Bad documentaries.

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Jul 22, 2005
I just bought the History of World War Two. I like the war footage but I think I'm ready to order a hit on the stupid pommie narrrators and editorialists.
Hitler is of course some kind of demonic spawn, an evil wizard who used masterful powers to magick the youth of Germany during the prewar years, whilst it was all valiant, honest, loyal and good Britain could do but to prepare those same years (ie. if military buildup was Hitler's evil...hello, pot calling kettle).
Their facts are things like, "from the first during the Battle of Britain, Germany made no pretense about civilian targets." Yeah, after Berlin was hit with a full scale bombing. The reason? Oh 3, count 'em: 3 Heinkells flew off course and dropped some bombs near London, missing their actual targets. Somebody want to call that kettle back?

And I mean that's the whole theme of part one in the DVD's. Evil, powerful, magical Germany and it's Lord Wizard of the Church of Satan and Svengalist, Hitler vs the poor surprised world. The western democratic countries *cough* did nothing...probably, understandably out of fear...

Okay the war crimes during WWII don't need much demonising. They're pretty bad all on their own.

Second, I like facts better than storytelling ficitonalisations presented as documentary.
Some incorrect ones notably at the start are Germany's panzer divisions. Technologically superior at the start of the war according to the DVD.
Bullwallop! France had the technologically superior military. It had newer, heavier and simply better tanks, bigger guns, better forts and more of, better equipped troops. France wasn't outclassed by a smaller but technologically superior force, it was complacent to the point of stupidity.
Their fighters were contemporary models. Their combat tactics just the same as the rest of Europe: firmly buried up their backsides. In short they were just plain arrogant and had absolutely no concept of the moral failings of Versailles.

It just gets worse from there. Not sure I'll watch the rest...I bought it though. Maybe I'll turn the sound down and stick to the war footage.
The Clash of Wings series I also bought is far, far better. Got the Fighters and Bombers package :)
I disagree with the idea that France was in the same technological league as Germany. While they weren't as far behind as Poland, it is very difficult to say that France was as technolgically advanced as Germany at that stage. France was only just starting to put out its improved fighters onto the Frontline. In comparison Germany had advanced fighters such as the Bf-109 already frontline. Therefore its fighter forces simply ended up getting killed, the only thing that stopped the fighter forces of France being a complete debacle was the sheer determination and guts of the French pilots. The Hurricanes that were in the BEF were one of the most advanced fighters that France had at its disposal at this point in time. While the French armored forces might not have been that inferior to the German forces, you have to factor in the fact that air-superiority is a major factor in modern battles. Without the Airforce and Aerial 'spies' the US used during Desert Storm 1 2, there would have been massive casualties on the US side. As it is this battle proved one thing which may have been decisive for Germany in the Battle of France- Control Use of the Air in a concentrated campaign that united all the forces together towards one goal and set out how to achieve it- the destruction of France. As had been proved in the previous German Battles the element of 'shock and awe' was used to defeat and demoralize the enemy. The rapid advances and the shock of those advances meant that Germany didn't have to control everywhere initially to take over a country. This was used in modified force for Gulf War 2 in a plan where artillery, tanks, helicopters, planes and troops were all working together to demoralize and destroy the enemy.
Whilst there is the strong theme of a completely unjustified public phobia about the prewar Luftwaffe (in actual fact relating more to its bombing capabilities than to its fighter ones, which no air force significantly regarded nearly as influential to the ability to wage war, many prewar bombers had similar or better performance than the contemporary fighters), the French military forces as a whole were unanymously regarded as the strongest of any nation in western Europe, both in outright numbers and technological superiority (this includes GB btw). In fact they took great pride in this title, sparing little ceremony to equip and parade at any opportunity throughout the previous two decades, it is commonly regarded the primary reason for their gross overconfidence and inability to promptly wage an effective war.
Around the time of opening hostilities it was the published undercurrent of the age that (to paraphrase), "any minute now the French are going to put them in their place."

The French had more heavily armed and heavier tanks of a simply better design. They had bigger guns and more of them. Their marginally peforming but well armed Morane fighters were bolstered in number by a large contract for US P36 "Hawks" which could all but match the Bf109 model of the day (the D). They could field roughly as many as the Luftwaffe at the opening of hostilities, but had been bolstered by the BEF's Hurricanes by that stage to ensure this at any rate.

The "vast technological superiority" occasionally attributed to early war Germany was really reminiscent of the domestic impact of Bf109's overflying the Berlin Olympics in 1936, a time when the major military powers of the world were only just transitioning to low-wing monoplanes themselves and Germany was supposedly under the conditions of the Versailles treaty. This was more a political impact than overwhelming technological superiority.
The Bf109's legendary status was largely carved during the Spanish Civil War, when it mostly faced biplanes and obviously, did very well in its early B variant's 700-odd horsepower. But back in those days the Ju-57 was considered a capable bomber (no wonder things like the Blenheim were "amazing" at their adoption).

The Bf 109 was again an excellent contemporary fighter when prepared for the Battle of Britain as the increased horsepower and standardised armament E model. Most in squadron service immediately before the push across the channel were as far as I know B-D models.

The "legendary" panzer force of Germany was a matter of a preparedness to use fresh stategies to take advantage of lightweight, easy to manufacture but strictly speaking, ineffective stand-alone designs. The thing that most documentarians forget to note is that at the opening of hostilities Germany was mostly equipped with underpowered or obsolete equipment compared to any major military power, from artillery and armour to overall aircraft types and general resources and total number of forces.
Their tanks were so ineffective in open tank warfare in 1939 they literally had no choice but to use Stukas as the primary weapon of the armour divisions. I can assure you they'd have much preferred to simply have better, but far more difficult to manufacture and produce tanks. It wasn't until the introduction of the Tiger that German panzer forces were even was the tactics of new military commanders that did it for them.

What the Germans had was the ability to use otherwise inadequate equipment phenominally well. They did something by political consequence that no other military save the USSR was prepared to do: they abandoned traditional military doctrine like they were throwing out bathwater.
They pioneered the use of lightweight, fast equipment in open warfare, had one innovation here and there like the 88K dual purpose, lightweight field artillery.

The initial attack on French airfields was sudden and extreme. Germany frequently gambled in all out campaigns during the early war, it was this almost suicidal fervor which took their victims by surprise. If Germany had lost any of the early footholds, if they had not managed to advance at the rate they were afforded, they could not have possibly hoped to hold the ground taken. They just didn't have the military to do it.

It was a great deal of complacency, tactically, strategically and politically which led to the illusion of early war German technological superiority.

It has been frequently said that WW2 should never have happened. Not because somebody would've assassinated Hitler, or that he would never have even risen to power, but that Germany would never have gotten anywhere in the first place for more than about a month.
"Their tanks were so ineffective in open tank warfare in 1939 they literally had no choice but to use Stukas as the primary weapon of the armour divisions."

I'd advise a read of Panzer Leader by Heinz Guderian. Both then and now people believed the Wehrmacht was carried on the shoulders of the Luftwaffe but it's not true. The XIX Panzer Corps rarely requested air support, it was all diverted south and the XIX Panzer Corps advanced quicker than any other in the Fall Weiss due to the simple fact that Guderian knew how to use his armour effectively.

Guderian was even questioned by Hitler when he viewed a wrecked Polish artillery position. He questioned what had caused the carnage; "Did our Stukas do that?" and was shocked to hear Guderian reply; "No, our panzers"

The Wehrmact had effective machines but were not technologically superior. The Wehrmacht was tactically superior in almost every aspect of warfare. And the old doctrine took a lot to remove, even in Germany.
I was more thinking tank vs tank with the comment however appreciate the heads-up. "Panzer Leader" I'll look out for it, sounds interesting. Thanks, D.
The major thing about the German armour in early war years was the radio communication. Every tank had a receiver and the tank platoon commander had a receiver and transmitter.

The French tanks were excellent machines on paper but they were complicated and prone to breakdowns. The Somua S.35 was an excellent machine and the best overall machine during the Battle of France. The British Matilda I was impregnable to any anti-tank or tank cannon beyond 100 metres except the FlaK 18 36 8.8 cm.

Talking of "Bad documentaries"; I've seen my fair share but one stood out beyond most. I do not forget the name but just to show the calibre of information it presented; it stated that the Tirpitz was sunk by the USS Iowa.

Although I personally like to think that the Lancs that sank her were built in Canada. ;)

Hey, who knows? A fella can imagine, can't he? :dontknow:
Still it is things like that that can serve as major advantages in the field. Also don't forget the French were still clinging to WW1 Warfare lessons by building the Magiot Trench Line across their border with Germany. Even in WW1, it was possible to get around trenchs, not easily but it was possible. Because their whole defensive strategy and technology was tied up in a line that they needed massive man-power to defend, infantry tactics of the French at least on the line would have been trained in WW1 Trench Warfare, basically the idea that use enough firepower, batter away at a brick-wall for long enough and use enough men and you will succeed. They were simply unprepared for the sneak attack and once you start losing ground rapidly, it is very difficult to reverse that. The French were losing ground and couldn't hope to hold on against the Germans after the inital shock. Therefore this is why France decided the only way to save itself was to surrender to the Germans. (I don't know, reckon I could create a documentary as a WW2 Strategy Analyst) The whole thing with warfare is that as well as being about technological strength, as well as intellectual strength in warfare otherwise known as courage, valour and determination. The French lacked this, most of those older ones that had it were lying in graves on battlefields on the Somme, and other places. The facts of WW1, as they would no doubt be visible to French people, were probably a deterrent to this forming in the young. Mind you though, the Free French fought well as Commandos and as their own units in the liberation of Paris. Obvisiously one of the best Commandos to take in as part of your team would be a French person who knew the area where you were going to operate in very well. The French despite the loss of their homeland really did play a big role in the defeat of Germany with the Partisan units that harrassed and tied up German forces to no end, as well as destroying or capturing German supplies and equipment.
Whats your guys worst and best documentarys?
My worst was a wartime documentary on Army tactics/training
one section showed a plyboard tank mounted on some bike wheels and these troops chucking molitov cocktails at it the Commentator say,s (in BBC English) "here we see members of an anti tank unit practicing an amoured ambush. with superb efficience the enemy vehical is reduced to a flaming wreak in a matter of minutes, this demonstrates the readiness of our forces to repell and invading force from where ever it may come"
Now I know it was war time but it was ment to be a serious documentary on the modern army and even allowing for propergander it was bloody awful. nobody believed any of it.
My best was The Great War released in the 60,s by the BBC it in my opinion has never been bettered as an in depth documentary no theatricals just the facts told in a superbly researched series.
It was much better than The World at War.
I also liked the series Victory at Sea but mainly for the teriffic film clips
I was just watching some tank docos on discovery and looked up some quick comparisons of French vs German front line tanks during that part of the war.

Somua S-35
Possibly the best tank of the 1940 campaign, the S-35 had a top speed of 40km/h and boasted a 47mm gun with a muzzle velocity of 2,200 feet per second. These tanks along with the excellent Hotchkiss H39s equipped the three light mechanised divisions or DLMs. These divisions were only formed starting in 1939 and were poorly prepared for the German invasion, which succeeded with inferior tanks.
47mm gun plus 7.5mm machine gun. 3 crew 55mm armour 20 ton.

The Hotchkiss H39 was considered one of the better of the French tanks in 1940. Some 1100 units were manufactured prior to the German invasion of France.
37mm gun plus 7.5mm machine gun. 2 crew 40mm armour 12 ton 36.5km/h.

The heavy Char B1 bis, "la fortresse", dated from the late 1920s and was intended to be the French Army's main battle tank. It was considered an advanced vehicle : only the German 88mm anti-aircraft gun could penetrate its frontal armour, while its 47mm anti-tank gun, which armed a small one-man turret (the same APX turret mounted on the S35 and Char D tanks), was considered the best gun in its category.
47mm gun plus 75mm howitzer plus 2x 7.5mm machine guns. 4 crew 60mm armour 20 ton 29km/h.

Panzer II
A light tank (10 tons) with a crew of three, developed in the mid 1930s as an interim until the arrival of the Panzer III and Panzer IV medium tanks. Despite being primarily intended as a training tank, it was the main tank in the Blitzkrieg invasions of Poland and France, where about 1000 Panzer IIs participated. It also participated in the invasion of Russia in 1941, although it was already obsolete, and lacked armor and firepower. It was armed with a 20mm gun (with 180 rounds) and a coaxial MG34 7.92mm machine gun. Polish troops were able to breach its armour with anti tank rifles. 14.5mm armour 40km/h.

Yeah I have actually seen some pretty good documentaries too. Typically more recent and less politically correct renditions, which I tend to find the BBC infamous for.
Military training films are hilarious fun. Watched a few of them in my old cadet days. Most I think are designed to give the new-to-combat the kind of steeled nerves that only come from sheer stupidity. They'd tell you hitting someone in the temple will send splinters of bone into the brain if they thought it'd inspire you to take on a squad of stormtroopers instead of throw your arms in the air :rolleyes:
Mass psychology: how to have fun for all the family with complete nonesense. Much politics and media hinges on it.

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