[Lone Sentry: Low-Level Fighter-Bomber Raids, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
  [Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents and Research on World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"Low-Level Fighter-Bomber Raids" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report describes German fighter-bomber attacks on England using special "Jabo" units equipped with FW-190s and ME-109s. The report originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 26, June 3, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Bomb-carrying FW-190 fighters were reported in action for the first time in July, 1942. During the last few months, the enemy has been employing certain specially trained units called "Jabos" for daylight fighter-bomber operations over the south coast of England. Analysis of these attacks reveals a certain uniformity of method and execution.

The aircraft, usually FW-190s alone but sometimes including Me-109s, approach from the sea at low altitudes varying from sea level to 500 feet, but generally between 50 to 100 feet. They fly in echelon or loose line astern, making landfall at some distance to the side of the target near an easily recognizable landmark, such as a headland. They proceed inland until on the flank or in the rear of the objective and then turn to attack, rising to 100 to 200 feet for a single indiscriminate bombing and machine-gun run at full speed across the target area (each aircraft carrying one 1,100-pound bomb). The time spent over the target is about 5 seconds in the normal hit-and-run raid involving 1 to 4 fighter-bombers. The flight home is then made in loose formation.

The attacks have usually been pressed home with a reasonable amount of determination, and in general reveal signs of coordinated attack, although recent reports have indicated some deterioration of effort in this respect. However, the raids are often carried out under conditions of poor visibility and by scattered aircraft at irregular intervals.

Because of the low altitude at which the planes approach, radio detection equipment is seriously limited, with the result that antiaircraft defenses are frequently unable to come into action before the attack has been delivered. The planes have, in fact, been over their targets before warning could be given. The enemy uses the configuration of the coast or of the ground in the vicinity of the target to provide cover during the approach, and often the aircraft are seen only momentarily between obstacles such as trees and houses.

Targets vary considerably and may include shipping in harbors, port installations, a coastal radio direction-finder station or airdrome, railway stations, electric or gas plants, or simply general raids against a coastal town, irrespective of military importance. The general preference appears to be for purely civilian targets as opposed to those of military value.

A later development in Jabo raids was to provide cover for the homeward flight. Since a low-altitude approach makes visual or radio detection very difficult, danger from British fighters arises chiefly only during the first part of the homeward flight. The protecting fighters therefore fly over the Channel at altitudes as high as 10,000 feet to await the return of the Jabos, thus being in a position to attack from above any British fighters which may be chasing the Jabos home.

The number of FW-190s and Me-109s used in these raids seems to be increasing, and recently daylight attacks appear to have been largely abandoned in favor of night sorties. No appreciable damage has been inflicted on military objectives, but civilian targets and personnel have suffered to a certain extent.

The raids appear to be for the purpose of affecting civilian morale and keeping defenses on a continuous alert. In general, however, they have had merely a nuisance value.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Web LoneSentry.com