August 19 1943: You are in charge of RAF Bomber Command

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Arthur "Bomber" Harris is taking leave after the bombing of Peenemünde, and will be gone for a month. You are left in charge and have full discretion in the use of Bomber Command.

    What targets will you pick?

    You will have, possibly, about a dozen raids in the month.
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hit the fuel infrastructure. All month long.
     
  3. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    What about ball bearings? The Americans have just hit Scweinfurt, but haven't the capacity for a follow-up in teh near future.

    Should bombing Schweinfurt be bombed by the RAF?

    What about Peenemünde - hit that again?
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Ball bearings can be shipped from Swededn IIRC.
    The fuel shortage would've been felt at all aspects of German war effort, economy included.
     
  5. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I believe that the British bought the entire Swedish production after Schweinfurt, negotiated by a man who was flown there by a BOAC Mosquito.


    That is true.

    For some reason, fuel wasn't the high priority target at that stage during the war. I suppose had it been, the Schweinfurt mission would have been flown to an oil facility somewhere.
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Interesting stuff. Were the ball bearings to be stockpiled in Sweden, until further notice? What was the German situation re. ball bearings after late 1943?
     
  7. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Production was restored to partial capacity within weeks, from memory.

    There was a program for dispersed production and for replacing ball bearings with plain bearings wherever possible.

    Without a follow-up raid quickly this was allowed to occur. As with the oil industry it would require continues heavy blows to reduce the chances of recovery for the industry.

    The RAF were due to follow the Schweinfurt raid that night, but instead bombed Peenemünde.

    After the first Schweinfurt raid the 8th AF didn't have the capacity to follow up themselves. It took until October for them to do so, by which time a lot of the production was dispersed or no longer required.

    Also, after the first raid Germany still had a sufficient stock of ball bearings for a short period.

    As to the Swedish bearing situation, I hope someone can confirm. I read it in a book about the Mosquito (will check it later). BOAC Mosquitoes would also ferry ball bearings from Sweden to the UK.
     
  8. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #8 Jenisch, Feb 8, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    http://ww2history.com/experts/Adam_Tooze/Most_mistaken_decision_of_WW2

     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    If I'm reading this right, mr. Tooze believes that RAF's bombing campaign was making, already in early 1943, crippling blows upon the German steel industry?
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Before saying this target or that it is possibly worthwhile to firstly consider what was historically attacked in August 1943, and then determine the effeectiveness of those raids. one thing I certain of, thre would not be any major devaiation from the area bombing campaign, and the war was not going to be won in a month of bombing. Grandiose ideas of changing the complete target priorities for BC, or reshaping the command to some completely new philosophy should be rejected as completely implausible. Further, analysing the historical attacks can give some indication as to the major threats to BC at that time
    Part I of II
    "1/2 August 1943
    15 Stirlings and 14 Wellingtons laid mines off French Biscay ports without loss.
    2/3 August 1943
    740 aircraft - 329 Lancasters, 235 Halifaxes, 105 Stirlings, 66 Wellingtons, 5 Mosquitos despatched on a failed raid to Hamburg. The bombing force encountered a large thunderstorm area over Germany and many crews turned back early or bombed alternative targets. At least 4 aircraft, probably more, were lost because of icing, turbulence or were struck by lightning. No Pathfinder marking was possible at Hamburg and only scattered bombing took place there. Many other towns in a 100-mile area of Northern Germany received a few bombs. A sizeable raid developed on the small town of Elmshorn, 12 miles from Hamburg. It is believed that a flash of lightning set a house on fire here and bomber crews saw this through a gap in the storm clouds and started to bomb the fire. 30 aircraft - 13 Lancasters, 10 Halifaxes, 4 Wellingtons, 3 Stirlings - lost, 4.1 per cent of the force.
    5 Mosquitos to Duisburg, 6 Wellingtons minelaying in the River Elbe. 12 OTU sorties. 1 Wellington minelayer lost.
    3/4 August 1943
    12 Wellingtons of No 6 Group minelaying off Lorient and St Nazaire without loss.
    4/5 August 1943
    7 Mosquitos bombed the estimated positions of Cologne and Duisburg through cloud. No losses.
    5/6 August 1943
    5 Mosquitos, out of 8 dispatched, bombed Duisburg and Düsseldorf without loss.
    6/7 August 1943
    8 Mosquitos to Cologne and Duisburg, 20 Stirlings and 14 Wellingtons minelaying south of Texel and off Brest and the Biscay ports, 13 OTU sorties. 2 Stirling minelayers were lost.
    7/8 August 1943
    In response to urgent political orders, 197 Lancasters were dispatched to attack Genoa, Milan and Turin. It is believed that every aircraft reached the target area; 195 crews returned and reported bombing; 2 aircraft were lost. Group Captain JH Searby, of 83 Squadron, acted as Master Bomber for the bombing at Turin but with only limited success. This was a trial in preparation for the role he would play in the raid on Peenemünde later in the month. The only report available from Italy says that 20 people were killed and 79 were injured in Turin.
    4 Mosquitos bombed Cologne and 1 bombed Düsseldorf. No losses.
    9/10 August 1943
    Mannheim: 457 aircraft - 286 Lancasters and 171 Halifaxes. The target area was mainly cloud-covered and the Pathfinder plan did not work well. The resulting bombing appeared to be scattered. 9 aircraft - 6 Halifaxes and 3 Lancasters - lost, 2.0 per cent of the force.
    6 Mosquitos to Duisburg, 10 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians, 14 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.
    10/11 August 1943
    653 aircraft - 318 Lancasters, 216 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings to Nuremberg. The Pathfinders attempted to ground-mark the city and, although their markers were mostly obscured by cloud, a useful attack developed in the central and southern parts of Nuremberg. The Lorenzkirche, the largest of the city's old churches, was badly damaged and about 50 of the houses in the preserved Altstadt were destroyed. There was a large 'fire area' in the Wöhrd district. 16 aircraft - 7 Halifaxes, 6 Lancasters, 3 Stirlings - lost, 2.5 per cent of the force.
    9 Mosquitos to the Ruhr, 18 Wellingtons minelaying off Texel and in the Frisians. No losses.
    11/12 August 1943
    8 Mosquitos to Cologne and Duisburg, 23 Wellingtons minelaying off Brest, Lorient and St Nazaire, 19 OTU sorties. 1 Wellington minelayer was lost and 1 OTU Wellington came down in the sea.
    12/13 August 1943
    504 aircraft - 321 Lancasters and 183 Halifaxes despatched to Milan and carried out a successful raid. 2 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost.
    152 aircraft of 3 and No 8 Groups - 112 Stirlings, 34 Halifaxes, 6 Lancasters to Turin. 2 Stirlings lost.
    7 Mosquitos to Berlin, 24 Wellingtons minelaying off Brittany ports, 9 OTU sorties. 1 Mosquito and 2 Wellington minelayers lost.
    One of the bravest Victoria Crosses was won on this night. A Stirling of 218 Squadron was badly damaged by a burst of fire while approaching Turin. The navigator was killed and several members of the crew were wounded, including the pilot, Flight Sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron, who was struck in the face by a bullet which shattered his jaw and tore part of his face away; he was also injured in the chest and his right arm could not be used. The flight engineer and the bomb aimer took over the controls of the aircraft and set course for North Africa although one engine was useless, the pilot was out of action, having been dosed with morphia, and the navigator was dead. The Stirling reached the cost of Africa and Flight Sergeant Aaron insisted on returning to his seat in the cockpit to help prepare for the landing. Twice he tried to take over the controls and, although he had to give up this attempt, he continued to help by writing down instructions for landing with his left hand. He could not speak. Under Aaron's guidance, given in great pain and at the limits of exhaustion, the Stirling landed safely at its fifth attempt at Bône airfield with its wheels up. Flight Sergeant Aaron died 9 hours later. It was considered that he might have survived if he had rested after having been wounded instead of insisting on helping his crew. The wireless operator, Sergeant T Guy, and the flight engineer, Sergeant M Mitcham, were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. It was later established that the machine-gun fire which struck the Stirling was fired by a nervous tail gunner in another bomber. Flight Sergeant Aaron was 21 years old and came from Leeds.
    14/15 August 1943
    140 Lancasters of 1, 5 and No 8 Groups carried out another attack on Milan, claiming much further damage. 1 Lancaster lost.
    7 Mosquitos carried out a nuisance raid on Berlin without loss.
    5/16 August 1943
    199 Lancasters continued the offensive against Milan, claiming particularly concentrated bombing. 7 aircraft were lost, mostly to German fighters which were awaiting the bombers' return over France.
    8 Mosquitos to Berlin, 63 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Texel and off all the main Brittany and Biscay ports, 16 OTU sorties. 2 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling from the minelaying force were lost.
    154 aircraft of 3 and No 8 Groups - 103 Stirlings, 37 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters to Turin in what was the . 4 aircraft - 2 Halifaxes, 1 Lancaster, 1 Stirling - lost. This raid concluded the Bomber Command attacks on Italian cities which had commenced in June 1940".
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Part II of II

    "17/18 August 1943
    The Peenemünde Raid
    596 aircraft - 324 Lancasters, 218 Halifaxes, 54 Stirlings. This was the first raid in which 6 (Canadian) Group operated Lancaster aircraft. 426 Squadron dispatched 9 Lancaster IIs, losing 2 aircraft including that of the squadron commander, Wing Commander L Crooks, DSO, DFC.
    This was a special raid which Bomber Command was ordered to carry out against the German research establishment on the Baltic coast where V2 rockets were being built and tested. The raid was carried out in moonlight to increase the chances of success. There were several novel features:- there was a Master Bomber controlling a full-scale Bomber Command raid for the first time; There were three aiming points - the scientists' and workers' living quarters, the rocket factory and the experimental station; The Pathfinders employed a special plan with crews designated as 'shifters', who attempted to move the marking from one part of the target to another as the raid progressed; Crews of No 5 Group; bombing in the last wave of the attack, had practised the 'time-and-distance' bombing method as an alternative method for their part in the raid.
    The Pathfinders found Peenemünde without difficulty in the moonlight and the Master Bomber controlled the raid successfully throughout. A Mosquito diversion to Berlin drew off most of the German night-fighters for the first 2 of the raid's 3 phases. The estimate has appeared in many sources that this raid set back the V-2 experimental programme by at least 2 months and reduced the scale of the eventual rocket attack.
    Bomber Command's losses were 40 aircraft - 23 Lancasters, 15 Halifaxes and 2 Stirlings. This represents 6.7 per cent of the force dispatched but was judged an acceptable cost for the successful attack on this important target on a moonlit night. Most of the casualties were suffered by the aircraft of the last wave when the German night fighters arrived in force. This was the first night on which the Germans used their new schräge Musik weapons; these were twin upward-firing cannons fitted in the cockpit of Me 110s. Two schräge Musik aircraft found the bomber stream flying home from Peenemünde and are believed to have shot down 6 of the bombers lost on the raid.
    8 Mosquitos carried out a highly successful diversion raid on Berlin. 1 aircraft lost.
    18/19 August 1943
    30 OTU Wellingtons on leaflet raids to France without loss.
    19/20 August 1943
    8 Mosquitos to Berlin. 1 aircraft lost.
    22/23 August 1943
    Leverkusen: 462 aircraft - 257 Lancasters, 192 Halifaxes, 13 Mosquitos.
    The IG Farben factory was chosen as the aiming point for this raid and it was hoped that some of the bombs would hit this important place. There was thick cloud over the target area and there was a partial failure of the Oboe signals. Bombs fell over a wide area; at least 12 other towns in and near the Ruhr recorded bomb damage. 3 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes lost, 1.1 per cent of the force.
    12 Mosquitos to the Ruhr and 6 to Hamburg, 47 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Texel, 7 OTU sorties. No losses.
    23/24 August 1943
    727 aircraft - 335 Lancasters, 251 Halifaxes, 124 Stirlings, 17 Mosquitos - despatched to Berlin. The Mosquitos were used to mark various points on the route to Berlin in order to help keep the Main Force on the correct track. A Master Bomber was used; he was Wing Commander JE Fauquier, the Commanding Officer of 405 (Canadian) Squadron. The raid was only partially successful. The Pathfinders were not able to identify the centre of Berlin by H2S and marked an area in the southern outskirts of the city. The Main Force arrived late and many aircraft cut a corner and approached from the south-west instead of using the planned south-south-east approach; this resulted in more bombs falling in open country than would otherwise have been the case. The German defences - both flak and night fighters - were extremely fierce. 56 aircraft - 23 Halifaxes, 17 Lancasters, 16 Stirlings - were lost, 7.9 per cent of the heavy bomber force. This was Bomber Command's greatest loss of aircraft in one night so far in the war.

    40 Wellingtons minelaying in the Frisians and off Lorient and St Nazaire, 22 OTU sorties. No losses.
    24/25 August 1943
    8 Mosquitos to Berlin, 66 aircraft minelaying in the Heligoland, Frisian and Texel areas. No aircraft lost.
    25/26 August 1943
    6 Mosquitos to Berlin, 42 aircraft minelaying off Brest and the Biscay ports, 7 OTU sorties. 1 OTU Wellington lost.
    26/27 August 1943
    32 aircraft minelaying off Brest and the Biscay ports, 1 OTU sortie. No aircraft lost.
    27/28 August 1943
    674 aircraft - 349 Lancasters, 221 Halifaxes, 104 Stirlings - to Nuremburg. 33 aircraft - 11 of each type on the raid - lost, 4.9 per cent of the force.
    The marking for this raid was based mainly on H2S. 47 of the Pathfinder H2S aircraft were ordered to check their equipment by dropping a 1,000-lb bomb on Heilbronn while flying to Nuremberg. 28 Pathfinder aircraft were able to carry out this order. Nuremberg was found to be free of cloud but it was very dark. The initial Pathfinder markers were accurate but a creepback quickly developed which could not be stopped because so many Pathfinder aircraft had difficulties with their H2S sets. The Master Bomber could do little to persuade the Main Force to move their bombing forward; only a quarter of the crews could hear his broadcasts.
    47 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off La Pallice, Lorient and St Nazaire, 10 OTU sorties. 1 Wellington minelayer lost.
    29/30 August 1943
    4 Oboe Mosquitos to Cologne and 4 to Duisburg. 1 aircraft lost.
    30/31 August 1943
    660 aircraft - 297 Lancasters, 185 Halifaxes, 107 Stirlings, 57 Wellingtons, 14 Mosquitos - tasked to carry out a double attack on Mönchengladbach and Rheydt. The visibility was good and the Oboe-assisted marking of both targets was described in Bomber Command's records as 'a model' of good Pathfinder marking. The bombing was very concentrated with little creepback.
    St Omer: This was the first of a series of small raids in which OTU crews bombed ammunition dumps located in various forests of Northern France. A handful of Pathfinder aircraft marked each target and one of the purposes of the raids was to accustom OTU crews to bombing on to markers before being posted to front-line squadrons.
    This raid was carried out by 33 OTU Wellingtons, with the Pathfinders providing 6 Oboe Mosquitos and 6 Halifaxes. The target was a dump in the Forêt d'Eperlecques, just north of St Omer. The bombing was successful and a large explosion was seen. 2 Wellingtons were lost.
    12 Mosquitos to Duisburg, 9 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians. 1 Mosquito lost".
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Now, in my opinion, the raids over italy were non negotiable. we will never know the extent to which the final bombing campoaign against italy affected the italians inclination to surrender, but I think choosing not to bomb the italians is simply not a realistic option. these raids were not particulalry costly either.

    The raids onto Berlin and Nuremberg were costly and not particulalry effective because of navigational issues, whilst the attack onto Berlinwas heavily resisted by the germans. BC simply lacked the strength to tackle a big, well defended city like Berlin.

    I think the best bet was a continuation of the city busting campaign in Northern Germany. By August BC had carried out pretty effective raids on Cologne, Rostock, Lubeck, Hamburg and the Ruhr Valley, including Essen. The key to success was limiting losses whilst maximising damage. Maximum damage was possible on the small to medium towns that were within,, or close to within, range of OBOE. Flattening city after city like Hamburg was hurting German morale. Overall, these 1943 attacks were costing the germans about 17% of their productive capacity and diverting vast amounts of manpower and munitions to flak and civil defence efforts. That seems to be the best usage of BC that I can see.
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #13 stona, Feb 8, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
    Tooze believes that the British bombing which was targeting German production generally was effective through mid 1942 and into 1943. The diversion to the Battle of Berlin let the germans off the hook.

    Tooze specialised in economic history and is well respected in his field. He makes his argument in "The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy".

    If you really want a headache then try "Statistics and the German State, 1900-1945: The Making of Modern Economic Knowledge".

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I know that mr. Tooze wrote the book, Wages of destruction.
    My question would be, re. his claim: how much of the damage was done to the German steel industry prior early 1943?

    I agree with parsifal that BC bombing campaign was draining a significant ammount of men material from front line. I, however, disagree that a shift in target priorities would've be such a 'grandiose' thing. The bombs would still falling to the German war effort, and, providing the attacks are successful, would've harm just about anything, both in Germany proper and in front line.
     
  15. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Jenisch that Tooze link is absolutely terrific - everyone should check it out :)

    Thanks,

    MM
     
  16. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #16 michaelmaltby, Feb 8, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
    ".. I, however, disagree that a shift in target priorities would've be such a 'grandiose' thing. The bombs would still falling to the German war effort, and, providing the attacks are successful, would've harm just about anything, both in Germany proper and in front line."

    Tooze explains that rather well. He says that the Ruhr was at the beginning of Germany's production process [supply chain] while Berlin was at the final end of the production process. AND - the Ruhr was close for bombers compared to Berlin. Destroy or cripple the Ruhr and you damage and hamper EVERY German industrial process to a greater or lesser degree.

    MM
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Berlin was not 'at the final end of the production process'. Submarines were built at North Baltic sea, machinery at MAN (Bavaria), guns were being produced in Ruhr, airplanes all around Germany. What Berlin had, that Ruhr had not? Appeal. It was thinkering like this: we will loose so much bombers while bombing Berlin, but Germany will loose the war. But it was not to be, Battle of Berln was won by the Germans. Here I agree with you: Berlin was much a farther target than Ruhr, and I agree that Ruhr is obviously a closer target, too.

    Now, mr. Tooze does not explain, in the web page Jenisch kindly posted, just how much damage BC made to German steel production, prior early 1943, so my question still stands.
     
  18. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Listen tomo pauk, no one is suggesting that submarines were built in Berlin. Tooze is simply comparing the Ruhr as a central resource processing and refining zone (coal, steel, synthetical fuel from coal etc.) to other centre's that held aviation complexes, or electronics complexes. These "value added" industries needn't be picked off one by one if you are able to severely cripple the source of their resources - the Ruhr. Berlin was an ideological target as well as a strategic one. Stalingrad showed what happens when you let politics over ride pragmatism.

    ".. just how much damage BC made to German steel production, prior early 1943" Ask Mr. Tooze, he's not dead :).

    MM
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Good advice :)
     
  20. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    And London...
    Seems BC didn't learn from the German's BoB failure.
     
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