German Strategic Bombing

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Luftwaffe air units and general discussions on the Luftwaffe.
Ovidius
Member
Posts: 1036
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 19:04
Location: Romania

German Strategic Bombing

Postby Ovidius » 12 Aug 2002 20:06

In spite of the widespread opinion that Germany during WWII did not have a strategic bomber/heavy bomber force and could not perform the type of strategic(terror) bombings the Allies did, apparently the German Luftwaffe had performed(and not only once) terror bombing raids.

For example, in Stalingrad, on August 23, 1942, from 1800 hours.

Comparison between Dresden and Stalingrad:

Date: February 13-15, 1945 / August 23, 1942

No. of planes involved: 773 British + 527 American / 600 German

Firebombs: yes / yes

Deaths counted: 35,000 to 130,000 / 40,000

Sources: http://web.mitsi.com/zhukov/Stalingrad.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWdresden.htm

http://www.stalingrad-info.com/stalingrad1942.htm

http://english.pravda.ru/region/2001/08/23/13170.html

In witnesses' memories, 59 years ago Stalingrad looked like a "blazing bloody pot", "even the Volga was burning".
From August 23 to September 14 54,000 German bombs up to 1,000 kg weight were released over the city.
During the Stalingrad battle the major industrial centre with 525,000-people population was 91% destroyed.


Or in Belgrad, on April 6, 1941:

III. The First Raid on Belgrade - 6.IV.1941 6:45 CET
Abridged historical background:
Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to bomb Belgrade prior to the final drive into the capital. From August 6th to the 10th over 500 bombing sorties were flown against Belgrade, inflicting more than 17,500 fatalities. The first sirene wails start at 6:45. To the capital are approaching 74 Ju-87B from StG77, 160 He-111 from II/KG64 and Do-17Z from KG2 and KG3. They are covered by 56 Me-109E from JG54 and JG77 and 30 Me-110C from I/ZG26. The Yugoslavs take into the air 34 fighters from airfield Zemun (6 IK-3 who roll first and 9 Me-109E [2 of which were in the air on patrol] from 51. grupa) and from Prniavor 27 109E from 32. grupa. For the first time in battle meet planes from one type. The only way of recognizing enemy are the deliberately painted yellow markings on the german machines. The yugoslav planes separate and there is no contact between the pairs. The german groups also are separated quite much. Over each group there is a number of fighters to cover itë However they were very slow reacting - yugoslav pilots were able to make 1 or even 2 attacks on bombers before being attacked by the escort. The first contact make the IK-3s with StG77 and later KG64 and JG77. They report 5 victories. 32. claims 6 kills, 2 of which - 109. It looses 2 planes, and one of the damaged crashes by the landing. Some of the planes don`t locate the enemy, and roam around meeting by chance later different groups. Part of the german planes chase the RTBing yugoslav planes. JG77 claims 10 victories (9 109 and 1 IK-2), another 6 planes are killed on the ground. 2 Do-17 and several Ju87 are lost, none He-111. Stab/JG52 looses 1 plane and I/ZG26 - 2 Me-110.


Source: http://grobar.search.bg/belgrad/forum/III.html

Plus, the German medium bombers, although rated as "medium" for being smaller than the American "heavies" like B-17, did have respectable bombload and acceptable range, to allow for this kind of missions:

Comparison:

Ju-88A-4 / Do-17Z-2 / He-111H-3 / B-24D Liberator

Bombload(kg): 3000 / 1000 / 2000 / 3624
Range(km): 2730 / 1200-3000 / 1200(w. max. bombload) / 4500

So, the Ju-88A-4, rated by Germans and Allies as "medium bomber"(the Romanian Royal Air Force rated it correctly as "heavy bomber") could fly with a bombload comparable to that of a B-24 Liberator.

The "projected strategic bomber" He-177 Greif was rated for a bombload of 1000 + 2800kg(1 x 1000kg bomb + 2 x 1400kg SD 1400 X guided bombs) and for a range(with 2800kg bombload) of 5500km.

Sources:

http://www.kotfsc.com/aircraft/main.htm

http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/air_power/ap8.htm

Conclusion: the Germans had the possibility to execute strategic/terror raids, in form of the suitable aircraft. If they did it only in a few places, and with lesser results than the Allies,this was because of a far lower resource base than the Allies' one.

(Side note #1: the "bombings behind the Urals" idea was a stretched one for any airforce in the world at that time, with low chances of success :P )

(Side note #2: since I've given my word to a forum member I won' post anymore political/social/strategic comments, please note I'm talking about the airplanes' capabilities, and the raid statistics are examples only :oops: )

~Best regards,

Ovidius

PS I just expect a few members around to jump to my neck for this..... :mrgreen:
Last edited by Ovidius on 12 Aug 2002 20:24, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Christian Ankerstjerne
Forum Staff
Posts: 10993
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 14:07
Location: Denmark

Postby Christian Ankerstjerne » 12 Aug 2002 20:10

Very interresrting info - I don't think I've ever seen those numbers compared... :)

Christian

tonyh
Member
Posts: 2610
Joined: 19 Mar 2002 12:59
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Postby tonyh » 13 Aug 2002 12:13

Are you sure that the Junkers carried a bigger bombload than the Heinkel?

Tony

User avatar
Nicklas Fredriksson
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 09 Aug 2002 14:48
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Postby Nicklas Fredriksson » 13 Aug 2002 12:30

Am I correct in assuming that the B-24s bombload would be greater if the distance was shorter?

Anyways, my impression is that the Luftwaffe's role was far less independent that say the RAF or the USAAF. Also, although there certainly were LW bomber squadrons, there wasn't a specific command handling bombers (like Bomber Command or some of the US commands)?

varjag
Financial supporter
Posts: 4368
Joined: 01 May 2002 01:44
Location: Australia

Luftwaffe bombers

Postby varjag » 13 Aug 2002 12:40

Ovidius - shouldn't we take a reality check here? What sort of runway and how long did it take to get a Ju-88 off the ground with a 3 tonne bombload and was there any allowance for fuel - short of a circuit around the field and return? Much the same applies to the He-111.As for the He-177 it certainly had the theorethical performance but they were very few and they usually didn't come up to more than 50% serviceability at any given time - even keen and brave crews were reluctant to fly them because of the unreliability of their coupled-engines.

Ovidius
Member
Posts: 1036
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 19:04
Location: Romania

Re: Luftwaffe bombers

Postby Ovidius » 13 Aug 2002 13:52

varjag wrote:Ovidius - shouldn't we take a reality check here? What sort of runway and how long did it take to get a Ju-88 off the ground with a 3 tonne bombload and was there any allowance for fuel - short of a circuit around the field and return?


Ju-88A-4 range with maximum bombload was 1800km. The 2730km figure applies to lighter-loaded planes. But over the continent, 1800km may be just enough.

Heinkek He-111H-16 could fly 1950km with maximum bombload(1000kg internal + 1000kg external) and could raise 3250kg with RATO packs.

~Ovidius

User avatar
Mait
Member
Posts: 436
Joined: 16 Jun 2002 14:18
Location: Estonia

Postby Mait » 13 Aug 2002 15:32

Good work Ovidius :)

Best Regards,

Mait.

User avatar
Scott Smith
Member
Posts: 4753
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:17
Location: Arizona

Good work, Ovidius!

Postby Scott Smith » 13 Aug 2002 23:10

Yes, good work!

Ovidius wrote:Conclusion: the Germans had the possibility to execute strategic/terror raids, in form of the suitable aircraft. If they did it only in a few places, and with lesser results than the Allies, this was because of a far lower resource base than the Allies' one.

It's just that maintaining a fleet for thousand-bomber strikes, including aircover and support infrastructure, is too costly for the results obtained. The Allies could do this only because they EACH could afford not to neglect all other air missions, by simultaneously supporting the Army and the Navy. The Luftwaffe, although a completely independent service like the RAF, could not do this, and a few panacea attacks will not win a war.
:)

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7466
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Postby Qvist » 14 Aug 2002 10:10

Ovidius - interesting info. But Scott IMO hits the nail on the head when he points out that the feasibility of a strategic air campaign depends on many factors other than aircraft types.

The Luftwaffe certainly had the capacity to attack strategic targets in strength during the phase of the war when they possessed air superiority - and did, on a number of occasions. But it was not designed to perform a sustained strategic air campaign - it was designed to provide air cover, tactical support and operational interdiction. While the RAF in particular relied fundamentally and explicitly on a doctrine of strategic bombing since before the war, the Luftwaffe eschewed the idea that wars could be won by air forces attacking major population and production centres. When you look at almost all the major examples of German large-scale city bombings - Warsaw, Rotterdam, Belgrade, Stalingrad - they were devastating attacks delivered in conjunction with the advance of ground forces. Not as tactical support, but rather either as terror attacks to strike a decisive moral blow against a crumbling opponent (Belgrade, Rotterdam) or as a general softening up of a target for which the ground forces would have to fight (Warsaw, Stalingrad). The only time when they attempted a prolonged autonomous strategic air campaign - from late in the Battle of Britain - it failed, which is hardly surprising considering the means with which it was executed and the fact that the combined British and American air forces required several years to even make a serious dent in the German war effort.

So my point is - the Battle of Britain aside, the main instances of Luftwaffe attacks against strategic targets underlines rather than contradicts the basic outlook of the force - deliverers of concentrated airborne firepower against targets directly connected to land campaigns.

cheers

gabriel pagliarani
Member
Posts: 1527
Joined: 01 Aug 2002 03:11
Location: ITALY

Quality of bombing: bombing effectiveness

Postby gabriel pagliarani » 15 Aug 2002 11:21

The quality (effectiveness) of a bombing, if it is not an indiscriminate terroristic attack,not depends from the payloads of bombers. Some of the bombings listed are only terroristic attack against civil population having no effect or relevance in the duration of war. There are many examples of strategic bombings that really changed the course of the war: the british bombings of Ruhr dams(energy), the american raid on Ploesti (petrol), the battle on Klagenfurt (ball cushions) and the raid on Ratisbona
(engines). There is a relevant german application of such teory: the bombing of Bari harbor Dec.2, 1943: someone defined this unknown event
the worst loss of ships suffered from allieds.

http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq104-4.htm

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
Naval Armed Guard Service: Tragedy at Bari, Italy on 2 December 1943
Related Resource: Naval Armed Guard Service During World War II

Source: Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. "History of the Armed Guard Afloat, World War II." (Washington, 1946): 166-169. [This microfiche, identified as United States Naval Administrative History of World War II #172, is located in Navy Dept. Library, and can be purchased, or borrowed through interlibrary loan.]

One of the most disastrous bombing attack against allied ships during the entire war took place at Bari, Italy,
on December 2, 1943. This port was in the British theater of operations, but several American [merchant] ships
with [U.S. Navy] Armed Guards aboard were at Bari on that fateful day [when a German air raid occurred].
When the last bomb had fallen, and the last ship exploded, and the large fires had run their course, 17 ships
had been sunk and six damaged. There were five United States ships sunk and one damaged. One other
United States ship came through unscathed.
The Joseph Wheeler had her starboard side blown out and was on her port side when her Armed Guard officer,
who had been ashore arranging for the pay of his men, last saw her. The only Armed Guard survivors were
the officer and twelve men who were taking a well-earned liberty in the town. There were 15 Armed Guards
dead or missing and 26 of the merchant crew missing.

The Samuel J. Tilden was bombed and then sunk by two British torpedoes to prevent danger to other ships.
A bomb crashed through to the engine room at about 1920 and an incendiary bomb hit forward of the bridge.
The German pilot [of the attacking aircraft] strafed the deck [with machine gun fire]. Anti-aircraft fire from
ashore also hit the ship. A searchlight was [shined] on the ship for seven minutes after the attack began,
apparently because somebody ashore forgot to turn it off. All of the Armed Guards survived but the dead and
missing among the merchant crew numbered 10 and there were also casualties to Army personnel [who were
on board].

All of the Armed Guards were lost with the John Harvey [which was carrying mustard gas]. Most of the
merchant crewmen were also missing. Apparently the only people who survived were those who were ashore.

The John L. Motley had grim luck on her trip to the Mediterranean. On August 8, calcium carbine had caused
an explosion and fire [on board]. Then came her end at Bari. There were only five survivors from her Armed
Guards, and 30 of the merchant crew were missing or dead. Four of her survivors were ashore. It was reported
that three bombs hit the ship.

The Lyman Abbott was more fortunate, for she escaped with only moderate damage. Her report indicates that
the harbor was crowded with some 30 ships plus one ship outside and that the harbor soon became an inferno
of flames and smoke accompanied by violent explosions of the burning ships. The master ordered "abandon
ship" at 2015 when several burning ships drifted close, but she was re-boarded [when the danger passed].
Her only damage from bombs was to her rudder, but the explosions added to her damage. One Armed Guard
was killed and the Army Cargo Security Officer also died. Nearly all of the Armed Guards suffered burns and
some of them were hit by fragments. All in all, it was a grim night for the Abbott, but she was able to leave on
January 10 [1944].

The Louis Hennepin was the only ship carrying Armed Guards which escaped without material damage. But
two bombs landed about 100 yards from the ship and two Armed Guards were wounded. Her Armed Guard
officer reported that lights along the dock stayed on for 13 minutes after the first bomb dropped, and [he]
declared that port facilities were inadequate and that there was a lack of coordination. This ship fired some
6,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition during the attack. She also fired on December 11.

The John Bascom was hit by three bombs at 1945. This fine ship was apparently the first in the harbor to open
fire [on the attacking German aircraft]. An explosion on the John L. Motley caused the whole port side of the
Bascom to cave in. The ship did not have a chance to survive. From this awful carnage emerged one of the
finest heroes of the Armed Guard Service. Ensign Kay K. Vesole won the Navy Cross and later had a Navy
ship named for him. But he lost his life in heroic service to his crew. Wounded in the shoulder and over the
heart, he still went from gun to gun directing action and rendering aid to the wounded and dying. Weak from
the loss of blood, he conducted a party of his men below decks and supervised the carrying of wounded to the
boat deck. When the ship was in a burning and sinking condition he supervised the loading of the only lifeboat
not destroyed. His crew had to force him into the lifeboat. He wanted to swim to make room for men with
worse wounds than his. He insisted on rowing with his uninjured arm as he helped disembark the wounded.
He helped carry wounded to the bomb shelter and had to be restrained from going back into the flames to rescue
other wounded when an ammunition ship blew up. He dispatched a signalman to the end of the jetty to signal for
help. He refused to embark in the first boat sent to rescue the Bascom survivors but was forced into the second.
He appears to have sacrificed every chance to recover in his efforts to save others. He was in every sense one of
the finest heroes of World War II and typified the finest in the traditions of the Navy and the Armed Guard
Service. From this destruction of his ship nine of his Armed Guards perished with him. Nine men from that crew
were awarded Bronze Star Medals.

Bari was one of those sudden blows which did great damage but did not long delay the victorious march of the
allies in Italy. The blow was too sudden for Armed Guards to do much to defend their ships. It well illustrates the
danger which was always just around the corner for all Armed Guard crews. Men who go through such actions
have to be highly disciplined and trained, and to have superb courage.

Note: Among the ships sunk when German JU-88 bombers attacked the port of Bari on the night of 2 December
1943 was John Harvey, which was carrying mustard gas intended for use in retaliation by the Allies if German forces
initiated gas warfare. Most of the released gas was carried out to sea by an offshore breeze, but many military and
civilian personnel were temporarily incapacitated or killed by undetermined amounts of the gas which were held in
solution in oil that was floating on the water. Of the more than 800 casualties hospitalized after the raid, 628 suffered
from mustard gas exposure. Sixty-nine deaths were attributed in whole or in part to this cause.

Medical officers and aidmen treating the casualties were unaware of the presence of the gas, which was diluted
sufficiently to be detected by odor. In the belief that casualties covered with oil but showing no physical damage were
suffering from exposure and immersion, they were wrapped in blankets, still in their oil-soaked clothing, given hot tea,
and left as they were for twelve to twenty-four hours while the more urgent blast injuries and surgical cases were
treated.

Those with the energy and will to clean the oil from their own bodies suffered no serious damage, but the remainder
suffered varying degrees of mustard burns. Eyes began to burn about 6 hours after exposure, and were so badly swollen
in 24 hours that many of the patients thought themselves blind. The first deaths occurred without warning 18 hours
after exposure.

About 90 percent of the gas casualties were American, the bulk of them merchant seamen. Since no U.S. hospital
facilities were yet available in Bari - equipment for all but one of the U.S. hospitals scheduled for the area were
destroyed in the bombing - casualties were hospitalized in British installations. [Adapted from: Wiltse, Charles Maurice. The Medical Department: Medical Service in the Mediterranean and Minor Theaters. (Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, Dept. Of the Army): 350-351.]

For further information:

Infield, Glenn B. Disaster at Bari. New York: Macmillan, 1971.[contains a useful bibliography and reproductions of
official reports].

Mahoney, Tom. "Comment and Discussion: The Bari Incident." United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 94, no.1
(Jan. 1968): 101-102. [comments regarding mustard gas casualties].

Morison, Samuel Eliot. Sicily - Salerno - Anzio, January 1943 - June 1944. vol.9 of History of United States Naval
Operations in World War II. Boston: Little Brown, 1954. [On pages 319 and 322, Morison briefly describes the raid
calling it "the most destructive enemy air raid on shipping since the attack on Pearl Harbor."].

Sanders, D.M. "The Bari Incident." United States Naval Institute Proceedings 93, no.9 (Sep. 1967): 35-39.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10 April 2001

varjag
Financial supporter
Posts: 4368
Joined: 01 May 2002 01:44
Location: Australia

Re: Luftwaffe bombers

Postby varjag » 15 Aug 2002 13:17

Ovidius wrote:
varjag wrote:Ovidius - shouldn't we take a reality check here? What sort of runway and how long did it take to get a Ju-88 off the ground with a 3 tonne bombload and was there any allowance for fuel - short of a circuit around the field and return?


Ju-88A-4 range with maximum bombload was 1800km. The 2730km figure applies to lighter-loaded planes. But over the continent, 1800km may be just enough.

Heinkek He-111H-16 could fly 1950km with maximum bombload(1000kg internal + 1000kg external) and could raise 3250kg with RATO packs.

~Ovidius

Ovidius - maximum bombload for a Ju-88 - you claimed 3000 kg's!
HOW were they loaded? How much on the 4 mid-wing racks and how much
in the bombbay? Then you claim a range 1800 km's with such a load.
What was the all-up take-off weight of your Ju-88 with your bomb-and fuel
load? And what sort of take-off run, on WHAT SORT OF FIELD was required to get airborne, if at all! Even optimally,what take-off run?
It seems to me that you read too many aeroplane-calendars and take too
little account of aeronautical realities. As for the JATO-packs on a He-111, were they used operationally - from grass fields - of doubtful smoothness? And if your 2-ton loaded He-111 got off the ground with a
fuel load for a 1950 km's flight - what altitude could it reach - and what
speed? Remember - we have 1000 kg's external load - as well as all that fuel - we're talking about a sitting duck here,man.

Ovidius
Member
Posts: 1036
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 19:04
Location: Romania

Re: Luftwaffe bombers

Postby Ovidius » 15 Aug 2002 19:09

varjag wrote:Ovidius - maximum bombload for a Ju-88 - you claimed 3000 kg's! HOW were they loaded? How much on the 4 mid-wing racks and how much in the bombbay? Then you claim a range 1800 km's with such a load.
What was the all-up take-off weight of your Ju-88 with your bomb-and fuel
load? And what sort of take-off run, on WHAT SORT OF FIELD was required to get airborne, if at all! Even optimally,what take-off run?
It seems to me that you read too many aeroplane-calendars and take too
little account of aeronautical realities. As for the JATO-packs on a He-111, were they used operationally - from grass fields - of doubtful smoothness? And if your 2-ton loaded He-111 got off the ground with a
fuel load for a 1950 km's flight - what altitude could it reach - and what
speed? Remember - we have 1000 kg's external load - as well as all that fuel - we're talking about a sitting duck here,man.


Just a question: why on Earth don't you take a look yourself!? :x

Here(http://www.kotfsc.com/aircraft/ju-88.htm) it says pretty much the same thing:

Ju-88
Armament: (A-4) Two 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 81 (or one MG 81 and one 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131) firing forward, twin MG 81 or one MG 131 upper rear, orne or two MG 81 at rear of ventral gondola and (later aircraft) two MG 81 at front of gondola. Could also carry 1,100 lbs (500 kg) of bombs internally and four external racks rated at (inner racks) 2,200 lbs (1000 kg) and (outer racks) 1,100 lbs (500 kg) to a total bombload of up to 6,614 lbs (3000 kg).


Performance: (A-4) Maximum speed 292 mph (470 km/h) at 17,390 ft (5300 m) or 269 mph (433 km/h) with maximum loadout; service ceiling 26,900 ft (8200 m);


Range: (A-4) 1,696 miles (2730 km) clean or 1,112 miles (1790 km) with full loadout.


Weight: (A-4) Empty equipped 21,737 lbs (9860 kg), empty clean 17,637 lbs (8000 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 30,865 lbs (14000 kg).


Emphases are mine.

If the Ju-88 has been rated as one of the best medium bombers of WWII, it must have been a reason for this, right? :mrgreen:

He-111
Armament: One 20 mm MG FF cannon, one 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131 machine gun and three 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 81Z machine guns, plus a normal internal bombload of 2,205 lbs (1000 kg). Could carry up to 7,165 lbs (3250 kg) of bombs (most externally) with the use of rocket-assisted-takeoff-gear (RATOG).


Range: 1,212 miles (1950 km) with full bombload.


Source: http://www.kotfsc.com/aircraft/he-111.htm

~Ovidius
Last edited by Ovidius on 15 Aug 2002 20:19, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Victor
Member
Posts: 3681
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 14:25
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Postby Victor » 15 Aug 2002 20:09

The figures for the Ju-88A-4 are maximum figures, but it usually was used with a 2 ton bombload.

JLEES
Member
Posts: 1533
Joined: 26 Apr 2002 04:01
Location: Michigan, USA

German Terror Bombing

Postby JLEES » 15 Aug 2002 20:12

Hello,
I think there is little question the Germans would have conducted terror bombing like the Americans and British if they could have. The Luftwaffe was established to principly support ground operations, while the USAF and British Bomber Command were developed to attack the German economy after they overran Europe.
James

User avatar
Harri
Member
Posts: 3799
Joined: 24 Jun 2002 11:46
Location: Suomi - Finland

Postby Harri » 16 Aug 2002 10:39

Victor wrote:The figures for the Ju-88A-4 are maximum figures, but it usually was used with a 2 ton bombload.


That is true. Weak or short runways reduced maximum bombload as well as bigger fuel load.


Return to “Luftwaffe air units and Luftwaffe in general”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot]