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Aero_Shodanjo
06-25-2004, 09:10 AM
In a book by Len Deighton and Max Hastings (Battle of Britain), I noticed that there was a dispute between Keith Park and Leigh-Mallory regarding Park's request for Leigh-Mallory's 12 Group squadrons to protect his airbases while his squadrons fought Luftwaffe in the air.

It turned out that Park's request was never materialized in part of Leigh-Mallory's concept about forming a "Big Wing" (which consist of at least 3 squadrons of fighters on air) before sending his squadrons to the battle area.

While this sounds pretty "romantic" to me, IMHO it's unpractical. But i do like to hear any opinions regarding this.

Care to share yours?

Aero_Shodanjo
06-25-2004, 09:10 AM
In a book by Len Deighton and Max Hastings (Battle of Britain), I noticed that there was a dispute between Keith Park and Leigh-Mallory regarding Park's request for Leigh-Mallory's 12 Group squadrons to protect his airbases while his squadrons fought Luftwaffe in the air.

It turned out that Park's request was never materialized in part of Leigh-Mallory's concept about forming a "Big Wing" (which consist of at least 3 squadrons of fighters on air) before sending his squadrons to the battle area.

While this sounds pretty "romantic" to me, IMHO it's unpractical. But i do like to hear any opinions regarding this.

Care to share yours?

BitwiseOp
06-25-2004, 09:38 AM
The effectiveness of the 'Big Wing' philosophy is still debated today... in theory it's a great idea but in practice it takes time to form up the squadrons, climb to altitude and position to attack. On a few occasions the Big Wing was bounced by 109's when they were still climbing to altitude. It was interesting that the 'Big Wing' of 3 squadrons was decided to be 'not big enough' and expanded to 5 squadrons (with 2 squadrons of Spitfires providing top cover)

On the occasions it all worked it was moderately effective tactically, however it was extremely effective psychologically on the LW aircrews who were assured that the RAF were down to their 'last 50 Spitfires'. Too often though they were late arriving on the scene... although to Leigh-Mallory it didn't matter that much as he believed it was more important to shoot down bombers than to stop them delivering their loads. Park and Dowding believed that the important thing was to intercept and break up the bomber formations prior to their bomb runs. Leigh-Mallory of course didn't have the Luftwaffe bombing his airfields http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Personally I believe Dowding and Park were correct.

You might like to read 'The Most Dangerous Enemy' by Stephen Bungay, which covers this aspect of the BoB (including the personal 'relationship' between Dowding, Park and Leigh-Mallory) in some detail and draw your own conclusions.

LilHorse
06-25-2004, 09:38 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aero_Shodanjo:
In a book by Len Deighton and Max Hastings (Battle of Britain), I noticed that there was a dispute between Keith Park and Leigh-Mallory regarding Park's request for Leigh-Mallory's 12 Group squadrons to protect his airbases while his squadrons fought Luftwaffe in the air.

It turned out that Park's request was never materialized in part of Leigh-Mallory's concept about forming a "Big Wing" (which consist of at least 3 squadrons of fighters on air) before sending his squadrons to the battle area.

While this sounds pretty "romantic" to me, IMHO it's unpractical. But i do like to hear any opinions regarding this.

Care to share yours?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

There was both a philosophical and personality conflict between Park and Leigh-Mallory. Philosophy where the "big wing" concept was concerned. And personality because Leigh-Mallory was very ambitious and aggressive and didn't want to play backup to the more reserved Park.

Ultimately, the "big wing" idea didn't work for the BoB since there just wasn't enough time to get that many planes in the air at once and then go off to engage the enemy. From the time long range radar was detecting a raid forming up across the channel the RAF had about 20 minutes to get planes up and on station. Since it took Hurricanes about 15 minutes to get to 20,000 feet (I think) and Spitfires about 12 and a half minutes, there was only minutes to spare for them to be vectored to incoming raids.

I think that Leigh-Mallory only successfully got a "big wing" into the air twice during the BoB.

Aero_Shodanjo
06-25-2004, 10:10 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by BitwiseOp:
On a few occasions the Big Wing was bounced by 109's when they were still climbing to altitude <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Isnt it that the 109 didnt has enough range to reach 12 Group's operation area?

IKG26Redcoat
06-25-2004, 11:18 AM
It basicly comes down to a matter of opinion.
Park belived in the Dowding system. It wasnt just about a small number of fighters intercepting mass formations of aircraft. It was lots of small groups of aircraft intercepting at different points all the way to the germans target, and more importantly, all the way back out over the channel. this constant wearing down effect was thought to be the most productive way of grinding the germans to a halt. Every interception forced the bomber to alter course, and in some cases jettison their bombloads. Every interception forced german fighters to engage, using up their ammunition and fuel(ie time over target). These raids were worn down like a pack of wolves harrying and tiring out a bison. never letting up . giving no respite. And history shows this worked. German losses were unsustainable.
However Leigh_Mallory belived that meeting mass formations by a single squadron was wastefull, in regard to our aircraft and pilots , as well as oportunity. As head of 12 group, he was not very far from the battle, and had large numbers aircraft ready. What he failed to appreciate is that in the event of 11 group unable to counter, 12 group would have been the 2nd line of defence, particullary in the event of invasion. Also, his primary directive was the protection of the industrial Midlands.
We have the benefit of hindsight, but this was the first arial battle of stratigic importance in history. There were no right and wrongs. There was no precedent,it had never happened before, so it is wrong to judge those who made the choices.
Personally, I think they were both right. Better cooperation between Leigh-Mallory and Park could have seen a combination of tactics which would have been very satisfactory.
But we'll never know.............

There are a lot of people, who say, that bombing can never win a war. Well, my answer to that, is that it has never been tried yet, and we shall see.
Sir Arthur Harris
CinC Bomber Command

Jasko76
06-25-2004, 01:10 PM
I'm no historian, but I tend to stick to Dowding/Park strategy. Leigh-Malory and Douglas Bader conspired against Sir Hugh Dowding for not leting them use Big Wings, conspiracy wich led to Dowding's discharge as soon as the Battle was over. And he won the darn battle! http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/51.gif

Regards,

Jasko
http://users.skynet.be/orbus/Images/husein_kapetan.jpg

Zmaj od Bosne

Montgomery Python
06-25-2004, 02:00 PM
Park was also the front line; he didn't really have time to organise 12-group style mass formations. I think there were one or two days the Big Wing actually worked quite well ( London docks raids, iirc ), but also iirc they got there a little late to prevent any actual bombing.

Park was removed along with Dowding, in a gross miscarriage of justice.

BitwiseOp
06-25-2004, 04:04 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Aero_Shodanjo:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by BitwiseOp:
On a few occasions the Big Wing was bounced by 109's when they were still climbing to altitude <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Isnt it that the 109 didnt has enough range to reach 12 Group's operation area?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That's beside the point because the LW weren't attacking 12 Group airfields (much) - the 'big wing' had to head south to intercept the LW bomber formations en route... or more likely on their way back home.