, FWIW.


Wolfhag27 Jun 2017 1:53 p.m. PST

Just think of all of those 88mm guns that could have been on the Eastern or Western Front complete with crews and ammo.

I attended a lecture by Col Joe Warden (USAF Iraq Bomb Campaign) and he said the US overestimated the German electrical infrastructure. He said it would have shortened the war if it was attacked.


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