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Operation Pointblank vs. Strategic Bombing

1. In what ways did Operation Pointblank differ from Douhet's concept of strategic bombing?

2. What affect did bombing have on German morale?

3. Was the idea of area bombing making a virtue of a necessity? Why or why not?

4. Why did Eighth US Air Force go into World War II without sufficient escort fighters?

5. Was targeting really a strategy for Bomber Command and/or Eighth US Air Force?

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Please see response attached. 1.

In what ways did Operation POINTBLANK differ from Douhet's concept of strategic bombing?

Douhet argued that the targets for massed aerial attacks had shifted from direct attacks on the enemy army to attacks aimed at destroying the adversary's war sustaining capability. Appalled by the carnage in the trenches of World War I, Douhet looked to alternative means for victory. His The War of 19-- described how a belligerent of the future essentially wins a war in three days (some would argue one day) by bombing —supply depots, industrial plants warehouses, railroad centers, population centers, et cetera."
The object was to break down, as speedily as possible, the enemy population's will to fight. Attacking the national resistance directly would make life intolerable for the populace. The implication therefore, is that Douhet would target the enemy air force first, followed by industry and civilian centers, rather than the enemy's forces in the field. He would focus the attack on an enemy's will to resist rather than his means to resist. In other words, attached on breaking the will from the interior. http://www.maxwell.af.mil/au/aul/aupress/SAAS_Theses/SAASS_Out/Cichowski/cichowski.pdf

In other words, assuming that population and industrial centers would be vulnerable to fleets of heavy bombers, Douhet advocated attacking an enemy nation's urban areas and factories with explosives, incendiaries and poisonous gas--with no distinction being made between combatant and noncombatant. Douhet believed that the impact of strategic bombing would simultaneously demoralize an enemy's civilian population and destroy its capacity to wage war. http://www.thehistorynet.com/wwii/bloperation_pointblank/

-Operation POINTBLANK evolved and changes it strategies.

- In 1941-1942 bomber offensive begins - precision daylight bombing of specific targets.
• The dilemmas of strategic bombing
o Daylight precision bombing: accurate but defenseless
o Nighttime bombing: safer, but far less accurate


February 1942: The Gloves Come Off
• Bomber Command directed to shift attacks to specific "industrial areas"
• Churchill, March 1942 "The weight of the war is very heavy now, and I must expect it to get steadily worse for some time to come."
1944: Operation Pointblank (in support of the invasion of Europe) -

This was the American strategic bombing campaign - which was designed after the Douhet's model - it differed from Douhet's concept of strategic bombing in that it was aimed at a specific target, referred to "precision targeting", and thus, was supposedly on a smaller scale bombing than Douhet. It also joined forces with Britain.

In 1943, the U.S. Eighth Air Force's losses became critical, forcing a reappraisal of the American daylight bombing strategy. The integration of American and British bombing strategies was formalized in January 1943 at the Casablanca Conference in a directive that laid the basis for a "combined bomber offensive" in preparation for the invasion of Europe and the opening of the second front. Put into effect in June 1943, Operation Pointblank, as the combined bomber offensive was eventually called, appeared critical to any successful invasion and ground campaign, since the limited Allied ground forces would require clear air superiority and would benefit from a weakened Wehrmacht. http://historynet.com/wwii/bloperation_pointblank/index1.html

• A diversion from the bombers' true role?
• In defence of the Allied invasion
• No. 6 Group: A Dramatic Reversal
o January 1944: worst loss rate in Bomber Command
o May 1944: best loss rate in Bomber Command http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~ghayes/rcaf/sld027.htm
The revised Operation Pointblank deviated even more from Douhet's model. For example: "With U.S. bombers experiencing greater and greater attrition rates, American air commanders desperately sought a solution to their failing strategic-bombing campaign. A solution came with a change of emphasis in air doctrine. The changes produced a revision of Operation Pointblank and a doctrine that emphasized destroying the Luftwaffe in a war of attrition in order to gain air superiority for the coming D-Day invasion in the summer of 1944. The revised Operation Pointblank gave the Allies air superiority for D-Day and virtual command of the air for the push toward Berlin. Operation Pointblank was a success. Local air superiority belonged to the Allies for the opening of the second front. The war for air superiority over Western Europe had been won, but not by "self-defending" heavy bombers. It had been won by a combination of fighters actively hunting down and killing Germany's air force and Allied bombers damaging the industrial and logistical infrastructure that supported the German military machine's ability to make war. In this two-pronged strategy, both bombers and fighters had a crucial, symbiotic role. American air ...

Solution Summary

By responding to the questions, this solution discusses aspects of general war studies e.g. Operation Pointblank vs. strategic bombing, effect on German morale, a virtue of a necessity and others.