1/72 Handley Page Hampden

220px-Air_Chief_Marshal_Sir_Arthur_HarrisThe Royal Air Force in World War Two made it standard practice to bomb Germany at night. Bomber Command did not mind trading accuracy for the extra protection of darkness; since British attacks targeted population centers rather than industrial facilities it was considered acceptable if ordnance fell on general areas or districts rather than precise buildings. This sort of “area bombing,” with its severe civilian casualties, has been controversial ever since. The RAF strategy, shaped and promoted by Bomber Command leader Air Marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, (and prompted, British leaders explained, only by the precedent set by Hitler’s Blitz against British cities during the Battle of Britain) was to destroy the enemy factory workers’ housing — and, let’s not mince words, to destroy the enemy factory workers themselves, too.

The Lancaster eventually became the best known British strategic bomber of the War, but in the early days, when the Battle of Britain was still under way in 1940, it was the Hampden bomber that was in service for any such mission.

Meanwhile, the United States Army Air Force, once it arrived in strength in Europe in 1943, took sanctimonious pride in the fact that its bombers flew during the day in order to have a better chance of destroying specific factories and other facilities rather than indiscriminately killing civilians. Against Japan in the Pacific theatre, however, the USAAF under the ruthless command of General Curtis LeMay did the same as the British against Germany, only perhaps even more zealously, burning Japanese cities to the ground with incendiary attacks at night.

Hampden Bomber 012

Here I imagine a Hampden bomber going through its last preparations before a night-time mission.

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