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Ratsack
11-22-2007, 11:48 PM
For those interested in strategy at the operational level.

Here's the situation. It's December 1943. The U.S. 8th A.F. has just begun deep penetration raids again, for the first time since second Schweinfurt. This time, however, they are escorted all the way to the target and back by Allied fighters. In particular, the P-47s use belly tanks to escort to the German border, then the bombers are handed off to P-38s and P-51s, equipped with 108 and 75 U.S. gal drop tanks respectively. The Lightning and Mustang groups provide support to and from the target.

These fighters are beginning to make it hard for the Jagdwaffe to get to the bombers. The fighters are also causing losses among the interceptors at an alarming rate.

Here's the question:

Why did the Germans allow these forces to penetrate, and then attack them at the target? This was the method they used for the first half of 1944, the so-called point defence.

More to the point, here's the corollary question:

Why did the Germans not place some of the Jagdwaffe forward to engage the escorts at the French cost thus forcing them to drop their tanks? With the tanks jettisoned early in the flight, none of the fighters would have been able to provide target support. It would have put the bombers back to the position they were in from August to October 1943: unescorted and faced with unmolested night and heavy fighters.


As it actually happened, they did almost precisely the opposite. In December 43, Goering issued his infamous order to attack the bombers and avoid the escort.

Why do you reckon they did it that way?

Cheers,
Ratsack

AKA_TAGERT
11-23-2007, 12:03 AM
Because we are all smarter than they were?

Or hind sight is 20 20?

My guess is the later

ultraHun
11-23-2007, 12:11 AM
Galland provides some reasoning on this topic in his memoirs. The following is straight out of my memory, so it might not be his full reasoning:

1. The Jagdstaffeln in the West had traditionally been placed closed to the channel or the North-Sea coast, with the idea to intercept asap. When large formations intruded, the Jagdwaffe could not bring enough fighters to a point because they were disposed along the whole coastline, had short range and could not be sufficiently alerted and coordinated in short time.

Thus Galland fought hard infights to locate them further into the Reich.

2. The local Nazi party bosses insisted on site-defence and on encountering any inflight, because they were keen on preserving THEIR city and the moral of THEIR local population. Thus, every inflight was encountered, even with bad chances.

This was a matter of infights between the Nazi party and the Luftwaffe, who wanted to more selectively choose where to strike and deal some devastating blows to the allies then.

3. As for the order only to attack the bombers and to ignore the fighters, both Galland and Steinhoff saw this as the final nail for the Jagdwaffe's coffin. Steinhoff claims that soon after the young pilots were never trained on how to gain a positional advantage against an enemy fighter and could not do anything better than to dive a away, ending mostly in a deadly spiral.

Yes, it meant that when allied fighters late in the war were encountered by superior numbers of german fighters, that those were piloted by young boys without a clue.

Rammjaeger
11-23-2007, 12:12 AM
"If the primary goal for the Allied Command was simply bombing, it may have worked. However; the primary goal in the first half of 1944; was to neutralize the Luftwaffe in Northwest Europe, to prevent it from interfering with Overlord. To that end, any combat in any location, worked to the Allies benefit, as long as the balance sheet remained in their favour. (Which it did.) The bombing was just a secondary benefit, meant to lure the fighters up.

Luftwaffe fighters needed time to assemble and meet any expected attack. The radar stations could best detect large formations only when they were crossing the channel, which would leave those fighters close to the Channel little time to catch up to their quarry. Not only that; if the Mustangs were forced to drop their tanks over Paris, for instance, more could be despatched from England to catch up, since they were 200 mph faster than the bomber stream. Additionally, any Allied planes damaged so close to home may make it back to base, whereas those damaged east of the Rhine would be more likely to crash before it could get into Allied airspace.

In real life, the bomber crews were no safer with escort anyway. Flak, mechanical failure, bad weather, pilot error all took their toll in addition to enemy fighters. Losses mounted until September. By then, the Western Allies had over run most of the EW radar sites and the Russians had taken Rumanian oil fields. The reduction in fuel hampered patrol, training and operational hours for the fighters.

Also by September, Bomber Command went back to night raids, so the crews being used for backup on days were not available.

I don't think that any tactic could have prevented the eventual outcome, as the Luftwaffe was simply too badly outnumbered.
"

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=105975

Vanderstok
11-23-2007, 01:40 AM
ISn't the answer already in your post? The P-47 would escort them to the german border. These were the escorts that the Luftwaffe would have to attack first. A little while later, flying a different route, the P-51's and P-38's would be on their way to meet the bombers inland. As far as I know, the Luftwaffe simply didn't have the resources to engage the P-47's and P-51's at more or less the same time. Also, the allied commanders planned all kinds of decoy missions so the germans would not know where the main bomber stream was before it was too late...

Kurfurst__
11-23-2007, 11:44 AM
Originally posted by Ratsack:
Here's the question:

Why did the Germans allow these forces to penetrate, and then attack them at the target? This was the method they used for the first half of 1944, the so-called point defence.

Because they couldn`t just 'spawn-in' large numbers fighters on single selected point. It took time to assemble a force to challange a large enemy force with success, and in this regard, the Allies were in an time-advantage (they already assembled the the large armada over Britiain).

During that time, the enemy bombers got closer, and also there`s additional problems how to navigate and concentrate the defending fighters in a single point. This could done if a fixed point is selected as reference, which all fighter group leaders can find and assamble at.

Pre-designated defensive areas also meant they could co-operate with the Flak that which would neccesarily soften/break up heavy bomber formations, making the fighter`s job easier to penetrate into their mutually supportive defensive fire system. It made maximum use of the available defensive resources.


Originally posted by Ratsack:
Why did the Germans not place some of the Jagdwaffe forward to engage the escorts at the French cost thus forcing them to drop their tanks? With the tanks jettisoned early in the flight, none of the fighters would have been able to provide target support. It would have put the bombers back to the position they were in from August to October 1943: unescorted and faced with unmolested night and heavy fighters.

Because doing so would make absolutely no sense. Let`s recap the objectives of the two sides :

- Defending LW fighters ultimately had to protect the industries of the Hinterland, for that, they needed to shoot down bombers, preferably before they reached their target, or at the very least, do maximum damage to bombers.

- Escorting USAAF fighters had to protect the bombers, by not letting the attacking fighters to them.

To force the escorting USAAF fighters (all/most of them to be effective) into combat to jettison their droptanks and leave the bombers, you`d have to amass at least the number of LW fighters to bog down the escort fighters. Otherwise it just won` work, you`d be wasting senselessly your fighter pilots in unequal combat with no gain. It`s foolish to assume the whole escort fleet of Mustangs and 'Bolts would loose their minds upon to sighting of a single or two 109s/190s and chase them as far as Spain, leaving the bombers totally unprotected. You`d only have smaller detachments of escorts chasing you away, allowing then the rest of the LW fighters could get to the bombers more easily, but there would still be escort.

And here`s the problem No 1. The LW fighters simply did not have the numerical edge to do that.

Attacking in small formations to 'bait' the escorts over the sea/France would only waste a portion your main attacking force :

- they would be dealt with by short range outbound escorts like Spits and P-47s, most of which wouldn`t turn up over Germany anyway due to range issues. There`s no gain luring them away.

The LW 'bait' detachment otoh would certainly not attack the bombers that day though - they would be out of ammo, shot down, damaged, scattered, low on fuel, and mostly no idea where they are, and where the enemy formation is at. You can write them off for that day, all of them.

They would be at even greater disadvantage against escorts, being more isolated and heavily outnumbered, unless they could attack the escorts in even numbers - which they couldn`t. Chances are they`d suffer high losses for keeping a few escorts away and busy - something they can just as well over the target, and with less losses.

Even if you`d bait a part of the escorts to drop their tanks, it would ultimately mean the LW fighter detachment would fall out of that particular operation, and itself would be unable to attack the bombers. At this point, the escorts, even the ones dropping their tanks and turning back accomplished their mission without even being over Germany (they kept away a number of LW fighters from the bombers).

Overall, it made a lot more sense to focus fighters into a single point, and let some of them engage the escorts, and let the actual Strike get to the bombers for a single pass in the confusion. The relative numbers allowed for no more.

horseback
11-23-2007, 01:05 PM
The fact is that the Germans missed their best opportunity to squash US long range fighter escort ambitions out of Britain in the spring and summer of 1943.

At that time, the American groups were numerically weak, flying the less-capable P47C, and totally inexperienced. 8th AF bomber commanders were less than convinced that fighter escorts were even worthwhile at that point, and I believe that had the Jagdewaffe made a concentrated effort to hammer every US fighter encursion they encountered, the US daylight escort fighter experiment would have died in its crib, which would have led to the extinction of the US daylight bombing effort.

Instead, the Geschwaders tasked with defense in the West avoided the first three American fighter groups as much as possible, allowing them to develop experience and good doctrine, which helped them develop and teach good tactics and skills to the units that followed them.

Having recently read Knoke's I Flew For the Fuhrer, I got the distinct impression that German radar caught the bombers forming up at altitude over Southeastern England at an early stage, so there was plenty of warning for an incoming raid.

Bear in mind that for the first several months of the US daylight effort, there weren't enough fighters or the navigating skills developed(or the concept of staged escort) to rendezvous at a specific place and time (early escorts were constantly plagued by bomber formations arriving late or at the wrong place, causing them to waste their limited fuel orbiting or searching for their assigned BG), which meant that the rendezvous had to be made over England, at high altitudes and the escort mission was taken in company from there until the fighters' fuel was about half gone.

Had the Germans adopted a defense in depth, with the forward defenders concentrating on the escorts, especially during the early periods, when the escort fighters were required to maintain close contact with the bombers, they could have done maximum damage to the escort's numbers and morale, and severely ******ed their development as an effective fighting force, while taking much lower losses themselves (keeping the opposition inexperienced, short legged, and nervous will make your job much easier).

Obviously, the ultimate result would have been at least as bad for the Third Reich, but at the very least, Goerring was derelict in his duties for allowing the American fighter capability to prosper as quickly as it did.

cheers

horseback

JtD
11-23-2007, 01:48 PM
I think the main reason is coordination. Spotting bombers in England doesn't give you a clue about where they are going, and they can go quite far. There is no way to mount a reasonable defense in no time or spread out all over German held territory.

I'd also like to throw in two more factors,
1st, AAA played a big role in the air defense of Germany. Usually it had to stop firing when German fighters were going about their business. A constant attack en route to targets would have meant that the considerable AAA could not fire at all.
2nd, bombers are most vulnerable when they are about to release the bombs. A steady course and split attention work for the interceptors.

K_Freddie
11-23-2007, 02:23 PM
From what I can remember...

1) there was too much political interference of the defence strategy of the LW.
2) hitler/goering ordered bombers to be priority targets thus a lot of allied pilots became 'aces' and it made the allied planes seem superior to the LW (this is at least a 10 page issue http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif ).
3) There was a rebellion in the LW against the Top Brass and tactics were changed to the recommedation of Galland and many others.
4) The change of tactics was that the ME109 delt with the escorts and the heavier ME110 and FW190's hit the bombers. This had a marked effect on the allies, but the LW numbers by that stage were not enough - Too Little Too Late.

If these defence tactics were not flawed I'm sure a lot of France would be speaking Russian http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

horseback
11-23-2007, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by JtD:
I think the main reason is coordination. Spotting bombers in England doesn't give you a clue about where they are going, and they can go quite far. There is no way to mount a reasonable defense in no time or spread out all over German held territory.

I'd also like to throw in two more factors,
1st, AAA played a big role in the air defense of Germany. Usually it had to stop firing when German fighters were going about their business. A constant attack en route to targets would have meant that the considerable AAA could not fire at all.
2nd, bombers are most vulnerable when they are about to release the bombs. A steady course and split attention work for the interceptors. While there was some use of deception, doglegs and the like to 'spoof' defenders into going the wrong way, the fact was that the bomb raids began over East Anglia, and were largely limited to near-straightline courses in order to allow the escorts to stay with them for the greatest period of time. Target areas were relatively predictable, and the courses taken were a clear indicator of where the stream of bombers would ingress. Obviously, they aimed for points with the least AAA or potential observors to enter. Again, the escorts did not stay co-alt with their charges - why take the punishment if you didn't need to?

This made the idea of hitting the escorts early even more lucrative, IMHO, and knowing that a raid was forming up would give your Kanal Geschwadern at least 15-20 minutes to climb to high alt, get upsun, and make a diving attack or two on the escorts with little risk to themselves before retiring to base, refueling and rearming to greet the return flights.

This was the strategy the Allies expected & feared from the Luftwaffe, and they were pleasently surprised to see very little of it.

cheers

horseback

luftluuver
11-23-2007, 03:30 PM
Some maps showing the tracks of the 303BG.

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-12/1114844/303bg-routes2.jpg
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-12/1114844/303bg-routes1.jpg

BfHeFwMe
11-23-2007, 06:02 PM
One word, Hamburg.

It's destruction in the summer of 43 changed everything for Germany. They realized another three cities of the same importance get hit and the war was ended.

Almost all fighter assets were pulled back into the reich to prevent this at all costs. You can't defend the homeland very well from the outside, Hamburg proved it.

Kettenhunde
11-23-2007, 07:04 PM
Instead, the Geschwaders tasked with defense in the West avoided the first three American fighter groups as much as possible, allowing them to develop experience and good doctrine, which helped them develop and teach good tactics and skills to the units that followed them.

Hi Horseback,

The USAAF pilots where new to combat with unproven equipment. They avoided combat with the Luftwaffe except when necessary. This was done to build that experience base and gain confidence in their equipment.

The USAAF escort fighters typically remained at altitude well above the formations they escorted in this early period where it was very difficult for the Luftwaffe interceptors to get at them. Here the USAAF fighters were also in a position to defend their charges while maintaining their advantage.

Once their confidence grew they became more aggressive.

Wutz Galland developed a distain for the USAAF fighters early on and he termed them "The non-interferencer's". It cost him his lift on August 17, 1943 to a perfect bounce by Hub Zemke's Wolfpack.

All the best,

Crumpp

M2morris
11-23-2007, 07:22 PM
I didn't read this whole thread but I think the reason may have been partly because at that time the Luftwaffe was becoming thinned-out and that radar deception was used by the allies. Some smaller sized allied formations were used as decoys to divert the German enterceptors away from the main bombing force.

Zoring
11-23-2007, 11:13 PM
I would also imagine that with your fighters on the coast you are in range of allied fighter sweeps, medium and light bomber attacks, and not enough time to scramble to the high altitude the US planes used.

Also while your bases on the coast are scrambling to reach the high flying US planes you can have shorter range Spitfires and what have you at medium altitude.

horseback
11-24-2007, 12:21 AM
Originally posted by Kettenhunde:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Instead, the Geschwaders tasked with defense in the West avoided the first three American fighter groups as much as possible, allowing them to develop experience and good doctrine, which helped them develop and teach good tactics and skills to the units that followed them.

Hi Horseback,

The USAAF pilots where new to combat with unproven equipment. They avoided combat with the Luftwaffe except when necessary. This was done to build that experience base and gain confidence in their equipment.

The USAAF escort fighters typically remained at altitude well above the formations they escorted in this early period where it was very difficult for the Luftwaffe interceptors to get at them. Here the USAAF fighters were also in a position to defend their charges while maintaining their advantage.

Once their confidence grew they became more aggressive.

Wutz Galland developed a distain for the USAAF fighters early on and he termed them "The non-interferencer's". It cost him his lift on August 17, 1943 to a perfect bounce by Hub Zemke's Wolfpack.

All the best,

Crumpp </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Suggest you read Zemke's Wolfpack by Roger Freeman, and Escort to Berlin, by Ethell, or 1000 Destroyed by Hall, and consider whether the short legged Americans simply missed the Germans. There weren't very many of either P-47s or LW fighters along the Channel, and the Jug was flown at its best height, over 25,000 ft as much as possible over 'Injun Territory'.

The Yanks were actively looking for German fighters, but they were looking in the wrong places, while it is relatively much more likely from reading Caldwell's JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe, that the Germans knew where the American fighters were and sidestepped them.

Fact is that the FW 190 was not at its best at the alts where the P-47s lurked, and the P-47 groups had been strongly advised to avoid going too low with enemy fighters in those critical first six months. Rookie fighter pilots don't know how to see as well as veterans, so my opinion is that the more offensive minded Yanks simply didn't know where or how to find the Luftwaffe yet, and as 'hosts' over France, I feel that it was up to the Germans to introduce themselves.

cheers

horseback

JtD
11-24-2007, 01:53 AM
Originally posted by horseback:While there was some use of deception, doglegs and the like to 'spoof' defenders into going the wrong way, the fact was that the bomb raids began over East Anglia, and were largely limited to near-straightline courses in order to allow the escorts to stay with them for the greatest period of time. Target areas were relatively predictable, and the courses taken were a clear indicator of where the stream of bombers would ingress. Obviously, they aimed for points with the least AAA or potential observors to enter. Again, the escorts did not stay co-alt with their charges - why take the punishment if you didn't need to?

This made the idea of hitting the escorts early even more lucrative, IMHO, and knowing that a raid was forming up would give your Kanal Geschwadern at least 15-20 minutes to climb to high alt, get upsun, and make a diving attack or two on the escorts with little risk to themselves before retiring to base, refueling and rearming to greet the return flights.

Look at the maps luftluuver posted right after your posts - the attack routes varied. The main routes were entering European mainland over a 500km wide stretch. Now consider that the range of the German interceptors wasn't a lot larger. The Germans were technically not able to mount a CAP protecting the continent. It is not possible to attack in numbers in the very early stage.

You'd need to determine the course and the likely target of the bomber formation.
You'd need to organize a decent number of fighters to intercept.
You'd need to determine a point of intercept.
You'd need to coordinate all your fighters to be at that point at that time.

With your proposed tactics, a lot of difficulties arise.
- Insufficient numbers in the region, unless you want to base all your fighters near the coast inviting enemy bombers to destroy them on the ground.
- Insufficient time to organize a sizable force.
- Insufficient information as to the whereabouts of the bombers.

You could easily end up wasting half your fighters by not getting them off the ground in time. You then waste half of them by not being able to tell them where to go in time.

In the end, instead of a massive attack by a couple of hundred fighters, you attack with a couple of dozens which the bombers just shrug off.

ViktorViktor
11-24-2007, 03:59 AM
Here's how an Allied bombing raid usually developed (as I see it):

1) Allied bombers begin taking off, and use a fair amount of time to form up into combat formations.

2) The Axis forces detect this quite easily from the amount of radio activity generated. They now know a raid is coming and roughly how large a force it will be, but not where it is headed.

3) The allied armada forms up and rumbles toward mainland Europe. When the formation nears the coast, it will be detected by German radar, which gives the German air controllers a better idea of the size and composition of this force, and where it is headed.

4) The Allied escort fighters take off and form up somewhat later than the bombers cuz they fly faster and can catch up to the bombers. But they can't stay in the air as long as the bombers so they are trying to maximize their flight time over enemy territory. But here again the Germans can hear the radio activity generated (tho I dont think they actually bothered to keep track of this)

5) The bomber force with their fighter escorts have now begun to penetrate the European mainland and now can be monitored visually (but heavy cloud cover could hide the formations, but then it also concealed the bombers' targets as well). At this point the German air controller now has to make some key decisions which can make or break the air defense for that day. He has to decide where the Allied force is heading and whether to intercept this formation. If he decides to intercept, he then has to decide (based upon where he thinks the Allies are heading) which units should scramble and in what strength. The Luftwaffe units available for interception are limited to those which lie close enough to the bomber forces' predicted flight path and have aircraft/pilots ready. The more centrally located the Luftwaffe units are, the higher the chance they will be able to intercept the formation (assuming that the Allies are not just hitting a target along the coast. The most vital bombing targets were usually a factory of some sort and generally not located along the coasts, tho Allies did sometimes bomb submarine pens etc.). Luftwaffe units located close to the coast have the advantage of being able intercept the formation early, but they are more limited (due to home base location) as to which formations they can intercept and their airfields in turn are easy targets for medium bombers and Allied fighter sweeps. So coastal Luftwaffe units suffer higher casualties and battle fatigue than centrally located units while at the same time not being in a position to intercept heavy bomber formations as often (there are exceptions to this rule). Centrally located units also suffer less from bad timing of an intercept than coastal units. If they miss the bomber formation on the way in, they could often find it as the bombers swung back home after dropping their bombs. A coastal units' sortie was more often wasted if they missed the Allied formation as it flew in (or out). But the rule was that the deeper an Allied formaton penetrated, the better idea the Germans had where it was headed, and so the more effectively it could be dealt with, given that there were Luftwaffe units placed centrally to deal with it. (Side Note: even as in its home defense role, the Bf-109 (Luftwaffe's most numerous fighter) was hampered by its relatively limited range and armament. Another reason to locate centrally.)

6) So the German air controller has now decided how he will react to Allied incursion. But in making his decision he must have also taken into consideration the possibility that other Allied attacks could happen later in the day, after Luftwaffe forces had already been committed. Would he have Luftwaffe units available to intercept these later raids ? Would the pilots and aircraft which intercepted earlier be in shape to handle interceptions later (against Allied bombers with fresh crews and aircraft) ? Perhaps he should withhold some units so later raids could be dealt with. Perhaps the Allies will strike again with even heavier forces the next day; would the Luftwaffe have sufficient resources to available to deal with several days of intensive air operations ?

7) Of course, much of the air defense of Germany was out of the control of the German air controllers. Hitler and Goring wanted to insulate the civil population from the war as much as possible (Hitler feared being unpopular) so this probably had alot to do with the decision to concentrate on attacking bombers. It made good press to see German fighters attacking bombers over the cities, not out at sea where no one could see them. And as mentioned previously, air units positioned to attack Allied fighter /bomber formations while they were still out over the coast would be based close to the coast, where they in turn would be easily attacked/bombed by medium bombers and short-ranged fighters while still on the ground. Either way the Luftwaffe didnt have the resources to deal with all the attacks the Allies were throwing at them. So they tried to get the biggest bang for their buck by not intercepting early and then concentrating mainly on bombers. This policy failed, but then again it doesn't seem likely that the opposite policy would have worked either. Either way the Luftwaffe would have been worn down into ineffectiveness.

drgondog
11-24-2007, 12:35 PM
Originally posted by Rammjaeger:
"If the primary goal for the Allied Command was simply bombing, it may have worked. However; the primary goal in the first half of 1944; was to neutralize the Luftwaffe in Northwest Europe, to prevent it from interfering with Overlord. To that end, any combat in any location, worked to the Allies benefit, as long as the balance sheet remained in their favour. (Which it did.) The bombing was just a secondary benefit, meant to lure the fighters up.

DESTRUCTION of LW WAS IMPORTANT< DESTRUCTION OF GERMAN INDUSTRY WAS GOAL (sorry for CAPs)


Luftwaffe fighters needed time to assemble and meet any expected attack. The radar stations could best detect large formations only when they were crossing the channel, which would leave those fighters close to the Channel little time to catch up to their quarry. Not only that; if the Mustangs were forced to drop their tanks over Paris, for instance, more could be despatched from England to catch up, since they were 200 mph faster than the bomber stream.

THERE WERE NO MUSTANG (OR LIGHTNING) 'RESERVES' of any kind until we had bases on Continent. The 9th AF provided first two Mustang Groups in Dec and Jan 1944, then the 357th and 4th FG in mid to late February, then 355th in March, then 352nd in April, then 339, 359 and 361 from April 30 through May 20th). One, maximum two Mustang groups were assigned to provide Target Escort from R/V to Target and back to Withdrawal R/V for each Bomb Division (up to 12 Bomb Groups) during this time period. Losing one or two squadrons to early bounces and dropping wing tanks would have been very bad for the Bomb Groups. To add to the P-51s there were two Lightning Groups in December and one in March, 1944 to compliment the Mustangs for Target Escort. SO THE~SCREEN WAS VERY THIN

In real life, the bomber crews were no safer with escort anyway.

With ALL due Respect - that is incorrect. You have only to look at 8th and 15th AF loss statistics due to enemy fighters after introduction of Mustang to ETO - plus talk to any surviving bomber crew? What perspective are you offering? The 8thAF had Zero days with 10% or greater loasses after May 12, 1844 and 13 between Jan1 and May 12, 1944. FIGHTER ESCORT INTO AND OVER TARGET WAS CRUCIAL TO SUCCESS OF USAAF STRATEGIC BOMBING (agin, sorry for Caps - just haven't figured out how to do a bold')

Flak, mechanical failure, bad weather, pilot error all took their toll in addition to enemy fighters. Losses mounted until September.

USAAF LOSSES DECREASED FROM MAY, 1944 to END of WAR.. The Normandy Campaign for 9th AF and RAF TAC Fighters were large but US Bomber Command was low and dropping

By then, the Western Allies had over run most of the EW radar sites and the Russians had taken Rumanian oil fields. The reduction in fuel hampered patrol, training and operational hours for the fighters.

The Strategic Petroleum Attacks by 8th and 12AF started in May for German and Czech based targets and Ploesti was in ruins before the Russians captured them -


I don't think that any tactic could have prevented the eventual outcome, as the Luftwaffe was simply too badly outnumbered.

I AGREE - RESULT, BUT BELIEVE SEVERAL THOUSAND MORE BOMBERS WOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT DOWN BY LW< ABSENT INTRODUCTION OF MUSTANG
"

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=105975

This scenario was a nightmare for 8th AF planners in early months of 1944 when USAAF was again going deep after the disastrous losses at Schweinfurt and Munster in fall of 1943.

It is an often repeated misconception that Mustangs heavily outnumbered the Luftwaffe, particulary at the heighth of the struggle for control of the Air over Germany from December 1943 through D-Day 1944.

At no time during the period 1 December, 1943 through April 30, 1944 did the USAAF put up more than two Mustang Groups as escort to any of the three Air Divisions (twelve to 14 heavy bomber Groups) for Target Penetration, Escort and Withdrawal - and in most instances no more than one Gp with 35-50 effectives. The three Lighting Groups helped but the Mustangs did the damage

Regards,
Bill

drgondog
11-24-2007, 01:27 PM
Originally posted by Kurfurst__:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Ratsack:
Here's the question:

Why did the Germans allow these forces to penetrate, and then attack them at the target? This was the method they used for the first half of 1944, the so-called point defence.


Because they couldn`t just 'spawn-in' large numbers fighters on single selected point. It took time to assemble a force to challange a large enemy force with success, and in this regard, the Allies were in an time-advantage (they already assembled the the large armada over Britiain).

Kurfurst - In my opinion the focus of this stratagy in 1943 was to attack the Thundebolts over the North Sea. In the Fall of 1943 there were only seven P-47 and one, then two P-38 Groups.

The strategy for the Winter and Spring would be to intercept the Mustang and Lightning groups to force them into combat - but do so in squadron numbers w/ me 109G-6/AS... a German Fighter with equivalent performance from an altitude advantage. Putting high altitude capable 'stalkers' to find and position an interception would have been feasible.




Originally posted by Ratsack:
Why did the Germans not place some of the Jagdwaffe forward to engage the escorts at the French cost thus forcing them to drop their tanks? With the tanks jettisoned early in the flight, none of the fighters would have been able to provide target support. It would have put the bombers back to the position they were in from August to October 1943: unescorted and faced with unmolested night and heavy fighters.

Because doing so would make absolutely no sense. Let`s recap the objectives of the two sides :

- Defending LW fighters ultimately had to protect the industries of the Hinterland, for that, they needed to shoot down bombers, preferably before they reached their target, or at the very least, do maximum damage to bombers.

- Escorting USAAF fighters had to protect the bombers, by not letting the attacking fighters to them.

To force the escorting USAAF fighters (all/most of them to be effective) into combat to jettison their droptanks and leave the bombers, you`d have to amass at least the number of LW fighters to bog down the escort fighters.

K~ We disagree here. I don't believe the LW had to bounce in Geschwader strength to force one Group of Target Escort, or even several sections, into dropping tanks to defend themselves


Otherwise it just won` work, you`d be wasting senselessly your fighter pilots in unequal combat with no gain. It`s foolish to assume the whole escort fleet of Mustangs and 'Bolts would loose their minds upon to sighting of a single or two 109s/190s and chase them as far as Spain, leaving the bombers totally unprotected. You`d only have smaller detachments of escorts chasing you away, allowing then the rest of the LW fighters could get to the bombers more easily, but there would still be escort.

K~ you don't care about 'fleets of Penetration Support fighters anyway - they can't get to the target where you want to concentrate your Me 110s and me 410s to be effective w/o interference if possible. As to 'losing their minds' of course you are right - it was SOP for a Group CO to delegate a flight or a section to attack a flight or squadron size formation of German fighters.. but that is four to eight right away that had to punch their wing tanks and worthless over target as they would turn back earlier

And here`s the problem No 1. The LW fighters simply did not have the numerical edge to do that.

LuftFlotte Reich had `500 effective day fighters, of which they might commit 250 to an interception over A target, not all targets. The 8th and 9th AF had one, two, four and six Mustang Groups combined from December through April, respectively each month with 35+ effective until April, then maybe 45+ effective thereafter - per group.

It wasn't until April the the 8th AF could even put 100 fighters to cover an entire Task Force of 10-15 Bomb Groups over one target area, being split among three Task Forces. That Task Force would strech 40 miles.

The LW scored some major success in March and April even without the strategy of intercepting the Mustangs early - but they forces of Me 110/210 and 410 became essentially worthless as they were defenseless against the P-51...but imagine how effective they would have been over the target area w/o Mustangs to hunt them down?

Attacking in small formations to 'bait' the escorts over the sea/France would only waste a portion your main attacking force :

Say, three squadrons delegated with good pilots to do just the above and attack one or two Escort Groups of Mustangs, out of 20+ available to concentrate and attack later on?


The LW 'bait' detachment otoh would certainly not attack the bombers that day though - they would be out of ammo, shot down, damaged, scattered, low on fuel, and mostly no idea where they are, and where the enemy formation is at. You can write them off for that day, all of them.

Many of them would be capable of fighting - particularly say a JG 11 or JG53 whoes bases were out of reach of the P-47s but capable of landing and re-forming to attck outbound bomber stream when 51s (remaining) are low on fuel or ammo themselves?

Overall, it made a lot more sense to focus fighters into a single point, and let some of them engage the escorts, and let the actual Strike get to the bombers for a single pass in the confusion. The relative numbers allowed for no more. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Back to the 'relative numbers' thing.. the LW was often able to concentrate 2:1 and 3:1 attackers over defenders around the Target for the reasons (and the available Mustang and Lightning Groups) through D-Day... but they let the Americans get the upper hand by stupid decisions on part of Goering to avoid the fighters.

DuxCorvan
11-24-2007, 03:37 PM
Anyway, what were the escorts for? They were not necessary, since gunners were as efficient as they are in FB. At least that's what the know-it-all keep saying all the time.

Schweinfurt was all luck for the LW, nothing else.

http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif

horseback
11-24-2007, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by JtD:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by horseback:While there was some use of deception, doglegs and the like to 'spoof' defenders into going the wrong way, the fact was that the bomb raids began over East Anglia, and were largely limited to near-straightline courses in order to allow the escorts to stay with them for the greatest period of time. Target areas were relatively predictable, and the courses taken were a clear indicator of where the stream of bombers would ingress. Obviously, they aimed for points with the least AAA or potential observors to enter. Again, the escorts did not stay co-alt with their charges - why take the punishment if you didn't need to?

This made the idea of hitting the escorts early even more lucrative, IMHO, and knowing that a raid was forming up would give your Kanal Geschwadern at least 15-20 minutes to climb to high alt, get upsun, and make a diving attack or two on the escorts with little risk to themselves before retiring to base, refueling and rearming to greet the return flights.

Look at the maps luftluuver posted right after your posts - the attack routes varied. The main routes were entering European mainland over a 500km wide stretch. Now consider that the range of the German interceptors wasn't a lot larger. The Germans were technically not able to mount a CAP protecting the continent. It is not possible to attack in numbers in the very early stage.

You'd need to determine the course and the likely target of the bomber formation.
You'd need to organize a decent number of fighters to intercept.
You'd need to determine a point of intercept.
You'd need to coordinate all your fighters to be at that point at that time.

With your proposed tactics, a lot of difficulties arise.
- Insufficient numbers in the region, unless you want to base all your fighters near the coast inviting enemy bombers to destroy them on the ground.
- Insufficient time to organize a sizable force.
- Insufficient information as to the whereabouts of the bombers.

You could easily end up wasting half your fighters by not getting them off the ground in time. You then waste half of them by not being able to tell them where to go in time.

In the end, instead of a massive attack by a couple of hundred fighters, you attack with a couple of dozens which the bombers just shrug off. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Check the dates on the maps. My statement, taken in context, referred to escorted raids in the first five or six months of the escorted bombing campaign. The whole emphasis of my remarks has been centered upon that very early period when the P-47 was first deployed, i.e., March to August of 1943.

Those long and complicated paths weren't for escorted flights. They were far too long for any P-47 or Spitfire escort to stay with, and too complicated for a timed rendezvous.

It took almost 18 months (starting in July of 1942) to get sufficient numbers of bombers and trained aircrew into England to actually make the numbers necessary to try to make unescorted raids into Germany, and those mostly turned into disasters if the Luftwaffe was able to get into the air over the target. Getting fighters into the mix was a priority after those disastrous early October raids...

Had the Kanalgeschwadern made a point of taking out the 4th, 56th, and 78th Fighter Groups while they were numerically weak, inexperienced, and unsure about the quality and reliability of their P-47s in those critical formative months, the LW's 'happy time' would have continued largely uninterrupted well into 1944.

cheers

horseback

Ratsack
11-24-2007, 04:58 PM
Originally posted by Vanderstok:
ISn't the answer already in your post? The P-47 would escort them to the german border. These were the escorts that the Luftwaffe would have to attack first. A little while later, flying a different route, the P-51's and P-38's would be on their way to meet the bombers inland....

I don't think they would have to attack the P-47s.

If we think about it, in sequence, the raid would develop over England. They would climb to altitude over England (standard procedure). This procedure is an effective clarion call to the Jagdwaffe.

The escort for the first part of the flight over the continent (the 'penetration support', as the 8th AF called it), would have to be in company with the bombers, at altitude, as they crossed into Europe.

They are not the fighters I would be interested in if I were leading the defence. These guys will turn back well before the target.

A while after this penetration, a second formation would leave England, and climb out on a different course. This formation is actually headed for the rendezvous point with the main force. This formation is the 'target support'.

This is the formation I would be interested in engaging well forward.

If this could be achieved, some interesting consequences follow. Firstly, it means that the Jagdwaffe would not be engaging the entire 8th AF fighter force, but just that fraction of it allocated for target support. This makes the numerical imbalance less unfavourable for the Germans.

Secondly, the smaller number of US fighters actually engaged means that the Germans could likewise economize on the size of the force they sent to fight them.

The first and second effects combine to free up more fighters for the attack on the main force. This is where the third effect flows through. If the penetration support has turned back, and the target support don't show up, there is no fighter support for the bombers. This means it would now be economical to employ the twin engine heavy fighters and the rocket firing single seaters.

So I wasn't quite clear in my first post. I was asking for views on a forward defense against the target support fighters, not the entire formation.


Kurfurst wrote:
During that time, the enemy bombers got closer, and also there`s additional problems how to navigate and concentrate the defending fighters in a single point. This could done if a fixed point is selected as reference, which all fighter group leaders can find and assamble at.

You make a good point about the difficulty of assembling a large formation. Steinhoff certainly thought it was too hard, given the quality of replacement pilots reaching the units. Interestingly, Johnny Johnson thought the same thing.

However, I thought that by late 1943 the daytime defence was starting to use some of the infrastructure set up for the night fighters. I'm thinking specifically here of the nav. beacons for the Himmelbett system. I thought the Germans were fitting the Bf 109 G-6 with the FuG 25A (IFF) and the direction finding gear (FuG 162?) pretty much as standard from mid 1943.

For the rest, I don't doubt that the Allies would have responded to this tactic. If I were doing the Allied fighter support, there'd be decoys, including light fast bombers dropping to chaff to simulate a larger formation. There'd be other options, too.

However, it seems to me that the Germans might have squandered an early opportunity to deliver a few more bloody noses before the numbers finally told against them.

cheers,
Ratsack

JG51_Rudel
11-24-2007, 05:03 PM
There are many many reasons why the Luftwaffe could not do their job properly, for allied deception to politics and even tactics.

Although the placing of large concentrated 88mm AAA guns near important industrial areas caused more mental and physical damage to allied aircrew's than the planes of the Luftwaffe ever did.

Ratsack
11-24-2007, 05:18 PM
Originally posted by JG51_Rudel:
...
Although the placing of large concentrated 88mm AAA guns near important industrial areas caused more mental and physical damage to allied aircrew's than the planes of the Luftwaffe ever did.

You're having a lend, right?

cheers,
Ratsack

JG51_Rudel
11-24-2007, 06:13 PM
Nope read in a book.

Ratsack
11-24-2007, 06:45 PM
The accounts I have read have consistently asserted the opposite. Even the Luftwaffe themselves calculated that it took more than 3,000 medium FlaK rounds (i.e., either 88 mm or 120 mm) to bring down a bomber.

cheers,
Ratsack

JtD
11-25-2007, 01:50 AM
Originally posted by horseback:
Check the dates on the maps. My statement, taken in context, referred to escorted raids in the first five or six months of the escorted bombing campaign. The whole emphasis of my remarks has been centered upon that very early period when the P-47 was first deployed, i.e., March to August of 1943.

Those long and complicated paths weren't for escorted flights. They were far too long for any P-47 or Spitfire escort to stay with, and too complicated for a timed rendezvous.

And still the Germans could not possibly know if the US were going to bomb Hamburg or Brest.

And the escorts could not fly to target and back, they'd usually turn away half way. Why bother attacking them if you can fight over Germany without escorts interference at all?

How do you find the spread out escorts in the first place?

Frankly, the risks of a small, hastily assembled fighter forces to attack the inbound bombers escorts far outweigh the benefits. If the Allied commanders were afraid of that scenario, they pretty much misjudged the situation.

horseback
11-25-2007, 12:04 PM
First bombing raids were centered in France and Belgium. We only had small numbers of B-17s and trained aircrew for them, and they were serving in the Pacific and North Africa as well as with the 8thAF.

I repeat: small numbers, unable to provide mutual protection, according to prewar USAAF theory, so needing some escort. They and their escort MUST climb to alt over Britain, which places them in radar range of Germans. Given the inexperience of the bomber and escort aircrew, theyusually took the same courses to the same targets again and again.

That's the historical record. Until they gained the experience and navigational skills, the bombers and their escorts could not afford to deviate from set patterns when dropping bombs on an occupied, but nominally allied country. The Germans made a great deal of propaganda hay over civilians killed in Allied bombinb raids, so 8th Bombing Command was very strict about following known courses and procedures.

This led to a great deal of predictability.

As for your claim that the Allied fighters were hard to find, it is disingenuous at best. The Germans had pretty good radar coverage, and often arranged ambushes for the RAF fighter sweeps in 1941-42. If anything, they were better informed of Allied movements in '43.

Crummp referred to 'Wutz' Galland's label for the American fighters as non-interferers; I think it implies the opinion that the Yanks were seeing the German fighters and ignoring them, even when they were attacking or setting up for attack on the bombers. As I said earlier, I think that the inexperienced Americans had a harder time seeing the FWs and 109s below them (and against the ground) than Galland and his mates appreciated.

As I said before, the Germans fumbled the ball by NOT making a concerted effort against the American fighters when they were few in number, inexperienced, and easy to beat.

cheers

horseback

JtD
11-25-2007, 02:09 PM
I think you should use phrases like "in my opinion" because frankly, it's nothing more.

Had the German fighters attacked the escort fighters (assuming for a minute that it was as easy as you like to make it appear), they would have killed less bombers. Meaning the escorts fulfilled their job. That's a tactical victory for the Allies. And I'm pretty sure that they would have adopted a fitting strategy to repeat that.

horseback
11-25-2007, 10:58 PM
I think you're taking the short-term view. If I'm commanding LW fighters in the West in early 1943, I see the bombers as so much meat on the hoof for my zerstorers and FWs in the zone beyond the range of the escorts.

The only threat to my fighters is the escorts, and while the current crop is pretty short ranged, limited to about 150 almost experimental aircraft and largely inexperienced pilots at the end of a cross-Atlantic supply line, I have to believe that unless I take them off the board quickly, they can only get better, more numerous, and get longer ranged aircraft.

On the French, Dutch, and Belgian coasts of the English Channel and the North Sea, I have two Geschwaders composed of some of the finest fighter pilots in the world, flying the best fighter in the world. That's around two hundred men and machines, supported by a pretty good and relatively short logistics line.

If I task those men and machines with the annihilation of the American fighter forces whenever and whereever they encounter them, odds are very good that the Yankees' losses will quickly exceed their ability to replace them in those early days, or that at least, leaders like Zemke and Blakeslee will be killed or spend the war in a PoW camp instead of prospering and becoming major thorns in my side. The Johnsons, Gabreskis, Gentiles and Goodsons won't gain the skills and experience and inspire and teach the swarms of eager young American airmen following them across the Atlantic.

There's the very good chance that the P-47 will be dumped as a failed experiment in oversized, sluggish high-alt day fighters, the 8th AF will give up on daylight bombing, and join the RAF in the night campaign, where they will be months if not years before they become equally effective.

In the short term, how badly is Germany hurt by B-17s bombing French and Belgian targets? Without the fighters to protect them, my fighters will maul them so badly that they may never be seen over Germany.

In actual history, the German Kanalfront fighters didn't kill that many bombers because they were wasting time skirting the escorts and conceding the initiative to them, allowing the USAAF to correct the P-47's faults and lettings its pilots to gain experience, confidence and develop a workable doctrine for winning the fighter war.

Clearly, the strategy the Germans adopted didn't work that well for them.

Not that I think that it was a bad thing...

cheers

horseback

luftluuver
11-25-2007, 11:48 PM
On the French, Dutch, and Belgian coasts of the English Channel and the North Sea, I have two Geschwaders composed of some of the finest fighter pilots in the world, flying the best fighter in the world. That's around two hundred men and machines, supported by a pretty good and relatively short logistics line.

If I task those men and machines with the annihilation of the American fighter forces whenever and whereever they encounter them, odds are very good that the Yankees' losses will quickly exceed their ability to replace them in those early days, or that at least, leaders like Zemke and Blakeslee will be killed or spend the war in a PoW camp instead of prospering and becoming major thorns in my side. The Johnsons, Gabreskis, Gentiles and Goodsons won't gain the skills and experience and inspire and teach the swarms of eager young American airmen following them across the Atlantic. But the Germans don't have 200 a/c to combat the American heavy bombers and fighter escorts. Some of those LW fighters (from JG26 in France) were be tasked with intercepting other incursions of Allied a/c into German air space.

JtD
11-25-2007, 11:49 PM
I don't think I am thinking short term.

You mention 200 German fighter near the Channel as if this was a force the Germans easily could bring to bear against any enemy attack. They couldn't.

It remains to be proven that additional battle experience for the US pilots would not compensate for higher losses. Look at the US in the PTO in 1942. They suffered horrible losses, but this did not stop them from adopting new tactics and in June they turned the tide at Midway.

But, coming back to the point in my previous post: The success or failure of escorts would have been measured by the loss of bombers. Everything was measured by this standard. 10 crew vs. 1, 2.5 times the cost. If it had been perceived by the higher ups that escorts really were working to distract interceptors, meaning less losses to bombers, even at the cost of high losses to the fighters, they would have done their best to ensure that the next mission sees _more_ escorts.

In the end, the USAAF may have ended up with 2000 extra fighter losses, but 1000 less bombers lost. Considering that a fighter usually is harder to kill than a bomber, I am being optimistic. They'd shift production and training accordingly and in the end, nothing changes.

I do understand your point of view, but I do not think it would have worked that way.

Ratsack
11-26-2007, 07:08 AM
Regarding ways to intercept and engage the Target Support fighters, without being ˜spoofed' by decoys and feints, I think it would have possible, if not easy.

On the flying hardware side, by mid 1943, the Jagdwaffe was using two types – the Bf 109 G-6 and the Fw 190 A-4/5/6 – that were readily equipped with droptanks, IFF, and came with radio navigation gear as standard in the West. I'm talking about the device that was attached to that loop antennae on the Gustav and the Würger. These aircraft were therefore capable of orbiting beacons and taking part in normal ground controlled interception (GCI).

On the ELINT side, the Germans had developed Naxos by mid 1943, which homed in on the emissions of the H2S bombing radar. The Americans used this, too, not just the RAF. In U.S. service it was called H2X. In addition, the Germans had married the Naxos receiver with the Würzburg radar to produce Naxburg, with which they could track bomber streams at ranges of 250 km. They also had the Egon radio nav system, which enabled them to control fighters accurately at distances of 200 km.

Within that state of the art, it seems feasible to me that the Germans could distinguish between the main force, with its Penetration Support fighters, and the separate formation of Target Support fighters. Firstly, neither would be showing friendly IFF (duh). Secondly, the bomber formation would be emitting H2X, so that could be picked up, identified plotted by Naxburg. This would tell the Germans that this formation is not the one to attack first. The other formation would be H2X quiet.

The various radio nav systems would enable the German fighter controller to vector the Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs toward the Target Support fighters. They would be able to do this accurately, even over the North Sea. The drop tanks would provide the German fighters with the loiter time needed to assemble and get into an intercept course.

Once this battle is underway, it would be time to deploy the heavy fighters. These would be the Bf 110s and Me 410s that couldn't survive in the face of Allied single seaters. It would also include the rocket firing Bf 109s and Fw 190s, and the single seaters with the heavy cannon (pre-figuring the Sturmgruppen, here). This force would be placed so as to attack the main force after the Penetration Support has turned back. All of the techno-wizardry above would apply in this case, too.

My contention is that by removing the Target Support fighters from the equation early on, the heavy fighters would be free to attack the bombers unmolested by escorts. If we think about that in terms of the first half of 1944, the story may have been different. I was wrong to say ˜at the coast' in my first post, and think that muddied the water subsequently. What I'm really getting at is the possibility that they might have taken the long range escorts out of the equation.

Cheers,
Ratsack

HerrGraf
11-26-2007, 09:20 PM
For every move there is a counter-move. For each of the moves you have stated, the allies would come up with a counter-move.
The problem is that the Luftwaffe was headed by Goring and also had Hitler interfering with its daily activities. Because of said leadership at the top, it would not respond fast enough to changing conditions. What did happen shows that while lower level leadership was quick on the uptake, higher level would over rule.

Fenice_1965
11-27-2007, 05:02 AM
Just yesterday I read that fighter squadrons pilots from RSI in Italy were used to intercept fighters directed to Germany and force them to drop the tanks, leaving the bombers unescorted. Here is the link http://www.italia-rsi.org/farsianr/gorrini.htm(
unfortunately in italian is a report form L. Gorrini an italian ace wo served in RSI flying Macchi C205 against Lightinings)

JtD
11-30-2007, 11:41 AM
Horseback, I've spend some time thinking and reading and your points are probably more valid than I initially thought. I still don not agree with you, but the effect of attacks against the escort would likely have had a more significant impact then I expected.

I still do not think that the concept of an escort fighter could have been defeated, I still think that the US would have put more emphasize on escort fighters had the Luftwaffe actively gone for them, but I tend to agree that the whole escort thing could have been delayed. I can't know by how much, and I can't say if it had made any difference.

Anyway, thanks for making me think about it.

Xiolablu3
11-30-2007, 12:15 PM
Even if the LW had stopped the USAAF daylight bombers, they would simply have switched over to night attacks.


Mosquitos could hit the pinpoint targets (they were better at this than the B17's and B24's anyway acheiving far more bombs on target, even with their smaller bomb load) while the RAF and USAAF pulverised whole cities at night.

It really wouldnt have made that much difference except the Luftwaffe would have remained a dangerous force for longer into the war.

The USAAF daylight offensive helped to destroy the Luftwaffe in the West. The bombing destruction Germany suffered, would likely have been just as bad if they had switched to night bombing.

EVen in daylight, the USAAF bombers were area bombing more often than not - I saw US bomber pilots telling how it was :-

Over half the time in Europe the targets were obscured by rain/smoke/cloud/bad visibilty, so they just dropped their bombs area style through the obstruction. Even if they were trying to hit a factory in a city, the whole area would suffer heavy damage, not just the factory. Seldom do you ever have a day without clouds in North West Europe.