View Full Version : German bombs in WW2...

17th Jul 2010, 14:27
I am researching the Luftwaffe raids on Canterbury, most notably the big raid in June 1942 that destroyed so much of my city and so nearly got the cathedral as well.

This quote is from a guide book:

"Tom Hoare, BEM, who, when walking along the south roof gutter of the Nave, saw a German bomber, flying so extremely low over the roof of the Nave, that he thought it was coming down. He was accompanied by Mr. Joe Wanstall and they both saw a high explosive bomb leave the bomber, miss Bell Harry Tower by no more than 8 feet and land on the house at 13 The Precincts, just 40 yards to the south of the Cathedral. There was a huge explosion, which completely destroyed the house and two more either side of it. The blast, which knocked Joe Wanstall off his feet, blew in much of the glass on the south side of the Cathedral and set fire to a part of the roof, which was quickly extinguished by the vigilant fire-watchers. Another high explosive bomb, which had landed just previously to the north side of the Cathedral, probably dropped by the same bomber, completely destroyed the Cathedral library and archives building. The huge force of these two explosions led to an examination of the debris, which revealed that the two high explosive bombs were giant “block busters”, each weighing 4 tons. A deliberate attempt had been made to destroy Bell Harry Tower and cause serious damage to the main structure of the Cathedral. Fortunately, the first bomb fell just short, while the second just over-shot. "

Much of this is definitely true, but there's an aspect I am in doubt about.

Just how big were the largest German high exposive bombs in 1942, and what aircraft in operational use in June of that year could have carried them? Could two such bombs be carried by a single bomber? Is it realistic to use the tower on a cathedral as an aiming mark?

So far I have not been able to find any definitive information. Can anyone assist me? Wise counsel would be much appreciated!

Load Toad
17th Jul 2010, 15:36
My Airfix Heinkel 111 had two 1000Kg bombs. I painted them black.

That'd be 2,200Lb (The 'Hermann' bomb). Which seems to fit with the maximum external bomb load a He 111 could theoretically carry.

Such a bomb was found during work on the Olympic sites in London in 2008.

The below links indicate that they were carried in '42 (at least if the writing on the picture is '42')

Minenbombe (http://de.academic.ru/dic.nsf/dewiki/960951)

Axis History Forum • View topic - Id. aerial bombs (http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=166002&p=1476363)

Luftwaffe Resource Page Bomb Annex - SC 2500 (http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/sc2500.html)

www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org - Luftwaffe Resource Center - SB 1000 (http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/sb1000.htm)

www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org - Luftwaffe Resource Center - SB 1000 Parachute Bomb (http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/sb1000para.htm)

File:SB 1000.jpg - Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SB_1000.jpg)

There were German bombs of 2500Kg (SC2500) which is over 5000Lb so there seems to be a little confusion.

17th Jul 2010, 15:40
This chap might be able to help you or pass you onwards if he can find the time.


Blogger: User Profile: FalkeEins (http://www.blogger.com/profile/10906366247416327181)

Luftwaffe Experten Message Board (http://www.luftwaffeexperten.org/forums/)

17th Jul 2010, 16:51
Many thanks!

My research can continue. I thought the weight seemed rather high, and the thought of two such beasts carried by the same aircraft.....


17th Jul 2010, 18:57
As you undoubtedly know, the raid was one of the Baedeker Raids. Straightforward retaliation by the Hun using the well known red guide book to distinguish important targets for destruction. There is a surprising amount on the net both in English and also in German. It's not too difficult to scan the German script, even if you don't know anything of that most beautiful language, to find bomb weights and aircraft types.

Here is some Olympian fin and games with a big one:

WWII bomb defused near Olympics site - CNN.com (http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/06/06/london.bomb/index.html)

17th Jul 2010, 21:37
Regarding the largest bombs carried by German bombers during WW2 -
I seem to recall reading years ago an article that in effect stated
British bombs and shells were made up from a mixture that produced a less
powerful bomb compared to its German equivilant. If true then this
would suggest that a German 1000lb bomb could cause greater
destruction than a British bomb of identical weight.

I seem to recollect that either torpex - or it may have been aluminium filings were not added in sufficient quantities or mix to create greater explosive effect - but had this been realised and action taken then the RAF could have caused the same amount of bomb damage useing fewer aircraft - and fewer losses.

henry crun
17th Jul 2010, 21:58
abeaumont: Your suspicions are well founded; a German bomber in 1942 carrying even one bomb weighing 8960lbs does stretch the imagination.

17th Jul 2010, 22:08
The largest German bomb of WW2...2400 kg?...

Luftwaffe Resource Page Bomb Annex - SC 2500 (http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/LRG/sc2500.html)

The line-up to scale of the more commonly used bombs...

http://img594.imageshack.us/img594/7274/77140794.jpg (http://img594.imageshack.us/i/77140794.jpg/)

http://img411.imageshack.us/img411/5746/46e6a7a8229eb59b1de32ea.jpg (http://img411.imageshack.us/i/46e6a7a8229eb59b1de32ea.jpg/)

18th Jul 2010, 14:24
Heinkel 111 for the delivery.

My spies tell me that the HE 1800 Satan bomb was the largest bomb delivered by the Luftwaffe. This somewhat contradicts the information in the previous post which indicates a 2,000kg bomb.
Here are a couple of links, one in German, which you might find interesting.

1800 Kilo schwer, Spitzname "Satan": Hitlers Superbomben gefunden - Frankfurt - Frankfurt - Bild.de (http://www.bild.de/BILD/regional/frankfurt/aktuell/2009/10/22/hitlers-superbombe/im-vogelsberg-gefunden.html)

SC 1800 Satan German HE bomb (http://www.historyofwar.org/Pictures/pictures_SC_1800_Satan.html)

18th Jul 2010, 16:30
Thank you again everyone.

I'll let you all know what really happened when research is complete, but as a better man than me once said, "I may be some time".

18th Jul 2010, 23:20
@cavortingcheetah I'm not sure that either of those refs claims the 1800 kg bomb was the biggest. My German is rubbish, but in the Bild article, I think the Mayor is saying that the 1800s were the largest in the weapons dump that was being cleared; I'm not sure of the quality of Bild, but they refer to the He 111 as a 'Mega-Bomber'. The English-language site refers to the 1800 as 'one of the biggest bombs' in use.

19th Jul 2010, 19:53

Jolly creepers, nearly missed that one of yours. I'm sorry it's my fault for not explaining sources properly. I posted the two articles more as reference material only and, although my German linguistics are totally limited, I think you are right. My source for the bomb weight and the aircraft came from a friend of mine with whom I had lunch yesterday here in Germany. As for what really fell on Canterbury during the raids, I have a funny feeling that we shall never know and that an 1,800 kg bomb and an H111 for delivery will do as well as anything else.

26th Jul 2010, 10:59
Thank you one and all for your wise counsel.
I've managed to find out more, as follows:

Aircraft were Dornier 217E-4 of KG2, with some Heinkel 111H of KG100 acting as pathfinders, operating from airfields in the Netherlands. They, it seems, had been brought back from the Eastern Front for the Baedekker Raids purely for pathfinding duties.

Total number of aircraft is as yet unknown but the cathedral city raids were typically 40-70 aircraft.

Bombs dropped were a mixture of high explosive and incendiary in the ratio of 1:2 by weight. The HE was "mostly" 500kg, with "some" SC1000RDX 1tonne bombs. Given the lack of other damage in the cathedral precincts I must suspect that the bomb seen just missing the cathedral tower was a 1,000kg. The Dornier 217E-4 could carry 2 x 1,000kg, so it is possible that the bomber that hit the library also dropped the bomb that nearly hit the tower. A lot of the HE landed very close to the cathedral, with 15 craters in an area enclosed by a circle of 100 yards radius.

I cannot find any reference to anything larger than 1,000kg being used, nor any trace in the National Archives of a report on bomb debris recovered from the cathedral precincts, and conclude that it is a myth.

The raid lasted two hours, leaving 43 dead, 48 seriously injured, and 50 with slight wounds.

Given the location of the epicentre and the speed/altitude/course of the bombers, I'd have to estimate that the average error is aiming was pressing the release button no more than half a second late.

Main source: The Blitz, then and now, Volume 3, edited by Ramsey, published by Battle of Britain Prints International, 1990.

1st Oct 2010, 16:42
I seem to remember a photo in the Imperial War Museum (Elephant & Castle) back in the '50s showing a big UXB pointy end in the pavement and the tail through a shop blind about level with the 1st floor.
Sure the caption claimed it to be the biggest bomb dropped on London.

midnight retired
1st Oct 2010, 23:04
Pasir post 6

Just to add that German bombs were up to 80% more destructive than British bombs due to the Germans use of powdered aluminium.

The aluminium shortages at the beginning of WW2 meant that the Royal Navy had priority in alumised explosive for its torpedoes and depth charges and due to a monumental oversight by the Ministry of Supply the RAF were denied the more effective bomb until 1944.

How many RAF Aircrew lives could have been saved if they had been provided with the right type of bomb when aluminium was available a lot earlier in WW2.

Load Toad
2nd Oct 2010, 09:14
Probably not many as the size of bomb, % of bomb which is explosive, aiming the bombs effectively, fighter defense etc etc also had to evolve and the size / filling of bombs was just one part of the equation.
I seem to recall most RAF bombs at the beginning of the war were from stocks of 1920's era. Also the belief at the beginning of the war was that more smaller bombs would be more beneficial than fewer big bombs.

6th Oct 2010, 21:11
abeaumont, I would like to hear more about your research about the bombing of Canterbury, my birthplace. My great grandfathers house was bombed and destroyed in those raids, and my fathers house was hit by a bomb that went throught the roof, skidded along the ground and exploded in Howe barracks.


8th Oct 2010, 04:31
Bah, Dinky Toy bombs. The Lanc could carry 12,000 lb ones.

henry crun
8th Oct 2010, 06:54
And even 22,000lb ones

15th May 2016, 19:40
I'm sure I read somewhere that due to shortage of explosives towards the end of WW2, German bombs and/or shells were partly filled with inert materials to maintain their weight, and so were less powerful.
That wouldn't have been the case as early as Coventry though.

Mr Mac
16th May 2016, 11:59
Load Toad
I worked in Germany in the 1980,s and on the project we found a large allied bomb (bit like an emersion heater). The Luftwaffe Lt who came to disarm it said it was a Block buster designed to blow the roofs off buildings to allow incendiary bombs to get into the inside of them. He was very matter of fact about, and did point out that there was a very high failure rate on allied bombs 20+%, which apparently was down to poor testing. Our testing was carried out up in Scotland with bombs falling onto rock where most German cities are built on softer ground so bombs tended to get buried rather than explode. At that time he said they were still getting many calls per year (this was in Munich) and his colleagues in the Ruhr were still busy.

Mr Mac

Load Toad
17th May 2016, 03:21
Dear Mr Mac,

Thanks for the reply.
Id read about the 4000, 8000, 12000Lb 'cookies' which were called block busters as they were meant to clear blocks - as you say by blowing off rooves so that incendiaries can call into the more flammable insides of buildings. I think the sizes were simply created by bolting 4000Lb-ers together. Also I recall reading that they started off with one 'pistol' but to increase the % that went off this was increased to three pistols. Which kind of ties in with what you are recalling too.

I'm wondering if the failure rate also was due to the various delayed action fuzes that were used that were set for various time delays to impact on repairs. Slave labour was apparently used by the German UXB crews.

17th May 2016, 10:16
One thing that I've always wondered....
I read from time to time that someone is quoted as saying that such and such a building was hit and destroyed by a landmine. What exactly is a landmine in the context of something that is dropped from an aeroplane and goes bang that makes it a landmine rather than a bomb?

India Four Two
17th May 2016, 14:20

These were parachute mines:


Episode 9 "Seventeen Seconds to Glory" in the TV series "Danger UXB" is devoted to these mines.


Highly recommended, if you haven't seen it.

17th May 2016, 15:38
What exactly is a landmine in the context of something that is dropped from an aeroplane and goes bang that makes it a landmine rather than a bomb?


17th May 2016, 16:12
Thanks for that pic, I42.
What a marvellous image for a thought-bubble caption competition - starting with Corporal 'Radar' O'Reilly on the left.
Eight wicked opportunities in the one shot!

Thanks also to Dave Reid for that link to a previous thread on the subject.
Part of a post therein, by LJR, caught my attention ...
"Mines that are designed to specifically target personnel (often without discrimination) are often called anti-personnel mines." (my bold.)

So, does that mean that 'Discriminating' anti-personnel mines are also available?
We could have used a couple of those to deal with a particularly stupid and gung-ho one-pipper who was very likely going to get us all killed.
(Thankfully, before too long, those above 'twigged' and he was transferred to 'other duties' before something nasty happened.)

India Four Two
18th May 2016, 04:57
Stanwell, I hadn't noticed "Radar" on the left of the crowd!

I think they wouldn't be standing there so nonchalantly if the fuze pocket wasn't empty. :E

18th May 2016, 07:01
"By the time the Liverpool UXB team arrived on the scene, the local kids had nicked the only thing that could be unscrewed." :E

Load Toad
18th May 2016, 07:11
The Wiki explains sufficiently that the German aerial mines were sea mines used over land because of their blast effects (lots of filling, less casing). The RAF blockbusters being specifically designed to do such rather than improvising from the sea mine.

28th May 2016, 07:19
I think they wouldn't be standing there so nonchalantly if the fuze pocket wasn't empty.

Does'nt look empty to me.