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Bombers Empty Bombers

Post by DIESEL on Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:38 am

The Luftwaffe's four primary bombers were the Heinkel He 111, Dornier Do 17, and Junkers Ju 88 for level bombing, and the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka for diving attacks. The Heinkel He 111 was used in greater numbers than the others during the conflict and is better known, partly due to its distinctive wing shape. Each of the level bombers also had a few reconnaissance versions that were used during the battle.

Although successful in previous Luftwaffe engagements, in the Battle of Britain, due its slow speed and vulnerability to fighter interception after the dive bombing, the Stuka suffered heavy losses, particularly on 18 August. As a result of the losses, and the limited payload and range it possessed, Stuka units were largely removed from operations over the mainland, and concentrated on shipping instead until re-deployed to the East in 1941. They returned over the mainland on occasion, such as on 13 September in the attack on Tangmere airfield.

The remaining three bomber types differed in their capabilities: the Heinkel 111 was the slowest, the Ju 88, once its mainly externally carried bomb load was dropped, was the fastest, and the Do 17 had the smallest bomb load. All three bomber types suffered heavy losses from British fighters, but the Ju 88 disproportionately so. Later in the conflict, when night bombing became more frequent, all three level bombers were put to use. However, due to its reduced bomb load, the lighter Do 17 was used less than the He 111 and Ju 88 for this purpose.

On the British side, three bombers were mostly used on night operations against targets such as factories, invasion ports and railway centres; the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, the Handley-Page Hampden and the Vickers Wellington were classified as heavy bombers by the RAF, although the Hampden was, in reality, a medium bomber comparable to the He 111. The twin engined Bristol Blenheim and the single engined Fairey Battle were both light bombers; the Blenheim was the most numerous of the aircraft equipping Bomber Command and was used in attacks against shipping, ports, airfields and factories on the continent by day and by night; the Battle was rarely used on operations.

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