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What If We Used Paratroops To Take Schweinfurt and Regensburg in '43?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by Dook, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. Dook

    Dook Member

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    Schweinfurt and Regensburg Raid

    The Allies lost a total of 77 B-17's (about 847 aircrew) and another 100 B-17's were badly damaged in the Schweinfurt Raid in August of 1943. What if they used twenty C-54's, in two waves, to air drop about 600 paratroops at 1 am just outside of each city to take the city and destroy the bearing factory?

    These troops would air drop at night, form up and sneak into the city, completely destroy the factory and all of it's equipment, destroy the bridges, cut phone lines, tear up railroad tracks and toss the tracks from the bridges into the river, and then dig in and set up mortar, PIAT, and sniper positions and hold the city.


    Day 1 of the Attack: Almost Full Moon

    -At noon long range P-38 aircraft take off from England and fly toward Regensburg and another group heads to Schweinfurt to attack any enemy aircraft or military equipment.

    -At 8 pm pathfinder aircraft take off from England for Schweinfurt and Regensburg to mark the cities for the bomber aircraft.

    -At 8:30 pm British Marauder aircraft take off from England to bomb Schweinfurt and Regensburg.

    -At 10:30 pm, 10 C-54's take off with 40 paratroops in each aircraft. These twenty aircraft are headed for Regensburg. The lead aircraft has eight less paratroopers because it also has the two supply boxes to be air dropped first. All aircraft have their exterior lights on for takeoff but they turn them off before they pass over the French coastline.

    -At airfield two in England, at 10:30 pm, 10 C-54's take off with 40 paratroops in each aircraft headed for Schweinfurt. The lead aircraft has eight less paratroopers because it also has the two supply boxes to be air dropped first. All aircraft have their exterior lights on for takeoff but they turn them off before they pass over the French coastline.

    -At airfield one in England at 11:30 pm, 20 C-54's take off with 40 paratroops in each aircraft headed for Regensburg. The lead aircraft has eight less paratroopers because it also has two supply boxes to be air dropped first. All aircraft have their exterior lights on for takeoff but they turn them off before they pass over the French coastline.

    -At airfield two in England at 11:30 pm, 20 C-54's take off with 40 paratroops in each aircraft headed for Schweinfurt. The lead aircraft has eight less paratroopers because it also has two supply boxes to be air dropped first. All aircraft have their exterior lights on for takeoff but they turn them off before they pass over the French coastline.

    Day 2: At 1 am

    The aircraft turn on their exterior lights before they approach the cities so they can form up. They form three rows.

    -At about 1 am the first row of C-54 aircraft drop paratroopers near the cities but away from the rivers. The first 392 paratroops near each city form up on the ground and move towards the cities by 2 am.

    -The first troops reach the cities by 5 am and begin the attack on the factories.

    -Second group of 392 troops reach the city and assist in the attack by 6 am.

    -Factories set ablaze and destroyed by 6:30 am.

    -Trucks siezed and used to transport troops by 7 am.

    -All phone lines cut by 8 am.

    -Railroad tracks pulled up at both ends of the city and dumped into the river by 9 am.

    -Bridges over the river blown up by 10 am.

    -Police stations captured and all guns siezed.

    -Any men walking on the street would be rounded up and put in a bus or other vehicle and forced to leave the city. Enforce a curfew after dark and a rule that only women can be outside in daytime.

    -P-38 aircraft would fly over the city daily and search around for any approaching tanks or infantry and attack any airfields in the area.



    Day 3: Full Moon

    -At 7 pm in England, one C-47 departs from airfield one towing a glider and another C-47 departs from airfield two also towing a glider. In 2.5 hours they reach their cities of Regensburg and Schweinfurt and cut loose the gliders that land in fields illuminated by truck lights. Each glider is loaded with 5 snipers, two of them have scoped Springfield rifles and 3 have .50 cal Bren anti-tank rifles, 8 M2 4 inch mortars, and 8 men to operate them.

    -At 8 pm in England, one C-47 departs from airfield one towing a glider and another C-47 departs from airfield two towing a glider. Each glider is loaded with 8 mounted anti-tank grenade launchers, 8 men to operate them, ten .50 cal machine guns, and 500 lbs of ammunition for the rifles, .50 cal's, bazooka's, mortars, and PIATS.

    -At 9 pm in England, one C-47 departs from airfield one towing a glider and another C-47 departs from airfield two towing a glider. Each glider is loaded with eight M2 4 inch mortars, 8 men to operate them, and 1,500 lbs of ammunition.

    So each city will have 784 paratroops, 8 mounted grenade launchers, 16 M2 4 inch mortars, 5 snipers, 3 with scoped Springfield rifles and 2 with Bren anti-tank rifles, 10 bazooka's, 10 .50 cal machine guns, and 69 PIAT launchers.



    Potential Increase in Troops:

    Could set up a runway on a long stretch of road and bring in 5 C-47's at night. The road would be illuminated by vehicles and flashlights. They could bring in about 250 more troops.

    Could land one C-54 and offload six 37 mm guns, 12 gun operators, and 1,500 lbs of ammunition.

    Could land three gliders, each with a 75 mm howitzer, 18 rounds, and 2 gun operators.

    Could land one C-54 that has three M45 anti-aircraft guns, 3 operators, and 2,000 lbs of ammo.
     
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Day one:
    A thousand plus highly trained troops and pilots dead or in captivity (with inevitable KL/Execution under the commando order) after dropping straight into the heart of the Reich.
    Guaranteed military catastrophe.
    Guaranteed propaganda catastrophe.

    Weirdly, the Germans would be quite likely to resist this cunning plan... They were funny like that.
     
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  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Um, are you working under the impression that there were no ground defenses in Schweinfurt and Regensburg? And that there were no night air defenses?

    Regensburg, like most German cities, was a center for primary recruit intake, training, and organization in the Ersatzheer - the German Replacement Army. The establishment there included Grenadier-Ersatz-Bataillon (motorisiert) 20, Infanterie-Pionier-Ersatz-Zg.10, Artillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 10, and Pionier-Ersatz-Bataillon 46, among others.

    Schweinfurt's Ersatz establishment included Panzer-Grenadier-Ersatz-Bataillon 12, leichte Panzer-Ersatz-Kompanie 23, and Sturm-Gesch├╝tz-Ersatz-Abteilung 200, among others.

    Strengths of the infantry replacement battalions typically ran from about 900 to 1,400 officers and men, depending on how many recruits were on hand, with a cadre comprised usually of about 300 experienced officers and men. The armored units typically had older vehicles...by 1943 they would have been Panzer II and older models of Panzer III and IV...same for the StuG training battalion.

    Meanwhile, both Regensburg and Schweinfurt were heavily defended by Flak...and by 1943 the Luftwaffe night fighter forces were pretty significant...I'm not sure they would exactly ignore a flight of 20 aircraft flying over 500 miles from Britain to Germany. Oh, BTW, average number of C-54 on hand (operational and in repair) for the entire USAAF in 1943 averaged less than 50. On 1 August 1943 there were exactly 60 on hand in the US, of which 54 were in the hands of the USAAF. None were overseas.
     
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  4. Dook

    Dook Member

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    So you're saying it's better to lose 77 B-17's and 847 aircrew than to risk the lives of 600 heavily armed paratroops?

    How would pilots be shot down at night? By what? The British regularly bombed German cities at night and during the Normandy invasion hundreds of Dakota's and gliders were used to land paratroops in France. Those aircraft were not shot down.

    What German troops would resist the paratroops landing in Schweinfurt and Regensburg? Most of the German military aged men were in units at the Eastern front and France. The civilians would not resist the paratroops, other than the guards at the factories, but they would be overwhelmed easily.

    The Germans would resist? That would be perfect. Any German units heading towards Schweinfurt or Regensburg would be attacked by P-38 fighters during the daytime. The paratroops in Schweinfurt and Regensburg would already be positioned in buildings with rifles, grenades, and PIAT anti-tank weapons. Trying to take a heavily defended city is a nightmare scenario for any military.
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    No, I'm saying the notion is ludicrous.

    By nightfighters and radar controlled flak. The British regularly lost bombers to nightfighters...5.1% was the average loss to fighters and flak. Meanwhile, June 1944 is not August 1943 and the heart of Germany is not Normandy.

    The Ersatzheer was 2.3-million strong in 1943, with about half its establishment within the Reich borders. It consisted of an admin structure, a school system, a primary recruit training system, and a organizational training system staffed by very experienced and hardened troops, some of whom were disabled for front service.

    First your non-existent C-54 have to get those troopers to the cities.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
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  6. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner) Patron  

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    Additionally, at the END of August 1943, there were twelve (12) P-38's in the ETO and only 14 C-47's. There were 653 P-47s, but they did not have the range at the time to escort the bombers to Regensburg/Schweinfurt, much less handle air superiority over the cities.
     
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  7. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner) Patron  

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    That's exactly the problem your paratroopers would be facing.
     
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  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    BTW, why would American paratroopers be using a British antitank weapons system that was just coming into service?
     
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  9. Dook

    Dook Member

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    The notion of using paratroops to take Schweinfurt and Regensburg is ludicrous? And Normandy wasn't? Market Garden wasn't? Losing 77 bombers and damaging another 100 bombers in a day attack on Schweinfurt wasn't ludicrous?

    German night fighers and radar guided flak could have shot down 5% of the aircraft carrying the paratroopers? Okay, 5% is one aircraft out of 20 and the paratroopers and aircrew still might be able to get out. If you want to play the averages then you send 21 aircraft with paratroops.

    June 1944 is not August 1943 and the heart of Germany is not Normandy? Who said it was?

    The Ersatzheer was 2.3 million strong in '43? And spread out all over the place. How many were in Schweinfurt and Regensburg or in nearby cities? You can have 10 million troops but if those troops are in the middle of Russia that's not much of a threat to paratroops landing in Schweinfurt. How did Normany succeed against 2.3 million Ersatzheer? Because they weren't all in Normandy, that's how.

    First my non-existent C-54's have to get the paratroops to the cities? If you're going to conduct a mission you have to build up the resources for that mission. The mission planning does not start the day of the mission, it starts months before the mission so the transporting aircraft would have to be moved to England. Also, I believe the British may have had some transport aircraft already in Britian at that time.
     
  10. Dook

    Dook Member

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    There were only 12 P-38's in ETO in Aug '43? That's not a lot but what else are you going to use them for? You don't need them to defend the island when you have Spitfires and all of the P-47's for that. Those P-38's should be conducting long range attacks on targets.
     
  11. JJWilson

    JJWilson Active Member

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    Hello Dook, I think a lot of really good points have been made as to why an attack like the one you suggested would be an awful idea. Dropping Paratroopers into the heart of Germany with Night fighters and flack, I guarantee that there would be more than 5% losses in aircraft and 100% of the Paratroopers would be killed, wounded, or captured in a few hours. The Germans would see the formation on radar, and as soon as they get to the cities the AA could rip the Paratroopers to shreds, and knowing where they land would be very easy for the Germans to find out. An operation such as this into the heart of Germany just to destroy factories is quite frankly, ridiculous.
     
  12. Dook

    Dook Member

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    It would be a battle. I didn't say it would be a walk in the park. The paratroops would drop in the early morning, form up, and move towards the factory.

    The German forces would have to form up and move towards the reported landing zone and remember the cities would have been bombed just a few hours earlier by the British bombers so there would be an element of chaos and even doubt about any reports of paratroops.

    If the paratroops could form up and take some buildings the attacking Germans would be at a disadvantage.
     
  13. Dook

    Dook Member

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    Why wouldn't they? Are you saying the British would not let us use any of their equipment?
     
  14. Dook

    Dook Member

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    We lost 847 airmen in the bombing of Schweinfurt. But that's better than risking 600 heavily armed paratroops in a surprise mission that they are built for?

    How is it better to lose hundreds of airmen just so you don't risk hundreds of ground troops?

    The paratroops would not be dropped directly over the cities, they would be dropped a mile or two outside of the cities and form up and move in. If they face resistance they take up positions and fight it out. They would have some heavy weapons in the PIATS and bazooka's.

    An operation like this just to destroy factories is ridiculous? But again you think it's okay to lose 77 bombers and 847 men though?
     
  15. Dook

    Dook Member

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    The British had received intelligence about the Hammhuber system that guided the German night fighters and anti-aircraft. A sector could be overwhelmed by sending in a stream of British bombers in one sector.

    Also, other decoy bombers could fly into other sectors of the Kammhuber system and drop chaff that would appear to be more bombers to the German radar. So, if you sent up decoy bombers to drop chaff in a number of sectors the German night fighters would be sent all over the place while your C-47's get through and the night fighters could only attack a target that is illuminated by a cities search lights. If the aircraft avoid flying over the cities and drop the troops miles outside of the city then the night fighters won't be able to locate the aircraft.

    I'm not saying there would be no risk. It's war, but the paratroops are designed to jump and fight.
     
  16. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Fixed it for you.

    Assuming all the men land, take the cities, demolish the factories, and hold for 3 days -- then what? Do they hold until April 1945? Do they walk home? I guess they could -- the Swiss border is only 280km away. If the column is protected by the 12 P-38s the whole way it will be unstoppable.
     
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  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Sending a formation in would actually present a better target for the night fighters. That's why the Britts didn't send formations over on their night time raids. Very likely the transports would take very heavy losses on the way in. Then there's the issue with staying in formation at night as well as navigating at night. It's not "risking" paratroopers in a mission "that they are built for" it's throwing them away to no good purpose. the sheer depth of your raid is a serious problem in many ways. As for chaff please note that the first serious use was in late July of 43 so 3 weeks later you are going to try some massive raid that is founded on it? Just how much do you think existed and how many deployment systems were available? It's also worth noting that Schweinfurt is a bit deeper into Germany than Hamberg is.

    There's also the issue of altitude. Since the cabin wasn't pressurized or heated they are going to have to stay under 10,000 feet. That increases their vulnerability to both AA and night fighters.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
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  18. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Rare documentary footage of the German defenders of Schweinfurt and Regensburg reacting to the American airborne operation:

     
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  19. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    We seem to have yet another Shooterike.
     
  20. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Not that it matters, but a Bren is neither an anti-tank rifle nor capable of being chambered in .50 BMG. Nor would a .50 cal anti-tank rifle be particularly useful in Germany during 1943.
     

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