This silent WWII German newsreel shows long range German bomber aircraft making strikes against Allied shipping in the Atlantic sea lanes near Ireland. In 1940, these "back door" raids were commonplace and costly to both sides. On one raid in July of that year for example, the Luftwaffe destroyed five ships in one convoy and damaged five other ships and two destroyers while sustaining the loss of 28 aircraft -- some of them shot down in the heavily-guarded English Channel.
The aircraft shown is the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, also known as Kurier to the Allies, a German all-metal four-engined monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner. A Japanese request for a long-range maritime patrol aircraft led to military versions that saw service with the Luftwaffe as long-range reconnaissance and anti-shipping/maritime patrol bomber aircraft during the Battle of the Atlantic. The Luftwaffe also made extensive use of the Fw 200 as a transport.
The Luftwaffe initially used the aircraft to support the Kriegsmarine, making great loops out across the North Sea and, following the fall of France, the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft was used for maritime patrols and reconnaissance, searching for Allied convoys and warships that could be reported for targeting by U-boats. The Fw 200 could also carry a 900-kilogram (2,000 lb) bomb load or naval mines to use against shipping, and it was claimed that from June 1940 to February 1941, they sank 331,122 tonnes (365,000 tons) of shipping despite a rather crude bombsight. The attacks were carried out at extremely low altitude in order to "bracket" the target ship with three bombs; this almost guaranteed a hit. Winston Churchill called the Fw 200 the "Scourge of the Atlantic" during the Battle of the Atlantic due to its contribution to the heavy Allied shipping losses.
From mid-1941, Condor crews were instructed to stop attacking shipping and avoid all combat in order to preserve numbers. In August, the first Fw 200 was shot down by a CAM ship-launched Hawker Hurricane, and the arrival of the U.S.-built Grumman Martlet, operating from the Royal Navy's new escort carriers, posed a serious threat. On 14 August 1942, an Fw 200C-3 was the first German aircraft to be destroyed by USAAF pilots, after it was attacked by a P-40C and a P-38F over Iceland.
The Fw 200 was also used as a transport aircraft, notably flying supplies into Stalingrad in 1942. After late-1943, the Fw 200 came to be used solely for transport. For reconnaissance, it was replaced by the Junkers Ju 290, and even some examples of the Heinkel He 177A serving with KG 40. As France was liberated, maritime reconnaissance by the Luftwaffe became impossible as the Atlantic coast bases were captured. Production ended in 1944 with a total of 276 aircraft produced.
It achieved success as a commerce raider before the advent of long-range RAF Coastal Command aircraft and CAM ships eliminated its threat.
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