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. 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 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. 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 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 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: Hamburg: July, 1943 Dresden: Feb., 1945 USAAF Strategic Bombing: Japan Regular raids from Marianas begin in November 1944. Problems: Home islands extreme range for B-29’s Clouds Strong winds Curtis LeMay provides the solutions 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… Attacks on non-combatants. The role of non-combatants in war. Moral vs. immediate concerns. Causation. Intent.