Luftwaffe precision bombing capability in 1940?

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Oracle
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Luftwaffe precision bombing capability in 1940?

Post by Oracle » 25 Apr 2004 23:22

I am having problem with my PhD thesis..can anyone please confirm that the Luftwaffe had the capability of precision bombing of targets such as factories in summer 1940? I know K. Gr. 100 and KG.26 were involved in the attack on Southampton November 30/December 1 1940, but could they as I suggest have literally dropped a HE and then incendiaries through the hole created using X-Verfarhen and Y-Verfarhen? What was the Luftwaffe carpet bombing strategy for English cities at the time, e.g. with Coventry?

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Re: Luftwaffe precision bombing capability in 1940?

Post by brustcan » 26 Apr 2004 06:04

Oracle wrote:I am having problem with my PhD thesis..can anyone please confirm that the Luftwaffe had the capability of precision bombing of targets such as factories in summer 1940? I know K. Gr. 100 and KG.26 were involved in the attack on Southampton November 30/December 1 1940, but could they as I suggest have literally dropped a HE and then incendiaries through the hole created using X-Verfarhen and Y-Verfarhen? What was the Luftwaffe carpet bombing strategy for English cities at the time, e.g. with Coventry?
The Luftwaffe equipment in 1940 was state of art. The Knickebein system could put a bomb into any chosen target with an accuracy of 300 yards, which was good enough for any Gruppe to wipe out a factory. The Knickebein equipment was fitted to all
German bombers. For smaller targets KGr 100 had its bombers fitted with
the X-Gerat which was even more accurate. The British were able jam
the Knickebein by August 28, 1940. It took well into 1941 before the
X-Gerat could be jammed. The Luftwaffe did not carpet bomb Coventry.
KGr 100 used the frightening new technique of giving its electronic
'pathfinder' aircraft incendiary bombs to set the target alight. Thirty tons
of incendiary were dropped, and 500 tons of high explosive. A total of 449
bombers took part in the operation. The Germans thought that they had
destroyed Coventry's armament industry, yet industrial production returned to its normal levels with five days. thanks brustcan

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Post by Hop » 26 Apr 2004 22:22

The Luftwaffe did not carpet bomb Coventry.
They certainly did.

Each of the pathfinders dropped incendiary cannisters in a strip about 1 mile long across various parts of the city. Precision bombing requires much more accurate marking than that.

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Oracle
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HE and then incendiaries?

Post by Oracle » 26 Apr 2004 22:58

Could say He111s have dropped a HE or two onto a large, long, factory and then incendiaries dropped subsequently? I envisaged that this particular factory was opened up like a can and then the firelighters added to burn out the contents. Am I wrong to suggest that a Y-Gerat -equipped pathfinder could have hit a factory 800 feet long x 300 feet wide totalling about 2 acres? It was of course on their official bombing photos!

Another query is whether as I am sure was the case, the Luftwaffe came back to finish off important sites if the first 'go' was deemed insufficient...e.g. V-S Spitfire and flying boat factory at Southampton that was hit on at least two occasions and totally destroyed.

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Re: HE and then incendiaries?

Post by brustcan » 27 Apr 2004 07:30

Oracle wrote:Could say He111s have dropped a HE or two onto a large, long, factory and then incendiaries dropped subsequently? I envisaged that this particular factory was opened up like a can and then the firelighters added to burn out the contents. Am I wrong to suggest that a Y-Gerat -equipped pathfinder could have hit a factory 800 feet long x 300 feet wide totalling about 2 acres? It was of course on their official bombing photos!

Another query is whether as I am sure was the case, the Luftwaffe came back to finish off important sites if the first 'go' was deemed insufficient...e.g. V-S Spitfire and flying boat factory at Southampton that was hit on at least two occasions and totally destroyed.
One of the
biggest problems with most of the bombing missions on 'special targets'
like the Supermarine aircraft works, and others, the Luftwaffe intelligence
assumed that the targets were destroyed in just one mission. Then the
Luftwaffe would switch to another target. Thus most of the bomb damage
was not very effective. thanks brustcan

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carpet bombing of Coventry

Post by brustcan » 27 Apr 2004 07:46

Hop wrote:
The Luftwaffe did not carpet bomb Coventry.
They certainly did.

Each of the pathfinders dropped incendiary cannisters in a strip about 1 mile long across various parts of the city. Precision bombing requires much more accurate marking than that.
From what I have read
about the term "carpet bombing" is that one point of the target is picked
out, and the lead bombers hit this point, and the following bombers keep
moving past this point at intervals releasing the bomb load. This was done
at Normandy..like a creeping barrage, that could have gone for miles. At
Coventry, a city of 220,000 people, KG100 did mark the target area,
and hit the industrial area. The famous Coventry cathedral with close to
the industrial area and was badly hit. According to British records out of
the 1,000 people injured, 400 died. One has to assume that KG100 did
light up the industrial area, and not the residential area, because the
loss of life would have been much higher. thanks brustcan

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Post by Hop » 28 Apr 2004 00:31

From what I have read
about the term "carpet bombing" is that one point of the target is picked
out, and the lead bombers hit this point, and the following bombers keep
moving past this point at intervals releasing the bomb load. This was done
at Normandy..like a creeping barrage, that could have gone for miles.
It depends how you define the term carpet bombing.

In RAF raids on German cities, an aiming point was marked with incendiaries, and the main bomber force bombed that point. There was always "creep back" with crews releasing their bombs just short of the main fire, and the master bombers sometimes marked fresh areas to shift the centre of the attack.

Coventry was attacked in much the same way, although the Luftwaffe bombers carried a much lighter load.
. At
Coventry, a city of 220,000 people, KG100 did mark the target area,
and hit the industrial area.
The main bombing was on the town centre, which was totaly destroyed.
One has to assume that KG100 did
light up the industrial area, and not the residential area, because the
loss of life would have been much higher. thanks brustcan
It's actually a fairly high loss of life, given the light bombloads involved.

The RAF's first thousand bomber raid, on Cologne, delivered more tons of bombs, burnt out more buildings, but killed between 469 and 486 people, according to German records.

Something over 500 were killed in Coventry.

The 4 consequtive nights of raids on Rostok in late Arpil 42 involved 500 bombers, total German casualties were 204 killed.

The third "thousand bomber" raid, on Bremen, involved 960 bombers, 85 people were killed.

26th July 1942, 403 bombers attack Hamburg, 337 were killed.

Düsseldorf, 630 bombers, 279 killed.

Second major raid on Düsseldorf, 10th Spet 42, 480 bombers, 132 killed.


The Coventry raid was notable for it's high casualties. They were amongst the highest for the early period of the war, and pretty high for the tonnage dropped.
One of the
biggest problems with most of the bombing missions on 'special targets'
like the Supermarine aircraft works, and others, the Luftwaffe intelligence
assumed that the targets were destroyed in just one mission. Then the
Luftwaffe would switch to another target. Thus most of the bomb damage
was not very effective. thanks brustcan
That's true. Luftwaffe intelligence during the battle was generally poor, both in choice of targets and in estimates of damage done to targets.

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Oracle
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Thoughts?

Post by Oracle » 28 Apr 2004 14:31

Given a 2-acre target, which is carefully plotted to exact long/lat on aerial bombing photos, could a single aircraft have dropped HE and incendiaries?

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Post by Andy H » 28 Apr 2004 15:35

Can we please ensure that we answer Oracle's original question, and not go off at a tangent regarding carpet bombing.

Andy H

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Thanks but

Post by Oracle » 28 Apr 2004 17:55

..the subject is interesting!

David H

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Post by brustcan » 29 Apr 2004 21:57

Hop wrote:
From what I have read
about the term "carpet bombing" is that one point of the target is picked
out, and the lead bombers hit this point, and the following bombers keep
moving past this point at intervals releasing the bomb load. This was done
at Normandy..like a creeping barrage, that could have gone for miles.
It depends how you define the term carpet bombing.

In RAF raids on German cities, an aiming point was marked with incendiaries, and the main bomber force bombed that point. There was always "creep back" with crews releasing their bombs just short of the main fire, and the master bombers sometimes marked fresh areas to shift the centre of the attack.

Coventry was attacked in much the same way, although the Luftwaffe bombers carried a much lighter load.
. At
Coventry, a city of 220,000 people, KG100 did mark the target area,
and hit the industrial area.
The main bombing was on the town centre, which was totaly destroyed.
One has to assume that KG100 did
light up the industrial area, and not the residential area, because the
loss of life would have been much higher. thanks brustcan
It's actually a fairly high loss of life, given the light bombloads involved.

The RAF's first thousand bomber raid, on Cologne, delivered more tons of bombs, burnt out more buildings, but killed between 469 and 486 people, according to German records.

Something over 500 were killed in Coventry.

The 4 consequtive nights of raids on Rostok in late Arpil 42 involved 500 bombers, total German casualties were 204 killed.

The third "thousand bomber" raid, on Bremen, involved 960 bombers, 85 people were killed.

26th July 1942, 403 bombers attack Hamburg, 337 were killed.

Düsseldorf, 630 bombers, 279 killed.

Second major raid on Düsseldorf, 10th Spet 42, 480 bombers, 132 killed.

The Coventry raid was notable for it's high casualties. They were amongst the highest for the early period of the war, and pretty high for the tonnage dropped.


The Coventry raid will always be controversial. Comparing later RAF raids
on German cities cannot be fairly done, since the german cities had early
warning systems, and air raid shelters that reduced casualties. Churchill
knew about the coming attack from ULTRA intercepts, and so not to give
away ULTRA secrets, no warning was given to the city. This is why the
casualties were high versus the tonnage. thanks brustcan

One of the
biggest problems with most of the bombing missions on 'special targets'
like the Supermarine aircraft works, and others, the Luftwaffe intelligence
assumed that the targets were destroyed in just one mission. Then the
Luftwaffe would switch to another target. Thus most of the bomb damage
was not very effective. thanks brustcan
That's true. Luftwaffe intelligence during the battle was generally poor, both in choice of targets and in estimates of damage done to targets.

Hop
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Posts: 571
Joined: 09 Apr 2002 00:55
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Hop » 02 May 2004 00:03

I am having problem with my PhD thesis..can anyone please confirm that the Luftwaffe had the capability of precision bombing of targets such as factories in summer 1940? I know K. Gr. 100 and KG.26 were involved in the attack on Southampton November 30/December 1 1940, but could they as I suggest have literally dropped a HE and then incendiaries through the hole created using X-Verfarhen and Y-Verfarhen?
RV Jones, the British scientist who was working on countermeasures to X and Y Verfarhen, had this to say in his sum up about Kgr 100:

From Most Secret War by R V Jones.
As for the accuracy which KGr 100 achieved in practice, I doubt they ever did as well as they might have hoped, although frequently a few bombs fell on the pin-point target. On one occasion, we were able to obtain a clear "signature" of their efforts, when they attacked a factory in Birmingham on 26th/27th October. We were able to plot all the bombs, with the result shown in fig 4 (scanner not working at the moment). The bombs lay in 3 pencils running roughly south to north, with the central and heavier pencil 150 - 200 yards east of where we had calculated. The length of the pencils was presumably unintentional, and due to the difficulty of establishing the exact instants of flying through the cross beams. The two side pencils, lying roughly half a mile on either side of the main, have never been explained, either by me or the Germans, who were suprised when I told them after the war. I thought they must have included a deliberate offsetting device in the X-Gerät so as to be able to mark an area, but this turns out not to have been the case.
The info on Y gerat isn't summed up very neatly, but he talks about using the main BBC transmitter to broadcast a false ranging signal to the German aircraft, which caused a lot of confusion. According to Jones, the countermeasures were in place during January 41, and went live the day the Germans planned to use Y Gerät in large scale operations.
What with our real countermeasures and those imgined by the crews, Y operations became a fiasco and the system was withdrawn; we had restored our moral ascendancy for the rest of the winter
Can we please ensure that we answer Oracle's original question, and not go off at a tangent regarding carpet bombing.

Andy H
The question of carpet bombing is part of Oracle's original question:
I am having problem with my PhD thesis..can anyone please confirm that the Luftwaffe had the capability of precision bombing of targets such as factories in summer 1940? I know K. Gr. 100 and KG.26 were involved in the attack on Southampton November 30/December 1 1940, but could they as I suggest have literally dropped a HE and then incendiaries through the hole created using X-Verfarhen and Y-Verfarhen? What was the Luftwaffe carpet bombing strategy for English cities at the time, e.g. with Coventry?
The Coventry raid will always be controversial. Comparing later RAF raids
on German cities cannot be fairly done, since the german cities had early
warning systems, and air raid shelters that reduced casualties.
British cities also had early warning systems and air raid shelters, although the provision of shelters wasn't up to German standards.

But that explains only part of the difference. If you are going to say an RAF raid of the same size as the one on Coventry, which killed less than half as many people as at Coventry, is carpet bombing, then you can't argue Coventry wasn't carpet bombing because only twice as many were killed.

Coventry of course recieved the usual warning of an impending air raid, when the radar stations picked up the incoming bombers. What other form of advance warning did German cities have?

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