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Market-Garden - was this EVER a good idea?


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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 9:28:50 PM PST
patrick,
One of the key differences between the A6M and the ME109 was that the 109 had armor and self-sealing fuel tanks and the Zero didn't. The 109 also had a much more robust airframe. Both the 109 and the Zero could have been dangerous to the Lancaster, but it is more likely that the 109 could survive an attack, especially from the aft quadrant where the 4 gun tail turret could engage it. As for the Sunderlands, I think it was the sheer number of defensive guns (14) and 2 of the waist guns were .50 cals instead of .303s. Also the sheer size of the aircraft left a lot of empty space to absorb bullets and cannon shells without hitting anything vital helped them to survive.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 9:27:56 PM PST
patrick says:
in A6M2 = "Type 99 20mm cannon.."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 7:29:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012 9:17:49 PM PST
patrick says:
oh, well i just look at it that A6M2s firepower was virtually identical to ME109E..both used the same cut-down 20mm Oerlikon wing-gun..MG FF as the Germans called it, forgotten what Japanese called it..it had shortcomings as you say, but it didnt stop the ME109E from giving the Germans air-superiority more usually air supremacy in the Blitzkrieg, and and from taking a fearful toll of the Spitfires and Hurricanes in the BoB...likewise didnt stop the Zero from giving the Japanese dominance in first year of Pacific War...so either it wasnt that bad, or else the two .30 cowling guns that both carried were a lot more effective than one might imagine.
Anyway, as for the BF109E, obviously it was a very serious threat to any RAF day bomber in the sky during its era, from Battle and Blenheim, Hudson Whitley and Wellington, to Stirling as the Me109F2 with a very effective centreline gun came on stream.
Therefore, the BF109E would have been very dangerous to the Lancaster.
Therefore, so would the Zero.
the Messerschmidt was perhaps harder to deter or seriously damage or shoot down with 2 or 4 streams of .303 fire for reasons already covered, and was more able to perform well during higher interceptions.
Oddly enough the Sunderlands seemed to have held their own with very heavily armed and armored fighters such as fighter JU88s while usually only wielding the same basic .303 guns and turret layouts.
Probably the Zeros increased agility doesnt make that much difference in battles with bombers, as the one man one engine fighter always has this advantage vs large multi-engined aircraft anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 6:46:18 PM PST
It wasn't just XXX Corps. XIII and XII Corps were advancing on the flanks of XXX Corps. That they couldn't keep up was part of the reason for the failure of the whole operation. The point was that not just one corps, but whole British 2nd Army was going to force its way into Germany across the lower Rhine.

The point about the Scheldt Estuary is a good one. The whole operation and everything surrounding it points to the failures of the vastly overrated Field Marshal Montgomery. He failed to clear the Scheldt. If he had gone at it right away he would have prevented the escape of the German 15th Army, which showed up in the area between Eindhoven and Neimegan and delayed the taking of the bridges, slowing the advance of XXX Corps. Even before that his intelligence officer showed him evidence of German armor practically on the very drop zone of the British 1st Abn Div, but Mont. refused to consider that. It so concerned Beetle Smith that with Ike's permission he flew to Monty's HQ and tried to persuade him to add the US 17th Abn Div to his northern attack force. Monty airily waved away all this concern. And then to top it all off, after the failure of M-G was apparent to everybody else in Europe he claimed that 90% of its objectives were taken, therefore it was a success.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2012 1:31:28 PM PST
I agree, Zeros and Oscars are about the only WWII front line aircraft that a Lancaster might have had a chance of defending itself against since niether aircraft had any armor or self-sealing fuel tanks. If Zeros managed to get into range of a Lancaster the 20mm cannon carried by the Zero could have done some damage despite their low velocity and inaccuracy. I doubt that the Oscar could have done any significant damage even if it were a late model with twin fifties.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2012 12:23:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2012 12:24:43 PM PST
patrick says:
the Lancaster actually would in fact be quite vulnerable even to Zeros in daylight...even if its tail turret was effective against a Zero.

the Oscar, ok, i guess it would be ineffective at least had the lowest hitting power of any monoplane interceptor in the war that I can think of, at least in its early series..later they were given either a mixed .5/.3 armament, or two .5s, I think, at that point, it was on par with MC200/Fiat G50 for hitting power, the next lightest armed monoplane fighters.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2012 2:58:53 PM PST
I think the B29 would have done better than the older bombers mostly due to it's higher speed and service ceiling. It still would have taken losses, but the German fighters would only have been able to make one pass since the B29s could dash at 350 miles per hour. The German interceptors weren't a lot faster than that, the fastest FW190, the D model could max out at 426 in clean conditions and most German interceptors had gondola guns added which increased drag slowing them significantly.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2012 1:51:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 12, 2012 1:59:57 PM PST
patrick says:
US bombers were still dependant on their own guns and armor well after escort fighters became available...the Lancaster would still have been too vulnerable if German fighters were being met by the bombers at all..
as you say, rifle calibre guns which were ineffective against the heavily armored german day fighters such as FW190A8 except at point blank range, and no belly defence at all...
I think B17 and B24 were effective day bombers, if B29s were more effective, well great..B17 and B24 were still doing the work that the Lancaster could not have, in daylight...because losses could be heavy, doesnt say that they were not effective, That the Lancaster could not survive was tried and proven, anyway, small formations of Lancasters tried in daylight were usually at least half wiped out or worse.
Worse still, the RAF had no capacity current or projected for long-range bomber escort, its efforts to escort the Blenheims and Stirlings in the 1941-43 period had never worked, largely due to both unsuitable equipment and tactical errors partly echoing those of the Germans in the Battle of Britain.(when the RAF fighters happened to attack German fighter airfields a couple of times, their otherwise losing kill/loss ratio improved dramatically)
But we never got to see how the B29 fared against the vastly more formidable German air defence sysltem, compared to the makeshift Japanese one.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2012 2:37:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2012 2:38:57 PM PST
M. Kenny says:
Guess I am off 'ignore' again!
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Darth screams:
Great! You have now documented the same facts, that ONE tactical air support controller did a superb job of .... wiping out .... ? perhaps 12-20 German tanks?
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err one man was wounded and his place taken by another with no break in the service?
What exactly is the problem with that?
The bit your constantly ignore is that this was the very first use of a VCP in Normandy.
It was a new idea (introduced in the British Sector) that was being tried out.
First use on the battlefield and all that..............
I suggest you read your 3 books again.
One of them (Gooderson) will inform you that the destruction of '12-20 tanks' in one battle is a very high score..

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Darth opines:

According to Wikipedia, the British-Canadian forces lost 253 - 314 tanks in Operation Goodwood, the Germans lost some 75-100 tanks.
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You make a common mistake.
You compare German total losses (tanks completely destroyed) with British total of all tanks damaged (only a proportion of these numbers are total losses).
Given you fixation with denigrating Montgomery I expect you will ignore that revaltion and continue to peddle your lies.
Just to help you out the total British tank losses to August were circa 2,000.
The losses for the (not so badly performing )US Forces (commanded by much better generals than Montgomery) were.....................circa 2,000!
How do you explain that?
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Darth splutters:

It just wasn't utilized properly by montgomery. ONE TACTICAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER for a 1,000+ tank assault at Operation Goodwood, which is all that you have confirmed, same as the book British Armour in the Normandy Campaign (Military History and Policy) is most definitely NOT utilizing tactical air support properly.
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There you go again. Using a full third of your 'extensive' library to tie yourself in knots.
The VCP was attached to the Headquarters section of 29th Armoured Brigade.
This was the lead unit and had around 250 tanks. Guards Armoured Division followed in the wake of 29th AB and it was after midday when it veered off to the left of Cagny. 7th Armoured Division was in the van. 7th saw very little action on 18/7/44.
I am sure an expert Wiki researcher like you already knows all this...............

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 9:42:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 9:44:52 PM PST
DarthRad says:
Great! You have now documented the same facts, that ONE tactical air support controller did a superb job of .... wiping out .... ? perhaps 12-20 German tanks? In a battle involving some 1,100-1,300 British-Canadian tanks and some 377 German tanks (plus anti-tank guns)..... that would be called ..... a drop in the bucket?

Where were the OTHER TACTICAL AIR SUPPORT CONTROLLERS???? ONE seems just a teeny weeny bit too few for such a gigantic tank assault.

According to Wikipedia, the British-Canadian forces lost 253 - 314 tanks in Operation Goodwood, the Germans lost some 75-100 tanks.

The Germans defended in depth at Caen, with four defensive belts, about five miles deep, thus avoiding destruction of their defenses by the initial wave of heavy bombers and artillery. The British had no answer for this defense in depth, with just ONE air tactical support controller for their 1,000+ tank attack, how could the tanks possibly hope to avoid getting picked off at distance by the defense in depth? Had each group of attacking tanks had their own air traffic controller, calling in their own air strikes for their local area, they could have dealt with each layer of defense as it was encountered.

That's the whole idea of real time tactical air support. You don't know what you are going to encounter, you have your mobile bombardment support overhead ready to annihilate anything that fires at you. But you need your controller on the ground with the radio, getting exposed to enemy fire while calling in the air strikes. And you need lots of them, for each small unit that needs help.

The US Army was not quite there with that level of tactical airpower in late July 1944. By August, the details were being implemented (e.g. at the Battle of Mortain/Operation Luttich), and by September, 1944 (e.g., the Battle of Arracourt), this had become a key component of the "armored column cover" doctrine that was powering the drives of US First and Third Army through France.

I have said over and over again, that Coningham and RAF 2nd TAF had the ability to do this tactical air support for Montgomery's forces, at Caen, at Market Garden, wherever. They provided this air support for US First Army at the Battle of Mortain.

It just wasn't utilized properly by montgomery. ONE TACTICAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER for a 1,000+ tank assault at Operation Goodwood, which is all that you have confirmed, same as the book British Armour in the Normandy Campaign (Military History and Policy) is most definitely NOT utilizing tactical air support properly.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 8:25:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 8:28:35 PM PST
M. Kenny says:
Several times now Darthrad has used the following claim to castigate Montgomery in particular and 'the British' in general.

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"Operation Goodwood. The tactical airpower in that operation went missing in action early on when the ONLY ground-air coordinator for tactical air strikes was wounded and knocked out of action.............."
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It would seem Dart is obsessed with this claim and it forms the main plank of his (many and frequent) tirades.
The truth is quite different.
The following comprehensively exposes the shallowness of his research:

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Firestorm. Typhoons Over Caen 1944.
Graham A Thomas. Spellmount 2006. ISBN 1862273456.

As soon as the high level bombing from medium and heavy bombers finished the fighter-bombers moved in, attacking enemy positions throughout the Bourguebus area directed by the Visual Control Post who was with 29 Armoured Brigade and was actually responsible for knocking out six enemy tanks, leaving them in flames. The V.C.P. for the attack began with Major Troan (DSO. DFC. S.A.A.F.) as the air force controller, according to Serial 3 of Geddes' report.
"The V.C.P. Sherman tank reached the embankment at Grentheville at about 1100hrs. 29 Armoured Brigade had then reached their concentration area north of Cagny and were held up after this (including the V.C.P.) between Cormeilles and Grentheville south of the Caen-Mézidon railway by guns and dug in tanks on the ridge near Hubert Folie and by long- range guns south of Bourguebus."
During this Operation Major Troan was wounded outside his Sherman tank as he was putting up the aerial. The job of controlling then fell to Second Lieutenant P.M. Roberts, 3rd County of London Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, Commander of the Sherman tank that took over as Visual Control Post for 83 Group. Though it was his first action, his crew were experienced and he managed to direct fighter-bombers onto several targets, which included pounding a concentration of Panther tanks in a wood near Bourguebus that left six of the enemy tanks on fire. Other targets he directed Typhoons and other fighter bombers to, were dug-in Panthers and Tiger tanks in houses in and around the Bourguebus area only six hours after the heavy bombing had finished. Using the Typhoon cab rank system, Roberts directed rocket-firing Typhoons and 'Bomphoons' to attack enemy tanks moving southeast of Bourguebus, where several were damaged and destroyed. He also directed Typhoons to attack the railway bridge near Soliers.
Roberts' actions were widely publicised in the press back in the UK on the 24th and 25th of ]uly but he was not aware of this.

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Not that any of the above will stop Darth repeating his lie...........

Posted on Nov 7, 2012 7:10:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 7, 2012 7:11:00 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
Making a military operation even more of a pressing necessity was that Eisenhower's address in June had clearly and specifically instructed the civilian population to do nothing itself regarding armed insurrection. Europe was waiting for Allied action.

Posted on Nov 7, 2012 7:04:58 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
Ike had gone on radio and addressed free Europe regarding D-Day. By late 1944 there were thousands of Allied troops on the continent; obviously, something had to be done with them, for political-alliance and morale purposes, if nothing else. Of course, the remaining strength of the German grip on the continent was badly underestimated. But something of some kind has to be done with troops in enemy territory. They can't just hole up.

Posted on Nov 3, 2012 1:35:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 8:58:21 AM PDT
DarthRad says:
The real strength of the fighter escorts in the European air war, as it turned out was not that they were able to "protect" the bombers - they could not - but the success of the escorts came about when Doolittle listened to his fighter pilots and allowed them to detach from closely escorting the bombers and to free hunt the Luftwaffe whenever and wherever they appeared. This had the effect of basically decimating the Luftwaffe as an effective fighting force.

Doolittle's new doctrine was highly unpopular with the bomber crews, who hated to see the fighters leave them, but was the correct solution. The problem was that if the fighters stayed close to the bombers, they were nearly useless, because the attacking German planes would make rapid passes through the bomber formation that would last just a few seconds, and that was just too brief for the fighter escorts to be able to take a shot at them. Same thing with the gun crews on the bombers - who had very little time to pick out the German fighters as they whizzed through the bomber formations.

This was why the Germans had adopted the tactic of attacking the bombers from head on, or from below or above. Their exposure to the bombers' guns was much less than if they attacked from the rear and followed the bomber at nearly the same speed. There are descriptions, however, of some German pilots who attacked from the rear and made sure to kill the rear gunner first before going on to shooting up the rest of the bomber , e.g., in this book:

I FLEW FOR THE FUHRER

The B-29 succeeded in WWII only because the Japanese had almost no air defenses compared to the massive array of AAA and high altitude capable fighters that the Germans had. The Japanese did have a few planes late in the war that ran on German copy engines, but they were just a handful.

The Me-262, had it become available in numbers and its problems thoroughly debugged, would have been nearly impossible to stop for the Allied escort fighters, and it had the potential for devastating the B-29s had they ever encountered each other. It was the prototype for the perfect bomber interceptor that the Mig-15 became in the Korean War. This book talks about the B-29 raid over the Namsi airfield in the Korean War where the USAF discovered that fighter escorts don't really work after all:

Black Tuesday Over Namsi: A True History of the Epic Air Battle of the Korean War

With the Mig-15s flying from protected bases in China, the US fighter escorts were unable to free hunt them down, and staying close to the bombers, they were unable to stop them from shooting down the B-29s.

After this disaster raid, the B-29s were forced to go to nighttime radar guided bombing raids only (which is why they were painted black) and the USAF dropped the idea of continuing to develop escort fighters. USAF doctrine became one of developing bombers that could fly ever faster and higher and make solo dashes to a target to drop a nuclear bomb and then dash out. The last of this line of nuclear bombers - which included the B-47, B-52, B-58, and the F-105, was the XB-70.

When it became apparent that Soviet missiles could shoot down high flying American planes (e.g., the U-2), the XB-70 was canceled and the new doctrine became one of using ground terrain following radar to dash in at low altitudes, below the detection heights of enemy radar. Thus the F-111 and other terrain hugging small bombers like the A-6 Intruder were born.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 3:31:17 PM PDT
Even with escorts the guns on the B17s and B24s were valuable and shot down many German fighters. Contrary to Hollywood, most of the escorts didn't pursue the Germans into the bomber formations.

The rifle caliber machineguns on the British bombers were worthless against modern aircraft. If the Germans had been flying Zeros and Oscars without armor and self-sealing fuel tanks they might have done some good.

US bomber doctrine was flat wrong about unescorted bombers being able to operate over hostile territory, although American bombers with their heavy armor and guns did better than anyone else's bombers managed to do. Pretty much every airforce in the world learned the wrong lessons from the Spanish Civil War.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 3:11:15 PM PDT
"...The Lancaster was a decent, steady aircraft and was adequate for
a night bomber, but was too fragile and lightly armed. The fact that it had
no belly turret and little or no armor spelled the death of most of the men
who crewed it. Other than the Mosquito, which the RAF didn't want initially,
the RAF never built a effective daylight bomber...."

EVERY aircraft has strength and weaknesses. The Lancaster carried
a heavier bomb load than B-17s & B-24s because it didn't carry the
weight of extra guns, ammo, crew, etc. that the US bombers carried.

Both US & UK air generals blundered badly by sending bombers on
unescorted raids. I have read that even the USAF official history
admits that B-17s & B-24 raids beyond escort range was a serious
mistake.

But once escorts became available, all the extra gunnery on US
bombers became superfluous. It would have been better to
have flown escorted daylight raids with Lancasters, with their
heavier bomb loads, than US bombers. So the US never
built a effective heavy daylight bomber either, until the B-29.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2012 7:44:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2012 10:58:36 AM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Darth says in his book review:

"The combination of the two meant that U.S. Army units could call in close air support on top of an enemy position in minutes, a capability that no other army, including the British, had during World War II."

See here:

http://www.amazon.com/Overlord-General-Quesada-Triumph-Tactical/product-reviews/0743247833/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_4?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFourStar&showViewpoints=0

Yet here in this very thread (post 6 on Aug 7, 2012 4:15:24 PM PDT)
he says the exact opposite:

"Operation Goodwood. The tactical airpower in that operation went missing in action early on when the ONLY ground-air coordinator for tactical air strikes was wounded and knocked out of action.............."

So then what do we make of the first claim by the all-knowing Darth that 'only' the USA had ground controllers in WW2?

Goodwood was the first time a ground observer with direct contact to the circling aircraft was used in Normandy (Monty was the first!) and I leave Darth to splutter and whine if he cares to reconcile his two staments.
Which one is the lie?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2012 7:28:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2012 8:10:09 AM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Darth dodges:

Nice reference to a 3-star rated book described by one reader as hardly describing anything about Ninth Air Force operations.

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There you go again. Confronted with the real world and seeing your carefully constructed alternate universe destroyed by a blast of reality you play the man rather than the ball.
OK let me return the favour.
You seem to think Montgomery was the only man to 'inflate' his reputation and slavishly accept the (well referenced) massive ego-trip of TAC in Normandy.
Everyone (but you?) knows they got their tank kill claims wrong by a factor of at least 10. Indeed so well known is this error I am at a loss to understand why t you have not mentioned it before.
No matter. Let me help you out with one review of the books you praise so fulsomely:

"If you are interested in the political twist and turns of US tactical air force before, during and after WW2, you might find this book interesting.
However be warned it is full of exaggerated claims of what tactical forces actually did in WW2. For example on page 237, the writer talks about the battle at Mortain to show the effectiveness of the tactical bombing. He claims that Germans losses were 27 tanks and a bit later another 76 tanks lost. In fact, research shows that only 46 German tanks were lost in this action of which nine German tanks were destroyed by the air force."

If you want proof of this pipe dream consult the list of claimed 'kills'

Targets destroyed or damaged by the XIX Tactical Air Command included:
Tanks and armored cars 3,833
Motor vehicles 38,541
Locomotives 4,337

Figures that bear no relation to the reality and, if true, would mean the whole of the German armoured force was destroyed by just one part of the vast Allied air armies and not a single vehicle fell victim to any of the ground troops during 1944-45!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2012 7:08:08 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2012 8:12:36 AM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Darth ignores his 'ignore' promise:

The best use for tactical air power in such rapid movements of an army is to PREVENT THE ENEMY FROM MAKING A COUNTER MOVE, and to destroy focal points of concentrated armor or firepower that are causing severe problems during that movement. Tactical air power does not work that well against entire towns or fixed entrenchments or fortresses, which is why it did not prove very helpful to Patton at either Brest or at Metz.
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Maybe you should read what was written before you launch into a long list of reasons for Pattons 'failures'?

I urge you to digest fully Bradleys comments:

"Bradley believed that interdiction of a battle area was important, but airmen too often gave it priority over close support of ground forces. This, according to Bradley, was only one example of the AAF's "slavish" adherence to impractical air doctrine................."

"Bradley criticized medium bomber operations. IX Bomber Command required too much time to respond to requests for close support, and rejected some that were crucial to ground forces........"

And:

However, an ORS report claimed that the Ninth Air Force had not achieved the general objective of its interdiction efforts: "The results of these attacks have been more of a harassing nature, for isolation [of a battle area] was probably never attained even once.".....................

"Targets for fighter-bomber attacks were often unsuitable. Ground forces had little knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of air power. Most ground units lacked air liaison officers to advise their commanders.........."

Despite all your bluster it is clear there were areas of conflict between US and Commonwealth Generals and the AF Commanders that were never fully solved. Your jingoistic devotion to the Patton legend drives you towards lie and fabrication in order to advance your agenda-an irrational hatred of Montgomery!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2012 6:51:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2012 7:09:00 AM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Darth says:

Took you off IGNORE briefly to see what you were ranting about. Nice reference to a 3-star rated book described by one reader as hardly describing anything about Ninth Air Force operations.

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Nice try but no coconut.
The point you ignore (deliberately) is that I gave you the ground commanders view of the 9th AF contribution. The many quotes were the view from ground rather than the 9th's own view of it's contribution.
That is not to say they were ineffective just that the way the AF saw it's role was not the same way the Army saw it.
Both the RAF and the USAAF thought 'armed recce' was the way to go and direct intervention on the battlefield was low on the list of priorities.
The methods you claim were 'standard' in support of Patton were not introduced until late July and thus any attempt to retrospectively castigate Monty for not using it before that date serve to show nothing more than your own ignorance.

Posted on Oct 18, 2012 3:40:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2012 5:28:59 AM PDT
DarthRad says:
Hmmm...

Took you off IGNORE briefly to see what you were ranting about. Nice reference to a 3-star rated book described by one reader as hardly describing anything about Ninth Air Force operations.

Try this book instead:

Patton's Air Force

FYI, Patton's main air support did not come from some generic "Ninth Air Force", but rather his Third Army was thoroughly integrated with Otto Weyland's TAC XIX section of the Ninth Air Force. So any intelligent discussion of air support for Patton's Third Army would have to start by correctly identifying the fact that TAC XIX, not the entire "Ninth Air Force" provided the bulk of tactical air support for Patton.

As this is not a discussion about Patton, I suggest that you actually READ SOMETHING ABOUT Otto Weyland and TAC XIX and the terrific job they did for Patton, and thus understand why most historians recognize that Patton could not have accomplished his rapid armored movements in Europe without this terrific tactical air support from TAC XIX.

The best use for tactical air power in such rapid movements of an army is to PREVENT THE ENEMY FROM MAKING A COUNTER MOVE, and to destroy focal points of concentrated armor or firepower that are causing severe problems during that movement. Tactical air power does not work that well against entire towns or fixed entrenchments or fortresses, which is why it did not prove very helpful to Patton at either Brest or at Metz.

So, quoting some generic book that blathers about the "Ninth Air Force" is hardly a sign of the beginnings of any intelligent understanding of Patton's use of tactical air support in Europe. Focusing on the failure of tactical air support against city-fortresses does not show any understanding what exactly tactical air support does for a rapidly moving army.

Remember the two Iraq Wars? Both times, the US Army in the Iraq Wars required air supremacy and high levels of close air support for their rapid armored drives into Iraq. When you make such a rapid and deep salient into enemy lines, you easily set yourself up to be cut off and destroyed by the enemy unless you have the air power to prevent your enemy from moving his forces in a counter move to encircle you. It's really that simple.

I mentioned the Battle of Mortain before. That was Operation Luttich to the Germans, which was their effort to pinch off the US First Army when it finally punched through and was making a deep salient into Normandy. The attacking German armor columns were severely disrupted by Allied tactical air power, which included Typhoons from Coningham's 2nd TAF, operating in support of US FIRST ARMY (and not Montgomery's troops). This was the clearest example of air power being used to prevent the Germans from setting up the sort of cauldron encirclements that they were famous for doing in the Eastern Front. In fact, EXCEPT FOR MARKET GARDEN, the Germans never succeeded in any sort of entrapment maneuvers against the Western Allies. Instead, they were the ones constantly in danger of being encircled, simply because the Western Allies had greater maneuverability and tactical air support.

Monty just blew it at Market Garden. Yes, another Monty excuse - sort of like his "I was just attriting the Germans at Caen so the Americans could succeed at St. Lo" BS. No, he did not cut Coningham off at the knees at Market Garden just to prevent friendly fire on Day One of the drops. He did it because he hated Coningham. Proof? Because RAF 2nd TAF was hardly involved at all for the rest of Market Garden either. Period.

Just maybeeeeeee...... it made sense not to have tactical air support during the first day of the airborne drops for Market Garden. Well, what about the day after? How about four days later, when the British 1st Airborne were fighting for their lives trying to hold onto Arnhem Bridge? Out of ammo, fighting against German armor with .... knives? and forced to surrender. Did anybody in Monty's sycophantic staff think to include in their battle plans a provision for radios and a communications system for them to call down air strikes on the Germans attacking them?

All of the various counterattack movements by the Germans against the deep, segmented, and narrow attacking front that was Market Garden could have been thwarted or severely hampered by well coordinated close air support, and thus allowed the various segments to join together as intended.

But there was no well coordinated close air support for Market Garden at all. And that was the great tragedy of Market Garden.

Pete Quesada with TAC IX, providing air support mainly for the US First Army, was the pioneer who first developed the advanced techniques of modern day close air support - read this book: Overlord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II

A big part of what was new and special about US Army tactical air support was the MEW radar. Originally designed to be a defensive early warning radar, it was put to use as a traffic control radar to track the large numbers of circulating fighter bombers in the air. The central air controllers could take real time requests from air controllers embedded with the armor units and vector in the closest fighter bombers that were already in the air into any ongoing hot firefight, where the local controllers would then direct the fighter bombers to the target. This made for an extremely rapid and tightly coordinated close air support.

By the time of Market Garden, TAC IX and TAC XIX had already demonstrated just how close you could get with close air support using this technology. US Army units had the ability to call down air strikes rapidly in real time against individual attacking German tanks or clusters of tanks, e.g. at the Battle of Arracourt, which occurred at the exact same time as Market Garden.

It was not the technology so much as the system of communications between the ground troops, controllers, and the pilots that made the system work. The technology was not that sophisticated for that era. The British could have easily set up a similar system. But they did not, or specifically, Montgomery showed no interest in setting up such a system.

Would that the British 1st Airborne had that capability while trying to fight off the Germans at Arnhem Bridge. Montgomery NEVER developed such a capability for his army during WWII. Tactical air support for him was always something to be planned out and tightly controlled at headquarters and never left to the free form use of his field commanders and troops.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2012 2:17:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 16, 2012 2:18:01 PM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Darth fumes:

The issue of Montgomery deliberately ignoring tactical air support at Market Garden is a key point. Can you imagine an armored attack today WITHOUT complete air superiority and precision tactical air strikes leading the way? Having tactical air support available at Market Garden in the strength levels that was readily available to the US Army by that point in the war alone could have ensured the success of Market Garden.
================================================

Let me put it simply.

TAC was grounded because of the huge number of transports operating over the battlefield.
This was a decision taken by the Air Forces themselves and had nothing to do with Montgomery.

Not that this will make any impresion on a man using a very narrowly focused book about British Armour in Normandy as 'the' reference book for every WW2 action............

Cave ab homine unius libri

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2012 2:11:33 PM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Yet more
'Air Support For Patton's Third Army' by John J Sullivan .ISBN 0786414650, 2003

To bomb a bridge effectively, airmen had to use bombs with fuses that caused explosive forces to impact the most vulnerable and critical points. The Ninth Air Force often failed to do this. Interdiction complicated German efforts to supply and move armies both in battle and in retreat. Destruction of French roads and railroads caused the Germans to abandon many stockpiles. However, an ORS report * claimed that the Ninth Air Force had not achieved the general objective of its interdiction efforts: "The results of these attacks have been more of a harassing nature, for isolation [of a battle area] was probably never attained even once.".....................

After the surrender of Germany General Spaatz asked General Bradley to respond to a questionnaire about air-ground cooperation in Overlord. Bradley replied: "In this campaign, the recurring process of massing our divisions, forcing a breakthrough and the subsequent exploitation of our mobility to encircle and defeat the enemy demanded almost complete air superiority to overcome our sensitiveness in supply, reserves, and the necessity for full use of road and rail communications." Bradley believed that interdiction of a battle area was important, but airmen too often gave it priority over close support of ground forces. This, according to Bradley, was only one example of the AAF's "slavish" adherence to impractical air doctrine.................

Bradley criticized medium bomber operations. IX Bomber Command required too much time to respond to requests for close support, and rejected some that were crucial to ground forces. Medium bombers would have been more useful, he believed, if they had been directed by the tactical............................

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2012 2:09:31 PM PDT
M. Kenny says:
More:

'Air Support For Patton's Third Army' by John J Sullivan .ISBN 0786414650, 2003

A few weeks after the surrender, the Ninth Air Force ORS analyzed the air effort expended on Brest and issued a scathing report:
' The underlying reason for the apparent misuse of air power, 4-5 September 1944, particularly for the heavy and medium *bomber attacks, may be laid to the under-estimation of the entire strength of the defenses of Brest. There were too few Air Corps officers assigned to VIII Corps who were familiar with the effects of bombing attacks, fuzings, and close support..................................

Air planning was sometimes lax. When pilots neared their targets, conditions had often changed so much that plans made 15 to 24 hours previously were obsolete. ..............

An AAF history expresses strong disapproval of Brest operations: communications facilities were "markedly deficient, air-ground coordination abysmal, and intelligence sketchy .... On too many occasions air was asked to bomb invulnerable targets. Too frequently bombs of the wrong size and fuzing were used.".................

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2012 2:07:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 16, 2012 2:08:34 PM PDT
M. Kenny says:
Darth rants:
3. Failed to make maximum possible use of the superb and available RAF tactical ground support, something which was based entirely on his petty personal clashes with Air Marshall Coningham. By the time of Market Garden, the US Army had developed tactical air support into its essential current modern form, refining it to the point of being able to call down air strikes on single tanks. The British under Montgomery did not.

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Complete and utter rubbish.

Some quotes from 'Air Support For Patton's Third Army' by John J Sullivan .ISBN 0786414650, 2003

The AAF gave Brest operations a vast amount of support. Its efforts too, have been sharply criticized. An AAF history described the Brest campaign as a "strange and highly individual story marred by poor air-ground cooperation and much waste of air power."...................

...............Poor intelligence hampered air operations. Targets for fighter-bomber attacks were often unsuitable. Ground forces had little knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of air power. Most ground units lacked air liaison officers to advise their commanders...................................
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Discussion in:  History forum
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Total posts:  190
Initial post:  Aug 6, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 14, 2012

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