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Old 6th April 2005, 18:54
Hawk-Eye
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Re: Fighter pilots' guts

Yes I quite understand. I was meaning the RAF as a whole, especially Dowding. The outcome of the BoB was a close call, Fighter Command at some point in August was really exhausted, almost finished. So Dowding was right. Of course there's nothing wrong with RAF aircrew's keenness and gallantry. I am not English so I'll never dream of insulting their memories. They were more than all right, sometimes perhaps TOO brave when they executed orders and attacked in a hell and a hail of Flak in their ol' slow "Battles" and so vulnerable "Blenheims". One of them (Garland) won a VC but was it worth it? What matters is the result.
Allied HQ were really slow-witted. Why the hell didn't they react immediately, on 11 May already, and order anti-Flak strikes shortly ahead of the strikes proper (this was done later in the war). It was fully possible to send for ex. the sturdy Bloch 152s or the excellent assault AC Breguet 693 thirty seconds ahead of the main force. Both had an excellent armament for this task. Their pilots even would have enjoyed hitting back at the Flak! Adding a little armour wouldn't have been a big problem (the 693s were armoured already... but not the rear-gunner's seat). AC sent to attack columns etc. almost never were able to fire at the Flak.

PS : YES the RAF could have done much more over the continent but afterwards it could have done only much less over England and this would have compromised the outcome of the BoB very seriously. Most RAF losses were non-combat losses, mainly AC which had to be left behind because the German ground troops were approaching (same thing for the Armée de l'Air but it was worse for the RAF, which was stationed closer to Belgium). This is not a satisfying way of losing precious aircraft. What I mean is that on the continent many RAF AC would have been lostjust like that, to no avail without having been really useful. They wouldn't have changed the outcome. For this you need an incredible air superiority, like 1944 over Normandy (remember that the Luftwaffe never could be prevented from bombing and strafing Allied troops).

Last edited by Hawk-Eye; 6th April 2005 at 19:02. Reason: PS
 

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