Airpower dominat force in warfare 39-41

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Watanbe, Jul 11, 2007.

  1. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    The European theatre between 1939-41, saw the emergence of airpower as the dominant force in warfare. How valid is this statement?

    Hey people I have chosen to write my history essay (im a year 12 student) on my great passion. I have decided upon a few points which I will discuss as arguments in my essay.

    The ending of the Battleships reign on warfare- aircraft carriers replaced them

    Blitzkrieg tactics- combination of Air and Ground

    Planes in a ground attack role

    Ability of planes to fulfill defensive and offensive roles

    Importance of Air superiority

    Strategic bombing

    Decisive battles won or fought entirely in the air

    Proaganda and the idolising of fighter polits, daring attacks etc.


    Please add any points you fill I have missed and include any examples, or details of those ive missed. I have already written most of the essay but would like to see if there are any additions I should make, points I should raise.

    Thankyou.

    Any good sources would also be appreciated.
     
  2. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Watanbe,

    >The European theatre between 1939-41, saw the emergence of airpower as the dominant force in warfare. How valid is this statement?

    You have a good list there, and the hypothesis has some merit. However, if you look at prewar politics, airpower had been a dominant factor even before 1939. The belief in the effectiveness of strategic bombing that was prevalent from at least the mid-1930s on was one of the main reasons the Allies were so reluctant to oppose Germany - it was feared that the Luftwaffe would be able to wipe out London or Paris in just a few raids. "The bomber will always get through" was a statement made as early as 1932 by the British prime minister Stanley Baldwin, and it expressed a widely shared belief in the dominant role of air power even back then.

    Another thing I'd like to mention is that contrary to popular opinion, the Luftwaffe was not geared for tactical support (and in fact had almost neglected that aspect of aerial warfare initially). It was intended for offensive counter-air, strategical bombing of industrial targets and the battlefield interdiction mission. ("Spearhead for Blitzkrieg", edited by Alfred Price and evaluating studies prepared by ex-Luftwaffe general Paul Deichmann for the USAAF immediately post-war is a good book on the topic.)

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  3. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Thanks for that I suggested 39-41 because that exampled the doctrine and tactics already established.

    Germany seemed to have built medium tactical bombers rather than large strategic bombers wouldnt that suggest it wasnt geared towards industrial bombing and bombing of cities?

    Is it fair to suggest this strategy could have arisen from airship bombings of London in WW1?
     
  4. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Tactical bombers given the term's meaning would concentrate on aiding the fight on the battlefield directly, or doing CAS in other words.

    It's certainly not true for most of the German bombers. The backbone was made up by about 1200-1400 medium level bombers of the He 111, Do 17 and Ju 88 type, and their targets were typically on the operational or strategic level : railroad junctions, telephone centers, airfields and army supply depots and such. The backbone He 111 was clearly a stategic bomber by it's design, a medium sized one. It's not determined by the aircraft's number of engines, but the design and operational doctrine. Ju 87s, the only tactical bombers in the true sense at the start of war didn't number more than a few hundred (ca 3-400 as I recall).

    It would be more correct to say German airial doctrine was conceived and developed during the war as the air force's target's being between strategical (ie. targetting tank factory) and tactical (ie. knocking out tanks on the battlefield) level, on the operational level (ie. knocking out the railway station through which the tanks are shipped to the battlefield, knocking out enemy Command and Control facilities etc.). The - little acknowladged - fact that the LW's bomber force fought it's main campaign on the Eastern front, which displayed primitive inftrastructure, sluggish communications and supply lines with potentially paralyzing bottlenecks made this operational doctrine of the bomber force evolve naturally (and later revived in NATO's doctrine).

    The B-17, for example, was actually conceived as a long-range maritime medium bomber, only later it's use become primarly a strategic in it's nature. Even though it was used in a tactical role in Normandy, as was the Lancaster occasionally. Does it make the 8th USAAF a 'tactical air force'...?
     
  5. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Fair enough well said, Thanks for help guys keep them coming!
     
  6. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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    Im in the same position as you Wantanbe being a yr 12 student,
    I like your thoughts good luck with it.

    :D
     
  7. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Cheers yeh hope I do well, I reckon I will cause im interested in it. French Revolution is a bit dull hahah


    Sorry for the Frenchies
     
  8. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    In WW1 pilots were idolised too...that is why Richtofen is still a household name.

    I think you must add new technologies, radar, navigation aids and new alloys and metals to your essay.

    You must remember however that in The Battle of the Atlantic, in this timeframe, air power was slight and it was a naval war.

    Also that ideas such as strategic bombing didnt work much(ie blitz on london) and that production of fighters and how quick and how many can be produced and training of pilots can be just as important.(Battle of Britain)

    I think you must add historical characters to your essay...men like dowding and Goering who shaped warfare in the early part of the war
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Also when it comes to air power you need to include the role of air supply and transportation. It played a vital role in almost all military operations throughout the war and is also relevent today.
     
  10. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Watanbe,

    >Thanks for that I suggested 39-41 because that exampled the doctrine and tactics already established.

    Ah, I see!

    >Germany seemed to have built medium tactical bombers rather than large strategic bombers wouldnt that suggest it wasnt geared towards industrial bombing and bombing of cities?

    That twin-engined bombers are categorized as "medium, tactical" and four-engined ones as "heavy, strategic" is sort of a retrospect distinction. The Luftwaffe planned to (and did) use its twin-engined bombers strategically and to some degree operationally, but not tactically.

    The single-engined Stuka was adopted in 1938 for the (operational) role of battlefield interdiction and close support, though the emphasis of the Luftwaffe was on interdiction.

    Luftwaffe general Deichmann summed it up for the USAF after WW2: "Until 1938 the Luftwaffe had no front-line units dedicated to providing direct support for the army." ("Direct support" includes battlefield interdiction in his description.)

    In 1935, the Luftwaffe Air Field Manual No. 16 had defined "Within the scope of the general conduct of the war, combat action by the air forces will generally provide indirect support for the combat operations of the other military services."

    In 1940, it was added: "Strong Luftwaffe forces can be committed during important ground battles" (for bombing attack on areas near the battle front). However, it is stressed that targets within artillery range of the front are only to be attacked when artillery is completely unable to get results.

    >Is it fair to suggest this strategy could have arisen from airship bombings of London in WW1?

    I believe these airship raids - and the subsequent heavier raids by large bombers - had decisive impact on airwar strategists of all nations, not only Germany. The impressive effect of these comparatively light raids probably lead to a general overestimation of the power of strategic bombers until WW2 experience gradually taught people otherwise.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  11. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    "I think you must add new technologies, radar, navigation aids and new alloys and metals to your essay.

    You must remember however that in The Battle of the Atlantic, in this timeframe, air power was slight and it was a naval war."


    Yes thankyou for the information about radar etc that will be included,as will the use of characters. With the battle in the Atlantic it is true that it was a naval war however, the role that planes played was important in this battle. For example flying boats etc, reconaissance. It also showed the downfall of the battleship, which supports my earlier argument.

    "Also that ideas such as strategic bombing didnt work much(ie blitz on london) and that production of fighters and how quick and how many can be produced and training of pilots can be just as important.(Battle of Britain)"

    I did mention the production of aircraft and how they can be mass produced relatively quickly. I also suggested in my essay that while the Blitz was a failure, when targeted against the airfield and radar networks of Britain it had success and showed potential, perhaps not the right planes??

    Would this be a good place to introduce the failings of Georing?


    Thankyou for your help, keep it going!!
     
  12. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    What are peoples thoughts on my above comments?
     
  13. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Against U boats...in this time period...the aircraft still made little impact.

    The Germans had air power in the USSR but still lost.

    Air power is only part of a militry machine.

    Maybe you need to add ideas from men like billy mitchell and the italian bloke douhet about guys who spoke about air war in the twenties. Fear of bombing was far more important than what the bombers could actually do...in this time frame.
     
  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Yes but the side that controled the air is the side that won. The Allies had air superiority over Germany.

    If you dont control the skies your ground forces can not move freely. It all goes hand in hand.
     
  15. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    You need to address the role of submarines in ww2. basket touched on it but Germany came much closer to winning the war against Britain with her subs than she ever did with the LW. If you read Churchill you will find that the submarine menace alarmed him more than any other type of warfare. Also the US Submarine force had brought Japan to her knees much more than strategic bombing. If the a bomb had not come along Japan would have not been able to wage war much longer because of the attrition of her merchant marine by our subs.
     
  16. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Good comments Henning. I would suggest that the USAAF doctrine was inadequate - not because of overestimation of the power of strategic bombers, but more that such bombers could achieve their objectives unescorted. It took first the British modified Mustang then long range P-47s to truly reach the vision and wrest control of air over germany from Luftwaffe.

    B-17s and B-24s failed to achieve that vision over Germany but B-29s did over Japan from March 9, 1945 through end of war -simply because Japan did not have night fighting capability - and this of course is 5 years after BoB
     
  17. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Yes, I agree that the U-Boats had a greater effect over Britain than the Luftwaffe but you have to look at what is fighting against the Luftwaffe and what is fighting against the U-Boats. The British were able to effectively counter the Luftwaffe. The Britain until later did not have the same capabilities in destroying the U-Boats and when they did the effects were devastating for the U-Boats, while airpower emerge in my opinion to become the dominant force of WW2.

    Good responses people:) :)

    and the Basket, while the Germans had greater airpower, the Soviets had massive numbers and their dedication to ground attack did have significant impact to victory. I did include a paragraph on the fear of bombing, I brought up the impact of living in constant fear and apparent danger could

    Thanks guys
     
  18. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    That is my point with the soviets, germany's airpower was not so great that it prevented this. And Adler I included the supply bit and implemented this quote from Churchill

    "Victory is the beautiful brightly coloured flower. Transport is the stem, without which it could have never have blossomed.”
     
  19. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    A good example is the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse by Japanese airpower in Dec 1941. This was the first time a battleship at sea and at full battle stations was sunk by aircraft.

    The dominant naval power was not the battleship or aircrft carrier but the submarine. Both for the Kriegsmarine and the USN.

    Also the idea of kills and aces can be a red herring.

    If say a Hurricane or Spitfire was shot down in the BoB...is that important? If the pilot was uninjured he could be flying next day and we were producing more aircraft than we were losing. We could also recover wrecks which could either be repaired or used for spares. The Germans couldn't and any crew bailing out were POWs for the rest of the war. The Germans were slow in replacing aircraft too.

    So as long as we had pilots...we could continue fighting regardless of airframe losses.
     
  20. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The dominant naval component of the KM was the sub but I wouldn't go so far as to say that the dominant USN component was the sub. Without the carrier task force the US could very well have lost the Pcific War.
     
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