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Eisenhower Foundation's Blog

Jul 21

"Window" of Opportunity: Operation Gomorrah

Posted on July 21, 2017 at 1:32 PM by Emily Miller

On July 24, 1943, the British and American Allied Forces would work together in an effort to bomb the city of Hamburg, Germany. The bombing would continue into November, decimating the city and serving as one of the final nails in the coffin for Hitler in Europe. But what made these bombings so successful?

In the British bombings, known was Operation Gomorrah, the Royal Air Force utilized an innovative technique to disrupt German radars. This radar-jamming device was known as “Window,” and consisted of strips of aluminum foil dropped by the bombers en route to their target. The result was mass confusion in the German ranks, as their radar mistook the aluminum strips for dozens and dozens of aircraft, leading them away from actual British bombers.

The result of all this? Britain lost only 12 out of 791 aircraft that day, and while the “Window” device became slightly less successful in subsequent bombings as the Germans became aware of the technique, it was still devastating. Compounded by two raids on Hamburg in the daylight hours by the Eighth United States Army Air Forces, which General Eisenhower oversaw, Operation Gomorrah proved to be extremely successful for the Allies in Europe. At the end of it all, the bombings killed over 30,000 people and destroyed 280,000 buildings. While this destruction and loss of life is always sad, the demoralizing effect it had on Hitler ensured it wasn’t in vain, as the dictator could see the end of the war ahead of him.
Operation Gomorrah