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BATTLE OF BRITAIN: NO BLITZ?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Kai-Petri, Aug 21, 2002.

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  1. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    Ok fair enough, but the question remains NO BLITZ, so if we assume their is no night blitz on London then the Luftwaffe did not accidently bomb London, then if we go by your senario, then the RAF does not launch reprisal raids on Berlin, and so tit for tat bombing and so Hitler does not pressure Goring to change tactics, so on and so on....Then we have the Luftwaffe still 100% concentrating on the RAF, Radar Installations, Airfields etc...

    Can the RAF still continue to suffer losses with a determined 100% commited Luftwaffe.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The "Bliltz" started after the German bombings of London and the RAF raids on Berlin so no "Bliltz" does not necessarily imply no raids on London or Berlin.

    There is evidence that the shift to London was not just Hitler's idea but a part of the plan that may have just been advanced a bit due to the bombing of Berlin. The point is also that the LW was falling behind even when they were concentrating on the RAF. Furthermore as Hop has mentioned the trends were shifting even more against the LW.
     
  3. Hop

    Hop Member

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    Hitler didn't pressure Goering to change tactics. The decision to switch to bombing London was a Luftwaffe one, for which they sought permission from Hitler.

    Kesselring in particular had wanted to attack London from the very beginning, his plan was to attack London, draw the RAF fighters in to a large battle where they could be destroyed, and then go after the (now unprotected) airfields etc.

    Whilst Goering rejected that plan at the start, the high casualties to their bombers, the belief in the Luftwaffe that they had destroyed most RAF fighters, and the feeling that the RAF was avoiding combat, all argued for an attack on London. The Wehrmacht high command war diary says

    "When the air fleet intended to go over to a large scale attack on London, the permission for such action could at first not be obtained but was given only after repeated urgent requests"

    Now, you could argue that Hitler might have refused permission if there had been no bombing of Berlin, although I doubt he would have done so for long. The original plan had after all called for attacks on ports and food storage depots, and London was the most important example of both. But the British bombed Berlin in retaliation for persistent German bombing of not just London, but other British cities, and the thousands of civilian casualties that resulted.

    The only way to get around that is to stop the Luftwaffe bombing at night, and that requires lower bomber losses early in the daylight campaign.

    Facts in an alternative world are fine. Pointing to the same situation as the real world, and saying the outcome would be different, does not seem like a "what if" to me.

    The Italians actually sent 200 aircraft, and I don't think they had many more to spare. The 200 had very little success.

    Fighter Command was not based on forward airfields for most of the main phase of the battle. Bungay gives a OOB for 11 Group on the 1st September, all the squadrons are based either at Tangmere (around Southampton), or at the London airfields.

    The need for the forward airfields had disappeared with the end of the channel convoys phase of the battle.

    But not so easy to knock them out in the first place. From memory, only Ventnor was knocked out for any length of time, and that was only a few days.

    3 or 4 times a day? The Luftwaffe were simply incapable of that much effort.

    Once again, the need for fighter escorts meant bomber sorties were strictly limited, and averaged less than 150 a day.

    The AAA was sited where it was needed. If the Luftwaffe had been concentrating on radar stations, guess where it would be needed...

    Can you name the RN warships torpedoed in the night in the channel in the summer of 1940? Because they operated extensively, nosing in to French harbours to check out barge concentrations, often shelling them when they found them.

    150 sorties a day. How many targets do you think you can knock out, and keep knocked out, with that?
     
  4. eeek

    eeek Member

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    "Deutschland und der zweite Weltkrieg" vol-2 , pp 406 reports 7260 attacks were made during the Battle of Britain in sep 1940 dropping over 7 million tons bombs. In oct it was 9911 attacks dropping over 9 million tons bombs.

    So thats 240-320 strikes per day on average. But often such attacks were amassed on one day followed days inbetween massed strike.So the actual number of aircrafts attacking on a mass strike day could be 1000 plus.

    On pp 403 it reports total Luftwaffe strenght in Sept 1940 at 950 fighters, 460 divebombers & 1420 bombers plus 310 twin engined fighters.

    On Oct 1940 it reports 1100 fighters, 430 divebombers & 1485 bombers plus 360 twin engined fighters.

    The gap between pilot crews is of less importance, since both sides replacement pilots had little training and quickly became next months casutlies.
     
  5. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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  6. eeek

    eeek Member

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  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Also remember that Hop's point about the limited number of bomber sorties was that they were limited due to the number of escorts available. For night bombing that limitation goes away. Of course it take a lot more sorties to do the same job so there is a real question as to whether or not it's a net gain or loss.
     
  8. Hop

    Hop Member

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    That includes night attacks, though.

    Hooton gives figures for the 2nd - 29th September as 4,125 day bomber sorties, 3650 night bomber sorties. That works out at 147 sorties per day, 130 per night.

    The night sorties would be very little use against radar stations and airfields.

    I don't think any day saw 1,000 German bomber sorties. 13th August was the first great effort, with, according to Wood and Dempster in The Narrow Margin, 1,485 Luftwaffe sorties of all types. I don't have a breakdown of fighters/bombers for that day, but on the 15th August the Luftwaffe flew 1,786 sorties, of which just 520 were bombers (and that covers day and night)

    Are you sure? Does he give sources? Those are very, very different figures from those contained in the Luftwaffe archives, which is what most authors rely on.
     
  9. eeek

    eeek Member

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    The book gives source . "Luftwaffenfurhungestab Ic/III, 16 Nov 1940, BA-MA RL 2/671" Tile of table is "Losses of German Front Line Air units 1-31 Oct 1940". Last colume [were figures are from] gives "Monthly effective strength".
     
  10. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    I have a question, would the Bf-109 and Bf-110 carrying bombs be considered bombing sorties and figured into day and night bombing figures, or would they still be considered fighter sorties, as far as i know the two aircraft did small bombing missions into Britain during the BoB. Clarification would be appreciated.
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    This would be minimal seeing as how the only unit operating either the Me 109 or 110 in a jabo role during the BoB was Erprobungsgruppe 210 that had a combination of Me 109E-4/B and 110C-3/B conversions for the purpose of testing the feasibility of using both aircraft as fighter bombers and to develop tactics for use in that role. EbG 210 operated less than 36 aircraft total so their impact was minimal and generally limited to single aircraft or single flights attacking either targets of opportunity in the Channel or hit and run raids on coastal targets in England.
     
  12. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    Thanx, T.A, 36 aircraft not much realy, would be interesting if they had say 120 aircraft doing rhubarb missions. More of a nuisance value.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Is this then total sorties and not just BOB sorties in October?
     
  14. Avatar47

    Avatar47 Member

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    Hi everyone, I'm new to this site, but not to WW2 :D. I've been reading the forum for a few weeks now, and finally decided to take the plunge and give some input.

    Regarding this 'what-if' scenario, I haven't been satisfied with most replies. I think, 1st of all, that the majority of you are biased towards the capabilities of the Axis in WW2, especially Germany. I can see from multiple persons are writing that Germany was fighting a losing BoB from the beginning, that they realistically had no chance. Well, this arguement holds water if we go the historical way, where we know that Hitler had really made little effort to actually follow through with a Sealion. Consider that Barbarossa was already being planned in July of 40 already. It is my opinion that because of Hitler alone, defeating the UK was not at all possible in 1940, because he never really wanted to (very half-hearted).

    However, the real 'what-if' here, is not the 'no-blitz' option, but the 'Germany aims at defeating the UK, completely and utterly'.

    Germany could have EASILY defeated the UK (if still alone) by 41, maybe 42 at the latest. Had factory production gone to planes and uboats instead of small arms and panzers, then the UK would have easily been outnumbered by the summer of 41. Let's all admit that, above all, the Wehrmacht received the lion's share of men, equipment and prioritization. The Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe were subsidiary arms, being almost neglegted. Goering was a fat-a$$, and did nothing for the airforce. Dönitz tried to convince Raeder/Hitler that u-boats were the way to go, but they didn't listen until it was too late to make a difference.

    The Luftwaffe could have had the capabilities, numbers, organization and initiative to overcome the RAF if this was truly the will of the OKW, which it never was. Barbarossa should never have even hit the discussion table until England was layed to rest. Pure bluff on the part of Hitler with the BoB, and his biggest mistake by far (Barba is a close 2nd).

    I almost even feel like creating a new what-if thread based on 'Could Germany have conquered UK in an extended campaign from 40-42?' ;)
     
  15. Hop

    Hop Member

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    The problem for Germany was they weren't producing enough military equipment, not an imbalance in production.

    In 1941, Britain produced about 20,000 military aircraft, Germany about 12,000.

    In the same year, Britain produced about 4,800 tanks, Germany about 3,600 (including SP guns) (and these figures ignore imports from the US, which added another 5,000 aircraft in 1941)

    With production like that, a German invasion stands no chance whatsoever.

    That leaves the Germans with strategic bombing or submarines.

    German aircraft production isn't high enough to win in the air in 1941. Technically, the British night defences improved greatly during the year. In daylight the advantage has swung towards the British as well. Whilst in 1940 British fighters had rifle calibre machine guns to shoot down German bombers, in 1941 the Spitfire Vb carries 2 20mm cannon, and the Hurricane IIc 4 20mm cannon. German bombers have hardly improved at all.

    That leaves a submarine campaign.

    At the start of the war, the British merchant fleet amounted to just under 18 million tons. At the end of 1940 it was about 20.8 million tons, at the end of 1941, despite war related losses of nearly 4 million tons during the year, it was still over 20.5 million tons (net losses during the year were about 160,000 tons)

    British food stocks actually rose in 1941, by 1.5 million tons. Raw material stocks rose by 2.5 million tons over the year, despite the large increase in production. In other words, Britain imported 4 million tons more than it needed in 1941.

    Double the sinkings by U boats in 1941 and Britain still imports slightly more than it needs to in the year.

    The problem for Germany isn't the wrong sort of production in the early war years, it's not enough production. Britain felt a massive threat from Germany, and converted half its economy to military production. People rallied behind that because they hated and feared the Nazis.

    Doing the same in the early war years isn't really an option for Germany. Germans didn't hate and fear the British and French democracies in the same way. They rallied behind the war because it was easy, and later because they feared the Russians.
     
  16. Avatar47

    Avatar47 Member

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    I do agree that production figures look better for Britain. But hold on, a great portion of those production figures are not going solely to the defense of the UK in 40-41, but to the far-flung corners of the empire. But I do agree, Germany would have to have raised it's war production to much higher levels during 40-41 to achieve at least parity. However, that doesn't mean that Germany was incapable of a UK victory even inspite of those production figures. The UK was strained, but not overstretched, to put pilots into those 20,000/year aircraft.

    Had Germany gone into a full-fledge semi-strategic bombing campaign from 40-42 (using Ju-88, which were very decent medium bombers), especially to target Docks/ports, then I believe even with available shipping, it would have been an unmanageable headache for the UK. Allow those 2 additional years to rebuild something of a navy, and you might have a credible Sealion come 41 (but 42 is a better bet). Also allow those additional years to produce longer range fighters (FW-109A had a much better range than the BF-109), more good naval bombers (Kondor). The germans would also have adapted their tactics, not just the Brits.

    Let's not also forget that if Barba was never on the drawing board, then a Med strategy as per Raeder would probably have been followed. Supplies would have been more plentiful without Barba, and then Rommel could have been givenhad, say, 2 or 3 more panzer divisions to roam around North Africa. Let's not restrict this discussion only to British fortunes on the Isle, but also to the very important NA theater.

    From all accounts, the BoB was no easy win for the Brits, hardly so. Had the Germans kept up the pressure for 2 years, I think even the UK wouldn't have wanted to continue such a fight alone.

    From a couple of comments on this thread, it seems some individuals are of the mindset that the UK could have beaten Germany alone! It would have been only a matter of time before poor outgunned and outairplaned Germany would have thrown in the towel, right?. Believe me, production figures are misleading, they don't tell the whole story. You can't say who's going to win a war based on production figures.
     
  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I am currently not at home, so I do not have access to my books and am unable to give dates. I can do so later if you need them.

    Following the 1939 Polish Campaign, the Luftwaffe shutdown most of their flight schools, to the point that they had only one primary flight school running by 1940, if memory serves. This adversely affected their ability to restart training programs later on because by the time a pilot defecit became apparent, they were already behind the curve. They could not spare the experienced pilots to be instructors because they were needed to man planes that were in contact with the enemy. They either had to reduce their immediate fighting capability for the long-term or sacrifice the long term for the immediate. Guess which one they chose?

    Couple this with the fuel situation that affected training first over operations, then as the real timeline of events was being as result of the actual decisions, lack of victory on the part of the luftwaffe was inevitable. What I am clumsily trying to say is, that what happened in the summer of 1940 to the Luftwaffe is a direct consequence of many inadequate decisions made in previous years by the Germans and correct decisions made by the British, in terms of production and training.

    The Germans decision not place the economy on a full war footing until 1943 had its consequences in the BoB. Airframe and engine production lagged and often was not enough to compensate for operational, training and combat losses and allow for a build up of forces.

    Had the German command made different decision before the war and after in the respects of production and pilot training, then the outcome could have been different.
     
  18. von Rundstedt

    von Rundstedt Dishonorably Discharged

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    During the entire BoB phase of WWII it is estimated that the losses were something like

    Britain/Allies 1,069 aircraft

    German losses 1,990 aircraft

    Also during this phase Britain was far outstripping Germany in production of aircraft, so here is something i thought of and that is.

    Germany for what ever reason did not start the London Blitz, and so no reprisals by the RAF on Germany.

    So the Luftwaffe just concentrated on attacking just the airfields and aircraft production and mainenance facilities, this would deprive the RAF of replacement aircraft, and instead of 400 to 450 aircraft per month being produced it is reduced to say 100 to 150 per month, with the daily loss rate of the RAF this would cripple it and with no effective air cover over home soil Germany might have had an incentive to invade.
     
  19. Avatar47

    Avatar47 Member

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    @ Slipdigit: You are still thinking in historical terms. Germany did not historically concentrate on defeating the UK. It did not plan for a long air campaign because Hitler was assuming that it would give in once Russia was beaten (an idiot...). If the case were that Germany did decide to go for UK, and only the UK, then all those problems in your post would have been fixed (to some degree at least). Training schools can be built/restarted. U-Boots do take time to build, but a mass-production was more than possible, indeed it happened, just later on when it would do no good anymore. Germany had enormous industrial potential, which as you already mentioned, only started bearing fruit in 43 after Goebbels' Totalerkrieg at the Sportpalast. What if that program started at the end of 1940, and aimed solely at defeating the UK in the Isles, and in its colonies? Do you truly believe that it would have won out? I don't.
     
  20. Hop

    Hop Member

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    At the start of 1939, the Luftwaffe had 3 bomber training schools, 1 naval aviation school and 1 fighter school. The new head of the training command requested an increase, but was told that resources were needed for front line units.

    As soon as the war started aircraft and instructors were taken from the schools and sent to front line units. Some of these were returned to the schools later, but many of the instructors remained at the front line.

    The same thing happened in May 1940. In particular the Ju 52s (and their pilots), which were used for advanced pilot and instrument training, were stripped from the schools to provide transport for the invasion of France and the low countries, where they suffered very heavy losses (158 Ju52s were lost on 10th May)

    Training schools were not closed by the Luftwaffe, but they were not helped by having their instructors and aircraft sent to front line units. This was a major fault in the Luftwaffe, and seems to have been caused by all the senior commanders, not just Goering.

    In fact, you could argue this was a failure that applied across the German armed forces, where less glamorous logistics were neglected in favour of front line combat units. Whereas the British and Americans rotated combat pilots out of the front line and in to the training programme, the Germans, throughout the war, kept pilots in the front line and neglected training.

    To some extent, but then mainly because of German activities overseas. And by and large it was mainly US equipment going overseas.

    Not so much by 1941. The Commonwealth Air Training Plan was contributing pilots by then, thousands of men trained in Canada, Australia etc, as well as the output of the British training schools.

    That's what they did from September 1940 to May 1941. By Jan 1941 the Luftwaffe Quartermaster General's report talk repeatedly about the "growing shortage of bomber crews", which takes us back to the sacrificing of training for short term advantage.

    Turning things round for the Luftwaffe requires not only an increase in funding, it requires a change in ethos away from short term gain towards long term investment.

    There's also the fuel situation to consider. Luftwaffe operations against Britain in 1940 consumed about 100,000 tons of aviation fuel a month. German production and imports of aviation fuel amounted to 910,000 tons in 1941.

    That means the Germans couldn't even run the historic effort continuously, let alone a greatly expanded one.

    Rommel could not have had more panzer divisions. Rommel's supply problems were not caused by lack of priority, or even by Italian shipping, but by the inadequate ports he had to rely on in North Africa, and the great distance from the ports to the front line, which had to be covered by road. Van Creveld sums it up:

    Once again the German focus was on the front line, when it should have been on getting forces to the front line. It's telling that Rommel's supply route was across Italy, then the Med, and finally to the front line, a distance of about 2,000 miles, and he was inadequately supplied. British supplies went by sea around Africa, up the Red Sea and then overland across Egypt, a distance of nearly 14,000 miles, and yet Britain won the race to build up strength in Africa.

    It was no easy fight because of the differing strategies. The British treated the battle as a marathon, always employing only a fraction of their force, so that the battle could be maintained almost indefinitely. The Germans treated it as a sprint, using almost all their forces almost all the time. That gave the Germans an advantage at the start, but meant they could not sustain operations. (and again that seems a metaphor that applies to the German war effort as a whole. Germany's victories came early or not at all)

    I don't think Britain could have beaten Germany, for the simple fact that Britain could not have invaded Europe. But I don't think Germany could have beaten Britain either.

    In the end it would descend in to stalemate, and that would only have been broken by either US or Russian entry in to the war, or the development of nuclear weapons.

    The Germans switched to attacking cities because they were not having sufficient effect with bombing other targets, and their losses were unsustainable. Long before British production declined to such a level, the Luftwaffe fighter force would have become ineffective. Go back a couple of pages and look at the German fighter pilot strength.

    I'm not so sure. Hitler actually ordered a five fold expansion in the Luftwaffe at the end of 1938. Even then, training and support was neglected in favour of front line strength.

    I suspect this was a problem caused by the militarism and ideology of the Nazis. Neither trait seems to predispose to long term military planning. It takes a pessimist about war to plan for massive casualties and years of fighting, not someone who believes in military victory and racial/doctrinal superiority over his enemies.

    And then there's still the fuel issue.
     
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