Bombing the American Heartland for Fun and Profit


Did you ever hear about the time the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bombed the warehouse district in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota?

Or the time they firebombed the stockyards across the river in Saint Paul?

How about the devastating nighttime raid on the freight yards in Minot, North Dakota?

No? Well, they really happened, in 1944 and 1945.

Admittedly, they were training missions, but, still…

In 1944 the military published a series of “Air Objective Folders” which listed and described strategic targets in all forty-eight states. Minnesota was described in Air Objective Folder 32.32, which was gathered along with North and South Dakota (32.33 and 32.34, respectively).

Oddly, it seems that no domestic (and possibly overseas, as well) Air Objective Folders have ever been digitized and put online, even in part. They might, in fact, be obscure – or even rare; I’m not positive that any physical examples survive. (The images you see here were reproduced from microfilm from the Air Force Historical Research Agency, who destroyed their physical copies decades ago.)

What were they? What were they for?

As the page above points out, some “bombworthy targets” were omitted, for “reasons of security”, and some “installations which would not be considered bombworthy” were included, because they were conveniently located to practice attacking.

Minneapolis is the largest quality butter market in the world..

Who knew?

The majority of the objective folders were taken up with maps and aerial photos of would-be targets. For kicks and giggles, here are some 1944 military target photos of Minneapolis and Minot:

(click to see a larger view of downtown Minot, ND. Why Minot? Why not Minot?)

Minneapolis again:

(click to see a larger, clearer version of the top photo, or click here for a larger, clearer version of the bottom one)

And, if that’s your thing, you can see a large aerial photo of targets in downtown Fargo here.

I’m not sure whether the USAF still regularly conducts simulated attacks on domestic civilian targets or not. Seems like it could be a touchy subject in these paranoid, politically-correct days we live in. You know – OMG, OMG, grab yer guns, Bubba, ZOG-controlled UN forces have been practicing nuking major metropolitan areas – and that kind of thing. Potentially open to misinterpretation, what? And it’s not like you can just appease the touchy-feely citizenry by flying across the border and pretending to bomb your neighbors, either, for what should be fairly obvious reasons…

(I was inspired to post this because NORAD were conducting training exercises over Minnesota yesterday, and I thought it’d be neat to take a look at some military training in the region from ye olde days of yore.)

Special thanks to the Air Force Historical Research Agency, the Air Force History Index, Russ Kick and The Memory Hole, and the University of Minnesota.

Published in: General, History | on May 27th, 2010| Comments Off on Bombing the American Heartland for Fun and Profit

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