World War II European Theater of Operations The Air War


World War II

European Theater of Operations

The Air War

Components of the War in Europe

The Naval War

The Air War

The Ground War

The Air War

Purposes of Strategic Bombing

 Eliminate the industrial potential

 (Destroy the capacity to wage war)

 Disrupt enemy society

 (Destroy ability of leadership to direct war effort)

 Collapse civilian morale

 (Destroy the will to wage war)

The Air War

English Views on Strategic Bombing

“There is one thing that will bring Germany down, and that is an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland.”

Winston Churchill – June 1940

“The true role of heavy bombers is to destroy cities”

Sir Arthur Harris – February 1942

The Air War

 Power Grid

 Transportation Network

 Key Industries

 Petroleum refining

 Ball bearings

 Aircraft manufacturing

A Short Stirling Takes Off at Dusk

British Bombers Over Germany

B-17s Over Europe

B-17 Flying Fortresses “Bombs Away”

Daylight “Precision” Bombing

A B-24 Hit by Flak

A B-26 Goes Down

After a Collision With a German Fighter, This B-17 made It Home

This B-17 Took a Direct hit From 88mm Flak

Mission 115 - 2 nd Schweinfurt

2nd Schweinfurt Raid 14 October, 1943

Total Aircraft on Mission 204


Shot down over Germany 59

Crashed in English Channel 1

Abandoned over England

Crashed on landing




Scrapped due to damage

Damaged, but repairable




40% of the participating aircraft were destroyed. Crew losses were: 594 missing, 5 dead, 43 wounded

A V-1 (the first cruise missile) Falls on London

The German V-2 rocket

The first ICBM


May, 1945


May, 1945

“Germans, In Four Years You Won’t Recognize Your Towns”

- Adolph Hitler

Civilian Dead - Berlin, 1943

Over 600,000 German Civilians Died During the Bombing Offensive

The Air War

Strategic Bombing Report Card

 Was not quick

 Was not humane

 Was ultimately effective

 Direct Effects

 Hampered & finally crippled production

 Attacks on fuel & transportation systems crippled mobility of

German armed forces

 Indirect Effects

 Caused misallocation of German resources

Damaged civilian (but did not break) morale

Luftwaffe destroyed by attrition while defending cities