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Belisarius1234    2/5/2013 11:09:46 AM
New Topic: old subject: How do you design an air force that works? ======================================= People tend to regard historical aircraft discussions as this plane or that plane versus the other plane, but the critical thing people forget is that when it comes to air-fighting, it is not this plane versus that plane, it's this air force versus that air force as part of an overall national war machine. Case in point; the German Luftwaffe. That air-weapon was designed to support the Herr (Army) as a tactical air force with mostly battlefield support and medium range rear battlefield area interdiction aircraft. True the Germans tried terror bombing a few times, Warsaw, Rotterdam, Coventry, London are famous examples; but where they succeeded in the air, the Wehrmacht had also won the war on the ground, which cases also showed their enemy air opposition was nil, the flight endurance in hours for aircraft was short. In some of those cases you could have heaved cases of dynamite out a Junkers 52 and made some kind of mayhem work. =================================================== But, when an air force was able to fight, the Luftwaffe failed. ========================================== That air force did not even have to know how to fight (as we understand it in the modern sense). The example is the RAF. Saddled with a collection of political careerists officers, who formed one of the worst high commands to fight in that major war, a cadre of amateur enthusiasts as pilots, who at the beginning of the war had no clue as to air tactics in a fighter versus fighter brawl, an air staff who had no idea how to formulate or conduct either a tactical or strategic air campaign, nor had planned for one adequately and an untried theory of air defense, these people went into their air war with as flawed weapon as the Germans had. =============================================== The offensive aircraft they had were mostly medium range level bombers. They had a pair of decent (1937 technology) fighters that could get the defensive job done if the Germans allowed them time to work the kinks of their primitive air defense network out. ========================================= The Hurricane was a piece of technological junk, but it was as good as anything else in Europe, except for the BF 109, and the Spitfire. Its sterling point was that it could be made cheap, quick, and it had a good motor to drive the junk aircraft to bomber shooting altitude. ============================================ The Spitfire was the defensive fighter above all European defensive fighters. It had the qualities that the target defense interceptor of 1939-1944 needed. It could climb reasonably fast, it was able to turn well in an angle fight. It had sufficient endurance and armament to engage enemy fighters or down the most typical enemy bombers in Europe. That is what it had, that is what it did. To argue otherwise is to rob the Spitfire of its due credit and its due role. ============================================= So how did the RAF modify and learn better from experience? ============================================= First, they had to lose. The Luftwaffe beat them badly in France. Then the Miracle of Dunkirk showed the RAF high command that while their fighter forces could fight hard, they were clearly doing something very wrong to suffer the appalling losses they took against Goering's second stringers. (The Luftwaffe first team was still beating on the French.) ============================================= It was inevitable that there would be a Battle of Britain. The British had designed their integrated air defense system with that contest in mind ever since 1935. Shadow aircraft factories, Chain Home, the fighter director network, the AAA network. All of that was put together to foil a German bombing campaign. [next post]
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