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Thread: The Most Dangerous Enemy

  1. #61
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    " The British could also choose what numbers to send up to engage any raid"

    "From the point of view of any British fighter pilot, the odds seemed daunting. When he was scrambled to meet a large formation, the only friendly aircraft he saw were his dozen or so companions. Squadrons like this might often wade into formations of 100 to 150 bombers and fighters, and the Germans always seemed to have more of them. He did not see what happened before or after the ten minutes or so of frantic fighting in which he was usually engaged, and did not know whether in the course of the hour it spent over England, the hostile formation itself might be attacked by a total of 100 or 150 British fighters. He just knew that he was up against it, and this, the feeling that things depended on him and his few pals, acted as a spur to his efforts. Like most soldiers, he had no idea of the overall shape of the battle he was engaged in. He had to keep going up, because there seemed to be no one else."

  2. #62
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    The principal benefit when fighting against odds is that there are plenty of targets !

  3. #63
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    “The Bulldog, like most other contemporary fighters and almost all its predecessors from the previous war, was armed with two machine guns. It was becoming apparent that this did not offer sufficient firepower to knock down the increasingly sturdy bombers”

    "In 1933, squadron leader Ralph Sorely was posted to the Operational Requirements Branch at the Air Ministry. He was convinced, even then, that war with Germany was inevitable, and admits to having been ‘a fanatic’ about the need to develop a fighter which could defeat German bombers. The problem he focused on was how to kill a bomber once it had been caught. His starting point was his own experience:

    ’Like so many others, I had spent many years trying to hit targets with one, two, or even four machine guns, with singularly poor results. Others were so much better, but I guessed that if one could hold the sight on for longer than two seconds, that was better than average. We were now going to have to hold it on at appreciably higher speeds so the average sight might be even less than two seconds.’

    RAF fighters still used vast stocks of Vickers guns left over from 1914-1918. In 1934, a new Browning gun with the much higher rate of fire of some 1,000 rounds a minute was being tested. Sorely sat down to think and add some theory to his experience:

    ‘By dint of much blotting paper, arithmetic, and burning of midnight oil, I reached the answer of eight guns being the number required to give a lethal dose in two seconds of fire. I reckoned that the bombers speed would probably be such as to allow the pursuing fighter only one chance of attack so it must be destroyed in that vital two-second burst’

    The next problem was where to put all these guns. The old Vickers guns were usually mounted in front of the cockpit, firing through the propeller by means of an interrupter gear. The wings were too flimsy to take more than a single Lewis gun fixed above the centre of the top wing. All the guns had to be near the pilot so that he could clear the frequent jams. However, the interrupter gear limited the rate of fire. Sorley’s calculations showed that in order to build up the density of bullets needed to be lethal over any part of the target, the rate of fire of the Browning’s could not be restricted. This meant putting the guns in the wings, outboard of the propeller arc. This in turn meant that the wings had to be very rigid, the guns had to be very reliable, because the pilot could no longer clear jams, and the firing mechanism had to be pneumatic rather than mechanical.”

    “In 1934 with the help of a friend of his, Major Thompson, he got hold of an old aircraft and set it up on a firing range. They fired at it with eight guns from a range of 400 yards and cut through the structure in so many vulnerable places that it was clear that two seconds were indeed lethal.
    Sorley approached Dowding to confess that he had destroyed one of his old aircraft, and tell him of the implications. He discovered to his surprise that he was flying this particular kite with a tailwind, for Dowding told him that he had already placed an order for two experimental monoplanes in order to try out new features designers were talking about, such as retractable undercarriages, enclosed cockpits and flaps, and to exploit the exciting developments in aero-engines at Rolls-Royce in the hope of not only fulfilling, but going beyond the existing F.7/30 specification.

    These specifications were F.36/34 and F.367/34 (‘Experimental High Speed Single Seat Fighter’) and had been issued to Hawker and Supermarine respectively as a result of their efforts on F.7/30. Sorely went off to see the two chief designers, Sydney Camm at Hawker and Reginald Mitchell at Supermarine. Both had been intending to fit four machine guns on the top of the fuselage of their designs, but when Sorely explained his reasoning, They enthusiastically turned their thoughts to putting eight guns in the wings, which gave them the added bonus of being able to slim down the fuselage.”

    “…the ministry produced a new specification, F.10/35. It required ‘as many guns as possible’ but suggested eight”

  4. #64
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    It was not only some of the German pilots`and leaders that were not forward looking...

    "Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, a man whose views had some weight given that he was C-in-C, Air Defence of Great Britain, liked open cockpits and thought eight guns was 'going a bit too far'. Indeed it was, for there was nowhere to put them on a biplane."

    "The biplane school had a lot of arguments and almost all of past experience on their side. The majority of pilots preferred biplanes. The key to fighter combat was widely believed to be maneuverability. That implied low wing loading, which in turn implied two sets of wings. Many pilots thought that the innovations being discussed by designers were fine in theory but introduced too much complexity for the rigours of war service. Retractable undercarriages, flaps and variable pitch propellers were all devices which added weight and could go wrong, adding to servicing needs in the field and adding to the pilots workload. Enclosed cockpits created a feeling of claustrophobia, made bailing out more difficult and added a barrier of perspex between the pilots eyeballs and his enemy. Goggles were already a necessary evil. If the perspex were curved, it introduced distortion, and any perspex could get scratched or mist up. It may, as Sydney Camm wrote after the war, have been obvious to the industry that the biplane had had its day, but it was not obvious to the pilots."
    Last edited by buzzbeurling; 4th September 2017 at 02:21.

  5. #65
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    The Hurricane has a 28 gallon, gravity feed reserve tank...

    "The Spitfires petrol tank was lined with a substance called Linatex to prevent fuel leakage through bullet holes and prevent fire. The same was done to the two main tanks in the wings of the Hurricane, but was not done to the Hurricane's reserve tank just in front of the pilot. This tank was hard to get at and it was thought that the armour there would provide sufficient protection. This proved to be wrong and had terrible consequences for a good number of Hurricane pilots. When it became apparent what was happening, getting the reserve tanks covered in Linatex became one of Dowding's highest priorities."

    "Because it was sandwiched between bulkheads and also because it was hard to remove, it was at first not covered by Linatex sealing material. It was as vulnerable as the glycol tank when making attacks on bombers, and the resulting fires, sending flames of blowtorch intensity through the instrument panel at the pilot prompted Dowding to order the retrofitting of Linatex and the addition of an armoured panel between the tank and the pilot."

  6. #66
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    “At the beginning of the war, Bomber Command was highly confident. It had 280 aircraft of four main types, the Whitley, the Hampden, the Wellington, and the Blenheim. The first three all cruised at about 160 mph and could take a 4,000 lb bomb load about 1,200 miles. The Blenheim Mk. IV was lighter and faster, being capable of taking a 1,000 lb load 1,460 miles, cruising at 198 mph. They had all been designed for specific tactics. They would operate by day in order to be able to find their targets, and by flying in massed ‘box’ formations would put up a screen of defensive fire no fighter could penetrate. Their targets were German warships and ports, well away from civilians. At night, they would scatter leaflets in order to explain to the Germans that the war was not a good idea and to suggest that it be called off and that everyone should go home.

    In addition, there were ten squadrons of Fairey Battles sent to France to operate in support of the navy. The Battle dated from 1933, when it elicited little enthusiasm but was ordered anyway because it was better than nothing. It was very slow and clearly obsolete in 1939. It was probably in fact a good deal worse than nothing. The men who flew it were a gallant but tragic band.”

    “In May, 1940, the Battles sent to France were annihilated.”

    “Bomber Commands first operation was launched one hour after the war was declared. It did not find the target, and nor did the second. Early the next day, a reconnaissance flight identified naval vessels in the harbours of Brunsbuttel and Wilhelmhaven. Fifteen Blenheims left for Wilhelmshaven and fourteen Wellingtons set out for Brunsbuttel. Five Blenheims and two Wellingtons were brought down by flak and fighters. The shipping was barely molested.”

    “The loss rates showed that unescorted bombers could not survive in daylight. This conclusion was very threatening to Bomber Command for it jeopardized the doctrine on which its very existence was based. An alternative explanation had to be found.

    The leader of the Wellington formation, Wing Commander Richard Kellett of 149 squadron, provided Bomber Command with what it needed by maintaining a very strict and tight formation amongst the flight of four aircraft he led directly throughout the engagement. Only one of these machines had been lost, and from the list of claims submitted by this flight, it seemed that they had inflicted a small but significant defeat upon the intercepting fighters.

    So it was that, having experienced loss rates of between 30% and 50% on three out of four major operations conducted since the war began, 3 Group of Bomber Command concluded:

    There is every reason to believe that a very close formation of six Wellington aircraft will emerge from a long and heavy attack by enemy fighters with very few, if any, casualties to its own aircraft.”


    “Thus Wing Commander Kellett, through his skill, courage, and dedication to duty, condemned many of his colleagues to death over the coming months.”

    ‘Over at Fighter Command, senior officers muttered that they had told them so…..”
    Last edited by buzzbeurling; 8th September 2017 at 01:38.

  7. #67
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    “The loss of life caused by pilots drowning was even more serious…….”

    “Unlike their German counterparts, they had no dinghy and no fluorescence. The summer temperature in the channel rarely rose above 14 degrees Celsius which gave a downed pilot a survival time of about four hours. If he happened to be wearing regulation dress, his survival time was far shorter, though, as the collar of the standard officer’s Van Heusen shirt shrank in contact with sea water and throttled the wearer. The wearing of silk scarves as an alternative, which many outside of Fighter Command thought a mere affectation, was a life-saving measure, and also prevented chafing when turning the neck to look behind. There was no search and rescue organization, just the hope that any passing boat would do the good turn of picking the pilot up. “

    “Not until pilots were drowning in sufficient numbers to call attention to the oversight was anything done. On 22 August, RAF launches were passed to the operational control of the local naval authorities, and Fighter Command got twelve Lysanders to help look for downed pilots.”

  8. #68
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    "...most of the features of Dowding's system remained a closed book. This is in spite of the fact that many of the details had been shared with the French, whom the Germans could have interrogated in June or July had they wished to do so. The Germans knew all about radar and used it themselves to great effect. They had in fact invented it first. It was in the application of radar technology to create a command and control system that the British were pioneers."

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzbeurling

    “The Bulldog, like most other contemporary fighters ...
    Buzz, lots of quotes, but it would be great to know the sources.

    After all... It could be Dr North

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  10. #70
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    These are all quotes from the book that is the subject of the thread...."the Most Dangerous Enemy" by Stephen Bungay.

  11. #71
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    Thanks.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  12. #72
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    Info added to an earlier post...

    "One of the most successful British fighters of WWI, the Bristol fighter, had been a two seater. In 1935, the Air Ministry issued specification F, 9/35, calling for a two-seater with a power operated gun turret. An Air Staff memorandum from June 1938 shows the thinking behind it:

    ‘The speed of modern bombers is so great that it is only worthwhile to attack them under conditions which allow no relative motion between the fighter and its target. The fixed-gun fighter with guns firing ahead can only realize these conditions by attacking the bomber from dead astern. The duties of a fighter engaged in ‘air superiority’ fighting will be the destruction of opposing enemy fighters. . . For these purposes, it requires an armament that can be used defensively as well as offensively in order to enable it to penetrate into enemy territory and withdraw at will. The fixed-gun fighter cannot do this.’

    Whilst some of the stated premises were correct, the conclusion was not. It was thought that it was an advantage to divide up the work of flying and shooting between two people and that the armament could be used both offensively and defensively, whatever the means. The Bristol Fighter had in fact been armed with a fixed forward-firing gun operated by the pilot, who flew it like a single-seater with an added sting in its tail.

    The response to F.9/35 came from Boulton-Paul which created a two seat fighter around their-gun turret. It first flew on 11 August 1937. The turret was heavy and, as might be expected with such an innovation, unreliable at first. But it seemed to many to be a good idea, especially against bombers.

    Churchill, no less, seems to have flirted with the idea that turret-armed fighters were best, and in 1938 the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshall William Sholto Douglas, ordered Dowding to form nine squadrons of Defiants, informing him that 450 had been ordered. ‘For work over enemy territory,’ he stated, ‘a two-seater is best’. It was a British heavy fighter, a Zestorer. Dowding vigorously opposed this and prevailed to the extent that when the Battle of Britain opened, the Defiant equipped only two squadrons, 141 and 264. They were very proud of them. Their tragic tale was only an incident in what followed, but it was to show how critical fighter performance had become and how easily, but for Dowding, Spitfire and hurricane production could have been curtailed in favour of a machine which would have lost the Battle of Britain within a few weeks."

    Added...

    "...in the expectation of action, 11 Group ordered 141 Squadron, the one equipped with Defiants, from West Malling to Hawkinge. They had not yet been in action. Despite their misgivings, Park and Dowding decided to use them on the strength of the successes enjoyed by 141's sister squadron, 264, over Dunkirk.

    "At 1223, 141 were ordered off to patrol twenty miles south of Folkstone. Nine machines took to the air. At about the same time, Theo Osterkamp decided to make use of the break in the weather to lead III./JG51 on a 'free hunt' sweep. The Grupenkommandeur of III./JG51, Hannes Trautloft, suddenly saw the Defiant formation below him, heading south. With the sun behind them,Trautloft's men dived to attack. It was 1245. Four Defiants fell in Trautloft's first pass"

    " Their hunt was interrupted by the arrival of 111 Squadron which shot down one of the Messerschmitts and allowed the four remaining Defiants to get back to Hawkinge. They touched down at 1300. Two of them had been hit. One of them crashed on landing, the other was a write-off. Within half an hour, the fresh squadron had lost seven aircraft and twelve pilots and gunners.. The shocked survivors were withdrawn back north over the next few days"

    "On very few other days during the Battle of Britain would Fighter Command lose more aircraft in combat than the Luftwaffe."

    "When Hurricanes and Spitfires were involved, however, the balance of losses was largely the result of tactical situation"
    Last edited by buzzbeurling; 25th December 2017 at 00:00.

  13. #73
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    “The nazis did not understand the economics of war, and, like the Japanese, relied on the superior skill and the warrior ethos of their fighting men to win. Their propaganda efforts backfired, for the British expected German production to be far higher than it was and so planned for higher numbers themselves”

  14. #74
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    Adding to my earlier post where it was stated that ...It turns out that Goering was addicted to morphine as a result of treatment from a gunshot wound at the beer hall putsch. Apparently this can have serious side effects like making an honest person completely untrustworthy and delusional resulting in criminal actions.

    Added text...

    “Goering was quite prepared to pursue petty feuds to the detriment of morale. He disapproved of the Kommodore of JG53, Hans-Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel, because he had married into a family whose Aryan credentials were less than perfect. So in July, he ordered the unit to paint out its “Ace of Spades” insignia, of which it was very proud. They painted red bands around their cowlings instead. In retaliation, when Wolf-Deitrich Wilcke took over III./JG53 in August, he had the swastikas on the tails of his Bf 109s painted out, which was both an expression of solidarity with his Kommodore and a signal to Goering. His standing was very low in JG53.”

    “Goering was first and foremost a Nazi politician, skilled at scheming and using people. He ran the Air Ministry on a divide-and-rule basis and did nothing to improve the ruinously bad relationships Milch, Jeschonnek, and Udet had with each other and with him………..The Luftwaffe was not run by a team but by a set of isolated individuals who had to look out for themselves and tried, if anything, not to co-operate.”

    “When Hitler provoked the Czech crisis in 1938, raising the real prospect of war with Britain, Goering was shocked to receive a report from General Felmy that an exercise had shown that the Luftwaffe was in no condition to take on the RAF. After the invasion of Poland, Hitler’s eagerness to attack France provoked similar anxiety within the Luftwaffe High Command. They were not ready, but by that time Goering’s boasting had made it impossible to tell Hitler the truth without losing face or worse.”

    As an interesting sidenote….

    “III./ZG 76 were under strict instructions to protect the Stukas whatever the cost. And this they did, paying a heavy price. Between them, the British pilots shot down four of them. One of them was flown by Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Goering, the Reichsmarschall’s nephew, described by one of his colleagues as ‘a boisterous young man’ who ‘stupidly tried to take on the whole RAF’. His aircraft plunged out of the sky in a screaming dive and hit the ground on the Verne heights overlooking Portland Harbour……..Uncle Hermann was not amused and ‘stirred up quite a fuss’ having been assuming that the Gruppenkommandeur, Hauptmenn Dickore would be taking special care of his nephew”

  15. #75
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    I think it might be time to start being careful before overly extensive quoting breaches copyright.

  16. #76
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    Oh, oh. I don't know how that works. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    I have been hoping to encourage people to buy the book.
    Last edited by buzzbeurling; 28th October 2017 at 13:40.

  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zidante
    I think it might be time to start being careful before overly extensive quoting breaches copyright.
    Thanks for the suggestion, but we are happy that what is posted falls within the limits of what is acceptable, particularly as the source is well credited.

    Moggy
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  18. #78
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    Favourite aviation historian of mine that he is, I guess that Mr. Bungay would be pleased to be so extensively and informatively quoted.

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    “The British aircraft industry in 1940 was in fact more productive and more efficient than the German one, outproducing it with smaller numbers of workers until 1944. However, attaining that efficiency took a great deal of effort. The Air Ministry placed its first order for 400 Hurricanes in June 1936, but the first production Hurricane did not roll out of the assembly sheds at Brooklands in Surrey until 12 October 1937, which was almost two years after the prototype had flown. The ministry had expected to have its first fifty by September. The production capacity of the British aircraft industry had been allowed to decline so far over the previous twenty years that it could barely cope. Similarly, it was only due to the energies of Ernest Hives, who became General Works Manager in 1938, that Rolls-Royce could manage to meet an order for 3,350 Merlins.”

    “In 1936, the government had conceived the idea of building dedicated factories to “shadow” production at existing works. On 15 July 1938 work began on building an entirely new works at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham under the supervision of Lord Nuffield`s Morris Motor Works. Lord Nuffield and his men knew how to mass produce cars, but knew nothing about aeroplanes. The project was plagued by changes to the production specification from the Air Ministry, the management`s ignorance of aerospace technology and squabbles between the car unions and management over money. Delays continued into 1940…….. To meet the June target of ten Spitfires, machines were surreptitiously transferred from Eastleigh.”

    “The British innovation of shadow factories, whilst difficult to get started, gave it a major advantage as the war continued and was copied in the United States.”

  21. #81
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    Concerning “squabbles between the car unions and management over money” at Castle Bromwich.....

    “Workers at Castle Bromwich ended up being paid far more than those at Southampton. This was not an isolated case of unions putting their interests before the war effort. In the period of Dunkirk there was a strike at a colliery and another at the A.V. Roe aircraft factory. In August 1940, the de Havilland aircraft factory at Edgeware lost 4,426 days over 'the transfer of four capstan fitters from the firm to other work of national importance'”

  22. #82
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    Relations with the trades unions seemed to take on a rosier hue when Uncle Joe joined the fray ! I wonder why ?

  23. #83
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    Concerning Spitfire manufacturing versus the Me-109 it took.....

    "......13,000 man-hours needed to make a Mk. V airframe with the 4,000 for the ME-109G. The Spitfire also took two-and-a-half times as long to make as a Hurricane......".

    ".......Willy Messerschmidt took production needs into account in his design. Mitchell took nothing except performance into account. This was one of the consequences. Maybe Mitchell would have done better to do so, but the advantages of his designs over the 109 also have to be considered. Even German engineers would have had trouble with the wing, which allowed every Spitfire pilot to outturn any 109, and despite all the incompetence it could muster, the British industry finally managed to make 22,000 Spitfires. Heinkel had rejected the elliptical wing after his experience with the He-70 because it was so difficult to manufacture in quantity."

  24. #84
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    According to the book, fateful consequences “were narrowly averted by the presence of mind of one of Dowding’s pilots who came, by a curious set of circumstances, to be taking a Gladiator to France.

    In early 1939, the celebrated Harry Broadhurst had taken over 111 squadron from John Gillan. In common with most of the squadron, ‘Sandy’ Sanders took a dislike to his new C/O, whom he regarded as a prima donna, and having spent his childhood fighting for his rights against four beautiful sisters and his mother, all of whom he considered to be prima donnas, fighting prima donnas had become a bit of a habit. Broadhurst was an extremely good pilot, but his men disliked the way he would talk about his aerobatic skills, especially by doing a roll off the top of a loop after takeoff, as he had done at the 1938 Hendon Air Display, in a machine with the guns removed to make it lighter. So one grey Sunday morning in September, Sandy took off in a Gauntlet with the guns still in it to do the same thing, just to show that anyone could do it. Unfortunately, the war had just started and a number of senior officers were arriving at Northolt for an important conference just as Sandy was carrying out his stunt. Himself a very experienced pilot, he completed an immaculate roll off the top of his loop in the unmodified airplane. When he landed, in recognition of his skill and sense of timing, Broadhurst put him under arrest.

    He took him the then 11 AOC Group, Air Vice-Marshall Gossage, to decide what to do with him. Gossage knew Sandy’s mother, so he just asked the young pilot what he would like to do. Sandy replied that he would like to go to France. ‘Off you go then’, the AOC replied. So, on 4 October 1939, Sanders was posted to 615 Squadron, which was earmarked for duty in France.

    His punishment was what he had asked for, but it was in fact a double insult. Though an RAF regular, he had been posted to fly with auxiliaries. Also, despite being one of the most experienced pilots in the RAF, this meant he had to fly Gladiators. However, he did go to France, and on 15 November 1939, 615 lined up at Croydon along with 607 Squadron to head for Merville. There was an official inspection before they left, and, appropriately enough, 615’s Honorary Air Commodore, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, turned up with his wife to see the boys off.

    Gladiators were armed with two machine guns at the sides of the cockpit and one under each wing, at about waist height. These guns could only be cocked for action on the ground. The pneumatic system that operated them was unreliable and even rocking the wings could set them off. As 615 were escorting their ground crews in two Ensign aircraft, and were expecting to fly into action, they had their guns cocked.

    Sandy was leading the flight, so Churchill and Clementine naturally chose his machine for a close inspection. Churchill being Churchill, he showed a particular interest in the guns. His wife being a woman she sat in the cockpit asking ‘what is this?’ and ‘what is that?’ and as Churchill was bending over in front of the machine gun under the wing, she started fiddling with the firing mechanism. Fighter pilots need to have fast reactions, and Sandy was a very good fighter pilot. So it was that he may have saved the future Prime Minister from a premature demise at the hands of his spouse, and thereby changed the course of world history. The squadron took off and landed at Merville without further incident.”

  25. #85
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    "The largest of the German Airfleets, Airfleet 2, was commanded by Albert Kesselring. He was born in 1885, the son of an academic and scion of one of Bavaria’s oldest families. Given a classical education, he joined the army in 1904, in part to assert his independence from his father, and was commissioned in the artillery. During World War I he served in France, distinguishing himself through his coolness and professionalism during the period of the Allied offensive in Artois in 1917. In 1918 he was given a General Staff appointment, and noted the value of control of the air.

    In the chaos of post-war Germany, he helped to suppress the Communist revolution in Bavaria, and was amongst those officers selected to remain in Germany’s 100,000 man army. In 1933, he was singled out, despite his protests, to head the administrative office of the clandestine Luftwaffe, and quickly decided to make the best of the inevitable by learning to fly at the age of forty-eight. His energy and organisational talents were invaluable. He became Chief of Air Staff, and finally, on the outbreak of war, was given an operational command as Head of Luftflotte 1 for the invasion of Poland. In 1940 whilst he was engaged in organising Poland’s air defences, the Commander of Luftflotte 2 in France, Hellmuth Felmy, was sacked after one of his planes forced-landed in Belgium, carrying full details of the Wehrmacht’s invasion plans. Kesselring was appointed to succeed him.

    Kesselring was one of Germany’s ablest field commanders, as he was to prove when he took over command of the Wehrmacht in Italy, and tied down superior allied forces in that tough and scaly underbelly of Europe until the war’s end. His commanding general in 1917 had written a glowing report of him, commenting on his intellectual power, his sound grasp of tactics, communication skills, tireless industry, his loyalty to his superiors, and his ability to inspire those below. He was in many ways, the model of a German soldier.

    As an Air force leader, Kesselring’s intellect alone secured for him a reputation for competence. Theo Osterkamp met him on Nordeney in 1933, just after he had taken up his new post. Kesselring came over as a ‘chevalier of the old-school’, modest, eager to learn and with a charming smile. Despite his modesty, Osterkamp wrote, Kesselring had deep knowledge and a clear vision of the Luftwaffe’s future. ‘What a delight it must be to work with a man of such calibre’.

    Yet despite the enormous amount of effort that he put into the Luftwaffe from 1933 onwards, he remained a soldier rather than an airman. In Poland and in France the Luftwaffe operated in support of the army, a role in which Kesselring felt quite at home. The Battle of Britain was something which had never been tried, and he was facing men who spent the best part of their careers working out how to defeat an enemy attack by an enemy air force.

    As a man, however, he was a leader of high distinction. He was courageous, independent-minded and unusually amiable. He earned the sobriquet of ‘der lachelnde Albert’(‘smiling Albert’) and his organisational skills were matched by an understanding of human nature and a sure touch with his men. In the crisis he faced in 1917 he had restored his troops shattered confidence when they faced defeat. Easy-going on the outside, he was tough as nails on the inside and incisive in his decision-making. It is doubtful whether, the Germans could have found a better man anywhere in their armed forces to carry out the role allotted to Kesselring in 1940."

  26. #86
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    Thanks for sharing - it's an interesting read. However, it's getting to the point where soon the author will potentially start losing income because the key parts of the text are available for free here. Even if not, there's a principle involved here. It's great reading, but that's the point - it was undoubtedly a lot of work, and if it was mine I wouldn't be to happy to see it literally devalued.

    It is maybe time to give your thoughts on all of this, and more in the spirit of a dicussion forum?
    Last edited by Beermat; 22nd December 2017 at 20:57.

  27. #87
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    OK, I strongly suggest that people purchase this book for Christmas, perhaps next year if it is too late for this year or to hand over to someone in the family so they can give it to you for your birthday. It is definitely worth a read.

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    Bungay's book is on my shelf and is one of my most valued references. Thanks to 'buzzbeurling' for continuing to remind us all of what a gem we have to hand.

    I look forward to more revelations.

  29. #89
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    193
    Don't need to buy it now. It's all been quoted on here!

  30. #90
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    6,397
    Ah yes but, the forum moves on. If the title is on your shelf, you've got it forever ! In its entirety. Giving you a complete picture at the turn of a page.

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