Rather, this is a solid and readable analysis of both Allied and Axis bombing policy and technology--and why the two aspects often pulled in different directions. The Bombing War stresses the degree to which different circumstances obtained in different countries. But what else was Britain to do to remain in the war? This would have been the most atrocious war crime, like the rape of Nanking and so on. So it covers the planning and execution and subsequent evaluation of both offensive and defensive campaigns, including civil defence systems. Now, clearly, in moral terms it was indefensible, the whole strategy is indefensible and from the summer of 1941 they do make the decision to de-house.
That was when Bomber Command started to bomb at night, inaccurately but with virtual impunity: Luftwaffe fighters had no effective way of finding and attacking British bombers in the dark, even if they had been detected by long-range radar. With a well-thought-out strategy and precision, it delivers maximum force on its objectives. And that's saying something--there is a huge literature on this topic even if you stick only to English-language titles. You could have focused much earlier on on producing high speed, high performance dive bombing aircraft with the capacity to destroy like the Mosquito, destroy very small targets. The disasters started as soon as German-style air fighting started, with the arrival of the Corpo Aereo Italiano at Ursel in occupied Belgium in late September 1940, to participate in the bombing of Britain.
It is the first book to examine seriously not just the most well-known parts of the campaign, but the significance of bombing on many other fronts - the German use of bombers on the Eastern Front for example as well as much newly discovered material on the more familiar 'Blitz' on Britain , or the Allied campaigns against Italian cities. The author provides numerous statistical surveys that show how few bombs actually hit their intended target. Covering the European theatre in the Second World War, The Bombing War restricts itself to strategic bombing, not treating the use of air power in support of army or navy operations, but extends widely within that remit. Italian industrial workers visiting British plants in the 1980s could not believe how meanly their British counterparts lived, with fish and chips at home and beer in Benidorm, instead of their month-long driving holidays through Greece and winter scuba in Sharm el Sheikh; today, they are far more likely to be unemployed. The idea that society crumbles and the front line gives up. That approach did not work and fighters were needed to attack their counterparts.
Overy begins with what the U. Radar, searchlights, anti-aircraft guns and night fighters: all were in short supply and incompetently used. Overy notes that while bombing contributed to the collapse of any pro-German consensus and strengthened the hand of opposition political parties it did not result in a change of government until September 1944 when the Soviets introduced an administration dominated by the Bulgarian communist party. This problem would also plague Allied campaigns throughout the conflict. It was only in the last months of the war that Bomber Command regained the capacity to destroy German cities as Hamburg had been destroyed. Moreover, these populations were highly mobile as they left destroyed urban areas in search of shelter, food, and working utilities. The Mosquito had lots of advantages, it could hardly be detected by radar, it could fly very high and so on, and you could have done that.
Well, we can bomb their cities. In the 1930s it was an article of faith that aerial bombing would transform the nature of war. Clearly German bombing had not achieved such an effect in Britain so why should it work against Germany? How effective that tonnage was, however, was another matter. Moreover, it was a failure on its own terms. Saying, well, now you can shoot 40,000 of the inhabitants, line them up against a wall.
It is part of a longer passage printed in Appendix 30 of the official British history of the bombing of Germany by Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, and demonstrates their relentless objectivity all the more remarkable in a book published in 1961, only 16 years after the end of hostilities. That is a misprint, or just conceivably a deliberate underestimate Overy has 18,474 for the firestorm raid of 27 July alone , but even that number seems quite low when one considers the vast effort expended in the attack. It was rapidly rendered redundant by the overwhelming but since 1945 at least unusable destructive power of nuclear weapons. It is not a fast read but it is well written and well worth the time to read it carefully. By mid-year, the Americans had achieved air supremacy over France and Germany. The latter was heavily edited and is much shorter than the former. In the process, the peculiar but very real talents that continued to raise real standards of living for decades after 1945 must be nullified in the hopeless attempt to compete with the Germans exclusively on German terms.
Despite its ineffectiveness, Bomber Command was allowed to persist in its campaign which swallowed a very large proportion of available British resources about 7% of total British man-hours during the conflict —no small victory for Harris and his subordinates who sought to safeguard their bailiwick. There was lots of self-serving discussion about this in the 1930s and during the war, about the nature of war having changed, but in fact the nature of war had not changed and it was quite clear from all the agreed rules for the conduct of warfare that undertaking operations which deliberately targeted women, children, non-combatants and so on was not acceptable. This book presents a unique history of the bombing offensive from below as well as from above, and engages with moral questions that still resonate today. This full version, by one of the acknowledged British authorities on the topic with a string of earlier important books to his name , is the best single volume on the topic. You could have strengthened your conventional armed forces on land and produced a much more effective fighter bomber at a much earlier stage, and therefore not had to rely on heavy bombing because your land campaigns were so hopeless. If the Nazis had won it would have gone on and on.
Nonetheless, progress was stymied by a number of shortcomings. The German air campaign in the East remained a tactical one and the Luftwaffe lacked a good long range bomber throughout the war. Allen Lane; 852 pages; £30. The Russian air response was the same, almost entirely tactical. It also was not very effective in attacking launch points for the V1 and V2 weapons.