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Midway—77 Years Ago, Today.


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I see the British suffering and the war possibly being prolonged under the weight of greater Luftwaffe tonnage on target in summer 1940, but I don't see the British surrendering to the power brought to bear by airpower alone any more than other nations under similar assault that did not do so.

 

You need to read what happened to London in 1940. I forget which date was the worst bombing (I dont think it was the December campaign) but the water mains were fractured, the Thames was out, and there was no water. Some historians consider that London was on the brink of a firestorm. Many participants said there was a high wind and it was unusually warm.Would Britain have fallen if London had been destroyed? Well we know Churchill had defeated Halifax back in the summer. But would not those arguments for capitulation have arisen again if the capital city burned to a crisp with 20 thousand dead? And what would the result have been if similarly heavy bombloads had been deposited on Coventry? Or in the Baedeckers the following year, Bath, Exeter, Canterbury, all painfully easy targets for the Nazi's to reach. I warrant the death toll would have been a lot higher than the 500 or so we lost at Coventry. Prewar British studies envisaged the bombing of the UK being absolutely critical in a few days, largely I suspect because we imagined the bomb loads were going to be a lot heavier than they were. We got lucky.

 

One can get caught up in all kinds of arguments about the nature of the nazi regime, and about all the priorities and all other kinds of things. But it comes down to the central point, if Britain went down, the war in the west was over. The US was not going to come in. There would be no liberation of France. And the best opportunity the Nazis had for that was in 1940 and 1941 with heavy bombers and VLR aircraft at sea. The British Nightfighter force didnt even really become very efficient till the latter half of 41 when they got AI radar. Previously we were sending up Blenheims and even Spitfires at night, hoping they would get lucky and sight a target to have a squirt at it. A bomber force at night would have had a near free hand. Unlike us, the Luftwaffe didnt have to solve the long range navigation problem.

 

We assume because strategic bombing did not achieve strategic political effects, it could not have done. Its difficult to quantify at what point breakdown would occur, but I would say after the year we had in 1940, it would not have taken as much as subsequent generations might think. We were a democracy, not an authoritarian regime. Such Governments remain vulnerable to what the people think. One advantage the Nazi's clearly did have.

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On German heavy bomber development:

 

Tooze talks a bit about this in the Wages of Destruction IIRC. Basically, the entire war effort was geared to fighting and winning a war in Russia because a victory there in 1941 is about the only way that Nazi Germany can survive in the long term. This means a couple of things. First of all, because the war would essentially be decided in 1941, little priority in terms of R&D was given to anything that wouldn't be ready to support that effort. Also, everything had to be geared to support the army which meant that any bomber designs had to be medium or light types capable of providing tactical support, not heavy strategic bombers. When it went horribly wrong outside Moscow, the Germans were behind the curve on developing new types and just as importantly new aero engines which is partly why prewar types like the Me-109 and the He-111 stayed in production right up to the end of the war.

 

The lack of advanced aero engines in the 1800hp plus class also stymied any attempt to produce any heavy bomber designs later in the war. Similar to the British, the Germans' first attempts at producing a heavy bomber involved using two advanced engines, much like the Avro Manchester of the Vickers Warwick. Unlike the Germans though, the British had the luxury of being able to switch to four engined designs as their requirements for twin engined bombers to support the army were less, and they were able to acquire several medium bomber types from the US. The Germans though needed every airframe to be able to support the army and couldn't devote limited resources to designs which were only capable of being used for strategic bombing. Initial attempts like the Ju-188 had severe problems with the airfame due to delayed and subsequently hurried development and when those issues were finally fixed, there were insurmountable issues with the engines that were supposed to go in them, such as the Jumo 222 which were never really resolved.

 

Had the Schnellbomber program been successful, it would have produced a formidable aircraft but fortunately it never worked.

 

 

Ive always wondered what would have been the result if they had prioritized this over the 177. Though again, the bombload was mediocre compared to British contemporary designs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_274

 

Even the 177 showed the design capablity of being adapted to 4 engine configuration, not unlike the Manchester/Lancaster.

 

 

There is no reason why they couldnt have done that 4 years earlier, other than apparent desire to build the 177 as a divebomber.....

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Germany was broke by 1938-39 and war with Poland, whatever the eventual risks, was their only way out.

 

The failure of the Blitzkrieg against Russia capstoned the remarkable seizure of
power of the German state by Hitler, who personally directed the German armed
forces and the German economy, among other matters, in 1941. As the supreme
authority for both military strategy and operational planning as well as economic
policy, he directed the offensive against Russia, choosing the strategic objectives, and
at the same time, overseeing the war economy upon which the armed forces depended
for success. Contrary to the beliefs of Germany’s friends and foes at the outset of
World War II, the German economy was no more prepared for World War II than in
1914. However, as long as military operations consisted of relatively brief pulses of
effort to, in turn, defeat Poland, occupy Denmark, Norway, and the Low Countries,
and then defeat France and occupy the Balkans, the German pre-war economy
sufficed. In this way, evident weaknesses in the German economy, especially shortages
of raw materials, labor, and finances, could be accommodated or prorogued. However,
with the end of the Blitzkrieg in Russia, so died the heavily compromised economic
policy of the Germans to that point in time.
As is well known, the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany in 1941 was
intended to be yet another brief campaign in a striking series of victories accomplished
by German arms since 1939. The German position that summer was unprecedented,
especially given the faulty economic and financial preparations of the Third Reich in
the years through 1939. Contrary to the usual view of Nazi efficiency preparing for
war with a sustained period of production and investment that yielded the successes
later dubbed Blitzkrieg by the foreign press, the pace of German rearmament staggered
during 1937–1938. In particular, the steel (and later, copper) rationing required for the
three armed services stagnated production of armaments. On the day of the Munich
Settlement, the new German priority became the preparation for war with the United
Kingdom, plus France, with presumed American support, all targeted for 1942. Yet the
1936 armaments programs for the German Army at that point would require about
a fourth of German steel production in 1939 for completion. The new goals for the
three services would require three times the 1938 production in the following year.
By the spring of 1939, the Army procurement plan lapsed into full retreat.
Ammunition production plummeted, building steel was unavailable for 300 new
infantry battalions that lived under canvas, and weapons programs experienced severe
cuts; machine gun and field artillery orders fell by at least half and those for the
current infantry rifle were ordered to stop by the fall of 1939. The tank production
originally programmed for 1,200 medium tanks between October 1938 and October
1939 was halved. At least thirty-four of the planned wartime force of 105 divisions
would suffer serious shortages of equipment. Ammunition for all would stall at a
quantity sufficient for only fourteen days heavy fighting. The circumstances for the
other services remained just as poor.
Accordingly, Hitler grasped the only straw he could, an early launch of the war he
had forecast for 1944, then 1942. As he stated to his military leaders at Berchtesgaden
on August 22, 1939, “we have nothing to lose; we have everything to gain. Because
of our restrictions our economic situation is such that we can only hold out for a few
more years. We must act.” Hitler and Germany had run out of time.
The victories came in surprising sequence and ease, especially the fall of France.
However, the ability of the German economy to sustain the war effort remained
circumspect. It was, for instance, impossible to calculate the requirements for each and
every campaign in advance. In the case of the Russian campaign, it had to be supplied
while at the same time, Germany and Italy engaged the United Kingdom on several
fronts. For the first time, therefore, the economic priorities in 1941 were hitched to the
Blitzkrieg concept of short but hard-fought operations, leading to a rapid conclusion
on the battlefield. Accordingly, the armaments plan “Rüstungsprogramm ‘B’” would
dictate the armaments output for the eight months of October 1940–April 1941 in
order to increase the strength of the German Army and its firepower sufficient for the
rapid defeat of the Soviet Army and another victory. Before Russia was invaded, it was
presumed that the surge of production, materials and labor could be shunted to the
navy and air force for the final priority of the United Kingdom.
Strategic Bomber program? Quo Vadis?

 

Information on the economy of the Soviet Union at this time? From what very little I know it appears they were more desperate than Germany in 1941-42.

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I've never actually seen a convincing alt-history about the Axis winning WW2 that didn't involve Hitler or the Japanese High Command suddenly getting brain transplants. (To be honest, the "what if Hitler was hit by a truck in 1942"-type ones seem more plausible). You want to treat WW2 like a wargame? Easy, Hitler keeps up the non-aggression pact with the SU and goes for the Med instead after losing the Battle of Britain, he wins and the world is plunged into a new dark age. That had nothing to do with Hitler's actual goals, so it's about as realistic/useful as me wondering how my life would turn out if I was born rich and good looking. :)

I find the most alt-history discussion terribly shallow, it's almost always railroaded within to speculating around few Axis premises to which usually counter-arguments are, as you say, "then Nazis wouldn't be Nazis and there would be no war at all".

Also for some reason there is seldom any talk about what mistakes Allied could have done to lose. The eventual Allied strategy is so prefixed on people's minds that it is seen as inevitable path to victory any idiot could follow on autopilot. But Allied could have done bad decisions which could have costed them the war, not in the sense "Nazi flag over the Capitol Hill" but Axis achieving their war goals. Allied could have been more foolhardy, taken more risk which then could have backfired. Certainly war in the Eastern Front 1941-42 was what is popularly referred 'a close-run thing', hardly something where end-result was predetermined.

Regarding Pacific War, there Japanese had scored their Port Arthur and Yellow Sea, but never managed to score their Tsushima. Instead they whittled down their forces in bunch of battles which ended up being whole reverse Tsushima for them. Japanese could have scored a major naval victory against USA in 1942, it would not have been Tsushima but it could have effected course of war. The reason why it didn't happen was as much to bad Japanese decisions as it was US strategy and resilience.

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So in all kinds of ways, the rapid build up actually cost the Luftwaffe dearly. And I think it cost them in the poorly integrated and managed aviation industry. Look at the waste with the number of useless prototypes they spent so much in the way of resources on! Me309, Me210, AR240, TA154, Go229, HE112, HE280. Its like they had money and time to burn. If they spent all those people making a few austere types, they would have got a lot further. But that's political patronage for you.

 

How did Battle and Defiant work out for you? ;) That was over 2500 Merlin-engined planes built during the period RAF was desperate over every Spitfire and Hurricane.

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I've never actually seen a convincing alt-history about the Axis winning WW2 that didn't involve Hitler or the Japanese High Command suddenly getting brain transplants. (To be honest, the "what if Hitler was hit by a truck in 1942"-type ones seem more plausible). You want to treat WW2 like a wargame? Easy, Hitler keeps up the non-aggression pact with the SU and goes for the Med instead after losing the Battle of Britain, he wins and the world is plunged into a new dark age. That had nothing to do with Hitler's actual goals, so it's about as realistic/useful as me wondering how my life would turn out if I was born rich and good looking. :)

I find the most alt-history discussion terribly shallow, it's almost always railroaded within to speculating around few Axis premises to which usually counter-arguments are, as you say, "then Nazis wouldn't be Nazis and there would be no war at all".

Also for some reason there is seldom any talk about what mistakes Allied could have done to lose. The eventual Allied strategy is so prefixed on people's minds that it is seen as inevitable path to victory any idiot could follow on autopilot. But Allied could have done bad decisions which could have costed them the war, not in the sense "Nazi flag over the Capitol Hill" but Axis achieving their war goals. Allied could have been more foolhardy, taken more risk which then could have backfired. Certainly war in the Eastern Front 1941-42 was what is popularly referred 'a close-run thing', hardly something where end-result was predetermined.

Regarding Pacific War, there Japanese had scored their Port Arthur and Yellow Sea, but never managed to score their Tsushima. Instead they whittled down their forces in bunch of battles which ended up being whole reverse Tsushima for them. Japanese could have scored a major naval victory against USA in 1942, it would not have been Tsushima but it could have effected course of war. The reason why it didn't happen was as much to bad Japanese decisions as it was US strategy and resilience.

 

Respectfully disagree. There is no way at all Japan could beat the U.S. At the most, the Japan would have lost a few years later.

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So in all kinds of ways, the rapid build up actually cost the Luftwaffe dearly. And I think it cost them in the poorly integrated and managed aviation industry. Look at the waste with the number of useless prototypes they spent so much in the way of resources on! Me309, Me210, AR240, TA154, Go229, HE112, HE280. Its like they had money and time to burn. If they spent all those people making a few austere types, they would have got a lot further. But that's political patronage for you.

 

How did Battle and Defiant work out for you? ;) That was over 2500 Merlin-engined planes built during the period RAF was desperate over every Spitfire and Hurricane.

 

 

Absolutely right. Now, name another one. :) There was plenty of prototypes that failed under test, and we spent no more time on them. We ruthlessly pushed airframes that would work. Witness the Germans that spent massive resources on air frames that were largely useless. For example, the Ju388, a high altitude nightfighter built to defeat the B29. It was evident pretty quickly it was not what was needed, but they kept on developing it anyway.

 

Conversely, air-frames that were seemingly useful in the nightfighter role, such as the 215, they pulled out of service, and put in the 217 that wasnt.

 

For the occasional flaws of the air ministry and the MAP, the ability to make good compared to the Germans is extraordinary. We were aware the Manchester was a dud by 1941, so we had the Lancaster in development that same year, in production in 42, and they were conducting 700 plane raids with it in 1943. The Germans simply could not exercise the level of self discipline and management to do something like that.

 

They certainly COULD have done. But they didnt. I suppose it would have meant they werent Nazi's anymore.

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Respectfully disagree. There is no way at all Japan could beat the U.S. At the most, the Japan would have lost a few years later.

"Few years laters" is a long time. Plenty of time for public to get tired, for presidents and administrations to change etc.

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I find the most alt-history discussion terribly shallow, it's almost always railroaded within to speculating around few Axis premises to which usually counter-arguments are, as you say, "then Nazis wouldn't be Nazis and there would be no war at all".

Also for some reason there is seldom any talk about what mistakes Allied could have done to lose. The eventual Allied strategy is so prefixed on people's minds that it is seen as inevitable path to victory any idiot could follow on autopilot. But Allied could have done bad decisions which could have costed them the war, not in the sense "Nazi flag over the Capitol Hill" but Axis achieving their war goals. Allied could have been more foolhardy, taken more risk which then could have backfired. Certainly war in the Eastern Front 1941-42 was what is popularly referred 'a close-run thing', hardly something where end-result was predetermined.

Regarding Pacific War, there Japanese had scored their Port Arthur and Yellow Sea, but never managed to score their Tsushima. Instead they whittled down their forces in bunch of battles which ended up being whole reverse Tsushima for them. Japanese could have scored a major naval victory against USA in 1942, it would not have been Tsushima but it could have effected course of war. The reason why it didn't happen was as much to bad Japanese decisions as it was US strategy and resilience.

 

 

Well, we just had an example of one good way the Allies might at least prolong the war, if not lose it...strip every movable asset from the Pacific immediately after Midway and send it to the Mediterranean in order to attempt simultaneous landings in Southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria, and French Morocco. :D

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Absolutely right. Now, name another one. :) There was plenty of prototypes that failed under test, and we spent no more time on them. We ruthlessly pushed airframes that would work. Witness the Germans that spent massive resources on air frames that were largely useless.

 

 

Blackburn B.44

Blackburn Roc

Boulton Paul P.92

Bristol Buckingham

Bristol Type 159

de Havilland Super Mosquito

Fairey Barracuda

Fairey Fulmer

Fairey Spearfish

Folland Fo.117

Gloster F.5/34

Gloster F.9/37

Handley Page Manx

Hawker Hotspur

Hawker P.1005

Hawker Tornado

Martin Baker MB.2

Martin Baker MB.3

Martin Baker MB.5

Miles M.20

Miles M.39B

Supermarine Spiteful

Vickers Type 432

Vickers Warwick

Vickers Windsor

Westland Welkin

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There is some irony that the Axis powers decided for war each in turn as an answer to their bankruptcy, and then set out to loot the world, requiring the entire United Nations to stop them. That was Herman Wouk's conclusion in his The Winds of War.

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Prewar British studies envisaged the bombing of the UK being absolutely critical in a few days, largely I suspect because we imagined the bomb loads were going to be a lot heavier than they were. We got lucky.

 

Interesting reading. My opinions on the subject are shaped by the experience of the IJNAF and IJAAF in their admittedly unsuccessful strategic air efforts against China and the Chinese after sweeping the skies over China clear of air opposition in this time period, thus enabling a textbook example of the helplessness of a people and a nation to Japanese airpower. Frustration was in Japan's inability to achieve decisive results despite these ideal conditions.

 

One can get caught up in all kinds of arguments about the nature of the nazi regime, and about all the priorities and all other kinds of things. But it comes down to the central point, if Britain went down, the war in the west was over. The US was not going to come in

 

The question in 1940 regarding US entry was likely something along the lines of would it ever, and what exactly the US was waiting for. If the answer is a British capitulation, the reality would have probably been never.

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Absolutely right. Now, name another one. :) There was plenty of prototypes that failed under test, and we spent no more time on them. We ruthlessly pushed airframes that would work. Witness the Germans that spent massive resources on air frames that were largely useless.

 

Blackburn B.44

Blackburn Roc

Boulton Paul P.92

Bristol Buckingham

Bristol Type 159

de Havilland Super Mosquito

Fairey Barracuda

Fairey Fulmer

Fairey Spearfish

Folland Fo.117

Gloster F.5/34

Gloster F.9/37

Handley Page Manx

Hawker Hotspur

Hawker P.1005

Hawker Tornado

Martin Baker MB.2

Martin Baker MB.3

Martin Baker MB.5

Miles M.20

Miles M.39B

Supermarine Spiteful

Vickers Type 432

Vickers Warwick

Vickers Windsor

Westland Welkin

Many of those were good airframes,and some actually entered service. I think the mb5 was highly regarded, it was just unnecessary because the war was ending. The Windsor was reportedly good, but with mass production of the Lancaster underway it was unnecessary. Spiteful was good, and entered service. The only problem with it was the handling wasnt as good as the spitfires wing at high mach numbers. Its wings also went on to inspire a series of supermarine jet fighters like the Attacker.

 

Can anyone show comparable examples of the extended development of aircraft wtypes that lead nowhere, like the Arado 240 or Ta154 or Ju288? They actually built 22 ju288s, found it was no good, and cancelled it. It only took the 2 years to figure it out.

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I find the most alt-history discussion terribly shallow, it's almost always railroaded within to speculating around few Axis premises to which usually counter-arguments are, as you say, "then Nazis wouldn't be Nazis and there would be no war at all".

Also for some reason there is seldom any talk about what mistakes Allied could have done to lose. The eventual Allied strategy is so prefixed on people's minds that it is seen as inevitable path to victory any idiot could follow on autopilot. But Allied could have done bad decisions which could have costed them the war, not in the sense "Nazi flag over the Capitol Hill" but Axis achieving their war goals. Allied could have been more foolhardy, taken more risk which then could have backfired. Certainly war in the Eastern Front 1941-42 was what is popularly referred 'a close-run thing', hardly something where end-result was predetermined.

Regarding Pacific War, there Japanese had scored their Port Arthur and Yellow Sea, but never managed to score their Tsushima. Instead they whittled down their forces in bunch of battles which ended up being whole reverse Tsushima for them. Japanese could have scored a major naval victory against USA in 1942, it would not have been Tsushima but it could have effected course of war. The reason why it didn't happen was as much to bad Japanese decisions as it was US strategy and resilience.

 

 

Well, we just had an example of one good way the Allies might at least prolong the war, if not lose it...strip every movable asset from the Pacific immediately after Midway and send it to the Mediterranean in order to attempt simultaneous landings in Southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria, and French Morocco. :D

 

 

And the Balearic islands, becuase you can't never have enough enemies.

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Ive always wondered what would have been the result if they had prioritized this over the 177. Though again, the bombload was mediocre compared to British contemporary designs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_274

 

Even the 177 showed the design capablity of being adapted to 4 engine configuration, not unlike the Manchester/Lancaster.

 

 

There is no reason why they couldnt have done that 4 years earlier, other than apparent desire to build the 177 as a divebomber.....

 

 

There's no particular technical reason why something like that wasn't possible but there are some very valid reasons why something like that wasn't built, besides the usual Hitler was a madman schtick.

 

A design like that has only one purpose which is strategic bombing of enemy cities. The He-177 was no different really but I suspect that because it was a twin engined design, the Luftwaffe was able to sneak it through the system by pretending that it could be used for tactical support of ground forces, hence the ludicrous dive bomber requirement. Once again though, Germany's weak industrial base and the demands of the Eastern front meant that there simply weren't the resources to build up a massive fleet of heavy bombers that could only be used for one purpose.

 

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Many of those were good airframes,and some actually entered service. I think the mb5 was highly regarded, it was just unnecessary because the war was ending. The Windsor was reportedly good, but with mass production of the Lancaster underway it was unnecessary. Spiteful was good, and entered service. The only problem with it was the handling wasnt as good as the spitfires wing at high mach numbers. Its wings also went on to inspire a series of supermarine jet fighters like the Attacker.

 

Can anyone show comparable examples of the extended development of aircraft wtypes that lead nowhere, like the Arado 240 or Ta154 or Ju288? They actually built 22 ju288s, found it was no good, and cancelled it. It only took the 2 years to figure it out.

 

 

Windsor versus Ju 288? Both had terrible undercarriage designs. The Windsor was a good basic design, but given the numbers of Lancaster and the decision to go with the Lincoln postwar, it had no place postwar, especially given the cost of its complicated construction in order to get a pressurized cabin. So Britain had the luxury of two aircraft that were easier to build to fit the role...and the engines to mount on them, partly courtesy of Packard. The Germans had nothing like that and so were always desperate to get a workable bomber aircraft that was better than what they were stuck with, but were stymied partly because they were forced to deal with the same small circle of producers of inadequate engine designs. That they built 22 and put some in service is a measure of their desperation, not of their inability to think rationally. Similar stories for the Ar 240 and Ta 154...the Ar 240 was cutting edge design, but suffered from, again, poor engines...and being a bit too cutting edge. There the promise of performance was so great that Arado stretched out the development after cancellation.

 

Anyway, as was already pointed out, everyone designed dogs, built dog prototypes, and even manufactured dogs. Prototypes were the only was to test things then and sometimes there was a need for something that was at least better than nothing, like the P-43. It simply wasn't unique to the Germans...but they had a much smaller industrial and development base to work from, so their dogs tend to stand out even more.

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I find the most alt-history discussion terribly shallow, it's almost always railroaded within to speculating around few Axis premises to which usually counter-arguments are, as you say, "then Nazis wouldn't be Nazis and there would be no war at all".

Also for some reason there is seldom any talk about what mistakes Allied could have done to lose. The eventual Allied strategy is so prefixed on people's minds that it is seen as inevitable path to victory any idiot could follow on autopilot. But Allied could have done bad decisions which could have costed them the war, not in the sense "Nazi flag over the Capitol Hill" but Axis achieving their war goals. Allied could have been more foolhardy, taken more risk which then could have backfired. Certainly war in the Eastern Front 1941-42 was what is popularly referred 'a close-run thing', hardly something where end-result was predetermined.

Regarding Pacific War, there Japanese had scored their Port Arthur and Yellow Sea, but never managed to score their Tsushima. Instead they whittled down their forces in bunch of battles which ended up being whole reverse Tsushima for them. Japanese could have scored a major naval victory against USA in 1942, it would not have been Tsushima but it could have effected course of war. The reason why it didn't happen was as much to bad Japanese decisions as it was US strategy and resilience.

 

 

Well, we just had an example of one good way the Allies might at least prolong the war, if not lose it...strip every movable asset from the Pacific immediately after Midway and send it to the Mediterranean in order to attempt simultaneous landings in Southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria, and French Morocco. :D

 

 

And the Balearic islands, becuase you can't never have enough enemies.

 

 

And Jersey. Dont forget Jersey.

 

 

 

 

Many of those were good airframes,and some actually entered service. I think the mb5 was highly regarded, it was just unnecessary because the war was ending. The Windsor was reportedly good, but with mass production of the Lancaster underway it was unnecessary. Spiteful was good, and entered service. The only problem with it was the handling wasnt as good as the spitfires wing at high mach numbers. Its wings also went on to inspire a series of supermarine jet fighters like the Attacker.

 

Can anyone show comparable examples of the extended development of aircraft wtypes that lead nowhere, like the Arado 240 or Ta154 or Ju288? They actually built 22 ju288s, found it was no good, and cancelled it. It only took the 2 years to figure it out.

 

 

Windsor versus Ju 288? Both had terrible undercarriage designs. The Windsor was a good basic design, but given the numbers of Lancaster and the decision to go with the Lincoln postwar, it had no place postwar, especially given the cost of its complicated construction in order to get a pressurized cabin. So Britain had the luxury of two aircraft that were easier to build to fit the role...and the engines to mount on them, partly courtesy of Packard. The Germans had nothing like that and so were always desperate to get a workable bomber aircraft that was better than what they were stuck with, but were stymied partly because they were forced to deal with the same small circle of producers of inadequate engine designs. That they built 22 and put some in service is a measure of their desperation, not of their inability to think rationally. Similar stories for the Ar 240 and Ta 154...the Ar 240 was cutting edge design, but suffered from, again, poor engines...and being a bit too cutting edge. There the promise of performance was so great that Arado stretched out the development after cancellation.

 

Anyway, as was already pointed out, everyone designed dogs, built dog prototypes, and even manufactured dogs. Prototypes were the only was to test things then and sometimes there was a need for something that was at least better than nothing, like the P-43. It simply wasn't unique to the Germans...but they had a much smaller industrial and development base to work from, so their dogs tend to stand out even more.

 

I think the key point is, can anyone demonstrate that the MAP and the Air Ministry got so fixated on a single design or engine that it derailed our whole development line? And we didnt. America designed the occasional dog too. (even the B29 was something of a white elephant). It made no difference to the development process.

The Germans got fixated not once, but several times. The Germans remained obsessed with twin engined heavy fighters, when what they really needed was a Mosquito or a P51. They didnt even get close.

 

I think their key problems were political patronage and dedication to work practices other than what might be considered mass production. I have to even wonder, how many of those thousands of air-frames were built towards the end of the war, that never flew because they had no pilots or fuel. If they had shown that kind of work zeal at the beginning of the war......

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Germans had their Mosquito, Ju-88. The Brits of course never produced their P-51 either.

German heavy fighter project, and Bomber-B project, which produced many of these failures, were hampered by very high technical requirements. RLM wanted an aircraft which was truly a world-beater resulting to technical complexity which dragged these projects down until they were obsoleted. As you said, it is somewhat similar story to B-29. For example, new Zerstörer was required to have pressurized cockpit. This added weight and meant that defensive armament could not be fitted behind the cockpit like in Bf-110. Instead, they had to come up with remote-controlled machinegun turrets. So that was a huge weight and complexity penalty right there.

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How did Battle and Defiant work out for you? ;) That was over 2500 Merlin-engined planes built during the period RAF was desperate over every Spitfire and Hurricane.

Absolutely right. Now, name another one. :)

 

Westland Whirlwind, Westland Lysander...

 

Yes, but what about the bombload? By way of comparison, the luftwaffes best bomber was the Ju88, which could carry just over 3000lb of bombs. By way of comparison, even the Mosquito could carry 4000.

Not true, 2 ton loads were fairly commonplace for Ju-88, and maximum bomb load was 2.8 tons. And because of the much-maligned dive bombing capabilities, Ju-88 was much more likely to hit something than most other medium bombers.

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How did Battle and Defiant work out for you? ;) That was over 2500 Merlin-engined planes built during the period RAF was desperate over every Spitfire and Hurricane.

Absolutely right. Now, name another one. :)

 

Westland Whirlwind, Westland Lysander...

 

Yes, but what about the bombload? By way of comparison, the luftwaffes best bomber was the Ju88, which could carry just over 3000lb of bombs. By way of comparison, even the Mosquito could carry 4000.

Not true, 2 ton loads were fairly commonplace for Ju-88, and maximum bomb load was 2.8 tons. And because of the much-maligned dive bombing capabilities, Ju-88 was much more likely to hit something than most other medium bombers.

 

 

The Whirlwind was actually pretty good. It was clearly a mistake in not developing it to carry Merlins, but the pilots liked it. The only thing they didnt like was a high landing speed, but it actually had a lower landing speed than the FW190, which operated off every kind of frontline airstrip in the war. They still built something like 112 of them, derisory compared to other types, but enough to suggest it was not a failure.

 

Lysander, well it worked fine as an artillery observation aircraft, and in fact that the Americans were building piper cubs to do the same thing suggests that the only thing wrong with it was that it was clearly overbuilt for the role. It nonetheless proved extremely good for agent transport to Europe. Indeed, its difficult to see what other aircraft could have fulfilled the role.

 

More likely to hit something than other Medium bombers? Well the last raid on Berlin was by a Mosquito, and due to Oboe they reckoned they got the CEP down to a matter of feet bombing from altitude. I grant you German bomb-sights were pretty damn good, but its still subject to the same climate problems as the Norden it was coped from was.

 

 

Divebombing was pretty useless for strategic targets. For tactical targets, well I grant you it had some utility, but again, was it worth delaying it as long as it was, and losing speed? No. It certainly was not worth the effort to try and make the HE177 capable of it. And it points to a certain confusion in the German mind between Tactical and Strategic operations.

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Whirlwind was marvellous aircraft designed to specification which made no sense whatsoever, furtherly dragged down by problems with Peregrines. In fact, Bf-110 was much more operationally useful aircraft than Whirlwind. Merlins were too big for Whirlwinds. Of course smart thing to do would have been scrap the whole stupid Defiant and design a long-range 2-engined fighter with Merlins. I don't quite understand why such thing was never done. Only real British long-range fighter aircraft was Fulmar, another example of aircraft designed to dumb requirement.

Nobody in Europe really got the 'heavy fighter' idea right. Everybody was obsessed with insanely high-flying 'cruisers', or making them multirole fighter-bombers, all of which took away from prime requirement of fighter aircraft, performance. And then there was Whirlwind which was single-engined light fighter which just happened to have 2 engines. I don't get why Germans did not break their Bf-110 successor project in different variants for dive bombing, fighter and attack aircraft - just like they did with Ju-88 and Bf-110! Instead they had to combine everything to single airframe and result was predictably horrible.

 

Lysander was quite bad. It was too sluggish for light bomber and too big for a STOL liason aircraft and couldn't fly high enough to make an useful recon platform. It was used in clandestine operations because it was available, not because it was particularly great. Finns had a handful and thought it was much inferior to older Fokker C.X.

 

Primary bombsight of Ju-88 was Stuvi. Dive bombing was very useful against tactical targets and also made it much deadlier against shipping. Difference in effectiveness compared to Blenheim and Do-17 was really notable - not only 88 carried 2 or 3 times the load, accuracy was much better.

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Whirlwind was marvellous aircraft designed to specification which made no sense whatsoever, furtherly dragged down by problems with Peregrines. In fact, Bf-110 was much more operationally useful aircraft than Whirlwind. Merlins were too big for Whirlwinds. Of course smart thing to do would have been scrap the whole stupid Defiant and design a long-range 2-engined fighter with Merlins. I don't quite understand why such thing was never done. Only real British long-range fighter aircraft was Fulmar, another example of aircraft designed to dumb requirement.

Nobody in Europe really got the 'heavy fighter' idea right. Everybody was obsessed with insanely high-flying 'cruisers', or making them multirole fighter-bombers, all of which took away from prime requirement of fighter aircraft, performance. And then there was Whirlwind which was single-engined light fighter which just happened to have 2 engines. I don't get why Germans did not break their Bf-110 successor project in different variants for dive bombing, fighter and attack aircraft - just like they did with Ju-88 and Bf-110! Instead they had to combine everything to single airframe and result was predictably horrible.

 

Lysander was quite bad. It was too sluggish for light bomber and too big for a STOL liason aircraft and couldn't fly high enough to make an useful recon platform. It was used in clandestine operations because it was available, not because it was particularly great. Finns had a handful and thought it was much inferior to older Fokker C.X.

 

Primary bombsight of Ju-88 was Stuvi. Dive bombing was very useful against tactical targets and also made it much deadlier against shipping. Difference in effectiveness compared to Blenheim and Do-17 was really notable - not only 88 carried 2 or 3 times the load, accuracy was much better.

 

At night maybe. By daytime the ME110 was a deathtrap. I think the only thing that would be vulnerable to it would be a heavy bomber or a Sunderland flying boat.

 

Well the Defiant didnt make it past 1943 in an operational setting. They moved pretty quickly in 1940 to use it as a night fighter. Sure, it was a mistake, but like the 110, it proved useful in other roles. And unlike the 110 we were able to replace it before it became completely obsolete.

 

Yes, but the point is the JU88 was also being used as a strategic bomber. Its dive bombing capability was useless in that role, particularly in night bombing, whereas a higher speed as the Mosquito had, would have made it more survivable at night, and also by day. After all, the Mosquito didnt need a dive bombing capability. They just bombed at treetop height. :D Yes, I can see the point hitting targets such as ships or military installations, but I just cant see it was worth delaying the machine in production. They had the Stuka that could do all that perfectly well.

 

In the end, you have tactical support aircraft designed to support the army. They had nothing that was tailor made for strategic work. They certainly had some good equipment for strategic bomb, Id be the first to admit. I was amazed at some of the beam equipment they had for target marking. But did they use it effectively, as the RAF did with their pathfinders? Well with the obvious exception of Coventry, apparently not.

 

Well if you dont have the lysander on agent missions, what else could you use? Im aware they tried using Hudsons but im not aware that was a particularly successful use of them. The only other aircraft that was stol capable like that would have been the Storch, which obviously we didnt have, and I rather doubt would have been big enough to put the long range tank on anyway. If we are going to count the Me110 as a successful design because it was useful in roles other than it was intended, then why shouldnt the Lysander get the same benefit of the doubt? :)

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Prewar British studies envisaged the bombing of the UK being absolutely critical in a few days, largely I suspect because we imagined the bomb loads were going to be a lot heavier than they were. We got lucky.

 

Interesting reading. My opinions on the subject are shaped by the experience of the IJNAF and IJAAF in their admittedly unsuccessful strategic air efforts against China and the Chinese after sweeping the skies over China clear of air opposition in this time period, thus enabling a textbook example of the helplessness of a people and a nation to Japanese airpower. Frustration was in Japan's inability to achieve decisive results despite these ideal conditions.

 

The British fear of the bomber was based on data from WW1. After the war the British estimated future casualties by extrapolating from this. But there were two problems. Zeppelins usually hit Jack, so people stopped rushing to the shelters at one point and that did result in a lot of dead per ton of bombs. The second problems was the overall small number of raids, so one lucky or unucky raid could change the overall ratio a lot.

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Yes, the mantra in the Air Ministry was 'The Bomber will always get through'. Which is part of the reason why we built up fighter command so seriously, it was envisaged you could have 20 thousand dead in london in a few raids, and they actually stockpiled cardboard coffins to facilitate it. Which I guess in light of what happened at Dresden was just about possible, but unlikely. They also envisaged that large amounts of gas would be used, which is obviously a principle envisaged by Douhet in his strategic bombing doctrine.

 

If you want an example of what the culture of the time expected to happen to London, you only have to watch the following film.

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