The middle plane is a Messerschmidt 109, and the Focke-Wulf 190 has nothing to do with a Fokker [!--emo&--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/sleep.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'sleep.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
Werner Voss, Max Immelmann, Oswald Boelcke, Manfred von Richthofen, Ernst Udet, and more were all First World War pilots. They did indeed fly Fokker aircraft, the Fokker Triplane, the Fokker Eindecker, and the Fokker D-VII.
Tailgunner is about the Second World War; bombers in WW1 were not sophisticated enough to have an actual tail gun position, as well the reference to the Enola Gay makes that pretty clear.
That's correct. Anthony Fokker started his aircraft business in the Kaiser's Germany. He also succeeded in putting his rivals out of business when he developed the D-VII. The D-VII is possible the most manouverable aircraft ever produced; it was certainly the best fighter of the Great War.
Fokker designed the D-VII but needed the Mercedes engine to power it for max performance. However, his rival, Albatross, had license on the Mercedes engine. Anthony Fokker was very well known for going down to the lines and talking to the airmen who flew his machines; in doing so he had made close friends with a very influential pilot, one Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.
Richthofen was looking to upgrade the aircraft his Jagdgeshwader used, and thought Fokker's D-VII design the best. He convinced German High Command to let Fokker use a Mercedes engine for testing. After Richthofen saw the amazing performance of the D-VII, he got the High Command to not only order Albatross to let Fokker use the engines, but ordered Albatross to produce the D-VII on license.
Richthofen was killed in his red-painted Fokker Triplane before the D-VII reached front line service, however it was a swarm of the D-VII that brought down famed Canadian ace Will Barker in his 50-versus-1 fight.
Military aviation history is something I've always enjoyed learning about.
Before the Second World War, the Saxon city of Dresden was renowned for its Baroque architecture. So beautiful was the old quarter of the city that it was known throughout Western Europe as “The Florence on the Elbe”. The Zwinger Palace, an architectural marvel itself, was a centre of scientific and artistic wonder. Its collection of fine porcelain was not seen anywhere else in Europe before or since. The Frauenkirche (‘Church of Our Lady’ is the closest English translation, but this hardly does it justice) was a symbol of Dresden. For North Americans, like myself, it is difficult to appreciate the significance of a Cathedral Town. For many, like Dresden, Salisbury, Freiberg, etc., the cathedral was the embodiment of what it meant to be a citizen of that town. It was a symbol of religious worship, of course, but also one of pride and progress.
How does any of this relate to Iron Maiden? I’m glad you asked. The song Tailgunner opens with the line [!--QuoteBegin--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--]Trace your way back 50 years / To the glow of Dresden, blood and tears.[/quote]
While not one of Iron Maiden’s best songs, it certainly allows for some interesting historical background information. It’s been nearly 60 years since the end of the war, but the song is an older one [!--emo&--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/wink.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'wink.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
We tend to focus on the atrocities committed by the Axis powers, mainly Germany, in most studies of the Second World War – The bombing of Rotterdam, the torture of Russian POWs, the flattening of Coventry, and, worst of all, the Holocaust.
Less known are some of the actions of the Allies. (This by no means forgives the Nazis for their actions! The Nazis and their supporters were evil, regardless of the Allies’ actions) One such atrocity was the bombing of Dresden. From the 13th to the 15th of February 1945, Dresden was on the receiving end of the most destructive aerial bombardment to that date. The Zwinger Palace was completely destroyed. The Frauenkirche, after living through numerous shellings from various enemies throughout its history, collapsed after being gutted by incendiary bombs. Thousands of homes, and hundreds of schools, shops, and other buildings were destroyed. So hot were the fires created by the firebombs that experts estimate the temperature reached 1900°C, hot enough to create the infamous “death wind” many surrvivors reported – a wind that sucked their loved ones into the flames. (For students of British history, this phenomenon is similar to the wind created by the Great Fire of London, 1666. It has something to do with hold and cold air…..but I’m not sure how) The final death tolls, depending on whom you ask, vary between 35,000 and 135,000.
Why Dresden?It certainly was a symbolic city, but that scarcely justified such a collosal raid into eastern Germany by the Allies. Dresden had no military of strategic value. In fact, in irony’s sick way, it’s lack of strategic value increased the death toll. During the late stage of the war, Most industrial and military strongholds in Germany (Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin) had been hit hard. The refugees noticed that Dresden, because of its lack of (military) importance, was being spared, and thus they fled there by the thousands. The increased refugee population in Dresden caused the death toll to dramatically rise during the merciless bombing.
The British and Americans needed to prove they were tough. Not to Germany, but to the Soviets. The main advance of Soviet troops into Germany went right by Dresden. The Western powers, while nominally the allies of the Soviets, were terrified of Communism (whether this fear was justified is not relevant). What was to stop a collosal Soviet army from stoping at Berlin? They could try to take the industrial Rhineland, or even threaten France. This couldn’t do at all, so Dresden was used as a demonstration of the might of allied air power.
[!--QuoteBegin--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--]The bomber boys are going home![/quote]
So terrible was Dresden for some Allied airmen that they developed a deep loathing of themselves. Those who were Christian believed they were destined for Hell because of their ‘crimes’. One historian writes of the airmen involved “some had nightmares, some thought they would go to hell as war criminals, some had unshakable visions of the fires and the burning cities.”
[!--QuoteBegin--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--]Tail end Charlie in the boiling sky / The Enola Gay was my last try / Now that this tailgunner’s gone / No more bombers, just one big bomb![/quote]
Has the conventional bomber been replaced? Absolutely not, in my opinion. While nuclear arms up the anti, the M-A-D therom (see my comment in the “Out of the Silent Planet” thread.) Korea, Vietnam, the two Gulf Wars have all proven the usefulness of plain old explosives [!--emo&--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/wink.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'wink.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
So is this post about the advancement of warfare, an unavoidable Apocalypse, the Atrocities of Allied forces, The men who suffered by the bombing or d) none of the above or e) all of the above? The U.S air force keeps screwing up and hitting schools and hospitals even with the advancement of "smart" bombs, romote control aircrafts and "smarter" soldiers. The stocking and enhancing of nuclear weapons is simply a fear factor and a comfort. To me it's ridiculous, specially U.S policy of no nation (BUT THEM) being allowed to have nuclear arms. but oh well, weapons of mass destruction aside we already are the cause of our own race's and the worlds demise.
I always get a laugh when Bush or one of his lackies are on TV condeming this or that nation for having/trying to create nuclear arms. If they're so against them, why not destroy their own (which account for more than 60% of all such arms existing in the world)
On the other side, however, I feel safer with the US having them than, say, North Korea or Zimbabwe. Oh well........
Strategic bombing in World War 2 is an interesting topic, to say the least. The theory is highly questionable. In the late 20s and 30s many strategists were predicting the next wars would be over in a manner of hours, with the mutual destruction of enemy capital cities by massive heavy bomber raids. Of course, by 1939 the tools for such destruction was lacking. However, there was widespread panic and the belief in terror bombing was very real.
Long range bombing was very difficult for both the Brits and the Germans. At the outbreak of war the British bombers could barely reach Germany from their home bases. From French bases they could fly over Germany, but unescorted for most of it. Pre-war theory pushed the idea of the "self-defending heavy bomber", a airplane that could ignore the need for long-range fighters in favour of a heavier defence armament. Pinpoint bombing by day was the preferred method of strategic bombing in this school.
In order to understand how bombing worked it is important to look at the vehicles designed to carry out this operation, and the mechanics of the various air forces behind it. The three airforces that should be examined are the German Luftwaffe, the British Royal Air Force, and the American United States Army Air Forces.
The Luftwaffe was officially given existance in 1935 but in reality existed well back in the late 20s, well before the rise of Adolf Hitler. The German officers who survived the war worked hard to find loopholes in the Treaty of Versailles. Many glider schools were established in Germany to give pilot training. By 1933 Germany had more qualified glider pilots than any other nation.
Hitler was quick to turn this to his advantage. He proceeded to develop airplanes under the guise of passenger aircraft (Heinkel He-111), mail airplanes (Junkers Ju-88), and speed racers (Messerschmitt Bf-109). Using the German airline Lufthansa as a cover, the Germans tested airplanes and even strategy to use with their swiftly developing airforce.
However, the airforce had one flaw. The officers within it were mostly army washouts (although their most famous general, Kesselring, would be known as one of Germany's greatest generals after his largely successful holding campaign in Italy). The Luftwaffe was also inexorably tied to the demands of the Wehrmacht (German Army). This meant close relations between the two service, leading to exceptional ground support for the first half of the war, but it meant that the Luftwaffe was unable to do any other task Hitler might require of it. This includes strategic bombing.
Although Germany, by 1940, had large amounts of bombers, none of them were up to the task of strategic bombing. The emphasis on ground support led to a plethora of aging dive bombers (the Ju-87 Stuka) being employed, as well as medium bombers (He-111, Do-17, Ju-88). None of these craft were as speedy as a four-engined bomber, and carried on average a quarter of the payload of an Allied bomber.
Germany did have a four-engined bomber program. But it was shelved on express orders from Goering, who told his technical chief (famed WW1 ace Ernst Udet) that although four engined bombers were more efficient than 3 medium bombers, Hitler was unlikely to ask "how many bomber engines Germany has." So, when Germany undertook air offensives, such as the Battle of Britain, Goering's force was to find itself woefully overtasked.
The sole exception to Germany's bomber woes was the Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor. This airplane was a four-engined craft with enormous range. It was used to hunt down and sink Allied ships. Before the Merchant Aircraft Carriers and the escort carriers took to the seas, the Condors were able to claim huge tonnage sunk. However, the Condor was a civilian airframe, unsuited to the rigours of combat. Air stress showed quickly on the airplanes and as a result, few were servicable beyond 1942.
Germany did eventually restart its four-engine bomber programme. But by then it was too late. By 1944 all German aircraft production was diverted to fighters to stave off the combined USAAF/Bomber Command onslaught on German cities. In an interesting side note to Germany's bombing career, they did create the first jet bomber, the Blitz. It came too late to aid them. Hitler had also insisted the first jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me-262, was used as a bomber. This crazy demand set the German jet fighters back years, as they converted the airframe to hold a payload and a bombadier. Hitler eventually allowed one in 10 to be fighters. Dr. Albert Speer, his chief of industry, ignored him.
The Royal Air Force had a small force of bombers at the start of WW2 in the formation they called Bomber Command. Led by Air Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris, Bomber Command had one job: reduce Germany to rubble. Other jobs bombers might be employed for, such as hunting down submarines, were relegated to other divisions within the RAF. For instance, Coastal Command used bombers to go sub hunting.
This allowed for one section of the RAF to concentrate on Germany. By 1940, Bomber Command was all Britain had left to hurt the Germans. Bomber Harris took up his job with relish. The British began precision bombing the Germans by night. However, it was soon apparent that this was impossible. British airmen were dying to mostly crater the German countryside.
At this point in the war the British were limited to a few poor aircraft, the Sterling and the Manchester. Both were twin-engined, had small payloads, and were unable to fly over German flak (fliegerabwehrkannon). The crews were basically unable to aim their bombs, as it was the middle of the night and the Germans did practise blackout. A few things came about to change that, however.
1) New aircraft. Introduction of heavy four-engine bombers such as the Handley Page Halifax and the Avro Lancaster allowed Bomber Command to carry much larger payloads to Germany faster, higher, and safer. The De Havilland Mosquito light bomber also arrived to power a special new unit:
2) Pathfinders. Highly trained in navigation and precision bombing, the Pathfinders used the incredibly quick Mosquito to lay flares and fire bombs down on Bomber Command's target. The rest of the bombers would then simply arrive and plaster the area already lit up. Interestingly enough, Bomber Harris argued against the creation of the Pathfinders, believing an elite unit like this would take away from the effectiveness of the main bomber groups. However, it greatly increased efficiency.
3) Change of target. With the failure to nail Germany's industries into the ground, strategic bombing took on a new face: mass air raids over cities. Rather than destroy the plants from which armaments were created, Bomber Command chose to destroy the workers who made them, along with their morale.
Harris' new tactic brought the ire of the House of Commons on him. Harris claimed it was neccessary, but one MP (or perhaps Lord) spoke out, "Of course the Germans started it, but we do not take the Devil as our example." The wholesale destruction of cities is never the less what Bomber Command set out to do.
The British started making their infamous "Thousand-Bomber Raids" over Germany, using speed and numbers to overwhelm German fighter and flak defence and devastate a city using incendiary bombs and high explosives. Older German cities burned and burned. The tactic seemed to be a success, as far as Harris was concerned.
He thus switched targets: Berlin. During the long nights of winter he hit Berlin. However, Berlin was a newer city and resisted burning. As well, it was protected by huge amounts of flak. Of greater importance was the arrival of new German nightfighters, Bf-110s and Ju-88s, equipped with radar and "Jazz Music" armaments, which were basically cannons mounted in the fusilage that shot straight up. All a German pilot had to do was fly directly below a British bomber and blast till it fell. These innovations and the fact that Berlin was so far from Bomber Command bases meant that the aircrews took huge amounts of damage.
The United States Army Air Forces entered the war with a strategem already worked out. They clung to the 1930s doctrine of strategic bombing and had designed an airplane around it: the famous Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The B-17 was coated in machine guns and had a greatly accurate bombsight. Its original purpose was to attack enemy ships from the air, a method of defense proven to work by renegade General Billy Mitchell, who was courtmarshalled for using his bombers to sink old US battleships in 1925.
The Eighth US Army Air Force was deployed to Britain to begin day-bombing German munitions factories and other important sites. Their first target was a ballbearings plant deep inside German territory. The B-17s flew as far as they could with P-47 Thunderbolt escorts, but continued through Germany without them after their range ended. The B-17 was supposed to be self-defending.
It was not.
The B-17 did have lots of machine guns. But as shown by older British fighters, 0.303 inch machine guns simply did not have the power to bring down German fighters. Meanwhile the 20mm cannons of the Fw-190 and the Bf-109 ripped through the unescorted bombers, sending over 20% of them to their doom. The American day-bombing ideal would have to wait until long-range fighters could be created to aid their attempt to slow German production.
Long-range fighters did exist, but they were twin-engined fighters: the Bristol Beaufighter and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. They simply weren't manouverable enough to outfight the German single-engined fighters.
Luckilly for the British and the Americans, however, the strategic bombing campaign was put on hold to support D-Day. Both units protested, believing that the purpose of strategic bombing was to hit strategic, not tactical, targets. However, both Bomber Command and the 8th (and 9th, which was medium bombers and rocket fighters) USAAF provided admirable support on D-Day. Over 12,000 sorties were flown by the Allies on June 6th, 1944 alone. Carpet bombing led to the breakout from Normandy, and would continue to allow the Allies to get an edge over the Germans.
The strategic bombing campaign resumed after D-Day. The Americans now had a fighter they could use to help defend against the German fighters: the long-range, heavily armed North American P-51 Mustang. An American airframe with a British engine (the Merlin 51), the P-51 allowed the Allies to establish superiority over the daytime skies. Luckilly for the Allies, the Me-262 was in short supply.
The success of the P-51 called for more and more German day fighters to use up precious fuel to fend off the Americans. This drained the fuel from the night-fighters, who had success rates against the British sharply drop off. However, it was a sad day when the British destroyed Dresden, killing untold thousands of German civilians. There was no reason for this devastation, except that perhaps Bomber Command wanted to make sure that no German forgot the power of the Allies. Scare tactics?
The Pacific Ocean.
Allied strategic bombing raids began with the Doolittle Raid of early 1941. 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers took off from the deck of the USS Hornet to strike Tokyo. They did so, causing little damage but scaring the Japanese enough to initiate the Battle of Midway, where they were defeated. Bombing did not continue until after Saipan fell to the Allies, giving the Americans a base from which the B-29 Superfortress could hit Japan. They firebombed the Japanese without respite. By the dropping of the atomic bombs the US had destroyed 60% of the Japanese built up areas: most of the cities were made of wood.
The atomic bomb, however, raises interesting questions. Was it a good idea? Was it neccessary?
I believe it was. The Japanese were giving no sign of surrendering, and the idea of attacking Japan sickened even the bloodiest American generals (Patton, MacArthur). Figures as high as "one million dead" were tossed around.
However, the Americans dropped two bombs. It has been argued that one was acceptable, to show the power of America's new weapon. The second, however, might have been overkill. However, nuclear weapons brought strategic bombing to a new level. Now, a city with huge industrial capacity could be identified, and removed. And honestly, it doesn't matter if you miss the factory. A few blocks over still gets it with a nuke.
[!--QuoteBegin-IronDuke+Feb 29 2004, 09:49 PM--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE(IronDuke @ Feb 29 2004, 09:49 PM)[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--] So hot were the fires created by the firebombs that experts estimate the temperature reached 1900°C, hot enough to create the infamous “death wind” many surrvivors reported – a wind that sucked their loved ones into the flames. (For students of British history, this phenomenon is similar to the wind created by the Great Fire of London, 1666. It has something to do with hold and cold air…..but I’m not sure how) [/quote]
I asked one of my chemistry professors about this today, and here's what he told me. I'm going to start with real basic chemical facts here, so you'll probably be familiar with some of this - I don't mean to be patronizing, but I want to make sure this makes sense to everyone, so I can't afford to assume that all this is common knowledge.
When a fire burns, it consumes oxygen from the atmosphere. In the process, it heats up other atmospheric gases which it doesn't need (such as nitrogen) and releases hot exhaust gases from the burning fuel. Heat is essentially a measure of molecular speed, so the hotter a fire burns, the faster the heated air rises away from it. This creates a "suction" at the base of the fire - cool air and fresh oxygen move in to take the place of the heated gases which are rising away. The rate of speed of this air movement is roughly proportional to the heat the fire generates.
Normally, the effects of this cooler air moving in are imperceptible. It happens for every fire; it happens when you do something as small as lighting a match. But because the area of most fires is very small compared to the area of the surrounding air, only a slight movement of all that surrounding air is needed to refuel the fire.
In order to create a noticeable refueling wind, the ratio of fire size to available air must be increased dramatically. This is what happened in Dresden and London. The large, hot fires by themselves weren't enough to create the death wind. The surrounding buildings constricted the air flow around the fire. Thus, the enormous volume of air the fire sucked in was compressed into narrow European streets and confined between buildings. You may have experienced this phenomenon yourself. If you've ever been in a major metropolitan downtown area that is full of nothing but skyscrapers (midtown Manhattan, for example), you may have noticed that a slow, calm wind in the intersections speeds up to become a raging gale in the middle of the streets, where it has to flow through the canyon of tall buildings.
Another useful analogy is water flow. A flow of 1,000 liters per minute is no problem for a large river - it can move very slowly and still reach that number. But try and get 1,000 liters per minute through your kitchen sink. Even if your plumbing could withstand it, the water would have to move about 250 km/hr! (That's 155 miles per hour for those of you who still aren't metric-friendly.)
In other words, it's all in the environment in which the fire burns. Take the Dresden or London fires and put them in the middle of a big empty field: no death wind. This type of phenomenon can only happen in a city, as there are very few (if any) natural features that can constrict air flow sufficiently.
I thought Firestorms were the tactics used by forest rangers. To quell a fire you purposfully start another fire to take all the other fire's oxygen and extinguish it. oh well. I'll just get my shades... [!--emo&--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/cool.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'cool.gif\' /][!--endemo--] ooohh yeah