The story of the pathfinder squadrons who marked the way for the bombers attacking Nazi Germany.



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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)


The story of the pathfinder squadrons who marked the way for the bombers attacking Nazi Germany.

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Documentary | War



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5 January 2004 (UK)  »

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Brief Sketch of RAF Bomber Navigation.
2 April 2015 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

This is quite a decent series, well written, fair, and candid.

"The Men Who Lit Up Germany" were the Pathfinders who led the bombing raids at night and dropped flares and incendiaries to mark the target.

Before the development of this technique and the application of improved technology such as airborne radar, the pilots flying at night could rely only on rudimentary navigational instruments -- compass headings, airspeed, and star shots (if they could see the stars). Few bombs were dropped anywhere near the targets, although "propaganda" (the narrator's word) assured the British public that German cities were being razed in retaliation for the Blitz.

The cost to the RAF was enormous. Losses due to AAA were so high that only a small percentage of bomber crews could survive the required thirty missions. Heavily armed USAF bombers fared no better in their daylight "precision bombing", which was considerably less than precise. The American program was suspended until longer range fighter escort was made available.

By the end of 1944 the Luftwaffe was practically destroyed and bombing was far more precise. Air Marshall Arthur "Bomber" Harris was ruthless, wiping whole cities off the map with a pointed finger. The raid on Hamburg created a fire storm of such heat that bodies melted in their air raid shelters. Dresden, of little military value and choked with refugees, was leveled.

But the program doesn't deal much with moral issues because of its focus on the men called Pathfinders, who used Mosquitoes manned by the best navigators in the RAF. Having found the target, they illuminated different parts with flares of different colors. Some of the men look pretty robust considering their age, provide personal opinions.

Nicely done.

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