Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

BATTLE OF BRITAIN: NO BLITZ?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Kai-Petri, Aug 21, 2002.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,301
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    Hitler was enraged by the attack on Berlin and because it seemed that the attacks on airfields were not destroying enough RAF fighters, he ordered a change of targets. By attacking cities and industry, the Germans hoped to break British morale and to destroy the factories that built fighter aircraft. They also hoped that RAF fighters would gather in force round the cities to protect them, which would make it easier for the Luftwaffe to shoot them down in the numbers required to establish air superiority.

    This is one question that pops up every now and then.What do you think if Germany had kept on bombing the airfields, possibly the radar stations, would England have been beaten by Luftwaffe? The blitz was a mistake, as we now know.So no Blitz from september 1940, and victory is Goering´s? Any suggestions?
     
  2. dasreich

    dasreich Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2002
    Messages:
    580
    Likes Received:
    1
    Unless the Germanas shifted more production to aircraft, the BoB would not be won. However, if they stayed with hitting military targets, Britain would have been hit harder and made less of a threat. Perhaps they would have hit more naval targets as a result of not hitting cities...then the Atlantic war would have been easier for the kriegsmarine. Plus the Mass bombings of German cities might never have happened.

    As I recall, Hitler did not want to hit Lodon at first. But after a lone He111(?) accidentally dropped bombs on London, the RAF went and bombed Berlin. This started the trend of bombing civillian targets on a regular basis. :(
     
  3. Sniper

    Sniper Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    0
    dasreich, you're correct on the lone He111. They got lost and accidently dropped their bombs on London.

    Naturally the British retaliated by bombing Berlin.

    And then of course, Adolf wanted London bombed in retaliation for that and so on.

    If however, the Germans had not retaliated for Berlin but kept on attacking airfields and other military targets the the RAF would have had a harder time of it. The change in targets gave them time to refit and rest some of their crews.

    The BoB would probably still not be won by the Germans though, because the RAF still had the possibility of moving further away, outside of effective fighter cover for the german bombers,if their forward airfields became untenable, making the german bombers easy targets.

    Besides, if Germany had not changed targets to London, and the RAF kept on bombing Berlin and other German cities, imagine the propaganda value for Herr Goebbels.

    "Germany conducts a gentleman's war whilst the evil British kill innocent women and children in their homes" You can imagine that headline in the US papers, can't you.

    It could have been enough to dealy the US involvement in the European theatre.

    "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake" - Napoleon
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2000
    Messages:
    8,386
    Likes Received:
    885
    Location:
    Jefferson, OH
    I believe the Germans would have won the Battle of Britain if we look at what the objectives were. The Luftwaffe was to win air superiority over the Southeastern part of England and over the Channel where Seelowe was to have taken place. At the time when the lone He 111 bombed London, the Luftwaffe had just accomplised their goals. The RAF was forced to abandon the airfields in the Southeast. More aircraft were being destroyed on the ground as well as in the air. Planes were being replaced but the losses in pilots were hurting the RAF. The Luftwaffe has many more pilots and could afford this short term war of attrition. More so than the RAF. So I think the Luftwaffe would have won.

    As far as Hitler's concept of destroying the RAF by forcing them to defend London. Well as we all know, how can the RAF be destroyed by He111s? The fighters could not travel all the way to London so all the RAF had to do was wait for the bombers. It actually worked the other way around. The RAF knew where the bombers where going, which route they were taking and at what point the fighters had to turn back. Hmmmmm can anyone read a slaughter here? Again, the greatest warlord of all time blundered.

    The Luftwaffe closed the channel to all Royal Navy traffic. The air over the channel and parts of Southeast England was German. All that was left was for a couple of weeks more of battering the RAF and for the Kriegsmarine to deliver the troops. It could have happened.
     
  5. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2002
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    1
    Two things have to be borne in mind.

    Dowding was working with time in his favour. The longer he held out the worse the weather would get for an invasion and the stronger the Army would become.

    The German invasion plan was a shambles. The Army needed a broad front, the Navy could only defend a narrow one. There was very little chance of deceiving the British as to where it would fall.

    So where does this leave the Luftwaffe? Well remember that the Germans suffered exhaustion too, those "last fifty spitfires" seemed to be very resilient. Meanwhile towards the end of the Battle Dowding had already split his squadrons into 3 classes, and was favouring the deployment of class A squadrons to 11 Group.

    If things started to go really badly Dowding would have been fired before October and replaced with Sholto Douglas, who had very different ideas about running an air war, placing greater emphasis on concentration of forces.

    But the most the Luftwaffe could hope for is withdrawal north of the Thames. Still able to cover invasion beaches and the Blenheims and Battles which would vainly try to attack with their mustard gas.

    Sealion really was a massive bluff.

    Jumbo
     
  6. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2000
    Messages:
    8,386
    Likes Received:
    885
    Location:
    Jefferson, OH
    No argument from me on that. Had the trend continued, if the Germans had a good invasion plan, I say they could have continued with it because the Luftwaffe was accomplishing its tasks. I did not say it was at a bargain price. They were suffering just as the RAF but the Luftwaffe had more pilots and could outlast the RAF. Not all of the RAF was concentrated around the fighting in the Southeast. There was some fighting in the northeast as well so that limited the number of pilots and the RAF was spread out pretty thin.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    I'd like to know how many, and for what periods, the RAF abandoned all those airfields in the South East, thus handing air superiority to the Luftwaffe ?
     
  8. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2002
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    1
    PzJgr

    There was only one raid from Luftflotte V (out of range of fighters of course) which was cut to shreds. After that most of their bomber strength was sent south. This should have freed up some more squadrons for 11 Group, but Dowding was rather resilient to changing his mind: he created the system and the strategy and it would be hard for him to change it all when the Air Ministry was breathing down his neck. It would have been the admission of failure his critics were waiting for.

    Jumbo
     
  9. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    1
    The German plan for invasion would have required a little bit of luck to have worked without large losses on a friendly shore! But anyway, the idea is hardly new, so here once I again I quote from myself:

    German Ability to Win the Battle of Britain

    We must therefore commit ourselves to looking at whether or not the Germans were capable of winning the Battle of Britain. After commencing air attacks on England in July and continuing in August with ever increasing strength, the real height of the battle must be seen in the period from 24th August to 7th September, which was the time when the Luftwaffe adopted the strategy of going for the Royal Air Force Fighter Command. During this time (two weeks), 466 Hurricane and Spitfire fighters were destroyed, 103 pilots killed and 128 seriously wounded, constituting a loss of a quarter of the entire pilots availabe to the RAF (4). Compared to the total German aircraft losses up to this point of 252 fighters and 215 bombers (5), who started with far superior numbers, this shows a disaster for the RAF.

    Interesting at this point are the estimates of the enemy's strength and achieved results either side produced.The RAF claimed 1711 German planes (6) as destroyed in the total period of the battle, somewhat exaggerated as the the real sum of 467 planes shows. On the other hand, the Luftwaffe claimed to have destroyed 1115 English fighters plus 92 bombers, which also appears to a bit above the actual losses, even if it is a lot closer to the real figure, but this is actually a very accurate appraisal of the British losses because this number is commented with the opinion that a large number of aircraft reported as destroyed could probably be very quickly repaired (7).

    Furthermore the Luftwaffe also claimed to have achieved the following by September 3rd. 18 Aerodromes destroyed, a further 26 damaged. Indeed there are confirmations of this from a large number of sources even if the numbers may be questioned. 10% of all aircraft repair facilities destroyed. 8 Aircraft factories, 3 aluminium factories and 19 cell factories attacked. We know that the English aircraft industry had indeed been hard hit from a noticeable decrease in aircraft production (see below). At the same time, the Luftwaffe estimated the RAF fighter strength at the beginning of the attacks at 900 modern fighter planes with 250 older ones in reserve, and the strength at the beginning of September at 700 of which 420 seemed operational. At the same time the strength of the Bomber Command was estimated at 600 planes with 500 suitable for nocturnal operations. Production of aircraft was estimated at 300 fighters and bombers each per month (8). Looking at the English figures available, it must strike us that the Luftwaffe's estimates were in fact rather good. RAF Fighter Command possessed at that moment almost exactly 700 aircraft, indicating that the Luftwaffe hit it right on the nose, whereas Bomber Command could boast of only 500 planes, showing that here the Germans even overestimated the RAF. The reverse is shown concerning aircraft production, however, because the British were producing about 500 fighter aircraft per month by September 1940 (in fact the exact amount for August is 476). It is highly interesting to note that the entire new production, plus all the American aid, is absorbed completely in the losses in early September and in fact the number of fighters the RAF can put up decreases significantly and continuously until the Schwerpunkt of the German airraids moves from the aircraft industry and from airfields themselves to the city of London (9). As for airfields, the Luftwaffe was at this point on the threshold of ravaging the entire defence of the Fighter Command in the South of England. No. 11 Fighter Group at Uxbridge, for example, which took the brunt of the Battle of Britain, had its six Sector Stations, the only way to perform a co-ordinated defence against the Luftwaffe, severely damaged and partly almost out of action (9a).

    Summing up, it is possible to generalize that throughout the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe did not underestimate the RAF, had found a way of combatting it and eventually exterminating it quite effectually but was forced to give this up by directives from higher up. And, postulating the first what-if in this text, it should seem fairly obvious that had the Luftwaffe continued their attacks in the fashion they had been conducting them in late August and early September, the Germans would have won the Battle of Britain, because the RAF would have been forced either to fight to the last plane, which would not have done much good, or they would have had to withdraw to airfields beyond the range of the Me-109 (which would not have been too difficult, seeing that it did not have that much range) but this would have exposed the Channel and part of the South of England to the Luftwaffe, where it would then have had nearly undisputed air superiority.
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    I still think that the Luftwaffe's claims of 'destroying' airfields have to be viewed as optimistic.

    Between 12 August and 5th September, Biggin Hill was attacked eleven times and not put out of action to it's home squadrons.
    13 aerodromes in 11 Group underwent a total of over forty attacks in the three week period mentioned, but Manston and Lympne were the only two that became unfit for daylight flying for more than a few hours.

    In July, Theo Osterkamp set his men a kill-ratio target of 5:1 to achieve decisive victory. This was never achieved. The daylight attacks on London were not pure Hitlerian spite - it was hoped to draw the RAF fighters up in greater numbers to be destroyed. The commencement of the night Blitz was a tacit admission that the Luftwaffe had failed in their objective.

    They lost.

    [ 23 August 2002, 05:39 AM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  11. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2002
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    1
    Andreas

    Even if the Luftwaffe drove the British squadrons north of the Thames, this does not mean that it was all over, and that air superiority would be "undisputed". Out of range of German fighters the RAF could have rebuilt it's squadrons in relative peace and quiet. Meanwhile the Luftwaffe would be on the defensive ove SE England: how do they hold onto this without airfields? Constant fighter sweeps across the UK? Expensive in Fuel, gruelling for pilots and a tempting target for the Big Wing philosophy of Leigh-Mallory.

    In terms of airfields destroyed, Martin is totally correct. The Luftwaffe constantly overestimated the damage they were doing on the ground, and many of the airfields they attacked were not Fighter Command stations. Equally they didn't have a clue as to how Fighter Command operated, assuming that they were tied to their bases and generally inflexible. Coupled with the 6-hour day being worked in the Messerchmitt plant turning out 109's I really don't think the Germans were up to a war of attrition.

    Jumbo
     
  12. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    The effect on aircraft production is also over-rated, largely due to faulty intelligence.

    For example, the Hawker works at Twickenham and Langley were left completely untouched, the Shorts works at Rochester were heavily hit on September 4th ( only disrupting production of the Stirling heavy bomber ) and, almost unbelievably, the Supermarine works at Southampton were not targeted until September 11th - by which time the West Bromwich 'shadow factory' had commenced operation.

    An exception is the Vickers factory at Weybridge, badly damaged by Erprobungsgruppe 210 on 4th September.
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,478
    Likes Received:
    1,385
    Location:
    London, England.
    Just found some more comments about the BofB :-

    'Contrary to German belief, and despite heavy losses, the number of British first-line fighters hardly sank during the battle. Production during the decisive months was more than double that of Germany's.
    The German fighter force at the start of the battle disposed of only some 700 first-line Me109s. Their numbers were thus inadequate for the double role of engaging the British fighters..and providing close escort for the bombers. The heavy Me110 fighter was almost useless for the purpose....
    The Do17, He111 and Ju88 were too light and vulnerable, their defensive armament too meagre, and their bomb-load inadequate.
    The effect of the bombing raids..was usually greatly overestimated. Though the Luftwaffe's chances of successful strikes against targets of military importance were much greater in daylight, these raids had to be abandoned...owing to bad weather and insupportable losses.'

    The source ? 'Angriffshohe 4000' by Cajus Bekker.
     
  14. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is actually the same thing I say in my text. Only while I call it "significant decrease" (which there is in the time-frame mentioned) it is certainly true that over a longer period of time the number is more or less constant. What keeps on surprising me is where the RAF found the pilots, because not all of those shot down could simply get into a new cockpit. But I assume there were ways.

    My whole article (which is also located on this site somewhere) argues for the Germans (and is actually about Sealion) because it is so much more fun and interesting than arguing against the Germans. We all know why they lost (or should do!!) what I'd like to know is if there was any concievable way they could have won.

    My opinion is contained in the whole essay. [​IMG]
     
  15. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    1
    For example, what difference would it have made if Germany had had a fleet of Ju 89 or Do 19 heavy bombers?
     
  16. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    139
    The Luftwaffe winning the war of attrition before the attacks turned on London :confused:
    On the 6th September 1940, Fighter command had over 750 serviceable fighters and 1,381 pilots available, an increase of 150 fighters and 200 pilots over the amount available at the start of the battle in July.
    The Luftwaffe didn`t even come close to winning the battle
     
  17. Carl G. E. von Mannerheim

    Carl G. E. von Mannerheim Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2002
    Messages:
    1,221
    Likes Received:
    10
    welcome, but no, they did the raf was nearly wiped out. then the luftwaffe swithced attacks to london
     
  18. Andreas Seidel

    Andreas Seidel Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2001
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    1
    The lowest point in fighter strength was reached in the week of July 24 at 603 fighters and the high-point was reached on August 21 at 722 fighters. After that it goes down again. Source for this is Churchill's "The Second World War".
     
  19. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,521
    Likes Received:
    139
    Andreas, while our figures may differ( my source "The Most Dangerous Enemy" a history of the battle of Britain by Stephen Bungay, pub Aurum press 2000) It is noticeable that both mine and yours have one thing in common. Fighter Command increases in strength during the battle! Bad news if you are the opposing side in a battle of attrition.
    However, what was the situation on the other side of the channel? If we take a look at the Luftwaffe Bf 109 fighter-arm, the figures are very interesting . At the begining of July 1126 Bf 109 pilots available, of which 906 were operational. In August 1118 available, of which 896 were operational. In September 990 available, of which 735 were operational. A decline in strength at the begining of September of 171 operational Bf 109 pilots ( source "Luftwaffe" by Willamson Murry, pub Allen and Unwin 1985)
    So at a time when British Fighter Command was gaining in strength, the Luftwaffe fighter arm was dwindling in strength.
    I will leave the last word on the so-called "crisis" in Fighter Command at the end of August and the start of September to Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, commander of 11 Group, speaking to his Chief Controller, Lord Willoughby de Broke on the morning of the 7th of September " I know you and the other controllers must have been getting worried about our losses" to which Broke replied that they had indeed been getting concerned "Well" Park said " I`ve been looking at these casualty figures, and I`ve come to the conclusion that at our present rate of losses we can just afford it. And I`m damned certain that the Boche can`t. If we can hang on as we`re going, I`m sure we shall win in the end."( source " Dowding and the Battle of Britain" by Robert Wright pub, Macdonald 1979)
     
  20. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Of course the Luftwaffe could have achieved gaining air supperiority over Southeast England, first by destroying the air fields on the ground and then capturing them, so the 109s could have flown on British territory, putting away their major flaw: the range. We know that when both aeroplanes fought in the same conditions, the 109 was a bit better than the Spitfires. It would have been as was in France, conquering every air field and using it for the advance. And just air supperiority was needed on Southeast England to keep the RN away and allowing the Wehrmacht to come ahore. (It would have been very expensive in men and materials anyway, but it could be done) Once the Wehrmacht was on ground, the British defences would have had collapsed inmediately, althought it would have been a horrendous bloody battle, because the British are patriots who would have fought like hell to defend their Island... But it could certainly have been done. The air craft production had raised and the losses could be entirely replaced. But there were not enough pilots available. So, if the Luftwaffe would have continued with attacks on the air fields instead of bombing British cities, the RAf could have been extremely weak for September 27th, the day that "Seelöwe" was supossed to be launched. It could have been done, indeed.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page