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Subject: New Topic: old subject: How do you design an air force that works?
Belisarius1234    2/5/2013 11:11:35 AM
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Belisarius1234       2/5/2013 11:14:46 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.

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Belisarius1234       2/5/2013 12:35:40 PM

Still the British made some serious gaffes. As the campaign got underway;" height="727" width="540" />

the British mal-distributed their limited fighter strength and screwed up their radar coverage. It was fortunate indeed that Herman Goering's idiotic high command was as witless as the lummoxes who frustrated Dowding were. Southwest England was wide open to intruder raids. Proper Luftwaffe entry tactics that accounted for the gaps in the British low altitude radar coverage would have devastated the midlands. Look at the gaps in SW and central Britain.

But then the Luftwaffe did not have the right kind of long endurance low level intruder aircraft, did it?

When the British went the other way...

Josef Kammhuber, probably the best of the Luftwaffe commanders showed them, how an air defense is actually supposed to work. Until Hitler meddled to cancel his night-fighter preemptive raids over RAF bases (idiotic decision) and until a jealous Milch transferred him to Norway, he almost singlehandedly tore Bomber Command to bloody bits. He did not have the right aircraft, nor the right radars, not even the proper communication network when he started, but he made the RAF raids as costly to the British as the German day-fighter force did to the USAAF later. He's the reason that modern air-warfare is largely electronic warfare, with the winning side usually flying inferior planes, but winning the battle of the beams (Vietnam-a brutal air defense lesson in how GOOD the Russians were at that EW game, until the USAF finally caught on.)

How did Kammhuber do it?
Well, he improvised and he used some good old fashion German general staff work.
He understood the enemy's physical limits. The British bomber force was rather restricted as to their approach axes. They would have to generally come west or northwest to raid into central Germany. France was another matter, but then Kammhuber was trying to defend German industrial and civilian targets. FW190s and Panzers were not being made in France.
So Kammhuber built a cellular air defense based on the two classes of radar that Germany had.
The first was a long-wave radar called Freya. This could look far enough into Britain to see RAF bombers climb to altitude and give a good estimate of time to assemble and intruder attack bearing. The German night fighter force and flak crews would have about a full hour's warning at least to get ready. That's a lot of time to load guns and get night fighters to patrol altitude.
Then there were the short-wave Wurzburg radars. These were used in pairs for each defensive cell. Even though they were not centimetric wavelength, they were fairly good target tracking radars. They operated in pairs. One would track the night fighter. The other would track the British bomber. The German fighter-director center would plot the attacker and defender tracks and coordinate a merge via radio. Binary ground control intercept. The British were to try chaffe, false communication of ground control to interceptor, signal jamming, and even false decoy raids to disrupt the defense. The popular lie is that the RAF did. The truth gleaned from the horrendous losses that Bomber Command suffered right up until the USAAF destroyed the German night fighter force is that the RAF never defeated the German night fighter and FLAK defense. At best the RAF broke even in a terror bombing campaign that yielded very minimal return for the British investment. USSBS estimates are that Kammhuber used 1/2 to 1/4 the resources that Harris did to mount a reasonable effective defense given his technical limits.
The RAF Bomber Command failed.
What aerial and surface weapon systems did Kammhuber employ? How were they effective at NIGHT? 
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Belisarius1234       2/5/2013 1:53:38 PM" />
There were three basic aircraft in hand when Kammhuber went looking for night-fighters.
There was the BF-110...;
 This maligned aircraft was originally intended as a long-range day escort fighter (P-38 eventual role for the USAAF) but as with most large and heavy 'fighters' it was fairly helpless against true dedicated target defense interceptors. However good enough against Lancasters is good enough for  a night fighter. It could carry a big heavy radio, the radio operator, and a pack of bomber destroying guns in a patrol orbit over a Wurzburg for more than two hours. They were a little handicapped in the service ceiling department.
There was the Do-217:
Manuals ...on the aircraft;
The aircraft was the closest thing to a Luftwaffe strategic bomber during the BoB. It was underpowered and clumsy with poor maneuverability and service ceiling, but it too could carry a big radio, a radio-operator, a large crude air intercept radar, stay four hours aloft over a Wurzburg radar, pack lots of bomber destroying cannon in the nose and in the spine, and it was still good enough to catch a Lancaster.
It wasn't ideal, but it worked.
Then there was the Ju-88 nightfighter.....
This was considered the BEST of the German night fighters.
The aircraft was fairly agile for a bomber. It carried the clumsy German airborne intercept radar, the heavy radio, the radio operator, the bomber destroying cannon and had a good patrol endurance (four hours) and service ceiling. This should have made it a good bomber-destroyer and the standard night fighter. Too bad that the Luftwaffe needed it everywhere as their standard medium bomber wasn't it?  
So Kammhuber  begged for a dedicated night fighter.
That was a Heinkel He-219....
This plane was what Kammhuber demanded. it was dedicated to the night fighter mission. there would be no diversion away from the night fighter mission to other types of mission for the plane was too specialist designed. The plane had the speed and altitude advantage to hunt bombers, even the early versions of fast intruders such as a Mosquito.
Kammhuber made too big an enemy of that idiot, Milch, and eventually Goering, so off he went to count caribou in Norway.
The FLAK that Kammhuber used was well thought out improvisation.
That consisted of essentially German naval artillery (Krupp naval guns) adapted to anti-aircraft work. In British terms these were 3 and 1/2 inch /50;  4.7inch/5o0 and 60 and 6.1inch/45 and 50 naval guns with semi-automatic feeds   slaved to a computing time clock rate of traverse and elevation predictor fire control. Shells were time fused and were effective. The guns operated in ALL weathers, and as long as the gun crews had a time and 2-d angle solution, the allied bombers were DEAD MEAT. And of course we know what provided that solution...
That damned thing was a self-contained and MOBILE radar when the Chain-Home system was still brand new and fixed in site to the befuddled British RAF who were misusing it during the BoB.
 Another British myth destroyed. The Germans didn't lose the radar edge until late 1941.
 So... what does Josef Kammhuber teach us?
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LB       2/5/2013 10:13:31 PM
It's an interesting question.  I'd suggest one lesson is that an air force is a system of systems that needs to be designed with one's enemy in mind.   So before a nation worries about offensive air it needs to concentrate on defending it's own air space and critical bases.  This is ironically at odds with the modern fighter bomber or strike fighter concept to some degree.  Of course one method of defending oneself is going after the enemy air force at his bases.
On another level an important lesson is the military professional(s) might know exactly what is required but be faced with either lack of funding or a less than competent governing leadership.  The leadership of the Luftwaffe knew quite well how unprepared they were for WWII as the quick victories then saw them defeated a few months later over Britain.
There's a story where Goring is explaining that Hitler doesn't care about the types of bombers but rather how many they have with the result of rather the ineffective medium bomber force.  Hitler also stopped the effective night intruder raids because he believed the German population got a morale boost from seeing the enemy bombers shot down over  Germany, instead of Britain.  When the leaders of the day and night fighter arms both care to him asking for an expansion in 1943 to defend Germany (from about 500 to 2000 fighters each) Hitler laughed them both off saying if the intelligence figures about enemy air production were accurate he should go over on the defensive and implement their proposals.  The larger lesson here is if your regime is this idiotic one's only hope is internal regime change before someone does it externally.
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Belisarius1234    So what does Josef Kammhuber teach us?   2/6/2013 11:11:39 AM

So what does Josef Kammhuber teach us?

The ability to improvise and learn; despite wrong equipment, wrong doctrine, inadequate preparation, incompetent leadership, accounts for far more in designing a successful air force, than getting everything 'correct' right from the start of the evolution. You have to design the force that you might use with great adaptability in mind, built into it, for unforeseen contingencies and surprises. The enemy and technology may not co-operate with your pet wrong theories.

Perhaps the easiest place to design such adaptability is in the Human material you use to build the force. That goes to the mindset of the personnel in the force.

We can see that rigid thinking may have been a German political defect, but as far as technical innovation went, the Germans were rapidly adaptive and energetic, (well enough of them to make HASH of the USAAF and the RAF until those lumbering slow-witted organizations caught up in the strategic and operational OODA loops that the Germans raced around them.)

How do you train people to be adaptable and to improvise, when institutionally, the historic lesson is that if you try something militarily new, it usually doesn't work and leads to bloody disaster? Especially in peacetime, when the overall emphasis is on caution? You don't want to be Billy Mitchelled, do you? Or do you want to go down to the Panama Canal Zone to count freighters?

Even Joe Kammhuber spent time counting caribou, before the post-war Germans wised up and made him the IG for the reformed Luftwaffe.

Give the RAF their due, they were 'reluctantly' adaptable, when sufficiently bloodied.

First off, for the most part, they adopted aircraft that would fly the missions they profiled they needed after war experience showed them that what they originated with and thought they would do did not work.

-the Manchester they adapted into the Lancaster.

-the Wellington became a standard medium EVERYTHING

-after five rejections they adopted the Mosquito.

-the Spitfire they upwardly revised as engine and weapon tech improved. They tried to create fighters to replace it, but in the end the Spitfire was good enough for most purposes and the Hawkers weren't.They were smart enough to stick with what worked.

-Beaufort became a Beaufighter.

The RAF pioneered the skip-bomb (dam-buster) and the earthquake bomb (Tall-boy and Grand Slam) all of which were the direct brain-childs of that whack-job, Barnes Wallis. The RAF didn't even want the things at first. So we understand a second rule of adaptable air forces and Human-centered innovation and experimentation. Civilians matter a great deal-especially ones who have innovative solutions to a problem the air staff over-looked. De Havilland's entire design shop, R.J. Pierson of Vickers and R.J. Mitchell of Supermarine being notable examples, prove this for the RAF; along with that crackpot, Barnes Wallis.

The RAF could have used a lot more of that kind of civilian input (operational research), especially after the bomber crews reported back to Harris that they were being murdered, still were missing their targets with he civilian (Germans of course) inspired RAF adopted radio nav-aided bombing, and that the Germans were as feisty and mean as ever.

Okay, so what does that mean in hardware, you ask?, (magically waving your Human resources problem as solved into the stratosphere.)

Shrug. You have to be able to take what you have and make it do things it was never intended to do, as the need arises.

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Belisarius1234    So what does Josef Kammhuber teach us?   2/6/2013 11:12:08 AM

Take the Lancaster. It was never intended to deliver anything like a guided bomb. How could you adapt that shallow long bomb-bay it had to deliver guided-bombs? That is if you were smart enough to see that a guided-bomb was a better accuracy aid to hit a target, than a better bomb-sight or radio nav bombing-aids?

That might make sense to DESIGN a new bomb and test it, but then the British never did develop WW II guided-bomb technology. Maybe their civilian scientists understood the formidable difficulties involved in radio-guidance better than the Germans and Americans did, or maybe the RAF was just too stupid to jump on the chance such outside the bomber thinking offered?

My opinion (and it is an opinion, feel free to disagree) is that the RAF was too stupid. This is the outfit that produced Arthur Harris after all.

RAZON... would have fit nicely inside a Lancaster.


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JFKY    Belisarius   2/6/2013 11:20:45 AM
Wasn't STUPIDITY, it was the end of the war, when guided weapons technology was becoming viable, the British capacity to produce electronics was simply exhausted.  Britain was struggling to produce Gee, Oboe, and all the other electronics that were rapidly filling up Lancasters and Mosquitos, it could not afford to build any more advanced electronics.  The production capacity simply was not there.
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Belisarius1234    Nonsense.   2/6/2013 12:18:08 PM
The British could have contracted it's manufacture  out. To the United States, Australia,  or Canada. Electronics capacity is not an intensely industrial activity until it is developed as a mass-tech item. It is far more subtle than bending sheet metal to envision and prototype to need. Even the UK had the reserve capacity in BRAINS. (universities) for that development work. The BAT... being a US example case in point.
The American whack-job's name was Hugh Dryden. Only takes ONE man with vision.
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JFKY    They COULD have   2/6/2013 1:53:11 PM
and did....much "Britsh" Electronic Gear was British design, American was a question of design team and money....
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Belisarius1234    Thank you...    2/6/2013 2:01:44 PM
for conceding my point.
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