Thursday, April 23, 2015

Important Bombing Raids in WW II

1940, May15/16: RAF Raid on the Ruhr
Night precision raid on oil plants and marshalling yards. Of 99 planes involved, 1 lost. Amount of damage unknown but probably negligible. This raid opened strategic air offensive against Germany. (RAF had previously confined itself to raids on coastal targets and military communications, and to dropping leaflets.)

1940, December 16/17: RAF Raid on Mannheim
Night area raid on city centre. Of 134 planes involved, 3 lost. Only scattered damage inflicted; many bombs fell outside target area. First RAF 'area' raid. Lacking means to carry out effective precision attacks, Bomber Command bombed main industrial cities. Object was to disrupt German war production and break civilian morale.

1942, March 28/29: RAF Raid on Luebeck
Night area raid on town centre. Of 234 planes involved, 12 lost. Some 1,500 houses destroyed, much damage to factories. But production nearly normal one week later. First large-scale incendiary raid.

1942, April 17: RAF Raid on Augsburg
Daylight precision raid on MAN diesel engine factory. Of 12 Lancaster's involved, 7 destroyed, 5 damaged (no fighter cover). Main assembly shop and other buildings damaged but production hardly affected. Raid showed that it was impractical for heavy bombers to make precision attacks in daylight, and reinforced RAF's faith in the night offensive.

1942, May 30/31: RAF Raid on Cologne
Night area raid on city centre. Of 1,046 planes involved, 40 destroyed, 116 damaged. Nearly half of city devastated. 474 people killed, over 40,000 homeless. But Cologne made a surprisingly rapid recovery. First of the 'Thousand Bomber' raids.

1942, August 17: 8th AF Raid on Rouen
Daylight precision raid on Sotteville marshalling yards. Of 12 B-17's involved, no losses. Some damage to rolling stock and rails but only temporary. US firmly committed to daytime precision raids.
1943, March 5/6: RAF Raid on Essen
Night area raid on Krupps works. Of 442 planes involved, 14 destroyed, 38 damaged. Heavy damage to Krupps, 160 acres of Essen devastated. But British estimates exaggerated effect of raid on production. First use of 'Oboe' radar device helped to overcome industrial haze in the Ruhr area.

1943, May 16/17: RAF Dams Raid
Night precision raid on Moehnke, Eder, and Sorpe dams. Of 19 Lancaster's involved, 8 destroyed, 6 damaged. Moehnke and Eder dams breached: Sorpe dam only damaged. Some 1,000 people drowned and severe flooding, but raid had no appreciable effect on German war economy. Landmark raid in development of precision bombing techniques.
1943, July 24/25: RAF Raid on Hamburg
Night raid on city centre. Of 791 planes involved, 12 destroyed, 31 damaged. Over 2,200 tons of bombs dropped. Widespread damage to residential areas. Fires still burning 24 hours after raid. Major success for Bomber Command. German radar confused by 'Window' - strips of tinfoil used for first time. This raid followed by mass attacks on nights of July 27, 29, August 2, left Hamburg in ruins. Over 42,000 people thought to have been killed.

1943, October 14: 8th AF Raid on Schweinfurt
Daylight precision raid on ball-bearing works. Of 291 planes involved, 80 destroyed, 138 damaged. Most damaging of the 16 Schweinfurt raids but caused only temporary setback in production. Germans reorganized ball-bearing industry before next attack 4 months later. Bombers escorted only part of way to target. Crippling losses caused by German fighters exploding theory of self-defending bomber formations; forced US to curtail daylight bomber offensive.
1943, November 18/19: RAF Raid on Berlin
Night area raid on city centre. Of 444 planes involved, 9 lost. Some 1,500 tons of bombs dropped. Damage unknown but probably considerable. First of 16 mass raids on Berlin, involving over 9,000 planes in all. These raids less effective and more costly than ones on Hamburg and the Ruhr, owing to distances, strength of defences, weather.

1944, March 8: 8th AF Raid on Berlin
Daylight precision raid on Erkner ball-bearing works. Of 590 planes involved, 37 lost. Heavy damage to works (75 direct hits). Production at standstill for some time. Third US raid on Berlin. Bombers escorted by large force of B-51's. Beginning of US daylight air comman.

1944, March 30/31 RAF Raid on Nuremberg
Night area raid on city centre. Of 795 planes involved. 95 destroyed, 71 damaged. Some 2,500 tons of bombs dropped but raid too dispersed to cause serious damage. Heaviest defeat suffered by Bomber Command in war. Nuremberg was to RAF night raids what Schweinfurt was to US day raids. Both showed that without command of the air long-range bombing could not be kept up indefinitely. After Nuremberg RAF broke off mass raids on distant targets.
1943, September 23/24: RAF Canal Raid
Night precision raid on Dortmund-Ems Canal, inland waterway linking Ruhr with other industrial areas. Of 141 planes involved, 14 lost. 11 'Tallboy' bombs (12,000 lb each) dropped. Canal breached. 6-mile section drained.

1945, February 13/14: RAF Raid on Dresden
Night area raid on city centre. Of 805 planes involved, 8 lost. Immense damage to old town and inner suburbs. 1,600 acres devastated. Incendiaries kindled worst firestorm of war. Estimates of killed range from 35,000 to 135,000 (latter figure almost certainly too high). Most destructive - and most controversial - European raid of war. Dresden, whose strategic importance is questionable, was crowded with refugees and virtually undefended. Bombed again next morning by 400 planes of US 8th AF.

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