Bigger Bombs, Yet

It was vital to the British war effort mid war to be able to show how Britain – primarily through Bomber Command – was hitting back at Germany, in return for the very evident damaged being done to the UK. Graphic bombs was one answer, but only in a peculiarly limited way.


Here the illustrated relative increase of the British Royal Air Force Bomber Command’s all-out war on Nazi Germany and their industry is a good concept, but the need to explain the image with words, argues it could be better presented.

Another interesting note is the significantly smaller bombs over Rostock, that would be a function of the greater distance from British bomber bases – requiring better chances for attacks (so fewer of them) and a greater fuel load required to get there and back, subtracting from the size of the possible bomb load that can be carried. It’s worth remembering the war in Europe extended from September 1939 to August 1945. Initial concerns and other factors limited most bombing in 1939 to propaganda leaflet raids, so that element does not feature.

Interestingly, the ‘bombs at the size of the bombing’ theme was something that was presented for Bomber Command as a 1942 to 1943 theme, and here are some more posters below. The design concept doesn’t seem to have been used in 1944-1945 (or, more understandably) earlier. Note that there’s a lack of concern over bombing cities, below, though ‘industrial centres’ is mentioned as a term as well.


Here’s two more 1942 dated examples. The earliest posters are total bombing The first poster features almost realistic bombs but these latter three are much more like shells (though not accurate to them either) with solid rather than finned tail sections. Note too that the accuracy and effect of the bombing isn’t mentioned. Accuracy was always problematic, and the classic management problem (it’s not the effort, it’s the results that count) was that for a huge effort, of bombing, the effects were mitigated remarkably well on the receiving end.

How effective were these posters? I think the first one is hard to ‘read’, the latter three very clear. It is an axiom that if you need to explain the joke, it’s probably not an effective one. Likewise with illustration, if it needs an explanation, then it’s probably not effective either. What do you think?

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Source Unknown. First poster: versions with Te Papa, NZ, and University of Minnesota  (UoM) here. Second ‘Hammer Blows’ poster, from UoM here, last two, ‘Falling’ from various secondary (but not primary) online sources and ‘Smashing’ from here. Updated with more posters and info on 15 January 2020.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s