AS207 04 The European Theater WWII

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Information about AS207 04 The European Theater WWII

Published on October 23, 2007

Author: Mentor


The European Theater in World War II:  The European Theater in World War II The Use of Airpower in Europe: An Overview:  The Use of Airpower in Europe: An Overview U.S. enters the war -- background Allied strategy for winning WW II The role of airpower in European Theater and lessons learned North African campaign Strategic bombing of Germany U.S. Enters WW II -- Background:  U.S. Enters WW II -- Background Relations between U.S. and Germany deteriorate – U.S. destroyer sunk in Oct 41 Relations with Japan worsened in 1941 Japan continues Asian aggression Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in U.S. and halts all American trade with Japan -- Jul 41 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor -- Dec 7, 1941 Allied Strategy for Winning World War II:  Allied Strategy for Winning World War II Priority One -- Safeguard Britain and U.S. Priority Two -- Fight a decisive air offensive against the Axis powers in Europe and fight defensively in Asia Priority Three -- Sustained air offensive against Japan after the Axis powers were defeated in Europe Use land forces when, and if, necessary U.S. First Offensive Action of WW II North Africa:  U.S. First Offensive Action of WW II North Africa First use of U.S. ground forces against the Germans Provided valuable combat experience for ground and air forces Opportunity for British and U.S. to fight a combined arms campaign First defeat of the German forces since 1930 North Africa:  North Africa U.S. learned some valuable lessons concerning the employment of airpower in tactical situations Initial problems experienced by the Allies Air units were split among ground units Ground commanders didn’t share aircraft Airpower was used defensively Airpower was fragmented and inflexible North Africa (Cont):  North Africa (Cont) Allied airpower was reorganized in 1942 Command of the air forces went to airmen The air officer decided the missions and allocated forces Missions became offensive in nature Flexibility of Allied airpower was restored and air superiority was attained Allies achieve victory in North Africa in May 43 U.S. Strategic Bombing of Germany:  U.S. Strategic Bombing of Germany Heavily influenced by ACTS and bomber advocates Some felt strategic bombing alone would defeat Germany Others believed strategic bombing would weaken Germany and a ground invasion would be required for her surrender U.S. Bombing Strategy:  U.S. Bombing Strategy Committed to high-altitude, daylight precision bombing Belief heavy bombers, flying in formation, could fight their way to the target and back Fighter escorts were not necessary Targets identified by AWPD were best hit in day time Strategy ignored weather conditions, target obstruction, fighter opposition and anti-aircraft artillery Strategic Bombing of Germany Early Efforts:  Strategic Bombing of Germany Early Efforts Strategic bombing of Europe was responsibility of the 8th Air Force First raids were against marshaling yards in France little effect Late ‘42 and early ‘43 -- 8th attacked small targets in Europe -- good experience, little effect Casablanca Conference (Jan ‘43) established strategic bombing (destruction of German industry) as a major objective Strategic Bombing of Schweinfurt Germany:  Strategic Bombing of Schweinfurt Germany 8th Air Force bomb the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt in Summer 1943 Aug ‘43 -- 8th inflicts heavy damage but lost 36 B-17s and 360 crewmen Oct ‘43 -- AAF lost 60 bombers, had 138 aircraft damaged and 600 men lost Losses were unacceptable No fighter escorts - bombers vulnerable to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft artillery Strategic Bombing in Europe: Ploesti:  Strategic Bombing in Europe: Ploesti Aug ‘43 – USAF launch attacks against oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania 180 aircraft launched, 55 aircraft lost Raids were costly but needed to shorten the war Attacks were designed to reduce Germany’s oil and lubricant production Generally ineffective and deliveries increased until ‘44 when attacks resumed Strategic Bombing in Europe (Cont):  Strategic Bombing in Europe (Cont) Long-range fighter escorts arrived in theater in Dec ‘43 Took significant toll on German aircraft and their experienced pilot force 8th resumed raids into Germany in Feb ‘44 Launched a 1000 plane raid by end of Feb ‘44 Attacked Berlin in Mar ‘44 German POL production was reduced to 25% capacity by Sep ‘44 Strategic Bombing in Europe: Lessons Learned:  Strategic Bombing in Europe: Lessons Learned Target list was not what it should have been Attacks on sub-pens and ball bearing plants were ineffective Best targets were the POL production facilities and sources of electrical power Terror bombing of civilians was ineffective and did little to lower morale Bombers needed fighter escorts to and from the target

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