Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

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AriX
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Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by AriX » 30 Sep 2018 11:59

As far as I know , USAAF strategy in Europe was based on precision bombing of industrial, logistic and military targets. There were excludings ?

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by j keenan » 30 Sep 2018 19:01

They took part in the bombing of cities

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by AriX » 30 Sep 2018 20:12

Bombing of cities and bombing of civilians doesent mean the same.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Sep 2018 20:35

AriX wrote:
30 Sep 2018 11:59
As far as I know , USAAF strategy in Europe was based on precision bombing of industrial, logistic and military targets. There were excludings ?
Up to a point...

When clouds obscured the targets the level of precision dropped to closer to hitting a city rather than a factory in a city.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Michael Kenny » 30 Sep 2018 21:09

From Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe by Richard G. Davis. Smithsonian Institution Press, , 1994.

A further look at Eighth Air Force operations has revealed two egregious
examples of the gap between bombing practice and stated bombing policy: the
target categories “city areas” and “marshaling yards.” The two most cited Eighth
Air Force statistical summaries that cover the entire war do not list a target cate-
gory “city areas” or “towns and cities.” Both summaries were prepared from
the same set of data within a month of the end of the war in Europe.
Monthly statistical summaries of the Eighth’s operations prepared during the
war, almost contemporaneously with the events they recorded, tell a different
story. The Eighth Air Force Monthly Statistical Summary of Operations, gener-
ated at the end of each month from May 1944 to April 1945, listed a “city areas”
target category. For calendar year 1944, the summary reported that the Eighth
dropped 43,611 tons on “city areas.” Nor did these reports make any bones
about their targets. The report for the May 8, 1944, Berlin raid baldly states,
“Berlin city area attacked. Bombing raid done through 10/10 undercast on PFF
markers. Believed that the center of Berlin was well hit.”
After reaching a
high of 9,886 tons (41 percent incendiaries) in July 1944, when the Eighth con-
ducted a series of H2X raids on Munich, the monthly “city area” totals steadily
declined to 383 tons in December.
A summary in a working paper from a USSTAF file, “Review of Bombing
Results,” shows a similar dichotomy according to time period. From January
1944 through January 1945, the Eighth dropped 45,036 tons on “towns and
cities.” From February 1945 through the end of the war, this summary
showed not a single ton of bombs falling on a city area. Unless the Eighth had
developed a perfect technique for bombing through overcast,[ such a result was
simply impossible. Obviously, the word had come down to deemphasize reports
on civilian damage
.
For instance, when Anderson cabled Arnold about USSTAF’s
press policy on the Dresden controversy in February 1945, he noted, “Public rela-
tions officers have been advised to take exceptional care that the military nature
of targets attacked in the future be specified and emphasized in all cases
. As in
the past the statement that an attack was made on such and such a city will be
avoided; specific targets will be described.”
The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, although not explicitly listing a target
category such as cities or towns, had an interesting definition of “industrial
areas.” The survey placed three types of targets in “industrial areas”: (1) cities,
towns, and urban areas; (2) public utilities (electric, gas, water, and telephone
companies); and (3) government buildings. Given that definition the survey even
managed to describe RAF area raids as strikes against “industrial targets.”
The target category “marshaling yards” received more of the Eighth’s bomb
tonnage than any other, somewhere between 175,000 and 200,000 tons of bombs.
At least 25 percent of all the Eighth Air Force bombs dropped over Europe fell on
“marshaling yards.” One-third of the American incendiary bombs dropped over
Germany fell on the same system. As a matter of directive and policy for most
of the period between September 1944 and April 1945, the same period in which
the Eighth delivered 90 percent of the total tonnage dropped on the system, mar-
shaling yards had the highest nonvisual bombing priority. During that period the
Eighth Air Force dropped 168,038 tons of bombs, 70 percent (117,816 tons)
blind
and 30 percent (50,222 tons) visually. Postwar research showed that
only 2 percent of bombs dropped by nonvisual means landed within 1,000 feet
of their aiming points.
Rail yards as such, however, were poor targets for
incendiaries. If the fire bombs landed directly on or near rail cars, they destroyed
or damaged them; otherwise, they could do little harm to the heavy equipment or
trackage. The Eighth realized this. Of the 9,042 tons of bombs dropped on
French rail yards, mostly during the pre-OVERLORD transportation bombing
phase, when the Americans took scrupulous care to avoid French civilian casual-
ties, 90 percent were visually sighted and only 33 tons were incendiaries.
Even over Germany itself, during Operation CLARION, when the Eighth bombed
dozens of small yards and junctions in lesser German towns, it dropped, over a
two-day period of visual conditions, 7,164 tons of bombs in all, but less than 3
tons of fire bombs.
In contrast, using H2X, the Eighth pummeled marshaling yards and rail sta-
tions in large German cities with high percentages of incendiary bombs. For
example, rail targets in at least four major cities garnered the following percent-
ages of fire bombs out of all bombs dropped on them: Cologne, 27 percent;
Nuremberg, 30 percent; Berlin, 37 percent; and Munich, 41 percent.
“Marshaling yards” undoubtedly served as a euphemism for city areas. Because
the yards themselves were not good targets for incendiaries, the prime purpose
in employing such weapons was to take advantage of the known inaccuracy of
H2X bombing in order to maximize the destruction of warehouses, commercial
buildings, and residences in the general vicinity of the target. Large numbers of
planes scattering their bombs around their mostly unseen and unverifiable aim-
ing points surely would cause great collateral damage to any soft structures
located nearby.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by j keenan » 30 Sep 2018 23:25

Richard G Davis American Bombardment Policy against Germany, 1942–1945, Air Power Review, Volume 6 Number 3, pp. 49–62.
USAAF leaders firmly held to the claim of "precision bombing" of military targets for much of the war, and dismissed claims they were simply bombing cities. However the American Eighth Air Force received the first H2X radar sets in December 1943. Within two weeks of the arrival of these first six sets, the Eighth command gave permission for them to area bomb a city using H2X and would continue to authorise, on average, about one such attack a week until the end of the war in Europe.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by wm » 01 Oct 2018 22:02

The laws of war forbade attacking civilians, but if they happened to be present on the actual battlefield it was just their bad luck.

The interpretation that cities could be battlefields wasn't actually new and was confirmed by such events like the shelling of Paris by the Germans in 1871 where over 12,000 shells were fired over 23 nights in an attempt to break Parisian morale.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Andy H » 02 Oct 2018 14:32

AriX wrote:
30 Sep 2018 11:59
As far as I know , USAAF strategy in Europe was based on precision bombing of industrial, logistic and military targets. There were excludings ?
Hi AriX

The most important word in your intial question is the word 'based'

Yes USAAF bombing doctrine was based upon precision, however the realities of war and in this case the weather across northern Europe led to de-facto Area bombing by the USAAF on many occasions.

Also what constituted 'precision', 51% 60% 70% 805 90% or 100% of a bomb load either on a specific target or within X miles of the target. These mesurements shifted thoughout the war though the reality for those on the ground remained the same. Dead is dead whether by precision bombing gone awry or area bombing and the intent is but a defination to be used to justify or exonerate.

Most civilian casualties during the war were caused by HE shell's be they from artillery or mortars and not from bombs, yet you'll never hear a discussion about the morals of these deaths or targeting!

Regards

Andy H

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by AriX » 20 Oct 2018 21:14

If USAAF droped only bombs with weight over 2000 pounds, the precision would be increased?

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Andy H » 20 Oct 2018 22:31

AriX wrote:
20 Oct 2018 21:14
If USAAF droped only bombs with weight over 2000 pounds, the precision would be increased?
Hi AriX

Why do you think that?

Regards

Andy H

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 Oct 2018 10:58

Hi Guys,

The bombing of cities was legal, if they continued to perform a military function. i.e., they had military industries, army depots, allowed the transit of troops, etc., etc.. This could be avoided by declaring a city "Open". However, the Germans did not seem to recognize the concept of the "Open" city and bombed Belgrade after it had been declared as such. Likewise, they occupied Budapest shortly after the Hungarian Government started to consider declaring its capital "Open" and continued to move troops through Florence after the Italian government had declared it "Open".

The accuracy of British and US bombing was similar as they used similar bomb sights, etc. The difference was that the UK had less manpower and resources, so, to conserve it from early in the war, bombed at night, which was presumed safer but was necessarily much less accurate. The area bombing policy against cities thus made a virtue of a necessity if the RAF was to bomb Germany by night at all. On many raids on cities the USAAF bombed the same area targets during the day as the RAF did at night.

It was difficult for the RAF to switch to day bombing until very late in the war because its bombers, while having bigger bomb loads, had less defensive armament and so remained more vulnerable than US bombers to the Luftwaffe's fighters.

In fact, the most devastating raids on a city, the Tokyo fire raids, were conducted entirely by the USAAF, so there was no inherent US objection to such activities.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by histan » 22 Oct 2018 01:27

The US Strategic Bombing Survey grouped the types of targets bombed into four groups:

Group I Cities and Areas - included Cities, towns, and urban areas and Unidentified Targets (bombs dropped when the intended target could not be identified but bombs were dropped in any case).

Group II Industry
Group III Transportation
Group IV Tactical Targets - Naval Installations, Airfields, Support to Ground Forces

When people talk about "attacking the civilian population" they are referring to Group I Targets.

The total tonnage (short tons) of bombs dropped on Group I Targets was:
RAF 544.860
USAAF 131.986
Total 676,846

So the USAAF dropped 19.5% of the tonnage of bombs that might be classified as aimed at the civilian population.

What is often forgotten about the USAAF staregic bombers is that, although tasked against a specific target, they dropped their bombs anywhere over the town or city if they could not find the planned target.

The following extracts are taken from "The Combat Bombing Problem" written by the AAF School of Applied Tactics in June 1944
Precision Bombing 02.jpg
Precision Bombing 03.jpg
Precision Bombing 04.jpg
So the USAAF were quite happy to bomb civilians if they couldn't identify their planned target.

With regard to the accuracy of "Precision Bombing", the following is from the Strategic Bombing Survey:
Precision Bombing 01.jpg
So again, many civilians would be killed or injured.

Regards

John
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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Aber » 23 Oct 2018 11:20

histan wrote:
22 Oct 2018 01:27
The US Strategic Bombing Survey grouped the types of targets bombed into four groups:

Group I Cities and Areas - included Cities, towns, and urban areas and Unidentified Targets (bombs dropped when the intended target could not be identified but bombs were dropped in any case).

Group II Industry
Group III Transportation
Group IV Tactical Targets - Naval Installations, Airfields, Support to Ground Forces

When people talk about "attacking the civilian population" they are referring to Group I Targets.

The total tonnage (short tons) of bombs dropped on Group I Targets was:
RAF 544.860
USAAF 131.986
Total 676,846

So the USAAF dropped 19.5% of the tonnage of bombs that might be classified as aimed at the civilian population.
It also needs to take account of where the Industry and Transportation targets were. Most of the Industry targets in say the Ruhr would have been in urban areas; similarly Transportation targets would have been major railway workshops and marshalling yards in cities.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by Mori » 23 Oct 2018 12:48

Bombing civilians (or their household) for the sake of doing so wasn't the usual way the USAAF worked.

But in 1945 they started to run out of industrial targets. They tried to bomb and strafe smaller places, on the assumption that's where what remained of German logistics were. Some places hadn't been hit before. AFAIR, there was an explicit policy to fly low, as little to no flak was expected in such areas, and to use machine guns on any target of opportunity.

Obviously this came pretty close to hitting civilian buildings or assets for the sake of doing so.

The first such operation took place mid Feburary 1945, and was called Clarion. Results were disappointing and they stopped the idea after a few days.

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Re: Had U.S.A.A.F. attempted direct strikes against German civilian population during WW2 like R.A.F. did?

Post by histan » 23 Oct 2018 17:44

Hi Aber

Attacks on dual use targets such as bridges, railway workshops and yards were not regarded as deliberate attacks on the civilian population, wherever these might be located.
At the outbreak of the war, the Luftwaffe bombed the bridges over the river Vistula and the railway yards in the centre of Warsaw. These were judged by the RAF, using the very strict rules applying at the time, as attacks on valid military targets and any resulting civilian casualties were an unfortunate outcome of fighting a war. The same applied to most of the attacks on targets within British cities, such as Liverpool docks, which resulted in civilian casualties.

When the RAF began bombing targets located in German cities in 1940, the rules stated that the target must be identified before the bombs were dropped and that if the target could not be identified the bombs should not be dropped but be brought back. Bombs dropped when the target could not be identified would be regarded as being deliberately dropped on the civilian population.

So in my assessment, casualties caused to civilians by the fact that bombing, using the techniques and equipment at the time, was inaccurate and could not be called "Precision" are not the same as casualties caused by bombs dropped at random over civilian areas.

If the question is: did the USAAF have a policy of attacking civilian morale by destroying civilian housing? Then the answer is almost certainly - No.
If the question is: did the USAAF have a policy of dropping bombs on the civilian population if the bombers could not find their designated target? Then the answer is almost certainly - Yes.

Regards

John

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