417,324 US aircraft attacking (I assume sorties?) dropped 1,026,735 tons
Reactive Request 1/20/2013 5:28:21 PM
...Could someone, (B?) possibly do the following, (I think it might be a better way of establishing a basis for debate.)
List some points that explain in broad terms what are, in your view the key differences between RAF Bomber Command's strategy and those of the USAAF and their respective effects. I find this debate very interesting and think it would help anyone reading (now or in future) to understand the key arguments.
(((( Personally I think a lot of the criticism of Harris is justified - much more generally I think a lot of these apply to an awful lot of what the RAF/Army and RN did when compared to the US forces - British wartime innovation seems to me to be mainly technological in nature (which includes code-breaking and RADAR) with wartime strategy being slow (and stubborn) to adapt to the new reality that the Germans created - IMV a lot of that is explained by the manner in which many key figures in the war were given (and managed to retain) their commissions, a legacy of our bizarre class system in which the aristocracy managed to seamlessly secure high-command throughout irrespective of ingenuity or success. ))))
This will take several postings.
The British had a better engine technology base despite the Americans extraordinary (for the depression era) squandering of MILLIONs of dollars on aero-engines (hyper-engine programs) that went no-where. The British went the private enterprise route and developed three engine sources (Bristol, Napier, and Rolls Royce who were superb) America was lucky to piggyback onto the British with the Packard Merlin and to have one genuine genius company, Pratt and Whitney. Allison was no better than Hispano-Suiza, while Curtiss (Wright)was an utter disaster.
The British continued to build racing planes and competed against European opponents in the aeroplane competitions of the day. This was most important for only one reason... learning how to build lightweight liquid-cooled engines with mechanical superchargers as single integrated power-units. If the only thing that came out of the Schneider Cup races was the knowledge the British and Italians developed in how to make super-chargers part of an engine's air breather circuit, that was worth the private monies invested in the races.
The Americans did hold several key edges over the rest of the world, which they were TARDY to exploit. They were THE world leaders in turbo-chargers and constant speed propeller tech. They also had the NACA bible (still in use by aircraft designers)The jet engine without that turbo-charger knowledge base they had, would have been American impossible to so rapidly exploit. In the immediate meantime the turbochargers allowed the slow under-powered American heavy-bombers to do one thing the British heavy bombers could not do, CLIMB high enough, so that their wimpy radial engines gave them a speed advantage in thin air over the asthmatic BF-109s that clawed their way up to chase them. It also put the Americans out the German FLAK sweet spot. Without that edge, the American bomber losses to day-fighters and AAA guns might have been TWICE what they were. It should be noted that the American radials could breath at high altitude with their supercharger turbo-charger combos to compete with the LC-ICE powered Euro-fighters. The Americans largely had Pratt and Whitney and GE to thank for that, otherwise they would have been an all Merlin force like the British almost ended up.
The Hamilton-Standard and Chicago Machine Tool props which arrived in 1944, again tardy, ensured that the heavy American fighters, til then sluggish with their poor power to weight ratios compared to the lightweight Spitfires, Gustavs, and Machis could compete close enough so that Thunderbolt and Lightning drivers could match skill against skill against Axis pilots without having to worry about enemy climb and dive superiority. That was an American energy advantage niche, then. Mass has its potential energy advantages, if you are thrust efficient!
The NACA bible of air-foil designs should have been a closely-guarded national secret. It was foolishly published in 1938-1939 so that everyone could use it. Nevertheless, since the Americans had first look and understood EXACTLY why those air-foils worked the way they did, (based on German work done in the 1920s, that the Americans followed up; that apparently only Ernst Heinkel and Kurt Tank among the Germans, intuitively understood,) such as why thick chord wings work until you reach about Mach 0.4-6 then you better start to think about thinner symmetric laminar flow wings. They knew exactly how to modify an aircraft to operate in a specific altitude band without the involved trial by error eind-tunnel testing that wasted time. (A-26 and B-24) The British were given access to this research as well as American chemistry which the British put to GOOD use. (DeHavilland being the beneficiary.)
The Lightning shows what an all-American fighter without British help would have to be to do the job over Germany from 1940-1946. The Allison, because it did not have the lightweight mechanical supercharger breather circuit designed into the Merlin, was handicapped with a very heavy, very vulnerable turbo-charger plumbers nightmare. To get the range, the watts/newtons thrust, and mass ratios as well as competitive wing loading for an angle-fighter, you needed a HUGE size for a fighter aircraft and the two engines. Merlins would have helped, a Pratt and Whitney R-2800 with the PROPER Pratt turbo-charger would have been ideal in 1940. By 1944, the Merlin Mustang was there with all the single-engined fighter advantages. So no Lightnings...
There are a host of other technical issues as to why the US and UK bomber and fighter forces evolved differently, such as the American failure to develop a lightweight auto-cannon. Such a piece of aircraft artillery in 1937 for example when the American bomber designs matured would have driven American designers to clean high-speed, high altitude designs rather than the cluttered fifty caliber festooned mid-altitude porcupines they produced. When you LOOK at designs such as the B-17, the B-26, the A-20, B-26, and A-26, etc., you see that those birds were meant to be schnell-bombers. The lack of a good lightweight cannon for nose and tail defense, meant that the Browning 50s were all there was. Beam attacks and head on firing passes from German cannon firing fighters became possible, when you MUST provide an all around defense with multiple machine guns. Drag KILLS, because it robs you of speed and altitude. The American wartime propaganda claimed a virtue of this necessity, but Boeing, Martin and Consolidated aircraft designers knew the Germans were right about SPEED. The B-17 was supposed to be a 300 knot bomber at 27000 feet. It was a 200 knot bomber at 22,000 feet. Lots of DRAG. No wonder the Lancaster was a more efficient bomb truck as far as payload and crew. THREE TONNES of ammunition, life support, additional men and guns went into each Flying Fort, that a Lancaster did not carry or need. That's a lot of gas and bombs not carried.
The USAAF and the RAF both embraced the Douhet doctrine of strategic bombing with some notable differences between them.
The British, originally, did not intend to go into the city-killing business. They had some vague notion of attacking key industrial targets, but then the RAF did not follow up on that notion with a target index system in the 1930s with vigorous enemy industrial target reconnaissance. As the war progressed they would develop one (around 1943, they had a target list) but by then it was too late. They were committed to the de-housing and area bombing tactics. It did not become their main operational procedure to hit point targets-ever. That factor, plus aircraft operational range and technical limitations (a night bomber force of mostly Lancasters) confined their main strategic bombing activities to west and central Germany and to splat targets (cities). The bomb loads they carried to Berlin per bomber were very light when you consider the hefty loads they dumped over Cologne's residential areas deliberately. The RAF were terror-bombing and pretending it was a strategic bombing campaign. That's not much of an air campaign strategy.
The Americans DID plan to go into the city-killing business with fire-bombing. But that was against their referent enemy-Japan. At least that was the plan as early as the Hoover Administration. Then Roosevelt came in, along with that wallpaper hanger son of a bitch in Berlin. The referent enemy was still Japan, but now the Germans' stone and timber cities were also on the target lists to be USAAF compiled. They DID break out the Baedekkers to draw circles around Dornier, Heinkel, Henschel, BMW, Daimler Benz, Arado, BFW and so forth. They conducted on-site industrial target reconnaissance to find things to be bombed. Why do you think Lindbergh made all those trips to Germany? Racism, not admitted to be a component of American planning now reared its UGLY head. With planners like Carl SPAATZ, the American bomber targeteers suddenly became SQUEAMISH about fire-bombing EUROPEANS. American bombs were now redesigned to demolish through blast over-pressure. Promising cluster-bomb and parachute mine-bomb research was abandoned. People began to preach “precision daylight bombing” (SARCASM) as if they thought it would work.
In the meantime, with the B-17 coming on-line the USAAF did a very curious thing. They changed their bomb-delivery tactics to high altitude and to something you could call Bomb-walking. The idea was that you stacked a box of bombers in formation and kept it that way. Fly the whole formation as a group to a release point UPWIND of the target and then release the bomb sticks so that you stitch the ground below with creeping explosions until your bombs crept into the factory or railroad yard or power plant you wanted to blow up. THAT was what the USAAF really meant by precision bombing circa 1940. You needed daylight for that, since the Norden bomb-sight was an over-glorified upside-down wind-drift corrected and gyro-governed SEXTANT. It took the Germans a whole YEAR, once the USAAF started to bomb to figure out the glaring defect in that USAAF plan. Regensburg and Schwinefurt were the unhappy, for the USAAF, result.
I do blame Harris for NOT ADAPTING when his insanity didn't work. But he was not the only BASTARD responsible. You could just about blame the entire RAF high command for their stupid war-making. This unfortunately was an institutional defect; as the RAF, in my sad opinion, was a gentlemen's flying club and not a PROFESIONAL air force. Hence; how can you explain Dowding's mistreatment, what happened to Keith Park, or that no good son of a bitch, Leigh Mallory's continued rise in the ranks? Human factors wise, the RAF was a bloody management disaster. Fortunately the Luftwaffe was the German mirror-image of its RAF foe.
Whatever its faults, and those were way too many technical, as well as doctrinal, the USAAF was a PROFESSIONAL air force. Once the Regensburg Schwinefurt lessons were hammered home in blood and the ones responsible for such glaring mistakes as NOT providing the P-47 Thunderbolt and Lightning escorts with the ON-HAND fuel drop-tanks designed to allow those fighters to penetrate at least as deep as mid Germany were sacked; their careers ruined; the USAAF adjusted to more realistic limited objectives. Their goal was dropped of pretending to bomb key industrial targets to cripple German industry. Where Pointblank (transportation targets) allowed, “the precision bombing fiction” continued, but now the USAAF was after only one thing, kill the Luftwaffe in open battle, anywhere and everywhere Galland's fighters could be coaxed to come up and fight. And FIGHT the Germans did. The USAAF was successful. The
USAAF bombers were bait, the USAAF fighters were the hunters. Numbers game. The Germans ran out of pilots. No Luftwaffe over Normandie.
Just as a side caveat, while the US Ninth Air Force was green and had to learn CAS OJT, why in the name of Dudley Pound were the RAF fighter bomber forces, and the British army so damned INCOMPETENT in their CAS campaign in NE France and the low countries? They learned the trade in North Africa and often boast in postwar histories that they taught their lessons to the Americans, but it was the Americans who used forward air controllers properly, not the British. What happened? Did the RAF ground observers have a sudden amnesia attack of how to call in an air strike?
p.s. There have been encyclopedias of studies written about this first genuine air-campaign, but the thing to remember is that air-warfare is still so new that we can't be sure of many of the lessons to learn from everyone's mistakes. Nevertheless two glaring lessons have since been proven to be universal.
417,324 US aircraft attacking (I assume sorties?) dropped 1,026,735 tons Neet is it not?
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