BRITAIN 1939 – 1945: THE ECONOMIC COST OF STRATEGIC BOMBING

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/664/2/adt-NU20050104.11440202whole.pdf
    A great read. Provides serious economic analysis of what the strategic bombing effort cost Britain. If you don't want to read the entire report just read the conclusion which is only a few pages in length.

    Bottom Line.
    WWII Britain spent 12.19% of the military budget on strategic bombing.

    Bomber Command Casualties.
    57,143 dead.
    9,162 wounded.
    12,867 POW or missing.
     
  2. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Looks like quite the epic. Have saved it for a rainy day read.
     
  3. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #3 michaelmaltby, Oct 31, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
    ".... WWII Britain spent 12.19% of the military budget on strategic bombing....

    Bomber Command Casualties.
    57,143 dead.
    9,162 wounded.
    12,867 POW or missing....."


    Is that good? Or is that bad, DB? Is it expensive for what it achieved ...? Or a bargain. Over 4 years it's a trifle by some WW1 conflicts that lasted only days or weeks.

    By what standards does one judge these matters ... :) 1,000's of Commonwealth aircrew were trained in Canada for that mission. And 1,000's of Canadians flew and were lost on that mission. But there was no "revolt" on the pointless mission. Rather the opposite, both here in Canada and closer to home, Britain, where suffering had a context, the mission was "popular". Night after night, wave after wave, making the Germans suffer. Any other context than that, DB, is just revisionist, after-the-fact, academic pin-dancing.

    So what exactly is your point about the economic cost of RAF-Commonwealth bombing of Germany ....?

    MM
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    :confused:
    I have provided historical data for those interested in such things without adding any personal judgement.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Its intersting that it cost 12.1% of military spending overall . This was a number ive known about for some years now. but it needs to be put into context.

    Firstly, what was the cost of German countermeasures, and what impact did the bombing have on German economic potential.

    I will have to dig out the figures, but to kick off the debate and give some context to it, ill offer the following. About 40% of the german budget on Fighters was spent on night Fighters. About 80% of artillery production was spent on flak. Vast resources were spent on electronic countermeasures and detection equipment. Vast numbers of aircrew were lost in the night battle.

    A conservative guesstimate on German countermeasures expenditure countering the bomber offensive is that about 50-60% of its military spending was spent trying to counter it. Thiis is on the basis that just under 50% of Reich miltary spending was spent on the aircraft production. About 60% of the army budget was spent on artillery production, (and as a percentage of the overall military spending program, army spending was about 40% of total expenditures, as illustrated by the more than 1 million men used up manning the flak batteries in the reich equal to about 10-15% of total manpower availability) ) with about 80% of the artillery procurement program being for AA guns . If we assume about 70% of the aircraft procurement budget was spent on fighters (and of that about 40% was on NF procurement) and about 60% of the artillery procurement, and say 10% of the overall budget on radars and countermeasures.

    Putting all these percentages of percentages together, we arrive at a figure of about 35-40% of the german miltary spending expended trying to stop the british Bombers and somewhere in the order of 15% of their manpower. Thats before we consider the impact on actual production. In 1944, a post war british study (separate to the USSBS figures) estimated lost production due to RAF bombing to be around 17%. In 1943 it was around 12%. I dont know what it might be for the entire war, but would not be surprised if the figure comes to about 10% of the german war effort.

    So, if we add the 35% expended voluntarily, and add the 10-15% taken as a result of bomb damage, the Germans are expending close to 50% of their war potential (before bombing) on countering the british Bombers. Not a bad effort for a 12.1% outlay of ones own resources. as far as casualties are concerned. Bomber commands losses were heavy, but if they were tying down 50% of german war effort for most of the war, thats a price worth paying IMO......

    Britain did a further postwar study that looked at the pecent of damage of key urban areas in Germany that could be attributed to RAF efforts. since for most of the war, most of military production was centred around these cities, it brings into even sharper focus the effects of British bombing on the Nazi war potential



    RAF estimates of destruction of "built up areas" of major German cities
    * = population over 500,000 Berlin*
    Cologne* 61
    Dortmund* 54
    Dresden* 59
    Düsseldorf* 64
    Essen* 50
    Frankfurt* 52
    Hamburg* 75
    Leipzig* 20
    Munich* 42
    Bochum 83
    Bremen 60
    Chemnitz 41
    Dessau 61
    Duisburg 48
    Hagen 67
    Hannover 60
    Kassel 69
    Kiel 50
    Mainz 80
    Magdeburg 41
    Mannheim 64
    Nuremberg 51
    Stettin 53
    Stuttgart 46




    "The ultimate aim of an attack on a town area is to break the morale of the population which occupies it. To ensure this, we must achieve two things: first, we must make the town physically uninhabitable and, secondly, we must make the people conscious of constant personal danger. The immediate aim, is therefore, twofold, namely, to produce (i) destruction and (ii) fear of death."


    During the first few months of the area bombing campaign, an internal debate within the British government about the most effective use of the nation's limited resources in waging war on Germany continued. Should the Royal Air Force (RAF) be scaled back to allow more resources to go to the British Army and Royal Navy or should the strategic bombing option be followed and expanded? An influential paper was presented to support the bombing campaign by Professor Frederick Lindemann, the British government's leading scientific adviser, justifying the use of area bombing to "dehouse" the German workforce as the most effective way of reducing their morale and affecting enemy war production."

    Mr. Justice Singleton, a High Court Judge, was asked by Cabinet to look into the competing points of view. In his report, delivered on 20 May 1942, he concluded, "If Russia can hold Germany on land I doubt whether Germany will stand 12 or 18 months’ continuous, intensified and increased bombing, affecting, as it must, her war production, her power of resistance, her industries and her will to resist (by which I mean morale)". In the end, thanks in part to the dehousing paper, it was this view which prevailed and Bomber Command would remain an important component of the British war effort up to the end of World War II.

    Until 1944, the effect on German production was remarkably small and raised doubts whether it was wise to divert so much effort—the response being there was nowhere else the effort could have been applied, as readily, to greater effect.

    Lindemann was liked and trusted by Winston Churchill, who appointed him the British government's leading scientific adviser with a seat in the Cabinet. In 1942, Lindemann presented the "dehousing paper" to the Cabinet showing the effect that intensive bombing of German cities could produce. It was accepted by the Cabinet and Air Marshal Harris was appointed to carry out the task. It became an important part of the total war waged against Germany. Professor Lindemann's paper put forward the theory of attacking major industrial centres in order to deliberately destroy as many homes and houses as possible. Working class homes were to be targeted because they had a higher density and fire storms were more likely. This would displace the German workforce and reduce their ability to work. His calculations (which were questioned at the time, in particular by Professor P. M. S. Blackett of the Admiralty operations research department, expressly refuting Lindemann's conclusions) showed the RAF's Bomber Command would be able to destroy the majority of German houses located in cities quite quickly. The plan was highly controversial even before it started, but the Cabinet thought that bombing was the only option available to directly attack Germany (as a major invasion of the continent was almost two years away), and the Soviets were demanding that the Western Allies do something to relieve the pressure on the Eastern Front. Few in Britain opposed this policy, but there were three notable opponents in Parliament, Bishop George Bell and the Labour MPs Richard Stokes and Alfred Salter.

    On 14 February 1942, the Area bombing directive was issued to Bomber Command
    ."

    So bombing as practiced by the RAF is indeed controversial in terrms of its effects and effectiveness, to say nothing of its morality. to me, however, there is no moral issue, and all the costs and benefits of bombing should be considered before passing judgement on it. My conclusion is that it 9bombing) was unerestimated in its overall effects, and i dont buy the morality issue, given the totality of the war, started and prosecuted by the germans according to their own dictates....
     
  6. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    kind of hope this thread is shut down before it gets out of hand.

    after reading DB's comment on bomber command in the game changers thread i am not sure what point he is trying to make
     
  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The truth will win out in the finish. Be courageous. be fearless
     
  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #8 michaelmaltby, Nov 1, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
    ".... I have provided historical data for those interested in such things without adding any personal judgement."

    Data without context is meaningful in what way .....? :)

    If we look at German aircraft production post-1941 (when flat-out wartime production took effect), it is obvious that greater resources were applied to night fighters. That was effort that could have been expended in other ways (e.g. better Jabos for the Eastern Front). USAAF daylight raids forced the Germans up in daylight to fight. RAF nighttime raids forced the Germans up at night to fight, and ensured that no one was safe or sleeping well.

    I suggest, DB, that you lay out the RAF mission beside the USAAF mission - both were very costly in lives and material and neither had a great track record for accuracy. That would be a meaningful "context" :).

    MM
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    UK/Commonwealth could afforded night bombing campaign, much more than Germans could afforded battling the campaign.
     
  10. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    dave,

    What oblique point are you trying to make?

    'The military budget' you mention wasn't really that...it was everything we had and more thanks to our allies.

    John
     
  11. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Does that study include 6 group , if so then the study is flawed as 6Group was not paid for by UK
     
  12. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Lets hope it does not come to that.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Whose estimate? The U.S. Government reached a completely different conclusion.

    Proportions of the principal branches of the total value of armament production.
    U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey: Tank Industry Report
     
  14. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    so is this a debate about where the money was best spent or ?
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I found an interesting and well researched paper on RAF Bomber Command that I thought others might like to read also. No debate from my perspective. However this forum is freewheeling enough that others might start a debate using the research paper as a starting point.
     
  16. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #16 michaelmaltby, Nov 1, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
    IS THIS A DEBATE

    ".... Britain just needs to change priorities from firebombing civilian property to defeating the enemy submarine threat..." [DB "Game Changers"]

    ".... I found an interesting and well researched paper on RAF Bomber Command that I thought others might like to read also. No debate from my perspective. However this forum is freewheeling enough that others might start a debate using the research paper as a starting point."

    Yes you did, DB, and we thank you for it. When was it written? I haven't verified its publish date but I expect post WW2.** [edit] [post 2004 publication at the earliest according to the bibliography ] Certainly that is the case for your most recent treasure :) (seriously) US Army on German Production. Publish Year 1947. "The US Army " is just writing the "History" of their "achievements".

    Fine, Dave, history needs that up to a point ... but beyond that ... in war it's the emotional reality of the present that matters. (Think seige of Leningrad, think Malta).

    Hence:

    "... By what standards does one judge these matters ... 1,000's of Commonwealth aircrew were trained in Canada for that mission. And 1,000's of Canadians flew and were lost on that mission. But there was no "revolt" on the pointless mission. Rather the opposite, both here in Canada and closer to home, Britain, where suffering had a context, the mission was "popular". Night after night, wave after wave, making the Germans suffer. Any other context than that, DB, is just revisionist (circa 2004, PhD candidate), after-the-fact, academic pin-dancing."
    :)

    MM
    Proud Canadian
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    no they did not. They reached the conclusion that by direct attacks, production was mostly affected after the second half of 1944. The extract you have presented of the USSBS points out that resources were already being expended to bomb proof the german Tank Industry from 1943, through dispersal moslty....but this in itself required the expenditure of resources and a loss of production. further, what the USSBS does not assess in all that much detail are the losses of actual production versus the planned production. neither does this article look at the resources diverted to defences both passive an active, in countering the bombing threat. by 1943, for example, more than 150000 workers were employed constantly just to repair bomb damage to the petrochemical industry. by the beginning of 1944, prior to the Us bomber offensive kicking in, over 700000 workers were occupied continuously repairing damage being inflicted by bomber Command. By the middle of the year this figure had grown by another 300000 or so. You can hardly say this is not an insignificant effect, moreover its a cost not factored into the USSBS. Thats one of the problems with that document....populist, US-centric, incomplete.
     
  18. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    It seems to me that the Area Bombardment/De-housing which is about flattening cities and killing civilians to a significant degree was in part motivated by the inaccuracy of night bombing and the inability of Bomber command aircraft to survive in enemy airspace: the Lancaster/Halifax/Sterling were all ill-conceived designs that ignored the importance of speed in minimizing vulnerability to FLAK and fighter interception and the development of radar.

    However I suspect carpet bombing was in part a desirable tactic on its own. In addition, Cherwell/Lindemann was known to some its said for a pathological hatred of Germans (despite his education there).

    I suspect once the campaign was started Bomber Command got tunnel vision and the aircraft and technologies needed to provide accurate bombing just were promoted.

    For instance:
    1 There were no fast heavy bombers developed or even conceived of. The desire to carry city flattening loads took precedence.
    2 The only accurate bombing systems were the transponder based methods such as Oboe, micro-H, Gee-H, EGON-II etc. The over the horizon versions of oboe that worked via orbiting aircraft were never developed, despite being in a reasonable stage of readiness by 1943.


    Britain never suffered a full blown revenge attack from developed V weapons however the V2 and V1 campaigns were specifically exercised as counter terror weapons to try and negotiate and end to allied bombing and this could have come back to bite.

    I should point out that both the V1 and V2 had accurate guidance methods in a fairly advanced stage.

    The V2 had a system called vollzirkel that used a columned beam riding system, combined with Doppler speed and transponder range measurement to get a re-entry withing 500m (probably degrade an additional 500m due to high altitude winds) (this is not the less accurate viktoria hawaii single dimensional beam system)

    The V1 had a system based upon the missile sending out a single pulse which three ground stations evaluated by trilateration (GPS in reverse). It involved a mid-course up date
    that was correlated in an endless loop tape for jam resistance: it was called Ewald II/Sauerkirsche II. The stations had begun to be built.

    Note V1's from Jan 1945 could do 500mph at sea level and were essentially unintereptable
    The V2 and the German, Russian and ... - C. Reuter - Google Books

    The winged V2 (A4b) was potentially the most accurate system. A Wasserman radar on its side called "Wasserspiel" was to guide it to 180m of a target using mid-course update guidance and had a over the horizon range due to the missiles height at re-entry.
     
  19. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... Britain never suffered a full blown revenge attack from developed V weapons however the V2 and V1 campaigns were specifically exercised as counter terror weapons to try and negotiate and end to allied bombing and this could have come back to bite."

    I'm not quite sure what your point is with this statement, Siegfried. The Germans used V weapons to the extend that they were able to use V weapons ... for example, once Antwerp was in Allied hands it became a target. I hope you're not suggesting some kind of "restraint" on the part of the German leadership ..... because (gas attacks aside) the record really doesn't support German restraint. :)

    MM
     
  20. Hop

    Hop Member

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    Yes, area bombing was seen as an effective tactic.

    Remember Britain had been on the receiving end of heavy German bombing, first aimed attacks against military/industrial targets in daylight, then area bombing using lots of incendiaries at night. The view in Britain was that the night area bombing had caused more damage.

    Here's part of a letter sent by Herschel Johnson, a US diplomat, to the US Secretary of State, regarding the Luftwaffe bombing of Britain:

    This is from a briefing to the war cabinet, 24 December 1940 (The Coventry raid was in mid November)

    I'm not sure it was "city flattening loads" so much as just a desire to carry as much tonnage as possible. All the experience in WW2 showed that any target required a lot of bombs, because so few actually hit.
     
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