The Anniversary of The Channel Dash - 1942 - and the wider RN Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
What did the convoy consist of, was it a big troop transport for Overlord?


nothing special, just 9 cargo ships including some from a previous convoy heading back from Russia to the UK

Fort Vercheres: 1129 tonnes general cargo, 232 tonnes ammunition
Empire Prowess: 987 tonnes general cargo, 111 tonnes pine pitch
Empire Bard: 340 tonnes ammunition
Empire Elgar: 195 tonnes ammunition
Lacklan: in ballast
Luculus: in ballast
Herbrand: in ballast
Barbara Freitchie: Chrome ore, tobacco
W R Grace: 1,916 tonnes potash
 
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Some people might forget that in addition to politics, the pre war decision makers would have struggled to keep up with the rate of technological change in the ten years before the Second World War. Things such as:

Monoplanes replacing biplanes
All metal aircraft production
Ratio telephony
Radar - and the start of miniaturisation
Monoplanes replacing biplanes - Bristol M1C, in RFC squadron service in 1917. Bleriot crossed the Channel in a monoplane (type taken to France by the RFC in 1914) in 1909.
All metal aircraft production - single-seat, all metal monoplane fighter, in (German) squadron service in 1918
Radio telephony - Marconi, 1895
 

Yokel

LE
Monoplanes replacing biplanes - Bristol M1C, in RFC squadron service in 1917. Bleriot crossed the Channel in a monoplane (type taken to France by the RFC in 1914) in 1909.
All metal aircraft production - single-seat, all metal monoplane fighter, in (German) squadron service in 1918
Radio telephony - Marconi, 1895

Radio telephony did not get invented in 1895 - that was the date of one of the early experiments. Wireless Telegraphy (Morse) was invented around the turn of the century, but it would be years after the First World War that it was possible to convey voice - I cannot remember if it was in the 1920s or 1930s.

As for the other things, when did the RAF stop using biplane fighters?
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Pre War, as in pre WWII, torpedo bombers

Fairy Swordfish - cloth Biplane
Douglas Devastator: - all metal monoplane
Nakajima Kate - all metal monoplane

All ordered and entered service at the same time.
 
Pre War, as in pre WWII, torpedo bombers

Fairy Swordfish - cloth Biplane
Douglas Devastator: - all metal monoplane
Nakajima Kate - all metal monoplane

All ordered and entered service at the same time.
TBD-1 Devastator was an obsolete flying target compared to the B5N1/B5N2 and Swordfish,
all metal monoplane or not
 

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
TBD-1 Devastator was an obsolete flying target compared to the B5N1/B5N2 and Swordfish,
all metal monoplane or not

The B5N1/2 Kate Torpedo Bomber was Wildcat Fodder in 1942. The only real differences between the Kate and the Devastator was the extremely highly trained IJN Aircrews and the first class Long Lance Torpedo.
 

Daz

LE
The B5N1/2 Kate Torpedo Bomber was Wildcat Fodder in 1942. The only real differences between the Kate and the Devastator was the extremely highly trained IJN Aircrews and the first class Long Lance Torpedo.
The Long Lance Torpedo was a ship-based weapon, not an airdropped one
 
As for the other things, when did the RAF stop using biplane fighters?

1941, Gloster Gladiator in the Western Desert, Greece and Malta.

ETA, and for Met duties at home until 1944.
 

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
Different concepts.

The RN thought the solution was a very large two man single engine fighter to search for information and attack or drive off enemy reconnaissance planes. But you ended up with a fighter that could find things, but couldn't fight.

The IJN and USN decided the solution was a scouting bomber, dive bombers with teeth.
They ended up with dive bombers that could find things, could attack or drive off enemy reconnaissance planes and were still excellent bombers.

Both the Dauntless and Val outperformed the Fulmar as a 'fighter' by a handsome margin.

Val: 270mph, 1,900ft/m
Dauntless: 255mph, 1,700 ft/m
Fulmar: 270mph, 1,200ft/m

To put a perspective on that, a Fulmar couldn't catch a He 111 bomber in a stern chase, and only had a marginally higher rate of climb.

Don't forget that Japanese Aircraft such as the Val Dive Bomber lacked Self Sealing Fuel Tanks and Armour Plating for the Pilot.

As a result of this their seemingly impressive performance made them relatively easy to shoot down in flames.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
If the assumption was that the fleet would not need to operate near a hostile shore with enemy aircraft., then that seems like an odd assumption and explains the lack of attention paid to air defence until it was too late.


The curious assumption that gained ascendance was the land centric view 'The Bomber would always get through' and the 'solution' was to strike down all the aircraft into a heavily armoured citadel and ride out the attack.

It was land centric thinking that completely ignored the main advantage of carrier air power - strategic mobility. The RN and RAF simply didn't 'get it'.

HMS Ark Royal wasn't armoured, and could carry a very large air complement, as big as an equivalent US Carrier, but she was a one off. If any quantative and empirical thinking had been applied, the RN would have found, as had the US and IJN in the early 30's, she could operate within reach of land based aircraft.
But, the RN's finest minds were happy to regard the purpose of a carrier was to scout for the big guns, and the RAF didn't see its job as messing about with boats. Unlike their peers, the RN didn't conduct any exercises in the 20's and 30's to explore the application of carrier air power and develop doctrine.

And as regards Torpedo bombers and dive bombers?

The RNAS had ordered hundreds of torpedo bombers in 1917, but when the RAF took over, it quickly lost interest in the concept. Henceforth, the Naval Arm of the RAF would get the simplest and cheapest option that could carry a torpedo - see the Swordfish of 1938, barely better performance that the Sopwith Cookoo torpedo bomber of 1917. And the Admirals were happy enough with that status quo, after all, they only wanted a plane to spot for their big guns.

Dive Bombers? Low angle Dive bombing was in its infancy in 1918, and was seen as an effective means of attacking trenches, but casualty rates were high, so the new RAF quickly lost interest in a concept they saw as 'too dangerous' and filed it under forget. They did from Hawker order the Hawker Henley, a 2 seat dive bomber based on the Hurricane in the late 30's, a very good plane, and fast, 300mph fast, a very good performance for a light bomber of the day. But after looking at it in the flesh, the RAF decided, yes, you guessed, Dive bombing was too dangerous, and relegated the type to use as a target tug.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Don't forget that Japanese Aircraft such as the Val Dive Bomber lacked Self Sealing Fuel Tanks and Armour Plating for the Pilot.

As a result of this their seemingly impressive performance made them relatively easy to shoot down in flames.


Indeed, but so did many contemporaries like the Brewster Buffalo and Battle - and the Swordfish didn't even have the luxury of a dural skin to deflect glancing hits!
lets not forget, the RAF only decided on the fitment of self sealing tanks in the summer of 1939, and many aircraft were still without them in the rally war years.
 

Daz

LE

Daz

LE
The curious assumption that gained ascendance was the land centric view 'The Bomber would always get through' and the 'solution' was to strike down all the aircraft into a heavily armoured citadel and ride out the attack.

It was land centric thinking that completely ignored the main advantage of carrier air power - strategic mobility. The RN and RAF simply didn't 'get it'.

HMS Ark Royal wasn't armoured, and could carry a very large air complement, as big as an equivalent US Carrier, but she was a one off. If any quantative and empirical thinking had been applied, the RN would have found, as had the US and IJN in the early 30's, she could operate within reach of land based aircraft.
But, the RN's finest minds were happy to regard the purpose of a carrier was to scout for the big guns, and the RAF didn't see its job as messing about with boats. Unlike their peers, the RN didn't conduct any exercises in the 20's and 30's to explore the application of carrier air power and develop doctrine.

And as regards Torpedo bombers and dive bombers?

The RNAS had ordered hundreds of torpedo bombers in 1917, but when the RAF took over, it quickly lost interest in the concept. Henceforth, the Naval Arm of the RAF would get the simplest and cheapest option that could carry a torpedo - see the Swordfish of 1938, barely better performance that the Sopwith Cookoo torpedo bomber of 1917. And the Admirals were happy enough with that status quo, after all, they only wanted a plane to spot for their big guns.

Dive Bombers? Low angle Dive bombing was in its infancy in 1918, and was seen as an effective means of attacking trenches, but casualty rates were high, so the new RAF quickly lost interest in a concept they saw as 'too dangerous' and filed it under forget. They did from Hawker order the Hawker Henley, a 2 seat dive bomber based on the Hurricane in the late 30's, a very good plane, and fast, 300mph fast, a very good performance for a light bomber of the day. But after looking at it in the flesh, the RAF decided, yes, you guessed, Dive bombing was too dangerous, and relegated the type to use as a target tug.
Remind us again just why the JU87 was withdrawn from the BoB - Oh, that's right, the loss rate they suffered when the Luftwaffe failed to gain air dominance/air supremacy

Seems that the RAF might have had a point after all
 

Yokel

LE
The curious assumption that gained ascendance was the land centric view 'The Bomber would always get through' and the 'solution' was to strike down all the aircraft into a heavily armoured citadel and ride out the attack.

It was land centric thinking that completely ignored the main advantage of carrier air power - strategic mobility. The RN and RAF simply didn't 'get it'.

HMS Ark Royal wasn't armoured, and could carry a very large air complement, as big as an equivalent US Carrier, but she was a one off. If any quantative and empirical thinking had been applied, the RN would have found, as had the US and IJN in the early 30's, she could operate within reach of land based aircraft.
But, the RN's finest minds were happy to regard the purpose of a carrier was to scout for the big guns, and the RAF didn't see its job as messing about with boats. Unlike their peers, the RN didn't conduct any exercises in the 20's and 30's to explore the application of carrier air power and develop doctrine.

And as regards Torpedo bombers and dive bombers?

The RNAS had ordered hundreds of torpedo bombers in 1917, but when the RAF took over, it quickly lost interest in the concept. Henceforth, the Naval Arm of the RAF would get the simplest and cheapest option that could carry a torpedo - see the Swordfish of 1938, barely better performance that the Sopwith Cookoo torpedo bomber of 1917. And the Admirals were happy enough with that status quo, after all, they only wanted a plane to spot for their big guns.

Dive Bombers? Low angle Dive bombing was in its infancy in 1918, and was seen as an effective means of attacking trenches, but casualty rates were high, so the new RAF quickly lost interest in a concept they saw as 'too dangerous' and filed it under forget. They did from Hawker order the Hawker Henley, a 2 seat dive bomber based on the Hurricane in the late 30's, a very good plane, and fast, 300mph fast, a very good performance for a light bomber of the day. But after looking at it in the flesh, the RAF decided, yes, you guessed, Dive bombing was too dangerous, and relegated the type to use as a target tug.

The Admirals not having full control over the Fleet Air Arm, and not having any senior officers who had been pilots and understood the issues associated from flying to and from a carrier deck, or the problems involved in defending ships from high performance aircraft, have to be remembered.

The big gun argument is not unrelated to that.
 
Worth noting also the airborne .50's were not the slow dagagagaga .50's of ground use fame, they had a ROF @ 800rpm
Just a side note on the Ground M2HB's- below the buffer tube on the spade grips was a hole

you inserted a flat tip screwdriver and by turning a slot in the oil buffer raised or lowered the cyclic rate of fire by up to 150 RPM
 
Remind us again just why the JU87 was withdrawn from the BoB - Oh, that's right, the loss rate they suffered when the Luftwaffe failed to gain air dominance/air supremacy

Seems that the RAF might have had a point after all
One type of Dive Bomber

SBD Dauntless, the SB2C Helldiver, the A36 Apache all continued in their roles of dive bomber
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Remind us again just why the JU87 was withdrawn from the BoB - Oh, that's right, the loss rate they suffered when the Luftwaffe failed to gain air dominance/air supremacy

Seems that the RAF might have had a point after all

well, all the Luftwaffe proved was that unescorted bombers in daylight get chopped up by unmolested fighters as they should have known.


Heligoland Raid - December 1939

22 RAF Wellingtons attacked in daylight losing 12 of their number to fighters.

that was the RAF that claimed ‘There is every reason to believe that a very close formation of six Wellington aircraft will emerge from a long and heavy attack by enemy fighters with very few if any casualties to its own aircraft’.
 
As for the other things, when did the RAF stop using biplane fighters?
When Italy joined the war in June 1940, the air defence of Malta was in the hands of three Gladiators, known as Faith, Hope and Charity.

Rouald Dahl spent 6 months recovering in Libya/Egypt after crashing his Gladiator in September 1941.
 

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