RAF after BoB: mid-term strategy, tactics technology?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    A discussion about what the RAF should have pursued after th BoB. Eg. what at is the best way to hit Axis, how to prepare best for very possible LW atacks in next year, what about N. Africa and Malta, what to do once Japan takes the French Indochina? Once Germany turns East, how to capitalize on that? How to best help SU from 1941 on?
    Tecnology hardware - maybe a bit more emphasis on a 'gunless' bomber? When is a good time for a long range fighter? What to ask/buy/demand from Commonwealth and the USA? About what to insist on airframe and engine makers? What about 'problematic' stuff, like Whirlwind/Peregrine, Typhoon/Sabre, Manchester/Vulture? What would be the best upgrades for the Spitfire and Mosquito, not just performance-wise, but also production-wise?

    The tread should cover the time until 1944 stars.
     
  2. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I would think more advanced high speed bombers should have been persued.

    Aircraft such as the Hawker P.1005/B.11/41.

    Data sheet for the B.11/41 says bomb load of 4000lb comprised of 4 x 100lb, 2 x 2000lb (not that the RAF used 2000lb bombs) or 1 x 4000lb. Max speed 400mph @ 25,000ft (down from Hawker's estimate of 430mph).

    I think the RAF were pushing for higher performance fighters - the Spitfire received upgrades and improvements, the Typhoon was being developed.

    I don't think long range escort fighters was a high priority.
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Hmmmm, get popcorn or participate :)

    With perfect use of the trusty 'retrospectroscope' :

    Toss the Sabre engine in the junk bin and replace the Typhoon with a proper Whirlwind. Peregrines staying in modified form :)
    Taurus engine follows two minutes later. Buy all the R-1830s you can get your hands on. :)
    Unfortunately you are stuck with just about all the existing airframes as two years is the about the minimum to go from idea to flying prototypes and another year to get to around 500 service aircraft. No waving the magic wand about and having 4 engine 380mph 'gunless' bombers in 1942. British usually took even longer to go from paper to service use.

    More emphasis on navigation, especially at night, would bring much better bombing results sooner.

    A shift in the whole "fighter-sweep circus/rodeo thing". You have to put enough bombers in the mix to make the threat creditable (4-6 Blenheims escorted by 40-60 Spitfires is NOT going to lure the Luftwaffe up to play) and you have to pick targets the Germans actually care about. Most French targets being considered somewhat expendable by the Germans.
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of the early British twin engine aircraft were not really "twin" engine aircraft but more like 'engine and half' aircraft, much like early P-38s. Generators and hydraulic pumps were only on one engine so loosing the engine with the accessories far from home often meant the loss of the aircraft even if the 'bare' engine kept running. A lot of early British twins also did NOT have fully feathering props or even constant speed props which means in an engine out situation even with the prop set to coarse there was an awful lot of drag form the dead engine windmilling. Considering than most early war British twins didn't have a whole lot of power to begin with this was a real problem.
    Was the Lockheed Hudson called 'old Boomerang' because it was really so tough or because it had a better power to weight ratio and fully feathering props that allowed for a much better number of one engine returns?

    Perhaps something could be done about that god awful turret used on the Manchester, Hudson and others?
    Avro_Manchester.jpg
    48.jpg

    we can debate if the idea of an armed bomber was a good one or not but an armed bomber does NOT need turrets that can double as forest fire look out towers. :)
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The turret from Defiant was a far better job, it is only a question whether it can be produced in quantities needed. Of course, a gun-less bomber can do without it :)
    Good call about navigation training and better baits for the LW.

    Isn't the solution for the Sabre's issues to use sleeves as the ones from Taurus - maybe RAF/AM can be more persuasive with Bristol, so we can have the Sabre working in good order a bit earlier (6 months?)? Did the Whilry/(updated)Peregrine combo have had the potential to go 400+ mph? Maybe the Welkin, with the wings in a more conventional form would be well able to hit hard german 400+ mph opposition?

    What about the Spitfire III?
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Taurus sleeve 'blanks' showed Napair the way to make an engine last more than 20 hours. Napair still needed to make their own (and needed grinders from America to do it) and that was far from the end of the Sabre's troubles. I believe but am open to correction that the Sabre wasn't really a satisfactory power plant until some time in 1943?

    Even if the "new" Peregrine never goes past Merlin XX development and 12lb of boost that gives you 1014hp per engine for take-off (instead of 775) and increases the FTH by about 3500-4000ft incuding RAM for around 885hp per engine, 965hp or so at 11,500ft (No ram) isn't to shabby either.
    Please remember that the first 1200 Typhoons had Sabre II engines limited to 3700rpm and 7lb boost, after that came the Sabre IIa with 9lbs boost starting April of 1943 and the Sabre IIb with 3850rpm and 11lbs boost doesn't show up until late 1944 although many earlier planes got them as replacement engines. 4 bladed props don't show up until after 1800-2000 planes have been built? It also took about 9-10 months to deliver the first 250 Typhoons. The Whirlwind might never fully equal a Typhoon (especially a late one) but might be available 6-12 months sooner?
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The thing is you can't make ALL your bombers gun less. Blenheims, Hudsons, Stirlings, Hastings could all benefit from a lower drag dorsal turret and the ONLY way they are going to outrun German fighters even if you take the guns out is to use rocket engines :)
    Waiting for a "new" gun less bomber to help the Mosquito means no bombing offensive until late 1943 or 1944. You can't take an exiting airframe and rip out the turrets and fair over the openings. You NEED the smaller fuselage and smaller wing that come with lighting the plane up by thousands of pounds to make the idea work. And no, just clipping the last 10ft or so off the wing span isn't going to work well either (if it did the Sterling wouldn't have been such a dud).

    A bigger gunless bomber than the Mosquito might have worked fairly well, you just have had to start it in the summer/fall of 1938 and not in the fall of 1940.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Yes and I think late 1943 is optimistic. Look at the state of Bomber Command as Harris took over. The figures available to him, as recorded in the Air Ministry war room on 1st March (1942) were 221 Wellingtons, 112 Hampdens, 54 Whitleys, 29 Stirlings, 29 Halifaxes, 20 Manchesters and just 4 Lancasters. In addition there were day bombers available comprising 56 Blenheims and 22 Bostons.

    The constant drain of squadrons to Coastal Command, a trend which some would like to have been even greater, and the losses of 1941 had prevented any kind of build up. The fact that within four months Bomber Command was launching the 'thousand raids' speaks volumes for Harris, given the deafening and somewhat justified din from his later detractors. Mind you the thousand raids operated a pathetic mixture of aircraft, even some dragged in from other commands.

    For example Bomber Command sent to Bremen 472 Wellingtons, 124 Halifaxes, 96 Lancasters, 69 Stirlings, 51 Blenheims, 50 Hampdens, 50 Whitleys, 24 Bostons, 20 Manchesters and 4 Mosquitos. Another 102 Hudsons and Wellingtons went from Coastal Command and even a handful of Blenheims from Army Cooperation Command were despatched.

    Talk about 'sound and fury signifying nothing'. The man in charge of Bremen's air raid precautions estimated that the city was attacked by 80 aircraft!

    There were far more fundamental problems than stripping turrets out of bombers to be addressed.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, I have brought this up many times before;

    Lancastrian
    lancastrian-1.jpg

    Handly Page Halton
    20.jpg

    The Lancastrian was about as streamline as it got for stripped/faired 4 engine bomber and it picked maybe 20mph over a normal Lancaster at the same weight.

    You can forget trying to streamline/fair over the Beaufort, Hampden and Wellington and getting enough performance to do anything. The Handley Page "fast bomber" exists as concept drawing/s and preliminary engineering study, it didn't make to mock up stage so you would be starting from almost Zero. As a cautionary tale one can look at the Bristol Beaumont/Buckingham, Form wiki:

    "Air Ministry specification B.7/40 called for a medium bomber to replace the Blenheim. The specification stipulated a speed of at least 300 mph with a normal load of 1,000 lb of bombs and a turret armed with at least two machine guns of 0.50 inch calibre. Only one manufacturer tendered a full design, but it did not meet with approval.[2] Bristol then brought their Type 162 to the Air Staff, which was fortunately well matched to B.7/40 and which led to a request for a completed mock-up and then a contract for three prototypes in late 1940"

    "Construction began in late 1940, with a new Air Ministry Specification B.2/41 to be written around it. However changes in the requirements - removing dive bombing and "direct army support" which incoming US bombers were expected to be capable of - and increasing the performance requirement to allow for the future meant the Beaumont would no longer suffice. The changes in performance (requiring a bomb load of 4,000 lb, a speed of 360 mph and a range of 1,600 miles) meant a redesign by Bristol to use the Bristol Centaurus engine"

    "The first flight took place on 4 February 1943"

    "By the time the design entered production, the requirements had already changed, with attacks against German industry being covered by the US by day and by RAF Bomber Command's de Havilland Mosquitos by night. The Buckingham was not considered suitable for unescorted daytime use over Europe, and in January 1944, it was decided that all Buckinghams would be sent overseas to replace Vickers Wellingtons"

    and then they discovered handling problems that caused the program to be canceled in Aug 1944: 119 were built to keep the Bristol work force together.

    Now perhaps you can speed things up a bit but most anything you start in late 1940 WILL NOT be available in enough numbers to make a difference in 1943.
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks for the feedback :)

    It would be then prudent to ramp up Mossie production, both in the UK, but also in Canada and Australia? Would the engine production be capable enough to suffice for the greater/earlier quantity of Mosquitoes? Any other engines for it, at least for low-level and day fighter-bomber versions?

    Again:

     
  11. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that much could be done on the equipment side. The Spit was being developed as fast as it could, the four engine bombers were also being developed as fast as possible. The Typhoon was going through its growing pains and from 1944 proved its worth. A long rang fighter is the only obvious defect but the RAF didn't need a long range fighter as its heavies were night bombers.

    Persona;;s the only real difference I would make is the deployment getting the Spit units overseas in the middle and Far east during 1942 instead of trying to attack the continent. Tactics should also have been more widely developed with best practice being forced on those areas that refused to use them.

    Development was wasted on a number of aircraft Bisley, Botha, Sterling and this should have been diverted into a long range AS aircraft capable of covering the mid atlantic. Shorts had the experience and given free reign by the RAF could have achieved this.

    On long term research Whittle should have been given the research facilities he wanted and the development on an aircraft to make the best use of his jet engines instigated. Everyone talks about the Me262 in late 1943, the UK could easily have got the Meteor in late 1943 and the impact would have been huge.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Re. Typhoon/Sabre: Hawker, Gloster and Napier are needed for the war effort. Napier has only Sabre to offer, out of the engines that can really be useful. Or maybe they can produce Merlins under license? The days of the Hurricane are numbered, once BoB is over it can receive Merlin XII/45/30 'stead of Merlin XX (that would go to Spitfire instead)? So Hawker and Gloster either produce Typhoon, or Spitfire under license?

    Good call on greater efforts for the anti-sub work. The long range aircraft don't need the cutting edge technology, when it comes down to the engines aerodynamics, but themselves are crucial for the UK/Allied war effort.

    The Spitfire could use some subtle improvements, like 2x6 exhausts (gives 6 mph, according to tests, instead of 2 x 3), a bit more fuel (a tank under pilot, like the early PR versions, increase of main tanks to up to 96 imp gals; later, with more engine power and heavier engines, the rear tank of maybe 30 gals) - the extra fuel tankage would be necessary for overseas Spitfires (Africa, Malta, Australia), but it would also make them more useful for over the Chanel operations. The earlier introduction of pressure injection carbs might also help a bit (8-10 mph extra). How about a longer intake tube, for better use of ram effect? Hopefully the performance advantage the Fw-190 and Bf-109F-4 held would be cut in half with such improvements for the 'Spitfire V'?
    For 1942 and further, the 2-stage Merlin is a given, we might also consider the fully-covered undercarriage to cut the drag a bit.
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You are out of British engines, A Pegasus powered Mosquito? Late 40/early 41 sees the Hercules just starting to trickle off the production lines, the reason for Merlin powered Beaufighters and Wellingtons.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Well, if you can't stop/ditch the most expensive/troublesome engine and build something else it doesn't leave much wiggle room in the "what if" :)

    Depends on the year, 1940 being a bit tough to bridge the entire Atlantic gap. However even planes that could patrol 200 miles further from base can give about an extra 24 hours steaming for an 8 knot convoy on each end of the trip. Waiting for the best makes for a much rougher first few years.

    The leading edge tanks seemed to work pretty well although made fuel management a bit complicated, why does everybody want to forget about them and jump to the rear fuselage tanks? The leading edge tanks don't have any funny handling problems, They also found room for a few extra gallons in the main tank/s.
     
  15. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    A Twin Wasp powered Mosquito? V-1710 powered version? Both for the overseas production, of course. The Hercules aboard Mosquito should make a better/more useful A/C than a Beaufighter. Of course, the Merlin looks like tailor made for the needs of the Mossie.

    It was also most powerful the British had - a more reliable Sabre should make the life for the Fw-190 problematic, at least under 15000 ft. Historically, the Fw-190 threat was the raison d'etre for the Typhoon/Sabre for quite a time.

    +1 on that.

    I certainly don't wan't to forget about the LE tanks. However, both the under-seat and rear fuselage tanks were in use before the LE tanks. They would require a minor change in airframe, compared with LE tanks.
    Once there is enough of breathing space in production lines, the LE tanks (maybe made install an L-shaped tank to fit under behind the pilot, to?) should be installed, by all means. All together 150-160 imp gals for the 'new Spitfire VIII'?
    The (front) fuselage tank(s) were increased to 96 imp gals for the Spit VII, in late 1944 also the Spitfire IXs received the modification.
     
  16. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Oh the RAF after the BoB was a litany of strategic and tactical disasters. In fact it is hard to work out something they did right until they were finally forced to.

    Ok lets look at the British overall strategy, what did they have to do:
    (1) Win the Battle of the Atlantic, this is the #1 priority.
    (2) Win in North Africa, which also means holding Malta and having it as a viable 'aircraft carrier' for German/Italian convoys attacks at all costs.

    Everything else should have been secondary to that.

    For #1 this meant:
    (1)Coastal Command (CC)must get the LR bombers first, BC should not have got a single Stirling, Halifax , Lanc or B-24 until CC is fully supplied.. CC must get the latest and best ASX, radar first (not a single BC plane should have got H2S until every CC plane had it first).

    The U-Boat pens in south eastern France should never have been allowed to be built. That should have been BC’s #1 target and not allowed to hit anything else until the Germans gave up trying to build them.

    For #2:
    Spitfires should have been sent in large numbers in early ’41 to NA and Malta. That was the key battlefield, not useless ‘leaning towards then enemy’ nonsense in France that cost so may RAF pilots their lives and achieved precisely nothing. The lack of competitive fighters in NA/Malta also killed a lot of RAF fighter pilots. So it was a ‘double stupidity’.

    Technology: There was nothing wrong and, with one exception, little to improve in the RAF’s stuff. It was the use that was wrong.

    The exception was a MR/LR Spitfire. That should have been a #1 priority. Technically there were few challenges, rather doctrine was the issue (Portal fought against a LR fighter from the moment he became C&C and only shut up when the Mustang came into service).

    That would have enabled BC to attack in daylight the previously mentioned U-Boat pens, enabling round the clock bombing which would have prevented the Germans building them. Once they had been built they were invulnerable until the Tallboy came along.

    After and only after, that was achieved then BC could have started key daylight raids (with nuisance night raids) that would have started to hurt Germany, but more importantly started hammering and degrading the Luftwaffe far earlier than actually happened.

    Misc improvements: More Mossies of course, with production being diverted from other areas. The Sunderland should have had total priority over the Stirling.. Etc, etc, etc.

    The RAF top brass (as did the USAAF) lived in a fantasy land of their own making, in that they thought ‘they could win the war’ by themselves, with no reference to any overall strategy or needs….or reality (not sure where BC thought its fuel was going to come from if the U-Boats won).

    For examples of the ga-ga land they lived in: It took President Roosevelt’s personal intervention to get more VLR B-24s to be allocated to Iceland. It took Churchill’s personal intervention to get Spits to North Africa (when the UK had 75 squadrons of them, 25 more than for the BoB)….

    The RAF high command were the equivalent of the WW1 ‘Colonel Blimps’… R.V. Jones tells in his book how he tried to get a single Mossie allocated to the job of determining the German nightfighter radar frequencies. And of the meeting where the senior BBC officer just wanted to talk about model trains.....In the end, because the need was so pressing and no Mossie was allocated, they used a Wellington, which did it but got totally shot up doing so.

    Woeful.
     
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  17. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    For 1941 to 44 you have to run with what you have.

    You need no more engines than the Merlin except for the FAAs Griffons and Bristol who are already gearing up. Abandon the rest and leave development to the Merlin and jets.

    You have the Spitfire that works and will keep on working. Swap all other single seater production to Spitfires over time. Get residual Hurricanes to the Far East and Spitfires to the Middle East.

    Back the Mosquito but you are committed to heavy bombers but you don't know which will be the best out of the Halifax and Manchester/Lancaster. Pick the easiest to make and run with that one phasing out the others.

    Coastal command can take the residual production of the other types until production of the chosen type can be diverted to them.

    Your principal weapon is your heavy bombers supplemented by fast daylight Mosquitos. You have to invest in navigator training, navigation aids, pathfinder marking and master bomber control far earlier than IOTL and hugely increase the forces effectiveness. Now if we take the Lancastrian as a model streamlined unarmed heavy bomber with an 8 percent increase in cruising speed then, crudely, for the same bombload it can spend 8 percent less time in danger, fly higher without turret crew weights Also being that bit more difficult to intercept with the speed increase in itself. Combined it will reduce the losses allowing the force to grow faster as less production goes to replace losses. The increased numbers are opposed by the same numbers of night fighters as IOTL so a smaller proportion are intercepted. Combine this with a decision to risk UK security by diverting more RAF night fighters to intercept duties over Germany. What must be fought is Bomber Commands instinct to react to any performance increase by raising the bomb load. The end result of all of this is a larger bomber force, able to hit it's targets almost at will and with a proportionately smaller opposing Luftwaffe night fighter force subject to increased losses from RAF nightfighters. A virtuous circle.
     
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  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Once again it was use and not so much technology ( although pulling turrets and adding sheet metal isn't very sophisticated technology). The big bombers were NOT even flying at max lean cruise to and from their targets. Now it might not have been possible to reach ALL targets flying at max lean cruise but it sure would have helped survival rates for a lot of western German targets. Although at perhaps a trade off between bomb load and fuel load.
     
  19. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Stripping down the Lanc and getting another 50mph out of it would have given the German nightfighters a much harder job. Their pursuit curve would have been much harder and they would have had to have ran at full(er) throttle for far longer periods, thus reducing their loiter time and forcing them back to the ground. This is particularly so for the Me-110s which were the backbone of the German NFs.

    To achieve maximum effectiveness the German NFs ran at economical cruising as much as they could to enable them to hit multiple targets. Even a short time at max power to catch a faster bomber would have crippled that. Instead of being able to attack 3 or 4 or 5 bombers in a night they would have been forced down to 1 or 2. It would have slashed the BC loss rates.
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    After the BoB the RAF was faced with two very difficult problems....how to keep the skies and seas around Britain safe, and how to prosecute an offensive war against Germany. after the withdrawal of most of the LW from western Europe the duality of the problem remained, but solutions could be sought almost entirely by offensive action. hence the combined day and night offensives. The fighter sweeps and small scale day operations were hampered by a lack of range, and the exceptional quality of the opposition facing the RAF. The LW could, and did pick and choose the fights they wanted to fight, and consequently the loss rates were heavily one sided. I still believe that despite the carnage, it was a necessary price the RAF had to pay. A better outcome would have been achieved with more bombers and longer ranged fighters. There was not a lot wrong with the equipment per se once the shooting started, but the dribbling numbers of bombers never worried the LW, and the short range of the fighters over complicated the battle problems facing the RAF and meant they could never achieve any real decisive outcome in their daylight operations

    The bombing offensive over Germany was necessarily a night offensive, but the numbers available and the losses suffered, and even more importantly the inability to hit much accuracy wise made it frustrating exercise. What do you do. The need to maintain the pressure on the germans whilst your last remaining ally on the continent is taking a massive beating is palpable, and cannot be overstated, but the means at your disposal makes it a rather pointless exercise. You are not going to achieve much, but you need to keep doing something. I think the best option was to try and minimise losses whilst still continuing to act offensively, until technology and industry offered better chances for some result. I would have made mosquito production a priority, which was possible, and continued to send small numbers over Germany on point attacks, day and night, until the heavies were more meaningful. Not expecting much to happen, but keeping the pressure on the Germans, whilst decreasing own losses has to be a worthwhile objective.
     
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