Intended FJ role in Sealion

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Knouterer
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 14 Dec 2016 12:47

The question of the timing of the attack is a bit puzzling to me. A number of (German) sources and authors mention landings from the air and sea starting at 06:00, German time presumably. In September 1940, that would be 05:00 British time (summer time or daylight saving time, which was GMT + 1h). But at 04:00 GMT it would definitely still be dark, meaning the pilots and dispatchers would be unable to distinguish anything much on the ground (except for any helpful moonlight), which would likely mean more accidents, injuries and widely scattered drops.

When I was there, there was a certain amount of predawn light, but comparison with 1940 was difficult because of bright street lights along the promenade. However, it was certainly possible to distinguish vessels out to sea well before sunrise; picture was taken from my hotel room window at about 06:35 (local time).

Schenk also mentions (p. 260) a schedule for the landing in Rye Bay where the advance detachments land at 07:00 (06:00 British time), which seems more reasonable.
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Bergedorf » 14 Dec 2016 22:52

Hi Gerard,

the fixed time for "Sea Lion" is: landing of the barges at 2 hours after highwater. According to some charts of the "Marineobservatorium WIlhelmshaven" highwater was in Landing Zone B on 24. September 1940 between 05:00h and 06:00h German Summer Time. So S-Time would be 07:30 German Summer Time.

This matches with Schenk page 260 and with the landing scheme of 35. Division on page 312 too. The scheme of the 35. Div. is for S-Day = 24.9.1940. The problem with this scheme is, that 35. Division considered 15-30 minutes between landing of the "Vorausabteilung" to landing of the barges as to short a time. They wanted to have 90 minutes between. So in this scheme the landing of the VA is at S-time ./. 90mins = 06:00h.

The Kriegsmarine does not seem to have approved to this wish of 35. Div.

Cheers

Dirk

P.S.: The time of your photo would be the "normal" time for the arriving of the "Vorausabteilungen" . Could have been quite bloody, couldn´t it?

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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 15 Dec 2016 09:47

Notes on the weather on Tuesday 24 Sept. 1940 (from Richard Cox, Operation Sea Lion, and other sources):

Time Weather Visibility Wind Force Sea
0700 Blue sky, Good NW 1 1
cloudy
1300 Cloudy Good SW 3 2
1800 Cloudy Good N 2 2

High Water Dover 0305, 15.1 ft and 1537, 14.7 ft
Low Water Dover 1006, 3.6 ft and 2236, 4.2ft

RAF campaign diary: Early morning fog in northern France. Channel cloudy with haze in the Straits and Thames Estuary.

Netweather.tv: Mist and fog patches were widespread in most areas especially over the French and British coastlines during the morning. Mist or haze was prevalent for most of the day, with high cloud clearing by late afternoon.

General weather forecast from noon for next 24 hours: Light westerly to variable winds; fair with a little local morning fog. Average day temperature, cool at night.

On the 25th high water at Dover in the morning was at 04:12, on the 26th at 05:35.
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Bergedorf » 15 Dec 2016 19:37

High Water Dover 0305, 15.1 ft and 1537, 14.7 ft
Seems to be GMT.

Found this in a file of the Seekriegsleitung for area Folkestone - Selsy Bill:
24.9.40: Mondaufgang ca 23.9. 23:00, NW 0:00; Hochwasser 5:45, Dämmerung 6:30, Sonnenaufgang 7:45; NW 12:15
25.9.40: HW 6:50, Dämmerung 6:35, Sonnaufgang 7:50

Knouterer
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 23 Dec 2016 09:38

Getting away a bit from the FJ, but while we're on the coast, I was wondering what the invasion fleet would have looked like to a high-flying RAF reconnaissance plane, so I doodled a little something. The idea was that the freighters for Beach B, coming from Rotterdam, would sail in a double line and drop anchor parallel to the coast. It's possible they might have anchored a little further out, given that the biggest ships had a draught of 10-12 m. According to the Channel Pilot, 1947 edition, "there is anchorage in depths of 4 to 5 fathoms (7m30 to 9m10) about 2 miles offshore" (off Dymchurch).

A rough and ready calculation on the basis of Gröner's data shows that the average size of these ships was a bit over 4,000 GRT for a length (over all) of 110m. And in fact an average of 4,000 GRT was the basis for the German loading calculations, IIRC.

With a ship every 400 m that would mean an average distance between ships of 290m. The little dashes represent barges lying alongside, moving to and from the beach, or beached. The red dashes represent minesweepers and Vorpostenboote keeping guard to seaward.
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Knouterer
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 02 Jan 2017 11:57

On that subject, the War Diary (WO 166/4496) of the 2nd/5th Queens, who occupied the Dymchurch sector mid-1941, had the following to say under "Tactical Description of the Area":

"7. Navigation

The whole sector faces East South East, and the sea is therefore normally calm, and is shallow for some distance out from the coast.

Four miles out there is a sandbank which is dangerous to shipping at low tide, but while this would prevent large transports from approaching close inshore it is no bar to small invasion craft.

There is a boom about 2 miles out, but doubts have been expressed to its efficacy owing to the difficulty of keeping it in a proper state of repair.

(...)

At high tide the sea comes right up to the sea-wall which extends the whole length of the front and which must be crossed by any enemy attempting to land from the sea. The sea-wall is of stone and generally some 3 to 5 feet high.

At low tide some 500 yards of firm sand is exposed, which is intersected by wooden groynes. Enemy infantry could disembark easily at low tide, but would have to advance over a considerable expanse of very exposed sand."

I'm not entirely sure that the reference to that sandbank is accurate; the Channel Pilot mentions several sandbanks or "flats" in this area:

- Swallow Bank, least depth of 3 1/4 fathoms (5.9 m), about 2.5 miles NNE of Dungeness (vaguely indicated on the map above);
- Roar Bank, a long narrow ridge of sand with a least depth of 1.5 fathoms (2.7 m), running parallel with and one mile offshore eastward of New Romney;
- Hythe Flat, a shallow bank extending from the shore between Dymchurch and Sandgate.

From Sailing Directions for the English Channel: HYTHE FLAT is the shallow extending from the shore between Dymchurch and Shorncliff battery. The least water on it is 22 feet ; and its outer edge in 5 fathoms abreast of the Martello tower, is about 2 miles from the shore.
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 05 Jan 2017 10:57

To reconnect with the earlier discussion about what other transport planes besides the Ju 52 could have been used: one possibility is the Caudron C.445 Goëland, of which the Germans had captured over 50, and they kept the production line going. Capacity was only 6 passengers and 2 crew, but if any airfield had been captured it would have been useful as a liaison or ambulance plane, possibly also for air-dropping supplies etc. Maximum speed was about 300 km/h, a bit faster than the Ju 52.

However, the shortage of pilots qualified to fly multi-engined aircraft would have been a bigger problem than the shortage of transport aircraft, I think.

Picture taken from http://aviation-militaire.kazeo.com/cau ... a121956658
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by sitalkes » 17 Jan 2017 00:33

Did it have any STOL capability? Could it land on a road? its range was 1000 km - far enough for a round trip without refueling? It had baggage compartments fore and aft so a more viable option for the GD to make a landing (could carry some heavier weapons e.g. mortars perhaps), Seems it might have had a payload of 500 kg. The Storch besides only being able to carry two passengers, in any case had rather a short range (390km) for any sort of round-trip cross-channel operations while overloaded.

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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 22 Jul 2017 09:48

Knouterer wrote: According to Golla, a FJ battalion at the time was 560-580 strong, but he also states that actual jump strength over Crete was only about 450, so if we take 500 men as a rough approximation, a first wave of 4 (reinforced) battalions would fit into 200 Jus.
On that point, there's a recent book by Yannis Prekatsounakis, Crete- The Battle for Heraklion 1941, which is very interesting because it includes many detailed accounts from Greek soldiers and civilians, whose experiences tend to be a bit neglected in (most of) the literature.

As there were not enough (serviceable) transport aircraft, the drop of the 1st battalion of FJR1 was organized as follows (page 96):

Battalion staff and signals platoon: 7 officers and 56 other ranks in five aircraft;
1st Company: 4 officers and 113 other ranks in ten aircraft (instead of twelve);
2nd Company: 4 officers and 127 other ranks in ten aircraft;
3rd Company: 4 officers and 116 other ranks in nine aircraft).

The 4th (heavy weapons) company did not drop the first day, and was badly missed when the battalion had to attack prepared positions defended by the Black Watch.
Adding up the above numbers actual jump strength was 431.
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 23 Jul 2017 10:39

Knouterer wrote:
Dispatchers at this time were generally Fallschirmjäger who no longer met the high physical standards for jump duty, for example because of back injuries. This had the advantage that they already knew the business and did not need much additional training.
Interesting quote from Col. Freiherr von der Heydte, a famous paratroop officer, in http://mr-home.staff.shef.ac.uk/airborne/104-13.html (found by Sitalkes):

"Next to the pilot, the most important man in the flying crew was the airborne combat observer, or, as the troops called him, the jumpmaster (Absetzer), that is, the man who gave the signal to jump. The jumpmaster should be an extremely well-trained observer and bombardier. In the German airborne forces he was just the opposite. The jumpmasters were not taken from the flying personnel of the Luftwaffe but from the airborne troops; from time to time, the various parachute units had to release one or two men for training as jumpmasters, and with the inherent selfishness of any unit they naturally did not release their best men but rather their worst, who for some reason or other could no longer be used as paratroopers. If this reason was a combat injury, the men might still have served their purpose, but more often than not the reason was lack of personal courage or intelligence. The jumpmasters selected in this negative manner were trained at a jumpmasters' school by instructors who had been detailed from the flying personnel of the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe did not release its best instructors for this purpose. After this deficient training the jumpmaster waited in some troop-carrier unit, like the fifth wheel on a wagon, until he was needed for an airborne operation, meanwhile forgetting what little he had learned at the school. For, like bombing or firing a weapon, dropping paratroops is a matter of practice, of constant uninterrupted practice. The German jumpmasters were completely lacking in this practice. In almost every airborne operation the consequences were disastrous. During the Crete operation at least one platoon of each battalion was landed incorrectly; at Maleme entire companies were dropped into the sea because the jumpmasters-out of fear, as the paratroopers afterwards claimed-had given the signal too early; during the Ardennes operation one company was dropped on the Rhine north of Bonn instead of south of Eupen, and the majority of the signal platoon of that company was dropped south of Monschau directly in front of the German lines."

As appears from this quote, the Absetzer was responsible for navigation and identifying the drop zone, checking that course, speed and altitude were correct, and giving the appropriate commands on time.
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 10 Oct 2017 18:55

Knouterer wrote:During the fighting on 10-14 May, the Dutch captured some 1,600 German airborne troops and aircrew, of which they managed to ship about 1,200 to Britain before they capitulated: 900 on 13 May on the Phrontis, and another 300 the next day on the Texelstroom.
Interesting brief newsreel showing some of these prisoners, with Dutch guards, arriving in England. The "dangerous-looking knives" are not really weapons but primarily tools the FJ could use to cut themselves free if they got hung up in a tree. Which is why they could be flicked open with one hand.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxQTWVctk6g
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by hoot72 » 06 Aug 2018 06:25

How many JU52's were available in Europe in 1940-1941 for a dedicated invasion of Britain if 75% of their aircraft were used specifically for parachute drops of men and equipment?
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sitalkes
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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by sitalkes » 09 Aug 2018 17:25

They had other aircraft that could be used as transport aircraft and were used for the invasion of Norway. Ju 52 was most important type but others were possible

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Re: Intended FJ role in Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 27 Jan 2019 18:25

Some info from G. Schlaug, Die deutschen Lastensegler-Verbände 1937-1945 (Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1985):

For the attack on Eben-Emael the troops of Sturmabteilung Koch had been transported by 17./KGzbV5 with 42 Ju 52s each towing a DFS 230 glider, meaning that this Staffel was actually close to Gruppe strength (53). After the successful attack, this unit formed the basis for the first Luftlandegeschwader (LLG 1) formed 27.7.1940 at Hildesheim. This Geschwader was not yet at full strength by September. On 1 November, the I. and II. Gruppe were reported as fully operational, but in the latter only the 4th Staffel had Ju 52s, and the 5th and 6th only DFS 230. The III. Gruppe, formed at the beginning of September, had only Hs 126 as tow planes and was considered “limited operational”. Later on, Ju 87s and obsolete fighters like the Avia B 534 and the Arado 65 were also used as tow planes, but apparently only for supply flights, not for airborne assaults.

So on the face of it would not have been possible to transport the whole of the LLSR in one go by means of this Geschwader.

For the assault on Crete, 72 DFS 230s of LLG 1 were used, transporting the first battalion of the LLSR (consisting of 4 companies by then), the commander of the 7th Fliegerdivision and some of his staff, and some odds and ends. According to one of the glider pilots taking part, the Ju 52s towing the gliders carried a full load of parachutists and/or supplies as well (as confirmed by Golla, p. 428).

One interesting tidbit: between 60 and 100 training gliders of the Kranich (crane) type were collected and painted with camouflage colours and black crosses. With some structural reinforcement these little gliders could carry 100 kgs of ammunition or other supplies, besides the pilot. The author speculates that maybe they were intended for emergencies, to resupply units that were cut off.
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