Small airforces going to war: what would you do.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Marcel, May 8, 2009.

  1. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Imagine you're in charge of defence in one of the smaller countries, just before the start of WWII. It's 1936. What would your policy be to build an airforce for Denmark/The Netherlands/Belgium (pick your favorite). What equipment (aircraft etc.) would you buy?

    Keep in mind that:
    1. you are neutral
    2. therefore some equipment are under embargo and thus out of your reach
    3. you don't know who your enemy will be
    4. you have just a limited amount of money to spend
    5. you have to keep your economy up and running
    6. an airforce not only does air defence, but also ground support
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Make friends with a big neighbor with a big air force.
     
  3. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Like Romania and Hungarian did????
     
  4. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    not so simple, Baltic countries agreed after hard Soviet, which had very big AF, pressure to give to it AF bases on their soils. Stalin also gave his "Bolsevic's word of honour" that Soviet Union had not any other demands on them but in the end all Baltic states ended up being part of SU, tens of thousends Balts found themself in Siberia and few tens of thousends others were excecuted in early 40s, more died latter. Finns on the other hand rejected the Soviet demands even if SU was the only neighbour with large AF and were attacked. But in the end we remained independed and our personal losses when compared to population were smaller, even if we lost nearly 100 000 killed (98% of them soldiers) out of population of 3½ million, than those of Estonia.

    Juha
     
  5. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Was thinking more along the lines of Canada or Mexico. Or, more like the Netherlands or Belgium could have with France.

    But, your perspective depends on your geography. Finland had the Soviets on one side and the Germans to the South. Not exactly a happy accident of geography. In that case, making friends with somebody bigger was not an option.

    Point made.
     
  6. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Finland's geographical position wasn't the worst one, look Poland for ex., now they were in really difficult position.

    Juha
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Marcel A fast answer
    take a careful look around
    buy in 1938 P-36s/Hawk-75As, as many as one can and some Curtiss Wright CW-21s as interceptors.
    buy 15 Blenheims or Marylands or if already available DB-7s as light bombers but mostly as LR recce a/c.
    buy 30 best dive bomber type available or 20 best night bomber type available.

    And lot of 40mm Bofors and 20mm guns and Vickers new 75/76,2 mm heavy AA guns with enough predictors.

    Juha
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The money spent for the heavy (7cm and bigger) AAA should've gone for the fighter arm. In my not-so-humble opinion.
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello TP
    now according the Finnish experience during the wars, heavy AA wasn't useless. Also it was the only realistic answer to night bombing in 39-40 period and even after that a while only realistic answer for small nations, AI radars were so secret. And I'm thinking on a large country like Finland, fighters could not be everywhere if they were not ineffectively dispersed in "penny-packets" around the country.

    Vickers gun was good but not best but being rejected by British Army it was free for abroad sells. Same to predictors, they were the best Finnish have before we got 88s and its predictors.

    Juha
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I think I would go with Fokker D.XXIss G.1's
     
  11. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Problem with this scenario is that in the event of war you're screwed nomatter what, Denmark, Holland Belgium simply don't have the manpower to hold on for themselves, they need big allies.
     
  12. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    So if Norway invaded Denmark, Denmark could only win if they had big allies?????
     
  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I think that's in reference to a large belligerant attacking it's smaller neighbor.

    A war between Norway and Denmark would be on a much leveller playing field than it was when Germany came knocking on Norway and Denmark's door. Had Sweden teamed up with Norway and backed Denmark when Germany invaded, then that invasion may have turned out a little bit differently than it did.
     
  14. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    True, it would have been better. But remember the time, the countries didn't want to get involved and believed they could stay out of it. Allying with one of the parties was the surest way to get into the war. Anyway, this would have been a political descision, while I would prefer this debate more technical. But it was a good point.

    Good ideas, the fighters have the same engine, thus making it more easy on you mechanics. Why a night bomber? I think strategic bombing would be a waste of time and resources for a country like this.

    AAA guns are cheaper than aircraft, they are also less vulnerable. Aircraft need airfields which are also very vulnerable. AAA guns were quite effective. The Germans lost about 450 aircraft over the Netherlands in 1940, around 50 of them to Dutch fighters, the most of rest to Dutch AAA guns.

    Like the Dutch did. But these aircraft were rather slow and with the D.XXI under-armed. The G.1 was by no means cheap. But it was a multi-role and in that view, it could have been much more cost effective.

    Very true. So your tactic would have been to hold out as long as you can, beeing a pain in the a.. for the attacker, until "the others" will come and rescue you.
     
  15. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Norway invading Denmark ? Are you serious or is this a joke ?
     
  16. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Finns did it during Winter War 1939-40, fighting alone against a superpower of the time.

    Marcel
    As I wrote dive bomber was the first choise, for those seduced by douhetism night bombing was only realistic alternative. Also with night bombers it would be possible to attack enemy airfields and big troop concentrations with good bombloads. And a large power tended to have large troop consentrations.

    Juha
     
  17. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Yeah, well if it was Germany who came knocking on my door then I'd probably just capitulate straight away, just like Denmark did. That was and would be the wisest choice by far. Had Denmark chosen to resist in 1940 then it would've been a slaughter of Danish military personnel. I mean look at what happened to Poland France, and they even had some decent equipment and soldiers, yet the Germans just steamrolled them.

    So although one certainly could start digging trenches and try to defend ones turf, it wouldn't have resulted in anything good against an enemy so large and well equipped. All you'll achieve then would just be having a lot of countrymen die for nothing. Better then to preserve your country and wait for your bigbrother to come rescue you.

    I know it's sad but, smaller countries are generally just at the mercy of the superpowers they lie close to.

    Yeah, it sucks being the little guy :D
     
  18. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    As for the Finns, well their military was well equipped in many areas and very well adapted for fighting in its own terrain. The Finns were however lucky that their terrain was perfect for defense and that the Soviet forces by that time were pretty much just a bunch of leaderless amateurs.

    So the Finns are quite unique in this comparison by being the only ones able to effectively defend themselves. Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland and such countries, well they're pretty much helpless in this point of time. France could've holded on for longer though, it had the manpower equipment to do so.
     
  19. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    In fact Norway, if it had been a bit better prepared and if they also had had the same desperate will of fight as the Finns had, would have had reasonable chances, at least in short terms. Denmark's position was hopeless, I agree. Switzerland because of its terrain and armed forces could stay out of war, their AF even won the skirmishes with LW Bf 110s in June 40.

    On Soviet army, that same army stopped Wehrmacht a bit under 1 year 9months after the end of Winter War. So IMHO you underestimated Soviet Army.

    And if one looks the number and quality of Finnish arty and how low its ammo supply was, or if one recall that Finns had only c. 100 A/T guns and some 5000 A/T mines when the war broke out and Soviet attacking force had in the beginning some 2000 tanks and at the end over 5000 tanks committed, I would not say that we were well prepared in key areas. Also Finland had 38 heavy AA guns, 64 40mm and 34 20mm AAA guns at the beginning of the war.

    We had good tactics, well adapted to our enviroment and part of the army was fairly well trained.

    Juha
     
  20. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    You didn't really know that in 1936, did you? Nobody expected that.
    But not fighting is also an option of course. It saves you a lot of money and lives. Still you'll need an airforce. These countries were not planning for war, but for defending their neutrality. You'll need an airforce to intercept intruders, violating your airspace. You also need a certain amount of deterrence, so other countries will know that if they violate your neutrality, it'll come with a cost.

    The Dutch put up a fight for 5 days, with mainly very old-fashioned weapons, killing 3000 Dutch soldiers and many civilians. What did they gain by this? The Germans lost more than 450 aircraft, a considerable loss. Further more it earned them a place among the allies, which was a great benefit for the Dutch in years to come. Same counts for the Belgians.
     
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