Proposed Royal Navy sortie in Baltic 1940

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Post by Andy H » 24 Aug 2003 19:03

You forgot HMS Illustrious Harri, which was ready come May'1940, though it would be doubtful that she was "War ready2 but her 60plus planes would have been a major % of any 200 proposed.

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Post by Harri » 24 Aug 2003 20:29

No, I didn't forget it because I thought too that it takes at least a few weeks when a new vessel wouldn't be ready for such a demanding operation. I also thought the moment of this operation would have been in March or April 1940. HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal could of course have supported other vessels during their sail through the Danish straights.

Additional fighters could well have operated from the decks of a/c carriers but vessels and fighters had been very vulnerable to enemy attacks. Perhaps the most suitable British fighter to operate from a/c carriers were Gloster Gladiators. They would have been helpless with German Messerschmitts, but not with Soviet I-153s and 1-16s.

If that operation had happened during winter (in January or February) planes could have operated also from the ice. Winter of 1940 was harder than average ones so the coasts had ice deck also in the southern Baltic Sea.

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Post by varjag » 25 Aug 2003 11:35

Harri's observation is spot on, that the winter 39/40 was extremely cold. I seem to recall that both the Öresund and the Danish 'Belts' were frozen over until well into 1940 as well as the German and Baltic coasts. Battleships, aircraft-carriers - let alone destroyers and cruisers - are no ice-breakers and the ice would have thwarted any attempt by the RN to gain access to the Baltic until well after the days became long enough to give the Luftwaffe a very sporting chance. As I said in my previous post - Operation Catherine was another Djinnie that sprang out of Churchills whisky-bottle.

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Operation Catherine

Post by Jack Nisley » 26 Aug 2003 13:55

Made a mistake. Proposal was for 140 Spitfires, not 200. Would have used Ark Royal (40 a/c), Glorious (60 a/c), and Furious (40 a/c).

Another source for info on Catherine might be British Official History "The War at Sea, Vol I" by S. W. Roskill.

With Churchill, you have to remember that his fertile mind produced lots of ideas. Some were bad, like Catherine, but others produced the LCT, LST, and LSD for amphibious landings, and the Mulberrys and PLUTO (Pipeline under the Ocean) for logistic support of D-Day. The problem was sorting the wheat from the chaff. That Catherine took so long to be officially recognized as a bad idea says a lot about the force of WSC's personnality compared to the heads of the British Armed Forces, and the caliber of staff work by their subordinates.

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