German night-fighters are duped
24th July 1943: As the Allies launch Operation Gomorrah - a series of bombing raids on Hamburg, hitting the city by night and day - they use a new technique
A year earlier, Churchill had called for the “ruthless bombing” of Germany. Now the RAF and the USAAF were beginning to deliver it in large measure. Bomber Command had been engaged in the Battle of the Ruhr since March 1943, in which the major German industrial cities were laid waste in a coordinated plan.
Now an even more devastating blow was planned for just one city. It was intended to demonstrate the awesome destructive power that the bomber forces were now capable of - and by doing so send a message to every German as to what they could expect if the war continued. Not only would RAF Bomber Command make several successive trips to Hamburg but the USAAF would be making daylight attacks to maintain round-the-clock pressure on the defenders and rescue services.
The raid was considered so important that a new weapon was used operationally for the first time. 'Window' was very simple in concept - simply large bundles of tinned foil that were dropped by aircraft during the flight into the target. The effect of Window on the German radar was calculated to produce confusion. Luftwaffe night fighter pilot Wilhelm Johnen1 was one of those on the receiving end on 24th July: