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The current time is: 5/25/2019 8:01:56 PM
 (1939-1945) WWII Battles
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 5:05:53 AM
This new offensive saw fighter squadrons embarking on a variety of routine operations, each given a codename. The simplest was known as a 'Rhubarb', in which small numbers of aircraft – usually just a pair – flew at low-level into France or Belgium to shoot up targets of opportunity on the ground. Rhubarbs were normally flown in bad weather so as to avoid enemy fighters, but this alone made them hazardous. Anti-aircraft fire was another danger and the losses suffered far outweighed the damage caused to the enemy.

Large scale fighter sweeps, known as 'Rodeos', were flown over enemy territory in fine weather at high altitude in the hope of enticing the Luftwaffe into action. But as the RAF had found in 1940, enemy fighters on their own posed a negligible threat and could be safely ignored. Something was needed to persuade the enemy to come up and fight. The result was the 'Circus' – an operation involving several squadrons of fighters covering a small raiding force of bombers acting as bait.

In all these operations range was the limiting factor. The RAF fighters could only penetrate about 60 miles in from the enemy coast at its closest point, and had two Channel crossings to contend with. The Luftwaffe had warning of RAF incursions from its own radar and could pick and choose when and where to intercept. The Germans became adept at 'bouncing' RAF fighters from above. And being over enemy territory, any RAF pilots who survived being shot down were usually captured.

Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 put pressure on the RAF to step up its attacks and tie down as many Luftwaffe fighters as possible in France. Operations became larger and more sophisticated. The so-called 'summer offensive' saw about 90 major sweeps, mostly between Rouen and Lille, alongside Rhubarbs and attacks against coastal shipping (known as 'Roadsteads'). The results were disappointing, and costly. Some 300 RAF pilots were lost.

The famous British ace Douglas Bader, who had lost both his legs in a pre-war flying accident, was one of those shot down and captured. Nor did the attacks prevent the Luftwaffe from moving most of its force eastwards. Only two German fighter units with about 200 aircraft remained in France, and these proved more than enough to counter the attack.

Regards

Jims
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5018

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 7:30:27 AM
Hi Jim,

What fascinating code words for offensive fighter attack operations! Rhubarb, Rodeos, & Circus, the names say it all! How exciting it had to be, & scary to for RAF Fighter Pilots in their Spitfires, & Hurricanes going in low level over the Channel to attack the Luftwaffe!? Probably make for a good TV show, like in the US we had Black Sheep Squadron?

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Beware of the Hun in the Sun!

Regards,
MD

BTW losses were high, & the Germans attacked from above! Did the RAF counter this with tactics or formations?
But I'm sure the RAF Fighter Pilots would say, "Let's have at them, Chaps! Interesting post Jim!

Also here is the opening to Black Sheep Squadron, I loved that show! anyone else watch it??

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---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 9286

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 7:39:51 AM
Again, let me remind all that while under RAF operational control, the Commonwealth Dominions did commit national squadrons to the fight.

A RCAF fighter squadron had been despatched at about the same time as the CDN 1st Division was sent to GB. Their role was army support using ancient Lysanders. Because of their role, they watched the Battle of Britain in frustration but they would have been wiped out in Lysanders.

RCAF #1 squadron did take part in the Battle of Britain.

The British had to be convinced that the desire for Commonwealth countries to maintain national integrity was strong. Despite staff and equipment shortages, the Commonwealth nations did manage to maintain squadrons that were mostly commanded by people from their country and the pilots were in the majority as well.

I don't know about the Aussies and Kiwis but the Canadian government was insistent that these national units must exist. It was a negotiation process that continued throughout the war as the Canadians lobbied to have their nationals serving in RAF squadrons transferred to Canadian squadrons.

So the British, much as they had allowed in Bomber Command, designated the squadron numbers in the "400's" to Commonwealth squadrons. RCAF had numbers 400 to 449 reserved for them. The other Commonwealth countries were assigned numbers 450-499.

I realize that my displays of "nationalism" may wear thin at times but Jim's article is so typical of those general overviews that fail to acknowledge that the Commonwealth countries and their Fighter squadrons were there.
So when you read that RAF Fighter Command went on this operation or that operation, please remember that Dominion squadrons would be involved as well.

I acknowledge that there were many more RAF squadrons than RCAF or RAAF or RNZAF but I intend to remind when I think that it is necessary.

As well, the RAF itself both BC and FC had many Commonwealth pilots and ground crew in it when the war started. The RAF would allow a number of prospective pilots to train with them and to fly with them. Many Canadians who wanted to fly even when the war started made their own way to GB to enlist in the RAF as the RCAF was just beginning to grow.


Quote:
At the outbreak of war some 375 New Zealanders and 450 Australians were in RAF uniform.



Lastly, during the offensive operations over France, one of the worst days for Fighter command was during the Battle of Dieppe on Aug. 19, 1942. The men being slaughtered on the ground were critical of the air force and wondering where they were.

They were there and worked to protect the shipping that would take the men off the beach and they engaged the Luftwaffe and paid a hefty price for their work.


Quote:
On August 19th, 1942, the RAF was called upon to provide air support to the most important offensive of the year, Operation Jubilee, the Allied raid on Dieppe. Fighter Command provided 48 Spitfire squadrons (including several RCAF squadrons: Nos 401, 402, 403, 411, 412 and 416), eight Hurricane squadrons, and three Hawker Typhoon squadrons. Army Co-operation Command contributed four Mustang squadrons (including the RCAF’s Nos 400 and 414) and two squadrons of Blenheim light bombers. Bomber Command, for its part, supplied three light bomber squadrons. The order of battle was completed by a few Boston fighter-bombers, among which two from the RCAF’s No 600 Squadron, and by two USAAF B-17 heavy bomber squadrons.


Fighter Command and a few Bomber Command planes lost 106 aircraft on that day.

Offensive operations could be costly in Fighter Command over enemy held territory.






anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 7854
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 8:09:53 AM

Quote:
Offensive operations could be costly in Fighter Command over enemy held territory.


Hi George--I me did not think it necessary to point out that RAF Fighter Command was made up by squadrons from all over the globe.However be that as it may;despite the forays over France being laid down as strategic policy it seemed to me to be fatuous-attacking enemy aircraft bases in the open where we invariably lost more aircraft and crews than the Luftwaffe.I am of the opinion that the pilots were heartily sick of these forays.It is thought that Douglas Bader -a not particularly liked leader was was "taken out" by his wingman

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5018

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 8:13:59 AM
Hi George,

No intentional slight on my part to the RCAF, I guess when discussing the airwar from Britain, a lot of us just lump it into RAF command! Early on a substantial amount of pilots were also Americans! Still we just say the RAF with regards to the Battle of Britain!? Just a lazy history way of stating it, sorry? Lot of Kudos go to other Allied Countries!

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No offense meant!
Peace MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 9286

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 8:21:22 AM
Jim, it is not likely that you would think to include the Dominion squadrons and the articles that you choose to post would not consider it either. So I take it upon myself to do it to ensure that our people are not forgotten and lost in the massive organizations of Fighter Command or Bomber Command.

It is quite likely that you would have to actively seek a source that dealt specifically with "Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders in RAF Fighter Command", to get any reference to it. I think that it is important, if you will forgive me.

To your point however, are you suggesting that the RAF should have just stayed home during that period before Fighter Command split into 2nd Tactical and The Other One with the long name. (home defence)?

Coastal Command was another important unit that engaged in offensive action against u-boats.

So what was the stated purpose of the types of missions in which Fighter Command engaged, over France? You listed several different types of offensive measures but there must have been an overall plan.

BTW, were the pilots who took recce photographs also part of Fighter Command or were they a separate, dedicated unit?

Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 7854
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 4/25/2019 9:12:43 AM
Crikey George-I just did not think it necessary-hence my my maladroit answer to you because I think that I know you--no hard feelings I trust.Have had a look at at 1940OOB only Polish and CZech squadrons listed-I cannot as yet find when CMommonwealth Squdrobs were created.

To your question of alternative action --Instead of tussling with the Abbeville Boys continually as some sort of game--why not a fighter led night bombing raid on the aerodrome now and again; or strafe communication points and radar stations.

Re aerial photography this surely was carried out by RAF PR Units. The overall strategic,such as it was -was to prove to the Russians that we were carrying the war o the enemy .

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 435

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 5/1/2019 1:14:55 PM

Quote:
Crikey George-I just did not think it necessary-hence my my maladroit answer to you because I think that I know you--no hard feelings I trust.Have had a look at at 1940OOB only Polish and CZech squadrons listed-I cannot as yet find when CMommonwealth Squdrobs were created.

To your question of alternative action --Instead of tussling with the Abbeville Boys continually as some sort of game--why not a fighter led night bombing raid on the aerodrome now and again; or strafe communication points and radar stations.

Re aerial photography this surely was carried out by RAF PR Units. The overall strategic,such as it was -was to prove to the Russians that we were carrying the war o the enemy .

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

Low-level aerial photography was also undertaken by aircraft of Army Co-operation Command. Initially they used Curtiss Tomahawks (P-40), first armed rece undertaken by No. 239 Sqn. on 19 September 1941. Later the North American Mustang I was introduced, first operating over France on 5 may 1942, by No. 26 Sqn.

Hurri-bombers were introduced by No. 11 Group Fighter Command by October 1941, they were against shipping as well as ground targets. Indeed there was much overlap of targets by the different commands, Bomber, Coastal and Fighter Command units all made attacks against shipping both at sea and in harbour. Fighter Command and No. 2 Group Bomber Command made attacks against airfields, marshalling yards, power stations etc. Night intruder missions were undertaken by Blenheims, Havocs and Hurricanes during the period in question. They were not just "tussling with the Abbeville Boys", there were a whole series of operations going on. When the USAAF arrived it was Fighter Command that escorted their early missions over France. The same type of missions were undertaken by 2 TAF when it was formed up to D-Day, mainly by the same squadrons that had been part of these operations as Fighter, Army Co-operation and 2 Group Bomber Command formations.
During the period in question there were continuing German day light hit and run raids and night bombing attacks so it was not a one way street. During the run up to D-Day the units also had to deal with V-1 sites. Increasingly the Allied air arms had to deal with increasing amounts of Flak and rather less in the way of German fighters. Many of these missions would have to be undertaken if you were going to undertake an invasion of German occupied Europe, I am not sure a low casualty option was available.

Mike

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 7854
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 5/1/2019 1:29:19 PM
As usual Mike I am much indebted to you for the tremendous range of military knowledge and have taken on board the great amount of fact.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

richto90

top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 491

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 5/1/2019 4:51:31 PM
Low-level aerial photography was also undertaken by aircraft of Army Co-operation Command. Initially they used Curtiss Tomahawks (P-40), first armed rece undertaken by No. 239 Sqn. on 19 September 1941. Later the North American Mustang I was introduced, first operating over France on 5 may 1942, by No. 26 Sqn.

And also later by 170 Squadron formed 15 June 1942 and operational over the Continent on 4 January 1943, including a 22-year old Flying Officer (later Flight Lieutenant and then Acting Squadron Leader) Peter Roland Cope, my lady's late stepfather. He finagled three tours with No. 170 Squadron, first flying the Mustang I and then the Mustang IA, before the powers that be caught up with him and assigned him to pilot training until the end of the war with various OTU, where he qualified as a Pilot Attack Instructor...Peter loved to blow things up on a mission whenever he could.

Peter's career was pretty interesting. He graduated from Croydon College with a degree in science and applied mathematics and signed up with the RAF on the outbreak of war. He was sent to North America for pilot training, but not to the Empire pilot training program in Canada, which was over-stretched at the time. Instead, he attended the USAAC Pilot Training Program, graduating on 16 May 1942, and proudly wore USAAC Pilot's Wings on his RAF uniform until the end of his career.

After the war he attended No. 5 Course at the Empire Test Pilots' School in 1946/1947 and his first job afterwards was with Armstrong-Whitworth testing the Meteor. In May 1951, A.V. Roe convinced him to emigrate to Canada and work for AVRO. He flew all the AVRO jets of the era, including the CF-100, AVRO Avrocar, and was the last surviving pilot of the Arrow upon his death in 2005.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 9286

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 5/1/2019 5:20:22 PM

Quote:
“it was a phenomenal performing aircraft; our performance boys thought we might get Mach 1.6 out of it yet we flew it to nearly Mach 2. With the Iroquois engine we were talking about a 2.3 or 2.4 Mach number potential. There wasn’t a single plane flying at the time that could come anywhere near to touching that aeroplane. Boy, the day I saw them take the torches to those planes was the nearest I’ve come to shedding a tear over an aeroplane.”
. Peter Roland Cope

With the cancellation, he went to work for Boeing.

There is a short bio on Mr. Cope on this site. One of only four to fly the Arrow.

[Read More]

George

richto90

top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 491

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 5/1/2019 6:33:59 PM

Quote:
There is a short bio on Mr. Cope on this site. One of only four to fly the Arrow.


Yep, he loved the Arrow, followed closely by the Mustang. However, his "most exciting flight" was probably in the CF-100 while testing the proposed 30mm Aden cannon installation. While firing, propellant gasses built up inside one of the gun fairings and blew it off, causing fragment ingestion in one engine and various other damage to the aircraft. Peter's comment though was that his biggest problem was in keeping his rear seat man from ejecting in a panic. Once he calmed him down Peter found that the aircraft remained flyable and he was able to RTB, which kept his record of never having to abandon an aircraft in flight intact...something he was quite happy with, since as he told me, he had no faith in parachutes that might have been packed by any Tom, Dick, or Harry fitter in any which way fashion they desired.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5018

Re: RAF Fighter Command Offensve 1941--43
Posted on: 5/3/2019 7:30:19 PM
Gentlemen,

I give you the RAF Fighter Command!?

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Here, here!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

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