Battle of Britain fighters

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Negative Creep, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Negative Creep

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    This is something I've always been interested in; the fighter aircraft that participated in the Battle of Britain (so let's say July-September 1940.) Aside from the obvious 3 I know the BF 110, Defiant and Blenheim were also used to varying degrees, but given the wide range of fighter designs around at the time, how many more actually saw combat in that period? Did like likes of the Wildcat (Martlet if you will), Beaufighter, Seafire etc see service, or were they all elsewhere or not operational yet?
     
  2. machine shop tom

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    On a related note, wasn't the Hurricane responsible for downing more enemy aircraft that all other British makes (combined), during the Battle of Britain and to the end of the war?

    tom
     
  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Most of what you stated are the principal aircraft used. Early October found the Italians sending a few squadrons to participate with their A/C.

    The Hurricane was responsible for the most enemy aircraft during the BOB but for the rest of the war, not sure.
     
  4. Hop

    Hop Member

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    A few Beaufighters were used as night fighters during the BoB.

    As to other types, the Gladiator was used by 2 squadrons during the BoB, 247 squadron and 804 squadron Fleet Air Arm. 804 also used small numbers of Martlets and Buffaloes, and 808 FAA used Fulmars.

    As far as I can see from the RAF roll of honour for pilots during the Bob, none of these squadrons lost any pilots during the BoB, which is some indication of how much combat they actually saw.

    During the BoB yes, for the rest of the war no.

    There is a figure floating around which shows about 55% of all RAF claims made by Hurricanes. The source is Francis Mason, who says he studied 11,400 RAF combat reports.

    However, Fighter Command and 2nd TAF in the ETO alone claimed something over 10,700 kills, so Mason's list is obviously only a partial list of RAF claims (Mason's list is supposedly worldwide, and includes bomber gunners claims)
     
  5. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    According to "The Battle of Britain" by Jon Lake, Hurricanes claimed 1593 destroyed/probably destroyed during the Battle period, while Spitfires claimed 1116.

    However, these are apparently based on total squadron claims and some must have been disallowed, possibly at Group or higher level, as British claims for the Battle period (i.e including AAA, night fighters, Defiants ect) were 2,698, or less than the Spitfire and Hurricane totals together :?:

    Italian participation in the Battle period consisted of the Corpo Aereo Italiano, formed as a sef supporting unit on 10-Sep-1940. Based in Belgium it had eight squadrons of BR.20s, a squadron of Cant Z10007.bis for reconnisance and a mixed fighter complement of three squadrons CR42s and three of G.50s.

    The Italians conducted a 16 aircraft night raid on Harwich on 16-Oct-1940 and a daylight raid on Ramsgate on 29-Oct-1940, neither of which sustained losses. They mounted another raid in November, again against Ramsgate, losing seven BR.20s (five to RAF fire) and seven fighters. A few more night raids followed in November, before the Italian complement was reverted to a training role, and then redoployed to Southern Italy in Jan-1941. The three G.50 squadrons were kept as night fighters and withdrawn in Apr-1941.
     
  6. royal744

    royal744 Banned

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    I think the most interesting thing about the Battle of Brittain is that the Germans never had the proper equipment to perform this mission. This is probably the fault of Ernst Udet and the whole close support role of the Luftwaffe to facilitate blitzkrieg. The Germans never possessed a strategic bomber worthy of the name - the Heinkels were a kind of a joke - and never had a four-engined bomber that I know of. Their fighters - good as they were - didn't have sufficient range to even penetrate English airspace to theAtlantic coastline and were forced to return after only a few precious minutes over England or they would run out of feul. No one doubts the ability of the German pilots - they were superb - or the performance of their main frontline fighters, but without the range and staying power over Great Brittain, they were simply doomed from the start. Of course, they faced - for the first time since war broke out, an enemy that was actually on more or less equal terms with the Germans. The Germans had never before encountered an enemy who was capable and who had the cheek to actually challenge them in the air. This was a very nasty surprise for Goering who merely assumed because they were German, they would win. AFter all, theSpitfire and the Hurricane came from a 'nation of shopkeepers', right? LOL, and where did Goering get all those krema-kuchen' he gobbled with such ferocity? Face it, Germany didn't have an air force that could act in the role of a strategic air force and it never had a navy that could secure an invasion beach head. In other words, the Germans were beaten before they began, only they didn't know it until it was too late.
     
  7. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    The He 111 was not bad for it's time in 1940, arguably it was perhaps the best medium bomber in service in Europe. The bombload was substantial, the aircraft had pleasant flight charactheristics, while fairly rugged and well armored. It had a much better bombsight than anythin the British had, and electrical navigation systems that enabled it to bomb fairly accurately even during the night - something that no other bomber at that time could claim.

    It was under-armed though, but that was something of a common lacking of the 1930s monoplane bombers, which rather relied on speed to outrun their biplane fighter opponents. With the introduction of fast monoplane fighters, they become vulnerable. Later version of the He 111 were much improved in that regard.

    As for four-engined bombers, they definietely had one, the He 177, using four coupled DB engines to drive two propellers, and of which some 1000-1500 were produced. While technically it was the best bomber in the whole ETO (7 ton bombload, 500+ kph speed, 5000+ km range, lots of defense guns), it had similiar initial problems with it's engine's reliability as the Boeing B-29.

    That's true for the most part. The strategic doctrine of the 1930s was that fast, lightly armed bombers 'would always break through' unescorted, whereas fighters were only developed to be short ranged interceptors with maximum performance but little range or endurance. This of course aided the defenders enourmously in every case, since high performance fighters would only meet easy, unescorted preys - promptly illustrated by early catastrophich Bomber Command raids on Norther Germany in 1939 in which bombers would suffer 50% losses.

    The solution would be of course an fighter with longer range. The LW did respond to the requirement, fitting droptanks first to the Bf 109E-7s in August 1940, which would gave sufficient range, but few fighters could carry a droptank during the Battle; the successor Bf 109F had much longer range with it's droptank (1600 km), seeing action first in October 1940, but it did not appear in numbers until 1941, by which time the Luftwaffe bombers re-deployed to the East.
     
  8. royal744

    royal744 Banned

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    Thanks, Kurfurst. You make good points. Actually, I knew Germany had a four engine bomber but that it had tremendous engine problems. I did not know that Germany produced 1500 of them, however and don't recollect reading about their service. Where were they used?

    I agree that Douhet's doctrine of "The Bomber will always get through" was the sort of reigning rubbish in air theory that probably cost the lives many German, English and American air crew. Even after the German experience over England, the Americans persisted and believed that their heavily armed, but still vulnerable, B17 bombers could "get through". Yes, they could, if you could also accept unacceptable losses! The rates of attrition were simply staggering.

    As the USAAF discovered to their everlasting chagrin, US long range strategic bombers fared disastrously over Germany without long range fighter escort. Even Goering remarked (I paraphrase here), "When I saw those (Mustangs) fighters over Germany, I knew we were done for."

    Still, the point of what I wrote earlier is that the Germans had the wrong sort of air force to attack England with. Even Fighter Command, when stretched to the limit, still had a number of squadrons in reserve in the north of England.

    If memory serves, the Germans used the STUKA just one time in an attack on England before withdrawing it because it was a sitting duck to Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Germans had the right close support air force for Blitzkrieg, but not a strategic air force.
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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  10. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    The Hurricanes shot down more planes in the BoB than the Spitfire because there were twice as many Hurricanes engaged. The Spitfires had a better survival rate, though.
     
  11. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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    The hurricane has to be one of the best looking aircraft on the ground in my opinion.......
     
  12. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    The He 177s were used in almost all theatres I believe, but they could never replace the older types because of the small numbers produced.

    Some were used for recconnaisance (sp? dang French word, LOL) over England in 1943, taking off from West-German air bases, and penetrating the British air space at high altitude and high speed (the Greif was quite fast, at 565 km/h!) at 30 000 ft, occasionally carrying a pair of 1 ton bombs for nuisance raids. This profile presented difficulties intercepting them, as climbing to their altitude took a lot of time. Since the climb speeds are generally very low for fighters, He 177 tactics were simply to put the big birdie into a shallow dive in which it reached 400 mph and get of of trouble while the fighter was trying to get to 30 000 feet at 170 mph indicated. I believe they were quite successfull at that for some time. Later on they were used in the West in the 1944 'Baby Blitz' in the noctural night bomber role, but flying loaded and at normal altitudes, they were much more vulnerable to night fighters.

    The other major operational areas were maritime patrols chiefly against the Murmansk convoys, in which they were equipped with guided glide bombs and were employed against merchant shipping, and I recall some operations in the Med - there was a sinking of a heavily laden US troop ship by one of these with a large loss of life. :(

    They were also used in the Eastern front in conventional daylight bombing roles (a few of the initial batch were used at Stalingrad for transport, a task it was not really suited, being a bomber with limited storage volume rather than a true transport), en masse in large formations composed of 100 bombers in 1944, but it was soon ended due to the lack of fuel. Some were used as tank destroyers(!!!) fitted with large calibre AT guns, but were generally unsuccessfull due to the sheer target surface the plane represented to ground AA - a rather silly idea, whoever come up with it

    The problem was that by the time it's teething troubles were fixed, aggrevated by the sheer size of the aircraft calling for much more serious infrastructure, and the production was starting to speed up, ie. by 1944, the Allied offesive on Axis oil production was severly felt, and a result in the second half of 1944 most bomber units were grounded, and the fuel was used by the daylight fighters, since a bomber sortie was taking 10 to 20 times the volume of fuel to fly a single sortie of a fighter...

    That's a bit of an old myth that dies hard. ;) The Luftwaffe's image is definied by the Stuka dive bomber, which was indeed a small tactical support bomber. The Stukas however amounted only a small fraction (about 20%) of the German bomber force of about 2000-2100 at the start of the French campaign, (and indeed dive bombers were rather uniquely a Luftwaffe-thing in the ETO). The vast majority was made up by conventional medium level bombers, predominantly the He 111 in 1939-40. These operated very much like the RAF's most common (and rather comparable) bomber of the time, the Wellington medium level bombers, or US B25s or B-26s.

    It may be argued wheter the Germans would have been better of with heavy four engined bombers in 1940, but I doubt it. A heavy bomber's primary advantage that it can deliver effective bombload to even long ranges (as a bombers useful load is always a compromise between fuel and bombs). For short range of course the avarage heavy bomber would carry about twice the bombload as an avarage medium, but given that a single heavy bomber costs about 2-3 times as much as a single medium, requires about the same amount of crew as two mediums.

    OTOH it needs a much more serious technical background, or supply 'tail', larger and better equipped airfields - frankly I doubt they would be able to re-deploy and operate these from French forward air bases as they did with the much smaller He 111 in 1940 - and of course a single heavy is easier to shot down than two mediums, so I think for the short range missions (a couple of hundred kilometers from the bomber bases at best) the Luftwaffe had in BoB, heavies would not constitute a really appricable advantage. If the same amount of resources would have been put into heavy bombers, they'd probably have 1/2 to 1/3 the number of heavies instead of mediums. In any case, nobody had heavyh bombers in meaningful numbers early in the war anyway. Heavies made a lot more sense for the US and UK later during the war (because of the range/load noted above), given that their targets were much further away in Germany, as compared to the Luftwaffe only having to literally hop over the channel to bomb targets, and it concentrated on troop marshalling yards in the Eastern Front with medium bombers, as in previous campaigns. The Soviet industry behind the Ural would have been beyond the range of any contemporary heavy bomber in any case, save perhaps the B-29, but that one was something like twice as big as the B-17, Lancaster or He 177.

    [​IMG]
     
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