There is certainly no doubt that both sides bombed indiscriminately. I find no use in the "he did it first" kind of argument in history. In a bizarre sort of way, Hitler's obsession with the theory of the Italian Giulio Douhet, about strategic bombing as an attack on the enemy's ability to make war, and a weapon of terror worked out well for the Allies. (In England, the same concepts were articulated by Hugh Trenchard, sometimes called the father of the Royal Air Force.) One night in August, 1940, fewer than 100 RAF bombers bombed Berlin. Militarily, the exercise was as useless as teats on a boar. Psychologically, it was an incredible coup.
People tend to think of Hermann Göring as a fat clown wearing comic opera costumes for uniforms. While he certainly had a love of silly pomp, most people don't realize that he was an intelligent and experienced military aviator. In July, 1918, after the death of Richtoffen's successor, Göring took over "the Flying Circus." He wasn't popular, but he was effective.
Attacking the RAF fields, and taking out RAF Fighter Command was his idea, and his lieutenants implemented it effectively. Most people who can realistically assess the situation in the summer of 1940 will admit that the RAF was virtually on its knees when the RAF bombed Berlin. But it worked a treat with that idiot Hitler (the best friend the Allies had in occupied Europe). He ordered the switch to bombing cities in the UK, and that literally saved the day for Churchill. Göring's plan would have been to knock out the air defenses and then knock out the aircraft factories in southern England. He came damned close to achieving his plan when Hitler ordered the switch in targets.
It was never effective. As a form of terror warfare, it didn't work because after a while, people's minds are numbed to the constant fear--this was as true of Germans when they were being bombed as it was of the Brits. As an attack on the enemy's resources for making war it also didn't work because the Germans never had any genuine heavy, long-range bombers. By the standards of the USAAF and the standards of RAF Bomber Command once they had the Lancasters, the Lufwaffe's bombers were medium bombers, with a medium range. The United States Army Air Force's VIII Bomber Command already was operating with B17s and B24s which could reach Germany and Austria from airfields in England. When the RAF got the Lancasters, they could do the same. By contrast, Hitler was only ever able to bomb England while he still held Belgium and France. After the invasion of France, the Germans were pushed steadily back until only the relatively ineffective V weapons could reach England.
The First and the Last
, Adolph Galland's war memoir is not just interesting, it's instructive. He and Hitler cordially hated on another, and Galland despised Hitler for his ignorance. Galland eventually became the commander of the Luftwaffe's fighter forces, and he was always at loggerheads with Hitler. Messerschmidt's jet was ready in a proven prototype in March, 1943. It could have absolutely devasted the USAAF's day time precision bombing doctrine, and at a time when the doctrine was not wholly supported by American air officers--it could have done so as a fighter. Hitler sent them back to the drawing board because he wanted bombers.
When it finally did go into service, it really screwed with bombing missions over Gemany. It was not deployed as a fighter until April, 1944, and then it was as a training Kommando. In July, an ME 262 jet shot down an RAF Mosquito. Later in July, 1944, the jets were released for active service in Germany's air defenses. Tail gunners in bombers pretty much shoot at the enemy in the same way as anyone shoots at a moving target--you lead them. It took a little while, but they got accustomed to the higher speed jets. But waist gunners had a different calculus altogether. You can't lead an enemy fighter who is on a more or less parallel course to yours, because if your aircraft is doing 250 miles an hour, the bullets from your machine gun are also moving forward at 250 miles an hour as they move outward. Gunners learned to actually fire at the rear of the enemy fighters, or a little bit behind it. They never really effectively adjusted to the jets. The great saving grace was Hitler's obsessive pigheadedness. Galland doesn't have a single good thing to say about him.
In early 1942, the battleships Scharnhorst
and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen
along with escort craft "ran" the English Channel from Brest to their home bases in Germany. It was the first time any hostile navy had sailed through the English Channel since the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 17th century. Galland states that he kept 50 fighter air craft overhead at all times, and that it wasn't that hard to do. Had Göring been allowed to pursue his attack on Fighter Command in 1940, not only was an invasion possible, by using their navy and Galland's technique with fighter cover, it's success was probable. Englishmen should thank god that their German enemy was that idiot Hitler.