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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 Avro Lancaster Mk. I Heavy Bomber - Mickey the Moocher, No. 61 Squadron
RAF Avro Lancaster Mk. III Heavy Bomber - 'Mickey the Moocher', No. 61 Squadron (1:144 Scale)
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Entering service at the beginning of 1942, the Lancaster's design grew out of a failed predecessor, the Avro Manchester. While its' airframe offered a stable platform for heavy bombing assignments, the Manchester's twin engine design was inadequate to the task.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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.
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)
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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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