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  • #46
    Originally posted by Michele View Post
    Maybe that's also because in real history lots of destroyers were kept around in the Channel, with a view to counter a mad invasion attempt. If the air campaign against Southern England fizzles and peters out within a month, as it is likely to happen if you subtract a third of the bombers from it, then the British can send more destroyers to the Atlantic.
    40 DD were kept on anti-invasion duties. Most of those were also actively engaged in moving channel convoys, or other duties around England. Not many will be available to be shifted to Atlantic escort duties.
    Additionally, most are still pretty poor AA ships.
    So, it won't make a big difference just as it historically didn't once the Blitz ended.


    Save that you still have only a handful of FW 200s - not the sturdiest aircraft to fly - able to operate in the necessary area to intercept convoys from North America. "Large formations" might at most push farther out to the central Atlantic the convoys to and from the Cape route. Or, if they did try to reach the area West of Ireland, they would be intercepted, while unescorted, by single-seater British fighters West of Cornwall or near Ireland, and slaughtered. It's the sort of thing Germans historically tried - once - with LF5's unescorted raid over the North Sea. They did not try that more than once, with good reason.
    Most shipping sunk by aerial attack was struck by He 111 or Ju 88's off Norway, moving across the Bay of Biscay, or off the Spanish / Portuguese coast.
    The FW 200's sorties were relatively infrequent being typically less than one per day leaving France, flying along the Irish Sea and then to Norway where they turned around and flew back several days later.

    Of the He 111 and Ju 88 virtually none were intercepted until well into 1941. The CAM ships made a few intercepts and when they started to become available escort carriers were the real show stoppers to Luftwaffe aerial attacks. Until such carriers are widely in use, ships, and particularly merchant ships, are vulnerable to air attack.

    Remember, the PoW and Repulse, with a 4 DD escort were sent to the bottom by Japanese torpedo and level bombers numbering in the 30's without taking almost any losses.

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by flash View Post
      How willing would you be to drop down to mast head height over an enemy convoy bristling with "ineffective" AA guns knowing that you've got a 5 hour trip back to friendly dry land?
      Given history, they would be pretty willing. And the AA fire from .30 machineguns is all but totally ineffective against aircraft.

      How resolutely would you swing round for another go having heard a few small calibre rounds ping through your airframe already and being excruciatingly aware of how just one tiny 303 round can bring utter catastrophe in the shape of a prolonged,lonely death in the grey wastes possibly 400 miles from land?
      Given historical results with .50 machineguns where a bit over 10,000 rounds were expended per shoot down. A .303 at sea is nearly worthless as an AA weapon. First, you have an effective range of less than 500 yards on the gun. That gives you realistically about 5 seconds of fire against an aircraft. With a 47 round magazine, you empty the magazine and that's it.
      Of course, the aircraft crew might be firing back with 7.92mm or even 20mm weapons. Their job is easier as a ship is a much larger and slower target as well as having gravity to help them.
      The plane could also approach from astern or ahead as these give a much greater chance of actually hitting the ship if bombing it. That would limit the fields of fire of many weapons on the ship itself.


      You've been to airshows,you've witnessed how slow these machines are,I am convinced that if I had an MG in the stands that I could have hit them,me and a few hundred others would have at least clipped some of them for absolute sure.
      I've shot a lot of skeet. Hitting one that is a crossing target is not something you can do without lots of practice in determining the proper lead for the shot. With machinegun fire you'd also have to factor in the gravity drop of the round at anything over about 300 yards. At 500 yards the drop is about 6 feet. At 1000 it's closer to 18 feet. Kinda helps to live in a country where shooting guns is relatively easy to do...

      Given the minimal training the gun crews would have, it's not something I'd be worried about.
      Now, going in against a warship with dozens of real AA guns manned by trained crews and using proper gun control directors is another matter entirely. But, merchant ships don't have any of that.


      Remember, one bullet in the wrong place and it's going to ditch and the crew are definitely going to die a miserable death in their dinghy.
      One "magic" bullet is not the norm for shooting down aircraft. In fact, it's like winning the lottery. For all intents, it's a statistical irrelevancy.

      I think this factor would have had a major impact on the effectiveness of the LW against Merchant shipping in the Atlantic.

      See the likelihood of survival of those RAF crews unfortunate enough to be posted to Coastal Command Strike Wing and flying offensive sorties against German Merchant shipping hugging the coast of Norway for a picture of the difficulties involved,while also bearing in mind that many Norwegian patriots were keeping us informed of axis shipping movements and how relatively easy those movements were to find compared to a British convoy out in the open wastes.
      In mid 1940, a merchant ship was lucky to have any sort of defensive armament aboard. Even by early 1941 they are very poorly armed. Escorts are few and far between and most are equally poorly armed for air defense. A Flower class corvette for example has just a few 20mm AA guns aboard normally. The typical RN DD is not that well equipped for air defense either with just a few 20mm, maybe a quad 2 pdr pom pom and a main battery that is ill-suited to the role.

      If the main UK supply routes came up from Africa and crossed the Bay of Biscay it would be a different story until they were routed further West with a simple convoy sailing directive instantly relayed by radio but they don't come that way,they come through the NW approaches or the SW approaches-which would be quickly switched NW.
      Shipping losses are shipping losses. If you have to move supplies from A to B and you need X number of tons of shipping to do that then having less shipping overall makes a difference. It doesn't matter where the shipping is lost, only that it is and can't be replaced fast enough.

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        Given history, they would be pretty willing. And the AA fire from .30 machineguns is all but totally ineffective against aircraft.



        Given historical results with .50 machineguns where a bit over 10,000 rounds were expended per shoot down. A .303 at sea is nearly worthless as an AA weapon. First, you have an effective range of less than 500 yards on the gun. That gives you realistically about 5 seconds of fire against an aircraft. With a 47 round magazine, you empty the magazine and that's it.
        Of course, the aircraft crew might be firing back with 7.92mm or even 20mm weapons. Their job is easier as a ship is a much larger and slower target as well as having gravity to help them.
        The plane could also approach from astern or ahead as these give a much greater chance of actually hitting the ship if bombing it. That would limit the fields of fire of many weapons on the ship itself.




        I've shot a lot of skeet. Hitting one that is a crossing target is not something you can do without lots of practice in determining the proper lead for the shot. With machinegun fire you'd also have to factor in the gravity drop of the round at anything over about 300 yards. At 500 yards the drop is about 6 feet. At 1000 it's closer to 18 feet. Kinda helps to live in a country where shooting guns is relatively easy to do...

        Given the minimal training the gun crews would have, it's not something I'd be worried about.
        Now, going in against a warship with dozens of real AA guns manned by trained crews and using proper gun control directors is another matter entirely. But, merchant ships don't have any of that.




        One "magic" bullet is not the norm for shooting down aircraft. In fact, it's like winning the lottery. For all intents, it's a statistical irrelevancy.



        In mid 1940, a merchant ship was lucky to have any sort of defensive armament aboard. Even by early 1941 they are very poorly armed. Escorts are few and far between and most are equally poorly armed for air defense. A Flower class corvette for example has just a few 20mm AA guns aboard normally. The typical RN DD is not that well equipped for air defense either with just a few 20mm, maybe a quad 2 pdr pom pom and a main battery that is ill-suited to the role.



        Shipping losses are shipping losses. If you have to move supplies from A to B and you need X number of tons of shipping to do that then having less shipping overall makes a difference. It doesn't matter where the shipping is lost, only that it is and can't be replaced fast enough.
        LW attacks were occasionally turned away by AA fire on the Murmansk run.

        .50 cal ammo blasted off at enormous rates in the general direction of "up" by thousands of sailors on great big battlewagons and flat-tops when the incomer is miles off,yes,not surprised at the wastage.

        The German aircraft with the possible exception of the 88 are all slow, level bombers,they will have to literally cruise along the length of their target ship to guarantee that they haven't wasted their ten hour perilous journey.
        his was the method adopted by the 200,before they armed the ships of course!

        You're talking to an ex Brit army sniper ,we don't want everybody here to be able to shoot,the thought terrifies me!

        No,it doesn't matter where the sinkings occur but that is not what I claimed,I claimed that the shipping lanes used by us were out of the effective range of all LW aircraft except the 200 and some weird and wacky x plane types.
        I said that if the UKs main shipping lanes had ran through the Bay of Biscay instead of merely corollary lanes which could easier be routed further out in the Atlantic then your idea would make perfect sense.

        Of course one bullet wouldn't NORMALLY shoot down an ac,that aircraft is NORMALLY over land and within a reasonable dstance of it's base or an alternate.

        How many LW bombers landed after a sortie over the British Isles and reported a small fuel leak in the port tank for instance, or an engine running just a bit too hot, or a lub oil pump low pressure?
        Easily fixed by a competent ground crew who upon investigation finds a spent 303 round or a splinter?
        I don't know either but there must have been plenty,similar things happened with RAF Bomber Command and the events were of such insignificance that they weren't reported.

        Now that's after a flight of maybe 1.5 hours at altitude (lots of height in hand) and mainly overland.

        Take that fault and place that crew out over the sea 700 miles from landfall and frequently flying below the cloud ceiling and it's lost.

        That's what I mean by a single bullet.

        An He111 being brought down instantaneously by one 303 round probably never happened because before the problem that one round caused manifested itself the plane was safely on the ground.

        I will say that anybody who can pull a trigger and/or touch his nose with both fingers can hit a medium bomber size target lumbering along at a few hundred feet at 150 mph from 0-400m with a Lewis gun and at least one of its 47 rounds.

        Every unmasked merchant vessel will be shooting at it-probably some of the masked ones too actually-and the RN will of course be having a pop.

        Another counter that could be quickly introduced would be flak "Q" ships,these would be merchant vessels carrying cargo in their holds but instead of a genuine deck cargo would feature collapsible crates containing AA guns and crews all trained to the correct elevation and bearing when the box is collapsed.
        If derricks and other deck equipment prove too much of an obstacle then parts of the ships upperworks could be converted along the same lines as the crates.

        Another quick solution would be issuing en masse of the PAC,not such a resounding success on land but enough to put the willys up any pilot floating lengthways up your ship at nought feet,and take his damn wing off to boot!

        Comment


        • #49
          More no, ...

          That's only if they have a target in mind when being sent out. The Luftwaffe does have options. They already have a fair number of navigators trained in this sort of flying with the Kütenfliegergruppen. They could easily use these skilled navigators as lead crews with squadron flying to navigate to targets.
          For maritime patrol, more average navigators could initially be used (finding France or Norway isn't going to be too taxing for them to make it back to base) even if their reports aren't as accurate as more skilled navigators would give. Attacking a merchant ship found on patrol doesn't require particular navigation skill either.
          Actually, the Luftwaffe doesn't have the options you seem to think they do. When it came to maritime aviation, the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine had an arrangement much like the RAF and RN did BEFORE the RN finally got control of the FAA, and it went downhill from there. I seem to recall you being quite cynical of this sort of arrangement in the past?

          When it came to Küstenfliegergruppe, the Luftwaffe flew the plane, but relied on the KM for navigators & observers, and there weren't alot of them that could be considered up for the task you have in mind. There were 3 small Flugzeugführerschulen (See) on the Baltic, 2 dating back to 1934, they were restructured in 1939, then restructured again in 1940 as the Luftwaffe gained control, i.e. Fliegerwaffenschulen (See). Training was job specific, that being largely coastal work, limited to the Baltic and North Sea, and the short range obs., gun spotting work of the few ship borne cat. launch aircraft. Most received Class A/B type training, primarily on He-59, He 60, & He 115 floatplanes. The only aircrews with extensive Class C long range maritime training/navigation/experience were those of the Flying Boats, with Flugzeugführerschulen (See) training on obsolete Dornier Do J Wal and Do 18 Flying Boats - that's it. There were no BV 138, Ar 196, & Ju 88's until mid 1941. Torpedoschule for aerial torpedoes and mining had been just as restricted, little wonder that Luftwaffe mining off the UK coast and harbours proved so haphazard.

          As for the medium range Ju 88 and He 111 aircraft that you want to redeploy, historically KG 40 mediums flying from Bordeaux-Mérignac could only range into southern Irish Sea on recon., influencing traffic in the South-West Approaches; traffic moving into the Irish Sea on their way to western ports from the northwest was unaffected. Lacking an historical BoB means more fighters available to defend shipping in Home waters. As to Luftwaffe medium range bombers ranging to the south-west, should they prove excessively troublesome, the convoy system could simply be tightened up, routed further west, and AA escort added.

          Historically, the HG i.e. Gibraltar outward to Home (UK) & OG i.e. Outward bound from Home (UK) to Gibraltar convoys were routed to the west of Ireland after the loss of France. Over the course of their entire runs, the HG convoys lost 7 ships to air attack, while the OG convoys lost 2 ships to air attack, those numbers do not include independent sailings, or convoy stragglers. There was also an evasive route in early 1941 that circumvented the area, and the coast of Africa entirely, that ran from the UK via OB convoy, to New York, south in neutral US waters to Trinidad, then across to Cape Town; the reverse was Cape Town to Pernambuco or Bahia in Brazil, north to Trinidad, then north to Halifax and Home via an HX convoy.


          As for the RN & RAF, all I can do is point to Mycroft Holmes excellent post:

          http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...19#post3130719

          The RAF already had a number of Bristol Blenheims, plants were still producing them, and would anyway. Lacking a BoB/Blitz means no pressing need of night fighters, freeing them for Western Approaches shipping escort/defense, toss in Lockheed Hudsons as required, and Beaufighters when available.

          Regarding the RN, much is made of the Destroyer Flotilla types retained in the Channel to counter a German invasion, but these were Home Fleet destroyers, they wouldn't have been used to escort commerce/trade in the Western Approaches anyway, the impact of their stay south was borne by the Home Fleet alone. But if you look at the Area Commands i.e. The Nore, Portsmouth, Plymouth (Western Approaches until it moved to Liverpool), Orkneys & Shetland, and notably Rosyth, at this time, you'll also see the trade convoy escort forces; the ASW Corvettes and Escort Destroyers, that would go to MOEF or the North Atlantic Escort Groups as the U-Boats moved west. But if you look closer you'll see the Wairs (15 by the end of 1940), and the purpose built Sloops and Hunts (19 by the end of 1940) all escorts with superior AA that didn't see much service in the mid-Atlantic. The area commands retained the premier escort types available, the Rosyth Escort Force (East Coast Convoys) and The Irish Sea Escort Force, also based at Rosyth were particularly AA suite heavy, together they had 13 of the Wairs and 15 Sloops, and there were Hunts & C Class AA cruisers Cairo etc....

          Historically, with the loss of France, and Germany across the Channel, an attempt was made to exclude most large, trans-oceanic shipping, from being risked loading/unloading at British East Coast ports. Saturation of the West Coast Port capacity was reached at what corresponded to an annual rate of 30.5 million tons of imports, at which point only some 17% of imports were discharged on the East Coast. But since East Coast shipping losses were found to be manageable i.e. the Germans weren't as adept at sinking North Sea/Channel shipping as feared, and as ports were better organised, imports discharged on the East Coast was increased to 27% in 1941. Coasters, colliers and small local shipping convoys were never excluded, likewise with specialized large bulky cargoes like steel plate from the US.

          What does all this mean? If the RAF and its facilities aren't targeted, as in the BoB, and they aren't required to defend traditional inland targets, and there's little fear of invasion, then Fighter Command is able to provide radar enhanced fighter cover for East Coast shipping. Those premier AA/ASW escort assets, that historically remained in areas where air attack threatened can be redeployed, as required, to counter any threat to shipping, IF, WHEN and WHERE it occurs. That happened historically anyway, once freed up, Sloop/Frigate heavy Escort/Support groups (like Johnny Walker's) operated on the HG/OG routes, but not MOEF.


          Mounting radar like FuG 200 Hohentweil could be started too, seeing as how that set was already developed by the Lorentz corporation.

          As it was German aircraft committed (maybe about 50 mostly He 111) to maritime attacks between June 1940 and February 1941 sank nearly 100 ships with an aggregate tonnage of about 360,000 tons. The dozen or so Fw 200 Condors in service got the moniker "Scourge of the Atlantic" from Britain for their contribution.
          400 + aircraft operating in the same manner could have easily pushed tonnage to 1.5 million and that would be crippling to Britain's economy. Some of these aircraft could have also been used to lay far more aerial mines than were used historically too. These were also disproportionately effective against shipping.
          If anything losing an addition 1.5 to 2 million tons of shipping would have had more impact on the British economy than the Luftwaffe's original strategic bombing did. It would also be far harder for Britain to counter.
          I think Werner Baumbach, commander of KG 200 and General der Kampfflieger i.e. the Bomber equivalent of what Adolph Galland was to fighters, said it best when responding to a statement by Admiral Donitz, giving credit to Allied air power in the Atlantic, regarding the crisis in the U-Boat war:

          "This pronouncement by the head of the German navy underlines the sins of omission in the building up and development of the Luftwaffe, which was not equal to the task assigned to it in the strategic operations in the Atlantic because it had not been systematically prepared for that task. German air-sea warfare was a system of expedients, expedients imposed by the enemy. The German High Command was always trying to answer the fait accompli with inadequate and improvised means and methods ... appropriate offensive weapons were neglected as well as the uninterrupted development of an aircraft suitable for long-distance strategic reconnaissance at sea."

          Essentially, what you REALLY want to do, is plop the Luftwaffe of 1942, into 1940, without any cause and effect, but it just doesn't bear up to scrutiny; unless of course you continue to channel your inner Draco?
          "I am Groot"
          - Groot

          Comment


          • #50
            The only option people seem to have ignored is a vigorous harbour mining programme, which may have paid reasonable short term returns, particularly if the harbours mined were the Atlantic coast ones.

            (Ducks back into bunker and awaits incoming.)

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
              The only option people seem to have ignored is a vigorous harbour mining programme, which may have paid reasonable short term returns, particularly if the harbours mined were the Atlantic coast ones.

              (Ducks back into bunker and awaits incoming.)
              Actually, something along these lines was proposed by Goering, who wished to build up a stock of some 5000 magnetic mines suitable for deployment by aircraft, and then embark on an intensive campaign.

              However, in September 1939 the German stock of magnetic mines amounted to only around 1500, of which only 120 could be air-dropped. Raeder wished to use these mines as quickly as possible as he believed that the British would quickly develop counter-measures, and as a result a small number of such mines ( 41, I believe ) were dropped by He59 floatplanes.

              On 23 November, 1939, two mines were recovered from a mudflat near Shoeburyness by a team from the RN Torpedo & Mining School (HMS Vernon) and as early as 27 November tests involving the cruiser HMS Manchester produced an effective method of demagnetizing hulls, rendering the mines largely ineffective. Between 10 December and 9 March 1940, 321 warships and 312 merchantmen had been so treated.

              In addition, the LL sweep was being successfully operated by RN minesweepers. These measures combined significantly reduced the threat posed by the magnetic mine, with the result that, whereas 201 merchant ships were lost to it in 1940, this figure was halved in 1941, and more than halved again in 1942 ( 201 losses in 1940, 108 in 1941, and 48 in 1942).

              Comment


              • #52
                Three years ago I had the same question did a few hours of research on the ratio of sorties to ships hit or sunk. Nothing definitive turned uo, except the German air force really sucked at sinking ships 1939-41. Overall their ratio of anti ship sorties to ships hit of sunk was poor. The exception was a small group dedicated to developing ship attack techniques. That group had a sortie to hit rate comparable to the high score players like the IJN or USN of 1942, or the RN. Note, I excluded data after 1942 due to changing levels of experience & equipment. Tried to keep the data to periods when each group had relatively low combat experience with its technique.

                While the jury is still out it appears dive-bombing was not as effective vs moving ships as I'd assumed. At least as the Germans practiced it. Germany lacked a production aircraft torpedo in 1940. A hasty supply from Italy would require a couple months to become significant.

                Anyway after looking over the pathetic Luftwaffe sortie to hit ratios Some alternatives were considered. The following operations combo. emerged.

                1. Send some of the longer ranged aircraft on the Atlantic missions.

                2. Use another portion of the so ties within the near waters, where escorts could cover at least part of them.

                2a. Part of the close in sorties would attack cargo ships directly

                2b Part would sow mines in the shallower channels & ports.

                3. Bomb the ports. Mostly at night to reduce bomber losses. This includes mines in the harbors. At least 50% of the sorties.

                4. Raids on RAF bases & factories inland just to keep the Brits guessing. maybe 5 or 10 % of the sorties.

                5. Submarines would focus on the Northern Approaches as few German aircraft could be effective at that range.

                6. Just for color and battleship fans any surface raiders that could, would sortie into the Atlantic.

                7. VLR interceptors aimed at Coastal Commands ASW aircraft.

                The at sea attacks are not going to accomplish much in the short run, but the only way to accumulate experience & skill is by going at it. Perhaps after some four months life will become more difficult for the approaching cargo ships.

                I did not take this research to conclusion, so I've no idea if the necessary number of cargo ships sunk could be achieved. Not even sure if there is accurate enough data to build a model that would prove or disprove this strategy, but what Gardner has started here is worth a serious look.

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