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The theories behind strategic bombing are certainly older than the Spanish Civil War. Billy Mitchell, Hugh 'Boom' Trenchard (commander of the RAF for many years), Spaight and Douhet began presenting their theories in written form already prior to the end of WWI.sid guttridge wrote:Across Europe, calculations on the likely impact of the bombing of urban areas were based on the first Italian air raid on Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War...
A chief conclusion that at least Trenchard drew was that civilian morale was much more fickle than military morale - but Trenchard's conclusions were based on the Gotha raids of late WWI, years before the Spanish Civil War.By dividing the number of aircraft into the number of dead, people all over Europe arrived at a statistic of deaths per sortie which they extrapolated in order to calculate likely deaths in a major air offensive.
The Blitz was a clear win for Britain. Even if you disregard optimistic RAF claims and occasionally adverse effects on civilian morale caused by Luftwaffe bombings, the dividend was clearly not worth the German investment in lost airplanes and aircrews. RAF Bomber Command could well have made appropriate conclusions on this basis; that they did not is I think equally because that would have eroded the RAF's whole raison d'etre to continue as an independent arm in the inter-war years, and also because of the very real revenge motive prevalent in the wake of the Blitz.Certainly Britain emerged from the Blitz stronger than it entered it, but this was equally certainly not because of the Blitz, which is the point I thought you were originally making...
But the material results, to the degree that they can be measured, are simply that German resources were diverted from other fronts and theatres. The strategic situation in 1944 was radically different from the situation in early 1942, and Bomber Command's efforts had little to do with that. For example, the US contribution to the bombing campaign was massive in 1944, and it was clear that Germany could not win on the Eastern Front.Yup. I agree that a combination or revenge and lack of alternative sustained the RAF's strategic bombing campaign during its middle period. However, I don't have a problem with this, because by 1944 material results were justifying it.
I think a basic cost/benefit analysis should be applied before embarking on anything as long-term in perspective as a strategic bombing campaign. Bomber Command produced accurate target plans with clear objectives in the early parts of the war: the oil plan and the transport plan. Both plans worked on the erroneous assumption that Germany was on a full war footing already in 1939, and the Butt Report demonstrated that either aim was completely beyond the means of Bomber Command - so simple inability to achieve the strategic goals put down could have been a reason for calling off the campaign, not 'early losses', even if it had been established that 5% losses (and they were higher in the early part of the war) was what Bomber Command could sustain, lest RAF's bomber fleet would have shrunk to nothing well prior to 1944.Had the campaign been abandoned in 1942, when it was patently underachieving, there would have been no dividend in 1944. (For these dividends, see my original post). If every attack in war was called off due to early losses, none would ever be pressed home.
Other certainties are that the strategic bombing campaign failed to fulfill its early aims of denying Germany the ability to wage war by disrupting its oil industry and transport infrastructure in 1941/1942. The aim of a bombing campaign aimed at the enemys cities is to cause internal dissent and eventual revolt against the regime - or at least, that's how Trenchard et al. presented it pre war. That did not happen in Germany, and that's why we're left with only the incidental effects to examine.Exactly. It is difficult to be precise about the effects of Allied bombing. The only certainty is that that they were large.
I think Germany's 1944 production effort can be explained by the simple fact that Germany did not have a full war economy when war broke out. That meant that Germany's economy could expand irrespective of the strategic bombing campaign.(Again, read my original post for more on this and the actually limited scale of Germany's supposed productive miracle in 1944).
The difference is that said high velocity gun would not have been produced at all if there had been no Allied air campaign. The productive effort might of course have gone into other war material for the Germans, but it could equally well have gone into the comparatively 'spoiled' civilian economy. Maybe Daimler-Benz would have ceased producing civilian cars in 1943, rather than in 1942? Maybe civilian use of rubber would have been banned earlier?What is the difference between "bare necessity" and "a conscious effort..... to give defence of the Reich priority....."? That a high velocity gun cannot be in two places at once is self evident. If it was devoted to air defence of the Reich it could not be engaged in anti-tank work on the Eastern Front.
Well no, but a much higher absentee ratio for 1944 as compared to 1940 does not really prove anything as far as the efficiency of the bombing campaign goes. That's a simple cause/effect discussion, and at any rate increased absenteeism should be put in relation to (growing) production output.Have you any evidence for your propositions? Are older workforces really prone to 25% absentee rates? Do women REALLY take 25% more sick days than men?...
That lesson could certainly have been drawn from Douhet's and perhaps especially Trenchard's writings. The latter suggested that all other arms could be substituted by air forces alone.Who, pre-war, suggested that strategic bombing was so powerful that it would act as a deterent?
It can at the very least be argued that the nuclear bomb is an exception here. The thrust of my first posting was that strategic bombing erroneously was viewed in the same light prior to WWII that the nuclear bomb was viewed after it - namely as decisive in its own right.neither tanks, nor submarines, nor artillery, nor any other weapon you might care to mention has ever won a war in its own right.
In more general terms less resources for the RAF's strategic bombing campaign would have meant more RAF resources for something else. That is the same logic that you apply to the figures you provided in your original posting on this thread.The Crete and Malaya issues could have been addressed by different deployments of existing aircraft, without any need to alter the bomber programme.
Also Wellingtons, the only really good bomber available to the RAF in quantity in the early parts of the war. There was a real struggle for resources between Bomber Command and Coastal Command - a struggle in which Harris used the same flawed statistics (number of flight hours divided by number of U-Boats sunk by aircraft) that was behind the oil plan and the transport plan.More big, multi-engined aircraft WERE eventually given to Coastal Command. What were they? Four-engined strategic bombers!
Yes, and that meant fewer long range aircraft available to Coastal Command.Again, this was achieved by the juggling of resources without altering the bomber programme.
I don't follow you here. The air gap was closed due to the occupation of Iceland and the US entry into the war, neither of which has any relation to the strategic bombing programme. I would in fact argue that a by-product of said programme was fewer aircraft available to provide air cover for the convoys on the Atlantic.Closing the "air gap" was a by-product of the strategic bombing programme.
Here's an interesting link to a PDF file on air strategyThat better tactical decisions could have been made in all these cases is undoubtedly true. However, they need not have impinged on the strategic bomber programme
Sid, I'm not making an issue of anything, I just wanted to comment on this. I agree with Reb that the holocaust might not have become what it was without the cover of total war. The 1941 Einsatzgruppen were minor compared to what came later - I can't agree they were already the 'Holocaust' as history records it. Had Op. Barbarossa been a success, no one can know what they would've developed into. That they developed into the 'Holocaust' is I think one of the many ramifications of the failure of Barbarossa. 'Total war' began before Goebbels made a statement to that effect. It began with the failure of the USSR to collapse when its door was kicked in. Early 1942 was already the beginning of the end. The height of Germany's success was probably August-September 1941. So I don't know if the holocaust can be blamed on outside pressures, but I certainly think the course of the war was a strong influence on its development.sid guttridge wrote:The "Holocaust" DID begin without the cover of "Total War". It began earlier, but the mass industrial exterminations by gas were initiated in early 1942, before Britain adopted area bombing as policy and before Goebbels publicly declared "total war". It actually began at the very height of Germany's success, so it cannot be blamed on outside pressures.
Not for RAF Bomber Command, who for years had advocated the total dominance of the bomber in war of the future. You can speculate that the RAF was really only out to define a role for itself that no other arm could fulfill, in any case it predated the RA raid on Barcelona by many years.sid guttridge wrote:Certainly the theories about strategic bombing predated the Spanish Civil War. However, the empirical calculations of its real effectiveness had to await its application in the Spanish Civil War. The first Barcelona raid (usually overshadowed in the popular memory by Guernica) was central to this...
That would have been a radical conclusion indeed, and to my certain recollection I have not suggested that the RAF should have drawn it. Rather, I suggested that the RAF might have decided to abandon all ideas of seriously affecting the outcome of the war by area bombings on civilian targets.If the RAF had concluded that because the Blitz had failed Bomber Command should disband,
I'm questioning the effectiveness of the strategic bombing campaign that was waged against Germany's cities, particularly in the early years. I fail to see how you can equate that with letting Britain drop out of the war altogether.I ask again, are you not really advocating that Britain effectively drop out of the war altogether, given that the Royal Navy could not threaten Germany directly and the British Army alone was too small to hold a lodgement on the continent, let alone liberate it?
Those 10,000 AA guns were not absent from the fronts, they were simply built because they were needed.What is this "simply"? Is the absence of the front of some 10,000 high velocity weapons capable of anti-tank use of no significance?
As a percentage of 1940 tank production, the shortfall is massive. As a percentage of 1944 production, it is rather less significant.Is the shortfall in German production in 1944 of enough armour to entirely re-equip the Panzerwaffe of no significance?
It certainly shows that the strategic bombing campaign put a real strain on the Luftwaffe, as I also aknowledged in my previous post; however it equally shows that the German economy in fact was up to the challenge of stepping up production of needed items as required even in 1944.Is an aircraft productivity level only half that of the UK in 1944 really the productive miracle it is sometimes claimed?
The USAAF's bombing effort over Europe is chronologically seperate from the early, unsuccessful campaigns of RAF Bomber Command.Why do you bring the USAAF into the equation as a separate entity.
Strategic bombing, and in fairness also colonial policing, had been the RAF's chief reasons for existing as an independent arm in the inter-war years. By late 1940 the colonial dimension was largely irrelevant, and the strategic bombing dimension certainly needed revisions. The German campaign in France, and later also the Greek debacle, had demonstrated that much closer cooperation between land and air forces was necessary, and the Blitz had demonstrated that air raids on civilian targets could not bring about a nation's surrender.Surely, if the failure of the Blitz ought to have taught the British that strategic bombing was a failure, the US ought to have drawn the same conclusion? If there was no raison d'etre for Bomber Command, there was also presumably no raison d'etre for the US 8th Air Force
The bombing campaign against the synthfuel industry indeed eventually proved effective - but this should be contrasted with the same target category being ruled out by Bomber Command in 1941 when they realized that Bomber Command did not possess the accuracy needed to knock out the synthetic oil industry. That's why they switched to hitting mainly civilian targets, in the shape of German cities.Forgive me, but I thought Anglo-American bombing of tranport infrastructure and oil facilities were major contributors to German defeat in 1944-45. This being so, surely the continued pursuit of an ever stronger strategic bomber arm over 1942-43 was entirely justified by results?
By 1942 these targets had been abandoned, and the RAF had settled for raids on civilian targets. The Lübeck raid of March 1942 yielded spectacular results, the question is if it was also a war-winning result.Yup. The early British strategic bomber offensive against oil and transport targets failed to achieve its aims in 1940-42. But the, by then, Anglo-American offensive against the same objectives succeeded in 1944 when a much greater weight of aircraft was available. What exactly are you proposing to use against these targets if the Allied strategic bomber force had been run down, rather than expanded, in 1942-43?
Considering that the RAF undertook a strategic bombing campaign that was demonstrably unsuccessful in its early stages, and considering that Germany only went on something approaching a full war footing as late as 1943, I think you could argue that a largely speculative drop in German 1944 war production was a poor dividend from an air campaign waged at such a high cost in men and machines lost.Exactly. Germany's economy was so poorly geared to war production that it was almost bound to rise when it got going. However, largely thanks to strategic bombing, it failed by a wide margin to meet its expanded production targets or gain anything near the level of productivity achieved at the same time by the UK, let alone the USA.
No, I am in fact arguing that civilian production would not have been changed to military production if there was no need for it. Vide the BBSU quote, above.Are you seriously proposing as an argument that had there been no Allied air threat to Germany, it might have turned over the machine tools used in the production of anti-aircraft artillery to producing consumer products for the home market while there was still a war on the Eastern Front requiring similar high velocity weapons?
Many weapons projects were axed and various orders for armaments were cancelled after the successful 1940 campaign. But no matter, my point was that Germany's civilian economy still had the surplus to produce such comparatively lavish items as civilian cars and rubber-soled shoes as late as 1942.Have you any evidence that a single German factory was ever switched from war to civil production between 1933 and 1945?
No. The point is simply that Germany's economy was able to expand and produce more despite the Allied air campaign.There doesn't have to be a direct causal connection between Allied bombing and German failure to reach production targets that were deemed feasible before strategic bombing disrupted them. Indirect causal connections are perfectly adequate. Is there any doubt that direct damage impinged on production? Is there any doubt that transport damage impinged on production? Is there any doubt that any absentee rate at all impinged upon production? Is there any doubt that forced relocation impinged upon production? And so on.....
We can conclude that German actual production did not match expected production - it is still something of a stretch to give the SBC full credit for that dividend. I think it is more fruitful to see where the SBC actually forced the Germans to change priorities - and nowhere is that more evident than in the production of aircraft types.It may be difficult to quantify precisely because production lost does not leave the physical evidence of production physically destroyed. However, by matching German expected production against actual production we can come to the reasonable conclusion that the cost to the German armaments industry of Allied strategic bombing was very considerable.
That was Kesselring's reasoning for switching targets from RAF airfields to London: to force a British air force that according to his statistics was on its heels to fight over a target that it had to defend. He was wrong. The Luftwaffe's earlier raids on RAF airfields were much more disruptive.OK. Could the Luftwaffe have been worn down by other means than a threat to Germany itself? What else was so certain to force the Luftwaffe into the air?...
For example closing the Atlantic air gap earlier. Or developing an operational airlift capacity for the British army.Yes, less resources devoted to strategic bombers could have benefitted some other aircraft projects, but this can't be done just for its own sake. There has to be a demonstrably better alternative project? What is it to be?...
Suitable aircraft existed prior to the war, in the shape of the domestic Wellington and the US built Catalinas and Fortresses. The struggle for resources between Bomber Command and Coastal Command was very real; in fact Harris had to borrow aircraft from Coastal Command to assemble enough bombers for the first 1000 bomber raid on Cologne in 1942. Very evidently, that meant a weakening of Coastal Command's efforts over the Atlantic.Nope. Far from meaning that there were fewer long range aircraft available to Coastal Command capable of bridging the mid-Atlantic "air-gap", strategic bomber production meant that suitable aircraft actually existed. If not a strategic bomber design, what other aircraft do you suggest could have been employed? Nothing springs to my mind immediately.
All other things being equal, less aircraft devoted to an inconclusive strategic bombing campaign (or so the Butt Report claimed) would have meant more aircraft available to provide air cover over the Atlantic.The air gap was finally closed by the use of Liberators and escort carriers. It was only narrowed by the occupation of Iceland and the entry of the USA. If it had already been closed, the diversion of strategic bombers would have been a non-issue.