Carpet bombing

Carpet bombing
On May 14, 1940 at 1:22 p.m., German bombers set the whole inner city of Rotterdam ablaze, killing 814 of its inhabitants
97% of Wesel was destroyed before it was finally taken by Allied troops in 1945.

Carpet bombing is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land.[1][2][3] The phrase invokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many unguided bombs. In contrast to precision bombing, it is not aimed at a small target,[3] such as a bunker, an airfield, or a military unit. One of its uses is the aerial bombing of cities.[1]

Saturation bombing is a term similar in meaning, often used interchangeably.[2][4] The obliteration bombing is especially intensified with the intention of destroying a city or a large part of the city.[5] The term "area bombing" refers to indiscriminate bombing of an area,[5] and despite having a soft sound, it encompasses also cases of carpet bombing, including obliteration bombing. It was used in that sense especially during World War II.[5]


Early history

One of the first cases of carpet bombing during the Spanish Civil War were against the infantry during the Battle of El Mazuco; [6][7] in this case the targeted troops were dispersed on rocky slopes and the Condor Legion learned that carpet bombing was not very effective in such terrain.

Carpet bombing during World War II

In spite of heavy initial bomber casualties of 1940, the British built up RAF Bomber Command which was capable of delivering many thousands of tons of bombs onto a single target. This was then wielded by Arthur Travers Harris in an effort to break German morale and obtain the surrender which Douhet had predicted 15 years earlier. The United States joined the war and the USAAF greatly enforced the campaign. Many cities, both large and small, were virtually destroyed by Allied bombing. W. G. Sebald's book, On the Natural History of Destruction, comments on the carpet bombing of German cities and asks why it does not play a larger part in the German national consciousness, and why virtually no German authors have written about the events. Despite the lack of literary coverage, a style of film shot amongst the urban debris and depicting the gritty lives of those who had to rebuild the destroyed cities called the rubble film, developed in the years after the end of World War II.

Carpet bombing was used as close air support (as "flying artillery") for ground operations. Massive bombing concentrated in a narrow and shallow area of the front (a few kilometers by a few hundred metres deep), closely coordinated with advance of friendly troops. The first successful use of the technique was on May 6, 1943, at the end of Tunisia Campaign. Carried out under Sir Arthur Tedder, it was hailed by press as Tedder's bomb-carpet (or Tedder's carpet). The bombing was concentrated in a four by three mile area preparing the way for the First Army.[8] This tactic was later used in many cases in Normandy Campaign, for example in Battle for Caen.[9]

On Pacific, carpet bombing was used extensively against Japanese civilian population centers, such as Tokyo.[10][11] On March 9 and 10 1945, B-29 Superfortresses were directed to bomb the most heavily populated civilian sectors of Tokyo. In just 2 days of bombing, over 100,000 of the population had burned to death from a heavy bombardment of incendiary bombs. Another 100,000 were left homeless. These attacks were followed by similar ones against Kobe, Osaka, and Nagoya, as well as other sectors of Tokyo, where over 9,373 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on civilian and military targets. By the time of the dropping of the atomic bombs, light and medium bombers were being directed to bomb targets of convenience, as most urban areas had been already destroyed. In the 9-month long civilian bombing campaign, over 580,000 Japanese civilians died.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "carpet-bombing". Memidex/WordNet Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  2. ^ a b c Keane, Michael (2005). Dictionary of modern strategy and tactics. Annapolis (MD): Naval Institute Press. pp. 30–31. ISBN 1591144299. 
  3. ^ a b c Dickson, Paul (2004). War slang : American fighting words and phrases since the Civil War (2. ed. ed.). Washington, DC: Brassey's. pp. 139, 209,303–304. ISBN 1574887106. 
  4. ^ Gooderson, Ian (1997). Air power at the battlefront : allied close air support in Europe, 1943-45 (1. publ. ed.). London: F. Cass. p. 129. ISBN 0714646806. 
  5. ^ a b c d Primoratz, edited by Igor (2010). Terror from the sky : the bombing of German cities in World War II (1. publ. ed.). New York: Berghahn Books. pp. 45–53. ISBN 1845456874. 
  6. ^ Juan Antonio de Blas, "El Mazuco (La defensa imposible)" (pp369–383), in La guerra civil en Asturias, Ediciones Júcar, Gijón 1986.
  7. ^ excerpt from de Blas source translated to English "El Mazuco (the impossible defence)" (Spanish version; verified against original book 11/2004)
  8. ^ Richards, Denis (1975), XII Torch and Tunisia, "Volume II: The Fight Avails", The Royal Air Force: 1939-1945 (London: H.M.S.O.): pp. 270–271, ISBN 011771593X, 
  9. ^ Levine, Alan J. (1992). The strategic bombing of Germany : 1940-1945 (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn. u.a.: Praeger. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0275943194. 
  10. ^ "Tokyo remembers 1945 bombing raid". BBC News. March 10, 2005. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  11. ^,

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • carpet-bombing — carpet bomb UK US verb [I or T] MARKETING ► to advertise a lot and in many different ways to a very large number of people: »The online giant, AOL, has an ad campaign to carpet bomb public concerts and events with promotions. carpet bombing noun… …   Financial and business terms

  • carpet-bombing — carˈpet bombing noun 1. Systematic bombing of a whole area 2. The delivery of unsolicited mail, esp advertising matter • • • Main Entry: ↑carpet * * * carpet bombing noun [noncount] a city destroyed by carpet bombing • • • Main Entry: ↑carpet… …   Useful english dictionary

  • carpet bombing — N UNCOUNT Carpet bombing is heavy bombing from aircraft, with the intention of hitting as many places as possible in a particular area …   English dictionary

  • carpet bombing — /ˈkapət bɒmɪŋ/ (say kahpuht boming) noun Military intense bombing of an extended target area: *Sensitive to criticism of indiscriminate US carpet bombing, the spokesman said the strikes were carefully targeted. –aap news, 2001 …   Australian English dictionary

  • carpet bombing — ploto bombardavimas statusas T sritis Gynyba apibrėžtis Bombardavimas paskirstant bombas taip, kad būtų padaryta žala visam nustatytam plotui. atitikmenys: angl. carpet bombing pranc. bombardement en tapis; tapis de bombes …   NATO terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • carpet bombing — noun an extensive and systematic bombing intended to devastate a large target • Syn: ↑area bombing, ↑saturation bombing • Derivationally related forms: ↑carpet bomb • Hypernyms: ↑bombing, ↑bombardment …   Useful english dictionary

  • carpet bombing — n. area bombing, extensive bombing over a specific area in order to completely destroy it, process of dropping many bombs over a specific area (in order to completely destroy it) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • carpet-bombing — See carpet bomb. * * * …   Universalium

  • carpet bombing — The bombing of a large area defined by designated boundaries in such a way that damage is inflicted to all its portions …   Aviation dictionary

  • carpet bombing — The progressive distribution of a mass bomb load upon an area defined by designated boundaries, in such manner as to inflict damage to all portions thereof …   Military dictionary

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