Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Aug 12, 2008.
i hope you have a pair of waterwings mate.yours,lee.
"Would Lloyd Fredendall be the US commander? Does not bode well."
No, he had been selected to command the US II Corps much earlier , and held that job through the Torch operation and the subsequent Tunisian campaign. Was replaced in March 1943. His career had track closely with Pattons. the both had commanded brigades in the US 1st Armored divsion when it was formed in 1940, then took command of the 1st & 2d Armored Divsions when the 1st Armored was split, and then the II Corps in 1942 which was sent to Britian, and then to Oran for Torch. Fredendall had a solid reputation as a planner, organizer, and at training soldiers. It was not until he got into combat in 1943 that he came unglued.
Stillwell had originally been selected to command the Allied forces in Operation Gymnast. Gymnast was a summer 1942 predecessor to Torch, a small scale version. Gymnast was postphoned and Stilwell was sent to China when Gen. Hugh Drum refused to take the China post.
When Gymnast was reworked into Torch the question of commander came up. Churchhill favored Eisenhower who he had meet when Ike was sent to Britian on a temporary assignement in the late summer of 1942. Ike was also on Marshalls list as one of the bright young men (under 50) who showed unusuall promise.
So, it is quite likely Ike would command the US portion of this. Stillwell is also a canadidate if he is not sent to China. The overall commander would probablly not be a US leader. Initially the US would not have more than two corps avaialble. The British on the other hand had roughly a dozen combat ready divsion in Britian and a replacement pool of another eight to ten lightly armed training divsions. The British would also be providing the bulk of the airforces, most of the amphibious ships, ect... Montbatten might be retained rather than sent to India for this 'Sledgehammer', as overall commander, while Anderson would be one of several candidates for the ground forces commander.
Quiberon Bay haas been traditionally used by the French fleets as a safe harbor. It is huge, and seldom penetrated by storms. In the 18th Century a French fleet fleeing the British in a gale sought refuge in Quiberon Bay. The Brits followed them in and a naval battle was fought inside the bay. The Allies were prepared to use Quiberon Bay as a harbor in July 1944, but the failure to secure the area on schedule and Pattons failure to capture Brest led the USN to recomend canceling the project.
Quiberon Bays location near the base of the Brittiany penensula aids the securing of Brittiany and the port of Brest.
Ellis's 'Brute Force shows the German "front Line" combat strength in December 1942 to be 3440 aircraft. A bit over 2000 were posted to the Eastern Front, some 300 in Norway, about the same number in eastern France and Belgium, roughly 200 in the Med, and the remainder in Germany and the Balkans.
Britian is shown as having 5257 front line aircraft. A little over half were in Britian with the remainder distributed from Lybia and across the Middle East to India and the 'Burma Front'.
The US had some 4795 front line aircraft overseas (out of a total of 10,885). Roughly half or a bit more were in the Pacific and the remainder split between the Carribean/Panama, Egypt, and Britian.
Italy had some 2000 combat aircraft, mostly in the Med. The USSR had 3,088 in December 1942.
Those are all "front line" combat aircraft. Not trainers, transports, or special purpose models.
Britians air war over France in 1942 had consisted of occasional air raids on the Luftwaffe airfields and fighter sweeps. The short ranged Spitfires and Hurricanes could not penetrate very far and the Luftwaffe moved its primary bases back out of reach. A few times they had good luck ambushing the RAF fighters or raided targets in Britian, but for the most part they kept at arms length.
Even if the Luftwaffe pulls every aircraft out of Norway, the Balkans, Germany and the Med they cant do much more than reach parity with the US/British. Wiothdrawing any from the Eastern Front only makes a deteriorating situation there worse.
By June 1943, six months later, Germany had managed to increase its fron line strength by 1400 to a total of 5000 combat aircraft. The US and Britian together had added 2700 aircraft, for a total of 12,000 combat aircraft in the war zones. Roughly half the increase could be found in the Med first over Tunisia and then over Sicilly. If Torch and Husky are replaced by Gardners Sledgehammer proposal then some 1400 combat aircraft are added to the totals that were in Britian. Again the Germans cannot do more than approach parity under the very best circumstances.
Keep in mind that while the quality of Allied pilots was increasing, due to combat experince and improved training, the quality of Luftwaffe pilots was starting to decline in this late 1942-mid 43 period. During the Stalingrad battle the Luftwaffe was being ground away, mostly over the Eastern Front and to a increasing degree over the Med as the Tunisian Sicillian campaigns developed in 1943. Moving the latter battle to France where the full weight of the RAF can participate simply accelerates the attrition of the Lufwaffes aircraft and pilots. In December 1942 Ellis shows a approximate Allied superiority over the Luftwaffe of 2.6 to 1 in front line aircraft. Twelve months later the ratio has increased to a minimum of 3.6 to 1. The ratio of Allied to German production of combat aircraft for 1943 was about 5 to 1. Any increaase in combat activity will simply drain the Luftwaffe faster. So. a German air offensive against the Allied bridgehead is in the long run actually desireable for the Allies.
The Luftwaffe only gains parity over the Allied enclave if they strip the Med and Germany of their air defense. This makes it easier for Allied air forces to operate over those areas. Ditto for the Eastern Front. Any German sucesses there in 1943 depended of the Luftwaffe temporarily gaining air superiority over specific battlefields. Removing aircraft to fight in the West means fewer local areas free from Soviet interferance.
Landing Craft & Amphibious Transport.
Torch had suffcient lift to bring in three corps, with the equivalent of another corps shortly after. This is larger than the intial lift proposed in Gardeners Quiberon Bay operation. I dont see the problem here, other than he could make his Sledghammer a bit larger.
"Landing Craft & Amphibious Transport.
Torch had suffcient lift to bring in three corps, with the equivalent of another corps shortly after. This is larger than the intial lift proposed in Gardeners Quiberon Bay operation. I dont see the problem here, other than he could make his Sledghammer a bit larger."
I meant the overall logistics tail of transport ships, not just the crucial landing craft. Operation Torch cost the Allies roughly 1/2 of their landing craft lost or severely damaged because of inexperienced crews, enemy fire and bad weather conditions. If the landings at Quiberon Bay produced the same results, how could the Allies keep the men ashore supplied with "beans and bullets?"
Also, the Luftwaffe didn't need air supremacy over the landing beaches. Just approaching the same numbers of Allied aircraft overhead would have had a major effect on the Anglo-American operations, both on land and sea.
Several aspects of this is that we also face the problem of how to overcome the Luftwaffe still essentially intact in the west in regards to deployment of US Airborne troops, this has been forgotten here this is essential to any invasion, to deploy troops behind enemy lines to disrupt communications. Also one thing in all this timing od allied escort fighters over enemy territory, they are limited in how much time that have for combat, also in irony, any aircrew shot down is either killied of captured, they can not be rescued, yes some might escape but very few, A BoB in reverse. Also if you think that the Ju-52's were cut to ribbons over Crete then the C-47's would be massacred.
Another factor that has been questioned is that of the U-Boat threat some consider that the U-Boats would be deployed during daylight hours, not so this would be done at night, hit and fade missions by small groups of U-Boats, I retract my massed wolfpack theory as being flawed.
T.A Gardner made mention the deployment of large naval units while the U-Boats have yet to be beaten, imagine that in one night of U-Boat action those heavy units are either sunk or so heavily damaged that they make little in the contribution to the invasion, eliminating any Naval Bombardment, also U-Boats can operate in storms small landing craft can't.
I'll think of more stuff to add.
On landing craft: For the North Africa landings the US had just shy of 1000 in their convoy. These consisted of the LCP and LCP(R), the LCM and, LCV (later termed the LCVP). There were no LSTs available yet so the force would have to land directly from the transports in smaller landing craft.
If Quiberon Bay is selected then the Germans would have had two additional problems attacking with u-boats. The first is that this bay is relatively shallow. Most of it is between 100 and 300 feet deep. This means a U-boat has nowhere to hide submerged as it can be seen from the air in most circumstances even submerged.
The second problem is that the US brough along three large minelayers (Minatonomah, Monadnock, and most problematic of all, Terror). Between these three vessels they are carrying nearly 2500 mines, Terror alone had 900 aboard. At Casablanca she laid a field over seven miles long in a single day.
For a Sledgehammer these ships could have easily laid a minefield barrage dense enough to deter most enemy naval attacks. But, in any case, as with the North Africa landings, U-boats proved marginally effective in stopping the landings. As pointed out, two out of three were sunk for the loss of 6 transports and no naval vessels.
Attacking on the surface with U-boats would be virtual suicide. Almost every US ship has SC and SG radar aboard at this time. This means the U-boat is going to almost certainly get picked up on the surface and attacked by destroyers and subchasers.
For the regimental (or division sized) airborne drop it would occur at night not daytime. This eliminates the possibility of virtually any losses to Luftwaffe action. In 1942 the Luftwaffe nightfighter force is still in its developmental stage and concentrated almost entirely in Holland and Germany operating with the Kammehuber Line. There would be little or no flak in the proposed landing area. The US could even have waited until after they landed and simply had the drop occur into friendly territory. After all, the unit is mostly needed as an additional defending unit not as part of the offensive landing.
A comparison to the very low level daytime drops the Germans did at Crete is totally meritless.
The transports would be flying onto Rebecca beacons placed by either previously dropped commandos or resistance fighters as they were in North Africa. Without jamming, fighter interference or, flak the drop likely would go very smoothly.
As for immediate fighter cover I think having almost 150 F4F fighters is sufficent for the immediate landings. Once the US secures a suitable area for an airfield or three they could simply fly in more aircraft. One initial unit might be the same 75 plane fighter group of P-40F that were sent to North Africa. Among other units landed was the 540th Engineer Regiment. This unit has sufficent resources to build several grass airfields in a matter of days.
Taking the local ports on Belle Ile and Queberon itself means that some of the shipping is going to be unloading directly to piers in ports. More of it will be in very sheltered anchorages were it is not subject to U-boat attack at all. As for aerial attack, the US Navy is not the RN. Every ship in the US armada has 3" and 5" AA guns along with 40mm 1.1" and, 20mm aboard in fairly large numbers. Antiaircraft fire will be thick and effective.
Given that the ships will be maneuvering for the most part I would expect few outright losses and only a few ships damaged. These could simply be withdrawn and replaced.
Here is some more thoughts
T.A Gardner, how many US/British/Canadian troops were direct combat losses against Vichy French forces in North Africa?, i want actual combat losses not non combat losses due to accidents and other maladies, and only against Vichy French forces, not German or Italian?
I mean unlike the Vichy French in North Africa, German garrisons are not going to enter into any negotiation to surrender or offer no armed resistance.
I don't have an exact number for you on your question. In Morocco, where the fighting was heaviest, the US had 337 killed, 637 wounded. Overall, killed amounted to less than a thousand and a good portion of those killed were in accidents related to the landings themselves. High surf and poor beach conditions combined with inexperianced boat crews led to almost half the landing craft involved being constructive losses.
Of course, most of these were later salvaged and repaired but, for the immediate landings having almost 500 boats (337 in Morocco alone) lost was not good. The problem in Morocco was that the landings were on the open Atlantic coast in a region known for its surf.
Another major cause of casualties were two operations at Oran and Safi where the US and British tried to pull a Coup de Main using some cutdown old destroyers to land a commando / ranger force directly into the port. In both cases the French shot these attacks up very badly in a combination of shore battery fire and infantry defense ashore.
The Vichy forces in North Africa did oppose the landings, in some areas for days. They fought in many cases very hard to stop the US landings and advance. Unlike German units in the 7th AOK in Brittany they also had a considerable stock of artillery and several battalions of H39 and D1 tanks that also fought.
Their naval forces sortied against the US (this included a number of destroyers a couple of light cruisers and several submarines) only to be literally slaughtered at sea. Two US destroyers each suffered a couple of shell hits; the extent of their damage. For this, the French lost their entire fleet with the exception of one destroyer.
The French also had a number of shore batteries that engaged the US fleet. The battery and El Hank (outside Oran) in particular was a thorn in the US side right up to the French surrender.
Not to mention the FT-17s they had too.
"The American army's first contact with an enemy tank in WW2 was with the FT-17. During the 1942 landings in North Africa the Vichy French forces advanced with seven FT-17s supported by infantry. These were repulsed by three Stuart light tanks under the command of General George Patton. The Americans destroyed three FT-17s without loss."
Actually that should be the first European Theater contact.
T.A Gardner thank you for the information on those figures, just an observation or two, have you ever seen any film footage of the French Coast during the height of winter, there is a show on SBS here in Australia that is called Thalasa and it presents programmes related to the worlds poeple and their relation to the sea, i have seen several episodes that have shown the French Coast during winter times and in some locations French ports, harbours and the like shut down throughout the entire winter because that it is simply to dangerous to venture out.
The combintation of the clashing winter storms from the North Sea and Mid Atlantic can cause huge swells with accompaning waves that would make it impossible to land troops in most areas along the French Coast during winter, although there will be breaks in the weather, but they're few and far in between, horrific surf condintions would impact on the landing barges, drowning thousands with heavy packs on, then if some do manage to land sea sickness would lay these troops up for hours, these troops are in no condition to fight. Also in Atlantic storms aircraft from aircraft carriers can't be launched.
Then from sea conditions we have the winds from the storms, any air drop would scatter, some storms can whip up winds without notice up to over 100 mph, some storms are just as fierce as any hurricane or cyclone. For the most part air drops of troops or supplies are out. The we have the situation of as you venture further inland the night time winter temprature drops. Meaning that unlike North Africa where it is relatively mild, Allied troops would have to be prepared to inniate an invasion and fight during winter conditions meaning that more supplies would be needed, more ships needed, more aircraft needed. The total unpredictable nature of the area in regards the wether and to the North Sea, Mid Atlantic and currents off the European continental shelf, English Channel make it a unwise choice.
Then as if you say the Allies did cop some treatment against the Vichy, i can only imagine what they would cop from the Germans, i mean can you imagine say what JCFalkenbergIII has said, that Patton and his Stuarts comming up against Panzer Mks III & IV, Stugs Mks III, dual purpose 88mm guns, Stuka's, Henschels and other Luftwaffe anti-tank aircraft, the allied landings if they can be landed would be cut apart.
Oh and because the frequency of the influx of storms the window of opportunity to dash supplies accross the Channel is very limmited, during some lulls in the weather you have several days to land supplies and then you may have to wait weeks to resupply, can troops be supplied enough to wait out on a beached for weks at a time without being resupplied with fresh troops and supplies, i don't think they can, if the Mulberry Harbours took a pounding in summer i hate to think what would happen to them in winter if they are built circa 1942.
No in the end it would be an unmittigated disaster, Germany gains a strategic and tactical victory, eventually the Germans/Italians may push the British out of North Africa.
You might want to study a map. Quiberon Bay is a large sheltered body of water on the coast of France. It is one of the largest and best anchorages in Europe.
As for the landing, there is a single second rate German infantry division covering that portion of the French coast. Like several others that were shipped East at the beginning of November to make up for the losses being taken there it was marginally trained and was spending alot of its time building field fortifications.
This division would have had about 36 105mm guns and a dozen 150mm available for artillery at most. It would have had between 18 and 27 antitank guns in varying sizes, most likely 3.7cm and 5 cm as the best equipment was going elsewhere. Radios and field telephones would be in short supply.
An example of this in the East is the 385th ID. In six weeks of combat it lost half its company commanders and five of six battalion commanders. This unit was reported at that point as "ruined for offensive use." The high losses were attributed by the division commander to poor training and inexperianced leadership. This is no different from 90% of what is in AOK 7 in November 42.
There won't be any Pz III or IV, STuG III, 88s or air support for the German defenders for several days. Instead, they will be overextended manning just small unconnected strong points with very limited artillery support.
As for the Allies, they would be ashore with a full armored division of mixed Stuart, M3 Lee, and Sherman tanks. There would be three tank destroyer battalions ashore, one of M10, two of 75mm M3 halftracks. The British tank brigade would be Churchills.
The second wave should add the 1st and 34th US Infantry divisions, along with the 1st Armored division (all in England). The British would send two additional infantry divisions and one armored division.
Since the German response would be to send troops peicemeal into the area initially the best they could hope for is to simply contain the Allies as they did at Anzio and Salerno before that. At Salerno, the Germans threw in 5 panzer and 2 panzergrenadier divisions against just 3 Allied (two British one US) infantry divisions. They also had parity in the air. Yet, they lost and lost badly there.
Allied naval gunfire was unstoppable. The Germans also discovered that ships are not easy things to sink, especially when most of your aircraft are unsuited for the job. On the whole, the Allies would get ashore. Once ashore they, like every time they landed somewhere, would be difficult or impossible to dislodge.
Let's mention Dieppe while we are at it. Had the Allies landed a larger force such as the one proposed here, it too would have succeeded. The German defenders would have been overwhelmed. As it was, it was intended as a large raid and in that it failed like most half measures do.
I have read in several sources that a significant portion of the American task force landing at Oran actually surrendered to the Vichy French.
I think you may be referring to this the 3rd Battalion, 135th Infantry ,
Operations against the port of Algiers represented the most difficult assignment for the attacking Allied forces. Not only did the French have substantial ground forces in the area, they also possessed 52 fighter aircraft and 39 bombers. The port itself was defended by strong coastal artillery positions. Thus, the main Allied attacks came on beaches to the west and east of the city. British Commandos and Regular infantry, as well as the U.S. Army’s 168th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), landed to the west, and the American 39th Combat Team, supported by Commandos, came ashore east of the port.
The Allied attack also included a daring raid on the port itself. Two British destroyers, Broke and Malcolm, carried Royal Navy personnel and the 3rd Battalion, 135th Infantry, from the U.S. 34th Infantry Division. Before either destroyer could breach the harbor’s barrier booms, the French opened fire. Malcolm suffered serious damage and turned back. Broke made it through the barrier and landed her troops on the mole. Within a short time, the landing party had seized the city’s electric power station and petroleum tank farm. But the French responded vigorously, and when the troops from the 168th RCT failed to show up, the American commander was forced to surrender his forces
Operation Torch: Allied Invasion of North Africa » HistoryNet - From the World's Largest History Magazine Publisher
Let's throw in a couple of more players in this scenario: the Tirpitz and the Scharnhorst.
What if the germans had sent out these warships to raid the supply convoys?
In co-operation with the U-boats they could have wrecked havoc on the convoys, draining the supplies to the landing operation in a critical phase so long that the Wehrmacht go the upper hand on land.
Concerning the allied naval gunfire, they could have countered this with railroad guns like they did in Italy.
Out of range for the naval guns, they could have pounded the landing zone at night.
One poster said that the U-boat would be a minor threat to the invasion.
On the contrary, the U-boats were still a fighting force to take into account by November 1942.
The climax in the U-boat war came six months later, in the spring of 1943, culminating with the so-called Black May.
According to Dönitz' war diary Germany had 100 operational U-boats in November 1942. (From December 1942 to February 1943 there were 102 boats and March-May 115 boats.)
There were 56 boats in the Atlantic, 23 in the Mediterranean, 6 stationed west of Gibraltar, 4 in the North Sea and the rest dispersed elsewhere.
If you think 30 of these were transferred to attack the convoys in the Atlantic in co-operation with Tirpitz and Scharnhorst, the number will be a total of 86, and the loss of supply ships could have been so large that the landing operation would grind to a halt.
With the German capital ships dashing in from the north and most of the allied battleships occupied in protecting the landing forces, the outcome may have turned out to be a disaster to the allies.
In fact, there were three such attempts made with two old destroyers each. The landing at Algriers described above and the one at Oran by the HMS Hartland and Walney was also a disaster. Only the landing at Safi by the USS Bernadou and Cole was successful.
Each operation had about 350 men assigned total.
Of the U-boats available only about 25 to 30% are at sea at any time. So, one might realistically expect about 30 boats on operational missions. Most of these in late 1942 are still Type VII and suitable only for operations near Britain and in the North Sea. Only the larger Type IX could get into the mid-Atlantic and beyond.
As for raiding convoys, the US need only take a more southerly track to make this difficult or impossible. Instead of a great circle route directly to the landing beaches they could make a similar southerly great circle coming into European waters south of the Azores and then turning north well out to sea between those islands and Portugal to arrive off Southern France on the Atlantic coast.
This would require the Germans to make about a 2000 mile transit just to reach the area. Obviously, this would entail a very high chance of being detected in transit and having another "Bismarck" episode occur.
The one railway gun at Salerno was silenced by naval gunfire. The gun had nowhere to hide like ones at Anzio that regularly fired a few rounds and then retreated into a railway tunnel to avoid retaliation. The greatest threat to ships at Salerno and Anzio were the handful of German bombers from KG 100 and KG 1 that were equipped to drop Fritz X and Hs 293 guided bombs.
How many others at the other two locations surrendered? And IMO it wasn't " a significant portion of the American task force landing at Oran"
The Oran attack was just over 100 men total (52 British troops plus about the same in ship's crew with 33 US Navy and Marines in addition). About a third were killed or wounded with the rest surrendering. All-in-all these operations amounted to less than 1/10 of 1% of the Allied manpower involved in the landings.
All of the ships used were older vessels cut down, stripped, and re-armed for this mission. Their loss was insignificant.
T.A Gardner I have already studied a map of the Quiberon Bay, which part of the bay are you talking about the outer exposed bay itself or the inner sheltered harbour, i would like you to find out what the prevailing winter weather patterns are aspecially related to the Mid-Atlantic and North Sea storms, and their effect when they collide in the channel, not only the storms but height of the waves, currents, tidal effects, winds (and their intensity).
What after all that the effect of the amphibous troops would be, how many would be lost in landings, how many would be stricken with sea sickness.
You mentioned a so called division (German) in the area at the time, name it and can you list it's TO&E at the time. Seriously not one panzer in the area, not one tank destroyer, or one 88mm dual purpose gun, no anti tank gun, not one aircraft, not one U-Boat (Especially with the Germans having Brest just a few k's up the coast) in the entire Brittany area, nothing nadda, zippo, zilch absolutely nothing, this intregues me.
So after the Allies have managed to overcome the local weather patterns, currents, winds, rain and anything i can think of and overcome horrific sea sickness and losses in sunken landing craft, manage to land not only a full armoured division but support troops, supplies (enough to counter any future disruption due to weather conditions).
Not only that they face absolutely no opposition, none what so ever, no U-Boat attack, No aircraft attack, no attempt by German army units to repulse the invasion, and not only that but overcome local opposition but can in effect launch offensive operations, totally un-opposed, six allied division are going to march all the way to Berlin un-opposed.
You mentioned Anzio and Salerno, yes the Germans did throw in a lot but were completely overwhelmed, by that stage they had lost air supremacy over Italian Skies, they had no large naval units in the area, they had been kicked out of North Africa with the loss of hundreds of thousands of POW's, being smashed in the east, losing the partisan war in Yugoslavia.
But you fail to mention that at the time of the Quiberon Bay assault yes the Germans had been battered in the east but they still at the time had not lost one battle, essentially they (the armed forces was essentially still intact, not one German division had yet to be destroyed) in the field.
Naval gunfire is unstoppable, yes it is, imagine on the first night of the landings during the day that several battleships are sunk or heavily damaged and are forced to withdraw, second night of action two or three aircraft carriers are also attacked and are forced to withdraw, then without the heavy units (they being withdrawn as they are to vulnerable to U-Boats) the Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau are brought in to hammer the cruisers and destroyers, this is in conjunction with the U-Boats attacking en masse the transports.
In the end this exercise has to go absolutely to the allies way without any mistakes, and absolutely no action by German land, sea or air units, they the allies are totally un-opposed.
Looking through Alfred Prices 'Luftwaffe' (sorry I dont have any of his larger books) the followint numbers were gleaned.
For late 1942, October-November, the fighter strength in the Low countries and France was between 150 & 200 fighters equipped & trained for daylight action. There were another 200 day fighters in Germany at the end of 1942. The balance of the fighters in these areas in 1942 were night fighters which ammounted to 400+ by the end of 1942.
Offensive bomber strength in the Low countries and France was 130 twin engine types in mid 1941. Night raids continued on Britian on into 1942, tapering off with the Baedecker raids in 1942 as losses made them impractical. At their peak the Baedecker campaign ammount to 250 night sorties in a week of three raids. In other weeks the raids were typically 30 to fourty aircraft. Bomber units in Germany in late 1942 were school units, which had been partially stripped of instructors to sustain operations in the East & the Med.
That leaves roughly 350 - 400 Luftwaffe day fighters available to quickly send to western France to contest this Allied attack. My numbers for the RAF are weaker. At this point I'm estimating on the low side some 600 Spitfires and remaining Hurricanes in the RAFs front line strength and a similar number of aircraft and pilots in units designated for dispatch to Africa & India or in the training establishment and the other periprial units. With reasonable planning the RAF should be able to commit the bulk of its fighter strength to supporting this attack. A 175 mile tactical range for the Spitfire allows it to cover the Breton penensula until local airfields are established in France.
On the bomber side the RAF was able to 'surge' over 800 bomber sorties for single raids on Germany and keep a sustained pool of 500+ aloft out of over 1000 long range types. There were roughly 300 shorter range medium bombers like the Blenheim also avaiable for front line service.
The USAAF strength in Britian is misleading. The planned number was substantially greater, but the early preperations for Gymnast slowed, and then the susequent preperations for Torch reduced substatially the numbers of fighters and bombers sent to Britian in the second half of 1942. If Sledgehammer had been selected the USAAF aircraft & ground support witheld for Torch would likely be sent to Britian as originally intended. Thus increasing the overall total available to battle the Lufttwaffe.
The only substantial uncommitted German air force would be that in Norway. Taking anything significant from the East or the Med. loses any chance of keeping local air superiority on either front. This is particualry bad in the East as the Soviet winter offensive unfolds.