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Bombing the Reich (September 1940 - May 1945)

Bombing the Reich (September 1940 - May 1945)

Strategic bombing during World War II is a term which refers to all aerial bombardment of a strategic nature between 1939 and 1945 involving any nations engaged in World War II. This includes the bombing of military forces, railways, harbors, cities (civilian areas), and industrial areas.

In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and the Luftwaffe (German air force) began providing tactical support to the German Army. The Luftwaffe also began eliminating strategic objectives and bombing cities in Poland. France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany and the UK's Royal Air Force began attacking German warships along the German coast with the North Sea. Meanwhile, the German bombing of Poland became an indiscriminate and unrestricted aerial bombardment campaign.

As the war continued to expand, bombing by both the Axis and Allied powers increased significantly. Military and industrial installations were targeted, but so were cities and civilian populations. Targeting cities and civilians was viewed as a psychological weapon to break the enemy's will to fight. From 1940-1941, Germany used this weapon in its 'Blitz' against Britain. From 1940 onward, the intensity of the British bombing campaign against Germany became less restrictive, increasingly targeting industrial sites and eventually, civilian areas. By 1943, the United States had significantly reinforced these efforts. The controversial firebombings of Hamburg (1943), Dresden (1945) and other German cities followed. The effect of strategic bombing varied depending on duration and intensity. Both the Luftwaffe and RAF failed to deliver a knockout blow by destroying enemy morale. However, strategic bombing of military targets could significantly reduce enemy industrial capacity and production.

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RAF Hawker Typhoon Mk. Ib Ground Attack Aircraft - Squadron Leader B. G. Stapleton, No. 247 Squadron, 1944 RAF Hawker Typhoon Mk. Ib Ground Attack Aircraft - Squadron Leader B. G. Stapleton, No. 247 Squadron, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Typhoon was a British single-seat strike fighter, produced by Hawker Aviation starting in 1941. Intended as a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane in the interceptor role, it suffered from performance problems, but eventually evolved into one of World War II's most successful ground attack aircraft.

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USAAF Boeing B-17F-25 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Sky Wolf", 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 1944 USAAF Boeing B-17F-25 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Sky Wolf", 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 1944 (1:144 Scale)

The B-17 will always be remembered as the most celebrated four-engine strategic aircraft of WW II, maybe of all time. From the summer of 1943 onwards, huge numbers of Boeing's great silver bird were found on airfields throughout the English countryside.

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USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - "QQQQ," 556th Bomb Squadron, 387th Bomb Group, 1943 USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - "QQQQ," 556th Bomb Squadron, 387th Bomb Group, 1943 (1:144 Scale)

The Martin B-26 Marauder was one of the most controversial American combat aircraft of the Second World War. It was primarily used in Europe, and was in fact numerically the most important USAAF medium bomber used in that theatre of action. However, on four occasions, investigation boards had met to decide if the development and production of the Marauder should continue.

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RAF Short Stirling Mk. III Heavy Bomber - "Jolly Roger," No. 199 Squadron, 100 Group, 1943 RAF Short Stirling Mk. III Heavy Bomber - "Jolly Roger," No. 199 Squadron, 100 Group, 1943 (1:144 Scale)

The Short Stirling was the first four-engined British heavy bomber of the Second World War. The Stirling was designed and built by Short Brothers to an Air Ministry specification from 1936, and entered service in 1941.

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RAF Dakota Mk.IV Troop Transport - Personal Aircraft of Field Marshall Montgomery, No. 24 Squadron, 1945 RAF Dakota Mk.IV Troop Transport - Personal Aircraft of Field Marshall Montgomery, No. 24 Squadron, 1945 (1:144 Scale)

The C-47 was one of the most successful aircraft ever, praised by General Eisenhower as one of the most important instruments of victory in WWII. Largely a military version of the highly successful Douglas DC-3 passenger aircraft, the C-47 Dakota carried supplies, airborne troops, and other personnel in all of the theaters of conflict in WWII.

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German Junkers Ju 88A-4 Medium-Bomber - II/KG.3 "Blitz Geschwader," Russia, 1941 German Junkers Ju 88A-4 Medium-Bomber - II/KG.3 "Blitz Geschwader," Russia, 1941 (1:144 Scale)

The Luftwaffe's Junkers Ju 88 was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Among the most versatile planes of the war, it was used as a bomber, close-support aircraft, nightfighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

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German Junkers Ju 188E Medium-Bomber - III./KG.26, Norway, 1945 German Junkers Ju 188E Medium-Bomber - III./KG.26, Norway, 1945 (1:144 Scale)

The Junkers Ju 188 was a German Luftwaffe high-performance medium bomber built during World War II, the planned follow-on to the famed Ju 88 with better performance and payload. It was produced only in limited numbers, due both to the presence of improved versions of the Ju 88, as well as the deteriorating war condition and the resulting focus on fighter production.

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RAF Vickers Wellington Mk. IC Medium Bomber - No. 75 "New Zealand" Squadron RAF Vickers Wellington Mk. IC Medium Bomber - No. 75 "New Zealand" Squadron (1:144 Scale)

The twin-engine Wellington was the mainstay of Bomber Command until 1942, when the four-engine heavy bombers entered service. The Wellington prototype took to the air for the first time in June 1936 and production models entered service with the Royal Air Force in October 1938.

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USAAF Douglas C-47 "Skytrain" Troop Transport - "Buzz Buggy," 81st TCS, 436th TCG, RAF Membury, 1944 USAAF Douglas C-47 "Skytrain" Troop Transport - "Buzz Buggy," 81st TCS, 436th TCG, RAF Membury, 1944 (1:144 Scale)

The C-47 was one of the most succesful aircraft ever, praised by General Eisenhower as one of the most important instruments of victory in WWII. Largely a military version of the highly successful Douglas DC-3 passenger aircraft, the C-47 Dakota carried supplies, airborne troops, and other personnel in all of the theaters of conflict in WWII.

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USAAF Boeing B-17F-25 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - The Duchess, 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 1944 USAAF Boeing B-17F-25 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "The Duchess", 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 1944 (1:144 Scale)

The B-17 will always be remembered as the most celebrated four-engine strategic aircraft of WW II, maybe of all time. From the summer of 1943 onwards, huge numbers of Boeing's great silver bird were found on airfields throughout the English countryside.

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USAAF Boeing B-17F-25 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Sky Wolf", 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 1944 USAAF Boeing B-17F-25 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Sky Wolf", 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 1944 (1:144 Scale)

The B-17 will always be remembered as the most celebrated four-engine strategic aircraft of WW II, maybe of all time. From the summer of 1943 onwards, huge numbers of Boeing's great silver bird were found on airfields throughout the English countryside.

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USAAF Boeing B-17G-40 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - Flak Eater, 364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, September 1944 USAAF Boeing B-17G-40 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Flak Eater", 364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, September 1944 (1:144 Scale)

The B-17 will always be remembered as the most celebrated four-engine strategic aircraft of WW II, maybe of all time. From the summer of 1943 onwards, huge numbers of Boeing's great silver bird were found on airfields throughout the English countryside.

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USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - Silver Lady, 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, March 1945 USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Silver Lady", 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, March 1945 (1:144 Scale)

The B-17 will always be remembered as the most celebrated four-engine strategic aircraft of WW II, maybe of all time. From the summer of 1943 onwards, huge numbers of Boeing's great silver bird were found on airfields throughout the English countryside.

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Captured German Fieseler Fi 156 Storch Reconnaissance Aircraft - General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Paris, 1944 Captured German Fieseler Fi 156 Storch Reconnaissance Aircraft - General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Paris, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (stork) was a small German liaison aircraft built by Fieseler before and during World War II, and production continued in other countries into the 1950s for the private market. It remains famous to this day for its excellent STOL performance, and French-built later variants often appear at air shows.

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USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - Shootin In, 556th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, Germany, 1945 USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - "Shootin' In", 556th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Martin B-26 Marauder was one of the most controversial American combat aircraft of the Second World War. It was primarily used in Europe, and was in fact numerically the most important USAAF medium bomber used in that theatre of action. However, on four occasions, investigation boards had met to decide if the development and production of the Marauder should continue.

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USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - The Big Hairy Bird, 599th Bombardment Squadron, 397th Bombardment Group, France, 1944 USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - "The Big Hairy Bird", 599th Bombardment Squadron, 397th Bombardment Group, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Martin B-26 Marauder was one of the most controversial American combat aircraft of the Second World War. It was primarily used in Europe, and was in fact numerically the most important USAAF medium bomber used in that theatre of action. However, on four occasions, investigation boards had met to decide if the development and production of the Marauder should continue.

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USAAF Douglas C-47 "Sky King" Troop Transport - 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron, Mt. Pleasant, USA USAAF Douglas C-47 "Sky King" Troop Transport - 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron, Mt. Pleasant, USA (1:200 Scale)

The C-47 was one of the most succesful aircraft ever, praised by General Eisenhower as one of the most important instruments of victory in WWII. Largely a military version of the highly successful Douglas DC-3 passenger aircraft, the C-47 Dakota carried supplies, airborne troops, and other personnel in all of the theaters of conflict in WWII.

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RAF Douglas Boston Mk.IV Light Attack Bomber - BZ507/Y, No. 18 Squadron, Italy, 1944-45 RAF Douglas Boston Mk.IV Light Attack Bomber - BZ507/Y, No. 18 Squadron, Italy, 1944-45 (1:72 Scale)

The Douglas A-20/DB-7 Havoc was a family of American attack, light bomber and night fighter aircraft of World War II, that served with several Allied air forces, principally those of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States.

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Free French Air Force Douglas Boston Mk.IV Light Attack Bomber - 342 Lorraine Squadron, B-50 Vitry-en-Artois, France, 1944 Free French Air Force Douglas Boston Mk.IV Light Attack Bomber - 342 Lorraine Squadron, B-50 Vitry-en-Artois, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Douglas A-20/DB-7 Havoc was a family of American attack, light bomber and night fighter aircraft of World War II, that served with several Allied air forces, principally those of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States.

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US Army Air Force Douglas A-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber - Stinky, 552nd Bomb Squadron, 386th Bomb Group, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France, 1945 US Army Air Force Douglas A-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber - "Stinky," 552nd Bomb Squadron, 386th Bomb Group, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Douglas A-26 Invader (B-26 between 1948–1965) was a United States twin-engined light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War's major conflicts.

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US Army Air Force Douglas A-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber - 670th Bomb Squadron, 416th Bomb Group, France, 1945 US Army Air Force Douglas A-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber - 670th Bomb Squadron, 416th Bomb Group, France, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Douglas A-26 Invader (B-26 between 1948 - 1965) was a United States twin-engined light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War's major conflicts.

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RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. I Light Bomber - L6739 (G-BPIV), The Imperial War Museum, Duxford Airfield, 2015 RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. I Light Bomber - L6739 (G-BPIV), The Imperial War Museum, Duxford Airfield, 2015 (1:72 Scale)

Bristol Aeroplane's Blenheim was a British high-speed light bomber used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was later adapted into a successful heavy fighter. A Canadian-made variant named the Bolingbroke was used as an anti-Submarine and training aircraft.

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German Heinkel He 111P-2 Medium Bomber - Kampfgeschwader 55, Dreux, Chartes, France, 1940 Night Sorties German Heinkel He 111P-2 Medium Bomber - Kampfgeschwader 55, Dreux, Chartes, France, 1940 Night Sorties (1:72 Scale)

When World War I ended, the German Air Force was disbanded under the Treaty of Versailles, which required the German government to abandon all military aviation by October 1st, 1919.

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German Heinkel He 111H-6 Medium Bomber - Kampfgeschwader 53 Legion Condor, Lille-Nord, France, Summer 1940 German Heinkel He 111H-3 Medium Bomber - Kampfgeschwader 53 'Legion Condor', Lille-Nord, France, Summer 1940 (1:72 Scale)

When World War I ended, the German Air Force was disbanded under the Treaty of Versailles, which required the German government to abandon all military aviation by October 1st, 1919.

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RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV Light Bomber - "Operation Wreckage," Hughie Idwal Edwards VC, No. 105 Squadron, RAF Swanton Morley, 1941 RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV Light Bomber - "Operation Wreckage," Hughie Idwal Edwards VC, No. 105 Squadron, RAF Swanton Morley, 1941 (1:72 Scale)

Bristol Aeroplane's Blenheim was a British high-speed light bomber used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was later adapted into a successful heavy fighter. A Canadian-made variant named the Bolingbroke was used as an anti-Submarine and training aircraft.

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German Junkers Ju 88A Medium-Bomber - 4D+GM, 4/Kampfgeschwader G30, Lister, March 1943 German Junkers Ju 88A Medium-Bomber - 4D+GM, 4/Kampfgeschwader G30, Lister, March 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Luftwaffe's Junkers Ju 88 was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Among the most versatile planes of the war, it was used as a bomber, close-support aircraft, nightfighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

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US Army Air Force Douglas A-20G Havoc Light Attack Bomber - "La France Libre", 668th Bombardment Squadron, 416th Bombardment Group, France, 1944 US Army Air Force Douglas A-20G Havoc Light Attack Bomber - "La France Libre", 668th Bombardment Squadron, 416th Bombardment Group, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Douglas A-20/DB-7 Havoc was a family of American attack, light bomber and night fighter aircraft of World War II, that served with several Allied air forces, principally those of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States.

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RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. I Light Bomber - Arthur Scarf VC, No. 62 Squadron, Butterworth, Penang, Malaya, 1941 RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. I Light Bomber - Arthur Scarf VC, No. 62 Squadron, Butterworth, Penang, Malaya, 1941 (1:72 Scale)

Bristol Aeroplane's Blenheim was a British high-speed light bomber used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was later adapted into a successful heavy fighter. A Canadian-made variant named the Bolingbroke was used as an anti-Submarine and training aircraft.

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USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - A Bit O Lace, 709th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, Rattlesden, Norfolk, 1945 USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "A Bit O' Lace", 709th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, Rattlesden, Norfolk, April 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The B-17, arguably World War II's most famous heavy bomber, first flew on July 28, 1935, before a crowd of reporters eager to see Boeing's new bomber take wing. It was dubbed the "Flying Fortress" by the members of the press in attendance because of its (at least for the time) heavy defensive armament.

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USAAF Consolidated B-24D Liberator Heavy Bomber - You Cawnt Miss It, Formation Assembly Ship, 448th Bombardment Group, RAF Bungay, England, February 1944 USAAF Consolidated B-24D Liberator Heavy Bomber - "You Cawn't Miss It", Formation Assembly Ship, 448th Bombardment Group, RAF Bungay, England, February 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Life for the B-24 heavy bomber began in 1939, when the Army Air Corps initiated a request for a new bomber designed to exceed the performance of the B-17. Consolidated Aircraft responded quickly with its proposal, labeled Consolidated Model 32 and, on March 30 of 1939, was awarded the contract. One day short of nine months later, on December 29, 1939, the first flight of the XB-24 bomber prototype took place.

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