strategic bombing

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The U.S. in WWII
Strategic Bombing
Carl Spaatz
Henry H.
“Hap” Arnold
Curtis LeMay
B-17
B-29
B-24
USAAF Doctrine

Pre-war: Precision strikes on industrial and
transportation targets to paralyze enemy’s
economy and logistical capacity.



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Attacks to be made at high altitude.
Assumed bombers could fly unescorted to
targets.
During the war: Also strikes on military
targets.
Required daylight bombing missions.
The British Experience



Daylight raids produced large losses of
places and crews.
Accuracy a problem.
RAF Bomber Command adopted policy of
bombing cities during night missions.
U.S. efforts, 1942 – early 1943


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Small: planes diverted to other operations.
U-boat facilities made a high priority.
Most targets in France or Low countries –
bomber missions had fighter cover.
Casablanca Conference

Allied leaders commit themselves to
pursuing strategic bombing, authorize the
Combined Bomber Offensive



Operation POINTBLANK
British will pursue night missions, area
bombing
U.S., day missions and precision bombing.
Summer 1943

Strategic bombing effort ramps up.


USAAF forces in Europe get enough planes to
launch large raids into Germany.
Facilities engaged in producing aircraft or
related components made a priority.

Included ball-bearing plants.
Deep raids result in prohibitive losses


Bombers unescorted by fighters for all or
part of journey.
Stiff resistance put up by Luftwaffe and
anti-aircraft batteries.

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Radar-assisted air defenses
German pilots discovered successful tactics to
attack bomber formations.
Example: Schweinfurt


August 17, 1943: 60 of 315 bombers lost.
October 14, 1943: 60 of 230 bombers lost.
Damage



Targets often hit.
But German industrial infrastructure more
resilient than anticipated.
In some arms categories, production
increases through 1944.
1944: Help for the Bombing Campaign

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New fighters: P-51
More planes.
Attacks from the
Mediterranean.
Attrition of German
pilots.
Switch in priorities


Oil
Transportation
Accomplishments of the Strategic
Bombing Campaign

Broke the Luftwaffe

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German logistical system crippled late in
the war.



Allies had air superiority over Normandy
Could not get arms to front.
Vehicles lacked oil to move.
How much of the Allied victory was due to
the air campaign?
The Costs



29,000 U.S. airmen, 8,200 bombers lost.
About 600,000(?) civilian casualties.
Firestorms:

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Hamburg: July, 1943
Dresden: Feb., 1945
USAAF Strategic Bombing: Japan


Regular raids from Marianas begin in
November 1944.
Problems:


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Home islands extreme range for B-29’s
Clouds
Strong winds
Curtis LeMay provides the solutions

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Conduct raids at lower altitudes.
Night missions.
Pursue area bombing.
Incendiaries.
Debut of new
tactics:
The Tokyo
Raid,
March 9-10,
1945
Remainder of war:
Japan’s cities systematically destroyed
Hiroshima:
August 6, 1945
Nagasaki:
August 9, 1945
Considerations…

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Attacks on non-combatants.
The role of non-combatants in war.
Moral vs. immediate concerns.
Causation.
Intent.
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