US US Navy/Marine aircraft carrier ops in the ETO and/or MTO?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Should there have been an increased emphasis on US Navy/Marine aircraft carrier ops in the ETO and/or MTO?
    What may have been the pros cons?
     
  2. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #2 renrich, Nov 11, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
    There was a plan to send USN CVEs in close in the North Sea to launch Marine Corsairs to try and take out the Buzz Bomb and maybe V2 launching sites. It was cancelled.

    PS, if memory serves it was cancelled because the top commanders, I think Marshall, did not want to allow the US Marines to gain any publicity in the ETO.
     
  3. Rivet

    Rivet Member

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    One aircraft carrier, a BB, the Washington and several cruisers were poised along the Russian convoy routes in order to counter the expected appearance of the Tirpitz. She never showed, the majority of the campaign was conducted by the U-Booten and the Luftwaffe.

    The Marines, being the amphibious force it always was, was committed to the reconquest of the Pacific. Not much work along its lines in Europe, the major point being to land an army and march inland. The First World War saw Marines covering whole sections of the line. regards
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #4 nuuumannn, Nov 12, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011
    An interesting proposition, gjs238. It probably would have made a difference in terms of hardware available to counter the Germans/Italians, but from 1942 on, the Axis forces were on the retreat at sea on the surface at least. At that time, where naval forces were desperately required was combatting U-boats. Certainly having increased numbers of carrier based aircraft available might have (arguably) made a difference in the U-boat campaign.

    As far as against German heavy surface units, the availability of more carriers (and therefore more ship-based aircraft) would have ensured greater numbers of attacks on them in port and at sea. Greater numbers of carriers would have given the Russian convoys a greater chance of survivability.

    Examples of the USN in force in the MTO was USS Wasp (CV-7), part of the Atlantic fleet, when the ship took part in the relief of Malta in March/May 1942. Up to 105 Spitfires were flown from her deck to relieve the island's air defences. USS Ranger (CV-4) was used for transporting a/c to North Africa and her a/c carried out air strikes against Vichy French positions. Her SBDs were used against German targets in Norway whilst attached to the British Home Fleet in 1943. The CVE USS Sangamon (CVE-26) and Ranger were both tasked with air support during Operation Torch, the North Africa landings. USS Chenango (CVE-28 ) carried some 76 P-40s for the North African campaign.
     
  5. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    While researching the Strips GB, I ran across the navy getting 1 or 2 kills of the cost of France, Operation dragon? I will see if I can find the post.

    DBII
     
  6. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    #6 vanir, Nov 17, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
    The whole point of the development of the carrier battlegroup was that it began with ETO thinking on doctrine which the Japanese promptly blew out of the water.
    The line fleet was composed of surface action warships, the carrier taskforce was an auxiliary of fleet carriers for escort and air cover, generally kept to the rear of the line operations and used like the way they were in the hunt for the Bismarck, an excellent example of how fleet carriers were used in the ETO.

    The thing about european carrier warfare is that you are almost always subject to land based air attack at all times, and you get coastal torpedo craft and all the lighter u-boats on your tail too. You don't get any of that in the Pacific, just whole navies or individual patrollers/suppliers like their cruiser u-boats. You're also well out of range of any land based air except at the very battlelines themselves. Moving up whole air fleets doesn't do anything for you, but if you move up carrier-based small air groups you have an instant advantage in terms of immediate air power. You almost never get that in europe, everything depends on forward air fields for land based aircraft and by this, I mean you can literally field hop in a light passenger plane from Tunis to Vladivostok and make it to each next airfield before running out of fuel from the last.
    ETO/MTO is all about playing checkers with airfields for land based aircraft. Carrier operations are only going to be highly circumstantial tactical achievements, never strategic placements like they were in the Pacific.

    just some ideas tossed up there

    It's very possible if the Pacific war never happened the carrier battlegroup might never have developed. In Europe large fleets of battleships just plain made the Royal Navy still king of the seas, and it was only ever challenged by avoidance strategy using cat and mouse to strike at merchant shipping with hunter-killer units. That very situation was firstly reversed by the Japanese in the Pacific with an exclamation mark made at Pearl Harbour. The IJN was king of the Pacific for a time there.
    There was never any concerted attempt by the Kriegsmarine to challenge any of the major navies directly, although I'd say Hitler and a few others had fanciful dreams. I don't think you could have improved Allied use of the carrier in ETO/MTO operations by any shift in doctrine, but I think the Kriegsmarine merchant tonnage mission could've used a Fleet air force separate from the Luftwaffe, with escort carriers at the very least. That might've had a big impact if they could get them in action in 42 and really drawn out Med operations.
     
  7. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The North sea is not good carrier territory. You are hemmed in by shallows, sand banks, mine fields, enemy shores and the sheer fact that its a small sea a land based aircraft can be on top of you from any number of airfields very quickly. Especially in the southern end where you would be operating on anti V weapon ops you are forced to operate to the east in the Helgoland deep or the west in the Forties deep either side of the dogger bank. The one thing carriers need is room which is exactly what you dont have any carrier group commander is going to go grey very quickly.


    Map23NorthSea.GIF
     
  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I expect that the planners of that operation took into account all the hazards of operating there. They perhaps knew almost as much about operating there as you do. The Grand Fleet and the High Seas Fleet operated successfully there during the Great War. Their ships drew substantially more than CVEs did. If I remember correctly it was going to be a one time surprise attack. But, of course it never happened.
     
  9. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    They knew a lot more about carrier ops than you, I or anyone on this forum does. Which is most likely why the operation was cancelled not because of interservice rivallry. If the USMarines were needed to attack the V weapon sites why not put them on airfields in Suffolk, Norfolk and East Anglia they will be nearer to the targets with no risk of valuable carriers ending up on the bottom. A Carrier op in the North Sea south of a line from the Horn Reef to Spurn Head could end up making Operation Market Garden look like a wild success.

    A typical CVE such as say the Sangamon class drew approx 32 ft a typical High Seas Fleet Dreadnought such as say the Konig class drew approx 30 ft so effectively the same draught.
     
  10. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The Battle of Jutland was fought only 70 miles off the Danish coast with the lines of vessels steaming southwards throughout the night of 31 May/1 June 1916. The Germans were hoping to carry out Tirpitz' Risk Doctrine by hopefully knocking out sufficient numbers of British ships to lessen the numerical superiority of the Grand Fleet over the High Seas Fleet, using U-boats, mines etc. By engaging the British batlecruisers based at Rosyth first, the German battlecruisers would lure them into a trap, with the High Seas Fleet waiting. The problem was that the British were aware the Germans were about to sail before they had even done so, due to the Admiralty code breakers in Room 40. The Grand Fleet had already left Scapa Flow by the time the High Seas Fleet had put to sea.

    Very astute Vanir. Attacks by local land based aircraft are obviously subject to whether the attackers are aware of the presense of the carriers, however, as evidenced during Operations Tungsten and Goodwood launched by the FAA against the Tirpitz. Operation Judgement (air strike on the Italian fleet at Taranto by Swordfish torpedo bombers on 11 November 1940) is a prime example of how effective a small force (21 Swordfish) of carrier based aircraft could be against an enemy fleet. Because the attack was made at night, it went unopposed by enemy aircraft. Mind you, the Royal Navy lost a large number of ships during the evacuation of Crete because of a lack of air support.
     
  11. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    Agree Nuuumannn, the tactical effect of carrier warfare is unquestionable with the technologies available from the late thirties, even very classical Gladiators, Fulmars and Swordfish could be instrumental. But the circumstances of strategic achievement exist I think in a much smaller window than you get with the Pacific and so it isn't reliable enough to be regarded as a strategic placement. Now we look at Midway and the whole war pretty much hinged on the strategic placement of scant american carriers. But most importantly it was approached as a strategic placement.

    In say the ETO you're more concerned about where the enemy can get strong logistics to. You want to pinch those off. Carriers bring it with them, at least a couple of weeks worth. In ETO a strategic placement are things like army groups, whilst general consensus is that air force should be commonly attached to army. Brits and US got schooled on that in africa, even says so in the US Army 1943 edition general field manual.
     
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