High level bombing
High level bombing is a tactic of dropping bombs while in high altitude. The term is used as a counterpart to both World War II dive bombing and low-level bombing. Before the age of precision guided munitions (PGMs), it was mostly used for strategic bombing, in other words to damage the enemy's economy and population, not for attacking specific military targets. While there exist purposely designed high level bombers, these missions can be also flown by more general aircraft, such as fighter-bombers.
World War II
High level bombers were primarily used by the Allies for carpet bombing (particularly later in the war), such as the bombing of Dresden or Tokyo. They were also deployed in other kinds of missions such as Operation Tidal Wave, Operation Crossbow, and the sinking of the Tirpitz.
After initial operations by day suffered heavy losses, the British switched to night-time sorties where the darkness gave some protection against German fighters. Arthur "Bomber" Harris's strategy for the RAF Bomber Command was to attack area targets that the bombers could be more certain of hitting at night, while the U.S. preferred daylight, precision bombing techniques. The development since the 1930s of gyroscope-stabilised bombsights, such as the Norden bombsight, also helped the Allied air forces' ability to accurately strike their targets with medium- to high-altitude level bombing attacks.
Nazi Germany used high level bombers such as the Heinkel He 111, the Dornier Do 17 and multi-role aircraft such as the Junkers Ju 88 against the Allies in the Battle of Britain, both for carpet bombing and for precision attacks on British radar stations as part of Operation Eagle.
During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union used several bomber designs, but the bulk of their offensive forces were in the form of, respectively, the B-52 Stratofortress and Tu-95 Bear. The French equivalent was the Mirage IV, and the UK had its V bombers.
- Ground-attack aircraft
- Light bomber
- Medium bomber
- Heavy bomber
- Low level bombing
- Strategic bombing
- "The Bomber War" by Robin Neillands, ISBN 0-7195-5637-6, p.35
- "The Bomber War" by Robin Neillands, ISBN 0-7195-5637-6, p.23
- "The Bomber War" by Robin Neillands, ISBN 0-7195-5637-6, Chapter 2
- "History of the Second World War, ed. Sir Basil Liddell Hart, ISBN 0-907305-36-9, p.74