Evolving Roles of American Bombers during WWII
Aircraft have played an important role since their invention. As technological advancements improved aircraft, increasingly, they became more deadly. Technological advancements achieved by the Allies and Axis’ during the WWII were crucial for aviation during that period and for future generations. Designs and specs for WWII-era aircraft are impressive, even by today’s standards. The roles these aircraft had were crucial in winning the war. Some of the roles included target bombing that permitted stopping resupply production and hindering the enemy's capabilities. Reconnaissance missions enabled better war planning. Fighter aircraft had a special key role during the war: escorting bomber aircraft reach their intended target. Ground-support aircraft were also very important in helping avoid casualties. This paper focuses on the evolving roles of American bombers during that time and how that enabled the U.S. to have successful bombing campaigns in Europe and Pacific theaters; and finally how all that relates in winning WWII.
The Role of Airpower
American bombers played a very crucial part in winning WWII. Air power was needed in both the European and Pacific theaters to win the war. Developing aircraft and its technology were critical to achieve air superiority. In the early stages of the war, aircraft were limited to range and payloads. Both, Allied advancements into enemy territory and developing aircraft designs enabled bombers to reach the heart of operations in which the economies were developed and products were produced for the war effort. There is however documentation stating the duplicative effect of bombing in Japan as its manufacturing level was dwindling already as time progressed because of the shortage of raw materials and skill-level. Aside from no direct impact to Japanese economy and production, bombing, along with other factors, did cause Japanese leaders and its citizens to surrender as they saw no choice or no point to keep fighting and only death would come to them if they kept on going (Volume 55, 1947, p. VI). On the European theater however, bombing was more apparent in the defeat. Records show that more than one million forty thousand bomber sorties were flown and almost 2,700,000 tons of bombs were dropped (Volume 2, 1945, p. 1). The bombing surveys of both theaters demonstrate the direct impact on society, economy, and war capability. The surveys were performed shortly after each theater defeat and do not show effect after each bombing but the overall effect in winning in both Germany and Japan. The damage bombers could cause was apparent but “limitations of range, limitations of fighter escort, limitations of numbers, limitations forced by weather over the European continent, which was particularly unsuited to the desire form of attack” (Volume 2, 1945, p. 9) forced the design and the production of new American fighter aircraft. These new designs, such as the P-51 Mustang, had longer range and capability, which in turn enabled successful bombing raids and therefore helping in the surrender of the Axis.
Grand-Strategic Bombing Offensives
The British and Americans emphasized the use of grand-strategic bombing during WWII. The British used airpower successful in the Battle of Britain where they defended themselves against Germany attack in 1940. The allied forces such as the Soviets Union used airpower to support their infantry and tanks forces. In addition, airpower was applied in U-boats offensives in the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. (Armchair General, 2009, p.1). This strategy employed area bombing where cities and towns were attacked during nocturnal raids. In March 1942, destructive bombing raids were carried out on Lubeck, Essen and Ruhr towns in Germany (Hughes, 2014). In May 30-31, almost 1,000 bombers were dispatched against the town of Cologne. The intensive attack heavily damaged one third of the city.
The air offensive operations comprised various phases. The first phase was the battle of the Ruhr which comprised more than 18, 506 sorties from July 1943. After the invasion commenced, the air forces focused on battleground interdiction as well as closing air support. In addition, part of the strategy was to deceive the Germans to concentrate their attention in the Pas de Calais air campaign while the landing sites of the Allied air bombers were secretly kept. Air force that was Rocket-Armed and Hawkers’ Typhoon bombers launched attacks on radar installations outside the area of assault. The cost was 872 aircrafts that were shot down but they were successful in damaging more than two thousand one hundred aircrafts Axis aircrafts (HistoryShots, 2009, p.2). Furthermore, Eder dam in the Weser basin and Mohne dam in the Ruhr basin were heavily destroyed in the night of May 16-17, 1943. Secondly, the battle of Hamburg that comprised 17, 021 sorties at a cost of 695 bombers (HistoryShots, 2009, p.3).
Prior to 1942, Sir Arthur Harris led the RAF bomber command to intensify the Allies growing strategic air offensive against Germany. The attacks focused to strike rail depots, bridges, factories, dockyards, dams and cities. The bombers focused their operations on the bases of U-boat on the Biscay Bay. The RAF resumed the air attacks operations against Germany in March 1943. RAF effectively concentrated against main industrial targets like those in Ruhr in order to destroy Germany source of aircraft production (Armchair General, 2009, p.1). Another phase of attack was carried out from November 1943 to march 1944 in the Battle of Berlin. This applied more than twenty thousand bomber sorties and produced more devastation in Germany but it was slightly less than that in the Battle of Hamburg (HistoryShots, 2009, p.2). This aimed to destroy Germany war industry and to deprive its citizens their housing hence forcing their Armies to surrender
The Allied forces had been preparing for offensive in Europe for almost two years by D-Day, in June 6, 1944. In August 1943, the Allied forces Chief of Staff had adopted a strategy dubbed OVERLORD. This was a broad tactical strategy for invasion of Europe. In the European theater, General Dwight Eisenhower commanded the for
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