A Better Show by the Luftwaffe in 1940 Question: Could the Luftwaffe put up a better show in 1940, being more effective in engaging the British in an air campaign? Answer: Yes. Question: Would this be beneficial to Germany in the long run? Answer: not necessarily… --- In 1936, General Walther Wever, chief of staff of the fledgling new German armed force, the Luftwaffe, miraculously survived a potentially deadly accident. Wever was an able, competent chief of staff. Had he died, he would have been hard to replace, also because it would take a skillful man to get along with Erhard Milch, the ambitious second in command of Goering. Instead, Wever remained in service as an invaluable chief of staff, filling in wherever Goering found the homework too boring. General Albert Kesselring, a promising officer coming from the ranks of the Heer, was chosen as his deputy. Goering, Wever and Kesselring managed to corral Milch to dealing mostly with aircraft production. In that field he could vent his propensity for feuding by quarrelling at length with Great War ace Ernst Udet, instead of bothering the others about strategic choices and doctrine theories. Even so, the German heavy bomber designs got scrapped; Wever would have liked them, but they could only be built in puny numbers. Goering drew a line at that, given that he thought the Führer would ask how many bombers the Luftwaffe had, not how large they were. But with Wever pushing for those strategic weapons, at least some doctrinal thought went into the concept of strategic bombing. Wever managed to stop Udet's requirement that the Ju 88 be a dive bomber, too. This would later turn out to be a meaningful improvement over an otherwise quite likely outcome. Kesselring drew the right conclusions from the Spanish Civil war experience. He got interested in EW, not only radio direction (Knickebein) but also the studies about air radar. He was highly unimpressed by the Luftwaffe's aces' lone-knight mystique, and pushed for tighter command and control, effective radio communications, team tactics. From his position in the Luftwaffe staff, he managed to muster enough clout, even though Goering would normally be against such ideas, as a matter of principle - if and for as long as he could be bothered with technical details. Kesselring, almost casually, developed a fixation for the air bases and airports in and around Madrid. He was surprised that the enemy air force kept flying off them while under sustained attack by the Italian Aviazione Legionaria in early 1937. He initially thought that was due to the Italians botching it. So he ordered a series of raids, followed by photo recon flights. He repeated the attempts at different times, by different means, with different durations. By the end of 1938, he came to the conclusion that airstrips in particular and air bases in general were very tough targets, hard to destroy for good. On the contrary, he thought they could however be effectively kept out of action, albeit temporarily, provided that one was able to sustain an onslaught with at least one air attack per day. Meanwhile, the continuing multi-sided disputes about ground attack, tactical bombing, strategic bombing that involved Wever, Udet and Milch over those crucial pre-war years yielded an unexpected side effect. Wever, in order to assuage Udet about being overruled as to the Ju 88 being no dive bomber, decided he would give him something; a better ground attack option. He convinced Goering that the Bf 110 was really a multi-purpose aircraft, that a "destroyer" (Zerstörer) should have been even more effective against ground targets, too; in short, that it should have been always able to operate in a dual role, long-range fighter or ground attack aircraft. By the beginning of the war, most of the Bf 110 force could already be fitted with bomb racks and most of the pilots of these aircraft had a reasonably good training in the ground attack role. In 1939, Wever, the good chief of staff that he was, seeing war coming, ordered a complete review of the intelligence material about all European air forces, the Polish, French and British in particular. Some more homework went into that, than it would probably have been done under a lesser man.