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  • Article by Pieter Schlebaum
  • Published on April 19th, 2014

Airraid on the German Navy at Wilhelmshaven, 18 December, 1939

At the outbreak of the Second World War RAF Bomber Command was composed of five Groups. The Command had four types of bomber aircraft at its disposal with which, , the whole of Germany could be reached, with the exception of the extreme eastern part of the country. Yet the role of the bomber fleet remained limited during the first year of the war. On the one side this was due to the directives with which Bomber Command had to comply. One of them was the fact that no ground targets were to be attacked. But also the antiquated bombers and the strategies rendered out of date had a large influence on the efficiency. During the first months of the war Bomber Command had to swallow some tough lessons. The most famous of those is the attack on the German Navy at Wilhelmshaven on 18 December, 1939. With a loss rate of more than 50 per cent this mission became the immediate reason for a change of strategy.