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fluffy666

Battle Of Britain

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Ok, so we are currently celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.. you may have noticed on the TV.

There is one theme that annoys me. To take nothing away from the pilots who were getting shot at, the idea that the RAF was the only thing standing between the UK and invasion is a bit simplistic. You have to remember:

- The Germans had no landing craft. That's quite an important issue. They would have relied on towing river barges across at least 25 miles of open sea. This may have just about go the first wave ashore.. but after the general chaos of a landing, not many would have made it back. These barges could have been sunk by the wake a destroyer going at speed, never mind actually getting shot at.

- Assuming that the RAF was forced to retreat out of BF109 range (a relatively small area of the SE), it would still have maintained a large fighter force for the invasion itself.

- The first response of the navy was based around 4 fleets of 8 destroyers, a fleet considerably more powerful than the entire German navy of the time put together. These would arrive pretty much as the first wave was going shore. Bear in mind that the invasion ports on the German side were being raided by the navy on a nightly basis.

- The main fire support for the invasion, given the lack of naval units and landing craft, would be from Stukas. These would also have to act as the main anti-ship weapon. Yet there were only about 300 available, they had little anti-ship training and they were top priority targets for fighters and AA. The other support would be from a relatively small number of coastal guns, which could have done some damage.

- The Germans did have some swimming tanks. But not that many, and experience in Normandy suggests that not many would have made it off the beach.

If you've seen the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.. imagine the same, but approaching the beach at a fraction of the speed in an open barge, with enemy ships appearing off the beach to shoot you in the back.

Given the skills and professionalism of the German soldiers, I suspect that they could have established some beach heads, had they 'gone for it' in Sept 1940. But what then? Most of the invasion equipment - barges, tugs, swimming tanks, german naval units - would be used up in the first wave. The night after would see the invasion base ports hit with everything available, and the beaches themselves bombarded. Many British naval units would also be lost, but it is almost certain that any remaining Germans would have been left unsupplied and forced to surrender.

And, of course, such a defeat - with some of the best German units lost - would have severely damaged German prospects of attacking Russia any time soon.

Well, that's my 2p anyway..

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Ok, so we are currently celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.. you may have noticed on the TV.

There is one theme that annoys me. To take nothing away from the pilots who were getting shot at, the idea that the RAF was the only thing standing between the UK and invasion is a bit simplistic. You have to remember:

- The Germans had no landing craft. That's quite an important issue. They would have relied on towing river barges across at least 25 miles of open sea. This may have just about go the first wave ashore.. but after the general chaos of a landing, not many would have made it back. These barges could have been sunk by the wake a destroyer going at speed, never mind actually getting shot at.

- Assuming that the RAF was forced to retreat out of BF109 range (a relatively small area of the SE), it would still have maintained a large fighter force for the invasion itself.

- The first response of the navy was based around 4 fleets of 8 destroyers, a fleet considerably more powerful than the entire German navy of the time put together. These would arrive pretty much as the first wave was going shore. Bear in mind that the invasion ports on the German side were being raided by the navy on a nightly basis.

- The main fire support for the invasion, given the lack of naval units and landing craft, would be from Stukas. These would also have to act as the main anti-ship weapon. Yet there were only about 300 available, they had little anti-ship training and they were top priority targets for fighters and AA. The other support would be from a relatively small number of coastal guns, which could have done some damage.

- The Germans did have some swimming tanks. But not that many, and experience in Normandy suggests that not many would have made it off the beach.

If you've seen the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.. imagine the same, but approaching the beach at a fraction of the speed in an open barge, with enemy ships appearing off the beach to shoot you in the back.

Given the skills and professionalism of the German soldiers, I suspect that they could have established some beach heads, had they 'gone for it' in Sept 1940. But what then? Most of the invasion equipment - barges, tugs, swimming tanks, german naval units - would be used up in the first wave. The night after would see the invasion base ports hit with everything available, and the beaches themselves bombarded. Many British naval units would also be lost, but it is almost certain that any remaining Germans would have been left unsupplied and forced to surrender.

And, of course, such a defeat - with some of the best German units lost - would have severely damaged German prospects of attacking Russia any time soon.

Well, that's my 2p anyway..

That is a pretty fair summation.Rhine barges were the most unsuitable craft imaginable for crossing the English Channel.The Germans knew that and it was the reason they required air supremacy,as the allies had on D Day.One of the main reasons was that the Royal Navy,had they been let loose in the channel would have destroyed the invasion fleet.They wouldn't have needed to shoot at them,the wash from a destroyer at 30 knots would have been enough to swamp them,no more than a metre or so freeboard when laden.

The Navy however were vulnerable to air attack by Stukas.If they couldn't keep the RAF fighters away from them it would have been a one way trip as the Luftwaffe discovered.heavy,slow and armed with a single defensive machine gun the Stuka was ideal to attack cavalry in Poland but totally outclassed against fighters.So the answer is really that the RAF didnt have to win,just survive.As long as there was a co-ordinated fighter defence an invasion stood no chance of success.

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Of course it's simplistic, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a lot of truth to it. To add some of my thoughts to your points:

...

- The Germans had no landing craft. That's quite an important issue. They would have relied on towing river barges across at least 25 miles of open sea. This may have just about go the first wave ashore.. but after the general chaos of a landing, not many would have made it back. These barges could have been sunk by the wake a destroyer going at speed, never mind actually getting shot at.

They would probably have crossed at the narrowest point, i.e. Dover-Calais and if some TV presenter can water ski across that stretch I don't think it would have taken much to get an army across. D-Day was different because they had more open sea to cross.

- Assuming that the RAF was forced to retreat out of BF109 range (a relatively small area of the SE), it would still have maintained a large fighter force for the invasion itself.

No, because *all* of the RAF fighters were engaged in the Battle of Britain, more importantly, *all* of the pilots were so even if we had more planes we would have had a lack of people to fly them.

The Axis would have had air superiority over the channel and SE England - more than enough to cover a land assault & hold off the Royal Navy.

- The first response of the navy was based around 4 fleets of 8 destroyers, a fleet considerably more powerful than the entire German navy of the time put together. These would arrive pretty much as the first wave was going shore. Bear in mind that the invasion ports on the German side were being raided by the navy on a nightly basis.

4x8 = 32 destroyers, well in-range of air attack....

- The main fire support for the invasion, given the lack of naval units and landing craft, would be from Stukas. These would also have to act as the main anti-ship weapon. Yet there were only about 300 available, they had little anti-ship training and they were top priority targets for fighters and AA. The other support would be from a relatively small number of coastal guns, which could have done some damage.

The Stukas were actually quite accurate for bombers (because they dive steeply - so you fly at the target rather than over it). They would have made mincemeat of the Royal Navy without RAF cover. Again, the key issue is air superiority.

- The Germans did have some swimming tanks. But not that many, and experience in Normandy suggests that not many would have made it off the beach.

Huh? Not sure there were ever any tanks that could have crossed the channel. The snorkel was only for river wading / beach landings.

If you've seen the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.. imagine the same, but approaching the beach at a fraction of the speed in an open barge, with enemy ships appearing off the beach to shoot you in the back.

Given the skills and professionalism of the German soldiers, I suspect that they could have established some beach heads, had they 'gone for it' in Sept 1940. But what then? Most of the invasion equipment - barges, tugs, swimming tanks, german naval units - would be used up in the first wave. The night after would see the invasion base ports hit with everything available, and the beaches themselves bombarded. Many British naval units would also be lost, but it is almost certain that any remaining Germans would have been left unsupplied and forced to surrender.

And, of course, such a defeat - with some of the best German units lost - would have severely damaged German prospects of attacking Russia any time soon.

Well, that's my 2p anyway..

They could quite possibly have made a good attempt at an attack on England, if they hadn't diverted attacks to the Blitz of cities rather than taking out RAF airfields. We were not as prepared as the defences on the beaches at D-Day so the landings would have been easier - it was early in the war, remember? We also lost a lot of equipment in Dunkirk - guns, field guns, ammo, tanks, everything really. So in comparison to the Germans we were under-equipped.

I think you are doing the RAF, and the assorted allied pilots, a disservice.

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With air superiority most of the problems listed above would have melted away for Ze Germans.

The British coastline was nothing like the French one in 1944, there would be no Saving Private Ryan scenes because there was no 'Fortress Britain'. Assuming RAF defeat, Ze Germans probably would have landed on a mostly undefended beach, or a beach defended, at best, by a handful of Dads Army types with WW1 rifles.

Assuming air superiority would have allowed supplies over the Channel and kept the Royal Navy at bay, then the most elite fighting force in the world would be up against a crippled remnant of the British Army which had to leave it's heavy weapons at Dunkirk. Which it had already drilled once.

...That said, Operation Sealion was always a fairly speculative operation, hence why it was dropped without much more than a Teutonic shrug.

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With air superiority most of the problems listed above would have melted away for Ze Germans.

The British coastline was nothing like the French one in 1944, there would be no Saving Private Ryan scenes because there was no 'Fortress Britain'. Assuming RAF defeat, Ze Germans probably would have landed on a mostly undefended beach, or a beach defended, at best, by a handful of Dads Army types with WW1 rifles.

Assuming air superiority would have allowed supplies over the Channel and kept the Royal Navy at bay, then the most elite fighting force in the world would be up against a crippled remnant of the British Army which had to leave it's heavy weapons at Dunkirk. Which it had already drilled once.

...That said, Operation Sealion was always a fairly speculative operation, hence why it was dropped without much more than a Teutonic shrug.

There seems to be some confusion.What was required was Air SUPREMACY.Superiority,while it would have helped would not have achieved the results.On D Day the Luftwaffe was absent over the invasion beaches.Had they taken to the air they would have been shot down more or less immediately.It would have been fair to assume that an invasion would have brought every available aircraft into action and unless RAF Fighter Command had fewer than say a dozen squadrons of fighters that could have had a quite drastic effect.Desperate situations call for desperate remedies and in such a case there may even have been kamikaze style attacks on shipping. There were cases in the Battle of pilots running out of ammunition and ramming an enemy plane.German High Command clearly considered it not worth the risk.

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So the answer is really that the RAF didnt have to win,just survive.As long as there was a co-ordinated fighter defence an invasion stood no chance of success.

<enters armchair strategist mode>

Yup.

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B.O.B.

It woz the Hurricanes wot won it!

There were far far more of them than Spitfires - yet some elites keep promoting the Spitfire + their Aces as the ONLY Heroes!

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There seems to be some confusion.What was required was Air SUPREMACY.Superiority,while it would have helped would not have achieved the results.On D Day the Luftwaffe was absent over the invasion beaches.Had they taken to the air they would have been shot down more or less immediately.It would have been fair to assume that an invasion would have brought every available aircraft into action and unless RAF Fighter Command had fewer than say a dozen squadrons of fighters that could have had a quite drastic effect.Desperate situations call for desperate remedies and in such a case there may even have been kamikaze style attacks on shipping. There were cases in the Battle of pilots running out of ammunition and ramming an enemy plane.German High Command clearly considered it not worth the risk.

True enough.

But it was certainly possible for the Germans to achieve air supremacy over the Channel. The Spitfire/Hurricanes had as short a range as a Bf109, if they made South East England a no base zone for the RAF then they would be sorted.

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They would probably have crossed at the narrowest point, i.e. Dover-Calais and if some TV presenter can water ski across that stretch I don't think it would have taken much to get an army across. D-Day was different because they had more open sea to cross.

Given it's strategic position Dover is very well defended and also known for it's cliffs (I think some old dear did a song about them). There is basically nowhere to perform a decent beach landing and as it is such a short trip from Calais would have been well defended with mines just off shore.

I would imagine it's a similar story as to why D-Day didn't take place on the Dover-Calais route.

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Given it's strategic position Dover is very well defended and also known for it's cliffs (I think some old dear did a song about them). There is basically nowhere to perform a decent beach landing and as it is such a short trip from Calais would have been well defended with mines just off shore.

I would imagine it's a similar story as to why D-Day didn't take place on the Dover-Calais route.

No, of course, I didn't mean Dover & the cliffs exactly. There must be plenty of places nearby to land though. All they would need to do is encircle Dover itself, capture it and then it becomes a full-sized port to land bigger stuff. Simples.

Without the RAF Britain was wide open to invasion, deal with it.

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True enough.

But it was certainly possible for the Germans to achieve air supremacy over the Channel. The Spitfire/Hurricanes had as short a range as a Bf109, if they made South East England a no base zone for the RAF then they would be sorted.

Although their range was little than the Me109 that wasn't the crucial point.The problem for the Luftwaffe was using them for a purpose for which they were not designed i.e. close escort of bombers.The ME109 was designed as fast interceptor.When escorting bombers it was often necessary for the pilots to use valuable fuel formating on the bombers and then flying at relatively low speed that often necessitated "weaving" to stay close.The RAF only had to climb top intercept and consequently the range was not such a limiting factor.After September 7th the ME109 had fuel for barely ten minutes over London and on one occasion virtually the equivalent a whole RAF squadron was lost when they ran out of fuel and fell into the channel.The ideal role for an interceptor was hunting individually or in pairs,something the less discipline minded Poles,who also closed to point blank range before shooting, became adept at,as their success rate showed.

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If the German army had made it onto Bristish soil, they would have been aided by quite a large number of natives to help their cause. Don't forget the Brown shirts and their ilk had been waiting for their German "liberators" for years. I still agree it would have been a major task for the German forces to capture the UK in total AND keep the rest of their war effort intact (ie. repel the Russians).

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Everyone in all the forces including the home guard played a part and are all heroes. Neither the RAF or Navy could function without each other.

The Germans should have concentrated on taking out Britain instead of going so far into Russia. They left the back door open for the Yanks.

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Britain was much more formidably defended than is often assumed - many or most airfields of strategic significance had pillboxes and bunkers with weapon emplacements pointed inwards, there were miles of dragon's teeth fencing off whole districts, and while "Dad's Army" were easy to depict as figures of fun could still shoot back accurately in real-life (you wouldn't laugh off Somme veterans), plus there were younger (plain clothed) defence commandos who were highly trained stone cold psychos that were willing to kill locals (including government officials) for collaborating with the invaders or even just covering their tracks. And don't forget the giant flamethrowers erected on certain beaches...

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No, of course, I didn't mean Dover & the cliffs exactly. There must be plenty of places nearby to land though. All they would need to do is encircle Dover itself, capture it and then it becomes a full-sized port to land bigger stuff. Simples.

Without the RAF Britain was wide open to invasion, deal with it.

Yes. If the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the south of the UK then the Royal Navy would have been pounded. Just look at the fate of the British battleships HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales both sunk on the same day (Dec 10 1941) by Japanese aircraft. Or the slaughter of the Japanese fleet in the last year of the war to aircraft and submarines.

In the run-up to the Battle of Britain the RN had to withdraw destroyers and convoys from the channel due to losses inflicted by the Luftwaffe (and this was with an RAF presence). At Dunkirk alone the Germans sunk no fewer than 9 destroyers by bombing, etc.

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No, of course, I didn't mean Dover & the cliffs exactly. There must be plenty of places nearby to land though. All they would need to do is encircle Dover itself, capture it and then it becomes a full-sized port to land bigger stuff. Simples.

Without the RAF Britain was wide open to invasion, deal with it.

I disagree. This scenario has been extensively war gamed by Sandhurst after the war in joint service exercises. Whilst the loss of air superiority over the channel would have meant a possible landing by the Germans the intervention of the home fleet would have prevented resupply.

Fluffy suggests 32 destroyers. In the event of an actual invasion far more ships would have been committed (no point saving the fleet if the Country going down). The home fleet included several Battleships, a dozen cruisers, and several dozen destroyers.

Then add in the unpredictability of English Channel weather.....

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Yes. If the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the south of the UK then the Royal Navy would have been pounded. Just look at the fate of the British battleships HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales both sunk on the same day (Dec 10 1941) by Japanese aircraft. Or the slaughter of the Japanese fleet in the last year of the war to aircraft and submarines.

In the run-up to the Battle of Britain the RN had to withdraw destroyers and convoys from the channel due to losses inflicted by the Luftwaffe (and this was with an RAF presence). At Dunkirk alone the Germans sunk no fewer than 9 destroyers by bombing, etc.

The main problem for those destroyers was they were stationary - picking up troops. Tends to make them an easier target.

Had the Germans had to switch their air power to defeating the Royal Navy then this would have stripped the German Army of air support.

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I disagree. This scenario has been extensively war gamed by Sandhurst after the war in joint service exercises. Whilst the loss of air superiority over the channel would have meant a possible landing by the Germans the intervention of the home fleet would have prevented resupply.

Fluffy suggests 32 destroyers. In the event of an actual invasion far more ships would have been committed (no point saving the fleet if the Country going down). The home fleet included several Battleships, a dozen cruisers, and several dozen destroyers.

Then add in the unpredictability of English Channel weather.....

I would speculate that this scenario would still have spelt strategic doom for the UK. As I've mentioned, battleships, destroyers, etc. were all easy meat for land based dive and torpedo bombers. The home fleet would have suffered appalling losses in the confines of the channel (like the Repulse and Prince of Wales) against 3000 land based aircraft, including Italian torpedo bombers probably.

And the Wehrmact would have lost what, 10 divisions tops? They lost 700 divisions in WWII so would have been easily able to make up those losses.

In fact given the callousness of Hitler he would possibly have considered 10 divisions worth swapping for the home fleet and the remnant of the British Army - a knight for a queen.

The closest that the UK came to losing the war was actually due to U-Boat action - and the mauling that the home fleet would surely have suffered would probably have tipped the balance in the Germans favour in the Battle of the Atlantic.

All speculative of course, but it seems credible to me.

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There is no question of how important it was for the RAF to survive and prevent the Gerries from obtaining air supremacy.

What I find interesting is the fact that the ruling British elite chose to completely ignore the architect of this victory against incredible odds.

They must have been so p***** off with Hugh Dowding to throw him into obscurity pretty much unrecognised or rewarded.

I'm so pleased the people were able to push them into giving him at least a memorial before he moved on.

However I note my new passport will be processed in Germany. I hope the new leading elite of europe turn out to be a lot better than the German National Socialist Party and I guess over the next decades we'll find out.

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Although their range was little than the Me109 that wasn't the crucial point.The problem for the Luftwaffe was using them for a purpose for which they were not designed i.e. close escort of bombers.The ME109 was designed as fast interceptor.When escorting bombers it was often necessary for the pilots to use valuable fuel formating on the bombers and then flying at relatively low speed that often necessitated "weaving" to stay close.The RAF only had to climb top intercept and consequently the range was not such a limiting factor.After September 7th the ME109 had fuel for barely ten minutes over London and on one occasion virtually the equivalent a whole RAF squadron was lost when they ran out of fuel and fell into the channel.The ideal role for an interceptor was hunting individually or in pairs,something the less discipline minded Poles,who also closed to point blank range before shooting, became adept at,as their success rate showed.

Well, yeah. Thats why the Luftwaffe lost.

The German air force was simply not designed to do what was asked of during the BoB (unlike the later Allied airforces with a strategic emphasis). And its leadership, command and control and intelligence were not up to the task.

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It woz the Hurricanes wot won it!

There were far far more of them than Spitfires - yet some elites keep promoting the Spitfire + their Aces as the ONLY Heroes!

Yes and no. Hurricanes were used because they were available, and while they were more than a match for German bombers, they were not up to par with the Me109... a good Hurricane pilot could beat a bad Me109 pilot, but a good Me109 pilot could beat a good Hurricane pilot.

At the end of the day, if the entire RAF had been outfitted with Spitfires, then they'd have probably done better than they did. If they'd all be outfitted with Hurricanes, the outcome would have been much worse.

Which probably does make Hurricane pilots more heroic, as they had to be extra good to survive against German fighters.

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Yes. If the Luftwaffe had air superiority over the south of the UK then the Royal Navy would have been pounded. Just look at the fate of the British battleships HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales both sunk on the same day (Dec 10 1941) by Japanese aircraft. Or the slaughter of the Japanese fleet in the last year of the war to aircraft and submarines.

In the run-up to the Battle of Britain the RN had to withdraw destroyers and convoys from the channel due to losses inflicted by the Luftwaffe (and this was with an RAF presence). At Dunkirk alone the Germans sunk no fewer than 9 destroyers by bombing, etc.

Well, this is the interesting contrast.

The Prince of Wales and Repulse, both large capital ships, were attacked by something over 100 aircraft, and it was the torpedo bombers that sank them. No hits were made on the destroyers involved. As the US navy noted in the later stages of the war, bombs are not particularly effective against large, armoured ships (US and Japanese aircraft carriers being notably poorly armoured); it would be interesting to even find an example of a (non-carrier) capital ship sunk by dive bombing. The Luftwaffe had no torpedo bombers.

You also have to note that from Pacific engagements, the majority of aircraft from all sides, at every stage of the war, missed. Even at pearl harbour, against stationary large targets, most aircraft missed. And as I said, you do not have vast numbers of Stukas to play with, and these Stukas are *also* earmarked for ground support operations. And there is going to be a very high causality rate; air superiority does not actually mean much unless you also have attack capability.

At Dunkirk, the RN lost 4 destroyers (out of 39 involved) to air attack over several days (others to torpedo attack), most when stationary. The hit rate of dive bombers against destroyers taking evasive action at 30mph is appalling. It's also worth pointing out there there were plenty of smaller Navy craft that would again be practically unhittable from the air. Of course, once naval forces get in range of the invasion ships, attacking planes suddenly have to try and work out which are their ships. Obviously, at night the RN owns the channel. Which is something of a problem when your supply ships take 10+ hours to cross.

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And its leadership, command and control and intelligence were not up to the task.

I think that's putting it mildly: 'Goering was as dumb as a rock' is probably more accurate.

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  • 238 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


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