Modelling the six Anglo-American Bombing raids on Hamburg 24 July to 2nd August

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For my youtube channel I'm aiming to do a documentary on the six Anglo-American bombing raids on Hamburg in the summer of 1943, which included the (in)famous firestorm that killed 40,000 people. The aim will be to tell the story of the crews, civilians, the plans and the results and the aftermath.

So July 24th, 1943 - Bomber Command Raid #1:

The "Battlefield"



Flight plan:

Rough flight path

Bomber Commands forces:


Roughly 1 model = 10 real life aircraft

Lancaster model:

Halifax II - with Z-fairing over the nose and lacking dorsal turret


Stirling Mk III


Orange pins to show rough approximation where RAF bombers were shot down (based on Theo Boiten's "Nachtjagd Combat Archives" books)


Approximate coverage of German Giant Wurzburg Radar



How I am going to show WINDOW being dispensed, which was used to Jam the Wurzburg radar shown above:


Yellow Route markers laid by pathfinders to concentrate main-force bombers prior to bomb run.



This is about where I am currently.
This looks like a huge project, going to be a long time watching this grow. :D

To a certain extent. A lot of what I use here will be interchangable with the other RAF raids. Same maps, same models, same effects. I should be able to reuse a lot of stuff I setup on the first map. Only real difference will be the crash markers and the routing, plus the actual bombing map where I animate the bombing.

The USAAF still will be new as I've never modelled the American side of things before. I'm especially unsure at the moment how I'm going to show the fight vs bomber combat in that one.
German night fighters patrolling their "Himmelbett" boxes. An estimated 115 night fighters were up this night (i'm not adding 115 night fighters in blender), but all "chained" to their boxes. By this point the Luftwaffe was starting to bring systems online to control multiple fighters in each box instead of one, which probably would have ended RAF bombers Commands offensive as 1 fighter per box had already been causing them 4.5% losses in this period. Several boxes did have 2 or 3 night fighters operating this night, but it was still a work in progress when WINDOW destroyed the whole rigid CGI system. Though German freelance night fighting would eventually take over, it was far less efficient and then the rigid CGI system. Bomber Command's "fear" of the GCI system is why they kept the bomber stream into 1944 since they recognized the German Freelance fighter system needed 5-6x more night fighters to achieve comparable results to what the German system had done from March to July 1943.



Some search lights over Hamburg. The bombing will be shown on a more detailed map so this is just for some flavor:


Weather - Cloud over the channel apparently. I'll have the clouds disappear at some point since rendering times go from 1 frame every .5 seconds to 1 frame every 30 seconds with volumes. But I like to show/talk about the weather since it was a very important part in why raids often succeeded or failed. In this case Bomber Command had ideal bombing conditions that night. The clouds broke up before they got to Hamburg and they had clear skies for path-finding and bombing.



So the route map is done for the first raid.

Flying in showing weather, radar boxes and night fighters.

Radar boxes and weather "Turned off" at this point in the animation to improve rendering times and show window and bombers over Hamburg.

Bombers heading home and loss markers (orange - RAF, Green - Luftwaffe)

So the bombing map now. Putting two different bomb plotting map over the topographical map. This way I can roughly plot bomb fall and also have it evolved over the raid. Based off the written report the raid started off pretty accurately, but about 15 minutes in it began to drift significantly to the North West. Probably about half the bombers got their bombs within the city limits this night.


Bomb photos that could be plotted - first ten minutes (1:00 to 1:10am) of the raid in red:

(1:11am to 1:20am)

(1:21am to 1:30am)

You can see the creepback to the NW happening as described in the report. However plenty of aircraft were still dropping bombs on hamburg, but because so much would be burning the images would show nothing but fire and smears, so they couldn't be accurately plotted. So these plotting maps can be a bit misleading. It will often look like most bombers "missed" because the areas where bombs fell that were not burning can be plotted more often then not.
Can you do the Battle of Midway next? I'm asking for a friend.

The youtube channels "Montemayor" and "Operations Room" both have excellent animated recreations of the Battle of Midway. I highly recommend checking out their videos. I couldn't do any better than that to be honest, and I'm not knowledgeable on the United States Navy anyways.
Using the second bomb plotting map which has a lot more plots but no timings, I've yellowed out the concentrations of bombing and used orange circles to identify all the pathfinder marks. I also traced out the aiming circles, each circle being a mile from the next.


The final map:


So taking the map I made and putting it into blender, I've roughly laid out where I will have the Target Indicators fall based on the bomb plotting maps. Some of them I can time to deploy approximately when they did historically, others will be pure guess work since there is only vague info in the sources. Generally the Yellows and Reds went down early on in the attack as per the plan and were fairly accurate. The green backers up TIs went down throughout but after the first 15 minutes crept back to the NW and was partially responsible for leading the latter half of the bomber force to deposit their bombs outside Hamburgs city limits. This creep back didn't happen 2 nights later when the infamous firestorm happened, that bombing that night was much more concentrated.

Anyways all the TIs are currently bursting at frame zero, so I'll need to adjust it so they burst throughout the ~6000-9000 frame bombing animation (at roughly 30 frames a second - 200 to 300 second animation depending on how everything works)


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