Bomber Command review ↠ 3



10 thoughts on “Bomber Command

  1. says:

    Max Hastings is arguably the top British war historian working today He has also contributed mightily to work on the histories of the 20th century’s great wars in a variety of media for example at the Imperial War Museum in London Bomber Command was one of his first books I read it in preparation for an upcoming trip to Lincolnshire where there is a museum on Bomber CommandHastings has a particular skill at weaving together the different aspects of a war such that one can see both the broad strategic dimensions of the conflict as well as the particular and gritty reality for those fighting on the ground This is a real gift that will become important as time passes and the people with direct experience of WW2 grow old and leave the scene as with WW1With the bombing campaigns of WW2 there is much to cover and conflicts around strategies and results that continue today for example in continuing debates about the role of American air power during the Vietnam War While Slaughterhouse Five was first published in 1969 it is still widely read today Jorg Friedrich’s Der Brand The Fire presents a view of strategic bombing from the ground up and was important in Germany before it was translated Those who paid attention in the recent Gulf Wars will surely remember accounts of “smart bombs” and how they have improved warfare I suspect the debates will not be resolved anytime soonHastings builds the story of Bomber Command and its leader “Bomber” Harris with these issues suarely in mind He is exceptional at weaving in the strategic versus tactical issues of bombing with differences between British and American approaches the evolution of technological capabilities during the war the role of the Germans in responding to bomber operations and the role of the bombing campaigns in the overall course of the war in Europe Hastings adds to his account the role of organization and personalities in the evolution of the bomber war especially the problem of getting strong leadership within the context of a complex war effort that reuired a team perspectiveHastings has strong and often critical perspectives on the bomber war but he is careful to balance it with a nuanced account of the value of the bombers to the British and overall allied war effort This struck me as an honest effort to tally up the costs and benefits of the war although it may frustrate some readers Hastings’ account is superb in highlighting the difficulties in figuring out just what to do with a branch of the services and what the overall objectives are upon which so many lives and resources depend Strategy is not just lip service but is hard to conceive of and harder still to implement consistently and effectively If anything he could have spent time discussing such issues of management and direction along with the issues of area versus pinpoint bombing The latter issues are not going away anytime soon The murkier issues of management and direction also remain with us and are likely to get important as the stakes get higherThis is a fine book and well worth the time


  2. says:

    Let’s acknowledge the truth the Royal Air Force was unfairly scorned at the end of WWII for their efforts In fact you could say they were view spoiler ROYALLY FUCKED hide spoiler


  3. says:

    Whether the intense bombing of Germany was crucial in advancing the allied cause and preventing wholesale slaughter as in World War I remains a controversial topic still unresolved The fact remains that many hundreds of thousands of Germans were killed in firestorm raids whose sole intent admitted by the British was to demoralize the enemy But at what cost The British lost officers to aircraft casualties than they had in all of WW I and the pitiful survival rate of a bomber crew was matched only by German U boat crews Was this decisive? Or merely catastrophic as Sir Henry Tizard feared already in 1942As early as 1920 JFC Fuller who later became an opponent of using the bomber as a strategic weapon foresaw Fleets of aeroplanes will attack the enemy's great industrial and governing centres All these attacks will be made against the civil population in order to compel it to accept the will of the attacker Despite the intense debate before the war on the value of attacking enemy cities and publicly there was a great fear of being attacked from the air given the casualty projections of bomber attacks on English cities the English bomber command even two years into the war was unable to find German cities at night in 1941 let alone bomb them All of their preparations had been based on totally unrealistic training and false assumptions on the value of self defending bomber formationsPrior to the start of the war there was no understanding of how best to destroy structures using explosives The high command had preferred using ten 200 lb bombs instead of one 2000 lb bomb because at least that way there was a slight chance of hitting the target Despite their public positions everyone knew that in reality bombing was about destroying morale not buildingsAttacks on civilians had been verboten for fear of German reprisals They were even afraid to bomb anything that could be construed as private property So at the beginning of the war attacks had been limited to naval targets objectives they were ill euipped for especially since they were directed to fly above 10000 feet in order to avoid was was ill conceived to be the principle danger flak In reality it was German fighters who caused substantial damage but in typical higher rank myopia the losses were blamed on crew who did not keep tight enough formation This in spite of not providing self sealing fuel tanks a bullet hit often turned leaking fuel into an inferno and rear turrets that failed to traverse than eighty degrees for fear of shooting their own tails off Flying above 10000 feet made the grease in the turrets so cold thee turrets often failed to rotate anywayThe only thing that saved Britain was probably that a decision had been made by the German High Command to invest in light bombers which could be used to support ground troops during the Blitzkrieg They had and better planes but the British emphasized larger strategic bombers although planes like the Blenheim were incredible flying coffins especially since all the resources had gone toward self defended bombers rather than any money toward fighter escorts The Blenheims were sent out in droves They were shot down by the dozens often none in a mission returned The average lifespan of a crew was barely a couple of weeksMistakes were common One crew that flew through a severe magnetic storm discovered to its horror after their return that they had mistaken the Thames estuary for that of the Rhine and had bombed “with unusual precision one their own airfields They were only marginally consoled to learn they had caused little damage command staff learning about the failures of their stick of bombsFlying one of the early bombers was appallingly difficult “The flew layered in silk wool and leather yet still their sandwiches and coffee froze solid as they ate and drank vital systems jammed limbs seized wings iced up for lack of de icing gear” Amidst the hustle of aircrew pulling on flying clothes and seizing maps and euipment they drew flying rations of sandwiches and chocolate to be returned intact if the exercise was for any reason uncompleted This is the kind of detail that really brings home what it was like The idea the crews would have to return sandwiches taken on a mission is so ludicrous as to be beyond Catch 22All for little in the way of results and at terrible cost Reports of results went beyond hyperbole Air Command noted after a comparison between aircrew reports and photographic results later that “the operation does not confirm that as a general rule the average crews of our heavy bombers can identify targets at night even under the best conditions nor does it prove that the average crew can bomb industrial targets at night” Nevertheless communiues completely untruthful were issued reporting glowing successesSome very poignant material in this book Clearly Hasting empathizes with the little guy the ones doing all the fighting and dying He uotes a letter in its entirety from John Bufton to his girlfriend talking about his fatalism his inability to plan with the only focus being on keeping his machine running and trying to get enough sleep He talks about what she should do if he is killed knowing what the odds are go and have a permand carry on and why they shouldn't get married He died a month laterHastings concludes that German industry was astonishingly resilient their production of tanks almost doubled between 1943 and 1944 but that it was the defeat of the Luftwaffe especially after the introduction of the Mustang P 51 and the attacks on German oilfields that made a greater difference Ultimately it came very late in the war “It is gratifying to airmen but historically irrelevant that they would have destroyed the German economy granted another few months of hostilities Many of their greatest feats of precision bombing such as the sinking of the Tirpitz which would have been a vital strategic achievement in 1941 1942 even 1943 had become no than marvelous circus tricks by the time they were achieved in 1944 and 1945 The pace of the war had overtaken them on the ground”Hastings added numerous charts and tables showing German war production compared to British throughout the war as well as some excellent line drawings of the various aircraft involved It’s an excellent book filled with with pertinent anecdotes that deserves to be widely read as a caveat against hubris and arrogance


  4. says:

    One of the best books yet written about Bomber Command Hastings clearly and critically differentiates between the political manouvrings and ambitions of the upper levels of the command structure and the experiences of the men who flew over occupied Europe every night to fulfill the orders of men who had only ever flown a desk Hastings is clearly sympathetic to the ordinary airmen expressing his disgust that there has never been a Bomber Command campaign medal so richly deserved by these brave young men and the chapters covering the operational experiences of the various suadrons and groups are the best written and most interesting in the book as is the vivid chapter retelling the Allied bombing of the German city of Darmstadt from the perspective of the German civilians on the recieving end of this raid This is a good introduction to the story of the bomber war its arguable effectiveness and the political ethical and military wrangling surrounding it that probably cost the lives of many RAF aircrews


  5. says:

    Max Hasting delivers yet another well researched and insightful book In this offering he looks at Britains Bomber Command and follows it through it's conception to the end of the war The writing is just the right mix giving a great overview of Bomber Command As well as allowing the reader to get a feel for what it was like for those who flew the missions and those who were on the receiving end of it Hasting does not shy away from the difficult uestions raised by the tactics used by Bomber Command and delivers a insightful look at the reasoning behind them


  6. says:

    Max Hastings' Bomber Command is a rare achievement This book explores a broad complex subject with depth and balance all within a relatively brief number of pages On top of that it's very readable and entertaining Hastings explores the history of the RAF's Bomber Command in World War II beginning with it's origins tracing it's evolution throughout the conflict and concluding with it's legacy The narrative alternates between focusing on command and political discussions and historical vignettes of particular suadrons at particular times of the war In this manner Hastings gives us a pretty complete picture of Bomber Command's war without getting drawn out into a lengthy repetitive account Hastings analysis of the achievements of Bomber Command is tough but fair and evidence based While they contributed considerably to Britain's morale at key points and provided important support for the Allied invasion of Normandy their overall strategic goals were largely a failure This comes down partly to a lag in technological capability partly to lack of reliable intelligence analysis of bombing results and partly from poor decisions by the upper leadership of Bomber Command and the Air Ministry My only complaint about this book and the only reason I docked it a star is that some of it's information is a little dated Hastings buys into some of the mythology surrounding the German economy and Albert Speer that has been challenge by recent works such as Adam Tooze's The Wages of Destruction This isn't enough to hurt the overall uality of Hastings' arguments and analysis in this book but it's something of which the reader should be aware


  7. says:

    Complete and sometimes gripping but this account suffers by comparison to Bungay's on the fighter suadrons by being desultory within and by chapter Still the conclusion is clear and cogent Bomber Command did go too far Irrespective of whether or not you consider the Germans deserved it continued indiscriminate area bombing of German cities did not contribute much to winning or hastening the end of the War


  8. says:

    Surely the definitive history of Bomber Command Though written and first published many years ago 1970s it an incredibly detailed piece of work worthy of a place on any History shelf


  9. says:

    This is Max Hastings first WWII book published in 1979 Now a classic it was controversial at the outset because it disputed the claims of Bomber Command and of the U S Army Air Force about the efficacy and costs of the bombing of Germany and Japan Since then Hastings has placed his stamp on other theaters of that war Only a few recent examples An overview of the war with emphasis on the Eastern Front “Inferno the World at War 1939 45” see review Operation Overlord and the march to Germany “Armageddon The Battle for Germany 1944 45” see review the Pacific Air War over Japan “Retribution The Battle for Japan 1944 45” see review Over the years he has continued to master the historical records and has improved both his organization and presentation “Bomber Command” is a very good book but it is clearly a training exercise for the outstanding military historian Hastings has become If you read Bomber Command and find it unappealing try Hastings’ later booksBritish air power was an area of hot controversy in the interwar period In WWI the airplane was essentially a tactical scouting device and the emergence of a strategic air doctrine was extremely slow with vicious battles raging between those who saw air power—particularly the bomber—as the way to win the war and those who saw air power as at best a support for ground and naval forces Into this cauldron was dropped an intense debate among the air power devotees—should the bomber’s role be precision bombing of military targets or should it be used to inflict high civilian casualties in the hope that the enemy would sue for peace? Should fighters be given emphasis in the next war? What role should fighters play—mere escorts for bombers? defense? weapons to control air space?In addition to the uandary over air strategy the Britain of 1940 was little suited to either precision bombing or urban damage For example the single engine three man Battle a light bomber was so slow had such a tiny payload was so poorly defended and was so clumsy that it did little than absorb the bullets of German fighters Later bombers like the medium bombers the Blenheims Stirlings etc were still no match for the Germans Not until 1943 was there a heavy bomber akin to the B 17 the British Lancaster had the speed payload self defense and range reuired to bomb GermanyNot only did the RAF of 1940 have no suitable bombers and no air strategy it also had no experience akin to the Lufwaffe’s experience from the Spanish Civil War That the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain was due to a most unexpected source—the RAF’s under resourced fighter command used in a defensive role rather than the offensive weapons bombers that were the RAF’s darlings Over time an air strategy did emerge The bomber was at its core first as a precision weapon until abundant evidence showed that even when bombers did navigate to their designated targets many didn’t and passed through the curtain of flak and fighters many didn’t their bombs typically fell miles from the target In fact the evidence indicated that precision bombing had neither strategic nor morale value except perhaps at the English home front And to boot it was extremely expensive in blood and resources Had that evidence been made public it would have cut the floor from under the “Bomb Germany” policy; but it was not—and did not Thus other alternatives like using bombers in theaters like the Battle of the Atlantic to protect convoys and the MeditteraneanMiddle East were neglected Instead the “Bomb Germany” policy continued with a shift to area bombing intended to destroy the German will to fight The success of bad policy in the face of counterevidence is laid largely at the doorstep of Churchill backed by Professor Linneman his duplicitous science advisor and of a vigorous Bomber Command lobby area bombing was the de facto policy while precision bombing continued as the de jure policy In short the government lied often and loudly about its air goals Leadership of the area bombing effort was lodged with Air Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris a man who when chided by a policeman that his chronic speeding might kill someone replied “I kill hundreds every night” A man of extremes Harris believed that Germany could be defeated by bombing alone and his publicity machine trumpeted that “fact”Britain had the wrong strategy Bomb Germany the wrong resources too many bombers and too few fighters capable of matching the Germans and too little of everything But the entry of the U S Air Forces into the European war changed the balance after 1942 The USAAF’s 8th Air Force supplemented the urban bombing campaign while American fighters— particularly the new and very fast P51 Mustang— took control of the skies In fact an advantage of continued area bombing was that it attracted German fighters for the kill by P51s And the 15th Air Force in Italy engaged in bombing the Balkan oil fields to great effect Finally the resources and the strategy were sufficient for the task Perhaps the best lesson from Bomber Command is the difficulty of eliminating or modifying a bad policy after its adherents have become entrenched This lesson applies of course to all policy issues at every levelReviewed Books by Max Hastings Catastrophe 1914 Europe Goes to War Bomber Command Inferno The World at War 1939 45 Armageddon The Battle for Germany 1944 45 Retribution The Battle for Japan 1944 45


  10. says:

    Sober minded military history as it's meant to be; this WW2 long overview of one of the Allied forces' most controversial methods of attack benefits from Hastings having interviewed many surviving RAF aircrew who largely appear to have understood they were being sent out to slaughter by high command The description of the aftermath of the 1944 bombing of Darmstadt brings to life the devastation of raids on the German citizens affected and one is largely left with the impression noble as the battle against fascism was that in Bomber Command's case the means overtook the ends in Hastings' own words


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Bomber Command

review Bomber Command

Bomber Command’s air offensive against the cities of Nazi Germany was one of the most epic campaigns of World War II More than 56000 British and Commonwealth aircrew and 600000 Germans died in the course of the RAF’s attempt to win the war by bombing The struggle in the air began meekly in 1939 with only a few Whitleys Hampdens and Wellingtons flying blindly through the night on their ill conceived bombing runs It ended six years later with 1. Whether the intense bombing of Germany was crucial in advancing the allied cause and preventing wholesale slaughter as in World War I remains a controversial topic still unresolved The fact remains that many hundreds of thousands of Germans were killed in firestorm raids whose sole intent admitted by the British was to demoralize the enemy But at what cost The British lost officers to aircraft casualties than they had in all of WW I and the pitiful survival rate of a bomber crew was matched only by German U boat crews Was this decisive Or merely catastrophic as Sir Henry Tizard feared already in 1942As early as 1920 JFC Fuller who later became an opponent of using the bomber as a strategic weapon foresaw Fleets of aeroplanes will attack the enemy's great industrial and governing centres All these attacks will be made against the civil population in order to compel it to accept the will of the attacker Despite the intense debate before the war on the value of attacking enemy cities and publicly there was a great fear of being attacked from the air given the casualty projections of bomber attacks on English cities the English bomber command even two years into the war was unable to find German cities at night in 1941 let alone bomb them All of their preparations had been based on totally unrealistic training and false assumptions on the value of self defending bomber formationsPrior to the start of the war there was no understanding of how best to destroy structures using explosives The high command had preferred using ten 200 lb bombs instead of one 2000 lb bomb because at least that way there was a slight chance of hitting the target Despite their public positions everyone knew that in reality bombing was about destroying morale not buildingsAttacks on civilians had been verboten for fear of German reprisals They were even afraid to bomb anything that could be construed as private property So at the beginning of the war attacks had been limited to naval targets objectives they were ill euipped for especially since they were directed to fly above 10000 feet in order to avoid was was ill conceived to be the principle danger flak In reality it was German fighters who caused substantial damage but in typical higher rank myopia the losses were blamed on crew who did not keep tight enough formation This in spite of not providing self sealing fuel tanks a bullet hit often turned leaking fuel into an inferno and rear turrets that failed to traverse than eighty degrees for fear of shooting their own tails off Flying above 10000 feet made the grease in the turrets so cold thee turrets often failed to rotate anywayThe only thing that saved Britain was probably that a decision had been made by the German High Command to invest in light bombers which could be used to support ground troops during the Blitzkrieg They had and better planes but the British emphasized larger strategic bombers although planes like the Blenheim were incredible flying coffins especially since all the resources had gone toward self defended bombers rather than any money toward fighter escorts The Blenheims were sent out in droves They were shot down by the dozens often none in a mission returned The Consummate Cowboy runs It ended six years later with 1. Whether the intense bombing of Germany was crucial in advancing the allied cause and preventing wholesale slaughter as in World War I Crave remains a controversial topic still unresolved The fact A Daddy for Dillon remains that many hundreds of thousands of Germans were killed in firestorm A Shooting Star raids whose sole intent admitted by the British was to demoralize the enemy But at what cost The British lost officers to aircraft casualties than they had in all of WW I and the pitiful survival Sheik Daddy rate of a bomber crew was matched only by German U boat crews Was this decisive Or merely catastrophic as Sir Henry Tizard feared already in 1942As early as 1920 JFC Fuller who later became an opponent of using the bomber as a strategic weapon foresaw Fleets of aeroplanes will attack the enemy's great industrial and governing centres All these attacks will be made against the civil population in order to compel it to accept the will of the attacker Despite the intense debate before the war on the value of attacking enemy cities and publicly there was a great fear of being attacked from the air given the casualty projections of bomber attacks on English cities the English bomber command even two years into the war was unable to find German cities at night in 1941 let alone bomb them All of their preparations had been based on totally unrealistic training and false assumptions on the value of self defending bomber formationsPrior to the start of the war there was no understanding of how best to destroy structures using explosives The high command had preferred using ten 200 lb bombs instead of one 2000 lb bomb because at least that way there was a slight chance of hitting the target Despite their public positions everyone knew that in Daddy's Little Matchmaker reality bombing was about destroying morale not buildingsAttacks on civilians had been verboten for fear of German Cooking Up Trouble / Kiss the Cook reprisals They were even afraid to bomb anything that could be construed as private property So at the beginning of the war attacks had been limited to naval targets objectives they were ill euipped for especially since they were directed to fly above 10000 feet in order to avoid was was ill conceived to be the principle danger flak In The Daddy Surprise reality it was German fighters who caused substantial damage but in typical higher Die Wildrose rank myopia the losses were blamed on crew who did not keep tight enough formation This in spite of not providing self sealing fuel tanks a bullet hit often turned leaking fuel into an inferno and Criminal Deception rear turrets that failed to traverse than eighty degrees for fear of shooting their own tails off Flying above 10000 feet made the grease in the turrets so cold thee turrets often failed to The Renegade Cowboy Returns (Callahan Cowboys, rotate anywayThe only thing that saved Britain was probably that a decision had been made by the German High Command to invest in light bombers which could be used to support ground troops during the Blitzkrieg They had and better planes but the British emphasized larger strategic bombers although planes like the Blenheim were incredible flying coffins especially since all the A Very Tudor Christmas resources had gone toward self defended bombers Christmastime Courtship rather than any money toward fighter escorts The Blenheims were sent out in droves They were shot down by the dozens often none in a mission Red Shoes and a Diary returned

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600 Lancasters Halifaxes and Mosuitoes euipped with the best of British wartime technology razing whole German cities in a single night Bomber Command through fits and starts grew into an effective fighting forceIn Bomber Command originally published to critical acclaim in the UK famed British military historian Sir Max Hastings offers a captivating analysis of the strategy and decision making behind one of World War II’s most violent episodes. Max Hastings' Bomber Command is a rare achievement This book explores a broad complex subject with depth and balance all within a relatively brief number of pages On top of that it's very readable and entertaining Hastings explores the history of the RAF's Bomber Command in World War II beginning with it's origins tracing it's evolution throughout the conflict and concluding with it's legacy The narrative alternates between focusing on command and political discussions and historical vignettes of particular suadrons at particular times of the war In this manner Hastings gives us a pretty complete picture of Bomber Command's war without getting drawn out into a lengthy repetitive account Hastings analysis of the achievements of Bomber Command is tough but fair and evidence based While they contributed considerably to Britain's morale at key points and provided important support for the Allied invasion of Normandy their overall strategic goals were largely a failure This comes down partly to a lag in technological capability partly to lack of reliable intelligence analysis of bombing results and partly from poor decisions by the upper leadership of Bomber Command and the Air Ministry My only complaint about this book and the only reason I docked it a star is that some of it's information is a little dated Hastings buys into some of the mythology surrounding the German economy and Albert Speer that has been challenge by recent works such as Adam Tooze's The Wages of Destruction This isn't enough to hurt the overall uality of Hastings' arguments and analysis in this book but it's something of which the reader should be aware The Conqueror's Lady / The Mercenary's Bride / His Enemy's Daughter razing whole German cities in a single night Bomber Command through fits and starts grew into an effective fighting forceIn Bomber Command originally published to critical acclaim in the UK famed British military historian Sir Max Hastings offers a captivating analysis of the strategy and decision making behind one of World War II’s most violent episodes. Max Hastings' Bomber Command is a Cowboy Smith rare achievement This book explores a broad complex subject with depth and balance all within a Cries in the Night relatively brief number of pages On top of that it's very Justice at Cardwell Ranch readable and entertaining Hastings explores the history of the RAF's Bomber Command in World War II beginning with it's origins tracing it's evolution throughout the conflict and concluding with it's legacy The narrative alternates between focusing on command and political discussions and historical vignettes of particular suadrons at particular times of the war In this manner Hastings gives us a pretty complete picture of Bomber Command's war without getting drawn out into a lengthy Cowboy Who Came for Christmas repetitive account Hastings analysis of the achievements of Bomber Command is tough but fair and evidence based While they contributed considerably to Britain's morale at key points and provided important support for the Allied invasion of Normandy their overall strategic goals were largely a failure This comes down partly to a lag in technological capability partly to lack of Cradle of Solitude reliable intelligence analysis of bombing Cowboy Under the Mistletoe results and partly from poor decisions by the upper leadership of Bomber Command and the Air Ministry My only complaint about this book and the only The Christmas Wedding Quilt: Let It Snow\You Better Watch Out\Nine Ladies Dancing reason I docked it a star is that some of it's information is a little dated Hastings buys into some of the mythology surrounding the German economy and Albert Speer that has been challenge by Crybaby Falls recent works such as Adam Tooze's The Wages of Destruction This isn't enough to hurt the overall uality of Hastings' arguments and analysis in this book but it's something of which the Criminal Intent reader should be aware

Max Hastings æ 3 read

With firsthand descriptions of the experiences of aircrew from 1939 to 1945 based on one hundred interviews with veterans and a harrowing narrative of the experiences of Germans on the ground during the September 1944 bombing of Darmstadt Bomber Command is widely recognized as a classic account of one of the bloodiest campaigns in World War II history Now back in print in the US this book is an essential addition to any history reader’s bookshe. Surely the definitive history of Bomber Command Though written and first published many years ago 1970s it an incredibly detailed piece of work worthy of a place on any History shelf