Night Bombing and Butt Report (04:04)
British day raids proved disastrous against German defenses at the beginning of World War II; Bomber Command initiated after-dark operations. Air Ministry propaganda convinced the public and authorities that targets were struck; David Butt issued a report revealing their failures.
Chief Scientific Advisor Lord Cherwell initiated research into improving bomber accuracy. The Air Ministry formed an elite group of pilots to find targets and direct raids. Sir Arthur Harris took over Bomber Command in 1942, appointing Donald Bennett as the group’s commander.
Oboe Bombing System (02:34)
The Pathfinders led an unsuccessful raid on Flensburg in August 1942; navigational equipment was limited and bad weather complicated the operation. By year’s end, Bomber Command developed a new target finder using radio transponders to guide pilots.
Ruhr, Germany (04:21)
By 1943, the Pathfinders were ready to attack Germany. Illuminators led the advance, dropping flares for target markers who marked quarries with color coded indicators. Bombers followed, accurately striking the Nazi industrial center.
Hamburg, Germany (02:59)
In July 1943, Allied bombers barraged Germany’s port city. The H2S navigational system helped Pathfinders lead the Royal Air Force attacks; the radio worked on shortwaves and differentiated between ground and water. Saturation bombing created firestorms, killing 44,000 Germans.
Berlin and France (03:26)
In November 1943, a series of aerial assaults were launched on Germany’s capitol. In spring 1944, Bomber Command focused on precision attacks to prepare Nazi occupied Europe for British invasion. After the Normandy landings, Pathfinders renewed offenses, targeting Hitler’s V weapons.
Credits: The Men Who Lit Up Germany (00:21)
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