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Classes of Bombing


There are three main classes of bombing, tactical, strategic and civilian bombing (also called terror bombing).


Tactical bombing is bombing that is directed against military targets such as troop concentrations, command and control facilities, airfields, and ammunition dumps, it aims to have an immediate effect on the battlefront. For instance, if a train carrying guns is bombed as it's going to the front, the effects will be felt immediately.


Strategic bombing is bombing of enemy targets such as industrial plants, port facilities, and railway bridges.  Its goal is to eliminate the enemy's capability to sustain a war effort. Its effect may not be felt immediately. For example, if a munitions plant is bombed, the effect may be felt only after some time has passed.

Civilian (or terror)

Civilian bombing is the wide spread bombing of cities and other civilian-populated areas with the intention of killing and demoralising the population with the objective of eliminating an enemies will to wage war.


Historically strategic and civilian bombing have not been distinguished and this lack of clarity has lead to considerable waste not only in terms of what was bombed but also in terms of military effort that might have been more effectively expended on tactical or strategic bombing efforts.

The reason for this in WWII was the inability to hit targets accurately and secondly the fact that countries were on a total war footing. A huge fraction of the entire economy was engaged in war activity.

TODO Origins of total war concept and development of accurate weapons but lack of change or paradigm.

© Tom de Havas 2011. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.