The Eastern Front and Germany's lack of a long range heavy bomber.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by DogFather, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. DogFather

    DogFather New Member

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    #1 DogFather, Jun 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
    The SU (Soviet Union) was able to pack up factories and move them out of range of German bombers. It is said the lack of a long range heavy
    bomber is the reason for this. The Luftwaffe was also not able to stop forces coming from Siberia to help defend Moscow. I would think German
    forces could have at least attacked the railroad tracks, which would have stopped some of this movement of men and equipment. I would think
    setting up new airfields closer to the targets would also have been possible.

    The Luftwaffe did bomb Moscow, so they did get fairly close. They had a four engine plane, that started life as an airliner. The Fw 200 Condor.
    It was used for recon in the Battle of the Atlantic and in some cases as a bomber. My understanding is that very few were made. It would seem
    like they could have built more without too much trouble or modified a different bomber, to give it more range (like the US did with the VLR Liberator).

    Any ideas on why these things were not done, or were they tried and failed maybe? It was pretty clear Germany needed to defeat the SU, before
    the resources of the US, started playing a role in the war. Well, at least some people knew that reality.
     
  2. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I think they just thought they'd have had a much easier time of it. Had they succeeded, and Japan delivered from the other end, their Eastern front is neutralized.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Cost.

    Heavy bombers are very expensive to build and operate. German defense budget had higher priorities.
     
  4. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    part of the problem is the Russia is actually huge. Around 700-900 miles from Moscow to the Urals compared to 580 miles from London to Berlin. Russia is not easy to navigate over, some times hundreds of miles between major cities/landmarks.

    As for bombing railroads. Plain rail line is actually not that hard to repair. It often took 24 hours or less to repair a direct hit on a rail line by a large (500-1000lb) bomb.

    Switch yards are another story as many switch yards were laid out rather precisely, switches have to work or you get derailments and the yards themselves were often laid out either dead level or with a slight hump (hump yards) so a few men could actually shift a car or once over the hump, gravity was used to move cars along the tracks and to the proper siding. Switch yards/marshaling yards are were trains are broken up and reformed so the right cars coming from various locations are formed into the proper trains going to new locations. If there is a slight dip or hump in the main line track it may make the ride a bit rough but does not decrease the carrying capacity of the line. Rough switchyards can affect the through put even if the tracks are replaced.

    177308.jpg

    Switchyard is a lot easier to hit too :)
     
  6. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Precisely because it was originally designed as an airliner, the Fw 200 Condor was to weak structurally to be used as a heavy bomber. Even those used for long range reconnaissance and with modest bomb load and defensive armament often broke their back on landing as it can be seen on many pictures.
     
  7. redcoat

    redcoat Active Member

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    In the lead up to the war, a shortage of resources and bottlenecks within the aircraft industry in Germany forced a choice on the Luftwaffe leadership, either a large tactical bomber force or a smaller mix of tactical and strategic bombers, but not both.

    So the question on whether the Germans should have built a strategic bomber force is redundant, they were never in the position of being able to build a large enough strategic bomber force capable of achieving any significant results.
     
  8. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    They built 1200 of the non-functional He177s during WW2. Having it work in the form of the He177B and they are good to go; the real issue if fuel though.
     
  9. redcoat

    redcoat Active Member

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    Couldn't agree more about the fuel, but 1200 heavy bombers even if they were available at the same time instead of over a couple of years is nowhere near large enough to form the basis of a effective strategic bomber force.
     
  10. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Against Germany, by US standards, sure. Against the USSR as a support force for attacks on their very concentrated electrical infrastructure and certain vulnerable industrial targets (oil refining, synthetic rubber, aviation engines, potentially even steel) it would be extremely useful and helpful. Even just as a 'fleet in being' effect of forcing the Soviets to guard against the potential threat of a German strategic bombardment would cause a massive shift in resources to defense away from offense, just as the Germans had against the RAF and USAAF. Plus the Soviets had a very huge area to defend so couldn't afford to build up anything integrated, rather only point defenses on a huge number of potential targets.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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  12. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    Training the thousands of crew needed..... fuel in quantity, necessity of huge and calm airspace and airports......
     
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  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Yes indeed, ten of thousands, over a hundred thousand for the RAF alone, most with secondary education who must be found from somewhere. Britain was able to draw on the resources of a Commonwealth with large numbers of men from the 'Old Commonwealth' in particular. The crew of many bombers comprised such men from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and then there were the Canadians comprising about 20% of Bomber Command crews. We should not forget the numerous other nations, Commonwealth and otherwise who contributed too.
    This is just aircrew. For every man in the air there were several on the ground.
    This was simply not possible for the Germans.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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  14. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    #14 wiking85, Jun 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
    I think an overstrength Geschwader is about what the Germans could support in the field, something like 120-150 aircraft by 1943. That's plenty for Eisenhammer, given that Germany was planning on using that many or slightly more twin engine bombers for that mission in 1944.

    Bombing Germany is not bombing the USSR; the Soviets were highly concentrated in production of everything, including electricity, so were highly vulnerable in a way that Germany was not with its dispersed production. Perhaps comparable is the bombing of the German synthetic oil facilities, though even these were more dispersed than the Soviet electrical industry. 120 strategic bombers with the payload of the He177B would have been enough to achieve that mission.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    This is simply not true. Even if the targets are relatively concentrated they still have to be hit. The further the bombers flew, and the less able they were to rely on electronic aids the less likely they were to find the targets, let alone hit them. Even in 1944/45, on longer raids, the RAF and USAAF were occasionally bombing the wrong cities not the wrong factories. That was with the benefit of many years experience.

    120 He 177s would have had no significant effect whatsoever on Soviet production in my opinion. The occasional inconvenience for sure, but in terms of total Soviet output, irrelevant. It would certainly not have been enough to force the Soviets to jump through the kinds of hoops that the Germans did to disperse and protect their production facilities, nor would it force them to commit the vast resources to air defence that the Germans did.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  16. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The targets for Eisenhammer were near clearly identifiable physical features; the targets could be hit by daylight and the Soviets lacked an integrated defense system, so would only have point defense by some of these targets. I've read the planning documents for Eisenhammer, as they have been published in English by Richard Muller in "The German Air War in Russia" and "The Luftwaffe's Way of War". It was certainly doable with 120 strategic bombers had they been available in June 1943. Especially as the He177B would have been able to use its full warload of 6 SD1000 bombs on all of these targets from bases available at that time due to the relatively close proximity. Add in a Geschwader or two of Ju188 or Do217s with incendiaries to follow up and the targets would have been taken out.

    Operation Eisenhammer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  17. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    #17 Elmas, Jun 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
    The word "concentrated" has a different meaning in Russia than in Europe: where in U.K. or Germany factories occupied a couple of acres, tens, in the best case, in Russia factories occupied hundreds, if not thousands of acres, with lots of void space in between. Space is not a problem in Russia.
    So I seriously doubt that 120 flying bombers ( that means at least 240 on the front line, that means a capacity factor of 50%, extremely high in a front like Russia in war conditions, with airplanes that never went out of theeting problems: and not to speak of training) could have obtained the necessary bombing saturation not to destroy completely the factories, but just to do significant damage.
    And that in the best possible condition; daylight, not efficient A.A. or fighters, perfect identification of the targets etc.
    Luftwaffe made simply a multiplication: how may bombs per acre to destroy the XY target? How many acres?
    The result was a very conspicuous number......
    And this was mainly the reason why Germans so much insisted on dive bombing, as a better accuracy implies less bombs and less airplanes. The result of this doctrine are well known.
    The whole of the 8th A.F. could not succeed in destroying the Schweinfurt ball bearings factory completely.....
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    A small number of aircraft, which is all the Luftwaffe could have fielded, would have been very lucky to do any significant damage even to such a target, assuming that they could find it.
    The British and I assume the Americans, did similar calculations to those mentioned above and it was the basis for the decision to employ ever larger numbers of bombers. By dropping literally thousands of bombs they had a reasonable, they thought, chance of actually hitting something that mattered. When this didn't work very well the solution was to burn down whole swathes of a city by dropping ever higher percentages of incendiary munitions.Again this assumes that the attacking force has succeeded in navigating to the correct place, by no means a given.
    There is a general tendency to over estimate both the radius and level of damage caused by high explosive bombs, particularly against machinery and factory installations.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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  19. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    #19 wiking85, Jun 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
    The issue for the Germans is not to totally destroy the target, just destroy enough of the irreplaceable machinery in the power stations to render them inoperable; looking at the raids on Schweinfurt, the first one included 230 bombers (183 made the attack) with about two tons of bombs each, rather than 120 He177Bs with 6 tons each. Using the Norden bombsight they cut out 34% of production; the Germans were forced to disperse their production as a result.

    The Germans had the Lotfernrohr 7D, which was copied from the Norden, but simplified and improved and in large numbers by 1943; plus the Fritz-X and Hs-293 were available for strategic bombing by then too. For Eisenhammer the Luftwaffe also were going to use the AB1000 cluster bombs with incendiaries on the target after the SD 1000 armor piercing bombs wrecked the machinery; they were expecting about a 33% hit rate on the target with even less striking the machinery in question, but that would sufficient to damage it enough to render it useless; total destruction was unnecessary. The incendiaries would complete the damage to make it irreparable, which, given the lack of repair facilities once the ones in Leningrad were bombed out in 1941, then they would need to wait for the US to make all new equipment and ship it to them, which would take a minimum of 12 months until they could start to ship replacements.

    For this it was estimated that 4x 90 aircraft sortees would be needed, but these aircraft were He111s or Ju88s, which had a 2 ton maximum (2 SD1000s or 2 AB1000s) payload for the ranges involved (or less depending on the furthest targets). Using the 6 tons of the He177s fewer sortees/aircraft would be necessary and all of the 3 target areas (with three targets each and the Rybansk reservoir adding two more) it could have been accomplished by the He177s alone in a week; add another Geschwader of He111s, Ju88/188s, or Do217s and its done in a matter of days. The electrical targets were so concentrated that two Geschwader could have handled them, something the USAAF and RAF did not have the luxury of in Germany

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schweinfurt-Regensburg_mission
    Your framing is a-historical; the British resorted to burning cities down when they couldn't operate by daylight anymore and it was thought that dehousing workers would wreck production and moral better than going after production itself; yet by 1944 the oil and transport plans were by daylight once escorts with range were available, as were continental airbases making the trip shorter; the precision missions by day against those targets wrecked the German economy in a matter of months. That was against a much more decentralized economy. The USAAF never focused on burning cities down other than participating in the Hamburg and Dresden raids, though these were even against specific targets in those cities. US precision bombing of German factories had a large impact on the German economy throughout 1943-45 and they never wavered; it just took them time to find the pressure point to cause an economic collapse, which they found in 1944 with oil and transportation. For the Luftwaffe, they had identified Soviet electrical generation as the pressure point, which the Soviets agreed after the war would have collapsed their production; the key was that destruction was unnecessary, rather damage to the machinery was all that was needed, due to it being irreplaceable except by foreign companies, which would take at least 1 year to start receiving replacements; in the meantime something like 75% of Soviet defense production would be out of power; they lacked domestic electrical engineering production, so pre-war sourced from Germany, which gave Germany a deep knowledge of Soviet electrical infrastructure, as they had built and installed most of it in the 1920s and 30s. So the standard of effectiveness is much less for German bombing of Soviet electrical infrastructure than of USAAF and RAF bombing of German industry or electrical infrastructure.

    As I said the concentration and low level of damage needed to shut down electrical production, which was already in short supply for the Soviets, would have been fatal to their industry and required a minimal commitment of bombers to the task, once the Lotfe 7D was available. The He177's longer range and bigger payload just reduces the necessary commitment of bombers to achieve success. The Fritz-X makes things even easier given its greater precision, especially against the much larger Soviet facilities given the Fritz-X was designed to hit much smaller maneuvering warships. It even let the bombers attack from higher altitudes without loss of accuracy, which would frustrate AAA, especially given the Soviet's lack of gunlaying computers and radar.
     
  20. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    #20 Elmas, Jun 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2014
    120 He 177Bs seems to me very optimistic as I already said, not to speak of carrying 6 tons of bomb each, not to speak of the 33% hit rate.
    If the RAf or 8th Air Force hat an hit rate of 33% the war would have ended in 1943.
    But how many acres the target? How many bombs per acre?
    And, to wind it all up......
    Amateurs think strategics, Professionals think logistics......
     
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