Aviation of World War II
BRITISH ALLY, No. 45 November 5, 1944 Publication of the British Ministry of Information. The price is 2 rubles.
2600 BOMBERS OVER GERMANY
By direct hits of a new type of bombs weighing 5.4 tons, the third of the large dams of the Ruhr region, the Sorpe dam, was destroyed. The other two dams, Mene and Eder, were breached by the Lancasters in a daring low-altitude attack in May 1943.
The destruction of the Sorpe dam was part of a massive operation directed against the industrial centers of the Ruhr area and the Rhine region. In the course of two operations, separated from one another by 18 hours - on the morning of October 14 and at night on October 15 - the British command raised more than 2,600 aircraft from their airfields. Most of them bombed the most important inland port of Germany, Duisburg. As a result of the bombardment, the entire city was on fire.
In these operations, British bombers alone dropped more than 10,000 tons of bombs, including 500,000 incendiaries. This exceeds the number of bombs dropped by German aircraft on London during the entire period of the most intense air raids in 1940.
The operation to destroy the Sorpe dam was carried out by a squadron of Lancasters, accompanied by Mustang fighters from the British Air Defense Corps.
Operations of the Special Forces Squadron
The attack began at eleven o'clock in the morning. The dam is located 32 kilometers southeast of Dortmund. Structurally, it differs sharply from the two previously destroyed dams.
Its concrete base is covered on both sides with earth embankments. Earth embankments rise at a low angle from the bottom of the valley to the top of the dam. The width of the dam at the base is 300 meters; its length is 630 meters.
When preparing the operation, we did not count on the fact that even new bombs with gigantic penetrating power would be able to destroy such a solid structure with one blow. The plan of attack involved the use of time bombs with varying durations to ensure maximum destruction of the dam and smash the center of its concrete base. However, specialists did not expect particularly brilliant results even if this task was successfully completed.
But it was enough to cause at least limited damage to the dam for it to start leaking water. Then the enemy would have to drain the reservoir for repairs. And that was the task.
The Germans were deceived by our tactics in the destruction of the Mene and Eder dams. Believing that the attack against Sorpe would also be carried out by us from low altitudes, the Germans covered the dam only with light anti-aircraft guns and balloons raised to a moderate height.
But the blow came from a great height. The Lancasters now had instruments that made it possible to attack small objects with great accuracy. The bombers and fighters accompanying them flew well above the dangerous area without encountering interference from enemy fighters.
Since the strike was carried out by time bombs, the crews were not able to observe all the results of the bombardment, especially since soon after the attack the dam was covered with a cloud. Reconnaissance aircraft pilot. who later visited the area of the object said that the bombs hit the target. During the two largest raids on Duisburg, carried out by at least 2,000 bombers, our losses “left only 20 aircraft. Three planes were killed during raids on other objects.
No other city has been subjected in such a short time to the destructive action of such a huge number of bombs as Duisburg. By the end of the bombardment on the morning of October 15, the city was completely engulfed in flames.
Duisburg became so important for the German armies operating in the west that its destruction had to be carried out as thoroughly as possible. As the largest inland port in Europe and the crossroads of a huge number of railways, Duisburg became an extremely important rear base for the Germans.
Strike in Two Waves
The night raid was carried out by two echelons. The first echelon began the bombardment at about 1:30 a.m., the second about two hours later. An hour after the first wave of bombers appeared over Duisburg, Braunschweig was bombed. On the night of October 14-15, Hamburg, Berlin and Mannheim were also attacked.
The raid carried out by British bombers on Duisburg on October 15 was the most severe that had ever been carried out on any of the industrial cities of Germany. Over 1,000 heavy bombers dropped more than 4,500 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs in 25 minutes.