The Germans never "planned" for Strategic Bombing.
Barrington James wrote:I don't think it is totally fair to blame the Americans for the horrors of terror bombing or for the war. Terror bombing was just a natural extension of war in general and air war in particular. It was originally thought by many to be a much better alternative and life saver than trench warfare which had killed millions in WW1. Almost every major country in the word had planned for it.
let's take a step back here a moment & shed ourselves of some unfounded guilt & lay it squarely where it belongs.
That guilt belongs to three men & three men only, Churchill, Arthur Harris & Frederick Lindemann
because he conceived of Strategic or "Carpet" Bombing against Civilians & the Economy.
because he approved of the plan.
because he implemented it with great gusto, btw, he was also known as "Butcher Harris".
To understand how this came about, we actually once again have to go back to the root causes of WWII, that being WWI.
During WWI the German Air Force conducted a total of just 84
raids against England, no single raid contained more than 30
Aircraft at any one time & Operational losses for Aircraft amounted to 75%
60 + Zeppelin Airships were lost
61 Gotha G Bombers were lost
2 Zeppelin-Staaken Bombers were lost
A total of 650,000 Kg of Bombs were dropped inflicting 950 deaths & 2000 + injured.
To the Germans considering the Aircraft & specialized crews lost compared to the actual Material Damage aimed at the Munition plants & Production Facilities which was minuscule or non existent, to the degree that German Military Planers never again considered "Strategic Bombing" of major Population centers
It did however have a powerful Psychological effect on the British and resulted in the diversion of 12 Fighter Squadrons (including at least 2 crack units) some 5,000 Artillery pieces & 30,000 men for Home Defence.
It must be noted that Arthur Harris
In 1915 joined the Royal Flying Corps, serving on the home front and in France during 1917 later returning to England to command No. 44 Squadron on Home Defence duties and was later awarded the Air Force Cross.
To summarize, to the Germans, Strategic Bombing was a complete write-off, to Harris at least the bombing may have had a profound influence on his thinking 20 years later.
Tactical Bombing or "Close Air Support"
Where the Germans found Great Strength in Bombing was in support of Ground Forces.
The close support aircraft had by the end of WW I evolved into a well organized force with a set of highly sophisticated tactics. In preparation for the great spring offensive in 1918 the German OHL (High Command/General Staff) worked out a detailed set of orders for the employment of the reorganized Schlastas (Battle Squadrons),
To summarize the main points concerning the role of a Schlasta.
1.The Schlastas are to attack in as large number as possible and harass enemy troops in their trenches as well attacking artillery and basically anything that moved in the the enemy's rear areas. In short create as much chaos as possible. Escort and air to air combat were secondary roles.
2.A Schlasta was to consist of 6 aircraft that could be grouped into larger Schlacht Gruppen. Normal reconnaissance units should never be employed in the Schlasta role.
3.Due to the close support aircraft's close proximity to the action, crews are to be debriefed after every flight to make sure no potentially important intelligence about the situation on the ground as it unfolds goes unused.
4.Different Schlastas are given very specific roles to play during an operation. Some are to be placed under the control of the front-line division making the attack and are called in as necessary. Others sweep the enemy's rear areas while yet others are held in reserve.
5.In case of retreat the Schlastas role is to act as a rear guard and make massed attacks on the pursuing enemy with the aim of breaking up his formations.
6.The Schlasta is seen as a very valuable resource and they should only be used en mass at the decisive point of contact for maximum effect.
The Schlastas were first employed in numbers during the battle of Cambarai in November 1917 and were instrumental in turning what would otherwise have been a heavy defeat for the British into a full blown catastrophe. The result of the German counterattack at Cambarai served to demonstrate the validity of the new infiltration-tactics involving the close cooperation of massed formations of close support aircraft with the infantry spearheaded by highly mobile elite Stosstruppen (shock troops). Another important result of the victory at Cambarai was the capture of over 50 British tanks most of which were later salvaged and used to equip several German tank units. The Schlastas also played an important role in the 1918 spring Offensive where they cooperated with the Stosstruppen and finally succeeded breaking the deadlock on the Western Front.
German medium bombers, working mostly at night after early 1917, caused great damage with attacks on installations, equipment, supply depots and supply lines as well as Allied troop concentrations. On a few occasions German medium bombers even played a decisive role in obtaining victories for ground troops.
The AEG G.IV was perhaps the most influential Bomber for later German doctrinal thinking, Some AEG G.IV the crews are known to have flown up to seven combat missions a night on the Italian front. When the war ended in November 1918, the Allies were astonished to find that only 320 AEG G. IV aircraft existed. By flying five or more missions a night, the Allies were led the believe that the German bomber force was much larger than it actually was.
Such was the profound impact that it had on the Allies that the AEG G.IV was singled out by name for surrender in the treaty of Versailles.
Had the first world war gone on into 1919 new German tank divisions equipped with LK II - III light tanks and possibly medium assault tanks would have been in action by the spring and summer of 1919. These divisions would have gone into action alongside the Stosstruppen supported by large concentrations of close support aircraft and tactical bombers in a manner not unlike what was described in the theories of Fuller and Lidell-Hart. During the last year of the war the Germans had held experimental exercises that among other things were intended to investigate how the tanks and close support aircraft could best be integrated into the infiltration tactics used by the Stosstruppen. These experiences were one of the factors that influenced the organization and tactics of the WW II German air force. They made it an indispensable element in the so called Blitzkrieg tactics, building on the writings of Lidell-Hart and Fuller as well as WW I German tactical developments. The WW II German Luftwaffe evolved into a purely tactical force of close support aircraft and tactical bombers designed for the support of the Army. The origins of this obsession with close air support and tactical bombing at the expense of strategic bombing lies partly in the experiences made during WW I.
It's a fact that all German Bombers of WWII were over engineered to withstand Dive Bombing at a 35 degree angle, making them "precision Bombers" although not in the same class as the "JU 87 Stuka" & why Germany never had a Bomber Comparable to the American B17 or the British Avro Lancaster
Sorry this was so long winded, however it's never just that simple.