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The History Kid

[Quick Facts] The Combined Bomber Offensive

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Spanning nearly the entirety of the war in Europe was the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO).  Rather, it was "combined" when the Americans entered the war in 1941, with the first raids beginning in 1942.  The CBO accounted for over three and a half million tons of bombs that were dropped on targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Poland.  It is the largest aerial bombing campaign up to that point in time, and would not be surpassed until Operation Linebacker in Vietnam.

The CBO targeted primarily Luftwaffe targets: air bases, manufacturing facilities, and V weapon launching sites.  Unlike previous bombing campaigns, the CBOwas utilized as a method of destroying the German air superiority that had terrorized the Allies up through the middle of 1943.  While other operations within the overall offensive included attacks on oil and especially rubber plants, most air strikes in some way had to do with the crippling of war industry.  The mindset of the Allies was that if the Germans had no aircraft, it would significantly reduce their ability to project war onto the frontlines and enforce their hegemony behind their lines.  This proved generally true, especially by the time of Operation Overlord, where only two German aircraft approached the operation airspace.  They immediately retreated when discovering the numbers of Allied forces, unable to muster up and means to retaliate.

Future bombing campaigns would be carried out against the Messerschmitt plant, where the primary target was the production of double-engine and jet fighters, particularly the model 262.  Not all of the bombing campaigns were entirely within the realm of purpose, however.  The CBO's biggest plight came with the air raid on Dresden, destroying thousands of pieces of artwork and damaging historic architecture in the city.  It was an operation blunder for the Allies, and the damage to the art industry has never fully recovered, being one of the biggest losses in World War II after Monte Cassino and the theft of art by the Nazi's.

The CBO operated with a standard method of procedure, with the British attacking at night, flying with no cover, and flying generally in single file.  British attacks were more indiscriminate, with attacks being carried out on industry and neighborhoods near them.  The Americans opted to fly during the day in a spread out formation with fighter cover.  These attacks were more precise, but any bombing during the campaign was a far cry from what we consider to be accurate today.  A hit was considered to be a strike within three to five miles of a target, and a bulls-eye was considered to be a one mile radius around the target.  

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