World War Two
Were air raids successful in winning World War
Objectives – You will be able to ….
1. Understand the bombing tactics used by the German and the allied air
2. Identify aspects of success and failure by the air forces
3. Write a structured explanation to answer the aim of the lesson
Click on the photograph to
watch a colour video of pilots
preparing and carrying out a
bombing raid in World War
This type of bombing was carried out by the air
force. It was designed to hit far inside enemy
territory during the day when the target could be .
This could make the bombs hit their accurately.
This could stop making and supplying to
fight the war.
This was carried out by the . It hit at in
big planes with lots of bombs. It was not accurate, but
the was bigger. This could make German civilians
or get rid of their leader.
This type of bombing was carried out by the American
air force. It was designed to hit factories far inside
territory during the day when the target could be seen.
This could make the bombs hit their target accurately.
This could stop factories making and supplying weapons
to fight the war.
This was carried out by the British. It hit cities at
night in big planes with lots of bombs. It was not
accurate, but the target was bigger. This could make
German civilians surrender or get rid of their leader.
How successful was strategic bombing in winning the War?
Who started bombing cities? What was the Blitz?
In 1940 Hitler needed to destroy
The Blitz was the name given to the German raids over London between
Britain’s airforce before he could
September 1940 and May 1941. 10,000 people died and over 1.5 million
invade so he sent planes to bomb
homes were damaged. Other cities were also bombed such as Manchester.
British air bases.
Some German planes
accidentally bombed London.
Winston Churchill the British “Hitler hopes by killing large numbers of women and children, that he will
Prime Minister was furious. He terrorize and break the spirit of this mighty city….Little does he know the
ordered 80 British bombers to spirit and toughness of the British nation”
From a speech by Winston Churchill.
Hitler then ordered the night time
bombing of British cities.
Why was the Blitz a failure for Germany?
In May 1941 Hitler needed all his bombers for his army’s invasion of Russia so
he called off the Blitz.
German bombers could not carry enough bombs or fuel for big long
distance air raids.
Londoners had not given in because they were angry that Hitler had bombed
They felt stronger than ever because they had survived Hitler’s bombs.
How did the British and In 1941 America joined Britain’s side and American planes came to Britain
Americans bomb Germany? British and American bombers carried more bombs and enough fuel.
These planes had 12 machine guns to defend themselves against
The British wanted revenge. Hundreds of German fighter aircraft.
bombers were sent night after night to bomb
German cities like Hamburg and Berlin. Night
raids were safer because it was more
difficult to shoot bombers down.
The Americans bombed factories so Germany
could not make the weapons it needed to fight
Thousands of bombers flew in the day
time so they could be more accurate, but
many more American planes were shot
Were the British raids successful? Were the American raids successful?
British planes dropped millions of bombs on German cities The Americans had so many planes shot down in these
killing thousands of civilians to try and make Germany daylight raids that they thought about calling them off. The
surrender and get rid of Hitler. Americans needed more protection for their planes.
One night in 1943 British bombs accidently started a
firestorm in Hamburg, which burnt away oxygen in the In 1943 a new American fighter plane called the Mustang
air and suffocated people in their air raid shelters. was developed and it could carry enough fuel to fly to
Berlin and protect the bombers from German fighters.
But instead of getting rid of Hitler Germans relied more on
him for food and shelter after raids so his power grew By 1945 Germany’s factories and railways were in ruins and
stronger. Churchill’s plan was not working, but he should the German army was facing defeat.
have remembered the Blitz back in 1940 when Londoners
refused to give up even after months of bombing.
Effects of carpet bombing cities
Death and disease reduced
The Dresden Controversy
Was the bombing of civilians right? The Dresden Raid
Millions of Germans had to man the guns and build the planes to
shoot bombers down. They also had to clear away rubble and In February 1945 British bombers
rebuild factories. destroyed the German city of Dresden
This was taking manpower away from the army fighting on
when Germany was almost beaten. The
the frontline. So some people in Britain said the bombing
was a good thing. If it helped Britain and America beat the city itself had no particular military
Nazis it was worth it. significance and was full of civilian
refugees from the fighting to the east.
Many people said that this raid was not
needed and a waste of human life.
People began to disagree with the idea of
carpet bombing civilians in cities to win
Click on the Photograph to watch ‘The World at War’
documentary account of the Dresden Raid
Answer these level 5 questions in your exercise Hamburg after the
book “firestorm” of 1942
1. Why did Churchill order the bombing
2. What was the effect of the Blitz?
3. What did Churchill say Hitler was
trying to do during the Blitz?
4. What was wrong with German
bombers? Victims of the raid
5. Why couldn’t Hitler break London’s
on Dresden in 1945
spirit? Level 6 questions
6. Why did the British choose to fly at
night? A) Study the photographs above. What
7. Why was it important to hit German kinds of problems did civilians have to
railways? overcome after every air raid?
8. Why did the Americans want to call
B) Why should Churchill have known
off their raids? that carpet bombing German cities
9. How did the Mustang help the wouldn’t win the War?
10. What was the effect of the C) Explain whether you think it was
Hamburg “fire storm”? right that Britain carpet bombed German
cities in the War?
1. Place the pieces of information in a sequence starting with the ones that are to do
with the Blitz and ending with the Dresden raid in 1945.
2. Divide the following 12 pieces of information between success of strategic
bombing and failure of strategic bombing.
1. The Blitz was the name given to the German raids over 4. After 1942 British planes were able to jam German radar
London between September 1940 and May 1941. 10,000 signals. The Royal Air Force also improved accuracy by
people died and over 1.5 million homes were damaged. using radio beams to direct bombers onto a target, and
Other industrial and economic targets were also hit such “pathfinder” planes were used to drop lights and flares onto
as Liverpool, and Manchester. targets for bombers to aim for. These allowed British planes
to drop millions of bombs on German cities. One night in
1943 British bombers started a firestorm in Hamburg. It
2. “Hitler hopes by killing large numbers of women and burnt away oxygen in the air and suffocated people in their air
children that he will terrorize and break the spirit of this raid shelters. 40,000 died, and 1 million were made
mighty city. He has lit a fire in British hearts, which will homeless.
burn long after the fires in London have gone out”
From a speech by Churchill in 1940. 5. Arms production continued in Germany until 1945 despite allied
air raids, but bombing made it difficult for industrial production to
produce the amount of weapons needed to fight Russia and
America at the same time. German aircraft that were needed to
fight in Russia had to be used to defend the skies over German
3. After the Blitz Churchill wanted revenge. Sir Arthur “bomber” cities. Bombing diverted German manpower from the front line.
Harris took command of Britain’s bomber force in 1942. He told Thousands of soldiers and workers were needed to clear and
Churchill that the bombing of civilian and industrial targets in rebuild after air raids. Many soldiers were needed to man guns to
Germany would win the war. He believed that if German cities shoot down bombers.
were bombed night after night Germany would be unable to
produce weapons, and its civilians would become demoralised and
6. In 1943 a new American fighter plane called the Mustang
blame Hitler. Churchill agreed and ordered air raids against
was developed and it could carry enough fuel to fly to Berlin.
With the Mustang American planes began to control the sky
over Germany. By 1945 Germany’s factories and railways
were in ruins and the German army was facing defeat.
7. In May 1941 Hitler called off the raids on London. 10. Before 1943 American bombers flew precision raids in
Londoners had not given in – if anything they were more daylight, which were more accurate, but thousands of pilots
defiant than before because they were angry that Hitler had and crew lost their lives in these daylight raids. The
bombed British civilians. They felt they had survived an Americans considered calling off their air raids, especially
ordeal and were even stronger. after a raid on factories in Schweinfurt when nearly 200
planes were lost or damaged out of the 300 that set off.
There were no small, fast fighter planes that could fly all
the way to Berlin and back and protect the bombers from
8. Before 1942 large formations of British bombers were
vulnerable to attacks from German aircraft and fire from
the ground. The British bombed at night, but very few
bombs hit their targets. When the Germans finally 11. German civilians relied more on their leaders for food and
developed their own radar many British bombers were shot shelter after raids, and needed them more not less. Even by
down. 1945 there was no sign that Germans were going to get rid of
Hitler because of night after night of carpet bombing of
German cities. Churchill should have remembered the Blitz
9. Churchill needed to help the Russian leader, Josef Stalin back in 1940 when Londoners refused to give up even after
because Russia had been invaded by Germany in 1941. months of bombing.
From 1941 until June 1944 Russia was the only country
actually fighting Germany, but Britain and America were not 12. Even cities that seemed to have no military or industrial
ready to launch an invasion to free Europe from Nazi control. value were targeted. In 1945 when the war was nearly over,
Bombing Germany from the air was a way of supporting Dresden was destroyed with the loss of more than 40,000
Russia so it didn’t give up. lives. Many people argued that the commander of Britain’s
bomber force, Arthur Harris, had gone too far.
Air raids were successful in winning Air raids were unsuccessful in
the war winning the war
Place or shade in each of the 12 pieces of information into the
following three categories
Technological developments (or lack of)
4, 6, 8, 10
Economical (weapons production and workers)
1, 3, 5, 11
Peoples’ and leaders’ morale (if they feel like
giving up or not)
2, 7, 9, 12
Extended writing task
Write a structured explanation to answer the question ‘Was strategic
bombing successful in winning the war?’.
A good answer will have an introduction where you explain what the
Next will be the main part. Group your ideas into three themes -
technological changes, economic reasons and morale. This will provide a
structure for your answer.
Remember good history will always look at both sides of the question
before coming to a conclusion eg.
Firstly strategic bombing was successful for technological reasons
because …….. However, ………..
It will end with a conclusion where you sum up both sides of the
question and make your own concluding judgment.