Mathematical model shows how the Nazis could have won WWII's Battle of Britain

Mölders 1

War Hero
As it's widely acknowledged that Britain fielded the best equipped and most modern military formation in 1940 Europe in that shape of the BEF, I take it you are referring to a wholesale expansion of the British Army both in size and equipment? IMHO that would have been impossible; not so much counter-factual as non-factual, bearing in mind the equally essential investment in both the RN and RAF throughout the thirties.

The fact that the BEF was too small to save France all on its own at least meant it wasn't doomed to attempting that task, and Gort was able to take the decision to withdraw to Dunkirk.


I think it is fair to say that the RAF's pre-war procurement policies were responsible for the winning of the Battle of Britain, and set the foundations for the the later hammer blows delivered by Bomber Command and the US 8th Airforce (to an extent). How many airfields sprang up across England in the thirties? Whilst the Whitley, Hampden and Battle all disappeared from the order of battle, the Wellington soldiered on throughout the war, and the Lancaster and Halifax were both the result of pre-war design requirements.

As to the utility of strategic deterrents, I think you may have stretched your metaphor. Remind me, how many times has the UK been nuked?

I am not too sure about the Lancaster being the result of a pre-war design requirement.

The Lancaster only came about because of the terrible engine problems of it's immediate predecessor the Avro Manchester.

It can be argued the had the Rolls Royce Vulture Engines been a success the Lancaster may never have been built.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
I am not too sure about the Lancaster being the result of a pre-war design requirement.

The Lancaster only came about because of the terrible engine problems of it's immediate predecessor the Avro Manchester.

It can be argued the had the Rolls Royce Vulture Engines been a success the Lancaster may never have been built.
True, but the Air ministry requirement P.13/36 was the original requirement that both Halifax and Manchester were designed to fulfil (for a medium bomber). The only operational bomber which was envisioned from its outset to fulfil the requirement outlined in B.12/36 for a four-engine heavy bomber (250 mph cruise, 1500 mile range, 4000 lb bomb load) was the Stirling (which I remember someone somewhere saying "climbed like a homesick anvil").

How's that for pedantry, eh?
 
As it's widely acknowledged that Britain fielded the best equipped and most modern military formation in 1940 Europe in that shape of the BEF,

Yes, the best equipped and most modern for 1918!

Ok that's a bit harsh, but as a punch line to sell a book, it'll do.

Whilst the BEF was fully motorised, and had some absolutely cracking kit in class, such as the Carrier family, Bren, SMLE, 25-pounder (just! Still rather a lot of 18lbr kicking about) and battledress, it lacked something vital, Tanks.
Whilst I'll happily agree that UK tanks were better than the German attempts, and used an identical doctrine, none were deployed with the BEF. I suspect they were held back due to cost reasons. When the Germans invaded they were thrown across as fast as they could and had to road march up to the front arriving tired and worn. This is never a good manoeuvre.

Imagine if 1st Armoured had been part of the BEF from the start, and had been deployed up front was aware of local conditions and rested and repaired when the Germans invaded. I suspect things may have been quite a bit different.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Yes, the best equipped and most modern for 1918!

Ok that's a bit harsh, but as a punch line to sell a book, it'll do.

Whilst the BEF was fully motorised, and had some absolutely cracking kit in class, such as the Carrier family, Bren, SMLE, 25-pounder (just! Still rather a lot of 18lbr kicking about) and battledress, it lacked something vital, Tanks.
Whilst I'll happily agree that UK tanks were better than the German attempts, and used an identical doctrine, none were deployed with the BEF. I suspect they were held back due to cost reasons. When the Germans invaded they were thrown across as fast as they could and had to road march up to the front arriving tired and worn. This is never a good manoeuvre.

Imagine if 1st Armoured had been part of the BEF from the start, and had been deployed up front was aware of local conditions and rested and repaired when the Germans invaded. I suspect things may have been quite a bit different.
Hmm, fair point on the quantity of armour, but the Matilda II was best in class in '40, the BEF was the only fully motorised force, and even if they'd held the German assault through Belgium, the breakthrough to the south was still going to cause them all sorts of problems.

I contend that it was a blessing in disguise that we didn't have more forces in France....
 
Hmm, fair point on the quantity of armour, but the Matilda II was best in class in '40, the BEF was the only fully motorised force, and even if they'd held the German assault through Belgium, the breakthrough to the south was still going to cause them all sorts of problems.

I contend that it was a blessing in disguise that we didn't have more forces in France....

Yes the A12 was a great tank. But until May 1940 they were all sitting in the UK. They could have been Challenger 2's for all the good that did.
Yes the BEF was fully motorised, so what? How well do motorised infantry do when faced with any armour? You can't match them on manoeuvre, speed to contact or anything.
 
Whilst I'll happily agree that UK tanks were better than the German attempts, and used an identical doctrine, none were deployed with the BEF.

Except that the Germans actually read and implemented Fuller's theories and tactics, rather than using his books as paperweights.
 
Except that the Germans actually read and implemented Fuller's theories and tactics, rather than using his books as paperweights.
Really?

Want to ask blokes like O'Connor and Martel about that?

Want me to show that it had bugger all to do with Fuller and Hart? I've got the 1927 EMF report, as presented in the RAC conference. Where they test tanks against Infantry, and clearly say, use your engine to piss off to somewhere where the Infantry doesn't have all its guns.

Part of the piss poor showing, and inability to employ those tactics was due to the lack of forward deployment of the armour. If you're racing towards a fluid battle situation under your own steam good luck getting all your ducks lined up for that sort of attack.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
As it's widely acknowledged that Britain fielded the best equipped and most modern military formation in 1940 Europe in that shape of the BEF, I take it you are referring to a wholesale expansion of the British Army both in size and equipment? IMHO that would have been impossible; not so much counter-factual as non-factual, bearing in mind the equally essential investment in both the RN and RAF throughout the thirties.

The fact that the BEF was too small to save France all on its own at least meant it wasn't doomed to attempting that task, and Gort was able to take the decision to withdraw to Dunkirk.
Hmm the high quality BEF of 1940 is a myth.

Until January 1939 British policy was that a BEF was unnecessary and the army's priority were Imperial defence and the Coastal and AA Defence of the UK. There is no comparison between the eight divisions of professionals and regular reserves that the British put in the field in 1914 and the BEF cobbled together in 1939.

The French would have been happy with a ten division BEF as per the myth. What they got was twenty divisions, partially trained and under equipped. In 1939 the TA was doubled in size and the problems of 1914 were repeated in 1939.

When the BEF mobilised it had no armoured division and was woefully under equipped with anti tank and anti aircraft weapons or wireless sets. The 3rd Division mobilised with civilian transport. Most of its "tanks" were equipped with nothing more than machine guns and many of these lacked sights.

All of the liaison and joint planning learned 1914-1918 was left to decay.

I think it is fair to say that the RAF's pre-war procurement policies were responsible for the winning of the Battle of Britain, and set the foundations for the the later hammer blows delivered by Bomber Command and the US 8th Airforce (to an extent). How many airfields sprang up across England in the thirties? Whilst the Whitley, Hampden and Battle all disappeared from the order of battle, the Wellington soldiered on throughout the war, and the Lancaster and Halifax were both the result of pre-war design requirements.

As to the utility of strategic deterrents, I think you may have stretched your metaphor. Remind me, how many times has the UK been nuked?

My point is that there would have been no need for the Battle of Britain if we and our allies had won the battle for the Low Countries and France.

The comparison with Britain's "Independent nuclear deterrent" is valid.

Remind me how many times non nuclear Australia, Canada or Germany have been nuked.

Did our nuclear weapons deter the Argentineans for mounting an invasion of British territory?

Are there any circumstances when the British could use their nuke's without US approval?
 
bomber command at the time however weren’t using high navigations skills or deliver shattering blows. They were floating around doing very little of effect.
One reason why no one quotes the bit about bomber command is out of sheer embarrassment. Much was untrue. In 1940 Bomber command could not survive by day or find cities as big as Berlin at night

The equipment they had may not have been capable of pin point precision, and the survivability wasn't great. And yet, night after night, those men went out to do what they could with what they had, full knowing that they might not come back, and every mission increased that.

They were nails, and in my opinion both of you are unfit to comment further.

One of those "embarrassment"s "floating around doing very little" was my grandfather. He didn't return from a flight.

You can both **** off.
 
The equipment they had may not have been capable of pin point precision, and the survivability wasn't great. And yet, night after night, those men went out to do what they could with what they had, full knowing that they might not come back, and every mission increased that.

They were nails, and in my opinion both of you are unfit to comment further.

One of those "embarrassment"s "floating around doing very little" was my grandfather. He didn't return from a flight.

You can both **** off.
I’m not down their bravery. I did highlight from a previous comment ghat fighter command wasn’t stripped of pilots as bomber command had their own tasks to do.

the failure of bomber command was the result of poor decisions up top.
 

Chef

LE
The criticism of Bomber Command is all well and good, however it does imply that the Germans were dropping their bombs with perfect navigation, pin point accuracy and not getting shot down in large enough numbers to force them into night bombing. Or is that not the case?

The Americans some years later were also not that accurate even with daylight and the, somewhat overrated Norden sight to help.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
The criticism of Bomber Command is all well and good, however it does imply that the Germans were dropping their bombs with perfect navigation, pin point accuracy and not getting shot down in large enough numbers to force them into night bombing. Or is that not the case?

The Americans some years later were also not that accurate even with daylight and the, somewhat overrated Norden sight to help.
What's often left out of the stories of the "Mighty Eighth" bombing the Germans into the Stone Age... is that on August 17, 1943, they'd launched 230 bombers to attack fighter production at Regensburg and 146 bombers to hit the ball-bearing factories of Schweinfurt. Although the attack on the ball bearing plants temporarily reduced production, 60 B-17s were lost, and delayed any follow-up attack until October 14, 1943; when they sent 291 B-17F Flying Fortresses to hit Schweinfurt again. 60 were shot down, 17 written off, virtually none of the force escaped damage, and 650 aircrew were killed or captured.

The day became known as “Black Thursday", and the Eighth Air Force halted all its raids into Germany; and would not resume them until mid-January 1944.
 
The criticism of Bomber Command is all well and good, however it does imply that the Germans were dropping their bombs with perfect navigation, pin point accuracy and not getting shot down in large enough numbers to force them into night bombing. Or is that not the case?

The Americans some years later were also not that accurate even with daylight and the, somewhat overrated Norden sight to help.

I posted somewhere else about my grandfather putting out an incendiary bomb that bounced off his roof when the Luftwaffe bombed the Great West Road factories in Brentford.

As the Heinkel flies the house is 2.6km away from where the Firestone factory was.
 
The criticism of Bomber Command is all well and good, however it does imply that the Germans were dropping their bombs with perfect navigation, pin point accuracy and not getting shot down in large enough numbers to force them into night bombing. Or is that not the case?

The Americans some years later were also not that accurate even with daylight and the, somewhat overrated Norden sight to help.
Again, not a criticism of bomber command. It was raised why pilots weren’t stripped from bomber command to fly in fighter command.
 

Chef

LE
Again, not a criticism of bomber command. It was raised why pilots weren’t stripped from bomber command to fly in fighter command.
It wasn't aimed at yourself but it is an attitude taken by many commentators when discussing WWII air raids. The Butt Report is often quoted, but the same light never seems to be shone on other bombing offensives.

It seems to be part and parcel of the Guardian reportage of the war. The Germans bombed their way across Europe from 1914 onwards hardly ever hitting civilians, likewise the Americans.

Just the dastardly RAF.

Again apologies.
 
Again, not a criticism of bomber command. It was raised why pilots weren’t stripped from bomber command to fly in fighter command.

This happened. Both Bomber and the Fleet Air Arm lent Fighter substantial numbers of pilots. Bomber's Fairey Battle tactical bombers had turned out to be shit, but were monoplanes with a single Merlin engine and a retractable undercart, so conversion might not be such a big deal. The FAA both took over responsibility for some places near naval bases with its own units, and also lent pilots who knew the Fulmar (again a Merlin powered metal plane with wheels that go up and 8 0.303 find)
 
It wasn't aimed at yourself but it is an attitude taken by many commentators when discussing WWII air raids. The Butt Report is often quoted, but the same light never seems to be shone on other bombing offensives.

It seems to be part and parcel of the Guardian reportage of the war. The Germans bombed their way across Europe from 1914 onwards hardly ever hitting civilians, likewise the Americans.

Just the dastardly RAF.

Again apologies.
Currently ploughing my way through Max Hastings book ‘Bomber Command.’

it’s been as eye opener. Yes, the Butt report is often quoted, but I think a lot of the criticism should be targeted at the seniors and government who spent an awful lot of time and money advocating startegic bombing, and then when the time comes we couldn’t do it.

however, it should also be noted that such quick paced technical changes made whatever aircraft we needed at the start obsolete. However, the RAF did manage to put the infrastructure in place to make sure we had a better start than expected.

the bomber crews themselves were merely pawns. Interestingly, quite a few proponents of strategic bombing lost their their nerve and went against it.

the true hero’s are those pilots who put themselves in harms way in order to follow almost suicidal missions.

It would appear that area bombing was understood to be the way forward, but nobody actually wanted to admit it. Churchill had no compunction in allowing it to happen as to be honest, he was one ruthless b@stard and had to be.

I did however find this interesting article though.


let’s not also forget that not withstanding the usual inter service rivalry, there was also the intra service rivalry .

reading this book however has highlighted the true bravery of bomber command, and let’s also not forget these guys.

 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
I did however find this interesting article though.


Paul Stoddart was my opposite number at the Air Warfare Centre, when I was at the Maritime; he's a gentleman and a scholar, who helped me out several times.

Professional stuff aside, as he points out in his paper... theoretical possibility clashes with wartime reality (are the US, who are the only folk with the spare resource and the requirement, interested in producing Spitfires and adapting them for more range, when the P-38 - I mean, the P-47 - okay, the P-51B is going to fix the problem for them any day now?)

The USAAF had decided that self-escorting bombers would work, and were slow to consider a Plan B (fortunately, the not-too-great P-51A/A-36 was able to be the basis of an excellent escort fighter once its Allison engine was replaced by a Packard Merlin) - it was hard enough to get them to use a British engine in a US fighter, they just weren't going to adopt Spitfires over domestic product for anything except the smallest niches (like the handful of photo-recce models they used)
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Hmm the high quality BEF of 1940 is a myth.

Until January 1939 British policy was that a BEF was unnecessary and the army's priority were Imperial defence and the Coastal and AA Defence of the UK. There is no comparison between the eight divisions of professionals and regular reserves that the British put in the field in 1914 and the BEF cobbled together in 1939.

The French would have been happy with a ten division BEF as per the myth. What they got was twenty divisions, partially trained and under equipped. In 1939 the TA was doubled in size and the problems of 1914 were repeated in 1939.

When the BEF mobilised it had no armoured division and was woefully under equipped with anti tank and anti aircraft weapons or wireless sets. The 3rd Division mobilised with civilian transport. Most of its "tanks" were equipped with nothing more than machine guns and many of these lacked sights.

All of the liaison and joint planning learned 1914-1918 was left to decay.
The British Army's heights of professionalism attained by 1918 was a product of 4 years in the hardest of schools; that much of it was thrown away in the proceeding twenty years was a tragedy and somewhat inevitable considering the economic and operational constraints of policing an Empire on a shoestring. Lawrence James "Rise & Fall of the British Empire" covers this well; developing a tank arm (as an example) came a distant third to the requirements of policing India and Persia; similarly the wartime imperative to retain interoperability between arms and services was lessened by peacetime.

I willingly concede that the 1939 BEF was nowhere near the professionalism of its 1914 antecedent; by 1940 this had been remedied a little by training and service on the line (stand fast the Territorial "Labour" Divisions) and equipment scales had improved (although nowhere near ideal). The lack of armour was woeful as you say, but once again with 20/20 hindsight, any British armour in France would have been lost.

My point is that there would have been no need for the Battle of Britain if we and our allies had won the battle for the Low Countries and France.

I have to disagree; with twice the number of fully trained and equipped British troops deployed, France would still have fallen for reasons given previously. Whilst not planned, it was IMHO fortuitous for Great Britain that we hadn't committed more.

The comparison with Britain's "Independent nuclear deterrent" is valid.

Remind me how many times non nuclear Australia, Canada or Germany have been nuked.

Did our nuclear weapons deter the Argentineans for mounting an invasion of British territory?

Are there any circumstances when the British could use their nuke's without US approval?

Apologies if my previous comment on this seemed overly flippant, but I am of the opinion the absence of a global conflict since 1945 can be laid squarely at the door of Pax Atomica. Our allies are shielded from nuclear attack by the nuclear weapons of the US, France and UK, and the insurance of an independent deterrent makes sense to me (regardless of however many fantasies of American control are floated, there is no "kill switch" in the White House rendering the RN Trident subs inert).

As for the Falklands / nukes strawman, you know it's not that simple. The Argentine Junta believed it could get away with snatching the Malvinas from a ruined and decrepit UK without any consequence in great part thanks to mixed messages from the FO (they were rapidly disabused of the notion). Nuclear weapons were NEVER part of the equation.
 
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