Bombing of Stalingrad

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Smoke rises from the ruins of Stalingrad after German bombing of the city on 2 October 1942

Stalingrad, a Soviet city and industrial centre on the river Volga, was bombed heavily by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. German land forces comprising the 6th Army had advanced to the suburbs of Stalingrad by August 1942. The city was extensively bombed as a precursor to the 6th Army's first major ground offensive against the city on by 16th Panzer Division on 23 August, breaking out from its bridgehead on the River Don north-west of the city.[1]`

The raids[edit]

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber over the neighborhood west of the Red October factory.

From 3:18 pm on 23 August 1942 and through the night into 24 August units of Generaloberst von Richthofen’s Luftflotte 4 constantly attacked the city. Medium Bomber strength employed included elements of KG 27, KG 51, KG 55, KG 76, and I/KG 100.[2]`

During 23 August Luftflotte 4 flew approximately 1,600 sorties and dropped 1,000 tons of bombs on the city effectively destroying it, while three aircraft were lost. The extensive bombing caused numerous fires. In the first few hours of bombing, the headquarters of the city's air defences were bombed. The city was quickly turned to rubble, although some factories survived and continued production whilst workers militia joined in the fighting.

Stalingrad was thereafter bombed block-by-block for a further five days. According to official statistics the Soviet fighter defences of 8 VA and 102 IAD PVO claimed 90 German planes shot down, in addition to 30 by anti-aircraft defense.[citation needed]

Luftflotte 4 defeated the VVS in the airspace above the city, restricting the Soviets to night operations. The Germans obtained daylight air superiority over the Stalingrad area and exploited their edge to devastating effect. From 5 to 12 September, Luftflotte 4 conducted 7,507 sorties (938 per day). From 16 to 25 September, it carried out 9,746 sorties (975 per day). On 14 October it launched 1,250 sorties against Soviet positions west and east of the Volga and Soviet traffic along the river. That same day, its 3 Stuka Geschwader mounted 320 sorties against the Soviet positions on the west bank, dropping 540 tons of bombs on them.[3]

The defences[edit]

The Soviet Air Force in the immediate area lost 201 aircraft from 23–31 August, and despite meager reinforcements of some 100 aircraft in August, it had 192 servicable aircraft, which included 57 fighters. The burden of the initial defense of the city fell on the 1077th Anti-Aircraft (AA) Regiment.

Impact[edit]

Stalin resisted the evacuation of civilians, in part due to the importance of the city's factories to the war effort. The Battle of Stalingrad began on 23 August 1942. Beginning at 07:00 local time on 23 August, the bombing began. It lasted throughout the night and into the following day. More than 1000 tons of bombs were dropped by Luftflotte 4.[4] The following day the intensity continued into the evening of the 25 August. Initial Soviet reported the water and electricity grid knocked out. On 26 August a detailed Soviet Urban Committee of Defence report gave the following casualty figures; 955 dead and 1,181 wounded.[4] Due to the fighting that followed and the high death toll, it is impossible to know how many more were killed in aerial attacks. The figure was higher than in the initial reports but reports of tens of thousands in the three-day raid are not credible.[4]

Over the course of the battle through to late 1942, the Germans flew 70,000 sorties dropping over a million bombs.[citation needed]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Bergstrom, Christer ; "Stalingrad: The Air Battle 1942 Through January 1943" : page 72.
  2. ^ Bergstrom, Christer ; "Stalingrad: The Air Battle 1942 Through January 1943" : page 72.
  3. ^ Hayward 1998, pp. 194-196.
  4. ^ a b c Bergström 2007b, p. 73.
Bibliography
  • Hayward, Joel S.A. Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East, 1942–1943. University Press of Kansas, 1998. ISBN 978-0-7006-1146-1