Cover image for Strategic bombing by the United States in World War II : the myths and the facts
Strategic bombing by the United States in World War II : the myths and the facts
Ross, Stewart Halsey.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2003]

Physical Description:
ix, 244 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
1. The beginnings -- 2. The great war -- 3. The seers -- 4. The planners -- 5. The crucibles -- 6. The airplanes -- 7. The bombs -- 8. The bombsights -- 9. The aircrews -- 10. The defenses -- 11. The five cities -- 12. The surveys.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D785.U57 R67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The United States relied heavily on bombing to defeat the Germans and the Japanese in World War II, and air raids were touted as "precision" bombing in American propaganda. But was precision possible over cloud-covered Europe or a darkened Japanese countryside? Could the vaunted Norden optical bombsight in fact "drop bombs into pickle barrels" as advertised? Were the American aircrews well trained and well protected? How good were their airplanes? What were the results of the costly raids? This work sets suppositions against facts surrounding the United States' use of strategic bombing in World War II. Chapters cover the events leading up to World War II; the start of the war; the seers and the planners; the airplanes, bombs, bombsights, and aircrews; the planes Germany used to defend itself against American planes; the five cities (Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki) that experienced the most destruction; and the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey of the damage done by aerial bombing. The book also probes the government's myth-building statements that supported America's view of itself as a uniquely humanitarian nation, and analyzes the role played by interservice rivalry--"battleship admirals" against "bomber generals."

Author Notes

Mechanical engineer and professor of history, Stewart Halsey Ross spent two years analyzing bomb accuracy tests for the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This volume breaks no new ground in its assessment of the strategic bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan during WW II, the "myths" and the "facts" of the subtitle having been well documented for decades. However, in this short and concise work, Ross skillfully blends information about the development of strategic bombing doctrine, military decision makers, strategy and tactics behind the campaigns, the fliers, and the technical details of the bombers, bombs, and defenses that they faced. The author touches only briefly on the issue of the morality of bombing cities rather than strictly military targets, but he makes clear the hypocrisy of the official US doctrine of precision bombing, of "dropping bombs in a pickle barrel." He points to the multitude of logistical, technical, and weather-related problems associated with such bombing. Ross offers a critical assessment of the limitations of the vaunted Norden bombsight, which was often rendered useless by clouds, attacking fighters, and anti-aircraft batteries. Particularly useful is Ross's brief summary of the five cities most affected by the strategic bombing campaigns--Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels and collections. R. A. Garnett Marshall University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. 1
Introductionp. 7
1 The Beginningsp. 11
2 The Great Warp. 16
3 The Seersp. 28
4 The Plannersp. 46
5 The Cruciblesp. 54
6 The Airplanesp. 83
7 The Bombsp. 105
8 The Bombsightsp. 123
9 The Aircrewsp. 142
10 The Defensesp. 164
11 The Five Citiesp. 176
12 The Surveysp. 195
Epiloguep. 208
Chapter Notesp. 211
Bibliographyp. 231
Indexp. 241