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In 1944, during World War II, a plan called Operation Thunderclap was proposed.The idea was to bomb Berlin, which would inflict many casualties. However, the project was never put into action. General Laurence Kuter, the Assistant U.S. Chief of Staff of plans, was against the British Air Ministry's plan to bomb large and small cities all over Germany. However, a bombing of this scale could have had an enormous impact on the German people's morale. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was entirely on board for the Thunderclap Plan to massively bomb Berlin. He wrote about the plan, “While I have always insisted that U.S. Strategic Air Forces be directed against precision targets, I am always prepared to take part in anything that gives promise to ending the war quickly." However, President Roosevelt's Military Advisor, Admiral Leahy, said, “It would be a mistake to formally endorse the morale bombing of Germany.”
Instead of massively bombing Berlin, the Combined Air Staff thought to destroy many Eastern German cities, including Dresden, in a modified version of the Thunderclap plan. Winston Churchill wanted a bargaining chip that he could use against the Russians on the Eastern front and thought he could use this. The idea was for the Americans to bomb the railroads during the day and for the British to destroy other vital targets during the night. Marshal Harris is credited with coming up with a double attack three hours apart on Dresden for the British section of the assault. The first was to cut off communication lines with the defences like flak batteries and fighter battalions and fire departments and other passive defences. Three hours later, the second wave would catch the fighters on the ground, refuelling and destroy them. The R.A.F. bombing sector played a critical role in the attack and planning. The attack on Dresden was designed to start an enormous fire, lighting the way for possibly another wave of bombers. The modified version of the Thunderclap plan was fully supported by the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, George Marshall. He thought that damage of this capacity would be an enormous setback to the German war effort.
However, in this plan, there were several problems. Dresden was never considered a serious target, so there were very few detailed and accurate maps of the city. They did not have enough information about the town to make a coordinated and effective attack on the city entirely. There was much doubt in many other areas of this assault. Nothing was known about the air defences of the town, so they would have a chance of being stopped by unknown defences. This was a significant risk that many pilots did not feel comfortable taking. Also, in the initial attack plan, the planners of the attack were unsure where exactly the correct railway lines were. There were many railways in Dresden, but the bombers did not know which ones to attack to make a more effective attack. Lastly, not enough fighters were in service to provide an escort with the planes, so no offence was put into action.
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale, its economic ability to produce and transport materiel to the theatres of military operations, or both. It is a systematically organized and executed attack from the air which can utilize strategic bombers, long- or medium-range missiles, or nuclear-armed fighter-bomber aircraft to attack targets deemed vital to the enemy's war-making capability.
The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe. It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The British officially recognise the battle's duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz.
The bombing of Dresden was a British-American aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, during World War II. In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed more than 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre. An estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people were killed. Three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March aimed at the city's railway marshalling yard and one smaller raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas.
The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and is the German word for 'lightning'.
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.
The Baedeker Blitz or Baedeker raids were a series of attacks by the Luftwaffe on English cities during the Second World War. The name derives from Baedeker, a series of German tourist guidebooks, including detailed maps, which were used to generate targets for bombing.
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF'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.
Strategic bombing during World War II was the sustained aerial attack on railways, harbours, cities, workers' and civilian housing, and industrial districts in enemy territory during World War II. Strategic bombing is a military strategy which is distinct from both close air support of ground forces and tactical air power.
Hugo Sperrle was a German military aviator in World War I and a Generalfeldmarschall in the Luftwaffe during World War II.
The Bombing of Warsaw in World War II refers to the aerial bombing campaign of Warsaw by the German Luftwaffe during the siege of Warsaw in the invasion of Poland in 1939. It also may refer to German bombing raids during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. During the course of the war approximately 85% of the city was destroyed due to German mass bombings, heavy artillery fire and a planned demolition campaign.
Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany, was subject to 363 air raids during the Second World War. It was bombed by the RAF Bomber Command between 1940 and 1945, by the USAAF Eighth Air Force between 1943 and 1945, and the French Air Force between 1944 and 1945, as part of the Allied campaign of strategic bombing of Germany. It was also attacked by aircraft of the Red Air Force, in 1941 and particularly in 1945 as Soviet forces closed on the city. British bombers dropped 45,517 tons of bombs, while American aircraft dropped 23,000 tons. As the bombings continued, more and more people fled the city. By May 1945, 1.7 million people had fled.
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.
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) but for a single failed post-capture test of a guided missile by the United States Army Air Forces. 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.
Prague, the capital and largest city of the German-occupied Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was bombed several times by the Allies during World War II. The first Allied aircraft to fly over Prague was a single bomber of the French Air Force in April 1940, but it dropped propaganda leaflets, not bombs. The first bombing mission was flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in October 1941. Prague was then bombed three times by the United States Army Air Forces between the fall of 1944 and spring of 1945. During the Prague uprising of 5–9 May 1945, the Luftwaffe made use of bombers against the rebels.
The Battle of Berlin was a series of attacks on Berlin by RAF Bomber Command along with raids on other German cities to keep German defences dispersed. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, 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".
The Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) was an Allied offensive of strategic bombing during World War II in Europe. The primary portion of the CBO was against Luftwaffe targets which was the highest priority from June 1943 to 1 April 1944. The subsequent highest priority campaigns were against V-weapon installations and petroleum, oil, and lubrication (POL) plants. Additional CBO targets included railyards and other transportation targets, particularly prior to the invasion of Normandy and, along with army equipment, in the final stages of the War in Europe.
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 armed forces 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).
Battle of Britain Day is 15 September 1940, the day on which a large-scale aerial battle in the Battle of Britain took place.
The air warfare of World War II was a major component in all theaters of the war and, together with anti-aircraft warfare, consumed a large fraction of the industrial output of the major powers. Germany and Japan depended on air forces that were closely integrated with land and naval forces; the Axis powers downplayed the advantage of fleets of strategic bombers, and were late in appreciating the need to defend against Allied strategic bombing. By contrast, Britain and the United States took an approach that greatly emphasised strategic bombing, and tactical control of the battlefield by air, as well as adequate air defences. Both Britain and the U.S. built a substantially larger strategic forces of large, long-range bombers. Simultaneously, they built tactical air forces that could win air superiority over the battlefields, thereby giving vital assistance to ground troops. The U.S. and Royal Navy also built a powerful naval-air component based on aircraft carriers, as did the Japanese; these played the central role in the war at sea.
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 LuftwaffeNachtjagdgeschwader during the conflict.