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What if the Me-109E had drop tanks in the Battle of Britain

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by west6008, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Eleven Group did bear the brunt; there were a number of occasions when Twelve Group squadrons were "stepped forward" to protect Eleven Group fields while their squadrons were sent down to the coast...and of course there were the instances when Douglas Bader led his squadron(s) down to the coast "Jerryhunting", and blocking R/T communications in the process to the Eleven Group squadrons there!

    The big moment of Twelve Group and its "big wings" came in the day raids on London in September. But even then it came after one disastrous day when Bader's wing took large losses when it was jumped by "free hunting" German fighters.

    We shouldn't get TOO hung up on the advantages of drop tanks and 109s carrying bombs....as of September 1940 it was one or the other ;) You could have long-range fighters...or fighter bombers covering Kent, the very east of Sussex and the very south of Essex, the bit in Eleven Group...
     
  2. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Well for one, I don't think they would have flown deeper into the UK. The range wouldn't have increased THAT much more to make it viable to have to fly through 11 Group, and still have 12 or 13 Group to deal with. Might have given them a bit more time over 11 Group, but in combat, the throttles are at full tilt, and fuel consumption is very high. No way they would have staged 109's with tanks across the North Sea.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    What I was suggesting is not so much that they would have ventured into the territory of the other groups but that they would have gone a bit deeper and even if they didn't go deeper more time over Britain means more time for 12 Group to enter the action. As Phylo points out as it is they did a number of times but had coordination issues. Given a bit more practice I suspect those issues would at least in part have been resolved.
     
  4. harolds

    harolds Member

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    What drop tanks would have done is give the German fighters more combat time. This is especially true of the close escorts. Waiting for bombers to show up at the rendezvous point plus weaving back and forth around the slower bombers ate up a lot of gas! If the drop tanks got them to the channel then it would have been a big improvement.
     
  5. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    The 109E averaged 66 gallons per hour fuel consumption. The drop tank at the time was 25 gallons capacity. Added 26.1 minutes flying time. That's an average. Full throttle, less.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I thought that the Ju-87R and Me-110 were using the 66 gallon tank during the invasion of Norway.
     
  7. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Those tanks were wing tanks and wouldn't fit under the belly of a 109.
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    It's never too late to realise you're wrong & I stand corrected ! ( I completely missed this posting first time around... )

    I've just checked in my copy of John Vasco's 'Bombsights Over England' and 210 did indeed use bomb-carrying 109s in the BofB, which is something I'd never appreciated before......
     
  9. Roderick Hutchinson

    Roderick Hutchinson Member

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    I know this is out of the box, but what would have happened if London had not been accidently bombed, completely changing the narrative. It was this that changed the Battle of Britain. Imagine that London was not accidently bombed, and the Luftwaffe continued to attack RAF assets.
    Then adding the fact that in this timeline the Bf-109 did have drop tanks they could continue over enemy territory for say 10 minutes more.

    It's not perfect, but a slight change in the traditional narrative.
     
  10. Biak

    Biak Boy from Illinois Staff Member

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    Could you explain " "Accidentally Bombed" ?
     
  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    That's gonna be hard. The idea that the Luftwaffe bombed London "accidentally" on the night of 24/25 August 1940 is one of the more asinine postwar Nazi apologist scams. There were at least three different missions that struck London during the night of 24/25 August and more on the night of 25 August...at the same time the British were retaliating for the supposed "accident". During the night of 24/25 August, Birmingham, Devon, Bristol, Gloucester, South Wales, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford, Hull, Middlesbrough, Kent, Hampshire, Reading, Oxford, East Anglia and Newcastle were all bombed, but the missions bombing London were all "accidents"... :rolleyes: BTW, Goebbels had also been writing about plans to strike London since July.
     
  12. Biak

    Biak Boy from Illinois Staff Member

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    Talk about "Wrong Way Corrigan". !
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Drop tanks don't matter if you can't replace your losses even with them, cannot replace lost pilots in a timely fashion, or that you don't have the fuel available to use them. All three are problems the Luftwaffe face, even if their fighters have drop tanks available. So, simply adding drop tanks to the equation really doesn't solve the problems the Luftwaffe was facing in the BoB.
     
  14. Roderick Hutchinson

    Roderick Hutchinson Member

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    Since this topic is a dead end, then I think that it should be shut down.

    I mean the Bf-109 could fly powered by a nuclear reactor and have force shields, it would not matter a hill of beans, The RAF would always endure.
     
  15. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    How about stop acting butt-hurt and contributing reasonably to discussion? No, the RAF would not always endure and did not always endure. That is not the problem.

    The problem is that do many what ifs focus on miraculous technological widgets or hand waving to get to the desired end state.

    The Luftwaffe had drop tanks, albeit were just starting to fit the plumbing for them to the Bf 109. The question is why and what needed to change to get to a different end state in the BoB?

    Why? Because like all air forces of the time, they believed they were technologically constrained to using heavy fighters as bomber escorts and that "fighters" were actually interceptors, i.e. defensive weapons. The corollary to that was that "the bomber will always get through" so the priority was expanding the bomber force as the primary offensive weapon (there were also issues with prestige...big bombers were cool). That was the view top down and is what drove doctrine and acquisition.

    Historically, the view changed from the bottom up, as the people on the cutting edge adapted equipment and tactics to meet challenges not seen prewar...like the simple fact that the average heavy fighter as escort was simply no match for single-engine interceptors and so required escort themselves, which meant flying their own single-engine fighters out to max range, which meant drop tanks - originally intended as ferry tanks - had a new utility.

    There is also the reality that Germany was fuel poor, which affected operations and training, and resulted in a huge effort to develop fuel autarky through technology. By 1940, effectively 100% of German avgas was produced without first extracting petroleum from the ground. So was its Diesel fuel BTW, but through a slightly different process, so switching to Diesel-engine aircraft would not help (there are also performance issues with Diesel).

    Yet another issue is how do the Germans expand training so that they don't run out of pilots mid war? That issue was related to the over-expansion of the Luftwaffe 1934-1939, as the Nazi's prioritized numbers of operational frontline aircraft over building a support structure. Changing that means holding back pilots to act as instructors in an expanded training system, which means the Luftwaffe is smaller at the front.

    So to get to a different end state the prewar doctrinal beliefs needed to change and some solution to the fuel and pilot issues needed to be found. Drop tanks are not the solution for that and they could only incrementally effect the outcome of the BoB.

    You see, it is not about the RAF "always enduring" but is rather more about the Luftwaffe/Germany "always failing".
     
    Slipdigit likes this.
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't see it happening.
     
  17. Roderick Hutchinson

    Roderick Hutchinson Member

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    Well as Rich points out, cold hard facts would indicate that the Bf-109 with drop tanks would not add a hill of beans to the outcome, the Luftwaffe was going to lose, period.
     
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I suspect there best move would have been to continuously pound the 11 Group bases in southeast England, forcing Fighter Command to either pull north, which would allow the Germans free rein over the area and set up a possible invasion in spring 1941, or contest the airspace at disadvantage and so lose disproportionately...except Hitler had other fish to fry.
     
  19. Roderick Hutchinson

    Roderick Hutchinson Member

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    The problem is that Hitler was in a rush, he thought and miscalculated that of Britain's resolve, he thought that the Luftwaffe only had to show up and it could defeat the RAF. Wrong on all accounts. Then as the BoB dragged on he had eyes for the Soviet Union.
     

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