Index Home About Blog
From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: daylight strategic bombing -- a failure?
Date: 20 Jul 1997

>> You know, I too had swallowed the latter-day belief that the USAAF
>> couldn't hit much [...]

In the days immediately following the surrender of Germany, the Allies
interrogated numerous high-ranking Germans.  All were asked what chief
factor led to their country's defeat.   Here is a sampling and summary of
what they said:

Hjalmar Schacht,  Finance Minister:
  "Your bombers destroyed German production."

Adolf Galland:
"Allied bombing of our oil industries had the greatest effect."

Gen. Jahn, Commander in Lombardy:
"The attacks on the German transportation system."

Generaloberst Heinz Guderian, Inspector General of armored units:
"Lack of German air superiority; the German Air Force was unable to cope
with Allied air power in the West."

Generalmajor Albrect von Massow, Luftwaffe Training Commander:
 "The attacks on German oil production."

Generalmajor Herhudt von Rohden, chief of historical section, Luftwaffe
General Staff:
"Strategic bombing.  It was the decisive factor in the long run."

Generalmajor Kolb, in charge of technical training, Air Ministry:  "The
power of Allied day and night bombing."

General Ingenieur Spies, chief engineer of Luftflotte 10:  "Strategic
disruption of communications."

Generaloberst Georg Lindemann, commander of troops in Denmark:
"Allied air superiority."

Gen. Feldmarschall Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, commander in chief in the
"Three factors:  the superiority of your air force, which made all
movement in daylight impossible; lack of motor fuel so that panzers were
unable to move; and the systematic destruction of all railway
communications so that it was impossible to bring even one single railroad
train across the Rhine."

Gen. der Infanterie Georg Thomas, chief of the German Office of
"Without strategic bombing, the war would have lasted years longer."

Fritz Thyssen, leading German steel producer:
 "I knew that German steel production would be bombed and destroyed--as it

Gen. der Flieger Hans-Georg von Seidel, C in C, Luftflotte 10:
"The decisive factor was disruption of German transport communications."

Gen. Feldmarschall Albert Kesselring, C in C in the West after von R.:
"Dive bombing and terror attacks on civilians proved our undoing."

Generaleutnant Karl Jacob Veith, in charge of flak training:
"The destruction of the oil industry."

Generalmajor Ibel, commander of 2 Fighter Div.:
 "Allied air superiority allowed everything else to happen."

General Wolff, SS Obergruppenfuehrer:
 "The ever-increasing disruption of production and transportation
facilities starved the frontlines to death."

Generaloberst von Vietinghoff, supreme commander SW Italy:  "Allied air
attacks on the aircraft and fuel industries."

Oscar Henschel, industrialist:
"American bombing caused our production figures to drop considerably."

Unnamed director of Germany's steel combine:
"The virtual flattening of the great steel city of Dusseldorf contributed
at least 50 percent to the collapse of the war effort."

Feldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim, Goering's successor:  "The
destruction of the Luftwaffe."

Unnamed general manager of Junkers:
"The attacks on the ball-bearing industry disorganized Germany's entire
war production."

General Feldmarschall Hugo Sperrle, C in C Luftflotte 3:
"Allied bombing, particularly of communications."

Unnamed executive at Siemens-Schuckert:
"In March, 1943, one bomb ignited the oil tanks in our transformer plant,
which we believe is the largest in the world, and completely stopped
production of the large type of transformers needed for chemcial and steel
plants.  We were the sole manufacturer of such machines.  We were never
able to make them again."

Gen. der Flieger Karl Bodenschatz, chief of Ministeramt, Luftwaffe high
"I am very much impressed with the accuracy of American daylight bombing,
which really concentrated on military targets, stations and factories, to
the exclusion of civilian targets."

Christian Schneider, manager of the Leuna Works, producer of synthetic
petroleum products:
"The 8th AF twice knocked out the plant and the RAF did once.  Production,
once resumed,  was a pitifully thin trickle."

Alfred Krupp, weapons maker:
 "The Allies made a great mistake in failing to bomb rail lines and canals
much earlier.  Transport was the great bottleneck in production.  Plants
can be and were dispersed, but the Reichsbahn couldn't put its lines

General Dollman, diarist of the 7th Army high command:
"The continual control of the field of battle by Allied air forces makes
daylight movement impossible and leads to the destruction from air of our
preparations and attacks."

Herman Goering:  "[USAAF] precision bombing had a greater effect on the
defeat of Germany than [RAF] area bombing because destroyed cities could
be evacuated but destroyed industry was difficult to replace.  [8th AF]
selection of targets was good.  Without the U.S. [Army]  Air Force, the
war would still be going on."

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: daylight strategic bombing -- a failure?
Date: 23 Jul 1997

>Great information.  Where did you get these?

I found them in a file at the research library at Maxwell AFB historical
research center some years ago and copied a handful--there were hundreds
of debriefs, maybe thousands.  Professional historians have, I'm sure,
accessed these and published many of them before.

From: cdb100620@AOL.COM (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: daylight strategic bombing -- a failure?
Date: 01 Aug 1997

Will Simmons asks two key questions re quotes posted from various German
bigwigs stating allied strategic bombing had a decisive impact on the war:
 Why does Speer say production increased despite bombing, and why did U.S.
Strategic Bombing  (SBS) Survey conclude the bombing had little result.
He further asks whether their could be a political factor involved.

My guess is that personal prejudice has played a role, perhaps a major
one, in interpreting the results of the allied air attacks, especially the
USAAF attacks.    John Kenneth Galbraith (politically a liberal) is most
famous for belittling the impact of the USAAF strategic attacks,
describing them in a well-known quote as "minor raids that did little to
reduce or contain German fighter production."  He based his opinion on the
figures for fighter production in the SBS.  In brief, these show fighter
production rising from 1,315 in Jan. 1944 to 2,779 in Aug. 1944.  Looking
at these figures superficially, it seems obvious the bombing attacks were
having no affect on fighter production.  However, German documents
(Auswertung der Einsatzbereitsch der fliegenden Verb) recovered after the
SBS was completed, showed different figures, for example 1,162 new built
plus 237 repaired in Jan. 1944 and 1,798 new built plus 676 repaired in
Aug. 1944.  It seems that the SBS was including repaired fighters in
overall production figures.  Walt Rostow (politically a conservative), who
strongly opposed Galbraith's view of strategic bombing, argued that the
SBS figures and the German documentary figures, however accurate--or
innacurate-- they may be, are misleading because there is no evidence that
the fighters built in 1944 were ever actually delivered to the Luftwaffe.
He points to the obvious fact that Luftwaffe operational efficiency did
not rise proportionate to the production figures.  In fact, many of the
fighters built or repaired were destroyed at the assembly plant.  Many
more were destroyed in transit, and many were not delivered to service
units because the transportation system had been disrupted by allied
bombing.  Support for this comes from comparing Luftwaffe Reich (dealing
with German fighter forces in the West) data on fighters accepted into the
command vs. alleged production figures.  For Aug., 1944, the SBS says
2,779 single engine fighters were produced.  Luftwaffe Reich data  for the
same month notes it received 439 single engine fighters.  Of course, some
single-engine fighters would have gone to the Eastern Front and other
Luftwaffe units, but considering the priority Luftwaffe Reich had, to
assume it would only get about 15 percent of the production total seems
Of course, credit has to be given to Speer for making German industry more
efficient, but the question has to be asked, how many more fighters would
he have been able to produce without the bombing, even if its only effect
was to force the dispersal of aircraft production facilities, which
delayed produciton and also made it more vulnerable to attacks on lines of
The reality is that the Luftwaffe was essentially nonexistent in the West
by D-Day.  And within a few months of D-Day, it was virtually nonexistent
even over Germany itself.  Considering this, one wonders whether Galbraith
allowed his political opinions to detach him from reality (After reading
some of his books, such as "The Affluent Society," the answer may be
obvious.).  Be that as it may, Galbraith had a powerful influence in
postwar U.S. policy making, and he and Walt Rostow were duking it out over
the effectiveness of air bombardment decades later during the Vietnam War.
 Galbraith's opinions had significant influence in the way Pres. Johnson
conducted the air war during that conflict.  The key assumption that
Galbraith et al  pushed--based on their interpretation of the SBS-- was
that even the heaviest bombing had little effect, so the main use of
bombing was theatrical and political, to be used as a bargaining chip--and
a white one not a blue one.  Rostow et al argued--based on their
understanding of what happened to German industry under aerial
attack--that bombing was not only an effective weapon, it was a  decisive
one, but only when turned loose in full fury on strategically important
targets and kept up without pause.

Incidentally, the USAF Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB has a web
site (don't know the address offhand, but typing in the name in your
search engine should find it).

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: daylight strategic bombing -- a failure?
Date: 03 Aug 1997

Here's another quote to throw into the hopper.  From Hienz Knoke's "I Flew
for the Fuhrer."
Knoke was leading a group of Me 109s on 14 May 1943:
 "The enemy raids Kiel....  Over Kiel we run into heavy flak from our own
guns.  The shooting by the Navy is unfortunately so good that we are
considerably disorganized.
"I observe the Yank bombing.  They dump their load right on the Germania
shipyards.  I am impressed by the precision with which those bastards
bomb:  it is fantastic."

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: daylight strategic bombing -- a failure?
Date: 09 Aug 1997

>daylight strategic bombing in Europe failed to
>achieve the objectives initially hoped for it

The objective of daylight strategic bombing by the USAAF  (Operation
Pointblank) was clear and specific:  destroy the Luftwaffe in the West
before Overlord begins.  That objective was achieved.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: B-24 with B-17 nose.
Date: 18 Mar 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

>The service ceiling of an ME-262 approximates 41,000 ft msl....

Nope.  It was 30,000 ft.  Above that, flame-out could occur at any time.  In
fact, USAAF pilots who flew the thing for the Air Materiel Command at Olmsted
Field after the war were instructed not to touch the throttle above 15,000 ft.
or so, because it they did, the damned engines would flame out.  Like all of
those very early jets, the engines were very "iffy."

>An ancillary effect of heavy bimber operations over Europe was attrition of
>German fighter forces.

Wasn't ancillary.  It was the main goal.  The Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff
assigned the USAAF 8AF the job of gaining control of the air by destroying the
Luftwaffe in a war of attrition--and do it before Overlord.  This was all
spelled out in the Pointblank directive issued in May, 1943.
To do this, 8AF had to force the GAF to make defending the Reich its No.1
priority, thus pushing onto the defensive.  This was considered crucial because
the GAF was conceived to be and its operational doctrines revolved around
offensive warfare.
Once this was accomplished, the 8AF  would have to win at least air superiority
to allow continued strategic bombing, to prevent the GAF from going back on the
offensive, and to permit Overlord to be executed unmolested by the GAF.  This
the 8AF did--in fact, it won air supremacy--despite many blunders in both
tactics and strategy.  Once this primary goal had been achieved, it was freed
to do other things, such as attack POL and transportation facilities.
Incidentally, it was Zuckerman and Leigh-Mallory who favored the next role
after destroying the GAF to be destroying transportation links, while Spaatz
favored the next target being POL.  Tedder and Eisenhower backed the
transportation plan and it was adopted.  But Spaatz liberally interpreted the
new goals.  Since destroying the remmants of the GAF was still Priority No. 1,
and since airplanes need POL to operate, he started bombing the POL industry in
May, 1944,  without any specific authority to do so.  He avoided criticism by
sending the 8AF against 23 of the 80 most important transportation targets
picked by the top brass.  (This compares with 18 by the 9AF and 39 by the RAF.

Index Home About Blog