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

May 2018
132
Houston, TX
I don't have the data, but it would be useful to discriminate the U.S. expenditures and efforts between the European Theater and the Pacific Theater. I do recall reading about the enormous expenditures required to create an effective B-29 aircraft and fleet. Somewhere it was said that the B-29 program cost more than the Manhattan Project.
 
Dec 2014
448
Wales
Goebbels was a moaning minie ,
Really? OK, we'll forget Goebbels Ministry of Information was excellent at determining the true state of Germany - after all you can't tell an effective lie without knowing the truth.
How about Speer? Was he a moaning Minie?

"I reported for the first time orally to the Fuehrer that if these aerial attacks continued, a rapid end of the war might be the consequence."
Speer to Survey Interrogators on the Hamburg attacks.



The purpose of the RAF raids at least were not to destroy German industry - something that was quickly judged to be impossible with night bombing - it was to 'dehouse' the workforce and destroy German morale. It was very successful in the first, with estimates of up to 20% of German housing destroyed, but this failed to do the later. But this had less to do with the ineffectiveness of the bombing and more to do with underestimating the incredible resilience of the German people.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,181
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I remember reading that Churchill wanted to delay the Invasion if France partially to bleed the Russians and also, to avoid a repeat of what happened to France, Britain and their allies in 1940. Many of the Americans wanted to land earlier. I wonder how it would have turned out in a scenario where Italy was neutral and their only option for engaging the German Army was invading France or Norway. Could they have successfully done it in 1943?
Without the Italian front the Germans would have kept their divisions on the East and the West front. This probably would have delayed the fall of Germany, but the destiny of the Nazi power was already written: to defend the "European Fortress" in the long term, once lost the seas, was substantially impossible.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,160
Sydney
Speer was many things at many times to many people ,
I wouldn't trust his recollections too much
massive strategic bombing has a very patchy record in several wars ,
on the whole to consider it a waste of time might be going too far but not by much
landing in mid to late 1943 might well have been optimistic ,
it would have to be in the south of France after having secured Corsica , the prospects were not too good , but marginally doable
Churchill at one stage was pushing for an operation in Norway ,
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,853
Stockport Cheshire UK
Speer was many things at many times to many people ,
I wouldn't trust his recollections too much
At the beginning of January 1945, Albert Speer and other leading officials met and summarized the effect of the allied bombing campaign on production in 1944.
Germany, they calculated, had produced 35 percent fewer tanks, 31 percent fewer aircraft and 42 percent fewer trucks than planned due to the effects of the bombing campaign .

source: Dresden, Tuesday 13 February 1945, by Frederick Taylor.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,575
Dispargum
"I reported for the first time orally to the Fuehrer that if these aerial attacks continued, a rapid end of the war might be the consequence."
Speer to Survey Interrogators on the Hamburg attacks.
The Hamburg attacks were in 1943 and the war lasted almost two more years. Either Speer exaggerated or the Allied bombing attacks did not continue at the same level of intensity and effectiveness, probably a little of both. Hamburg suffered an unusual level of damage that was rarely duplicated, especially so early in the war. Dresden was another city that was famously destroyed by bombing, but it wasn't bombed until February 1945. If Speer had said after Dresden that the war would rapidly end, history would have proven him correct, but history did not prove him correct about Hamburg.

I see little correlation between the bombing attacks in 1941, '42, and '43 with the German surrender in 1945. It wasn't until the destruction of the Luftwaffe, the attacks on the oil industry, and maybe the transportation system, all in 1944, that I see bombing attacks and results that are making a difference in how long Germany can keep fighting.
 
Dec 2014
448
Wales
Speer was many things at many times to many people ,
I wouldn't trust his recollections too much
massive strategic bombing has a very patchy record in several wars ,
on the whole to consider it a waste of time might be going too far but not by much
landing in mid to late 1943 might well have been optimistic ,
it would have to be in the south of France after having secured Corsica , the prospects were not too good , but marginally doable
Churchill at one stage was pushing for an operation in Norway ,
No subsequent city raid shook Germany as did that on Hamburg; documents show that German officials were thoroughly alarmed and there is some indication from interrogation of high officials that Hitler himself thought that further attacks of similar weight might force Germany out of the war.


This is not a question of one or two officials you can casually dismiss. There is no question that, at least in 1943, the German High Command regarded the Allied bombing campaign as a grave threat.

People continually say the offensive was a waste of resources but fail to suggest what those resources would have been better used on. More tanks? More ships? The Allies had all the equipment like this they needed. The problem was always getting the supplies where they were needed, not a shortage of production. The Bomber offensive opened an early front in the war, and while it is difficult to find figures for, there is no question that it tied down massive German resources. For instance:

In September 1944 expenditures on ammunition peaked and consisted of:

800 million RM, of which:

560 million in artillery and small arms
142 million in flak
69 million in bombs and aircraft guns
29 million on naval ammunition
[USSBS, Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy, page 183]

On average flak consisted of ca. 15% of ammunition production during the war.

While much is made of the total Allied supremacy over Normandy and France, the main reason for this is the main priority for Germany from 1943 onward was the defence of the Reich against Allied bombers. Much is made of the ME262, but the opinion of Royal Navy test pilot, Captain Eric Brown (one of the leading post-war test pilots) is significant:

"This was a Blitzkrieg aircraft. You whack in at your bomber. It was never meant to be a dogfighter, it was meant to be a destroyer of bombers..."

The German commitment to air defences was massive, both in the air and on the ground.
 
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Dec 2014
448
Wales
The Hamburg attacks were in 1943 and the war lasted almost two more years. Either Speer exaggerated or the Allied bombing attacks did not continue at the same level of intensity and effectiveness, probably a little of both. Hamburg suffered an unusual level of damage that was rarely duplicated, especially so early in the war. Dresden was another city that was famously destroyed by bombing, but it wasn't bombed until February 1945. If Speer had said after Dresden that the war would rapidly end, history would have proven him correct, but history did not prove him correct about Hamburg.

I see little correlation between the bombing attacks in 1941, '42, and '43 with the German surrender in 1945. It wasn't until the destruction of the Luftwaffe, the attacks on the oil industry, and maybe the transportation system, all in 1944, that I see bombing attacks and results that are making a difference in how long Germany can keep fighting.
I'm not saying the bombing of Hamburg ended the war, as I said in my last post the genuine fear amongst the German leaders that Hamburg created was never repeated, even at Dresden. I am merely saying that as early as 1943 the German High Command came to regard the attacks on Germany as an extremely grave threat. The result was that such air attacks became a significant factor with regard to the commitment of resources and the planning of the war from then on i.e. large numbers of fighter squadrons had to be held back to defend German air space, factories had to be dispersed or buried underground and so forth.

In essence I'm saying that the leaders of Germany didn't regard these attacks as useless, but rather as something to be feared and acted upon. The true second front was not Normandy but the skies over Germany (actually including Italy the Normandy landings were the fourth front, although that's not as catchy).
 
Oct 2015
924
Virginia
Landing craft
Destroyer Escorts
Liberators for ASW in the Atlantic
More Army Divisions, and replacements.

But that's all moot. From 1941-1943 the only way the Western Allies could strike at Germany was strategic bombing. Combined with the big promises of the Air Force generals (that they would win the war single handed), the seductive idea of winning the war with technology and low casualties, and the dissipation of moral objections to killing civilians, the campaign was inevitable.
 
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