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The Axis bombing campaign was a 4 year long bombing campaign by the French and British air forces against mainly civilian targets in Germany and Italy in an attempt to either break their will or just cause a loss of industry.
The original outline for a bombing campaign had been laid out in 1932 as part of the Axis joint planning commission. It detailed much of the plan to attack west Germany with a large number of heavy strategic bombers although never specified exact numbers and the original strategy was simply to use a large number of conventional bombs.
It was during the Spanish Civil War that it became evident that conventional explosives would not work and so while there was talk of scrapping a bomber force eventually a number of scientists proposed a firebombing technique which involved 1000 bombers first dropping very small ordnance to blow roofs of houses to be then followed by fire bombs.
This tactic was trialed on Barcelona in 1937 to great effect as much of the industry was halted for weeks and it was later carried out Valencia and most people predicted even better results on the medieval towns of Germany which were comprised more of wood rather than the Mediterranean style of building.
So when the war broke out the first firebombing was carried out on Rotterdam which helped bring about their timely surrender using 1000 bombers based in France. Seeing the overwhelming success of this terror weapon Maurras and Mosley gave the order for 1,100 bombers and 450 fighters to attack Cologne in the Ruhr Valley.
They set of at noon on the 1st June and met up with their fighter escorts quickly. At 3:00 they came over Cologne and engaged the Allied 250 aircraft sent them to intercept. The Axis found it easy to defeat the less experienced crews and out of date machines. At 3:00 when the temperature was at it''s highest for the day they dropped over 2000 tons of ordnance on the city.
The fires destroyed much of the city although failed to create a firestorm. This halted industry for days as 200,000 evacuated the city while in other cities especially in the Ruhr there was mass panic and evacuations as well. Though a side effect was a large number of people who were angered by the bombings signed up for the German army.
On the 3rd June Essen was bombed with similar numbers and this time a firestorm was created due to it not having rained for 2 days and it being a unusually high temperature this caused mass panic in the Ruhr with more citizens fleeing for the east while others stopped working to fireproof their houses.
Over the next 2 months of summer in Germany Essen, Dresden, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bonn, Stuttgart and Dortmund were all subject to large scale raids and Berlin was bombed lightly for propaganda as the Reichstag was hit in August.
These mass bombings were effective in the fact that the Germans had to pull almost all of their air force to defend the cities and much of it was destroyed in the fighting anyway and that the bombings reduced the amount of industry to a degree although there was debate as to the actual effectiveness most accept that something near 30% of city dwellers moved to the countryside and a large amount was spent fireproofing buildings and rebuilding them.
Germany was offered a relief when in late August the Axis had begun to become irritated by Italy tying in French troops and so 1,300 bombers raided Milan on the 19th August and although firebombing wasn't used to the mainly brick architecture of Milan. Though it was still flattened by the bombing. Turin was bombed on the 20th August and Genoa on the 23rd. Most of the rest of 1939 was spent bombing in Italy in an attempt to break them. The leaning tower of Pisa and the Colosseum of Rome were both ruined.
The heavy bombing of Allied cities throughout the war became common place and the bombing of Rome on the 28th August 1943 helped bring about their surrender.