You are in Charge of RAF Fighter Command - July 1940

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by merlin, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    #1 merlin, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    Inspired by the Luftwaffe thread:

    As it says - you are in charge of Fighter Command after the Battle of France but before the Battle of Britain, how do conduct the battle different to OTL??
    Different tactics, different dispositions, and/or different people!?
    Please note, at this time too late too have different aircraft - so no trying to squeeze any Whirlwinds into action!
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Personnel,get Leigh Mallory out of 12 Group and preferably the RAF. His "Big Wing" was attempted 32 times,on 9 occassions it failed to form up,and it saw combat only 7 times. It never intercepted the Luftwaffe before it had bombed. Mallory said his "Big Wing" could be "over Hornchurch at 20,000 feet in twenty minutes" whereas in fact it never left the ground in less than seventeen minutes and took a further twenty before it set course from base. Mallory got a lot of RAF pilots needlessly killed in the post BOB period and we'd have been better off without him.
    Dowding should have removed Leigh Mallory from 12 Group before the BoB. His patience with Mallory didn't run out until his power to get rid of him had evaporated.This was one of Dowding's few failiures and it cost him his job in November 1940.

    Integrate what Dowding called foreign pilots sooner. By foreign Dowding meant Czechs and Poles,he had no problem finding places for French,Dutch,Belgian,Norwegian and other non Commonwealth pilots.
    Dowding never explained his antipathy to these men from eastern Europe though he was big enough to admit that he had been wrong,praising their "unsurpassed gallantry."

    Shift pilots from Defiant squadrons to OTUs for conversion to Spitfires and Hurricanes. Dowding could have tried to obtain pilots from Bomber Command but I doubt that he would have got them. Anything that would have alleviated the critical shortage of trained fighter pilots which developed in early September 1940 would be helpful.

    Tactics, try to get Bomber Command to launch a determined campaign against the Luftwaffe's airfields in northern France and the Low Countries.

    Organisation,Dowding got just about correct. I think he should have allowed "filtering" at Group level rather than retaining control over all the incoming radar information at Bentley Priory,but by the time stipulated for this thread that decision had been made and was not ultimately costly.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Messages:
    777
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    Gentleman
    Location:
    Limousin
    Swap Defiants from the south to the north as bombers without escorts due to range is exactly what they are designed to deal with.

    Comb out more experienced pilots from the staff so that newly trained ones can be given more operational training.

    Hurry up cannon wing installations. Easier in a thick Hurricane wing than a thin Spitfire wing.

    Lose those Blenheim 1F 'fighters' and put them to attacking the Luftwaffe in France.

    Get those Poles and Czechs into action asap.

    Use the Whirlwind squadron. You could you know if only the one and a bit short on numbers.

    Operationally integrate FAA fighters into the battle. i.e. not take them over but task them as if they were Fighter Command.

    Install smoke cover for southern airfields and plan to be able to divert and rearm/refuel squadrons from any airfield.

    Train and practice, especially to close before firing and to evade attack. You are not short of production so can afford to wear out machines. You are short of experienced pilots and it is better to have fewer effective ones than many cannon fodder.

    Train your squadron leaders (the job not the rank necessarily) the best tactics to lead and teach their pilots. Their job is different to the squadron pilots and need to be helped to use their pilots most effectively.

    Ensure the gun's point of convergence is to a mandatory close distance and expect squadron leaders to ensure pilots close to use that distance even if the bursts of fire are shorter.

    Get Boulton Paul to install pilot's no deflection sights in Defiants so that they can use the turret guns as designed and get someone to teach the pilots how to use them. There was a reason the pilots had a gun switch in their cockpit you know.

    Issue polish and have new production use gloss paint for the extra few MPH.

    Make wearing of goggles and masks mandatory at all heights. This will reduce burns injuries and gets a few more experienced pilots back into the fight.
     
  4. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    #4 Juha, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    I agree with Stona
    one small addition. What I remember from a couple articles on RAF training during the BoB and from Vincent Orange's Park was the lack of urgency in OTUs, when he was transferred to Training Command Park was astonished to learn that the flying schools were working at only two-thirds capacity and following peacetime routines more than 15 months after the outbreak of war. So someone should have kicked out the peacetime attitude from TC earlier.

    Juha
     
  5. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    I agree with Stona and Yulzari, if you were to carry out their changes, the LW would have had an even rougher time this side of the Channel.
    I was delighted when this country finally got round to having a monument to Sir Hiugh Dowding, it was a disgrace that it took so long to happen, but at least it has now.
    He and Keith Park were the people who responsible for the air defence of the South East when it really mattered - and they did this country a bloody good job.
    If we had has Leigh Mallory in charge, we almost certainly would have lost the BOB and hence the war. The Big Wing was a good idea if you were already gaining air superiority, but not when the enemy were still contesting it very hard.
    I believe Mallory had friends in high places and this would have made his removal difficult. The lack of cover given to No. 11 Group and their airfields by No. 12 Group beggars belief, you would almost believe that they were not on the same side!
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    #6 stona, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    It does. Mallory never seemed to have grasped what Dowding,Park and others were trying to do. It was almost as if he saw 12 Group as an independent air force within the RAF. Dowding was forced to write to Mallory in September 1939,attempting an explanation.

    "I have delegated tactical control almost completely to groups and sectors,but I have not delegated strategic control,and the threat to the line must be regarded as a whole and not parochially."

    Mallory was not being a team player,at least not on Dowding's team.

    At least with reference to the original thread topic Dowding,Park and many other less well known RAF officers,as well as scientists,civilians and ministry men did get it largely correct.
    We'd have been a long way up a certain creek without a paddle otherwise.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  7. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    #7 Njaco, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    There was only one time that the "Big Wing" worked and that was on Sept 15 and it worked to perfection but that was it. And to really put a knot in your stomache you should read how Dowding was treated and forced to 'retire' in October....

     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,343
    Likes Received:
    409
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    Would it be possible to rearrange the group boundaries, take a southern chunk out of 12 group and give it to 11 group. Rotate squadrons in a more organised manner dont wait till a squadron is almost destroyed to withdraw them. Dont throw a new squadron straight from 13 group into the front line give them a week or two in 10 or 12 group to ease themselves in. Build an inland chain of RDF towers with height finding as its main function to back up the Observer Corp. Harden the command system by burying phone lines and command centres.
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    On September 15th,the myth of the Big Wing was born,and is pretty much as the account above.
    Some facts.
    Before Bader turned up with five squadrons of the Duxford wing the first major raid had already been intercepted by Spitfires of 92 and 72 squadrons from Biggin Hill who attacked them between Dungeness and Canterbury.
    Ten minutes later Park sent up a second wave,229 and 303 squadrons from Northholt,253 and 501 from Kenley,17 and 73 from Debden,504 from Hendon,257 from Martlesham and 603 from Hornchurch. 609 squadron took off from Warmwell to guard the southwestern approaches to London which Dowding and Park had correctly identified as the Luftwaffe's intended target.
    Interception took place across Kent and over the Medway. As London hove into view of the Luftwaffe formation there were more than 250 RAF fighters meeting or preparing to meet them excluding the five squadrons of the Duxford wing .
    The Duxford wing engaged over London and with some success as described above. The resultant bombing was not well aimed and bombs were scattered widely over South and Central London.

    The second raid of the day was again confronted,this time by ten squadrons from 11 Group and five of the Duxford wing. Bader complained that this time he was not scrambled in time and his squadrons did not have the altitude to make the sort of attack which they had carried out earlier in the day. Nonetheless his five squadrons attacking in strength certainly helped to break up the Luftwaffe formations.

    The Luftwaffe lost 56 aircraft to the RAF's 26 (and 13 pilots killed) but the RAF had managed to commit 28 squadrons to the fray and every one had made contact with the enemy.Everything in Britain's air defence system had worked just about perfectly and it was a significant victory for the RAF. The credit lies with Park's masterful depletion of the Luftwaffe's fighter force,from the coast onwards,and his careful even brilliant management of his assets. The main battle over London had been exactly where Park wanted it,the extreme limit of the Bf 109's range. The Duxford wing's five squadrons undeniably made a significant contribution but it was not the crucial factor.

    Bader was an absurdly brave and determined man and a brilliant pilot. He was also a proficient and shameless self publicist who did his best during and after the war to take the credit for himself and his "big wing".

    Most importantly it was a shattering defeat for the Luftwaffe.It is no accident that it is celebrated today as Battle of Britain day.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  10. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Yup and like I said it was the only time it worked but as a part of the whole - not the Cavalry to the rescue!
     
  11. Feu

    Feu New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    I think it worth including here.
    (From WWII data base):
    "During the Battle of Britain Dowding was criticised by Vice Marshal William Sholto Douglas, Assistant Chief of Air Staff, and Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, for not being aggressive enough. Douglas took the view that the RAF fighters should be sent out to intercept the German aircraft before they reached Britain. Dowding rejected this strategy as being too dangerous and argued that such action would increase the number of valuable pilots being killed. With hindsight we can see that this was indeed the correct strategy - targeting the German bombers after their fighter escorts ran low on fuel. Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal, the new Chief of Air Staff, however agreed with Douglas in the dispute over tactics and in November 1940 (soon after Hitler finally called off Operation Sealion), he removed Dowding. Douglas having the added satisfaction of replacing him as head of Fighter Command.

    This was effectively the end of Dowding's career. Despite being recognised for winning the battle (even his old adversary, Lord Trenchard, having to admit that he had seriously under-estimated him for 26 years) and being awarded the Knight Grand Cross, his forthright manner had made him too many enemies in high places. Sent by the Air Ministry to the US to lecture, he finally retired from the RAF in 1942. For his outstanding foresight, deep sense of purpose and leadership that prepared Fighter Command to face and defeat the Luftwaffe and thus saving the country from the threat of Nazi invasion, Dowding was created First Baron Dowding of Bentley Priory (the location of Fighter Command's Headquarters) in 1943."
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Even Dowding's removal was botched by the Air Ministry.
    Sinclair informed Dowding privately that he was to leave Fighter Command on the 13th November. He then discovered that his successor,Douglas,could not take over until the 25th. As a result Portal was obliged to write to Dowding asking him to stay on for a little longer.

    Dowding's dignified reply bears repeating.

    "I have been out on night operations and your letter reached me at 1.20am. Certainly I will carry on till the 25th if that will be convenient to you"

    In case you haven't been able to tell,Dowding has always been,for all his flaws,one of my personal heroes.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  13. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Regarding Dowding's dismissal, this is what I posted on my BoB thread a few years ago....

     
  14. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    #14 Glider, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    An often reported case but not entirely fair. The choke point was the Service Flight Training as they used advanced trainers which were few in number and couldn't be delivered quickly as the front line had the top priority for production capacity. The Instructors needed detailed schooling and were understandably in demand for the front line. The accident rate was heavy which is understandable if you have a shortage of aircraft being worked into the ground, ground crew often being asked to do other roles (such as guard duty) and trainees who by their nature are going to have more heavy landings etc, and increase the wear and tear on the aircraft.

    The OTU had different problems in particular the lack of Spitfires for training. There were sufficient Hurricanes as they had been in service for some time but not Spits. As a result they used other aircraft for combat training such as Gladiators which meant the aircrew had to spend time they couldn't afford learning the taps on another aircraft and the hard pressed ground crews had to maintain another aircraft type.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Day fighter organization already has a winning hand for BoB.
    .....Integrated warning and control system.
    .....Plenty of aircraft, pilots and fuel.
    .....Plenty of airfields.

    Germany will probably switch to night bombing when they realize Britain has too many Spitfires and Hurricanes to lose the daytime fight. So development of night fighter aircraft and techniques for integration into control system should have top priority.

    Secondary priority should be development of portable radar and control system. Something that can be deployed to places like North Africa and Greece.

    Mustang fighter aircraft ordered from USA should be developed into a long range bomber escort. Not sure if responsibility falls to RAF Bomber Command or RAF Fighter Command.
    .....Most likely interservice bickering over funding will cause the project to fail. :)
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    In my opinion Dowding should not have attended that meeting. He was C in C Fighter Command and was facing a kangaroo court comprised largely of his subordinates. Noteables who were there agree,Slessor said that Dowding should not have attended but once there should have told Mallory "to shut up and get on with commanding his group in accordance with what he knew quite well was my policy".Strath Evill called it a "stupid controversy" adding that the treatment of Dowding was "deplorable".
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    I am pretty sure that I have either read or heard that LW pilots disliked the constant attacks that 11 Group sent to engage them more than the Big |Wing tactic - as it frayed their nerves more knowing that they were going to be hit at any time anywhere.
    Keith Park did serve elsewhere after BoB he went to the Middle East and helped with operations defending Malta. Which I believe many people considered he did a good job of.
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I bet they did as 11 Group harassed them from the coast onwards. Forcing the escorting Bf 109s to fight often meant that they turned back before the target was reached.

    The big wing rarely worked at all and as Njaco posted,it only made a meaningful contribution on two occasions,on the same day.

    Park went on to seve in Egypt,then successfully in Malta,before ending up in charge of Middle East Command.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  19. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    Hi,
    Thanks for the replies. Agree with most of them, interesting to the 'leigh-Mallory' consensous! Hard to know whether it's more plausible to kick him out - or (idealy) not to have him in the position anyway - but then who instead!
    Re: 'Big Wing' in consisted of mainly Hurricanes - which meant that the Spitfires were tied to the Hurricane speeds, whereas they could've climbed faster. They also multiplied over claiming, which conversly meant that the same number of aircraft hitting the bombers at intervals would have had a higher 'real' score, as opposed to the fictional over-claimed score of them there all together.
    You may wonder why Bader wasn't transfer to 11 Group - where the action was - but did see/read somewhere he couldn't take off fast enough!? Read too, because of his accident he was away from the RAF for years, when tactics, command Control had moved on - even years after the Battle he still thought he was right e.g. he thought as soon as the Lw was massing over France they should've been ordered up!!

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned, was the Fighting Area Tactics - ok against a few bombers, but not when escorts are about. Self-preservation meant that in the South they were abandoned, then a relief Squadron comes in still using them - aarrgh. And with that, guns needed to be set for max of 250 yds.
     
  20. SPEKTRE76

    SPEKTRE76 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Boeing Operations Manager
    Location:
    Oak Harbor, WA
    I would have tripled the Avro Lancaster's production and bombed the begeesus out of Berlin and the Reichstag. And any an all German bomber airfields. Then I would have set a perimeter of AAA guns and mortars complimented by flak both at sea and ashore. The sea based flak and AAA would sit 5 mi of the coast of Cailis, FRA. The second fleet would sit 5 miles of the coast of England herself. The cliffs would be laden with AAA and flak. I would have done this on day one after 'Eagle Day'.
     
Loading...

Share This Page