Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

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Knouterer
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 04 May 2017 12:20

Not very many it seems. Somewhat surprisingly, in view of France's colonial empire, on the outbreak of war the Armée de l'Air did not have any transport units at all, except those assigned to its two parachutist units (GIA I/601 et I/602, about 200 men each, one in metropolitan France and one in Algeria): 12 Potez 650 and 4 Farman 224 in total.
A number of passenger aircraft of Air France were requisitioned to form Groupes Aériens de Transport (GAT) but that didn't work so well as the military and AF (which retained ownership) squabbled endlessly about who was responsible for maintenance and spare parts.
After the armistice, most of these planes were in the Vichy zone or North Africa it seems, so the Germans didn't get anything worth mentioning except for smaller planes like the Caudron C.445.
Later in the war (1942/43), the Germans got their hands on some LeO 451 bombers and converted them to transport aircraft (17 seats) for use in the Mediterranean theatre.
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Knouterer
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 05 May 2017 08:49

To compare with the map on the previous page, here's Philson's order of battle of Fighter Command as of 30 Sept. 1940. I believe Philson is a serious author who did his homework carefully, yet this list puzzles me a bit as the totals for available and serviceable aircraft seem to be quite a bit higher than many other sources/authors claim for this period.

It is claimed that the RAF had about 1,500 "fighter pilots" by the end of Sept. but I suspect that includes the pilots in the three Operational Training Units listed here. They were part of Fighter Command, and having been through Elementary Flying Training School and Service Flying Training School they could (presumably) fly their fighters, but should not be counted as fully operational I think. If we put their number at let's say 250, that would leave 1,250 pilots for 65 fighter squadrons, or 19 per squadron on average.
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 05 May 2017 18:12

Knouterer wrote:
Knouterer wrote:

The abovementioned Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945 (Vol. 4/II) has tables showing the actual allocation (Zuweisung) of fighters (Bf 109) per month:

– In July, the combat units of the LW received 159 single-seat fighters (Bf 109E) Of these, 91 went to Luftflotte 2, 35 to Luftflotte 3, 1 to ErPro 210, and 32 (including 30 E7 fighter bombers) to II.(S)/LG 2, which latter unit, as mentioned above, was in the process of converting from Hs 123 ground attack aircraft.
– In August, 238 single-seat fighters were allocated. Of these, 3 went to Luftflotte 1, 169 went to Luftflotte 2, 51 to Luftflotte 3, 6 to III./JG 26, and 9 (E7) to II.(S)/LG 2.
– In September, the number was 337 (including one Curtiss Hawk): 14 to Luftflotte 1, 274 to Luftflotte 2, 30 to Luftflotte 3, 8 to III./JG 26, and 11 to Erg.(S)/JGr.



For direct comparison, the following fighters were delivered to the RAF in the same period (Baughen, p. 263):

- July: 160 Spitfires and 288 Hurricanes, makes 448
- August: 163 Spitfires and 275 Hurricanes, makes 438
- September: 156 Spits and 253 Hurricanes, makes 409

Considering that the German numbers included many repaired rather than new aircraft, the Brits were clearly outproducing them by a factor of two or more.

In addition, in the same three months 43 Beaufighters, 135 Defiants and 7 Whirlwinds were delivered, plus American Buffaloes, Martlets and Mohawks.
Reserves in storage units included about 200 Spitfires and Hurricanes all through the BoB period, with a low point of 127 in early Sept.


On the subject of repaired aircraft: the Statistical Digest states that 660 aircraft were repaired in the 3rd quarter of 1940 (738 in the 4th). Makes 220 per month; Fighter Command sustained most combat losses in this period but throughout the RAF there were many losses through accidents too of course, Training Command in particular suffered a lot of crashes as one might expect. From breakdowns later in the war (late 1941/1942) it appears that the number of repaired trainers was roughly equal to the number of repaired fighters. We can tentatively assume that the number of repaired fighters returning to service in September was around a hundred. Perhaps a bit less.
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Knouterer
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 06 May 2017 12:17

Another nice little map, this time from W. Dierich, Chronik Kampfgeschwader 51 Edelweiss. No date but it seems to represent the situation at the end of September, roughly. As discussed above, at the end of August all Jagdgeschwader were transferred to Luftflotte 2, but in the second half of Sept. JG 2 returned to LF3 (airfields Beaumont-le-Roger and Octeville). 65 planes and 81 pilots operational as of 28.9.

JG 54 is shown here as based in the Netherlands (airfields Waalhaven and Vlissingen), where it was for a time, but by the end of Sept. this JG was also at Pas-de-Calais (Campagne-lès-Guines/Guines-Sud) : 60 planes, 51 pilots (only Stab plus two Gruppen; I. Gruppe had been withdrawn 23.9 and was defending the German Bight).

Zerstörergeschwader 2 is on the map but had been disbanded early or mid-Sept., the remainder to be retrained as night fighters.

At this point Luftflotte 3 had only a handful of fighters; apart from JG 2 with its 65 serviceable Bf 109 the Stab & III./ZG 76 at Laval, with perhaps 20 Bf 110, which casts doubt on the Luftflotte's ability to protect landing zones D and E of the Ninth Army.

In fact there was a Planspiel at the HQ of Ninth Army (AOK 9) where the Luftwaffe (Fliegerkorps I) declared that fighter cover would be available for only about a quarter of the time during daylight.
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 06 May 2017 14:32

Note also how on this map KG 26 and KG 30 (Fliegerkorps X) have been moved from Denmark and Norway to the southern Netherlands/Belgium/northern France.

KG 26 (He 111) – moved from Stavanger to France Aug./Sept. (Beauvais, Amiens, Poix). III. Gruppe became Zielfindereinheit (pathfinders using the Knickebein navigation system) for Fliegerkorps I

KG 30 (Ju 88A) – September: Stab Eindhoven, I. Gruppe Aalborg-West, II. Gilze-Rijen, III. Amsterdam-Schiphol.

These two Geschwader had experience in operating against naval targets and it looks as if their task would have been to protect the right flank of the invasion, in cooperation with KG 4 of the 9th Fliegerdivision.

It seems that Luftflotte 5 had no bomber units left by this time, and very little else.
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 14 Jun 2017 09:42

Interesting book about the Fairey Battle by Greg Baughen: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fairey-Battle- ... ds=Baughen

The Battle was ordered in large numbers (1,900+) but then the RAF decided the plane wasn't really what was needed after all and senior RAF officers started referring to it as "obsolete" long before deliveries were complete.

Baughen argues that the Battle wasn't really as bad as its reputation. Its performances were no worse than those of the feared Ju 87 Stuka, and the high losses it incurred (from the first 60 combat missions flown in May 1940, 30 planes did not return) were largely attributable to poor planning of operations. Although the technology was available, the RAF was in no hurry to install self-sealing tanks on the Battle. Sets of armour plating to protect the crew were manufactured and sent to France, but never installed. Plans to fit four .303 MGs in the wings, instead of just one, were likewise never carried out. That might have helped to suppress some of the ground fire so many Battles fell victim to.

What is interesting in the context of Seelöwe is that besides the 170 or so Battles with operational squadrons (including four Polish squadrons) in Sept. 1940, and a similar number used as trainers and target tugs, 300 unused Battles were standing around in storage units. It seems peculiar that these planes are not mentioned in the plans for "Operation Banquet" AFAIK, while older aircraft such as the Hawker Hind are. The Battle really was the unloved child of the RAF bomber family.
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 14 Jun 2017 10:04

A picture from Baughen's book. The navigator/bomb aimer was generally left behind in May 1940, as he was not really needed for low-level attacks. The bomb bays in the wings are visible; for dive bombing, the bomb racks could be lowered hydraulically, to make sure the bombs would fall clear of the aircraft. The usual load was four 250 lb. bombs
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Bergedorf » 15 Jun 2017 01:54

There were some Battles in "Operation Banquet".

Per 01.09.1940:
Banquet Training: 23 Battles
nad Banquet 6th and 7th Group: 65 Battles

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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 15 Jun 2017 08:34

Yes, but those were aircraft already in use for training (I suppose), not the Battles in storage.

I see that Philson in his OOB of the RAF as of 30.9 lists only six Battle squadrons as operational with No. 1 Group: 12, 103, 142, 150, 300 (Polish) and 301 (Polish). However,according to Baughen, 304 and 305 (both Polish) had also become operational by 22 Sept.

Philson also does not list No. 61 Group in Northern Ireland, a composite force with two Battle squadrons (88 and 226), an army co-operation squadron with Lysanders, and a long-range CC reconnaissance squadron (Sunderlands?).
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby sitalkes » 21 Jun 2017 04:14

In "The History of Dive Bombing", by Peter Smith, he says the Battle suffered such casualties due to a stupid attitude in the RAF senior staff that prejudiced the RAF against dive bombing (aircraft were for bombing cities and should not be used for army support as that could lead to an army take-over). He says that dive-bombing was not only more accurate, but entailed fewer losses as the dive attack presented a target to AA guns for a much smaller amount of time. He says the use of the Battle as a (low) level bomber was the problem.

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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 23 Jun 2017 10:42

The Battle could dive-bomb at an angle of up to 80°- although this was a theoretical value as there were no dive brakes, and 60° was about the maximum that could be done safely - and this was practiced in training, but in May 1940 there was no agreement on the best mode of attack.

Baughen, p. 72, on operations on the 12th of May:

"Fg Off. Garland, Fg Off. McIntosh and Sgt Marland had the metal Veldwezelt bridge as their target, while Fg Off. Thomas, Plt Off. Davy and Fg Off. Brereton were to tackle the concrete Vroenhoven bridge. As they prepared to set off, Garland and Thomas were involved in a 'heated discussion' about the best way of attacking the bridges. Garland was adamant that the low-level approach was best, while Thomas insisted that dive-bombing was more likely to succeed." In the event, both were shot down, Thomas was captured and Garland was killed (posthumous VC); damage to both bridges was minimal.

Baughen also mentions the interesting fact that the 250 lb bombs used in these and other such attacks were fused with an 11-second delay. This gave the attacking plane plenty of time to get away, but it also meant a fairly long interval before the following planes could attack the same target, giving the defenders more time to shoot at them.

In general, I'm not convinced dive-bombing had very great advantages; at the moment of pulling out of the dive, the plane decelerated sharply, almost "standing still" in the air; that made it an easy target for ground fire, assuming of course the gunners were determined and kept firing instead of diving for cover.

Depending on the circumstances, (low) level bombing might be safer, if the pilot knew exactly where the target was and came roaring in at treetop level, giving AA gunners only a second or two before he was gone again.
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby Knouterer » 14 Nov 2017 14:56

Frontline Books has recently published a report drawn up in 1948 by a captain G.C. Wynne of the Historical Section of the Cabinet Office, under the title Stopping Hitler. An Official Account of how Britain planned to defend itself in the Second World War.

Some interesting stuff in the appendices; here is a list attached to a "Chiefs of Staff Review of the Prospect of Invasion After the Fall of France". It gives the strength of the home based air force as of 17 May. We need to approach all "official data" of this period with some caution of course, given the chaotic circumstances at the time.

A few days later there were still about 120 Hurricanes, 15 Gladiators, 52 Battles and unknown numbers of Blenheims and Lysanders in France or in the process of being withdrawn. 18 Hurricanes and 16 Gladiators were (supposed to be) returning from Norway.

Again, it seems as if the RAF had many more aircraft - in various states of repair - than one would assume on the basis of most accounts of the BoB. The numbers of Battles and Ansons are surprisingly high, but do in fact tally with aircraft deliveries over the preceding 2-3 years, after accounting for combat losses and general wastage. Even the numbers of modern single-engine fighters (Spitfires, Hurricanes and Defiants) are higher than I would have thought: 491 operational first line aircraft (serviceable within 7 days), 134 in reserve immediately available to fly, and 528 not immediately available, makes 1153. There are 365 Blenheim fighters listed as well.
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Postby OldBill » 15 Nov 2017 02:14

It seems a great shame that none of the excess Anson's, Battle's, or US aircraft, whether for Belgian, French or Norwegian orders, were given to the Greeks. They could have surely used them.


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