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

Daz

LE

In response to your quote from Sholto Douglas on radar being the battle winner, which unfortunately hasn't shown up when I quoted your post.

An interesting view on radar from Military Aviation History.


Basically:
Radar stations are very difficult to destroy.
It would be too much effort to try to keep them off air.
They were far too easy to replace when knocked out.
There were too many alternative targets that needed hitting.

And at about 17.40, radar was overrated and it was the Observer Corps wot wun it.

(Walks slowly away with a smug grin on face gently humming Skywatch...)
 
I think you're missing quite a lot of details, and leaping to the wrong conclusions.

For example, how does knocking 11 group out of its southern most airfields defeat 10, 12 and 13 groups? I mean look what happened when the Luftwaffe attacked 12 and 13 groups from Norway.
I don't think so. The surviving RAF aircraft would have had to be withdrawn northwards to avoid the, by then superior, Luftwaffe.

We're beating about many bushes. Could you have managed the German efforts in the BoB better than Hitler & Goering did? If the entire Blitz had been concentrated relentlessly on the RAF, airfields, aircraft production and radar, instead of night bombing cities, do you think the RAF could have maintained air cover in the S.E. of England?

Whether they could then have invaded Britain, having won the BoB, is another matter entirely.

I still think that, with sensible leadership, the Germans might have won and they might also have stopped the BEF withdrawal from Dunkirk. Hitler didn't get into power by virtue of his his intellectual prowess.
 
I don't think so. The surviving RAF aircraft would have had to be withdrawn northwards to avoid the, by then superior, Luftwaffe.

We're beating about many bushes. Could you have managed the German efforts in the BoB better than Hitler & Goering did? If the entire Blitz had been concentrated relentlessly on the RAF, airfields, aircraft production and radar, instead of night bombing cities, do you think the RAF could have maintained air cover in the S.E. of England?

Whether they could then have invaded Britain, having won the BoB, is another matter entirely.

I still think that, with sensible leadership, the Germans might have won and they might also have stopped the BEF withdrawal from Dunkirk. Hitler didn't get into power by virtue of his his intellectual prowess.

Could I have managed it better? F'k no! I'm a civvy whose only ever been on one passenger aircraft.

The thing is, by changing hte management team such as Hitler and Goering, you've effectively changed who and what they are, so you no longer get the same decisions leading up to events you're trying to change. This means as your journey changes, so does the destination.

Essentially, the Luftwaffe was unable to defeat the RAF. Even if it did win a very localised victory, it was still going up against a lot of enemy aircraft.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
And then there's the counterfactuals (CFs), which they present thus:

CF1 - What if the switch to bombing London hadn't occurred?
CF2 - What if Hitler had been fundamentally in favour of invasion from the outset
CF3 - No bombing of London and earlier campaign start
CF4 - What if Göring and his staff had believed that Fighter Command could be destroyed more easily on the ground than in the air?
CF5 - Combines early start with attacking airfields.
<snip>

The counterfactuals they have suggested are neither the most sensible nor the fiull set. The paper burbles about Lanchester equations but fails to acknowledge the key exchange ratio: Every german pilot shot down was lost. Only one third of British pilots shot down were lost. The Germans needed to achieve a 3:1 kill ration to break even with the RAF.

In the case of CF 1 The Germans might well have persisted with the tactics of attacking No 11 Group, but they were losing the battle of attrition anyway. If the Germans had not attacked London there would never have been a battle of Britian day and the Germans would never have seen the Big wings of aircraft assembled in the sky and would never have realised that they had lost!

Re CF 2 if Hitler really had cared about invading Britian instead of Op Barbarossa he would not have been put off by the indecisive result of summer 1940. He would have cancelled Op Barbarossa and the invasion of Britian might have taken place in Summer 1941, with the fighter force equipped with FW190 which was far superior to any RAF fighter at that time.

RE CF 3 - there were serious logistic problems starting the Battle of Britain earlier. The armistice with France did not take place until mid June and the Germans had suffered significant losses in that campaign. Fuel and ammunition needed to be brought forwards to new airfields.

CF4 The Germans had a fairly good idea about how difficult it was to destroy an air force on the ground. The attacks on Polish airfields destroyed a lot of obsolete or unservicable aircraft. Their modern aircraft had been dispersed and engaged the Luftwaffe until shot out of the sky. The Luftwaffe did not have bomblets or minelets to render airfields unusable. Low level attacks damaged the targets but at a very heavy cost. High altitude bombing tended to miss.

So maybe the Germans should concentrate on the British Aircraft industry? A feasible option given that much of the aircraft industry was accessible - Supermarine on the sea front at Southampton - Shorts in Rochester - Hawker at Kingston - Handley Page at Crickelwood - Fairey in West london. But the British were already dispersing aircraft production across the UK and had a very good civilian repair organisation. The Allies with far supperior resources failed to stop German aircraft production in 1943 and 44 so how was the Luftwaffe going to achieve this in 1940. In any event they would need to defeat the RAF in the air first. An unescorted raid on the Spitfire assembly works at Castle Bromwich is not going to work.

Sensible no less daft counter factuals might be...

Continue to focus on the C3. The radar stations were a worthwhile - if difficult target. But the real weakspots were the sector stations. These were key to guiding fighters onto inbound raids. Each sector station could control three formations and knew where their fighter squadrons were through the pip squeak transmissions . The sector stations were built in the late 1930s on RAF land, mainly on airfields. These were un hardened huts surrounded by a sand bag wall.

Manufacture drop tanks. The Germans knew about drop tanks. The Condor Legion had used them in Spain. Give the Me109 fighter squadrons an extra half hour over SE London.

No Norway campaign. An intact Kriegsmarine

Op Sealion instead of Fall Rot. Invade Britian immediately after Dunkirk instead of finishing off France.

And this ignores the fact that Beppo Schmid was, to use a technical term, absolutely f***ing hopeless at his job. The Luftwaffe shifted to London in no small part because their intelligence suggests that they'd destroyed Fighter Command...

This whole thread reminds me of Philip Bungay's thesis that Beppo Schmidt was like some young management consultant whose mathematical model led to disaster by over estrimating the damage the Germans inflicted and underestimating the RAF's resilience. As with many mathematical models it can be GI = GO
 
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PFGEN

GCM
Could a German victory in the BoB have shortened the war with a German defeat.....
Discuss

I'd answer this in another way. Why was it so important that we were seen to have won the BoB. In terms of scale of conflict it was a historical blip compared to say Stalingrad or Kursk. Yet at the same time it was a very important signal on the world stage. We had an empire that was seeing the mother country being humiliated and the US was also looking on, not doing much, but still taking an interest while quietly sipping a Jack Daniels in the corner. Churchill and FDR talked a lot but lend lease hadn't started and wouldn't be passed until 1941.

Thus winning the BoB sent the world an important message. Britain and her allies could stand up to the Germans and the dastardly hun was not invincible no matter how hard Geobbels screamed at the masses.

As many, including myself, pointed out Hitlers real goal was defeating the Russians but at the same time he left the potential of a second front in his rear. Apart from a much needed moral boost Churchill was able to use the BoB win to his advantage with the Americans. The UK could be used as a staging point for an invasion of Europe. Without it there would have been no invasion. Churchill could see the risks posed by Stalin and later at the Tehran conference had to cope with an FDR who seemed to be cuddling up to Uncle Joe.

So in conclusion, no BoB win, a possibly reluctant empire, no assistance from the US, no D-day or second front. Russia would always have won in the east. It might have taken longer without help but they would still have won and they would not have stopped when they reached Berlin. The few months in the summer of 1940 along with 2400 hundred British pilots and 500 or so allied pilots shaped the future of Europe.
 
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Bardeyai

Old-Salt
The last time Britain fed itself was in 1750. By the start of the war we were growing less than 40% of what we ate. This was a serious problem (not least for Lord Woolton) and could have starved Britain into submission were it to be effectively blockaded.

This graph shows how bad we were at feeding ourselves - why bother with agriculture as the fruits of Empire were readily available and labour was better used in factories producing wealth to pay for imported food.

View attachment 591761
(Full paper on food sufficiency in Britain here: https://www.agr.kyushu-u.ac.jp/foodsci/4_paper_Colman.pdf )

Woolton faced an uphill struggle, one that couldn't be solved in the short term by digging up the playing fields of Eton.

There is an excellent book on Woolton's (successful) efforts to feed Britain: Eggs Or Anarchy by William Sitwell. Whilst many people across Europe died of starvation, ironically Britain, even with it's meager rations, was never healthier and many Brits had never been so well-fed.

A further irony is that the man who had implemented an almost communist food regime in Britain (much to the disgust of the Mail and Express) was an arch-conservative who was very active in getting WSC returned to power in 1951, for which Winston rewarded him.
Thread diversion:
Having been forced to endure the tedium of studying the agricultural-industrial revolution 1760-1820, some 40 years ago, for once in my life it has come in useful . I can now die happy.
I don’t agree with that table saying what you think it does, or as simply as you think it does. The increases in productivity arising from the agricultural revolution after 1760 and in distribution from canals and toll roads means that the UK was self sufficient until the population exceeded 13 million - @ 1811-1813. Food security has been a constant concern ever since.... well until 1990.
Anyhoo, that table is in error
 
Thread diversion:
Having been forced to endure the tedium of studying the agricultural-industrial revolution 1760-1820, some 40 years ago, for once in my life it has come in useful . I can now die happy.
I don’t agree with that table saying what you think it does, or as simply as you think it does. The increases in productivity arising from the agricultural revolution after 1760 and in distribution from canals and toll roads means that the UK was self sufficient until the population exceeded 13 million - @ 1811-1813. Food security has been a constant concern ever since.... well until 1990.
Anyhoo, that table is in error

yeah, "self sufficiency" always means "in what?" calories? what about the rest of a diet that would actually work? what are the units (volume? value?) how do we treat exports, because after all they bring in imports? how do we treat imported inputs like fertilisers, animal feed (a huge crisis for Germany)?
 
I'd answer this in another way. Why was it so important that we were seen to have won the BoB. In terms of scale of conflict it was a historical blip compared to say Stalingrad or Kursk. Yet at the same time it was a very important signal on the world stage. We had an empire that was seeing the mother country being humiliated and the US was also looking on, not doing much, but still taking an interest while quietly sipping a Jack Daniels in the corner. Churchill and FDR talked a lot but lend lease hadn't started and wouldn't be passed until 1941.

Thus winning the BoB sent the world an important message. Britain and her allies could stand up to the Germans and the dastardly hun was not invincible no matter how hard Geobbels screamed at the masses.

As many, including myself, painted out Hitlers real goal was defeating the Russians but at the same time he left the potential of a second front in his rear. Apart from a much needed moral boost Churchill was able to use the BoB win to his advantage with the Americans. The UK could be used as a staging point for an invasion of Europe. Without it there would have been no invasion. Churchill could see the risks posed by Stalin and later at the Tehran conference had to cope with an FDR who seemed to be cuddling up to Uncle Joe.

So in conclusion, no BoB win, a possibly reluctant empire, no assistance from the US, no D-day or second front. Russia would always have won in the east. It might have taken longer without help but they would still have won and they would not have stopped when they reached Berlin. The few months in the summer of 1940 along with 2400 hundred British pilots and 500 or so allied pilots shaped the future of Europe.
Lets say Kursk and Stalingrad were stunning victories for the Wehrmacht in some alternate reality. Still means nothing to the UK since the Germans couldnt get those tanks across the channel

Except the destroyers for bases agreement of Sept 2, 1940, meanwhile the RN stopped US merchant ships on the high seas at gunpoint, searched them and stole US mail to neutral and axis nations.

manhattan.JPG
 
Re CF 4 above, the germans had bomblets in common use but deployed by 109s and 110s. They could and did close down whole towns and airfields and they were a menace to deal with. Both sides were well able to operate off open grass fields and were not tied to hard runways.
 
Re CF 4 above, the germans had bomblets in common use but deployed by 109s and 110s. They could and did close down whole towns and airfields and they were a menace to deal with. Both sides were well able to operate off open grass fields and were not tied to hard runways.
Very few hard runways in 1940 they came later in the war.
 
Re CF 4 above, the germans had bomblets in common use but deployed by 109s and 110s. They could and did close down whole towns and airfields and they were a menace to deal with. Both sides were well able to operate off open grass fields and were not tied to hard runways.

There's been a thread about those. Very effective against airfields and cities as effectively a minelaying system, also some people credit them with winning Sedan by destroying the French artillery fire control network (unlike ours at the same time, all wired)
 
Thread diversion:
Having been forced to endure the tedium of studying the agricultural-industrial revolution 1760-1820, some 40 years ago, for once in my life it has come in useful . I can now die happy.
I don’t agree with that table saying what you think it does, or as simply as you think it does. The increases in productivity arising from the agricultural revolution after 1760 and in distribution from canals and toll roads means that the UK was self sufficient until the population exceeded 13 million - @ 1811-1813. Food security has been a constant concern ever since.... well until 1990.
Anyhoo, that table is in error

I don't think that table is in error. In any case it could be 25% wrong but the point would still stand.

Firstly, I will go with the Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Manchester rather than some random on ARRSE.

Secondly. if you read it you would see that Self-sufficiency” is calculated as the farm-gate value of UK raw food production (including for export) divided by the value of raw food for UK consumption. It is a measure of UK agriculture’s competitiveness rather than of food security, which is a more complex issue.
 
Could I have managed it better? F'k no! I'm a civvy whose only ever been on one passenger aircraft.

The thing is, by changing hte management team such as Hitler and Goering, you've effectively changed who and what they are, so you no longer get the same decisions leading up to events you're trying to change. This means as your journey changes, so does the destination.

Essentially, the Luftwaffe was unable to defeat the RAF. Even if it did win a very localised victory, it was still going up against a lot of enemy aircraft.
Isn't that the whole point of the "mathematical modelling shows..." thread? We know, with hindsight, what they did wrong and what might have been a better strategy.

I think they might have driven the RAF out of the south of England, i.e., they could have won the BoB in the air. The Navy's oil reserves would have been more vulnerable to bombing. I'm very dubious that they could have then managed a Channel crossing, gained a foothold, and captured airfields in England. It never got to that phase.

Removing Hitler and his minions from the CoC might have been the most sensible strategy, but there probably wouldn't have been a WW2 in the first place if that could have been done..
 
Isn't that the whole point of the "mathematical modelling shows..." thread? We know, with hindsight, what they did wrong and what might have been a better strategy.

I think they might have driven the RAF out of the south of England, i.e., they could have won the BoB in the air. The Navy's oil reserves would have been more vulnerable to bombing. I'm very dubious that they could have then managed a Channel crossing, gained a foothold, and captured airfields in England. It never got to that phase.

Removing Hitler and his minions from the CoC might have been the most sensible strategy, but there probably wouldn't have been a WW2 in the first place if that could have been done..

You make a good point. Even if modelling shows that an alternative strategy to the one taken could have provided better results we then don't know what our response to that different strategy would have been. It is not a given that an alternative would have worked merely because the chosen one failed.

With respect to the second para we just don't know what the British response might have been. On paper it might go something like "pull back to the Outer London Defence Ring and the other Stop Lines and consolidate" if the Germans gained a foothold in the SE. Unminuted/undocumented it might have been something like "go scorched earth on Kent and chuck all the mustard gas we have at the SE and the Channel ports". Who knows.

Third para is one of my favourite alt-history/CF topics. Possibly one for another day.
 
I think they might have driven the RAF out of the south of England, i.e., they could have won the BoB in the air. The Navy's oil reserves would have been more vulnerable to bombing. I'm very dubious that they could have then managed a Channel crossing, gained a foothold, and captured airfields in England. It never got to that phase.

Don't forget that the Germans were dropping very small bombs (like the RAF of the time). The idea being we are unable to drop accurately, so if we drop lots of small bombs we've got increased chances to hit.

Luckily we studied the effects of German bombing on every part of modern society (the files are at Kew), realised that small bombs were shit, so when we went bombing later in the war we did it properly.
 

Bardeyai

Old-Salt
I don't think that table is in error. In any case it could be 25% wrong but the point would still stand.

Firstly, I will go with the Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Manchester rather than some random on ARRSE.

Secondly. if you read it you would see that Self-sufficiency” is calculated as the farm-gate value of UK raw food production (including for export) divided by the value of raw food for UK consumption. It is a measure of UK agriculture’s competitiveness rather than of food security, which is a more complex issue.

It's an interesting paper on The UK's position regarding food security. Always a hot topic for an island nation which can't feed it's population. Broadly speaking, @ 2010 he thought we were doing not too bad.

The learned professor Colman sets the scene using Figure 1, but it's not his work - "Source; RuSource 2007" and it's there as a backdrop. I doubt he would put much weighting on the 1760 date since he is discussing another subject.

A quick Google on Quora throws up someone who says the UK was last self sufficient in food production in 1850. That sounds a bit of an outlier to me but another fellow says last time there was "a high degree of self sufficiency" was1805-1815 as a result of the Napoleonic wars - I assume the introduction of Napoleon's Continental System closing off European markets to the UK. But that chap, a former environmental scientist, says we could last feed ourselves "... probably in the late bronze age (about 750 BCE)". So what do either of us know.

It's not worth an argument but your assertion that the last time the UK fed itself was 1750 is open to fair question, even if by random bods on the internet.
 

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