US Perspective on the BOB

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Glider, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Some time ago I posted the Japanese perspective of the BOB but was unable to include the US view as the book Burning Blue was chucked by accident. I now have a second copy and can complete this outstanding task.

    The posting will concentrate on the main review team that was sent to the UK It consisted of four experts.
    1) Colonel Spaatz later commander of US Strategic Bombing in Europe.
    2) Lt Colonel Hunter, later head of 8th Fighter Command
    3) Major Kenney, later MacArthers air chief
    4) Captain Kelsey, later a specialist in maintenance engineering management

    Its interesting that these four had at this time low ranks but were experts in all the main areas

    Kelsey had to leave fairly quickly but the others were given every assistance to see what they wanted and when they wanted. Nothing was kept from them. They soon made some interesting observations:-

    In July 1940 Spaatz wrote to Arnold describing the German bombing as lousy
    'Juicy targets are available all over the islands and planes regulary make their apperance usually at nightbut the damage done scarcely warrants the effort. Whether they are holding back their mass of well trained crews for an ariel blitzkrieg or wether they have no well trained crews in not apparent. However I am beginning to believe that the German Air Force was too hastily constructed and is beginning to be mastered by the smaller but much better trained (apparently at least) RAF.
    The fights over the English Channel during the past few weeks indicate that the smaller numbers of british fighters inflict serious losses on the German bombers protected by Me109 and Me 110's the later in most cases outnumbering the british fighters brought into action.

    In this letter Spaatz concluded by saying that unless the Germans attempt to take England in August, he believed that it would have to be postponed indefinately. German losses in daylight raids would be huge but accuracy in night raids would be low.

    He commented favourably on the night bomber ops of the Wellington and relayed reports from Hunter saying that something bigger than the 303 was needed reccomending that 8 x 0.5 would be best.

    As you might expect the team flew all the RAF fighters, reporting well on the Hurricane and the Spitfire, but not well on the Defiant. Hunter flew a Spitfire and was very impressed noting that the controls were superior to any fighter that he had ever flown, also that the stick forces were light and the aeroplane responded snappily to any change of controls.

    Some interesting observations were made on the German raids in particular if you remember his role in the USAAF later in the war.

    1) A well dispersed airforce is a most difficult target to destroy on the ground
    2) Large formations of bombers escorted by fighters are very unwieldy
    3) The fighters do not insure immunity from attack by hostile fighters
    4) I have gathered the distinct impression that dive bombers are only useful against a force which has no fighter protection and no AA defense to speak of.
    5) The importance of firepower cannot be over estimated
    6) The blitzkrieg for this season will probably be spent by the middle of September

    By the time he left the UK in mid September he believed that the British had developed real air power whereas the Germans had developed a mass of airpowergeared to the army.

    On the 1st October another US contingent arrived headed by Major General Chaney. He concluded that the Germans had been defeated in day fighting and been forced to indiscriminate night fighting. The importance of the Radar and ground observer corp was noted. He also commented on the close co operation of the AA Command and the value of barrage ballons.
    A captured 109 was closely inspected and he commented that the Me109 as a design had reached its peak of development. He also commented that the Me110 was by far the most formidable and outstanding of the German planes that had been used in number to date. The Ju87 was described as being obsolete in so many ways and was far more impressed by the Ju88
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    What is interesting is that Spaatz continued to believe that daylight strategic bombing could be prosecuted efficiently without escort fighters when German formations were decimated With excort fighters.

    Ditto Monk Hunter - when leading 8th FC, kept the fighters tethered to the bombers for the most part. Kepner/Doolittle and Spaatz deomonstrated adaptability when the 8th changed the doctrine to 'Destroy the Luftwaffe' and set the 8th AF fighters on much longer leash.
     
  3. TheMustangRider

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    From what I've read, the immediate conclusion to which Col. Spaatz came after the BoB was that a daylight bombing force would have to operate a greater altitude than previously anticipated due to the efficiency showed by AAA fire.
    I find it interesting as well how the important lesson about an appropriate usage of escort fighters was not learned after the Battle of Britain outcome.
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps it was thought that by going to the next generation of bomber defense (.50 cal guns in power turrets instead of single, hand held .30 cal guns) that the equation would change. Unfortunately the fighters attack capability did not remain static.
     
  5. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    very perceptive.
     
  6. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    Well, rather some hits and some misses. Nothing extraordinary.
     
  7. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    i dont think we are going to find any earth shattering revelations at this stage of the game. its the preceptions of those viewing that is interesting. some saw it keenly some looked through rose colored military goggles....others didnt learn anything at all.
     
  8. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Yes Booby and I would also add that the those with the most to gain (or loose) are likely to have a strong opinion on this pivotal event.
    John
     
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