Operation Crossbow: Wikis


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World War II
Operation Crossbow
Eisbär (V-1) & Pinguin (V-2)
Part of Strategic bombing campaigns in Europe
Coupole Helfaut.jpg
La Coupole (Wizernes) "Heavy Crossbow" target
Date August 1943 – March 1945[1]
Location Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands
Result "limited effect"[2]
 United Kingdom
 United States
 Nazi Germany
Sorties/bomb tonnage:

Total: 68,913/122,133
RAF: 19,584/72,141
USAAF: 17,211/30,350[3]

V-1: 9,251 launched
(against Flag of the United Kingdom.svg)[4]
V-2 launches: 1664Flag of Belgium.svg, 1402Flag of the United Kingdom.svg, 76Flag of France.svg, 19Flag of the Netherlands.svg,
11Flag of Germany.svg (Ludendorff Bridge)
Casualties and losses

British civilians killed/seriously injured:

  • V-1: 6,184/17,981
  • V-2: 2,754/6,523[4]
4,261 V-1s destroyed by

AA guns (1,878), barrage balloons (231), and fighters (1,846):[6] Tempest (638), Mosquito (428), Spitfire (303), P-51 (232), other (158)

Crossbow was the code name of the World War II campaign of Anglo-American "operations against all phases of the German long-range weapons programme—operations against research and development of the weapons, their manufacture, transportation and their launching sites, and against missiles in flight".[2]:7 The original 1943[7]:149 code name Bodyline was replaced with Crossbow on November 15, 1943;[8]:4 and post-war, Crossbow operations became known as Operation Crossbow, particularly following the 1965 Operation Crossbow film.


Strategic bombing

For a list of bombing targets, see the Operation Crossbow navigation box (below).

When reconnaissance and intelligence information regarding the V-2 rocket became convincing, the War Cabinet Defence Committee (Operations) directed the campaign's first planned1 raid (the Operation Hydra bombing of Peenemünde in August 1943).[9] Following Operation Hydra, a few Crossbow attacks were conducted on the "Heavy Crossbow"[10] bunkers of Watten (V-2) and Mimoyecques (V-3) through November.[11] Then after developing bombing techniques at the U.S. Air Corps Proving Ground, "CROSSBOW Operations Against Ski Sites" began on December 5, 1943, particularly in the Nord-Pas de Calais region (the US also formed the Crossbow Committee in December, 1943 under General Stephen Henry, New Developments Division). V-2 facilities were also bombed in 1944, including smaller facilities such as V-2 storage depots and liquid oxygen plants.2

At the request of the British War Cabinet, on April 19, 1944,[7]:212[8]:24 Dwight Eisenhower directed Crossbow attacks have absolute priority over all other air operations, including "wearing down German industry" and morale[12]:46 "for the time being":[7]:212

…with respect to CROSSBOW targets, these targets are to take first priority over everything except the urgent requirements of the [Overlord] battle; this priority to obtain [sic] until we can be certain that we have definitely gotten the upper hand of this particular business.
Eisenhower memo to Tedder, June 16, 1944 , [11]

However, on July 18, 1943, Eisenhower allowed bombing of secondary-priority targets:[13]:349 "…when we have favorable conditions over Germany and the entire strategic forces cannot be used against CROSSBOW, we should attack — (a) Aircraft industry, (b) Oil, (c) ball bearing [German: Kugellagerwerke], (d) Vehicular production"." On August 25, 1944, the Joint CROSSBOW Target Priorities Committee (established July 21)[14] prepared the "Plan for Attack on the German Rocket Organization When Rocket Attacks Commence"—in addition to bombing of storage, liquid-oxygen, and launch sites; the plan included aerial reconnaissance operations.[8]:37 Following the last V-1 launch from France on September 1, 1944, and since the expected V-2 attacks had not begun, Crossbow bombing was suspended on September 3[8]:34 and the Oil Campaign of World War II became the highest priority campaign.

Crossbow bombing resumed after the first V-2 attack and included a large September 17 raid on Dutch targets suspected as bases for Heinkel He 111s, which were air-launching V-1s.[8]:37 Modified V-1s (865 total) were "air-launched" from September 16, 1944 to January 14, 1945.[15]:104 The British had initially considered that an earlier July 18–21, 1944 effort of 50 air-launched V-1s had been "ground-launched" from the Low Countries, particularly near Ostend.[7]:256 On September 5, 1944, elements of the 7th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division contained the German military units of the Nord-Pas de Calais area (surrender was on September 30).[16]

V-1 defence

A fighter tips the wing of a V-1 flying bomb to disrupt the missile's automatic pilot.

On January 2, 1944, Air Chief Marshal Roderic Hill, Commander-in-Chief of Air Defence of Great Britain submitted his plan to deploy 1,332 guns to defend London, Bristol, and the Solent against the the V-1 "Robot Blitz" (the "Diver Operations Room" was at RAF Biggin Hill).[12]:96,161 V-1s that hadn't run out of fuel or veered off course were attacked by select units of Fighter Command (No. 150 Wing RAF) operating high speed fighters, the anti-aircraft guns of Anti-Aircraft Command, and approximately 1,750 barrage balloons of Balloon Command around London."[6] Flabby was the code name for medium weather conditions when fighters were allowed to chase flying bombs over the gun-belt to the balloon line,[17]:197 and during Operation Totter, the Royal Observer Corps fired ‘Snowflake’ illuminating rocket flares from the ground to identify V-1 flying bombs to RAF fighters.[17]:102 After the Robot Blitz[18] of Operation Eisbär (English: Polar Bear) began on June 12, an RAF fighter first intercepted a V-1 on June 14/15. By June 27, "over 100,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed by the V-1… and shattered sewage systems threatened serious epidemics unless fixed by winter."[13]:349

Of the 638 air-launched V-1s that had been observed (e.g., by the Royal Observer Corps), guns and fighters downed 403 and the remainder fell in the London Civil Defence Region (66), at Manchester (1), or elsewhere (168, including Southhampton on July 7).[12]:131

V-2 countermeasures

The Bodyline Scientific Committee (19 members, including Duncan Sandys, Edward Victor Appleton, John Cockcroft, Robert Watson-Watt)[7]:131 was formed in September 1943 regarding the suspected V-2 rocket, and after the 1944 crash of a test V-2 in Sweden, "transmitters to jam the guidance system of the rocket" were prepared.[20] A British sound-ranging system provided "data on the rocket's trajectory from which the general launching area could be determined," and the microphone(s) in East Kent reported the times of the first V-2 strikes on London: 18:40:52 and 18:41:08.[21]:251 On March 21, 1945, the plan for Engagement of Long Range Rockets with AA Gunfire for using AA gunfire into a radar-predicted airspace to intercept the V-2 was ready, but the plan was not used due to the danger of shells falling on Greater London.[21]:262 Happenstance instances of Allied aircraft engaging launched V-2 rockets include the following:

  • a No. 602 Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire pilot fired a burst of gunfire as a V-2 reared out of the clouds[17]:162
  • an October 29, 1944 attempt by P-38 Lightning Lieutenants Donald A. Schultz and Charles M. Crane to photograph a launched V-2 above the trees near the River Rhine,[22]:4
  • a pilot of the 4th Fighter Group observed a Big Ben "act up for firing near LOCHEM…the rocket was immediately tilted from 85 deg. To 30 deg" on January 1, 1945[21]:256
  • the engineer-gunner of a 34th Bomb Group B-24 Liberator flying over the Low Countries at about 10,000 feet saw a rocket climb through the formation: it looked looked like "a telephone pole with fire squirting from out of its tail. …a left waist gunner in our squadron let fly a burst and down it went" (the unit painted a V-2 on the B-24's side).[23]

Under operation Big Ben RAF fighters (No. 602 Squadron RAF) patrolled over the Netherlands ready to divebomb V-2 launching sites.[24]

Named activities

  • Bodyline Joint Staff Committee[25]
  • Diver - a secret British Defence Instruction named the code word: "Enemy Flying Bombs will be referred to or known as 'Diver' aircraft or pilotless planes" (often called Operation Diver, particularly post-war, without citation). At the first sign of anything like the flying bomb, the codeword 'Diver' was to be used to alert defences of an imminent attack. On June 11, 1944, Wing Commander Douglas Kendall at RAF Medmenham was the first to announce Diver, although earlier V-1 flying bombs had been observed.[17]:50,61
  • Flying Bomb Counter Measures Committee (Duncan Sandys, chairman)[17]:42
  • Fuel Panel of the Special Scientific Committee (Sir Frank Smith, chairman)[7]:150
  • No-ball - code name for Crossbow bombing targets, e.g., 'No-ball 27' (Ailly-le-Vieux-Clocher),[17]:49 'Noball Target No. 78' (France),[1] 'Noball No. 93' (Cherbourg area), 'Noball No. 107' (Grand Parc), 'no ball' V1 site No.147, Ligercourt – (602 Sqn).
  • Questionnaire…to establish the practicability…of the German Long-Range Rocket (by Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell)[7]:131
  • Project Danny - An operation planned in June, 1944 by the Naval Air Atlantic Staff to utilize United States Marine Corps fighter squadrons to strike V-1 launch sites in northern France. The project was canceled after receiving the disapproval of General George C. Marshall, allegedly over his refusal to allow Marine Corps operations in Europe.[26]
External media
1944 Crossbow Network (map)

USSBS Crossbow Exhibits


Note 1: The June 1943 Operation Bellicose was not targeted against German long-range weapons, but happened to be the first bombing of a German long-range weapon facility (the Zeppelin Werk). Likewise, an October 22, 1943 bombing of the Gerhard Fieseler Werke at Kassel wrecked homes of workers, delaying both their transfer to the new V-1 plant at Rothwestern and, as a result, "the final trials of the [V-1] weapon's power unit, control-gear, diving mechanism, compass and air-log" until February.[7]:180 Also, a few V-2 center sections had been assembled by the Raxwerke when a November 2, 1943, Fifteenth Air Force mission targeting the nearby Messerschmitt fighter aircraft plant hit the Raxwerke.[21]:74,171
Note 2: Mery-sur-Oise was a V-2 storage depot[3] and was bombed August 4, 1944. Eighth Air Force Mission 572 bombed 5 oxygen plants in Belgium on August 25, 1944 and Mission 578 the next day "to hit liquid oxygen plants at La Louviere, Torte and Willebroeck, Belgium…was aborted due to clouds."[2]
  1. ^ Krause, Merric E. (June 1988). "From theater missile defense to anti-missile offensive actions: A near-term strategic approach for the USAF" (pdf). School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University. p. 11. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/saas/krause_me.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-23.  
  2. ^ a b D'Olier, Franklin; Alexander, Ball, Bowman, Galbraith, Likert, McNamee, Nitze, Russell, Searls, Wright (September 30, 1945). "The Secondary Campaigns". United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Summary Report (European War). http://www.usaaf.net/surveys/eto/ebs14.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-22. "The bombing of the launching sites being prepared for the V weapons delayed the use of V-l appreciably. The attacks on the V-weapon experimental station at Peenemünde, however, were not effective; V-l was already in production near Kassel and V-2 had also been moved to an underground plant. The breaking of the Mohne and the Eder dams, though the cost was small, also had limited effect."  
  3. ^ a b "Total Crossbow Offensive Effort by Air Forces [exhibit"]. V-Weapons (Crossbow) Campaign. AllWorldWars.com. http://www.allworldwars.com/V-Weapons%20Crossbow%20Campaign.html#10. Retrieved 2009-03-22.  
  4. ^ a b Charman, Terry. "The V Weapons Campaign Against Britain 1944-1945" (pdf). Imperial War Museum. http://london.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/4/dday/pdfs/VWeaponsCampaign.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-04.  
  5. ^ Russell, Edward T (1999). "Leaping the Atlantic Wall: Army Air Forces Campaigns in Western Europe, 1942–1945"] (pdf). United States Air Force History and Museums Program. p. 26. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/leaping_the_atlantic_wall.pdf. Retrieved 200-07-10.  
  6. ^ a b Hillson, Franklin J. (Maj) (Summer 1989). "Barrage Balloons for Low-Level Air Defense". Airpower Journal. http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj89/hillson.html. Retrieved 2007-05-07.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Irving
  8. ^ a b c d e Gruen
  9. ^ Neufeld, Michael J (1995). The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York: The Free Press. p. 198.  
  10. ^ Sanders, T.R.B. (Sanders Mission) (February 1945) (html—Archives listing), Investigations of the Heavy Crossbow Installations in Northern France, http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0014%2FDSND%202%2F3, retrieved 2007-05-16  
  11. ^ a b Carter, Kit C.; Mueller, Robert (1991). Combat Chronology: 1941-1945. DIANE Publishing. ISBN 1428915435.  
  12. ^ a b c Collier
  13. ^ a b Eisenhower, David (1991) [1986]. Eisenhower: At War 1943-1945. New York: Wings Books. ISBN 0-517-06501-0.  
  14. ^ Craven, Wesley Frank; Cate, James Lea (editors) (html—Google books). (Volume 3) Europe: Argument to V-E Day. p. 535. http://books.google.com/books?id=jTXWGhwBacAC&pg=PA530.  
  15. ^ Pocock, Rowland F (1967). German Guided Missiles of the Second World War. New York: Arco Publishing Company, Inc.. p. 104.  
  16. ^ Hyrman, Jan. "Operation Undergo: The Capture of Calais & Cap Griz Nez". Clearing the Channel Ports. http://www.nasenoviny.com/DunkirkENUndergo.html. Retrieved 2008-06-13.  
  17. ^ a b c d e f Cooksley, Peter G (1979). Flying Bomb. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. pp. 102,162,197.  
  18. ^ Hill, Roderic (October 19, 1948). "Air Operations by Air Defence of Great Britain and Fighter Command in Connection with the German Flying Bomb and Rocket Offensives, 1944-1945" (pdf). [[London Gazette]]. http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/38436/pages/5559. Retrieved 2009-04-28.  
  19. ^ McGovern, J (1964). Crossbow and Overcast. New York: W. Morrow. p. 74.  
  20. ^ tbd. "tbd" (pdf). p. 6. http://www.bbceng.info/Operations/transmitter_ops/Reminiscences/Woofferton/woof50y-v2.pdf. Retrieved tbd.  
  21. ^ a b c d Ordway, Frederick I, III; Sharpe, Mitchell R (1979). The Rocket Team. Apogee Books Space Series 36. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 251,256,262. ISBN 1894959000.  
  22. ^ Kennedy
  23. ^ Johnson, David (1982). V-1, V-2: Hitler's Vengeance on London. Stein and Day. p. 168.  
  24. ^ http://www.2175atc.co.uk/602.html
  25. ^ Sandys, Duncan (October 1943-December 1943). "Reports by Bodyline Joint Staff Committee". The Papers of Lord Duncan-Sandys. Churchill Archives Centre. http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0014%2FDSND%202%2F4%2F4A. Retrieved 2007-05-09.  
  26. ^ Tillman, Bill (2002) [1979]. Corsair: The F4U in World War II and Korea. Naval Institute Press. pp. 116. ISBN 0870211315.  


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