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Thread: Use of 250 lb bombs in 1945

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    Default Use of 250 lb bombs in 1945

    Dadís logbook, confirmed in the ORB entry, records that the bombload they carried for Dresden on February 13, 1945 was 1 X 4,000 lb cookie, 5 X 500 lb bombs and 4 X 250 lb bombs. The use of 250 lb bombs was surprising considering this sort of ordinance was perhaps less effective than the equivalent weight in a larger bomb. Why not 2 X 500 lb bombs? Possible reasons might be:

    1) A shortage of 500 lb bombs?
    2) Disposing of a surplus of 250 lbs bombs in the storage facilities?
    3) A need for weight distribution for the aircraft balance/loading characteristics?
    4) Some sort of tactical reason such as interruption of the firefighting measures on the ground?

    Reason 3) can be discarded since the sortie to Chemnitz indicated they carried 1 X 4,000 lb cookie, 7 X 500 lb bombs.
    My own view is 1) and 2) are the most likely reasons but I am interested in other views on this.

    Jim

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    I seem to recall a paper that discussed the merits of different sized bombs and their destructive powers. I suspect the cookie would level a large but compact area and the smaller bombs, especially with delay fuzes would extend the damage over a greater area. The other factor would be the release sequence. Also it must be borne in mind that this one aircraft of dozens all with potentially different load combinations. Not an answer but it has got me wondering now and also trying to recall where I came across that paper.

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    Thanks PNK. I know there were shortages of the Mk 14 cluster inc. during these periods. The 500 lb bombs on this occasion were a mix of British and American manufacture. I shall check the ORBs for the type of fusing.

    This bomb load can be compared with other Squadrons in 6 Group. I donít have the Form B for this operation, but I do know that the bomb loads are specified in the orders that come down from group level...at least they were for those Iíve seen for March 1945.

    Jim

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    I found a reference in the Armaments Section in the 64 Base ORB Summary for December 1944: "The use of 250lb GP bombs on operations in small quantities was introduced this month. They were later stopped due to accidents occurring in the command."
    http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oo...28/321?r=0&s=3
    For January, 1945: "The use of 250 lb. GP. on operations to a small degree was included on several bomb loads."

    For Dresden on 13 February, 1945, the ORB for Dad's a/c records 4 x 250 lb GP Tail Inst.

    Perhaps the intended use of these smaller bombs was to hamper fire fighting and rescue services by becoming unexploded "booby traps"?

    Jim

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    Essentially, shortage of MC (Medium Capacity) bombs and thence to conserve stocks of larger GP ordinance (1,000lb and 500lb GP). The Armament Vol I Bombs and Bombing Equipment SD 719 (Air Ministry AHB 1952) concludes Ch 1 General Purpose and Fragmentation Bombs as follows:

    "Conclusion
    Operational experience with the G.P. bombs in the 1939-45 war soon showed that the whole range suffered from one overwhelming disadvantage, insufficient explosive contents.3 The average charge/weight ratio was between 27 per cent and 30 per cent, and that was of comparatively inefficient high explosive. To produce a range of bombs for all purposes had inevitably been shown to result in such bombs being efficient for none. The project was no doubt the only one possible in peace when money for research, development and production was extremely limited, and many useful lessons in design and production were probably learned, but as a weapon of war the G.P. bomb can only be described as partially satisfactory.

    The figures for G.P. bombs dropped by Bomber Command in operations during the 1939-45 war are shown below ; they give some idea of the quantities used in the service. The huge total of 500 lb. bombs for instance, was only used because sufficient quantities of the more efficient M.C. bombs, were not available and a glance at the figures for 500 lb. bombs for 1944 might suggest that by that time the G.P. bomb was back in favour. On the contrary, this enormous rise in bomb expenditure is accounted for by the great demand for 500 lb. bombs in tactical operations during the invasion of Europe. Such demands could only be met by the use of these obsolete G.P. stocks4; this became increasingly apparent in 1944 and 1945 due to Bomber Command's critical shortage of ' 1,000 pounders ', even the 500 lb. G.P. stocks had to be conserved involving the operational use of the 250 lb. G.P. series which were largely expended on the flying bomb sites in Northern France where they unfortunately proved almost totally ineffective.

    3 A.M. File C.S. 7557 and the Report on Weapon Effectiveness. D.G. Arm W.E./S.3507.
    4 See this volume. Chapter 11."
    Armament Vol I as above.

    The table which follows the above text was intractable to OCR convert, with my skill, but shows Bomber Command use of
    250lb GP bombs: 7,768 in 1944 and 27,180 in 1945
    500lb GP bombs: 395,641 in 1944 and 27,076 in 1945

    4 ref to Ch 11 discusses the HC (High Capacity) series in depth.

    Apart from national collections, as noted previously, also available to download at reasonable cost from MLRS
    https://www.mlrsbooks.co.uk/bookstor...t/item973.html

    Don Clark
    www.211squadron.org
    Last edited by Don Clark; 13th February 2020 at 01:28.

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    Thanks very much Don: It does make one wonder why, given the much smaller bomb loads taken to targets in Eastern Germany, they would waste the load carrying capacity by carrying low capacity explosive to such distant targets. Why, for example did they not make "mini cookies" to carry to the target? Dad took 3 x MC 500 lb and 2x GP 500 lb bombs in addition to 1x 4,000 HC and 4 x 250lb GP bombs to Dresden, 75 years ago today.

    Jim

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    At first thought, given the scale of ops in 1944 and 1945, the balance of supply vs use is likely to have been a matter for close attention as it was in many aspects of the war throughout.

    From the Ch 1 summary above, it's clear that demand was exceeding supply for GP bombs...given the scale of ops and of production, thus seems quite possible that supply of HC series eg 4,000lb may also have been limited. The aircraft already had one as part of the load, eg.

    While Ch 11 op cit covers development, production, use and effectiveness of the HC series, the conclusions do not (unlike Ch 1) discuss availability.

    This sort of detail may have been covered in one of the many works on Bomber Command and/or Dresden. Equally, may well be discussed in depth in
    The RAF in the Bomber Offensive Against Germany Vol VI
    The Final Phase March 1944 - May 1945
    (Air Ministry AHB/RAF Narrative)
    In facsimile at MLRS:
    https://www.mlrsbooks.co.uk/bookstor.../item1065.html

    War is a an awful business from end to end. I found Miles Tripp The Eighth Passenger most absorbing and very thoughtful on his experience of Dresden.

    Still, strictly not my field and others may well know far more about Bomber Command late war ops planning (bomb load vs fuel load eg).
    Time for me to bow out of this one.

    Don Clark
    www.211squadron.org
    Last edited by Don Clark; 13th February 2020 at 18:59.

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    Thanks Don: While I don't know with absolute certainty the quantity of fuel taken, in his audio memoirs dad recalls taking the maximum fuel load--and that they moved the petrol bowers in position and topped up the fuel tanks after engine run-up and taxying, immediately before take-off. The Form "B" confirms a maximum fuel load for a trip of similar length, to Dessau.

    Given the concern about wastage in the ORBs pertaining to abortive sorties (both over and not over enemy territory) which at that stage of the war was generally less than 1% of sorties, it seems surprizing that they would be prepared to compromise over ordnance. Note that Halifaxes were not part of the force to Dresden or Dessau, likely because they could not carry sufficient ordinance to those targets.

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    Given the scope of JDCAVE's continuing interest, and in the absence of any other contributions, there are two points here that may after all be helpful to expand a little.

    I should start by re-iterating that Bomber Command has never been the focus of my work and add that in 2020 I'm working with a much reduced reference set compared to previous years. That said...

    First, "why...did they not make "mini cookies""
    Well, they did. In the HC series there was already a 2000lb unit available in addition to the 4000lb and 8000lb units. Although the 2000lb HC took rather longer to develop than the 4000lb, they were in regular use from 1942, and in quantity. The numbers released are staggering. (HC 2000lb: 15,000 in 1944, HC 4000lb 23,000 in 1944 eg). Consistent usage tables not available all years. In later works, the 2000lb HC is not always mentioned, perhaps as it was not apparently covered by the Bombing Survey reports.
    See AHB Armament op cit.

    Next, the notion of compromise.
    Compromise is a fundamental feature of war and certainly throughout WW2 : in production time & capacity, in operational aim/s, and on ops (in war load vs fuel load vs range, in target selection and in force actually ordered vs force available) just as examples.

    While there were very many available types and sizes of bomb to choose from, for the purpose on the day late in the war, the compromise looks to have been, as already noted, what was available in required quantity at the time (vs target vs aircraft type/bomb bay capacity).

    Summary
    The Bomber Command effort from Summer 1944 into Spring 1945 was formidable.

    As the Armament Vol I summaries point out (my earlier post), shortages of 500lb MC bombs saw 500lb GP units in such heavy use such that 500lb GPs in turn came to be in short supply, as were 1,000lb units (MC or GP not recorded), leading to some limited return to 250lb GP use.

    No info sighted in my brief reading whether the 2000lb HC was ever in short supply - not unlikely given the forgoing but in any case, on the (limited) data seen, the 4000lb HC was used somewhat more heavily in 1944 at least - whether by choice or availability, cannot say.

    How Bomber Command HQ decided the make up of operational bombloads vs target selected, basically around the 4000lb HC + incendiaries + MC or GP as available, seems not on my reading to be discussed in Armament Vol I. May well be discussed in The RAF in the Bomber Offensive Against Germany Vol VI The Final Phase March 1944 - May 1945 narrative already referred to, or indeed in more contemporary sources, the Narratives being near to but not quite, as immediate post-war compilations off the actual source docs.

    Wishing you well with your project

    Don Clark
    www.211squadron.org
    Last edited by Don Clark; 24th February 2020 at 20:30.
    Toujours ŗ propos

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    Thanks Don: The 6-Group ORB summary for the wars end confirms much of what you have already alluded to: The multi-purpose bomb of choice was the 1,000 lb Medium Capacity bomb. Unfortunately supply dictated was available for bomb loads: "The increase in volume of explosives affected us in two ways. Firstly the supply position of certain bombs, chiefly the 1000 lb M.C. dictated to a certain extent the type of bomb that could be laid on for particular operations. Such was the demand for High Explosive..."
    and..
    "...investigations generally confirmed that the choice of bombs and fusing was most satisfactory and that perhaps the best all round bomb was the 1000 lb M.C. This bomb was long thought to be the most satisfactory for certain heavy installations but unfortunately the supply position would not permit its use on all possible occasions 500 lb bombs had to be resorted to in many instances when otherwise 1000 lb bombs would have been used."

    It's one thing to substitute 500 lb bombs for the load. Quite another to use 250 lb GP bombs with only 75 lbs of effective charge (at 30%). Given the length of the trip to places such as Dresden, and Dessau, and the strong concern that Bomber Command had WRT "wastage of effort" it seems awfully strange that they resorted to the 250 lb bomb on these trips.

    BTW, I don't have the book, but I wonder if Harris discusses this in his "Despatch on War Operations"? I know he talks about the availability of the cluster bomb in this book.

    Jim

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