Reply to post: Re: Jingoistic Juices are flowing

The Battle of Britain couldn't have been won without UK's homegrown tech innovations

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: Jingoistic Juices are flowing

Oh, one last point. Britain had been rapidly re-arming by the late 30s. Those countries that re-armed later often ended up being at an advantage - as technology was changing so fast that what was cutting edge in 1934 was obsolescent in 1937 and a death-trap by 1939. Not so much at sea, but in the air and in mechanised warfare.

Britain had been busily building a bunch of aircraft factories. So by 1940 we were actually out-producing the Germans in numbers of planes every month. Something that Luftwaffe intel missed.

We also had a working and well-organised spares logistics system. The Germans could only do light repairs at the airfields, and so had to send planes back to the factory for major works. Which made the factories less efficient and meant they were often short of planes at the squadron (staffel) level. Whereas the RAF had new or repaired planes ready for pilots the next day. This was a problem that continued throughout the war, and the Germans would often have loads of unserviceable planes lying about their airfields waiting to be shipped back to the factories for repairs that would be done locally by the RAF ground crews.

Our shortage was pilots. This also gets to the main intelligence failure of the battle.

An RAF fighter squadron fought with a strength of 12 planes in the air. But actually should have about 20 planes and pilots on the books. This meant that barring a horrible day, it should still be able to field a full strength sqadron at 5pm - even if it had been up two or three times in the day. They were regularly sent up North for rests and re-training and got replacement pilots (sometimes) and planes and spares regularly.

A Luftwaffe staffel had a fighting strength of 9, but should have about 20 pilots and say 14 aircraft. They weren't getting many replacement pilots or spares or planes. And certainly not on a regular basis. So more-and-more ended up fighting under strength.

Worse, German intelligence assumed that the RAF were the same. The number of squadrons was known - so they simply multiplied that by 14, and took away their pilots claims of shot down enemy planes to work out that the RAF would be out of planes and pilots if they just attacked for a few more days. Of course, they couldn't count the wrecks, which the RAF leadership could, so they couldn't work out how much their pilots were exaggerating their numbers of kills. If one poor sod gets hit by 4 different pilots, that's one kill, not 4. And that's before you factor in wishful thinking and young men being boastful. The Germans claimed to have shot down a third of Fighter Command's entire strength on one day in August!

The British mistake was the opposite. We counted the number of Luftwaffe squadrons and multiplied by 20 to get their numnber of planes. So they underestimated the RAF's strength by about a third and the RAF overestimated theirs by about the same. This made the RAF too worried and the Germans complacent. Having Goering in command didn't help. He'd been a good fighter pilot in WWI, but I don't think he was up on the modern technology and tactics and he was a lazy, boasful, arrogant arse as a commander. Fortunately. I can't remember if he was on the opium at this point in the war, or whether that was later. That didn't help his abilities as a commander, either...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR WEEKLY TECH NEWSLETTER

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020