The British assist the French in building an early warning system

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Carl Schwamberger
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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 02 Apr 2022 22:53

T. A. Gardner wrote:
31 Mar 2022 18:02

This is not completely true. If the radar system could detect Luftwaffe aircraft climbing to altitude and then assembling in formation, like the British were able to do, then there is warning. It wouldn't be as much time as the British got, but it would be sufficient to scramble defensive fighters and get them ready to meet the incoming strike.

It takes time for a large formation of aircraft to take off, climb to altitude, then assemble into formation before heading to a target. That alone gives the French with radar an advanced warning of approaching enemy aircraft.
Loic may have better information than I, but my understanding is the French like the Brits were using radio intercepts from German bombers as their first warning of air attacks. The Luftwaffe had a problem with radio security, one aspect was the attack commanders engaged in a excess of radio chatter getting the formations together. I keep running across references to the Brit signals intel picking up these transmissions as the Germans formed up for their air attacks. Then estimating the size and origin of the various groups before they came into radar range.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 02 Apr 2022 23:31

T. A. Gardner wrote:
31 Mar 2022 07:05
What if in 1939, the British shared their development of the Chain Home system and associated fighter control system with the French? The French build a radar and control system similar to that of Britain's and it is in place prior to May 1940. The French system could be similar or use home grown equipment--yes the French were experimenting with radar too.
I think that was answered in a previous post #8, or two. The French were getting such a systems set up.
Would the French Air Force, using such a system be able to fight the Luftwaffe to a standstill? Could it have seriously reduced the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe's support of the Meuse leading to French ground forces stopping the crossings?
Aside from having the radar operational, and the C3 necessary, the interceptor groups also must train in responding and being guided. It took the RAF at least two years to work up to their ability of the summer of 1940.
Another point to consider: If France still fell, and the Germans captured some of this system, how would it impact their decisions in attacking Britain later in the year?
Well, they did capture some of it. We know the Germans were a bit uneven in exploitation of their intelligence. So, what they'd make of the remnants of a formerly functional French system I cant say.

There were remarks about such a system being less effective against small groups of ground attack strikes operating at close range to forward airfield. That Is correct. But, the Germans were not operating entirely that way in may 1940. ie: The air attack on the defense near Sedan included 600+ bombers during three hours. The "Belgian Sedan", opposite Masstricht on 11 May included 200+ bombers. Theres more than a few other examples of 100+ bomber formations flying deep into France.

The second point is the Germans were not practicing large scale Close Air support in 1940. They did not have the forward spotting teams that they deployed in 1941 or on large scale in 1942. The air liaison sections were deployed as planning cells & communications links between the corps and some division HQ to the Luftwaffe HQ. They had very limited ability coordinate air attacks with the forward tank or infantry companies. What the Germans were mostly doing in 1940 is what the US Army sometimes called "Strike Missions". These were aimed behind the forward edge of the enemy, at columns on the roads, at artillery or reserve lagguers, at air fields and supply dumps, and at HQ. ie: At Sedan few bombs landed on the riverside defense works. The aircraft were attacking 1-10 km behind at the types of targets described above.

A third point is the bulk of the Luftwaffe bombers were flying from airfields east of the Rhine on 10 May. Other than a few light types like the HS 123 it was late may or June before the bomber and fighter formations moved forward enmass to capture airfields in France.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by wm » 03 Apr 2022 14:17

If the Allies weren't able to (at least partially) interdict at Sedan, despite the three hours available, then even the most beautiful radars wouldn't help them.
Their inept and lumbering airforce wasn't simply up to the task.
Last edited by wm on 03 Apr 2022 20:28, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by Takao » 03 Apr 2022 20:27

wm wrote:
03 Apr 2022 14:17
If the Allies weren't able to (at least partially) interdict at Sedan, despite the three hours available, then even the most beautiful radars would help them.
Their inept and lumbering airforce wasn't simply up to the task.
4 to 1 odds against them did not help either.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by T. A. Gardner » 03 Apr 2022 21:22

wm wrote:
03 Apr 2022 14:17
If the Allies weren't able to (at least partially) interdict at Sedan, despite the three hours available, then even the most beautiful radars wouldn't help them.
Their inept and lumbering airforce wasn't simply up to the task.
And this is really what it comes down to. The French were simply not prepared doctrinally or by training to fight the war they found themselves in.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Apr 2022 22:34

wm wrote:
03 Apr 2022 14:17
If the Allies weren't able to (at least partially) interdict at Sedan, despite the three hours available, then even the most beautiful radars wouldn't help them.
Their inept and lumbering airforce wasn't simply up to the task.
They attempted to, but without a command and control system like the RAF possessed in the UK there was no chance of massing suffcient interceptors that afternoon. The Luftwaffe cover for the bombers were at a similar scale. To damage the bomber force sufficient to break up its attacks would have required 300+ interceptors intervening during the same hours. There may not have been the many available in range. Witnesses on the ground mention seeing a occasional French interceptor, or German aircraft falling. It doesn't sound like enough to make a difference.

The following day, 14 May French records show 143 bombers launched against the same location. The German crossing sites. None of the three pontoon bridges were cut, but the loss of the XIX Corps records in a 1943 air raid prevents us from knowing accurately what other damage there was to the ferrys of mass of vehicles attempting to cross. The few German accounts collected post war don't seem to have much. French aircraft losses were severe, exceeding 50% depending on how you count them.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by maltesefalcon » 08 Apr 2022 22:36

The French needed to improve their communication and control system in the upper echelons of their chain of command for any of this to have an effect. Despite some radio contact and eye witness reports, air response to both aerial and land threats or targets of opportunity was painfully slow for the most part.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Apr 2022 00:28

T. A. Gardner wrote:
31 Mar 2022 07:05
What if in 1939, the British shared their development of the Chain Home system and associated fighter control system with the French? The French build a radar and control system similar to that of Britain's and it is in place prior to May 1940. The French system could be similar or use home grown equipment--yes the French were experimenting with radar too.

Would the French Air Force, using such a system be able to fight the Luftwaffe to a standstill? Could it have seriously reduced the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe's support of the Meuse leading to French ground forces stopping the crossings?

I'm not changing the available aircraft the French had other than possibly their having proper radios to use such a system where necessary.

Would this have made a significant difference?

Another point to consider: If France still fell, and the Germans captured some of this system, how would it impact their decisions in attacking Britain later in the year?
The Chain Home radars are in some ways less significant that the "associated fighter control system" of which the radars were merely one part. The clever bit was to assemble information from radars, a network of observer posts and signals intelligence into intelligence about incoming raids, then pass these to fighers organised into groups and sectors which each vectored uo to three formations under ground control to intercept raids. This was slick enough to intercept raids withoin 45 minutes of initial detection. The AA and passive air defences were also integrated into the same air defence system.

The RAF was able to do this because they had priority for investment over the other armed forces and some clever people working under Dowding whose name is attached to what is possibly the worlds first intgrated air defence system. The political priority was due to the single minded British government foucs on the air threat from Germany.

Had Britain saw the defence of the low countries and France as key to preventing a Battle of Britian, and the Belgian French and Dutch governments been willing to take part in an integrated air defence system then the collective air defence in May 1940 might have produced a few surprises. Not merely for fighter interception, but to allow bombers and their escorts to marry up.

However, Belgium and the Netherlands were neutral and France did not have the same priorities. Its air force was below the army in prioirty for rearmament. In 1939 it was part way through modernising its large obsolete air fleet.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by T. A. Gardner » 09 Apr 2022 01:59

The French Air Force also had very different priorities. They put a higher priority on Army cooperation aircraft for things like artillery spotting and tactical reconnaissance for example. They had no really coherent doctrine on how bombers would be used either.

But if, somehow, the French did put in place something like the British fighter direction system it might have made enough of a difference to give them time to figure out how to do the rest of the air war right as it did for Britain. Of course, this is still tenuous as the ground war wasn't likely to go in their favor regardless.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 10 Apr 2022 00:07

Sheldrake wrote:
09 Apr 2022 00:28
...
However, Belgium and the Netherlands were neutral and France did not have the same priorities. Its air force was below the army in prioirty for rearmament. In 1939 it was part way through modernising its large obsolete air fleet.
Ironically that was on the cusp of reversing in a large way May 1940. The French aircraft industry had completed the bulk of its reorganization and large scale production of modern types had just started. Beyond that France had taken delivery of the first 300 unit batch of new production purchased in the US. The Hawk 75 interceptor, the DB-7 and M-167 bombers. In June another 300 were enroute from the US and at least 1500 more were scheduled in the second half of 1940. In anticipation most of the Groupes flying obsolete models were stood down and training was just starting on the new French and US built aircraft Approximately 40% of the operating strength of the Armee' d Air was flown to southern France in April & early May and the ground and air crews were sitting in the class rooms when the German offensive started.

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Re: The British assist the French in building an early warning system

Post by EKB » 26 Jun 2022 07:30

...

Web site dedicated to RAF mobile radars landed at Omaha Beach:
https://www.therafatomahabeach.com/

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