Bf 110 Vs Lancaster : 1942-45 Paperback
Illustrated by Jim Laurier, Gareth Hector
Part of the Duel series
The RAF introduced the Avro Lancaster in 1942 and used it to spearhead this aerial offensive.
In response, the Luftwaffe created an elite nightfighter force based primarily upon the Bf 110.
The Luftwaffe was quick to equip it with airborne radar that allowed it to intercept and destroy Lancasters over Germany.
In turn, the RAF adopted countermeasures such as the Monica rearward-looking radar to alert Lancaster crews to the approach of nightfighters.
In May 1943 the Luftwaffe suddenly developed a novel technical and tactical approach to attacking RAF bombers.
The new tactic proved amazingly successful, and British bombers could be attacked from below with no warning.
For its part, the RAF failed to detect the new German tactic for six crucial months, during which time its Lancaster bombers were almost defenceless against this new threat.
In time, however, the German advantage of surprise was lost and the RAF developed countermeasures to deal with the new threat.
The duel between upgraded Bf 110s and Lancasters in the night skies over Germany became increasingly dominated by cutting-edge technology, which would determine the efficacy of strategic bombing.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 80 pages, 50 b/w; 17 col
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 06/06/2013
- Category: European history
- ISBN: 9781780963167
- PDF from £11.39
- EPUB from £9.59
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by FalkeEins
..this latest 'Duel' title features the usual competent text, the usual Bundesarchiv pictures, unfortunately already seen many times before, a relative dearth of first-person accounts and some neat cockpit and 'action' illustration by Hector and Laurier, two of the best in the business. Unsurprisingly (for an American) author Forczyk concludes that Bomber Command's night offensive was on the whole thwarted by the Luftwaffe night fighter defenses, the Lancaster being especially vulnerable to the upward firing armament of the Bf 110 twin-engine night fighter. The 'duel' was largely fought out against a backdrop of tactical innovations by the radar scientists and while the British had the strategic edge at all times, German nightfighters were able to score some tactical victories, although usually (not that the author points this out..) when weather conditions conspired to leave the raiders exposed to night fighter offensive action. Which happened occasionally with disastrous consequences for the bomber crews. While the text skips neatly through events and actions to which entire books have been devoted elsewhere, ultimately though the Lancaster and its crews get relatively little credit here for the almost wholesale destruction wrought on German industrial centres and related infrastructure. The author recognises that on a purely fighter vs bomber comparison, the fighter is bound to prove the 'superior' aircraft, yet in this instance he simply fails to recognise that the Bf 110 did not stop the RAF's night bombing offensive, far from it! The fact that German armament production increased during 1944 is explained, Mr Forczyk, by the FANTASTIC resources devoted by the Germans to bunker building, civil defence, production dispersal, underground factories, the massive and terrible deployment of foreign and slave labour (more than 650,000 Frenchmen alone between 1942-1944) and many other factors - not least the relative ineffectiveness of the USAAF's daylight bombing offensive - and not to any failure of Bomber Command's night offensive. The author produces statistics on the cost to the UK of producing a strategic bombing force which make interesting reading - his aim though is to show that the British invested almost as much in the Lancaster "program" as the US did in the atomic bomb project and seemingly got far less in return for their investment. He ignores the evidence that roughly 50% of Germany's entire war effort was devoted to DEFENDING against the RAF's strategic bombing campaign while British expenditure on strategic bombing was 12% of the UK's total war outlay - a decent enough return I'd have thought. And US Lend-Lease "meant that the British didn't have to produce landing craft or machine guns.. ". Maybe not, but simply put, Mr Forczyk, RAF Bomber Command were the much vaunted Second Front in Europe; even early on in the war large numbers of Germans - not just women and children - were manning anti-aircraft guns in German cities and constructing huge bunkers for civil defence. A considerable number of these could perhaps have been fighting soldiers at the front against the British in North Africa or against Stalin's Russia in front of Moscow. By the time the RAF launched it's first 1,000 bomber raid (May 1942, not 'late 1942') the city of Cologne had devoted nearly one hundred million RM to civil defence including bunker building. This was just one German city. See Zaloga in 'Defence of the Third Reich' (an Osprey "Fortress" title) for some figures. Hitler of course had ordered the 'Sofortprogram' of huge civil defence projects from the first raids on Berlin that took place in mid-1940. Difficult to describe the bombing of Germany as " ineffectual " in the context of the overall picture of German home defence and the FANTASTIC resources it tied up. Of course the author quotes the RAF's own 1942 Butt report which highlighted the difficulties of hitting individual factory targets from 4 miles up. Hence the campaign against the Ruhr district. For the British, 'Terror bombing' was the only offensive weapon available to Bomber Command in mid-1940 when British backs were to the wall. As usual American writers/historians tend to forget this. Nor do they tend to point out that the USAAF were just as eager to bomb the big German cities and especially Berlin as the RAF were and the USAAF tried any number of times to do just this from March 1944 when they felt sufficiently strong enough. The USAAF hid (hides) behind the pretense that collateral casualties were avoidable but the vaunted Norden sight was just as ineffectual above cloud cover. Having already demonstrated that Kammhuber's Himmelbett and the limited 'box' system for the night defence of Germany could be easily overwhelmed, Bomber Command comprehensively defeated & blinded the Nachtjagd over Hamburg in July 1943 - Forcyzk almost says this; his emphasis though is on the "40,000 civilians " that died. In the context of this defeat of the German night fighter force it is perhaps not surprising that 'Bomber' Harris thought his heavy bomber squadrons could go on and finish the job. Even the Nazi hierarchy (men like Speer) thought they could too - not that Forcyzk says this. Rather bizarrely Forczyck ends his text by declaring that the resources devoted to the Lancaster could have been far better spent on another great British aircraft, the de Haviland Mosquito. Mosquitoes were already largely deployed as Pathfinder's, target makers, intruders and in the 'Berlin express', the highly effective 'Light Night Striking Force' that no German defences could counter so a somewhat anomalous assertion in the context of this title. Recommended albeit with some reservations
Review by Luftwaffe_Flak
Very good art, and good snapshot text of the Bf-110 VS the Lancaster. An easy read, informative and interesting first hand accounts scattered through out. As usual left me wanting more but thats what a good intro should do.