The wreckage of a Wellington bomber shot down by flak over the Netherlands. It was one of 21 aircraft lost on the Bremen raid of 13-14 September 1942. (photo courtesy Imperial War Museum www.iwm.org.uk)
This was the most modern strategic bomber the Royal Air Force had when World War Two began. Unfortunately, it was slow–220 to 235 MPH with a ceiling of 18,000 feet.
Wellington Mark I bomber, with the original Vickers turrets, of the RNZAF — anticipating war, the New Zealand government loaned these aircraft and their aircrews to the RAF in August 1939.
Once four-engine bombers went into service with Bomber Command, the Wellington’s were pushed aft to the lowest level of the bomber stream. They could barely keep up with the 4 engines and often didn’t which them extremely vulnerable to German fighters.
A close-up view of a Vickers Wellington bomber DWI (Directional Wireless Installation) on the ground at Ismailia, Egypt, showing the electromagnetic ring used to explode magnetic mines. (Original IWM caption: Close-up of a Vickers Wellington DWI Mark II of No. 1 General Reconnaissance Unit at Ismaliya, Egypt, showing the 48-foot diameter electromagnetic ring, for exploding magnetic mines, suspended from the wings and fuselage of the aircraft. The ring weighed over two and a quarter tons. (photograph CM 5312 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums)
A captured Vickers Wellington bomber Mk.IC (RAF serial L7842) in service with the German Luftwaffe, probably at the test center at Rechlin, circa 1941. L7842 was delivered in mid-1940. It was lost on 6 February 1941 while in service with No. 311 Squadron, RAF, while on a mission to Boulogne (France). Photo German National Archive.
According to the history section of the Royal Air Force it’s estimated that Hurricane pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the Battle of Britain.
The Hawker Hurricane was the first operational R.A.F. aircraft capable of a top speed in excess of 300 mph. Delivery of the aircraft to front-line squadrons of Fighter Command only began in the fall of 1938. By the outbreak of war in September of 1939, Hawker Aircraft Ltd had built 497 Hurricanes from the intial RAF order of 3,500.
From RAF History site:
“A total of 1,715 Hurricanes flew with Fighter Command during the period of the Battle, far in excess of all other British fighters combined. Having entered service a year before the Spitfire, the Hurricane was “half-a-generation” older, and was markedly inferior in terms of speed and climb. However, the Hurricane was a robust, maneuverable aircraft capable of sustaining fearsome combat damage before write-off; and unlike the Spitfire, it was a wholly operational, go-anywhere-do-anything fighter by July 1940. It is estimated that its pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the period July-October 1940.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (right) was the head of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and the main architect of its success along with his deputy, Air vice-marshal Sir Keith Park.
Park, a New Zealander, commanded 11 Group RAF Fighter Command
air vice marshal eqivalet to 2 star major general USA, UK,
B-24 Liberator “the Sandman” Emerging From Smoke During raid On Ploesti Oil Field in Romania; THEN ALLIED TO NAZI GERMANY.
THIS FIELD SUPPLIED IMMENSE AMOUNTS OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS TO WEHRMACHT
Aug. 1, 1943. The Sandman, a US Army Air Force B-24 Liberator from the 98th Bomb Group of the 9th Air Force, piloted by Major Robert Sternfels, shown emerging from a cloud of smoke as it barely clears the stacks of the Astra Romana refinery during the disastrous American raid on the Romania oil fields at Ploesti.
(caption and photo courtesy of the National Museum of the US Air Force. The photo was taken by Jerry J. Joswick, the only survivor of the 16 cameramen of the operation)
Unfortunately, Not the Most Successful Action of the War
Since US Army Air Force doctrine stipulated high-altitude precision bombing, pilots had little experience in low-level missions. And this was a low-level mission. Several months prior to the attack, aircrews and aircraft were sent to Libya and trained day after day in flying fifty feet off the ground or lower while in formation.
Coming in at low altitude was the key tactical element in the plan of attack on the refineries and associated facilities at the oil fields in Ploesti, Romania. These oil fields were Nazi Germany’s main source of oil, supplying almost 40% of the total. As such, Ploesti was the most heavily defended target against air attack in the entire Nazi empire. (Romania was a staunch ally of Nazi Germany).
The USAAF suffered terrible losses. Of the 177 B-24s on the raid, 53 were lost, most on the raid, some of which crashed and a handful interned in neutral Turkey. Official US Air Force casualty figures are as follows: 310 aircrewmen were killed, 108 were captured by the Axis, and 78 were interned in Turkey.
Despite the extreme heroism of the airmen and their determination to press the mission home, the results… were less than expected…. the attack temporarily eliminated about 3,925,000 tons (of petroleum production), roughly 46 percent of total annual production at Ploesti.
Unfortunately…these losses were temporary and much less than the planners had hoped for. The Germans proved capable of repairing damage and restoring production quickly, and they had been operating the refineries at less than full capacity, anyway.
Ploesti thus had the ability to recover rapidly. The largest and most important target, Astro Romana, was back to full production within a few months…”
Source: Fact sheet on low level bombing of Ploesti August 1943, US Air Force Historical Office. You can find the entire fact sheet here:
In the ensuing hard fought war we succeded in sinking most of their navy and merchant fleet in addition to killing hundreds of thousands of their soldiers. They started it and we finished by destroying their country.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…”
And they did.
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Dec. 7, 1941: This captured Japanese photograph was taken aboard a Japanese aircraft carrier before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (US National Archives)
In the articles and online discussions of about the atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US, no one seems to mention the following about Pearl Harbor:
The Japanese attacked the United States and declared war on the united states Not the other way around.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech to Congress on December 8, 1941. Behind him are Vice President Henry Wallace (left) and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. To the right, in uniform in front of Rayburn, is Roosevelt’s son James, who escorted his father to the Capitol.
An annotated version of Roosevelt’s Infamy speech, showing the original wording “a date which will live in world history.”
“Air raid pearl harbor. this is no drill.”
US Navy radio message to all US Navy ships near Pearl Harbor
“On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii…”
“The Japanese planned to give the U.S. a declaration of war before the attack began so they would not violate the first article of the Hague Convention of 1907, but the message was delayed and not relayed to U.S. officials in Washington until the attack was already in progress….”
“The Japanese strike force consisted of 353 aircraft launched from four heavy carriers. These included 40 torpedo planes, 103 level bombers, 131 dive-bombers, and 79 fighters. The Japanese naval task force also consisted of two heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, two light cruisers, nine oilers, two battleships, and 11 destroyers….”
Dec. 7, 1941: The USS West Virginia is aflame after the surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (US National Archives)
The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, wounded 1,178 including 38 civilians and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships.
The battleship USS Arizona remains sunken in Pearl Harbor with its crew onboard. Half of the dead at Pearl Harbor died on Arizona. A United States flag flies above the sunken battleship, which serves as a memorial to all Americans who died in the attack…
On December 8, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress for and received a declaration of war against Japan. On December 11, Germany and Italy, allied with Japan, declared war on the U.S. The United States had entered World War II.”
USS Arizona aflame and sinking Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941
“Eight US B-29 crewmen were killed by un-anaesthetized vivisection carried out in front of medical students at a hospital. Their stomachs, hearts, lungs and brain segments were removed. (1944)