Strategic Bombing Survey (Europe)

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The United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Europe)[1] was established by the Secretary of War on 3 November 1944, pursuant to a Directive from President Roosevelt.[2] The report was to document an impartial and expert study of the effects of the 1943-1945[3] Anglo-American bombing of Nazi Germany, to be used in connection with air attack on Japan and

  • to establish a basis for evaluating the importance and potentialities of air power as an instrument of military strategy,
  • for planning the future development of the United States armed forces, and
  • for determining future economic policies with respect to the national defense.

A summary report and some 200 supporting reports containing the findings of the Survey in Germany have been published. The report was released September 30, 1945. The major conclusion of the report was that strategic bombing, particularly the destruction of the oil industry and truck manufacturing had major impact on the success of the Allies in World War II. However, despite the overall contribution of the bombing, the survey concluded that the impact of strategic bombing could not be separated from the general collapse of Germany in 1945.

Success

The successes came in several crucial industrial areas:

Limited effects and production increases

  • Aviation: "In 1944 the German air force is reported to have accepted a total of 39,807 aircraft of all types -- compared with 8,295 in 1939, or 15,596 in 1942 before the plants suffered any attack." According to the report, almost none of the aircraft produced in 1944 were used in combat and some may have been imaginary.
  • Armor production "reached its wartime peak in December 1944, when 1,854 tanks and armored vehicles were produced. This industry continued to have relatively high production through February 1945."
  • Ball bearings: "There is no evidence that the attacks on the ball-bearing industry had any measurable effect on essential war production."
  • "Secondary Campaigns" (Operation Chastise & Operation Crossbow): "The bombing of the launching sites being prepared for the V weapons delayed the use of V-l appreciably. The attacks on the V-weapon experimental station at Peenemunde, however, were not effective; V-l was already in production near Kassel and V-2 had also been moved to an underground plant. The breaking of the Mohne and the Eder dam, though the cost was small, also had limited effect."
  • Steel: The bombing greatly reduced production, but the resulting shortage had no contribution to the defeat.
  • Consumer goods: "In the early years of the war—the soft war period for Germany—civilian consumption remained high. Germans continued to try for both guns and butter. The German people entered the period of the air war well stocked with clothing and other consumer goods. Although most consumer goods became increasingly difficult to obtain, Survey studies show that fairly adequate supplies of clothing were available for those who had been bombed out until the last stages of disorganization. Food, though strictly rationed, was in nutritionally adequate supply throughout the war. The Germans' diet had about the same calories as the British."

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