Tatical vs strategic bombing

Discussion in 'Polls' started by Xdominick97, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Xdominick97

    Xdominick97 New Member

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    What do you think is better
     
  2. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    None. Both are necessary.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    As above.They are two entirely different things,the objectives of one can not be realised by the other.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  4. Jerry W. Loper

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    Apples and oranges. The targets of strategic bombing lay hundreds of miles beyond enemy lines, while the targets of tactical bombers were military targets just beyond the enemy lines. IOW, tactical bombers when you think about it were basically artillery with a little more reach.
     
  5. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Strategic, ie., think strategy. What are your eventual goal and how do you reach them. Your strategy is the future. Tactical, think tactics. What are you doing now to impliment the goal of your overall strategy. Tactical is now.
    So as everyone has stated, there is no better. Which is better, your left hand or your right?
     
  6. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Do you want to bomb the gun before it gets delivered to the front, or bomb the gun at the front?

    I don't agree that both are strictly necessary in a WW2 setting, with the major proviso that you're not engaged in a protracted campaign. You can probably get away with a tactically focused bomber force at the expense of a strategic air arm - Germany did so early in the war and the Soviets did so pretty much through the entire war.

    The reverse isn't true though. Its pretty hard to ignore tactical aviation and focus exclusively on strategic aviation, especially if you're involved in a ground campaign.

    To my mind, no side got it exactly right during WW2.

    Germany's tactically focused air force came up short in the second half of 1940 and through 1941 when pressed into strategic roles against the UK. It was also found wanting when the Soviet Union relocated its production eastwards. The Soviets essentially gave up on strategic aviation after some disappointing initial raids in 1941/1942, and pursued a 'semi-strategic' air war only in the closing 10-12 months of the war.

    Considering the limitations of the technology, the US and British put too much emphasis on strategic aviation. Yes, I understand that strategic considerations dictated much of their decisions - the UK/USAAF in the ETO had the luxury of sitting behind the English Channel and the USAAF did its island hopping through the Pacific - but tactical air forces equipped with dedicated ground attack aircraft (dive bombers, armoured ground attackers with heavy cannon) would have been more useful than single-seat fighters pressed into tactical roles. The bomber barons were unwilling to relinquish resources for their heavy bombers for tactical airforces - a clash of doctrines as much as anything else.
     
  7. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #7 oldcrowcv63, Mar 29, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    Succinctly put. I would add that the less you engage in a Strategic campaign the larger must your tactical air arm be and it must operate under a higher op tempo, because the enemy's gun production is undiminished and will most likely increase. (as you point out, essentially what the Russians did to the Germans)


    I would argue that the US and GB took the pressure of mounting a strategic campaign off the Russians while helping to provide them the massive (lend lease) tac air force necessary for their campaigns. In other words, The US and GB provided much the same capability and service as would have been provided a russian strategic air arm. Of course, IIUC, as soon as they got hold of a B-29 they copied it to give them the capability to do what their allies were doing.

    I would suggest that a simple Strat and Tac binary division over-simplifies the reality. There is Close Air Support (just over the front line), Battlefield Interdiction (in the rear areas of the front), and Strategic Bombing (attacking the enemy's industrial capacity). BI can be and was accomplished very effectively by both Tacair and Stratair assets. However, WW2 era CAS cannot be done effectively by strategic aircraft. As an example of Strat aircraft employed in BI, consider the losses suffered by the Wehrmacht armor to B-17s and B-24s in the rear areas of Normandy as they attempted to rally for a counterattack. I believe ETO Tacair activities were most heavily dedicated to BI while in the PTO it seems to me CAS was at a premium. PTO logistics being so heavily water borne made TAC air assets devoted to BI somewhat more specialized (dive bombers and VPB assets and Kenny's modified medium bombers. I think I have the history correct. If not, I am sure someone more knowedgable will correct it.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The lines between Tactical and strategic are blurred. its largely a construct, a chinese wall to separate operations of a localised or immediate nature and operations undertaken at a distance from the front. Most strategic operations targetted the same or similar targets as so-called tactical targets. strategic bombing in its final form was about getting the LW to come up and fight as it was about dmaging the industrial complex.

    Similalry, even though tactical bombing was about damaging the local infrastructure like roads airfields, ports, it was more about gaining control of the skies and dominating the opponents air forces and airspace.

    Both mission types had the same profiles, the same objectives, often the same outcomes.

    Its a different issue to compare direct ground support and level bombing. inevitably direct support is about divevombing. Divebombing has inherent accuracy advantages, but it also makes the aircraft undertaking that mission more vulnerable
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    A nations industrial-military complex is surely not a tactical target.

    The later USAAF objective of getting the Luftwaffe to come up and fight in order to destroy it was almost an accidental strategic objective stumbled upon at as a result of other failiures in the strategic bombing campaign.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There are of course difference, but my point is where are the demarcations. Strategic operations included attacks on Marshalling yards, military depots headquaters, rail lines, communications networks, radar systems, roads, bridges dams....you name it. I can come up with exactly the same list for operations once might normally term "tactical" missions

    Clearly targetting the nations petrochemical industry does not have a clear tactical equivalent. then again, the tactical air forces worked tirelessly to reduce POL availability at the front, including attacks on refining and tanker capabilities. It was primarily a tactical air force that forced the fuel crisies on the IJN and in occupioed France. Admittedly the methods of achieving the outcome were different, but the results were very similar whatever the pathway followed.

    Strategic bombing in the popular vernacular has come to mean direct and sustained attacks against the home country's war making ability....its industry, its infrastructure, its population even its military potential. Tactical is usually about attacks outside the enemies home country, but thats a very loose and imprecise definition. Does that mean, for example that the raids over Ploesti were "tactical". Similalry, were the airfield and flak suppression missions over Germany in 1945 "strategic" The answer is no in both cases
     
  11. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #11 oldcrowcv63, Mar 30, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    Pars, I think you are right about the blurring of catagories. It seems to me at least, that any definition that attempts to rigorously define any specific delineation is doomed to failure: The examples of blurred lines are numerous:
    In general I'd offer the following as a non-rigorous arbitary delineation: Bombing the factory making the tanks used at the front is Strategic, bombing the tank-laden trains and trucks transporting them to the front or even the self propelled movement of tanks toward the front: Battlefield Interdiction.... Bombing the tanks at the front: Close Air Support. So is it relative proximity to the front that defines the catagories or is it the specific mission or the aircraft flying the missions?

    For an example consider PBY Black Cats bombing transports bringing supplies to Japanese troops on their island strongholds could be described as BI. Whereas USN submarines enforcing the blockade of Japan are typically portrayed as waging a strategic campaign. However, it is just as likely the subs were shooting at outbound transports (that would ultimately become targets for PBYs) as inbound, making them apparently contributors to the tactical campaign. Distance is not an absolute criteria any more than mission classification or aircraft type. But very often a combination of the three considerations can give you a clue as to which class it falls in. sometimes... sometimes I expect not. I am going to call upon a higher (and probably more current) authority to contribute to this thread...

    I think Battlefield Interdiction may be a dated term and is now supplanted by another, perhaps more useful, term but dam*ed if I can remember what it is....
     
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