Fire Support Battle In Normandy

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JonS
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by JonS » 28 Jan 2011 02:24

Takao wrote:Also, there was the full weight of the RAF and US Eighth Air Force that could be brought to bear on the German forces. Whereas, in the week prior to Tarawa & Makin, 7th Air Force B-24s flew some 150 sorties(With the largest mission consisting of only 31 B-24s, and that struck both Tarawa and Makin). Of course, this does not include the carrier planes, but still, there was a far greater amount of airpower that could be brought to bear on the Normandy beaches, as opposed to that for Makin & Tarawa.
I can't help thinking that when one compares Makin to Normandy, finds them comparable, and declares everything was therefore rosy, that one has entirely missed the point.
Now for a question, as it has been some time since I read up on the Normandy invasion. The US Navy was using CVEs to provide close air support for the invasions, but did the US Army have anything comparable for the Normandy invasions?
Yes; the USS England, a.k.a. Airstrip One

RichTO90
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by RichTO90 » 28 Jan 2011 04:42

JonS wrote:I can't help thinking that when one compares Makin to Normandy, finds them comparable, and declares everything was therefore rosy, that one has entirely missed the point.
Hi Jon!

To be fair, I think the comparison being made is from one regimental-zone landing to another? Inother words UTAH = Makin or OMAHA = Makin X 2. :D
Yes; the USS England, a.k.a. Airstrip One
Smart ass! :lol: That reply made me laugh more than I have for a long time when perusing the trainwreck that AHF has become. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks!

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 28 Jan 2011 07:41

Delta Tank wrote:
Carl Schwamberger wrote:My gun count of the Normandy fire support is not complete, but just glancing at the OB Rich gave us for the Utah Beach fire support group & comparing to the Betio Island FSG it looks like the Utah force is near equal in large guns and heavier in the medium & light naval guns. I'd have to look at assualts like Huskey, Avalance, Shingle, Dragoon to judge if it were comparatively small.

In terms of the over all task and the other unproven preperatory fire techniques the NGF preperation does look a bit lite. While more big guns would be really nice to have there are also important problems in target identification, duration, timing, communication, command and control. It is correct more big gun NGF ships were not critical to the ultimate outcome. But, it is clear the Allied advance across & off the beaches was hampered by a anemic NGF preperation
Carl,

It was anemic because we were landing on a continent versus landing on an island that had been isolated. A one or two day preparation of the Normandy beaches would of tipped our hand, but beating up an island in the Pacific for three or four days that has been isolated by the US Navy, also tips our hand, but so what! :D But, if we had more NGF ships for that short bombardment period, it may of helped, just can't tell from here. I guess if the Army Air Corps would of flown low over Omaha Beach and parallel to the beach, like they did at Utah, that would of helped big time!

Mike
In the case of Betio the preperatory fires were only four hours. The aphibious fleet did not show up until the morning of the assualt. The previous day a squadron of Japanese longrange bombers rendevoused on the Betio airstrip & refueled there after searching for the suspected US fleet. So the Tarawa atoll was not exactly isolated until the attack actually kicked off.

In the case of Normandy the beach defenses had been on alert since the first airborne landings were reported. German survivors described arriving at their posts 2-3 hours before dawn. So its not like there was tactical suprise, with the defenders caught in the barracks.

Making the preperatory fires more robust does not require the attack be massively extended over time. The long bombardments in the Pacific were a effort to destroy defenses before last minute suppresion or nuetralization. To suppress or stun the defenders a lot less time is needed but the volume per minute needs to be high. Remember how the Time on Target was perfered? Its based on the idea that twelve cannon firing one shot each simultaneously gets a better effect on target than one cannon firing twelve projectiles sequentially .

Extending the time of the prep fires can be helpfull, but it is more efficent to boost the volume just before the assualt. That concentrates the physical and morale effects reducing recovery. There are limits set by rate of fire of the weapons, so if you want the maximum suppresive effect its preferable to increase the number of weapons.
Tako wrote:Now for a question, as it has been some time since I read up on the Normandy invasion. The US Navy was using CVEs to provide close air support for the invasions, but did the US Army have anything comparable for the Normandy invasions?
The air support from the CVE had its problem. The pilots were USN with zero experince & very little training in close air support techniques. They were unable to 'read' the battlefield, were unfamilar with the visual signals the Marines used on the ground, and were very awkward with the radio communications. Many attacks were ineffective, some hit the Marines, and others were aborted as they threatened to hit the Marines. In that sense the air support for the Betio attack was comparable to the US air support over Normandy in that the USAAF CAS techniques were not all that they could have been. The fiasco with the heavy bombers at Omaha beach is the most glaring example. My take is the Brits had it better in June. Their techniques for CAS appear a step ahead of the USAAF that month. In July Quesada replaced Bereton & several important improvements were rapidly made. In the Pacific the Marines made a nucanse of themselves until they got some of their bomber squadrons aboard the carriers, and USN bomber crews were given some basic training in CAS techniques.
Tako wrote:Of course, this does not include the carrier planes, but still, there was a far greater amount of airpower that could be brought to bear on the Normandy beaches, as opposed to that for Makin & Tarawa.
I dunno, some sort of measurement of sorties per hour per square kilometer of battlefield might tell us which had 'more' air support. or maybe measuring bombs dropped per sq Km?
RichTO90 wrote:To be fair, I think the comparison being made is from one regimental-zone landing to another? Inother words UTAH = Makin or OMAHA = Makin X 2.
Betio! Dammit! Makin was the nearly undefended island. Tarawa was the name of the entire atoll, a dozen or so islands.

& yes in that specific example I was trying to match attacks with a single regiment in the initial assualt.
Mike wrote:I guess if the Army Air Corps would of flown low over Omaha Beach and parallel to the beach, like they did at Utah, that would of helped big time!
Dont get me started :roll:

Delta Tank
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 28 Jan 2011 14:37

Carl,

Carl wrote:
Betio! Dammit! Makin was the nearly undefended island. Tarawa was the name of the entire atoll, a dozen or so islands.
Hey Carl, I mention Makin and Rich used Makin, and as far as I can recall no one mentioned Betio. I just googled Makin Island and I got Republic of Kiribati which consists of the Makin Atoll, and the island the 27th ID assaulted was/is called Butaritari Island.

Carl what do you know about the US Navy Admiral called Connolly??? He was a naval gunfire support specialist and the sailors called him something like "Get Closer Connolly"?? I read that he determined that naval gunfire support was more than just showing up and blasting an island from long distance. He developed techniques and procedures for naval gun fire and actually sent ships to a naval gunfire support school of sorts where they actually trained on the TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) needed to be successful.

Mike

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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 28 Jan 2011 18:22

"Close-in Connoly"

Delta Tank
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 28 Jan 2011 18:29

To all,

Another question on naval gunfire support. I read somewhere that the radar on some of the larger ships was so good that they could actually see the splashes and they could adjust their fire without an observer. Assuming that this is true, does this technique work on ground targets? If the target is in defilade this technique would not work?

Mike

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LWD
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by LWD » 28 Jan 2011 19:23

That was indeed the case. However the "splash" especially with battleship caliber guns was a pretty tall massive colum of water. Ground impacts wouldn't in general produce the same effect. Nor was it needed as much as main guns of cruisers and battleships were most often directed against permanent targets so a high rate of fire wasn't all that necessary and fire could be walked onto target by observerse.

RichTO90
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by RichTO90 » 28 Jan 2011 20:08

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Dont get me started :roll:
About what? :D

If you look at the bombing patterns of the B-26's from 9th BC at UTAH you will find that they actually were not all that accurate, with one fortuitous exception. If the landing had occurred where it was supposed to, astride StP9, I rather think the result would have been more OMAHA-like. In any case, in terms of actual damage to the fortifications, it was found that a direct hit by a 500lb+ SAP or 750lb+ GP was needed to do the job, and the liklihood of that was pretty small.

Further, the implication that the Air Force at UTAH flew the "right way", parallel to the coast, and at OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD the "wrong way", perpindicular to the course, is the same used to castigate them for the COBRA and other tactical bombings. But the problem is, the reason that the 9th BC could fly parallel was that they were essentially flying NNW to SSE and so were in the same flight orientation that 8th BC was with regards to the other beaches. After all, the eastern shore of the Manche coastline runs at near right angles to the Calvados coastline. Plus, there were quite a few other aircraft taking up the airspace, TCC carrying the 82nd and 101st flying WSW to NNE across the Cotentin earlier in the morning, the escorting fighter screens flying south, east, and ahead of the west of the bomber lanes, and so on. The maps on pages 58 and 62 of Effectiveness of Third Phase tactical air operations in the European Theater, 5 May 1944 -- 8 May 1945 illustrate the problem very well. Overall, 9,445 aircraft of Eighth and Ninth air forces alone were dispatched on D-Day...the skies got kind of crowded. :lol:

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Delta Tank
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 28 Jan 2011 20:32

RichTO90 wrote:
Carl Schwamberger wrote:Dont get me started :roll:
About what? :D

If you look at the bombing patterns of the B-26's from 9th BC at UTAH you will find that they actually were not all that accurate, with one fortuitous exception. If the landing had occurred where it was supposed to, astride StP9, I rather think the result would have been more OMAHA-like. In any case, in terms of actual damage to the fortifications, it was found that a direct hit by a 500lb+ SAP or 750lb+ GP was needed to do the job, and the liklihood of that was pretty small.

Further, the implication that the Air Force at UTAH flew the "right way", parallel to the coast, and at OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD the "wrong way", perpindicular to the course, is the same used to castigate them for the COBRA and other tactical bombings. But the problem is, the reason that the 9th BC could fly parallel was that they were essentially flying NNW to SSE and so were in the same flight orientation that 8th BC was with regards to the other beaches. After all, the eastern shore of the Manche coastline runs at near right angles to the Calvados coastline. Plus, there were quite a few other aircraft taking up the airspace, TCC carrying the 82nd and 101st flying WSW to NNE across the Cotentin earlier in the morning, the escorting fighter screens flying south, east, and ahead of the west of the bomber lanes, and so on. The maps on pages 58 and 62 of Effectiveness of Third Phase tactical air operations in the European Theater, 5 May 1944 -- 8 May 1945 illustrate the problem very well. Overall, 9,445 aircraft of Eighth and Ninth air forces alone were dispatched on D-Day...the skies got kind of crowded. :lol:

Cheers!
Rich,
In the book about Utah Beach by Balkoski, IIRC, he stated that the reason the bombers flew parallel to the beach is because there were paratroopers inland and they did not want any overs on their bomb run, so they flew parallel and all overs would still land on the beach. Bad sentence but I trust you get my drift!

Now IIRC, on Utah Beach, the US Navy bombarded the wrong beach, the US Air Corps bombed the same wrong beach, and the US Navy landed the troops on the same wrong beach, which made it the correct beach!! :lol:

Over 9400 aircraft!! any collisions? Had to have a couple!

Mike

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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by RichTO90 » 28 Jan 2011 21:27

Delta Tank wrote:In the book about Utah Beach by Balkoski, IIRC, he stated that the reason the bombers flew parallel to the beach is because there were paratroopers inland and they did not want any overs on their bomb run, so they flew parallel and all overs would still land on the beach. Bad sentence but I trust you get my drift!
That was his inference, but a quick look at Third Phase and the various Eighth and Ninth Air Force operational histories show that it was notthe root reason.
Now IIRC, on Utah Beach, the US Navy bombarded the wrong beach, the US Air Corps bombed the same wrong beach, and the US Navy landed the troops on the same wrong beach, which made it the correct beach!! :lol:
Not the wrong beach, but the right beach at the wrong location. :lol:
Over 9400 aircraft!! any collisions? Had to have a couple!
I think they are mentioned a couple of places. IIRC the total was around a dozen?
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Aber
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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Aber » 29 Jan 2011 00:28

The airforce explanation during Cobra for flying perpendicular rather than parallel to a target line was simple congestion - they could get a much larger number of aircraft through the target area in a limited time using that approach. Using the perpendicular approach, they could have several columns of aircraft approaching the target area at the same time, where flying a parallel approach each column would in effect have to follow each other.

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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Jan 2011 05:14

Delta Tank wrote:Carl,

Carl wrote:
Betio! Dammit! Makin was the nearly undefended island. Tarawa was the name of the entire atoll, a dozen or so islands.
Hey Carl, I mention Makin and Rich used Makin, and as far as I can recall no one mentioned Betio. I just googled Makin Island and I got Republic of Kiribati which consists of the Makin Atoll, and the island the 27th ID assaulted was/is called Butaritari Island.

Carl what do you know about the US Navy Admiral called Connolly??? He was a naval gunfire support specialist and the sailors called him something like "Get Closer Connolly"?? I read that he determined that naval gunfire support was more than just showing up and blasting an island from long distance. He developed techniques and procedures for naval gun fire and actually sent ships to a naval gunfire support school of sorts where they actually trained on the TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) needed to be successful.Mike

I knew less than that. His name pops up occasionally in that context.
Delta Tank wrote:Another question on naval gunfire support. I read somewhere that the radar on some of the larger ships was so good that they could actually see the splashes and they could adjust their fire without an observer. Assuming that this is true, does this technique work on ground targets? If the target is in defilade this technique would not work?

Mike
KNowing where the shot hits is half of it. You have to know exactly where the target is.

When hitting bunkers with large caliber cannon your error allowance between penetrated/destroyed & merely stunned is a usually a meter or two. Even for trenches scratched in the dirt a 105mm howitzer projectile has to hit just a meter from it to collapse the trench. With a 203mm projo. its still barely three meters. Much other than a direct hit just scares them. The less accurate the target location is the less your gunnery solution & other factors matter. To actually destroy bunkers on Normandy beaches you have to know exactly were they are. Estimating locations from air photo analaysis or reports from clever Frenchmen can only do so much. A radar that could locate gun bunkers through camoflage, defilade, and haze would be usefull.
Rich wrote: About what?

If you look at the bombing patterns of the B-26's from 9th BC at UTAH you will find that they actually were not all that accurate, with one fortuitous exception. If the landing had occurred where it was supposed to, astride StP9, I rather think the result would have been more OMAHA-like. In any case, in terms of actual damage to the fortifications, it was found that a direct hit by a 500lb+ SAP or 750lb+ GP was needed to do the job, and the liklihood of that was pretty small.

Further, the implication that the Air Force at UTAH flew the "right way", parallel to the coast, and at OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD the "wrong way", perpindicular to the course, is the same used to castigate them for the COBRA and other tactical bombings. But the problem is, the reason that the 9th BC could fly parallel was that they were essentially flying NNW to SSE and so were in the same flight orientation that 8th BC was with regards to the other beaches. After all, the eastern shore of the Manche coastline runs at near right angles to the Calvados coastline. Plus, there were quite a few other aircraft taking up the airspace, TCC carrying the 82nd and 101st flying WSW to NNE across the Cotentin earlier in the morning, the escorting fighter screens flying south, east, and ahead of the west of the bomber lanes, and so on. The maps on pages 58 and 62 of Effectiveness of Third Phase tactical air operations in the European Theater, 5 May 1944 -- 8 May 1945 illustrate the problem very well. Overall, 9,445 aircraft of Eighth and Ninth air forces alone were dispatched on D-Day...the skies got kind of crowded.

Cheers!
Rich wrote:
Been through all that before, some with you here, & all of it elesewhere. One point is the Suppresion thing I keep dwelling on. Everyone expects all those explosions to blow up a lot of things. Thats not really the way it works. Unless you have the bunker target precisely located and a precise aim the percent of destructive hits will be very low. What you are left with when attacking protected crews in these is frightening them badly enough they dont shoot back much as the assualt. Give them a few minutes between the last bomb and the first rifleman coming in range and the Suppresion is fading or gone. Time is of the essence here. I'm on the road & cant sort through the books & notes, but reflect on the time gap created on Omaha beach by the bombers missing entirely. If the descriptions I'm working from are correct the NGF was shifted from the targets overlooking the beach to those on or beyond the bluffs before the air strike. The German descriptions reflect this, describing time to shake off the morale effects before the first wave reached the trigger line for opening fire.

I'd druther finish counting naval guns next week, but will force myself to look over the air strikes a bit then. :(

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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Aber » 29 Jan 2011 10:52

One thought - who was Bradley's artillery adviser, who should have been able to explain the effectiveness of bombardment on entrenched troops?

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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by RichTO90 » 30 Jan 2011 23:53

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Been through all that before, some with you here, & all of it elesewhere. One point is the Suppresion thing I keep dwelling on. Everyone expects all those explosions to blow up a lot of things.
I don't. :lol:
Thats not really the way it works.
Exactly, which is why I specifically addressed "actual damage". I probably should have said that the only effect at all of the IX BC strike on UTAH was to partly suppress the defenses of WN 5, although I think one of the gun positions was also masked by sand blown onto it by the bombing?

Anyway, the point I was trying to make in reply to your comment was that the assumption that flying a parallel bombing run would have yielded better results because of what happened at UTAH is speculative in the extreme. The best you can say is that from that evidence possibly one or two (counting the larger area and larger bomb force) of the 14-odd WN on OMAHA may have been suppressed.

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

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Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Feb 2011 06:21

RichTO90 wrote: Exactly, which is why I specifically addressed "actual damage". I probably should have said that the only effect at all of the IX BC strike on UTAH was to partly suppress the defenses of WN 5, although I think one of the gun positions was also masked by sand blown onto it by the bombing?
One might consider that 'partially' is better than not at all.

What happened at WN 5 depends on which second hand description I read. My apologies I dont have the original & full account of Lt Jahnke, just fragments scattered across several volumes. Ditto for the other primary docs. Hargreaves (Germans in Normandy) claims all the cannon in Jahnke's WN5, except the 88 FLAK gun were unable to fire. Conversely Berger (Breaching Fortress Europa) has that the 88 FLAK was damaged, the 75mm guns destroyed, ammunition set afire. A mortar remained in action. Berger's text also claims mounting casualties with each sucessive wave of aircraft during the preperatory fires. Berger does note few or none of the 20+ concrete pill boxes or bunkers making up WN5 were penetrated.

Balkowski (Utah Beach) refers to a "Ninth Air Force Study" (no proper title dammit) that identified 59% of the bombs hitting within 500 yards of the target & 16% effectively direct hits (direct hits on what??? :x ).

Ambrose (D-Day) naturally as all manner of annecdotes. He refers to three B26 pilots describing the landing craft approaching the beach as they made their bomb runs. One bombardier described landing craft unloading. Jahncke's testimony is added. In this case there was enough time seperation between bomber groups that Jahncke ordered his men out of the bunkers to their battle stations. Then they got to see another group of bombers appear from the north flying along the beach. Ambrose is more specific about the destruction around WN5 - the 88FLAK is damaged, two 75mm guns & two 50mm AT guns destroyed, the flame throwers destroyed. Ambrose credits the two light mortars surviving in WN5.

Scanning back over the American participants versions of this the complaints refer to mines & German artillery fire. Rifle or sniper fire is mentioned, but there are relatively few remarks about MG fire or direct fire from cannon. Remarks about the Germans being "shook up" or wanting to surrender are common. It is also mentioned that WN5 was bypassed by the initial landing waves of the 8th Regiment & secured later around or after 07:00. Since it sits near center of the initial landing site Lt Jahncke & his crew must not have been of much use.

None of these specifically identify what happened to the other WN resistance nest on Utah beach, other than the 9th AF study. Perhaps this is because WN 5 was the only one able to take the 8th Regiments landing site under fire? The others shown on the maps are too far back, apparently to cover beach exits, or are too far to the flanks out of MG range or sight. To put this another way it appears the bombers hit a WN not in the intended landing area and left it rather weak.

Probablly a lot more here I am missing this evening. Will try revisitng this later in the week.

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