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The bomber stream was a saturation attack tactic developed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command to overwhelm the nighttime German aerial defences of the Kammhuber Line during World War II.
The Kammhuber Line consisted of three layers of zones of about 32 km long (north–south) and 20 km wide (east–west). In each zone there were two German night fighter aircraft receiving ground-directed guidance from their own Himmelbett controller within each zone. While the Himmelbett control center could only handle two fighters, this was adequate for dealing with the RAF Bomber Command tactic of sending its night time bombers individually, with each bomber plotting its own route to the target, to avoid flak concentrations.
At the urging of British scientific military strategist R. V. Jones, Bomber Command reorganized their attacks into streams carefully positioned to fly right down the middle of a cell. —a 'stream of bombers' flying a common route at the same speed to and from the target, each aircraft being allotted a height band and a time slot in a bomber stream to minimize the risk of formation collision.The introduction of the GEE navigation system allowed the RAF bombers to fly a long, tight, formation in the dark
In one of the first applications of statistical operational research, the RAF estimated the number of bombers likely to be lost to enemy night fighters and flak, and how many would be lost through collisions. Minimizing the former demanded a densely packed stream, as the controllers of a night fighter flying a defensive 'box' could only direct a maximum of six potential interceptions per hour, and the flak gunners could not concentrate on all the available targets at once.
A typical bomber stream of 600 to 700 aircraft was on average 8 or 10 miles (13 or 16 km) broad, and 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,200 to 1,800 m) deep.
The bomber stream allowed a bombing raid to be completed in a shorter timeframe, further overwhelming the defensive tactics of the German forces. The earlier RAF tactic of sending bombers on individual routes meant that it could take four hours before all its planes would pass over their target; the bomber stream reduced this window to 90 minutes.
The first use of the bomber stream was the first 1,000 bomber raid against Cologne on the night of 30–31 May 1942.
The tactic proved successful and was used until the last days of the war, when centrally-organised German air defences had ceased to exist.
Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire, caused by incendiary devices, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs.
Josef Kammhuber was a career officer in the Luftwaffe and post-World War II German Air Force. During World War II, he was the first general of night fighters in the Luftwaffe.
RAF Bomber Command controlled the Royal Air Force's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. Along with the United States Army Air Forces, it played the central role in the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II. From 1942 onward, the British bombing campaign against Germany became less restrictive and increasingly targeted industrial sites and the civilian manpower base essential for German war production. In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command crews also suffered a high casualty rate: 55,573 were killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew, a 44.4% death rate. A further 8,403 men were wounded in action, and 9,838 became prisoners of war.
The Kammhuber Line was the Allied name given to the German night air defense system established in July 1940 by Colonel Josef Kammhuber. It consisted of a series of control sectors equipped with radars and searchlights and an associated night fighter. Each sector would direct the night fighter into visual range with target bombers.
Chaff, originally called Window by the British and Düppel by the Second World War era German Luftwaffe, is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns, in order to confuse and distract.
Big Week or Operation Argument was a sequence of raids by the United States Army Air Forces and RAF Bomber Command from 20 to 25 February 1944, as part of the European strategic bombing campaign against Nazi Germany. The planners intended to attack the German aircraft industry to lure the Luftwaffe into a decisive battle where the Luftwaffe could be damaged so badly that the Allies would achieve air superiority which would ensure success of the invasion of continental Europe.
Bomber is a novel by Len Deighton that was published in the United Kingdom in 1970. It is the fictionalised account of "the events relating to the last flight of an RAF Bomber over Germany on the night of June 31st, 1943", a deliberately impossible date, in which an RAF bombing raid on the Ruhr area of western Germany goes wrong. In each chapter, the plot is advanced by seeing the progress of the day through the eyes of protagonists on both sides of the conflict.
The German city of Cologne was bombed in 262 separate air raids by the Allies during World War II, all by the Royal Air Force (RAF). A total of 34,711 long tons of bombs were dropped on the city by the RAF. 20,000 people died during the war in Cologne due to aerial bombardments.
The bombing of Augsburg in World War II included two British RAF and one USAAF bombing raids against the German city of Augsburg on 17 April 1942 and 25/26 February 1944.
Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer was a German Luftwaffe night-fighter pilot and the highest-scoring night fighter ace in the history of aerial warfare. A flying ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during combat. All Schnaufer's 121 victories were claimed during World War II, mostly against British four-engine bombers, for which he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, Germany's highest military decoration at the time, on 16 October 1944. He was nicknamed "The Spook of St. Trond", from the location of his unit's base in occupied Belgium.
The Battle of Berlin was a bombing campaign against Berlin by RAF Bomber Command along with raids on other German cities to keep German defences dispersed. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) Bomber Command, believed that "We can wreck Berlin from end to end if the USAAF come in with us. It will cost us between 400 and 500 aircraft. It will cost Germany the war".
Operation Steinbock, sometimes called the Baby Blitz, was a strategic bombing campaign by the German Air Force during the Second World War. It targeted southern England and lasted from January to May 1944. Steinbock was the last strategic air offensive by the German bomber arm during the conflict.
The Defence of the Reich is the name given to the strategic defensive aerial campaign fought by the Luftwaffe air arm of the combined Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany over German-occupied Europe and Nazi Germany during World War II. Its aim was to prevent the destruction of German civilians, military and civil industries by the Western Allies. The day and night air battles over Germany during the war involved thousands of aircraft, units and aerial engagements to counter the Allied strategic bombing campaign. The campaign was one of the longest in the history of aerial warfare and with the Battle of the Atlantic and the Allied Blockade of Germany was the longest of the war. The Luftwaffe fighter force defended the airspace of German-occupied territory against attack, first by RAF Bomber Command and then against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the Combined Bomber Offensive.
Günther Wolfgang Bahr was a German Luftwaffe fighter pilot and night fighter flying ace during World War II. He claimed 36 victories at night, plus one further daytime aerial victory, all of which were four-engine bombers, achieved in over 90 combat missions. He counted 37 victories over all. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Bahr died in April 2009 at the age of 87.
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Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter-wing of World War II. NJG 1 was formed on 22 June 1940 and comprised four Gruppen (groups). NJG 1 was created as an air defence unit for the Defence of the Reich campaign; an aerial war waged by the Luftwaffe against the bombing of the German Reich by RAF Bomber Command and the United States Air Force. In 1941 airborne radar was introduced with radar operators, and standardised in 1942 and 1943. Consequently, a large number of German night fighter aces existed within NJG 1.
Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 was a German Luftwaffe night fighter and night intruder wing during World War II.
The Battle of the Ruhr was a strategic bombing campaign against the Ruhr Area in Nazi Germany carried out by RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War. The Ruhr was the main centre of German heavy industry with coke plants, steelworks, armaments factories and ten synthetic oil plants. The British attacked 26 targets identified in the Combined Bomber Offensive. Targets included the Krupp armament works (Essen), the Nordstern synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen and the Rheinmetal–Borsig plant in Düsseldorf, which was evacuated during the battle. The battle included cities such as Cologne not in the Ruhr proper but which were in the larger Rhine-Ruhr region and considered part of the Ruhr industrial complex. Some targets were not sites of heavy industry but part of the production and movement of materiel.
Operation Gisela was the codename for a German military operation of the Second World War. Gisela was designed as an aerial intruder operation to support the German air defence system in its night battles with RAF Bomber Command during the Defence of the Reich campaign. It was the last major operation launched by the Luftwaffe Nachtjagdgeschwader during the conflict.