So remember when I said I had reading list? Well, I can do even better than that–I have an entire historiographical paper about the Allied Bombing Campaign in World War II. It’s a bit dated (I wrote it back in 2006), but the end notes and bibliography have more than enough things to get a person started.
Warning: This is a paper. So if you’re planning on reading it in one go, the little counter on the bottom tells me this thing is over 11,000 words long. Plan accordingly.
Destruction From The Heavens:
A Historiographical Examination of the United States Army Air Force’s Bombing Campaign Against Nazi Germany
20 April, 2006
Noted military analysts James F. Dunnigan and Albert Nofi, in their book Dirty Little Secrets of World War II, justifiably dubbed their subject conflict “the most enormous human drama in history.” Taking place in or around all six of the world’s inhabitable continents, involving naval battles on all of its oceans, and with military and political consequences that continue to the present day, this conflict has had a direct or indirect influence on every human being alive since 1939. Begun with a madman’s aggression, containing the epitome of man’s inhumanity to man, and concluded with the sun’s power let loose with the atomic pyres of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Second World War saw numerous examples of humanity’s bravery, cowardice, and cruelty to his fellow man. Many of these instances took place within controversial campaigns conducted both by the Allied and Axis Powers, as both sides conducted their mortal struggle for victory.
Prominent amongst these campaigns is the Combined Bomber Offensive against Nazi Germany, Great Britain and America’s attempt to render Nazi Germany prostrate via airpower. The breadth and depth of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) effort has led to an extensive and diverse historiography. Unfortunately, this historiography is divided on the start date of the RAF’s dedicated attacks, making it difficult to conduct a truly effective study. In addition, the RAF’s actions, unrepentant emphasis on “area bombing,” and lack of documentation comparable to the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) make any attempt to provide even a partial historiographical survey a labor on par with a full doctoral thesis or mass-market book project. Taking place at night, with targets that were both morally and physically ambiguous, Bomber Command’s efforts remain emotionally charged to the present day, with names such as Dresden and Hamburg mentioned nearly as often as Auschwitz and Dachau in the detailing of World War II’s horrors.
In contrast, the United States Army Air Force’s (USAAF’s) campaign is relatively tidy and clearly defined, if only slightly less controversial. Conceived in the Interwar Period (1919-1939), American air doctrine was a mix of European (e.g., Douhet and Trenchard) and domestic (e.g., Billy Mitchell) theorists combined with American technological prowess (e.g., Norden bombsight) and self-confidence. Taught primarily at the Air Corps Tactical School located at Maxwell Field in Montgomery Alabama, USAAF doctrine emphasized the superiority of the four-engined bomber over likely opposition. Bombers, it was believed, flew too fast for contemporary interceptors to catch and too high for anti-aircraft artillery (AAA, or “flak”) to hit. These machines’ crews, all but invincible from enemy interference, were expected to place their bombs on critical enemy nodes such as transportation centers, bridges and, most importantly, the industry that supplied and maintained ground forces. Rather than facing the horrors of an attritional ground war, 1930’s USAAF leadership taught that America’s aircraft would knock any likely opponents out of a major conflict with a few well-placed salvoes of high-explosive delivered in mass daylight raids.
America’s entry into World War II brought an opportunity for this doctrine to be executed against Nazi Germany. Utilizing Great Britain as its primary base, the USAAF organized the 8th Air Force to place doctrine into practice. Despite the cautionary warnings of their RAF counterparts, themselves roughly handled in a little over two years of offensive daylight operations, the USAAF believed its pair of four-engined bombers, the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator, were equipped with sufficient firepower to look after themselves. This view had some merit, as the most common British four-engined bombers, the Stirling, Halifax, and Lancaster were lightly armored and carried eight or nine rifle caliber machine guns in order to maximize their bomb load. In contrast, both the Flying Fortress and Liberator carried ten to thirteen heavy machine guns, heavy armor, and flew higher and faster than their British counterparts. Although both American aircraft carried a much smaller bombload than the RAF aircraft, USAAF leaders believed that this was offset by their increased accuracy by operating in daylight conditions and by using the Norden bombsight.
As this survey will show, this campaign’s numerous issues remain contentious. However, there are many facts that are not in dispute and these will be recounted here. The United States Army Air Corps began carrying out daylight raids beginning with the August 17, 1943 attack on Rouen, France. This raid, carried out in daylight, was the beginning of twenty-two months of unremitting aerial combat, culminating with an April 25, 1945 raid on Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. During this period, in accordance with USAAF doctrine, technological development, and moral considerations the 8th and 15th Air Forces conducted numerous raids against Nazi Germany’s critical infrastructure. From the dozen aircraft that penetrated Occupied France to Rouen, the American raids grew in strength to great thousand bomber hammer blows falling the length of Germany by 1945. Combined, the two units flew hundreds of missions, dropped over 1.5 million tons of bombs and, combined with their RAF compatriots, thoroughly wrecked Nazi Germany’s major cities and industrial infrastructure.
In the course of delivering this wholesale destruction, the 8th “lost 26,000 men, representing a loss rate of 12.4 percent…the highest casualty rate of any of the US armed forces in the Second World War.” Combined with the 15th Air Force’s roughly 16,000 losses, the more than 42,000 dead and missing represented over 10% of the United States’ military losses in World War II. In monetary terms, the USAAF’s bombing campaign cost America over six billion 1945 dollars in airframe costs and expenditures alone, with infrastructure, personnel, and other costs adding much more to this total. As if such loss expressed in raw numbers were not terrible enough, there remains the additional human costs incurred whenever a nation loses a large number of men whose intelligence, drive, and idealism were the primary reason they found themselves first in the USAAF, then in the skies over Nazi Germany, and finally falling to earth in blazing, shattered aircraft. In order to bring war to Nazi Germany and her populace, America paid an extensive price in blood and treasure both before and after the first U.S. Army ground soldier set foot in occupied Europe. Such a massive investment, even without the moral ramifications of dropping ordnance on nominal non-combatants, was almost certain to generate a large degree of study and examination. This began almost immediately after World War II with the USSBS and continues via general publications to the present day. These works fall into four broad areas of focus: effectiveness of the campaign as a whole; effects of American bombing on cities and civilians; German defensive countermeasures and their efficacy; and historical studies of specific units (e.g., the 8th Air Force) and aircraft (e.g., the B-17 bomber).
A few representative works should help the reader understand the general parameters of these fields. An example of a book that addresses the American bombing campaign specifically is Stewart Halsey Ross’s Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II, while a work that addresses it within the larger framework of World War II aerial warfare is Walter J. Boyne’s Clash of Wings. Herman Knell’s To Destroy A City and A.C. Grayling’s Among the Dead Cities are two examples of works that focus on the campaign’s effects on German urban centers. The German fighter force, the Jagdwaffe, has inspired several works that cover its various personalities and equipment, with Michael Spick’s The Luftwaffe Fighter Aces and Trevor J. Constable & Colonel Raymond F. Toliver’s Horrido! comprising some of this subject’s best works. As for the ground complement of the Reich’s defenses, Edward B. Westermann’s Flak: German Anti-Aircraft Defenses, 1914-1945 is the only English language volume that focuses primarily on this topic. Finally, there remains a large number of books that focus on specific units, with the 8th Air Force as a whole being represented the most heavily. For the Allies, the venerable B-17 has the most aircraft-specific texts devoted to it, while the ubiquitous Me-109 has received the most interest amongst those airframes piloted by the Jagdflieger.
Overall, all four types of texts share several critical flaws. First, they utilize different metrics to define success or failure when discussing the USAAF daylight offensive. At best, these manipulations of German and American data are a brilliant example of Mark Twain’s famous commentary on statistics and untruths. At worst, they are extremely poor instances of authors allowing their personal bias to overcome their scholarly responsibilities. This bias, either for or against the American bombing campaign specifically or Allied bombing as a whole, is the second major defect in the current historiography. Advocates of bombing usually fall prey to the third failing, an overemphasis on the American bombing campaign’s effect on the Jagdwaffe in particular and the Luftwaffe as a whole from January 1944 to May 1945. More importantly, both sides share the fourth major defect of these works, that of stating an unequivocal moral position without adequately addressing or disproving the ethical arguments of the opposing side.
The USAAF’s Campaign In General Histories
Texts which address the USAAF’s campaign against Germany as part of a larger history of World War II prominently display all four of these flaws. This larger group, in turn, can be divided into two sub-groups. The first of these, published prior to 1976, were prepared without knowledge of the Allies’ cryptographical success against the German’s Enigma codes, commonly known as Ultra. As such, they usually give American leadership a relatively easy time for costly missions such as Ploesti, Regensburg, and Schweinfurt. An example of this phenomenon can be found in Edward Jablonski’s Tragic Victories, one of many works produced by this author. In the introduction, Jablonski states “[g]reat plans were devised, carried out with incredible valor, and then…discovered [not to have] quite worked out as planned.” Jablonski’s further discussion of the great travails of 1943 then proceeds to emphasize the tremendous virtues of the Allied aircrews with nary a mention of their leaders’ cold-blooded decision to send them into growing fighter defenses even with full knowledge of the Germans’ strength.
Despite the fact that the 8th Air Force’s aircrews understood that theirs was a dangerous business, it is unlikely that many of them would have regarded their superiors’ callousness in the same sanguine manner of Jablonski. Utilizing aggressive, stirring prose, Jablonski portrays these costly and bloody raids as partial successes, in each case pointing out that the countermeasures required of the Germans were “almost equally effective” to direct hits. In reality, as ULTRA made painfully aware to the American and British leaders, the effect of all the 1943 raids was far from that commonly accepted at the time or before the full ULTRA intercepts were made available. Jablonski and his contemporaries, through no fault of their own, were making historically inaccurate assumption based upon faulty Allied data. Unfortunately, this makes use of their works far from optimal for most historians.
Making these works still less suitable for current use is their overwhelming bias in favor of the Allied bombing campaign as a whole. In his first Airwar volume, Terror From the Sky, Jablonski begins to lay the groundwork for his relentless drumbeat of justification for the ensuing mayhem that would descend on Germany courtesy of the USAAF and RAF. First, on page 17, Jablonski outlines a list of names that would come “to stand for…fiery desolation from the air” that ends with London. Making allowances for Jablonski’s knowledge that he was planning on producing three more works on the Second World War’s aerial combat, the fact remains that his ending with London, especially at the end of a section on the Luftwaffe’s destruction of Guernica, clearly indicates a pro-Allied bias in his work. This is made more manifest by the amount of time devoted to discussing the human impacts of the German raids on England during the Battle of Britain and subsequent Blitz versus the near-celebratory tone given to the detailing of German and Japanese catastrophes such as Hamburg, Dresden, and Tokyo. Jablonski, by virtue of his decision-making, seems to indicate the death of a young bride at a British hat factory was far more important than the extermination of over 50,000 Germans within the Hamburg firestorm. Jablonski is unapologetic in his bias, going so far as to entitle one of his chapters “Reap the Whirlwind,” a reference to an earlier alliteration to the Germans having “sewn the wind” with their attacks on Great Britain. Arguments such as these, in addition to being poorly constructed, do little to advance scholarly discussion of the American and British campaigns.
Works written after 1976 that address the campaign as part of the larger war effort correct many of the mistakes made by Jablonski and his contemporaries, however. The post-ULTRA authors, for the most part, acknowledge the grave errors made by the 8th Air Force’s commanders from 1943 to 1944. Richard Overy gives these mistakes the fairest treatment, stating that the American aerial commanders had “ignored Clausewitz at their own peril” in determining to strike at German industry without first making a concerted effort to reduce the defending forces, specifically the Jagdwaffe. Stephen Budiansky expounds on this error in his work Air Power, pointing out that American commanders such as General Carl Spaatz “inhabit[ed] a fantasyland” with regards to their beliefs on 8th Air Force crews effectiveness in the face of enemy fire and acceptance of “outlandish claims by B-17 gunners” with regards to destruction of Jagdwaffe fighters. Having delivered this rather forceful broadside, Budiansky then proceeds to outline the numerous errors committed by the USAAF hierarchy, such as delaying drop tanks for escort fighters, as well as the necessity of changing both doctrine and leaders in order to make the 8th Air Force much more effective.
The assessment of this increased effectiveness, however, still lacks a single working metric. Budiansky discusses the increased accuracy of the 8th Air Force towards the end of 1944 and into 1945 (with accompanying chart) as well as the effect of the oil shortage on the Wermacht as a whole and the likely effects if such an oil offensive had been begun earlier.  Overy similarly addresses the oil but also discusses the effects of the campaign on Axis morale, German industrial output, and the Combined Bombing Offensive’s general effect on the conduct of the war. Boyne also discusses the impact of the American (later joined by the RAF) emphasis on oil production, yet does not conclude this argument in the same forceful manner of Overy and Budiansky. All three men discuss a myriad of percentages, numbers, and tonnages, but the reader must often make the extrapolatory leap to understand that this was perhaps a vindication of the pre-war emphasis on precision bombing.
Even with the marked improvement on the pre-ULTRA works, post-ULTRA books still demonstrate a clear bias towards American (and by extension, Allied) efforts. This becomes apparent through their clinical treatment of the German populace as well as their overemphasis on the USAAF’s daylight fighters’ effectiveness. Boyne and Budiansky dehumanize the tremendous suffering that the Combined Bombing Offensive wrought upon the average German civilian, with Budiansky’s inadvertent comparison of killing sheep and civilians particularly unfortunate. Overy is far more humane, pointing out the grinding morale degradation caused by Allied bombing as a whole, with the unremitting pressure placed upon the German populace by the RAF and USAAF combined being almost palpable in his description. Unfortunately, the preponderance of general histories, both on World War II as a whole or aerial combat therein, lean more towards Boyne and Budiansky than Overy. Perrett’s Winged Victory makes few mentions of German civilians, while works such as James L. Stokesbury’s A Short History of World War II presents these dead as faceless numbers with the exception of Hamburg and Dresden’s unfortunate denizens. It would appear, in most general histories, that a German citizen had to be caught in the howling maw of a firestorm in order to be worthy of close examination.
Under the Tonnage: The German Populace’s Experience
This error is more than compensated for in those works that focus on the plight of German civilians. Bridging the gap between the mainly technological focus of those books already examined and those which concentrate almost wholly on the German populace are the aforementioned work by Stewart Ross and Conrad Crane’s Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower Strategy In World War II. Both works, while ostensibly focused on the American bombing campaign, spend as much time discussing the effect American bombing had on civilians, both German and Japanese, as in discussing the technical means by which such bombing was delivered.
Of the two, Crane’s book is far more objective, as he carefully details the development of American doctrine, the attitude of the USAAF’s leaders and their military and civilian leadership, the American populace, and American airmen. Crane follows this with a discussion of the hardware of the American campaign, concentrating first on bombing aids then on the bombs themselves. Throughout he displays the gradual erosion of USAAF concerns with regards to civilian casualties, culminating with the easy acceptance of blind-bombing via radar through cloud cover in Europe and subsequent area bombings in Japan. The reader is left with the sense that the USAAF came into World War II full of idealism and a general desire to carve out Germany’s industrial heart with a minimum of what later leaders would euphemistically call “collateral damage.” Unfortunately, as Crane shows, this idealism was quickly fatally compromised. First, through their tacit acceptance of British area attacks, to the point where USAAF leadership “continually discouraged any public criticism of British obliteration raids,” America’s military leaders fully condoned the actions of their rather more ruthless ally. Second, by making a distinction between raids on German-occupied countries and Germany itself in several directives, the USAAF implied that it was not overly concerned with those German civilians that ended up under bombs which missed their target. Lastly, as Crane neatly summarizes, the “attitudes of American leaders towards the bombing of urban areas were affected to varying degrees by concerns for ethics, efficiency, and public relations.” American bomber commanders, confronted by the growing lists of casualties and under pressure to end the war, likely did not overly concern themselves with dead citizens of the Reich be they factory worker, woman, elderly, or even child.
They did not, however, seek to murder these individuals wholesale, either. It is on this very important point that historian Stewart Halsey Ross’s work immediately founders. Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II: The Myths and the Facts casts the USAAF leadership as a gathered band of homicidal men bent on establishing a separate air force on the bones of Germany and Japan’s civilians. In contrast, Ross casts Adolf Hitler and, by extension, Nazi Germany as a nation that regularly abided by the treaties it signed. Strategic Bombing notes that “Hitler proposed in 1935 and again a year later a universal agreement that aerial bombardment should be restricted to a zone of military operations,” then follows this with an observation that the RAF refused as such an agreement would conflict with its nascent bomber doctrine. Ross also ensures the reader is aware that the reader is aware that Adolf Hitler was the first leader to respond to President Franklin Roosevelt’s call for a public declaration against the bombing of civilian targets in 1939. Finally, he portrays Great Britain as the builder of “the most aggressive fleet of big bombers in Europe” while simultaneously emphasizing Germany’s “tactical” bombers, thus implying that Britain’s air marshals, like their USAAF counterparts, sacrificed the possibility of a clean, sanitary air war on the altar of decisive aerial bombardment.
Ross culls these facts from official documents, unit histories, and previous completed works. As with the remaining statistics, quotations, and excerpts that compose his argument, they seem quite sound in isolation and build a credible case if taken alone. Unfortunately, the untidy remainder of World War II serves to completely undermine this carefully constructed argument. Hitler’s subsequent conduct at Munich in 1938 and the ultimate outcome of the Maximov-Ribbentrop treaty are but two of the myriad examples of the Nazis’ duplicity, thus making any 1935 diplomatic overture highly suspect. With regards to civilian targets, even if one discounted the Condor Legion’s assault on the Spanish town of Guernica in 1936, the fact remains that German Stukas were likely strafing fleeing Polish refugees even as the Fuhrer was positively responding to Roosevelt’s request. While these actions could be attributed to a few overzealous Luftwaffe pilots, the subsequent bombings of Warsaw, Rotterdam, and London clearly indicates that such actions were not an anomaly. Finally, the Battle of Britain shows that the Luftwaffe’s bombes, while “tactical” in conception, were readily applied to strategic tasks at a whim. These facts are readily available to the casual student of World War II history, and their omission indicates that Ross may have sacrificed accuracy in the interest of bolstering his argument.
Unfortunately for students of the Allied Bomber Offensive, such bias appears to be the norm for works concentrating on German civilians’ fate during World War II. Amateur historian Herman Knell, author of To Destroy A City, examines the American and British offensive from an altogether different perspective than the other authors studied—that of a “dehoused” survivor. This experience, as well as Wurzburg Germany’s relative anonymity in other books dealing with the American and British offensives, appear to be the main impetus behind the completion of To Destroy a City. In the introduction, Knell recounts that Wurzburg is one of the “three most ravished cities in Europe” at the end of World War II. This lists exclusion of non-German cities makes it somewhat suspect, but Knell supports this controversial statement with the observation that “U.S. and British bombing surveys prepared after World War II tell us that…Wurzburg [was]…89 percent destroyed.” Having provided this evidence, however, Knell does not subsequently discuss what these percentages truly entails, leaving scholars with the task of finding his source or using contextual clues to determine just what exactly this statement means.
Such contextual aids are few and far between in Knell’s work. Instead, To Destroy A City clearly suffers from the haphazard research that went into its construction. Knell, a fair writer, is a poor organizer. His first one hundred seventeen pages discuss the historiography of the World War II bombing campaigns in general, an autobiographical introduction of the author’s situation in May 1945 and subsequent decision to investigate the Allied Bombing Campaign against both Germany and Japan, Wurzburg’s general worth as a military target, the raids upon that city, the development of aerial bombing strategy from before World War I through the end of World War II, and short biographical sketches of key bombing leaders up until 1945. In and of themselves, most of these subjects have required complete books for proper, objective treatment, and Knell’s book suffers from attempting to simplistically cover them in the allotted space, especially when he does so in a manner guaranteed to cause chronological disorientation. The recounting of these subjects do not support Knell’s contention, recounted on pages 11-13, that he is attempting to correct or avoid previous historical biases. It is somewhat dishonest to state that it is “far more important to understand why [bombing] happened than to point a finger and pillorize people and events” then use words such as “executioner” to describe Allied aerial commanders and “mass executions” to describe bombing raids on German cities. Even though he subsequently softens this language to the more euphemistic “practitioners”, Knell clearly indicates his disgust with the entire campaign by stating “nobody should ever call [Allied commanders] heroes.”
Although such a way of thinking is understandable from a person who suffered first hand from Allied bombardment, like Ross’s work it ignores critical facts. The American and British commanders fully believed that their actions would, if not lead to victory outright, greatly shorten the war. With the experience of World War I within their living memory, most of these men sought to avoid the bloodshed and generational decimation of ground warfare. In addition, these men had watched the Luftwaffe pummel several civilian targets, to include numerous English cities, without remorse or mercy. Although, unlike Ross, Knell does not excuse or exclude his countrymen’s aerial actions, he does not adequately address the effect these raids had on the Allied leadership’s feelings towards the German populace. This omission is only partially balanced by Knell’s acknowledgment of the difficulties experienced by American and British aircrews in flying through German defenses to deliver their loads, and is one of the work’s critical failings.
Similarly significant is Knell’s incorrect appraisal of the state of aerial technology during World War II. On pages 220-221, the author attempts to build a case that Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris willfully chose to ignore the capabilities of the Mosquito bomber in order to continue delivering large quantities of inaccurately aimed high-explosive. That these raids did indeed cause “heinous losses of innocent civilians” is indisputable, yet similarly irrefutable is the fact that the Mosquito capabilities described by Knell applied to the unarmed reconnaissance version flying at high altitude. In addition, the examples cited within To Destroy A City required a level of training, bravery, and luck that was all but unsustainable in large numbers, especially by an almost exhausted RAF. Those strikes which were made required a “long spell of working up” and, while spectacular, were arguably not cost effective. Finally, Knell also ignores the lethality of German defenses. In each of the cases cited by Knell, the targets struck with such precision were poorly defended, with relatively few automatic cannons or the dreaded ’88.’ In contrast, most of German industry lay within dense flak belts, the depth of which would have to be transitioned during ingress and egress. More importantly, the Mosquito’s survivability lay in both its high speed and the time required for German fighters to climb to altitude. At low level, the Fw-190 and late-model Bf-109s were quite capable of overtaking a clean Mosquito, much less one carrying a significant warload. As with his over concentration on the strafing exploits of American fighter-bombers, Knell’s decision to utilize a few ill-chosen examples in an attempt to bolster a particular argument is a rather large flaw in an otherwise creditable work. Although non-fatal, such a mistake serves to make the remainder of the work unfortunately suspect and of only broad, general use in scholarly study.
In contrast, British philosopher A.C. Grayling’s work Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WW II Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, is of only general use for historians. Despite its subtitle, it quickly becomes evident that Grayling’s work is oriented more towards a philosophical examination of the American and British campaigns rather than a general history. Among the Dead Cities postulates that the Combined Bomber Offensive’s implications were justifiably “obscured by the fact that a much larger and more important moral matter occupied the mental horizon of the post-war world, and quite rightly so—the Holocaust.” Grayling then proceeds to lay out three pressing reasons why these issues must be immediately addressed. First, “the descendants of the bombed have begun to raise their voices and ask questions about the experience of their parents and grandparents,” that is, contemporary German and Japanese citizens are starting to question the necessity of their forebears’ travails. Second, “history has got to be got right before it distorts into legend and diminishes into over-simplification, which is always what happens when events slip into a too distant past.” Lastly, Grayling believes an examination of Allied area bombing can lead to a “proper understanding…of how peoples and states can and should behave in time of conflict.”
These reasons are all sound and solid reasons for a frank, open discussion of American and British efforts to utilize airpower to knock Germany out of the war. Grayling seems adequately spurred by them to present his central thesis that, yes, the Allied Combined Offensive was indeed a war crime. Immediately aware of the his opponents’ primary arguments, Grayling utilizes the bulk of his introduction to disproving the theory that Nazi Germany’s evil fully justified any and all means used to destroy it. This frontal assault begins on page six with the following passage:
Nothing in this book should be taken as any form of revisionist apology for Nazism and its frightful atrocities, or Japanese militarism and its aggressions, even if the conclusion is that German and Japanese civilians suffered wrongs. A mature [emphasis mine] perspective on the Second World War should by now enable us to distinguish between these two quite different points.
Grayling follows this initial barrage with several examples that further illuminate his line of thought, followed by a seemingly obligatory statement in which he makes it “emphatically clear” that he is not attacking the wartime service of the RAF and USAAF bomber crews, only merely stating that they may have been involved “in the commission of wrongs.” Grayling attempts to dispel the almost certain bitter feelings his statements are sure to cause with a bit of autobiographical frivolity that seems to mitigate veterans’ ire by recounting his love for their aircraft and service. Finally, Grayling lays out the component of his central question and gives a rough outline, the overall effect of which is to make the reader receptive to both his historical question and central argument.
The crux of Grayling’s argument is that, yes indeed, American and British bombing raids were full-fledged war crimes and thus, by extension and derivative from his own presented examples, Allied aircrew were war criminals. It is upon this moralistic rock that Grayling’s work, founders rapidly. For four chapters, Among the Dead Cities concisely outlines the American and British bombing offensives, provides a vivid recounting of German experiences underneath American and British bombs, and conducts a brilliant expose on the mindset of leaders both for and against wholesale bombing. Having laid his historical and technological groundwork, Grayling then builds his moral superstructure by clarifying exactly the “‘wrong’ at stake” utilizing just war theory.
Rather than relying on this, however, Grayling makes his first major mistake in stating that the Allies’ behavior postwar, both in the persecution of Axis leaders and the wording of the Geneva Convention of 1949, served as a “retrospective indictment of the practices” carried out during World War II. Having leaped onto this metaphorically thin ice, Grayling proceeds to stomp on its surface by stating “[t]he moral culpability of area bombing was so well recognised during and immediately after the war that when at last an effort was made to arrive at a firm and binding statement of the laws of war, it was explicitly outlawed by them.” Grayling then launches a whirlwind assault that encompasses fellow historians (Robin Neilland’s Bomber War is particularly roughly handled), Allied wartime decisions and, most importantly, the morality of the leaders who decided upon the implementations of their superiors. In the final chapter, aptly entitled “Judgment,” Grayling wraps up his argument by equating American and British bombing attacks with various terrorist actions, culminating with a reference to Hamburg and Hiroshima being equivalent to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Like Knell, Grayling’s argument begins to unravel in the face the technological limitations of World War II. First, Grayling attempts to split a moralistic hair, stating that that “precision-bombing efforts against industry, transport, power and military targets” would have sufficed to prevent Germany’s full industrial capacity from reaching the Wermacht in the field. This statement, echoing Knell’s reliance on a massive number of Mosquito bombers ranging across Germany, likewise ignores the state of aerial ordnance delivery available in World War II. As Budiansky illustrated in Air Power, cited above, the USAAF was only able to begin placing a large percentage of their bombs within 2,000 feet of a target in the latter part of 1944. In turn, even this rather limited accuracy was dependent on two conditions. The first was USAAF air superiority, a condition not truly met until a combination of long-ranged escort fighters, rapidly declining German pilot skill, and a lack of fuel eviscerated the German Jagdwaffe (a process to be examined in more detail below). The second condition, seldom seen thanks to capricious Central European weather and German passive defense measures, was good visibility. In short, Grayling’s hypothetical campaign would have required the ideal sought by air power enthusiasts during the interwar period: an supine enemy and cooperative Mother Nature.
It is at this point that Grayling’s attempt to shave a fine distinction falls apart. Grayling states unequivocally that bombing directed in daylight against industry is decisive and, not being specifically designated as ‘area bombing,’ morally acceptable. However, even if the ideal conditions had existed with far more regularity than actually occurred, 70% of ordnance landing within 2,000 feet of a target still leaves 30% landing outside this circle. Thus, a 1,000 aircraft raid carrying a common load of six 500-lb. bombs apiece would drop 1800 pieces of ordnance at random throughout occupied Europe and the Third Reich. The ultimate destinations of this “outside group” cannot be fully known, as the statistics treat weapons jettisoned by aborting bombers over the English Channel and those which landed at 2,500 feet from the aiming point equally. What is known, however, is that aerial ordnance was quite efficient in killing exposed personnel both at the point of impact and at relatively long distances through fragmentary and secondary effects. Grayling, in adapting this particular aspect of the argument, appears to state that German civilian deaths were appropriate as long as the “good intentions” of precision aiming were there. This approach is simplistic at best, as a German civilian killed on accident or through the misfortune of having his farmhouse located within “danger close” range of a German arms factory is just as dead as one whose housing block was the proposed aiming point.
Grayling does not attempt to address this flaw in his argument, instead moving immediately into a detailed examination of the February 1945 attack on Dresden. As with most historians that utilize this German city as an example of the Allies’ utter immorality in their bombing offensive, Grayling manages to establish several critical points. First, he adroitly points out Dresden’s cultural importance, contrasting its inclusion on the approved target list with Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s decision to exclude Kyoto, Japan from the list of suitable atomic bomb targets. Second, he emphasizes Bomber Command’s desire to inflict pain on the German populace and intimidate the Russians, stating that “calculation involved in using civilian lives and the precipitates of history to make a gesture in a game of diplomatic politics is breathtaking.” This charge is made in conjunction with the oft-repeated statement “that one of the main motives for the atom-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to demonstrate to the Russians the superiority in weaponry that the United States had attained,” thus implicitly equating Dresden’s attack to the two ill-fated Japanese cities. Lastly, Grayling points out that the city was “known to be full of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the approach of Soviet troops,” thus completing the common litany of “reasons not to bomb [Dresden].”
Unfortunately for Grayling, this emphasis on Dresden and effort to intertwine it with the final assault on Japan exposes his central thesis to pointed, valid counterarguments. By presenting no primary source for his allegation regarding the reasoning behind the dropping of two atomic bombs, Grayling allows it to be readily discarded even without recourse to contrary evidence. Furthermore, the mentioning of two cities’ whose fate in large part was due to the fanatical, unreasoning resistance of a tyrannical leadership leaves open the possibility that the political and conditions leading to Dresden’s immolation were similar if not identical. In his emphasis on the refugees fleeing Soviet troops, Bomber Command’s aiming point, and the horrific outcome of the raid makes several critical omissions which address these geopolitical factors all the more glaring. Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Dresden was a major city within one of history’s most oppressive, notorious regimes. To portray it as an innocent, defenseless victim of a savage Allied assault is to ignore the defensive plans of Army Group Center, the offensive plans of the Red Army, or the simple fact that World War II bombing art did not allow for the pinpoint ordnance delivery common to modern aerial warfare. Finally, and most importantly, the extension of this line of reasoning places most of the onus for Dresden’s agony on the Allies rather than its proper place on the Nazi leadership that began a war of aggression than refused to surrender when clearly beaten.
This tendency to understate the Axis leaderships crimes is best exemplified by Grayling’s dismissive statement that “even if all the arguments of the defenders of area bombing are correct…[a]rea bombing was neither necessary nor proportional, and it was neither of these things by quite a long way.” While strong in delivery, this passage and its companions are relatively weak in factual support. It is quite easy, sixty years on, to state that the Allies handled Germany (and Japan), a bit roughly and with disproportionate force. However, this ignores several well-known historical facts. Whereas Grayling is quick to point out that the Allies heaviest blows fell once the Axis tide was clearly receding, he neglects to point out that this was also the period of the heaviest losses among both USAAF and RAF bomber crews. In addition, as illustrated in the works previously surveyed, the Jagdwaffe and flak units were still inflicting casualties up to the final day of the war. On the ground, the Wermacht continued to strenuously resist British and American advances to the Elbe, while the fanatical resistance offered in defense of Berlin has been well documented by able historians such as Cornelius Ryan, Max Hastings, and Antony Beevor. It is a bit idealistic to expect the Allies to cease launching bombing missions, much less large-scale ones, in the face of determined aerial and ground opposition.
Most importantly, however, to state that the Allies’ efforts were disproportional, and not by a small margin, is to utterly ignore German conduct throughout the war. Japanese excesses against Prisoners of War (POWs) has often led Western sources to speak highly of the Wermacht’s treatment of the same. Unfortunately, this ignores the excesses conducted against the Red Army in the East. More importantly, Nazi ideological beliefs turned the Eastern Front into a “racial conflict of the most savage kind in which any methods, criminal or otherwise, were sanctioned.” Given carte blanche, the German soldier raped, pillaged, and burned in a campaign that resulted in the death of over 12 million Soviet civilians. On the German Home Front, the Nazis implemented the Final Solution, and proceeded to utilize the methods of industrialization to gas, shoot, or work to death millions of Slavs, gypsies, Jews, and other humans considered “sub-human.” That this process, despite the precious resources its implementation consumed, continued literally until advancing Allied forces pushed open the camp gates indicates the depths of the Third Reich’s depravity.
It is unlikely that the Nazis’ victims, not to mention the USAAF airmen who became casualties during these final raids, would agree with Grayling’s glib assessment that the Allies hands were only less dirty than those of the Nazis by a matter of degrees. In just war theory, proportionality is the belief that wars’ ultimate goals and aims must be proportional to the costs involved. The objective of the USAAF Bombing Campaign, and the Combined Bomber Offensive of which it was an integral part, was the destruction of a homicidal, racist, and tyrannical regime that had plunged the entire world into a conflict that killed over 78 million people. Together, the USAAF and RAF are believed to have killed 593,000 German civilians, that is .76% of this total. While this may not fit into Grayling’s opinion of what is proportional, it clearly fits into just war’s theory of this concept and thus renders his central argument unsupportable.
The German Defenses
Less morally ambiguous than discussions of the relative worth of German civilians’ lives versus those of the Third Reich’s victims, however, is the examination of Nazi Germany’s defense and the soldiers that manned them. These works, especially those produced during the Cold War, tend to avoid taking moralistic positions, focusing narrowly on how the Luftwaffe conducted its defense of the greater Reich. Westermann’s Flak is the only English language text that attempts to portray the men and women who manned the Reich’s anti-aircraft batteries as anything but anonymous secondary actors ineffectively attempting to stem the ever growing tide of American and British bombers. Its uniqueness precludes its use in the examination of trends, and thus it will not be further discussed herein.
In contrast to their flak comrades, German fighter pilots (Jagdflieger) have individually and collectively been the subject of dozens English-language texts. Most of these books treat the Jagdflieger with great respect, with noted aviation historian Michael Spick’s sentiment that “[a]lthough the cause for which they had fought was tarnished, their honor was redeemed by the luster of their deeds” being representative of general sentiment. The USAAF’s daylight offensive, directly engaging a Jagdwaffe already overcommitted in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, is widely acknowledged as the instrument which destroyed the German fighter arm. Used to engaging much smaller single and twin-engined aircraft at low and medium altitude, the arrival of the much larger Liberators and Fortresses was a sharp shock. Spick, once again, provides the most concise elucidation of this phenomenon, pointing out the effect the bombers’ size and defensive fire had on the pilots who conducted these initial interceptions. General Adolf Galland, the Luftwaffe’s chief of fighters, reinforces this point in his autobiography, The First and the Last. On page 151, Galland equates the Jagdflieger’s initial encounters with these aircraft to an infantryman’s first encounter with enemy tanks, with his pilots having to overcome their “shyness of the [bombers]” in order to discover their “vulnerable points.” As noted by Spick, Galland, and several other authors, this process was fraught with dangers due to the American bombers’ dense formations and heavy armament. Moreover, this process was left to tactical units rather than being driven by a centralized Jagdwaffe process of experimentation utilizing captured airframes. While ultimately successful, with aces (Experten) from Jagdeschwader (JG) 2 devising the successful head-on assault, this methodology exposed a critical operational failing on the part of Galland and his subordinate staff.
Such operational failings were fairly common and, when coupled with the strategic errors made by the Third Reich all but guaranteed the Jagdwaffe’s eventual destruction. The historiography, much like that of the Wermacht as a whole, places most of the blame for these errors on Hitler and Hermann Goring, chief of the Luftwaffe. First, by engaging on multiple fronts, the Nazi hierarchy ensured that what strength it did have would be divided into several parts. Second, by stubbornly insisting on the continued development and production of offensive weapons despite the Third Reich’s clearly declining fortunes, Hitler ensured that the Jagdwaffe fought at a constant numerical disadvantage from mid-1943 on. Finally, and most importantly, the aerial equivalent of Hitler’s “not one step backward” philosophy is consistently cited in the historiography as an unmitigated disaster for the Reich’s fighter pilots.
This last point is so central to the historiographical trend that it requires detailed examination. According to surviving senior Jagdwaffe officers, in 1942 Hitler and Goring decreed that all American bombers would be subject to continuous attack from ingress into the airspace of occupied Europe. This was directly contrary to Galland’s suggestion, which was a more prudent strategy of concentrated Luftwaffe fighter attacks for a single large interception near the borders of Germany. The initial effect of the Fuhrer’s directive was the frittering away of the Jagdwaffe’s strength in a series of attritional battles through late 1943. It is true that the relentless attacks inflicted painful losses on the USAAF’s bomber units, and the historiography is quite clear that from January to October 1943 the Jagdwaffe won “a series of substantial tactical victories,” forcing the Eighth Air Force to temporarily halt deep penetrations into Germany. However, American production and manpower meant that these losses were replaceable. In contrast, the steady toll taken by bomber gunners, accidents, and occasional clash with escorting fighters initiated a slow, steady seeping away of the German fighter arm’s effectiveness. The cost in both Experten (aces) and neophytes was quite high, and it made those victories achieved both transitory and Pyrrhic. From January to April 1944, the introduction of larger drop-tanks, longer-ranged fighters, and far more aggressive American tactics transformed the constant hemorrhaging of 1943 into full-scale arterial bleeding that proved ultimately fatal. Despite the introduction of advanced jet fighters, themselves arguably delayed by Hitler’s intransigence, those works focusing on the Jagdwaffe are clear that the battles of 1944 ensured the German fighter arm was a spent force.
This focus on the interference of the Nazi High Command, differences in production outcomes, and sheer numbers of Allied fighters results in several critical gaps. First, there is an overemphasis on the potential impact of the Me-262 at the expense of other, more viable aircraft. Galland is the first to propagate this myth, as the last portion of his autobiography concentrates heavily on the “lost opportunities” this fighter provided as well as his own experiences operating it. Although Galland’s thoughts are heartfelt, they are also disproved rather readily. Spick provides the most concise detailing of the Me-262’s many flaws, namely that it required a long runway, accelerated poorly, had extremely poor fuel economy, and was critically vulnerable on takeoff and landing. In addition to these tactical concerns, the Me-262’s airframe itself required an excessive amount of strategic materials, the powerplant was unreliable, and it required a level of skill that was quite beyond that being turned out by the German flight schools by 1944. Combined, these factors would likely have prevented the Me-262 from being the war winner Galland and others have proclaimed it would have been.
This overemphasis obscures the fact that the Jagdwaffe had many alternatives at hand that, with a more forceful effort by Galland, may have actually had reasonable impact during the critical period of the American Bombing Campaign. The Focke-Wulf 190, an excellent successor to the Bf-109, was never given priority of production over that “much older and less attractive design [that had] many shortcomings.” Although its initial variants were not well-suited for combat over 24,000 feet, later models were quite capable of holding their own against even the most modern Allied aircraft. In addition, various other airframes that would have been better suited to indifferently trained neophytes reached the prototype stage yet were never produced in favor of continuously updating the 109. Even given the 109’s sterling combat record, it is a clear indicator of Galland’s and Goring’s misunderstanding of technological progress that they believed an airframe first flown in 1935 was still a viable contender in 1943. The latter is rightfully pilloried for his hand in this travesty—the former is not.
Galland is similarly excused in the historiography for failing to vigorously examine his likely need for more pilots prior to the crisis of 1944. In this he is not alone, as the historiography is generally unclear on what individual or individuals was largely responsible for the development of a fighter pilot training program. Also left unexplained is the reasoning for the non-inclusion of combat veterans in such a program. Throughout World War II, the RAF, USAAF, and Red Air Force each had a rotational policy that gave their pilots a rest after a certain operational period. These policies paid great dividends in allowing the passage of lessons learned from combat veterans to trainees during their advanced flight courses, ensuring that these individuals then arrived at their commands with at least a theory of how aerial combat should unfold.
The Jagdwaffe’s rotational policy, on the other hand, was virtually non-existent. Almost invariably, Experten flew until seriously injured, imprisoned, or killed in combat. Generally, the historiography gives a pass to Galland on this issue, noting that Germany’s strategic situation precluded the rotation of trained leaders to training commands. Such statements, given the greater efficiency numerous veterans’ imparted to Allied training programs, are only tenuously supportable. Although it is true that Germany was hard-pressed by December 1943, this does not sufficiently explain what the Luftwaffe’s fighter command was doing from September 1939 until that date. The historiography gives little indication that Galland, upon assuming command of the Jagdwaffe in November 1941, did little to correct the errors of his predecessors in this regard. It is apparent that Galland was an extremely brave man placed in a rather untenable position by Hitler and Goring. Unfortunately, the works on the Jagdwaffe make clear that Galland’s focus on the day-to-day operation of his fighter groups, their tactics, and his pilots’ well-being prevented him from engaging long-term concerns with the same vigor he applied to attacking his aerial opponents.
A large part of Galland’s inaction may be attributed to combat fatigue, the final gap in the historiography of the Jagdwaffe. There are limited references to demoralization and fatigue among the German defenders in secondary sources, and the overwhelming strain of the Allied assault is even more prevalent in the available primary sources.  The high concentration and technical skills required for World War II aerial combat are extensively recognized, as are the effects of extended psychological stress on the mental, physical functions which are necessary to efficiently execute these tasks. Yet, despite the two factors, no readily-available English language psychological study has been made of Jagdwaffe (and flak) personnel to date, an inexplicable gap. With the high casualties suffered by the Jagdflieger as well as the passing of many World War II veterans in the intervening years since the end of that conflict, it may be impossible to ever completely fill this gap, but unit and oral histories may provide a necessary foundation for an attempt to be made.
Unit, Airframe and Oral Histories
Such histories form a large part of fourth part of the historiography, that of subject-specific histories. On the Allied side, such histories tend to be myopic, sacrificing a greater understanding of the war’s strategic context in favor of a narrow examination of a particular organization’s experience in the air war. The majority of these histories focus on the Eighth Air Force, with the two most common examples being the nearly identically-titled The Mighty Eighth: Units, Men, and Machines (A History of the US 8th Army Air Force) by British aviation author Roger A. Freeman and military historian Gerald Astor’s The Mighty Eighth: The Air War in Europe as Told by the Men Who Fought It. Although most of the World War II press and subsequent histories seem to support the subtitle of Astor’s work, the 15th Air Force was decisively engaged in attacking the southern portion of the Reich from November 1943. Despite the importance of their attacks, especially those against Nazi Germany’s oil supply, there are no commonly available histories solely devoted to the 15th’s exploits. Nor is this lack of representation unique to the 15th, as it occurs for most of the Eighth’s subordinate commands. There are few widely published bomber group unit histories, reducing the men and machines that constituted the Eighth’s primary reason for being to relatively anonymity. In contrast, the 56th, 4th, and 364th Fighter Groups alone are each the subject of at least one book, while the 8th’s myriad aces are the subject of numerous autobiographies and composite works.
This overrepresentation of fighter pilots skews their relative importance to the overall conduct of the American Bombing Campaign. Similarly skewed is the importance of the B-17 Flying Fortress, as it is the airframe that is most commonly represented in print and pictures that discuss the 8th Air Force. Martin Caidin’s Flying Forts, Jablonski’s Flying Fortress, and Freeman’s B-17 Fortress at War are but a small sample of the large number of books devoted to the Boeing bomber. The B-24 Liberator, on the other hand, has had few books written on it, with Stephen Ambrose’s The Wild Blue being the most recent. A similar situation, however, does not exist with regards to the American fighters, however, as each of the primary escort fighters (P-38, P-47, and P-51) each have a similar number of works devoted to their operational use.
The number of Jagdwaffe general histories is relatively small. To date, there is only one comprehensive, English language history in existence, the rarity of which makes its acquisition fiscally prohibitive for libraries and private individuals alike. Likewise, there are few in-depth unit histories that cover the entire operational life of a single Jagdwaffe unit from the beginning to the end of the Second World War. Aviation author Donald L. Caldwell’s JG 26 is the best example of all these, being both extensively researched and well written, and the dearth of Luftwaffe war records and rapidly declining number of veterans makes it unlikely to be equaled. However, the Jagdwaffe’s chaotic personnel policies make this less of a historical gap than it would first appear. Experten were regularly transferred between units due to their own injuries or to fill command positions left vacant by a fellow pilot’s relief, disablement, or death. Units, in turn, were often detached for service on another front, resulting in some Jagdeschwader having subordinate Gruppen simultaneously located on all three major German war fronts. Consequently, books on the Jagdwaffe, unlike the overwhelming majority of those on their Allied counterparts, are often forced to explain the larger strategic picture in order to avoid confusing readers.
Unfortunately, concentration on the Experten has led to the lionization of their primary mount, the Bf-109, at the expense of the Fw-190 and its pilots. The majority of these books also fail to mention the Bf-109’s creeping obsolescence. In addition, there remains little information on the various anonymous pilots that composed the bulk of the Jagdwaffe. Although large numbers of these pilots did not survive their first missions, there is likely a significant number of them whose scores would have made them quite famous had they been born in one of the Allied nations. Lastly, there are few sources which detail the training methodology, pilot equipment, or daily operations of the Jagdwaffe as a whole. The early success, decline, and ultimate failure of the Luftwaffe in its entirety is clearly connected to the fate of its fighter arm, and it is a subject that deserves further study.
Such further study is outside the scope of this paper, which has focused on the available rather than potential historiography and its gaps. As the examination has shown, the USAAF campaign can be defined in many ways. Those works sympathetic to its conduct portray it as a limited success whose achievements far outweigh the collateral damage it caused. Its opponents decry it as a clear violation of just war theory that was brought about by various base desires for revenge, an independent Air Force, and/or cold-blooded indifference to the civilians it fell upon or the young men forced to carry it out. Such a debate will fruitlessly continue until one or more of the faults currently inherent in the historiography is addressed. Historians from both sides must agree on a common degree of metrics, as a discussion of the relative merits inherent in oranges’ and apples’ can only be resolved on personal bias. Although the complete elimination of such bias is, of course, impossible, by relying on these established measurements much of the current moral reproach and polemic speech would be removed from what should be dispassionate analysis. In addition, such statistics would allow the examination of both defenders and attackers and allow for an all-encompassing examination of the campaign’s effect on the Wermacht’s conduct of the war, with emphasis on the Luftwaffe in general and Jagdwaffe in particular. Finally, all of these steps would allow professional historians from both sides to actually hear and digest opposing viewpoints, thus allowing for a greater understanding of the Allied Bombing Campaign and Second World War as a whole. With active participants disappearing at prodigious rates, the importance of accomplishing this has never been greater even as the time to do so grows ever shorter.
(Books in Bold were not used in text preparation but are included for information purposes.)
Ambrose, Stephen E.. The Wild Blue. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001.
Astor, Gerald. The Mighty Eighth: The Air War in Europe as Told by the Men Who Fought It. New York: Dell Books, 1997.
Biddle, Tami Davis. Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Boyne, Walter J. Clash of Wings: Air Power in World War II. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.
Budiansky, Stephen. Air Power: The Men, Machines, and Ideas That Revolutionized War, From Kitty Hawk to Gulf War II. New York: Viking Books, 2004.
Caidin, Martin. Flying Forts: The B-17 in World War II. New York: Ballantine Books, 1969.
________. Me-109: Willy Messerschmitt’s Peerless Fighter. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968.
Caldwell, Donald L.. JG26. New York: Orion Books, 1991.
Christopher, Paul. The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues. Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.
Constable, Trevor J. and Raymond F. Toliver, Colonel, USAF (ret.). Horrido!: Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968.
Crane, Conrad C. Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower Strategy in World War II.Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1993.
Dunnigan, James and Albert A. Nofi. Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You About the Greatest, Most Terrible War In History. New York: Quill, 1994.
Ethell, Jeffrey and Dr. Alfred Price. Target Berlin: Mission 250, 6 March, 1944. London: Jane’s, 1981. Reprint, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.
Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth: Units, Men, and Machines (A History of the US 8th Army Air Force. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1970.
________. B-17 Fortress At War. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977.
Galland, Adolf. The First and the Last. Bantam War Book Ed., 3rd Printing. New York: Bantam Books, 1982.
Grayling, A.C. Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan. (Advance Reading Copy) New York: Walker & Company, 2006.
Gunston, Bill and Tony Wood. Hitler’s Luftwaffe: A Pictorial History and Technical Encyclopedia of Hitler’s Air Power in World War II. London: Salamander Books, 1977. Reprint, New York: Crescent Books, 1979.
Hammel, Eric. Aces Against Germany. New York: Pocket Books, 1993.
Hinchliffe, Peter. The Other Battle: Luftwaffe Night Fighter Aces Versus Bomber Command. Edison, N.J.: Castle Books, 2001.
Isby, David C., ed.. Fighting the Bombers: The Luftwaffe’s Struggle Against the Allied Bomber Offensive. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.
Jablonski, Edward. Airwar: Tragic Victories. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971.
________. Airwar: Terror From the Sky. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971.
________. Airwar: Wings of Fire. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971.
________. Flying Fortress. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1965.
Jacobs, W.A.. “Operation Overlord.” In Case Studies in the Achievement of Air Superiority, Benjamin Franklin Cooling, 270-322. Washington, D.C.: Center For Air Force History, 1994.
Johnson, Robert S., with Martin Caidin. Thunderbolt!. New York: Ballantine Books, 1958.
Knell, Herman. To Destroy a City: Strategic Bombing and Its Human Consequences in World War II. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group, 2003.
Macksey, Kenneth. Military Errors of World War II. London: Arms and Armour, 1987. Reprint, Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 2003.
McFarland, Stephen L. and Wesley Phillips Newton. “The American Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany in World War Two.” In Case Studies in Strategic Bombardment, ed. R. Cargill Hill, 183-252. Washington, D.C.: Center For Air Force History, 1998.
Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, 1982.
________. American Aircraft of World War II. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, Reprint, London: Chancellor Press, 1996.
Musciano, Walter A. Messerschmitt Aces. New York: Arco Publishing, Inc., 1982.
Nalty, Bernard C., John F. Shiner, and George M. Watson. With Courage: The U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Air Force History & Museums Program, 1994.
Neilland, Robert. The Bomber War: The Allied Air Offensive Against Nazi Germany. New York: The Overlook Press, 2001.
Overy, Richard J. Why the Allies Won. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1995.
Perrett, Geoffrey. Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in World War II. New York: Random House, 1993.
Richard, Denis. The Hardest Victory: RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War. London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.
Ross, Stewart Halsey. Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II: The Myths and the Facts. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003.
Sims, Edward H.. American Aces. New York: Ballantine Books, 1958.
________. The Greatest Aces. New York: Ballantine Books, 1967.
Spick, Michael. The Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: The Jagdflieger and Their Combat Tactics and Techniques. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.
________. The Ace Factor. New York: Avon Books, 1988.
________. Allied Fighter Aces of World War II. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1997.
Steinhoff, Johanne. Messerschmitts Over Sicily. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2004.
Stokesbury, James L.. A Short History of World War II. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980.
Taylor, Frederick. Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
United States Army. “Strategic Air Victory in Europe Special Issue (July 1945).” In Impact: The Army Air Force’s “Confidential” Picture History of World War II in Eight Books, Vol. 7. Harrisburg, PA: Historical Times, Inc., 1980.
Westermann, Edward B.. Flak: German Anti-Aircraft Defenses, 1914-1945. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2001.
Williamson, Murray. Strategy For Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1933-1945. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1983.
 There are several excellent single-volume works that discuss the RAF’s campaign, such as Denis Richards’s The Hardest Victory: RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War (London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994) and Peter Hinchliffe’s The Other Battle: Luftwaffe Night Aces Versus Bomber Command (Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 2001).
 Impact: The Army Air Force’s “Confidential” Picture History of World War II In Eight Books, vol. 7, “Strategic Air Victory In Europe Special Issue”, July 1945 (Harrisburg, PA: Historical Times, Inc., 1980), 57 and 60.
 Stewart Halsey Ross, Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II: The Myths and the Facts (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003) and Walter J. Boyne Clash of Wings: Air Power in World War II (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).
 Herman Knell, To Destroy a City: Strategic Bombing and Its Human Consequences in World War II (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group, 2003) and A.C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, Advance Reading Copy (New York: Walker & Company, 2006).
 Michael Spick, The Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: The Jagdflieger and Their Combat Tactics and Techniques (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996) and Trevor J. Constable and Raymond F. Toliver, Colonel, USAF (ret.) Horrido! (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968).
 Paul Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994), 89. This version of the work is that used for Military Philosophy at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.
 Generalmajor Hans-Detlef Herhuth von Rohden, “Reich Air Defense in World War II: A Strategic-Tactical Survey,” Fighting the Bombers: The Luftwaffe’s Struggle Against the Allied Bomber Offensive, David C. Isby, ed., (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003), 26-27.
 Stephen L. McFarland and Wesley Phillips Newton, “The American Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany in World War Two,” Case Studies in Strategic Bombardment, R. Cargill Hill, ed., (Washington, D.C.: Center for Air Force History, 1998), 209-215.
 Bill Gunston and Tony Wood, Hitler’s Luftwaffe: A Pictorial History and Technical Encyclopedia of Hitler’s Air Power in World War II (London: Salamander Books, 1977; reprint, New York: Crescent Books, 1979), 166.
 An example of the former can be found on pg. 99 of Jeffrey Ethell and Dr. Alfred Price’s Target Berlin: Mission 250, 6 March 1944 (London: Jane’s, 1981; reprint, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002), while a good primary source for the latter phenomenon is Johannes Steinhoff’s Messerschmitts Over Sicily (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2004).
 Gerald Astor, The Mighty Eighth: The Air War in Europe as Told by the Men Who Fought It (New York: Dell Books, 1997) and Roger A. Freeman, The Mighty Eighth: Units, Men, and Machines (A History of the US 8th Army Air Force) (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1970).
 Martin Caidin, Flying Forts: The B-17 in World War II (New York: Ballantine Books, 1969), Roger A. Freeman, B-17 Fortress At War (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977), and Edward Jablonski, Flying Fortress (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1965).