how Much did the strategic bombing campaign help the Allies in WW2?


Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
I think that there was some kind of awe attached to the idea of strategic bombing in the minds of senior commanders of the allied air forces esp.the USAAF. I refer to the novel ' Winds of War ' by Herman Wouk where a USAAF general says that it is not necessary to invade the Continent, just bomb it to rubble, and then go to receive the surrender from anyone who crawled from under the rubble. The novel is very close to reality.
Jan 2019
Kent, England
I'd also like to know if the total amount of resources/man-hours/$ spent by the allies on strategic bombing compares to the damage caused to Germany by strategic bombing on the same metrics. I suspect it's less than 1:1. However, considering the imbalance of industrial power you could argue that spending a dollar to make your enemy lose 50c is worth it.
The bomber-offensive took about 7-8% of the British war-effort, while the Germans spent 10-12% of their effort to contest it, the majority of which was against the RAF (day-fighters were cheap, while night-fighters were very expensive and required much more ground infrastructure in terms of airfields, control-and-communication, etc). This is before you consider the damage done, so strategic bombing was actually pretty cost-effective.


Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
Stockport Cheshire UK
"England devoted 40 to 50 percent of her war production to her air forces, Germany 40 percent, and the United States 35 percent."
In terms of financial cost the strategic bomber offensive cost the British government £2.8 billion, out of almost £28,7 billion it spent in WW2, of which £22.8 billion was spent directly on the war effort.
Therefore the financial cost to Britain of the bomber offensive was around 12% of her total spending on the war.


Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
In terms of financial cost the strategic bomber offensive cost the British government £2.8 billion, out of almost £28,7 billion it spent in WW2, of which £22.8 billion was spent directly on the war effort.
Therefore the financial cost to Britain of the bomber offensive was around 12% of her total spending on the war.
But how is that calculated? Does it take account iof indirect costs, that windup being devoted top strategic bomboiing like raw materials, fuels (what percentage of oil imports where used? was it a major factor) ,tankers to cary the fuel across the ocean, airfields constructed

Hmm lashing around the internet I found this of fuel consumption,

Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources, and Experts in the Second World War
By David Edgerton

Page 182 Imports of Oil Products in millions of tons 1944 All users both British and US)
Motor Spirit 4.773
Aviation Spirit 4.751
Admiralty Oil 3.912
Gas Oil/deisel 2.221
Total 20,344

(the total don't add for mine)
But I'm interested in the Breakdown between services. It also day sthet British armed force use was around 10 million tons in Britain and 10 million abroad.

But I'm looked frop more detailed stats on Allied Oil products consumption.,


Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
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Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
the strategic bombing had a small effect on the war until the allied switched to hitting the oil facilities and the communication network
this was given absolute priority by September 1944
I guess better late than never !

this had an immediate and noticeable effect on the Wehrmacht ability to fight
the bombing of cities was good propaganda but had very little usefulness
Dec 2014
the bombing of cities was good propaganda but had very little usefulness
Did it end the war? No. But it certainly had an effect. Goebbels's diaries are filled with references to the bombing (unsurprisingly), but his thoughts on them are quite revealing:

May 21st 1943

We just cannot stand air warfare indefinitely. We must try to develop counter measures as fast as possible, especially reprisal attacks. Milch has every reason to get up on his hind legs and create an aggressive Luftwaffe to attack England. Otherwise, sooner or later, the war in the air will be come unbearable for us.

May 25th 1943

The night raid by the English on Dortmund was extraordinarily heavy, probably the worst ever directed against a German city....reports from Dortmund are horrible. The critical thing about it is that industrial and munitions plants have been hit very hard. One can only repeat about air warfare: we are in a position of almost helpless inferiority and must grin and bear it as we take the blows from the English and Americans.

May 28th 1943

The English wrested air supremacy from us not only as the result of tremendous energy on the part of the R.A.F and the British aircraft industry, but also thanks to certain unfortunate circumstances and to our own negligence. Why cannot we in time wrest it back from the English, if once we abandon the thesis that the war in the East must be ended first? It seems to me that the air situation should be considered one of the most critical phases of the war and that it should be conducted quite independently of developments in the East.

July 25th 1943
The results of English air raids are gradually becoming evident. Our textile industry has been pretty badly hit. We are not in a position to redeem the Reich textile coupon card, that is, we can't call up the unused points. Whatever we still have in the way of reserves must be pumped into the distressed areas.

July 28th 1943

The last raid on Essen caused complete stoppage of production in the Krupp works. Speer is much concerned and worried.

Finally at the end of July Operation Gomorrah - the destruction of Hamburg from the air - came to a head and it is almost possible to hear the panic in his words.

July 29 1943

During the night we had the heaviest raid yet made on Hamburg. The English appeared over the city with 800 to 1,000 bombers. Our anti-aircraft succeeded in shooting down only very few, so that one cannot claim any serious enemy losses.

Kaufmann, in a first report, spoke of a catastrophe the extent of which simply staggers the imagination. A city of a million inhabitants has been destroyed in a manner unparalleled in history. We are faced with problems that are almost impossible of solution. Food must be found for this population of a million. Shelter must be secured. The people must be evacuated as far as possible. They must be given clothing. In short, we are facing problems there of which we had no conception even a few weeks ago. Kaufmann believes the entire city must be evacuated except for small patches. He spoke of about 800,000 homeless people wandering up and down the streets not knowing what to do. I believe Kaufmann has lost his nerve somewhat in the face of this undoubtedly exceptional situation.

Joseph Goebbels was the man in charge of German propaganda, but his diaries are an invaluable look at how those in the highest echelons of Nazi Germany viewed the war. Whatever the facts and figures may show, a simple reading is enough to show that the German High Command considered the bombing campaign to be one of the greatest threats of the war, right up alongside the Eastern Front for most of it.
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Nov 2019
United States
It depends on what you consider strategic bombing. The destruction of railroad and railcars had a significant impact on Western Allied success. In Normandy campaign the German's regularly lost 1\2 of forces attempting to reach their destinations.

In fuel supply attacks they also greatly reduced both production and delivery. Overall the base element of strategic bombing is suppression rather than annihilation, in that regard the bombing was successful.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Goebbels was a moaning minie ,
though there were shortage in Germany , clothing was never critical and the war production proved to be very resilient to bombing
as the US Air force found out in the aftermath of the Big Week , collapsed factories were fixed by special squads organised to repair the plants and get them working as fast as possible
they found that the machines buried under the rubble had been protected by the broken brick walls and once cleared could be restarted in a matter of hours
all the factories had their own power plant , the thing which really stopped them was when they could'nt get coal for the furnace