Lancasters, taken by John Dibbs.
Lancasters, taken by John Dibbs.
The unmistakable beauty of the Spitfire.
?? Royal Air Force: Second Tactical Air Force, 1943-1945. Looks like it’s payday. Nice desk. ? [Imperial War Museum / © IWM (CL 296)] #war #history #vintage #retro #guns #gun #ww2 #40s #tank #tanks #1940s #military #battle #warrior #warriors #combat #campaign #battles #wwii #worldwartwo #raf #uk #british
Small super late bday gift for @mrsmontgolfier. She wanted me to draw our pilot babies: featuring Gerald drawing some pin ups for Billy. Hope it’s alright with you dear :v
[An in-flight view of Whitley Mk.V T4131, EY-W from No 78 RAF
Squadron during 1941. Note row of bombs painted on the fuselage nose to
indicate numbers of missions flown over the Third Reich. Photo: Wixey, K. Warpaint. p.11.]
The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was one of the three
´strategic` bombers types with which Britain went to war in September
1939. The Whitley was concived as a night heavy bomber and was RAF´s first monoplane bomber and the first one to penetrate on Germany.
With a crew of five men, and powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin X
engines, the Whitley was capable of 230 mph (370 km/h) at 16,400 ft
(5,000 m) and was bombed with up to 7,000 lb (3,175 kg) of bombs in the
fuselage and 14 individual cells in the wings.
[Artist Paul Nash made this watercolour and chalk drawing of Berlin´s RAF
first attack from a set of photographs that Air Ministry sent to him.
It shows an aerial view of four Whitley bombers in flight over a target
area of Berlin. It was made in January 1941. Photo: Imperial War Museum.]
[The Nash and Thompson Type FN4 rear turret of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber of No 102 Squadron RAF
at Driffield, Yorkshire, 8 March 1940. It was armed with four ,303 in
Browning machine-guns to protect the plane against night-fighters. Note formation lights lamps below and gunner inside the framed turret. Photo: Imperial War Museum.]
[Several propaganda walls at London with a straight message: ´…and still we say. Bomb Berlin and save London`, 1940.]
The last night of August another raid was made against Berlin, and
the British repeated during 7 September, 1940. That night, the Luftwaffe made its first main attack on London, starting ´the Blitz`.
On 19 September, Churchill told the Chiefs of Staff (COS) Committee that the dropping of large parachute mines by the Luftwaffe proved
the Germans’ intention to perpetrate an ‘act of terror’ against the
British civil population. He wanted preparations made for equal
retaliation to be inflicted on ordinary German cities. The Cabinet
agreed that aerial mines should be dropped on Berlin and on 21 September
the COS replied that they were in favour of
giving the German population ‘a taste of their own medicine’. He said
that in view of the indiscriminate bombing by the Germans, the
Government might have to consider a temporary but marked departure from
its policy of bombing only military targets.
[Dr Joseph Göbbels, Propaganda Minister and Gauleiter of Berlin, inspects damage from early British bombing of the city, 1940.]
The Air Staff directive of 21 September instructed Bomber Command
that, although there were no objectives in the area of strategic
importance, periodic attacks on Berlin were to continue in order ‘to
cause the greatest possible disturbance and dislocation’ to industry and
the civil population. The quickest, most lasting and effective means of
achieving this would be by attacks on sources of power. Nevertheless,
the directive reiterated the Air Staff’s view that in accordance
withlong-term offensive strategy, focus should remain on destroying
German oil resources and communications. The Air Staff’s line of
thinking was not met with complete agreement by Bomber Command.
Churchill’s suggestions were received with greater sympathy by Portal,
who returned to the ideas he had advocated in July. On 11 September he
told the Air Ministry that each indiscriminate Luftwaffe attack on a British town should be answered in kind by the RAF. A Bomber Command memorandum of 30 September expressed the view that the strategic offensive should now be directed at ‘the will of the German people’.
The capital of the Third Reich would be 11 times the target of this new policy during the year 1940.
[Annotated vertical aerial view taken during a night attack on the
Berlin docks, on the night of 7-8 October 1940, 42 aircraft of Nos 3 and
4 Groups bombed 12 individual targets in the German capital for the
loss of one Vickers Wellington. The broad streaks of light are German
searchlights, the thin ones are tracer shells. The docks are clearly
visible (‘A’), illuminated by the explosion of a bomb on the inner
harbour of the Spandau ship canal (‘C’). Other features picked out
include the Königs Damm bridge over the Verbindunge canal (‘D’) and the
Charlottenburg gas holders (‘E’). This was the first photograph to show
an RAF attack on Berlin.]
Attacking Germany at this stage of the war was a very difficult undertaking. The Luftwaffe was based in occupied France close to England. Berlin was deep in Germany and on the outer limit of the range of existing RAF
bombers. In addition, because of the German fighter defences and the
slowspeed of the existing trio of bombers, the British were forced to
bomb at night. Darkness means that sometimes you could not even find the
targetted cities. But it meant that when the cities were hit, the
casualties would be mostly civilians. A new moral dilemma had started.
[Berliners watch bomb damage made by British raids near Brandenburger Tor, 10 September 1940. Photo: Alamy.]
These demands were initially resisted by the Air Staff. They pointed out that, because Bomber Command was considered capable of precision attacks, indiscriminate bombing was unnecessary and futile. Moreover, it would be unwise to start competitive bombing when the Luftwaffe’s striking force was four times larger than the RAF’s
and, to reach Berlin, British aircraft had five times as far to travel
as German aircraft had to reach London. However, as a reply to the
bombing of London, a raid of the largest possible scale on Berlin was
ordered and carried out by 119 aircraft on 23-24 September.
[RAF armourers ‘bombing up’ an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley medium bomber at a muddy dispersal in Britain, November 1940.]
As we have seen, the first bombing of Berlin made by British forces was a
initial response to the German attacks, and it served to distress Luftwaffe´s offensive against the RAF in mid August, resulting in the climax of the “Battle of Britain”. But now RAF Bomber Command
faced the crossroad of made it a sustained campaign or to go back to
her original policy: to attack only military targets and support ground
forces. What made British leaders change their mind?
[Prime Minister Winston Churchill in RAF
uniform, accompanied by Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, Chief of
the Air Staff, leaving Liberator “Commando” , his personal transport, of
No 24 Squadron RAF at Lyneham, Wiltshire, on their return from the Casablanca meeting, 1943.]
When the war broke out, the British government banned attacks on land
targets and German warships in port due to the risk of civilian
casualties. Prime Minister Chamberlain had at first ordered the dropping of leaflets, but the arrival of Winston Churchill
and the development of the bombing war made that the British were now
prepared to fight this war with all the tools at their disposal.
After May, 1940, with the German attack on the West (´the Blitzkrieg`), RAF went onto the offensive and bombed military spots near the German border. Following the attack on Rotterdam, RAF Bomber Command was authorized to attack German targets east of the Rhine on 15 May 1940; the Air Ministry authorized Air Marshal Charles Portal
to attack targets in the Ruhr, including oil plants and other civilian
industrial targets which aided the German war effort. It was the
insistence of Churchill in the idea and the need to face those ´terror
attacks` by Nazis-planes the reason that carried the British to change
their aim to the strategic. It has to be remembered that at the time,
Britain was alone, with her forces retreating from the fallen France,
and facing the threat of a German invasion of the isles.
[A view of Rotterdam after being devastated by the Luftwaffe May 14, 1940.]