Presentation on theme: "Strategic Air Campaign in the European Theater. Strategic Bombing Campaign During the Battle of Britain, the Germans had attempted to defeat the Royal."— Presentation transcript:
Strategic Air Campaign in the European Theater
Strategic Bombing Campaign During the Battle of Britain, the Germans had attempted to defeat the Royal Air Force. Failing in that effort they turned to attempting the destruction of Britain's industries, transportation and ports, inflicting major damage on London and other British cities. The British and Americans struck back with four-engine bombers carrying massive bomb loads into the industrial areas and cities of Germany. From 1942 to the end of the war in 1945, the United States Army Air Corp “Mighty” Eighth Air Force flew B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators in daylight bombing operations against Germany and Nazi- occupied Europe. The British Royal Air Force Bomber Command conducted “area bombing” by night while the Eighth Air Force “precision-bombed” targets by day.
Area Bombing or Carpet Bombing Area or Carpet Bombing is the strategy of indiscriminate bombing of an enemy's cities, for the purpose of destroying the enemy's means of producing military materiel, industry, communications, government centers and civilian morale.Area or Carpet Bombing is the strategy of indiscriminate bombing of an enemy's cities, for the purpose of destroying the enemy's means of producing military materiel, industry, communications, government centers and civilian morale. Precision Daytime Bombing Precision Daytime Bombing, in World War Two, was not ‘precise’ since most bombs fell somewhere near or around a specific designated target such as a railway yard or factory. Precision bombing allowed a greater possibility of striking the ‘target area’ and causing maximum damage.Precision Daytime Bombing, in World War Two, was not ‘precise’ since most bombs fell somewhere near or around a specific designated target such as a railway yard or factory. Precision bombing allowed a greater possibility of striking the ‘target area’ and causing maximum damage.
Early Raids 1943 Raids Daytime bombing was especially hazardous. The British had tried it and abandoned the concept as too costly. The Eighth's B-17s and B-24s suffered heavy losses over Europe, especially after the bombing of Germany started in January The heavy bombers had the range to reach almost any target in Germany, but in the early months there were no Allied fighters that had the range to follow. Once the Allied fighter escorts turned back, the Eighth's bombers were vulnerable to attacks by German Luftwaffe fighters.1943 Raids Daytime bombing was especially hazardous. The British had tried it and abandoned the concept as too costly. The Eighth's B-17s and B-24s suffered heavy losses over Europe, especially after the bombing of Germany started in January The heavy bombers had the range to reach almost any target in Germany, but in the early months there were no Allied fighters that had the range to follow. Once the Allied fighter escorts turned back, the Eighth's bombers were vulnerable to attacks by German Luftwaffe fighters. Defensive tactics pioneered by Colonel Curtis LeMay and others helped but could not dissuade the German fighters or the fierce anti-aircraft defense. During the spring, summer, and fall of the 1943 Eighth Air Force losses of planes and men sometimes reached 12% for a day's raid. One in four airmen were being lost. At one point it became statistically impossible for a bomber crewman to survive a 25-mission tour of duty.Defensive tactics pioneered by Colonel Curtis LeMay and others helped but could not dissuade the German fighters or the fierce anti-aircraft defense. During the spring, summer, and fall of the 1943 Eighth Air Force losses of planes and men sometimes reached 12% for a day's raid. One in four airmen were being lost. At one point it became statistically impossible for a bomber crewman to survive a 25-mission tour of duty. At Schweinfurt and Regensburg, for example, on August 17 and at Schweinfurt on October 14, sixty B-17s, each with a crew of ten men, were shot down over enemy territory.At Schweinfurt and Regensburg, for example, on August 17 and at Schweinfurt on October 14, sixty B-17s, each with a crew of ten men, were shot down over enemy territory.
Strategic Bombing Campaign What is Strategic Bombing?What is Strategic Bombing? –The targeting and destruction of your enemy’s Industrial Capabilities (Factories), Infrastructure (Roads and Railroads), and Civilian Centers (Cities). RAF versus Luftwaffe (Battle of Britain or The “BLITZ”) The British and German bombers strike at each other’s industry and civilian centers in ‘daylight’ raids. Bomber loses on both sides are so great that ‘daylight’ bombing is stopped and ‘nighttime’ bombing begins. Nighttime or Carpet-Area bombing reduces the loses of bombers and crews to a fraction of that during daylight raids. American Army Air Corp Army Air Corp bombers based from English airfields conduct their first daylight raids in July Losses are high. Daylight Bombing = Accurate Bombing. Target can usually be seen. The RAF Bomber Command continues nighttime bombing.
DEFENSIVE TACTICS: THE COMBAT BOX
“Combat Box“: In contrast to the loose bomber stream used in the British night missions, the Americans' choice of a daylight strategy had required their planes to be tightly bunched for effective defense against attack. LeMay's combat box further strengthened the defense. It consisted of as many as 36 planes (3 squadrons of 12 planes) staggered vertically and horizontally in such a way that the bombers' guns provided maximum firepower all around, and especially against head - on attacks. On large raids, three of these boxes were formed into a combat wing, with one box in the lead and the others stacked 1,000 feet above and below it. Designed to increase bombing accuracy, LeMay placed his most proficient crews in the lead planes of the combat box. All the planes in the box dropped their bombs simultaneously-but only on cue of the lead crew. The result, at least in theory, was a closely packed pattern of hits on the target.
Combat Box Formation Bombers in an Element Formation (3 Bombers) Bombers in a Squadron Formation (4 Elements = 12 bombers)
B-17’s in an Element Formation (3 Bombers)
B-17’s in a Squadron Formation (4 Elements = 12 bombers)
Combat Box Formation Bombers in a Group Formation (3 Squadrons = 36 bombers)
B-24’s in a Group Formation (3 Squadrons = 36 Bombers)
“Mighty” Eighth Air Force Workhorses of the 8 th Workhorses of the 8 th HEAVY BOMBERS! HEAVY BOMBERS! B-17 Flying Fortress B-24 Liberator
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Specifications (B-17G): Engines: Four 1,200-hp Wright R Cyclone turbocharged radial piston engines Weight: Empty 36,135 lbs., Max Takeoff 65,500 lbs. Wing Span: 103ft. 9in. Length: 74ft. 4in. Height: 19ft. 1in. Performance: Maximum Speed at 25,000 ft: 287 mph Cruising Speed: 182 mph Ceiling: 35,800 ft. Range: 2,000 miles with 6,000 lb. bomb load Armament: mm (0.5-inch) machine guns Up to 17,600 pounds of bombs Number Built: ~12, 800+
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress –The B-17 Flying Fortress was the first mass-produced, four-engine US bomber in history. It may also have been the most famous bomber of World War II, becoming the symbol of the US Army Air Forces’ daylight precision bombing campaign against Germany. –The Boeing-designed “Fort” was an airplane of legendary toughness, surviving with, as one author put it, “wings punctured and ablaze, tail surfaces shredded, with chunks of its graceful body gouged out by cannon fire, flak, or midair collision.” Thousands returned to base torn apart by bullets, cannon shells, and flak. This characteristic gave the B-17 a certain mystique, and aircrews loved it. –Boeing, Douglas, and Lockheed-Vega built a grand total of 12,731, of which some 4,750 were lost in action. Following World War II, the B-17 was declared obsolete, but its fame only grew. Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, Commanding General of the US Army Air Forces, said the B-17 was critical to America’s “worldwide aerial offensive.”
The B-17G crew positions
B-17’s Flying Fortresses in action
Consolidated B-24 Liberator Specs Specifications (B-24H/J): Engines: Four 1,200-hp Pratt & Whitney R Twin turbocharged radial piston engines. Weight: Empty 36,500 lbs., Max Overload Takeoff 71,200 lbs. Wing Span: 110ft. 0in. Length: 67ft. 2in. Height: 18ft. 0in. Performance: Maximum Speed at 25,000 ft: 290 mph Cruising Speed: 215 mph Ceiling: 28,000 ft. Range: 2,100 miles Armament: mm (0.5-inch) machine guns in nose, upper/ventral ball turrets and tail turret, and lateral fuselage positions. 12,800 lb. maximum bomb load. Number Built: 18,000+
B-24 Liberator in Action
German Fighter Tactics As the Americans joined the war effort in the European theater, the B-17 "Flying Fortress" and B-24 “Liberator” formations became a familiar sight in the skies of occupied Europe. The bombers flew unprotected deep into occupied territory and over a well protected "Third Reich" in an effort to devastate the German production ability and thus slow down the entire war machine. But the Luftwaffe had air superiority and wasn't going to let the bombers hit their targets without paying a price for it. The Allied staff knew that the bombers would have a hard time getting to their target zones and back without any escort, but even if they wanted to send in fighters with them, there was just no fighter aircraft that had the range to follow their heavy friends all the way in and back. So for now they would have to depend on themselves for protection and repel the fierce Luftwaffe attacks with their own means.
German Fighter Tactics The B-17 and B-24 bombers were equipped with heavy machinegun stations placed in such a way that the whole area around the bomber could be covered. The formations they flew made sure that the bomber crews were able to cover each other as much as possible. That way multiple bombers could target the same incoming attack to give the attacker a hard time placing a hit on the bombers. A close formation of B-17's was a deadly opponent, and it was nearly impossible to attack a bomber formation from the classic "six o'clock" position.
German Fighter Tactics Unless the German pilots had a death wish, there was just no way to attack the formations from behind without sustaining substantial damage or in much cases, destruction of the attacking aircraft. One of the "less defended areas" the earlier versions of the B-17's had was the front as they didn't carry much firepower in the nose of the aircraft. So the FW-190, ME-109 (later on the ME-262,and others) pilots tried different approaches and found out that a frontal attack on these bomber formations minimized the time they were vulnerable to the B-17's defensive fire. During these attacks the Germans targeted the cockpits and engines of the bombers. It took quite some skill as the closure rate during these head-on engagements were tremendous, leaving little time to aim and fire the machineguns and cannons before they had to break off the attack and maneuver themselves to avoid a collision. To counter this the Allies removed the nose gun and added "chin-" and "cheek guns" giving the front of the bomber more punch.
Luftwaffe German Fighters German Fighters The 8 th AAF Enemy in the Skies of Europe!
Messerschmitt Bf 109G Bf 109G-1: One 30mm MG 108 cannon firing through hub. Two 13mm MG 131 machine guns above engine. Two 20mm MG 151 cannon under wings. Bf 109G-6: One 30mm MG 108 cannon firing through hub. One 20mm MG 151 cannon Two 13mm MG 131 machine guns above engine.
Focke Wulf Fw 190A/F Fw 190A-2: Two 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns above engine. Two 20mm MG/FF cannon mounted in wing root. Optional: Two 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns in outer wings. Fw 190A-3: Two 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns above engine. Two 20mm Mg 151/20 cannon mounted in wing root. Two 20mm MG/FF cannon in outer wings. Fw 190A-4/R6: Two 20mm Mg 151/20 cannon mounted in wing root. Two 210-mm WGr.21 rocket tubes Fw 190A-8/F-8: Two 20mm Mg 151/20 wing mounted cannon. Two 13mm Mg 131 fuselage mounted machine guns.
Focke Wulf Fw 190D-9 Armament Two 13mm MG 131 above engine Two 20mm MG 151/20 in wing roots
Focke Wulf TA-152 ARMAMENT: One 30mm MK 108 mounted between the cylinder heads, firing through the propeller hub Two inboard wing mounted 20mm MG151/20
Me 262A-1a: Four 30mm MK 108Four 30mm MK 108 cannon in nose Me 262A-1a/U1: Two 30mm MK 103Two 30mm MK 103 Two 30mm MK 108Two 30mm MK 108 Two 20mm MG 151/20Two 20mm MG 151/20 SURPRISE!!!!! ALLIED SCUM!!! The Luftwaffe had a REAL surprise for the 8 th AAF in late 44’ The first Jet Fighter!!
GERMAN AIR DEFENSES
German Flak The first greeting that American bomber formations had on the way to a target in Europe was from anti-aircraft "flak" batteries along the North Sea and English Channel. The word "flak" is a Americanization of the German word ‘Fliegerabwehrkanone’. US slang for these types of guns is AAA - Anti-Aircraft Artillery
There one second gone the next! "I served as a fighter pilot in the 15th Air Force, 52nd Fighter Group, 5th Fighter Squadron. I flew my combat missions in the North American P-51 Mustang." "It was during a bomber mission when I saw the most shocking sight my eyes had yet seen. I was flying Red-Two, the wingman for the squadron leader. We were patrolling parallel to the side and above a bomb wing when it started its run. I noticed an exceptionally large and accurate burst of flak exploding directly in front of the lead aircraft.” "The altitude of the burst was precisely calibrated.... I thought, oh, that next burst is going to hit right in the middle of them. Within seconds, the next burst did exactly that.... That poor B-24 did a sudden quarter roll to the left, away from the formation... and then in a blazing explosive flash, it simply disappeared." "No parachutes, no traces, other than a few small smoking falling pieces. Nothing. Gone. Ten men, gone. I felt as if someone had hit me in the pit of my stomach. I was stunned. I could visualize in my mind the young pilot and his crew, who only seconds before were just as much alive as I was. And now there were no traces left of them or their aircraft. They no longer existed." "I would see similar scenes of disaster several times, and I always felt a sense of personal loss when it happened, but that first B-24 is the one I'll never forget."
German Flak finds its mark
8 th AAF Fighters could not protect Bomber formations deep in to Germany until late 44’ German Fighters would just simply wait till the American Fighter protection had to turn around for home – low on fuel. Then the German Fighters would attack the unprotected Bomber Formation. P-47 Thunderbolt P-38 Lightning
In late 1944, the “Cadillac of the Sky” – the North American P-51D Mustang could escort Bomber Formations all the way to BERLIN!!! AAF Fighters could NOW protect Bomber formations deep in to Germany!! P-51 Mustang