Germany adopts late war 8th AF tactics during the BoB

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by dobbie, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. dobbie

    dobbie Member

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    I know that Germany switched from attacking airfields and such during the Battle of Britain and ended up bombing cities, but I've often wondered if it would have made much of a difference if the Luftwaffe had adopted tactics similar to what General Doolittle did when he took over the 8th Air Force.

    Instead of holding all of the fighters to escort the bombers, having the fighters range ahead to deal with the Spitfires and Hurricanes, possibly coming in at low level so that radar detection would be at close range, catching them forming up or at the time where they were gaining altitude?
    Beating up on the airfields and such on the way back.

    Did the Luftwaffe have the technical capability in their aircraft to do this?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    What German fighters? Me-109s had to break off early due to low endurance. Typically that left a couple dozen Me-110s to be steamrolled by a hundred or more Hurricanes and Spitfires.

    Having several hundred high endurance fighter aircraft to serve as bomber escort was the key component of U.S. 8th AF tactics. Then you've got enough escorts to form a protect cloud around the bombers. Me-110 would be good enough for this mission during 1940 but you've got to have several times the historical quantity available (i.e. night fighters, CAS aircraft and recon aircraft aren't available for bomber escort).
     
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The Luftwaffe did exactly that, in the early to mid stage of the BoB, sending friejagd sweeps ahead of the bombers, to draw up the RAF.
    Park recognised the tactic for what it was and, in the main, ignored these forays.
    The Luftwaffe also employed a unit which could be viewed as the forerunner to all of today's use of precision strike on key tactical targets - Erprobungsgruppe 210.
    This unit employed Bf110 and Bf109 aircraft, both in bomb-carrying and fighter roles, attacking airfields and aircraft production.
     
  4. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    It seems to me that a drop tank would not dramatically increase the 109 range for BoB purposes, given that they would have to drop it before engage.
     
  5. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    If you can use the drop tank to take off, climb to altitude, and fly to the engagement area, then you've almost doubled the range. How could that not be considered dramatic.
     
  6. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    Drop tank fuel was used first (fuel was taken from main tank but re-fed from drop tank) and should be almost empty upon first enemy contact.
     
  7. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    there were a lot of things that "could have been done" like drop tanks, staging, etc. but its the same old story that the people with the authority to make it happen decided at that point in time those items werent needed. like escorts for bombers and on and on....
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Helpful and worth having. However it's no substitute for the 269 gallons of internal fuel carried by P-51D or 1,270 liters of internal fuel carried by Me-110C.
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    In other words a Mustang had almost as much internal fuel for 1 engine (1016 liters) as the Me110C had for two .
     
  10. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    The other issue is with numbers. The UK produced more aircraft in 1940/41 than Germany. Even with better tactics... would the Luftwaffe be able to gain air superiority?
     
  11. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    It's not just about aircraft production, but about pilots.

    If an RAF pilot was shot down and managed to bail out he landed on friendly soil. If a Luftwaffe pilot bailed out he would land on enemy soil, would be captured and interned.

    Then it is a question of the numbers of pilots coming through training. Of course newbies aren't very good replacements for aircrew.
     
  12. dobbie

    dobbie Member

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    Good answers all and thank you. I was under the mistaken impression that the ME was used only as an escort fighter, and had the same problem the allies had-the necessary constant weaving in order to stay with the formation. I thought maybe a small drop tank would have helped them in a pure fighter sweep as the ME could go at a more economical pace for its airframe and penetrate farther into the UK. It wouldn't need the fuel capacity built into the Mustang because their fighters weren't flying from Berlin, but eastern France. I know its a what if thread, but it does amaze me that the LW high command decided to cease attacks on the radar sites. Good thing the RAF was not blinded in that way-could have been a lot rougher if that had happened.
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The Luftwaffe's best option was to continue attacking airfields and to carry out better post-raid recon and if it was going to attack industrial targets to do it at night, when resistance was far less.
     
  14. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Drop tanks would have benefitted both sides, allowing the RAF to put up large high alt standing patrols instead of having to wait for a raid to be detected then climb like hell,
    Baders big wing would have been far more effective if they could have taken off earlier and formed up, the RAF had fuel consumption issues too!
     
  15. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    The RAF had one sector station put out of action, that was Manston, and that was for three hours, the attacks on the airfields were getting nowhere in reality, the RAF was dispersing to satellite fields and still had the option of moving back from the coast.
     
  16. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I think the big thing here is the the Luftwaffe was conceived as a sort of airborne artillery, intended to operate in conjunction with ground forces and not as an independent force. The experience in continental Europe reinforced the validity of the concept, but when tasked with the job of eliminating the RAF over Britain and inflicting terminal damage via strategic bombing, the LW came up short. The short-ranged 109, which dominated the outmoded fighters in met in Europe, had to deal with Spitfires and Hurricanes over the UK then beat the channel on the way back. The 110 had the range but previous experience gave no indication of how vulnerable it would be facing modern single engine fighters. The German bombers which previously terrorised opponents while enjoying the air superiority lacked the defensive firepower or bomb load to deal a finishing blow to Britain. At the end of the day, the Luftwaffe overreached.
     
  17. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that in fact it was conceived as an independent air force, which is why it was founded as an independent service rather than remain part of the Heer. If it were only to be 'the army's handmaiden' then it would not have been founded as an independent service in 1935. In fact the army support role was only even broached based on experiences in the Spanish Civil War; even by 1940 there was only a single air corps that was considered an army support force.
    I suggest you read this book to understand more of what the conceptions behind the Luftwaffe were:
    BARNES NOBLE | Luftwaffe: Creating the Operational Air War, 1918-1940 / Edition 1 by James S. Corum | Paperback
     
  18. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The Luftwaffe (in the BoB) spent a lot of time and effort photographing, and then bombing, the wrong airfields.
    Had their Intelligence been better ( double-agents in the UK and elsewhere, some imaginary, notwithstanding!), and attacks concentrated on key airfields, and in particular the early warning and communications network, for longer, and continuously, then the tactics I described earlier, employed to 'tie up' the defence might have allowed units such as EpGp 210, and the specialised KG76 to make a significant difference.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Dave, define "protective cloud" for a 100 mile long bomber stream, each wing separated by 2-5 miles?

    There weren't 'several hundred' high endurance fighters escorting 8th AF until May 1944 when the 8FC crossed over 300 P-51/P-38 sorties per mission.

    IMO the LW should have stuck with sweeps, and run the same relay system as US. I'm also of the opinion that they should have run night intruder missions with 110's each day to attack RAF fields prior to the missions.
     
  20. dobbie

    dobbie Member

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    I often thought that the switch to bombing the cities to bring fear into the civilian population was a bad idea, especially when you have a good fighter defense coming up to greet you on every sortie. Bombing the airfields is problematic when said field is grass and easily/quickly repaired. As I see it, the only way for Germany to really hurt the RAF was somehow to catch their forces on the ground. Tough thing to accomplish against radar.
     
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