AHC: Peerless Air Ministry

Awww!😍

OK, I won't break out the food then.

And yes, I am working on a new timeline. Slowly, bizarrely this lockdown has reduced my free time :(
Good to know.

Did you ever get Book 4 of "The Whale has Wings" published as an e-book? Or even simply the story up to Midway as an appendix to Book 3?
 
11.5 The nights are getting noticably longer
10.51. The equinox approches and the nights get longer.

October 14th.


Day. Widespread small attacks.

Night. Widespread and serious damage in London. Coventry also damaged.

Weather. Occasional rein or drizzle spreading to the south-east. Rain in Channel, misty in the straits and the Estuary. Cloudy in the North sea. (1)



The Germans were late this morning, nothing showed on the RDF screens until well after ten Am. When the raids did come they were serious no less than fifty small raids were plotted leaving various parts of the France and heading or the coast of Hampshire, Sussex and Kent. Ten Group and Eleven Group put up Squadron and Wing size patrols the were then vectored onto the small and elusive enemy formations. With the enemy dodging above and below the cloud and with reduced horizontal visibility due to the rain successful interceptions proved difficult. Only four enemy aircraft were destroyed, whilst one RAF fighter was written off in a landing accident, no pilots were lost. Later record showed that the Luftwaffe attackers had lost a further three aircraft to accidents. With a full moon Goering’s latest directive could be implemented and a large force of bombers made good use of the full moon to bomb the city of London, the Eastend and the Westend were hit in equal measure. Combinations of HE. And incendiary bombs caused large fires that made the skyline pulse with an obscene orange glow. Overnight two thousand Londoners were seriously injured and five hundred killed. Some very lucky escapes were also recorded one such incident was the destruction of the Carlton Club, at the time there were two hundred and twenty members of the Conservative Party inside at the time and every last one of them was able to crawl out of the rubble. Reports that on hearing the news a Labour MP had quipped “the Devil Looks after his own” have not been confirmed.

(1) Daily summary quoted verbatim from the The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster

October 15th.

Day. Hostile elements penetrate to London targets and targets in Kent and the Estuary.

Night. Unusually heavy attack on London and Birmingham.

Weather. Fair but cloudy in the Straits. Winds southerly and variable. Moonlit night. (1)



This morning Park had had circulated another set of detailed instruction to all his group, sector and GCI controllers, They read as follows:-

‘Owing to the very short warning given nowadays by the R.D.F. stations, enemy fighter formations (some carrying bombs) can be over London within twenty minutes of the first R.D.F plot, and have on occasions dropped bombs on south-east London seventeen minutes after the first R.D.F. plots.

Under these circumstances, the only squadrons that can intercept the enemy fighters before they reach London or sector aerodromes are the squadrons in the air on readiness patrol, or remaining in the air after an attack, plus one or two squadrons at stand-by at sectors to east and south-east of London.

In these circumstances it is vitally important for the group controllers, also both sector and GCI controllers, to keep clearly in mind the time taken for squadrons and other formations to climb from ground level to operating hight. The following times are those for a good average squadron of the type stated:

(a) Spitfire (Mark 2) 13 minutes to 20,000 feet.

18 minutes to 25,000 feet.

27 minutes to 30,000 feet.

(b) Hurricane (Mark 2c) 16 minutes to 20,000 feet.

21 minutes to 25,000 feet.

(c) Defiant (Mark 2) 17 minutes to 20,000 feet.

22 minutes to 25,000 feet.

Pairs: The rate of climb for a pair of squadrons in company will be 10 per cent to 12 per cent greater than the time given above.

Wings: The rate of climb of wings of squadrons in company is between 15 per cent to 18 per cent greater than the times given above.



Rendezvous:

In view of the above, controllers will see the importance of ordering pairs or wings to rendezvous over a point at operating hight in order that they climb quickly, singly, and not hold one another back by trying to climb in an unwieldy mass. Bitter experience has proven time and again that it is better to intercept the enemy with one squadron above him than by a whole wing crawling up below, probably after the enemy has dropped his bombs.’ (2)





The mornings events commenced at nine Am. With a raid consisting of thirty Me109’s and 110’s attacked both Waterloo station in central London and Hornchurch airfield to the East in Essex. After the attack on Waterloo only two tracks remained operational. Fifteen minutes later a second raid of fifty aircraft attacked targets in the city of London. Even as these attacks were returning to their French bases a third raid saw attacks on targets in Kent and the Thames estuary around eleven thirty. At half past twelve a further formation of over one hundred enemy fighters were plotted forming up over the French coast but no attack developed. This was the last of the daylight activity.



By half past six The first signs of the impending night attacks was being observed by the south coast CH stations. Following instructions from Goering the Luftwaffe were it seems going to make the best use they could off the full moon. Successive waves of bombers flew over from the different Luftflotte on the continent. Once again the southern GCI stations found themselves overwhelmed, having difficulty in distinguishing individual targets to guide their night fighters onto. Though the GCI system had been upgrade to that each station could control multiple fighters onto multiple targets they were still having problems. The stations themselves and the Fighter Command operational research teams were working closely with the scientists at the TRE I Cheltenham to solve these problems and to improve the system.

Overnight the city took a battering, all five main railway stations were damaged and closed whilst repairs were completed, all other London terminals were running a reduced service due to damage to track and signals up the line. Overground section od the London Underground system had been damaged or blocked by debris. As to the roads, many were impassable due to rubble, cratering or fires. Two power stations were temporarily off the grid, as were three gas works. With over nine hundred separate fire burning city wide, three of London’s major dock complexes had to be closed whilst fires there were brought under control. The nights casualties numbered eight hundred hospitalised with major wounds and another four hundred dead.

The Luftwaffe did not go unscathed, Losing three aircraft to the guns over London and a further four definitely shot down by the night fighters, several more bombers were claimed as probable’s or damaged. Despite the difficulties of the night the cities defences had had some success.

The day and night operations of Fighter Command saw a total of over eight hundred sorties with total Luftwaffe losses of twenty aircraft against an RAF loss of nine for the same period.



The War Cabinet had held a second meeting of the day late in the night ae the various service departments presented their appreciations of the current state of the Germans Invasion preparations and thence the likelihood of an invasion being launched.

The First Sea Lord put the RN’s position quite bluntly, with the evidence from photo reconnaissance flights showing that the number of Barges, Tugs and steamers being held in Channel ports has been reduced beyond the attrition caused by both RAF air attack and Naval bombardment, then the only conclusion was that the Germans had given up upon launching an invasion in the immediate future. That meant that no invasion could be realistically made until the spring and realistically that meant not before the equinox so early April would be the start of the next possible invasion window. Sir Phillip, in the absence od Newall as CAS concurred, reiterating that the Luftwaffe had to all intense and purpose ceased to try to gain air superiority over the southern counties and was now principally attacking major population and production centres rather than the counties defences directly.

(1) Daily summary quoted verbatim from the The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster
(2) Adapted from the instructions issued by Keith Park on this day OTL.


October 16th.

Day. Quiet

Night. Limited attack on London by single raiders.

Weather. Fog widespread in Germany and France. Warm front lying the length of French coast. Wet misty night.

The poor weather today really curtailed operations by the Luftwaffe. Those few attacks made were principally at targets in Kent and the west country. Having flown around three hundred sorties the RAF were able to claim nine aircraft destroyed for the loss of one Defiant. The Luftwaffe had also lost a further six aircraft in accidents.

The weather saw very little improvement before nightfall but this did not stop the Luftwaffe from sending two hundred bombers to attack targets in Britain. The night fighter force had mixed fortunes claiming two enemy aircraft destroyed and two damaged. Unfortunately one night fighter was downed by defensive return fire and a second one was written of in a landing accident caused by the poor conditions. RDF controlled AA guns claimed one definite and brace of enemy aircraft damaged.

Of a force of RAF Bomber Command aircraft sent to bomb industrial targets in northern Italy eight Whitley’s and a Wellington crashed either due to fuel shortage or crashed on landing.

To say Sir Phillip was not impressed with these losses when he saw the reports, would be somewhat of an understatement. Portal as AOC. Bomber Command was summoned to the Air Ministry to explain what had gone wrong and why.

(1) Daily summary quoted verbatim from the The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster
 
London's taking a hammering and it seems like the Luftwaffe just isn't running out of aircraft or air crews, but the use of large numbers of fighters in a bombing role does speak of heavy losses to actual bomber formations. And, as always, excellent stuff!
 
The numbers ITTL for Luftwaffe losses are only about 10% higher than OTL but that 10% is areal drain on the long term viability of the Luftwaffe aircrew and that is something that will influence future German actions ITTL. in the short term it will necessitate a scaling back of day and night operations against the UK compared to OTL, whilst losses are made good.
 
The numbers ITTL for Luftwaffe losses are only about 10% higher than OTL but that 10% is areal drain on the long term viability of the Luftwaffe aircrew and that is something that will influence future German actions ITTL. in the short term it will necessitate a scaling back of day and night operations against the UK compared to OTL, whilst losses are made good.
Aye they're not in a situation where they're 'eating their corn seed', the Luftwaffe's just too big to do that whilst its industrial/fuel base is intact. But these losses over the months are going to build up and whilst its not going to break the Luftwaffe, they're loosing more experienced pilots over the UK, as well as god knows how many injured who are going to need months of recovery, if they recover at all when they get home to France in shot up bombers.

the knock on effects for this in other theaters is going to be interesting for sure.
 
Just a bit of a teaser, the PAM, Sir Phillip at it's head has a very serious scientific resources in it's special committee's.Some of these have been examining RAF losses and their effect on operational effectiveness and this has and is being used to assess the probable effect of the known losses to the Luftwaffe. All this and other factors will effect RAF dispositions and objectives in the next six months to a year ITTL.
 

perfectgeneral

Donor
Monthly Donor
Pairs: The rate of climb for a pair of squadrons in company will be 10 per cent to 12 per cent greater than the time given above.

Wings: The rate of climb of wings of squadrons in company is between 15 per cent to 18 per cent greater than the times given above.
I think to mean time (duration) to altitude is greater for formations, rather than rate of climb. Coordinating and staying on station in formation shouldn't improve the rate of climb.

The nights are getting noticably longer midway through October. Nearly a month of shortening daylight.
 
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I think to mean time (duration) to altitude is greater for formations, rather than rate of climb. Coordinating and staying on station in formation shouldn't improve the rate of climb.

The nights are getting noticably longer midway through October. Nearly a month of shortening daylight.
In Kent Day length mid October is nearly 3 hours shorter than early August
 
The term "rate of climb" is as used in the OTL instructions issued by Keith Park. It seems to be a different interoperation of the term, as Perfect General is perfectly correct in saying that the time to altitude for each larger formation will be longer. Parks language seems almost arcane but the meaning is clear, that the rate of climb to the same altitude will be lower and will take ten to fifteen percent longer to achieve the same altitude as a single squadron.
 

Driftless

Donor
Basically, the difference between the first to arrive at altitude and the last? All of the planes in the whole squadron don't take off simultaneously, obviously.
 
No they will usually take of by section or flight, they then formate during the climb out. this takes time and the bigger the formation the bigger the delay. This was something in OTL that both Bader and Leigh-Mallary seemed unable to grasp.
 
11.6 More Tactical changes from Keith Park as Goering Blusters
10.52. More Tactical changes from Kieth Park as Goering Blusters.

October 17th.


Day. Fighter-bomber attacks on Kent and London.

Night. Targets in No11 Group Area. Liverpool and Birmingham.

Weather. Bright Intervals. Local showers (1)



Once again today there was poor visibility in the morning however this did little to curtail the Luftwaffe operations that commence early. The coastal towns of Broadstairs and Margate were attacked by a force of around ninety bomb carrying Me 109’s and Me 110’s. Part of this force pressed on inland to drop their bombs on Stanmore in north east London. Whether the Fighter Command HQ at Bentley Priory was their intended target could not at the time be ascertained.

The Afternoon attacks saw the Luftwaffe employing the full gambit of tactical variations with their fighter bombers. Some aircraft came in singularly, others in gaggles while another attack might be by a stream of aircraft on the same route. Some groups would fragment and then re-join, others were feints and turned back early. Some flew low weaving courses, others at mid altitudes, while still more crossed the channel at high altitude. All of these variations were intended to confuse and disrupt the defence as much as possible. In this the Luftwaffe was partially successful with the single most successful attack of the day being om Waterloo station where the automatic signal box was hit and put out of action. Despite these efforts Fighter Command pilots shot down fifteen enemy aircraft for the loss of three aircraft from which one pilot survived.

Night attacks by the main Luftwaffe bomber force were split the cities of Liverpool and Birmingham as well as several airfields in Eleven Group. Once again the night fighter force was engaged on two very different kind of sorties. Those defending the airfields in Eleven Group had very little time to catch up with, identify and then engage the enemy. Whilst those night fighters tracking the enemy formations attacking Liverpool and Birmingham had to be vectored within RDF range of an aircraft within the bomber formation and then close in and engage it without being seen by any of the other bombers. To further complicate this chase the Night fighters in most cases had to be passed from one GCI controller to another as the raid travelled towards it’s target and back.

As pilots and Controllers gained more and more experience this process was getting honed to a fine art. The continued expansion of the RDF network and the night fighter force however meant that not everybody was as yet as skilled as the High Command would wish.

Once again from his Headquarters at Uxbridge Keith Park today issued another detailed set of instructions to all his Controllers and Squadron Commanders in his quest to master the attacks by the Luftwaffe as their tactics evolved and changed.



THE ENGAGEMENT OF HIGH FIGHTER RAIDS

The general plan is to get one or two Spitfire squadrons to engage the enemy fighters from above about mid-Kent, in order to cover other Spitfire, Defiant and Hurricane squadrons whilst climbing to operating hight at back patrol lines east and south east of London.

Preparation

Whenever the cloud conditions are favourable for high raids by fighters the following preparations will be made;

1) Reconnaissance Aircraft: One or two reconnaissance aircraft to be kept on patrol near the Kent coast, height depending on the cloud layers.
2) Readiness Patrol: A patrol by one or two squadrons to be maintained on Maidstone line at 15,000 feet, between 0800 hours and 1800 hours.
3) Stand-by Squadron: One squadron at sector providing patrol at (2) to be standing-by during the peak periods- breakfast, noon and tea-time,
4) London and Debden Squadrons: State of readiness of Hurricane and Defiant Squadrons to be advanced state whenever cloud conditions are suitable for very high fighters raids.
Attack

Immediately enemy formations are plotted over the French coast or Dover Straits, the following action will be initiated:

1) Reconnaissance Aircraft: Dispatched to the area under GCI control to the area enemy raids are plotted, to locate, shadow and report numbers and type of enemy aircraft and if bombs are being carried.
  • Readiness Patrol: Ordered to climb to 3,000 feet on the Maidstone patrol line to cover other squadrons whilst climbing over base patrol lines.
  • Stand-by Squadrons: Despatched to operating hights over base and then to join the readiness squadrons at 30,000 feet.
  • Readiness Squadrons : Despatched to rendezvous over base at 20,000 to 27,000 feet, and when assembled, detailed to raids.
  • Squadrons at Available: Spitfires : to be brought to readiness, and if necessary despatched to assemble in pairs on back patrol lines at 25,000 to 30,000 feet, and the detailed to raids.
  • Squadrons of available : Hurricanes: brought to readiness, and if there is a second or third wave, assembled in pairs over back patrol lines so as to protect sector aerodromes and London area whilst climbing.
  • Hurricane Squadrons from Tangmere, Debden and Duxford: Despatched in wings or pairs at 20,000 to 27,000 feet according to time and weather conditions, of one of the following purposes:
  • To reinforce London sectors if there is a second or third wave of enemy raids:
  • To protect sector aerodromes and London area whilst the earlier squadrons are refuelling and rearming.
  • Close protection of important bombing objectives: If enemy raids are approaching aircraft factories, London area, sector aerodromes, etc, single Defiant squadrons if not assigned to pairs or wings should be detailed to protective patrols between 15,000 and 18,000 feet depending on clouds.
Where enemy formations consisted of bombers escorted by fighters. The enemy formation is to be engaged in the following manner. The high fighter screen with Spitfire squadrons from Hornchurch and Biggin Hill half-way between London and the coast, ang so enable Hurricane and Defiant squadrons from North Weald, Kenley, and Northolt. To attack bomber formations plus close escort before they reach the line of fighter aerodromes east and south of London.

The squadrons from Debden, Duxford and Tangmere (if disengaged) to be despatched and employed in wings or pairs so as to form a screen east and south-east of London to intercept third or fourth wave coming inland, also the retreating earlier waves.

Spitfire Squadrons:

Assembled at height in pairs on the back patrol lines, then detailed to engage high fighter screen at 30,000 feet.

Role: To protect pairs or wings of Hurricane and Defiant squadrons whilst climbing up, also while attacking bombers plus escort. If the high fighter screen withdraws to the coast a proportion of the Spitfires may be detailed to attack the escorts to incoming bomb raids.

Hurricane and Defiant Squadrons:

Squadrons at readiness to be dispatched in pairs to back patrol lines covering line od aerodromes. Immediately pairs have reached operating hight, detail to bomb raids or to forward patrol line under Spitfires. Squadrons at available to be brought to readiness and assembled in pairs at operating height on back patrol lines covering sector aerodromes, and detailed to second wave of bomb raids.

Whist gaining height the latter squadrons may have to be detailed to split raids by bombers that attempt to attack vital points on the flank of the mass of bombers plus escort.

Hurricane and Defiant Squadrons from Flank sectors (Debden, Duxford, Tangmere and possibly Northolt):

Dispatch in pairs or wings according to clouds to patrol mid-Kent patrol lines at 20’000 to 25,000 feet to engage:

  • Third or fourth wave attacks of bombers plus escort;
  • Retreating bomb raids of first or second waves;
  • To protect fighter aerodromes whilst the earlier Hurricane, Defiant and Spitfire squadrons are being rearmed and refuelled.
Reinforcements from other Groups:

Immediately the enemy numbers appear to be more than 150, request two to three squadrons to cover the northern approaches to London, or the south-western group of vital points near London, as directed in Controllers’ Instruction No 7, dated August 27th 1940. (2)



Sir Hugh Dowding on receiving a copy of the latest instructions issued by Keith Park from Eleven Group had gone down into the Bentley Priory underground command bunker and from his lofty seat in the gallery perused the large plotting table below. Reading through the instructions he visualised the approaching attacks and the counter moves as laid out in the new instructions. Having already discussed the new instructions with Keith Park the night before this was simply an exercise in ensure that their were no glaring holes in the arrangements that had been missed by them and their staffs. From his desk he than phoned in turn the AOC Ten and Twelve Group to receive their comments as to how they would integrate the requested support into their own operational structure.

Just before leaving the gallery Sir Hugh took a telephone call from Sir Phillip at the AM. Sir Phillip had called to voice his concern at the extraordinarily long hours Sir Hugh was working. For currently Sir Hugh was present in his HQ at all hours as he fought both the day battle and the night assault at the same time. Sir Phillip asked Sir Hugh when he had last spent an entire night at his house down in Stanmore, The reply was not within the last week. Sir Phillip then remind Sir Hugh that it would be a disservice to the nation and the RAF if he worked himself to a state of total collapse. Sir Phillip also stated that he and the Prime Minister were appreciative of the need to contain the night attacks, doing so was not worth the loss of Sir Hugh. Sir Phillip continued by saying that despite the intensity and difficulties of the daylight raids Keith Parks and the other Group Commanders were coping. Therefore if Sir Hugh was going to spend all his nights at his HQ trying to improve the night defence then perhaps he should trust his staff to manage the day to day running of his command and get some rest. That was about as close to an order as a minister could give to a serving officer under the circumstances.

1. Daily summary quoted verbatim from the The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster
2. Adapted from the instructions issued by Keith Park on this day OTL.


October 18th.

Day. Relatively quiet.

Night. Raids on a reduced scale.

Weather. Fog in Straits of Dover and Estuary; also in North Sea. Visibility poor. (1)

Despite the relatively high level of bomber activity overnight the morning proved much queiter. The bulk of the days activity comprised high altitude incursion over East Anglia in mid-afternoon. To counter the thirty five separate raids the RAF Fighter Command mounted forty-five fighter patrols. Throughout the day the total losses to the Luftwaffe totalled nineteen machines for the lost of four British fighters.

It would appear that the Luftwaffe wanted an early night for the last bomber cleared the RDF screen at the very early time of two Am. With only one hundred and sixty bombers recorded as crossing the coast the level of assault was one of the lowest for several weeks. For their efforts tonight in which they lost eight bombers to all causes and their earlier raids, Goering when addressing his forces on this day claimed on their behalf that:

‘In the past few days and nights (Goering said) you have caused the British world enemy disastrous losses by your uninterrupted destructive blows. Your indefatigable, courageous attacks on the heart of the British Empire, the City of London, with its eight and a half million inhabitants, have reduced British plutocracy to fear and terror. The losses which you have inflicted engagements are irreplaceable.’ (2)

Whether the Luftwaffe Fighter pilots and the bomber crews who daily faced combat against the RAF agreed with Goering’s pronouncements were never recorded.

1. Daily summary quoted verbatim from the The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster
2. As OTL, published at the time.
 

perfectgeneral

Donor
Monthly Donor
In 1939 the Hurricane was updated with stressed metal sheet wings. What sort of in-service upgrades could be applied to the Defiant? It is already stressed skin and made up from sub-assemblies, so maybe make it lighter and sleeker/smoother? For such a wingspan it has quite a low service ceiling.
 
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In 1939 the Hurricane was updated with stressed metal sheet wings. What sort of in-service upgrades could be applied to the Defiant? It is already stressed skin and made up from sub-assemblies, so maybe make it lighter and sleeker/smoother? For such a wingspan it has quite a low service ceiling.
More powerful engines and flush riveting, possibly stripping the paint back to bare metal to save weight, move the wireless antennas to the top of the fuselage rather than the bottom removing the need for the retracting mechanisms again saving weight. Eventually a cut down rear fuselage and bubble canopy.
 
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