Discussion:
Extensive helicopter use in WWII
(too old to reply)
r***@go.com
2004-12-23 15:26:32 UTC
Permalink
Helicopters seemed to have had widespread use
during the Vietnam War era up to the present
day, and so they have tended to get a bad name
as far as military phenomenon are concerned, as
a result.

Let us put forth the idea that during WWII, most
militaries throughout the world had at least one
helicopter for every ten fighters, and that some
might have had as high a number as one to five or
one to four.

Two major questions:

Making no PODs up to and including the Wright
Brothers, what PODs would be needed from then on,
up until the beginning of WWII, to make this ATL
possible?

Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
robert j. kolker
2004-12-23 15:34:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
During the Normandy Invasion, vertical insertion of forces which used
gliders, might have been done with choppers. That is a maybe. Tne noise
factor might nullify that.

Bob Kolker
Michael Emrys
2004-12-23 16:26:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by robert j. kolker
Post by r***@go.com
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
During the Normandy Invasion, vertical insertion of forces which used
gliders, might have been done with choppers. That is a maybe. Tne noise
factor might nullify that.
The problem with that is explaining how helicopters with sufficient
load-carrying ability to be useful in that role come to be built, and built
economically enough to be competitive with gliders.

Barring that, I see helicopters being used for reconnaisance, artillery
observation, evacuating wounded, transporting commanders & staff, and other
light transport duties.

Michael
robert j. kolker
2004-12-23 17:01:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Emrys
Barring that, I see helicopters being used for reconnaisance, artillery
observation, evacuating wounded, transporting commanders & staff, and other
light transport duties.
Play the M*A*S*H* theme here.

Bob Kolker
Michael Emrys
2004-12-23 22:22:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by robert j. kolker
Post by Michael Emrys
Barring that, I see helicopters being used for reconnaisance, artillery
observation, evacuating wounded, transporting commanders & staff, and other
light transport duties.
Play the M*A*S*H* theme here.
:-)

Interestingly, I was envisioning an early appearance of the Bell
"Whirleybird" to make a practical WW II helo. Unless you go to a
multi-engine bird, it's hard for me to conceive of anything with much more
load carrying capacity. How much could aero engine production have been
increased to allow production of helos in addition to everything else on
order?

Michael
Ed Stasiak
2004-12-24 21:29:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Emrys
Post by robert j. kolker
During the Normandy Invasion, vertical insertion of forces which used
gliders, might have been done with choppers. That is a maybe. Tne noise
factor might nullify that.
The problem with that is explaining how helicopters with sufficient
load-carrying ability to be useful in that role come to be built, and built
economically enough to be competitive with gliders.
I would think the tech was available at the time for the U.S. to build
something like the Piasecki H-21A "Shawnee";

3 man crew - 20 troops
1,425 hp Wright R-1820-103 engine
max speed of 131 mph
cruising speed of 90 mph
range 350 miles

Not necessarily as a replacement for the glider but it would have had
a major effect on the war had something like it come into service early
enough.
Michael Emrys
2004-12-25 02:03:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed Stasiak
range 350 miles
Is that *range* or *combat radius*? I.e., fly out that far, land, take off,
fly back.

Michael
Ed Stasiak
2004-12-25 17:55:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Emrys
Post by Ed Stasiak
range 350 miles
Is that *range* or *combat radius*? I.e., fly out that
far, land, take off, fly back.
Dunno, thou I suspect it's radius but even with a 150-175
mile radius it's still going to have a major effect on the war.

With a 20 troop capacity, 25 H-21's would be enough to
lift an entire WWII Ranger battalion and their gear.
mike
2004-12-25 23:38:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed Stasiak
Post by Michael Emrys
Is that *range* or *combat radius*? I.e., fly out that
far, land, take off, fly back.
Dunno, thou I suspect it's radius but even with a 150-175
mile radius it's still going to have a major effect on the war.
With a 20 troop capacity, 25 H-21's would be enough to
lift an entire WWII Ranger battalion and their gear.
From SEAsia, I recall a combat radius of around 250 miles
well under the 90mph listed for cruise.

In cruise, that radial used about 70 gallons per hour, so if you
wanted to cut into your load, you could carry more gas.
In the thin, hot air of the Central Highlands, the payload
and speeds was reduced further than say, use in W. Germany.

The H21 had about 3 tons payload to play around with for everything.
About like a heavy truck, or Horsa Glider.

The biggest problem with these is that they are slow, no armor
and _very_ noisy- hear coming from miles away, and easy to see in
the air, a huge target flying at low levels.

Unlike the Glider, the H21 is reusable, but harder to fly

The downside is that even the US had not unlimited sources
of radial engines. One reason for the M6 Heavy tank being spiked
was a choice to divert radial production, as its the same class
used in B-17s and C-47s, and thousands of pounds of aluminum
and steel for each craft, besides. Techwise, I don't
know of anything in the H21 that couldn't have been done
sooner, had Piasecki gotten a vision for doing the rotorheads
and controls a decade sooner.

Sure, you can fly Rangers or Red Devils into a place, but you got
to be able to supply and/or rescue them afterwards.

Using choppers at Arnhem, that still would probably
be a Bridge too Far- 14.5mm MGs in Vietnam were bad,
Luftwaffe and SS Quad 20mm AAA is worse.

Airmobile just lets you stick your head deeper in the noose.
You need near absolute control of the air, and having the other
guy be light on AAA equipment helps.

**
mike
**
Ed Stasiak
2004-12-29 00:35:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed Stasiak
Post by Ed Stasiak
Dunno, thou I suspect it's radius but even with a 150-175
mile radius it's still going to have a major effect on the war.
With a 20 troop capacity, 25 H-21's would be enough to
lift an entire WWII Ranger battalion and their gear.
From SEAsia, I recall a combat radius of around 250 miles
well under the 90mph listed for cruise.
I'm going by various websites, none of which exactly agree with
each other.
Post by Ed Stasiak
The biggest problem with these is that they are slow, no armor
and _very_ noisy- hear coming from miles away, and easy to
see in the air, a huge target flying at low levels.
IMO a WWII helio assault wouldn't be that much different then
a para drop or amphibious assault, all used slow and unarmored
vehicles to one degree or another that were subjected to enemy
fire and each had it's advantages and disadvantages.

I don't see helios replacing gliders or paras (we still have paras
today after all) or the U.S. forming airmobile divisions but instead
using them as a kinda airborne Higgins boat, to put Ranger type
units behind the enemies lines to support the main thrust.

So it wouldn't be a case of helios replacing paras for the Normandy
invasion but airmobile Rangers/Commandos being used to quickly
seize high value targets to support and expand the breakout from the
Normandy beach head.
Post by Ed Stasiak
The downside is that even the US had not unlimited sources
of radial engines.
Nothing is free of course.
Post by Ed Stasiak
Sure, you can fly Rangers or Red Devils into a place, but you got
to be able to supply and/or rescue them afterwards.
Use the gliders once the LZ is secured.
Post by Ed Stasiak
Using choppers at Arnhem, that still would probably
be a Bridge too Far- 14.5mm MGs in Vietnam were bad,
Luftwaffe and SS Quad 20mm AAA is worse.
Like Normandy, using heilos to take Arnhem is a bad idea but using
heilos to outflank the Germans and force them to pull troops and
recourses away from the paras at Arnhem and away from the route
XXX Corp needs to take to relieve them is a good idea.
Post by Ed Stasiak
Airmobile just lets you stick your head deeper in the noose.
You need near absolute control of the air, and having the other
guy be light on AAA equipment helps.
Which also applies to a conventional airborne operation.
Nicholas Smid
2004-12-27 12:11:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed Stasiak
Post by Michael Emrys
Post by Ed Stasiak
range 350 miles
Is that *range* or *combat radius*? I.e., fly out that
far, land, take off, fly back.
Dunno, thou I suspect it's radius but even with a 150-175
mile radius it's still going to have a major effect on the war.
With a 20 troop capacity, 25 H-21's would be enough to
lift an entire WWII Ranger battalion and their gear.
Its range, probably flown by a test pilot in a factory tuned job on a closed
circet where he could fly till the engin spluttered, normal combat radius
would be something like 1/3 of that so you can drop your 20 troops 100 miles
from base and get home with safe reserves, just don't fly over anything more
dangerous than private Fritz with his bolt action carbine, and MG42 will eat
them for lunch, a quad 20 mm, well you don't want to think what one of them
will do to your mission package. But something like the Bell 47 could have
been built, would have been quite useful for local obsivation and casualty
evac. Something like an S-55 might be more practical for WWII, smaller
engine, though it would still compeat on a very crowded field, useful for
small troop lifts and cargo runs but not something you'd want to fly any
place near real air defences.
n***@hotmail.com
2004-12-27 10:45:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by robert j. kolker
Post by r***@go.com
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
During the Normandy Invasion, vertical insertion of forces which used
gliders, might have been done with choppers. That is a maybe. Tne noise
factor might nullify that.
Also gliders were much cheaper to produce for the carrying capacity for
one-off operations such as Overlord.

Instead of helicopters, is there any way to get greater use of
autogiros in WWII ? The RAF had some in the 1930's but didn't seem to
do much with them. They had similar advantages to a helicopter (short
take-off and landing rather than vertical), but required a somewhat
lower technology.

Cheers,
Nigel.
T***@quarry.nildram.co.uk
2004-12-27 13:58:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by n***@hotmail.com
Instead of helicopters, is there any way to get greater use of
autogiros in WWII ? The RAF had some in the 1930's but didn't seem to
do much with them. They had similar advantages to a helicopter (short
take-off and landing rather than vertical), but required a somewhat
lower technology.
See my post at the end of this thread...

Tony Williams
Military gun and ammunition website: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk
Discussion forum at: http://forums.delphiforums.com/autogun/messages/
robert j. kolker
2004-12-23 15:36:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
On the Eastern front pilots using slow flying biplanes did hit and run
on the Germans. They cut their engines, snuck in, fired away and got
out. The pilots, many of whom were women, were refrred to as "the Night
Witches". Perhaps choppers could be used to do hit and run operations.
In any case it would have kept the Germans up late in places where they
otherwise might have thought themselve safe.

Bob Kolker
a***@hotmail.com
2004-12-23 16:30:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by robert j. kolker
Post by r***@go.com
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
On the Eastern front pilots using slow flying biplanes did hit and run
on the Germans. They cut their engines, snuck in, fired away and got
out.
Which, as I understand, is an impossible trick with a helicopter.
Post by robert j. kolker
The pilots, many of whom were women, were refrred to as "the Night
Witches". Perhaps choppers could be used to do hit and run
operations.

With their low speed and high noise level?
Post by robert j. kolker
In any case it would have kept the Germans up late in places where they
otherwise might have thought themselve safe.
The obvious advantage of the helicopters in the Eastern Front framework
is that they could take off practically any ground (this was one of the
advantages of the planes you referenced but they needed at least some
kind of runway). Ability of a very precise bombing from a low height
would be another tactical advantage (ditto for these planes). Ability
to deliver supplies to the points unaccessible by plane.
Ability to support the ground operations in a broad daylight is an
interesting question. Either they have to have a considerable firepower
AND some meaningful protective armor or their losses would be
prohibitively high: with the existing power of a ground fire and their
low speed, they should be too vulnerable.
r***@go.com
2004-12-23 16:38:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
...
Making no PODs up to and including the Wright
Brothers, what PODs would be needed from then on,
up until the beginning of WWII, to make this ATL
possible?
Further questions on the question.

Is an internal jet engine, as opposed to an
internal combustion or a rotary engine, truly
a must for a good reliable helicopter where
you are not going to have critical limitations
in its useability? A stalled helicopter may
admittably not glide very easily and there
might be intrinsic weight amd range limitations.

Advantages to helicopters seem to rest with
the ability to go from gound to air to ground
easily with very little needed in the way of
a landing strip. They can also hover in zones
less easily seen by radar during time periods
when radar is present.

They are slower than fighters or bombers and
would probably be more expensive to build in
their primitive state. They would probably
be able to hover or duck into places for
escape a lot more easily than fighters would
but their lack of speed might be a severe
disadvantage if they could not find cover.

Harrier jump jets without jets might be
somewhat of a stretch. How about a bomber
with four long wings and four or more
large rotatable propellers that can be
rotated from horizontal to vertical and
back again, that can hover under light
loads, with gun turrets underneath and
the ability to hover with troops without
equipment and go at least moderately
decent speeds when the propellor is
horizontal?

Could any sorts of POD pre-WWI helicopter
like developments have made any of this
even remotely feasible by the time of this
ATL WWII?
Post by r***@go.com
...
robert j. kolker
2004-12-23 17:03:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Could any sorts of POD pre-WWI helicopter
like developments have made any of this
even remotely feasible by the time of this
ATL WWII?
Jet engines were invented as early as 1910 (Ludwig Wittgenstein (yes!
That Wittgenstein!) invented one. If metal sciences were equal to the
task the Battle of Britain might have been fought with jet planes.

Bob Kolker
r***@go.com
2004-12-23 17:38:38 UTC
Permalink
...
...
http://www.flying-bike.fsnet.co.uk/helistuff/heli.html

http://www.enae.umd.edu/AGRC/Aero/history.html
http://www.helis.com/introduction/prin.php
Alfred Montestruc
2004-12-23 19:55:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Post by r***@go.com
...
Making no PODs up to and including the Wright
Brothers, what PODs would be needed from then on,
up until the beginning of WWII, to make this ATL
possible?
Further questions on the question.
Is an internal jet engine, as opposed to an
internal combustion or a rotary engine, truly
a must for a good reliable helicopter where
you are not going to have critical limitations
in its useability?
Factor of 10+ on the reliability and maintnenece requirements of the
engine. IC Otto cycle aircraft engines need to be torn down and
rebuilt after something like 300 hours of operation maximum IIRC. If
you are running your helicopter 12 hours a day in a war, this happens
in less than a month. Gas turbines measure the time between major
maintenence in the thousands to 10,000 hours.
Post by r***@go.com
A stalled helicopter may
admittably not glide very easily and there
might be intrinsic weight amd range limitations.
No kidding.
Post by r***@go.com
Advantages to helicopters seem to rest with
the ability to go from gound to air to ground
easily with very little needed in the way of
a landing strip. They can also hover in zones
less easily seen by radar during time periods
when radar is present.
They are slower than fighters or bombers and
would probably be more expensive to build in
their primitive state. They would probably
be able to hover or duck into places for
escape a lot more easily than fighters would
but their lack of speed might be a severe
disadvantage if they could not find cover.
Harrier jump jets without jets might be
somewhat of a stretch. How about a bomber
with four long wings and four or more
large rotatable propellers that can be
rotated from horizontal to vertical and
back again, that can hover under light
loads, with gun turrets underneath and
the ability to hover with troops without
equipment and go at least moderately
decent speeds when the propellor is
horizontal?
Horribly expensive for the load it can yomp.
Post by r***@go.com
Could any sorts of POD pre-WWI helicopter
like developments have made any of this
even remotely feasible by the time of this
ATL WWII?
Post by r***@go.com
...
pyotr filipivich
2004-12-28 02:35:39 UTC
Permalink
I missed the staff meeting but the minutes show "Alfred Montestruc"
Post by Alfred Montestruc
Post by r***@go.com
Further questions on the question.
Is an internal jet engine, as opposed to an
internal combustion or a rotary engine, truly
a must for a good reliable helicopter where
you are not going to have critical limitations
in its useability?
Factor of 10+ on the reliability and maintnenece requirements of the
engine. IC Otto cycle aircraft engines need to be torn down and
rebuilt after something like 300 hours of operation maximum IIRC. If
you are running your helicopter 12 hours a day in a war, this happens
in less than a month. Gas turbines measure the time between major
maintenence in the thousands to 10,000 hours.
That's 10k hours now, with "modern" materials technology.

What was the mean time to failure for jet engines in the 1940s &
fifties?
--
pyotr filipivich
"With Age comes Wisdom. Although more often, Age travels alone."
mike
2004-12-28 04:01:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by pyotr filipivich
That's 10k hours now, with "modern" materials technology.
What was the mean time to failure for jet engines in the 1940s &
fifties?
Some, like the early GE J-47 had a TBO worse than some of the recips
of the same timeframe

Even with that, the overall weight per lb of thrust was far less,
with less vibration to boot.

Low vibration means much weight savings elsewhere, esp with
turboprop and shaft applications: gears don't need to be as beefy,
turbines not having power impulses like piston engines

**
mike
**
mike
2004-12-23 16:46:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Helicopters seemed to have had widespread use
during the Vietnam War era up to the present
day, and so they have tended to get a bad name
as far as military phenomenon are concerned, as
a result.
No worse than an armored car or truck. then add in the dangers
of flying.
Post by r***@go.com
Making no PODs up to and including the Wright
Brothers, what PODs would be needed from then on,
up until the beginning of WWII, to make this ATL
possible?
a lot of effort by GE and other to skip turbocharging
and go straight to turboprops, and thier close kin, turboshafts,
to get a usefull powerplant for choppers. I cant see this happening
without ASB help.

Well, you could use Hiller tipjets or Fairey Rotordyne system, but
then everybody would be deaf in this world.

Piston engines just too heavy for thier horsepower, vibrate
too much, too expensive, so on, so forth.

The best of the early radial powered craft, the Piasecki
'Flying Bananas' did not have much for load carrying capacity

Most of the others were similar to what a jeep could do,
fraction of a ton payload.
Post by r***@go.com
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought? What differences if any would the helicopter
have produced in an ATL WWII where they were present?
Only the US would have had the resources to do this- I can't
see any other nation possibly being able to produce enough to use
choppers on such a wide scale by WWII, without cutting into
aircraft production.

Korean War Choppers in WWII would be limited, scouting,
recovering pilots- rescue, that kind of thing.

**
mike
**
Ed Stasiak
2004-12-24 21:35:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by mike
The best of the early radial powered craft, the Piasecki
'Flying Bananas' did not have much for load carrying capacity
Carrying 20 troops out to 350 miles ain't nothing to sneeze at.

I would guess that gliders would still be used but adding something
like the H-21 to the picture changes a lot of things, by passing
Monte Cassino for instance.
The Horny Goat
2004-12-25 02:10:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by mike
Korean War Choppers in WWII would be limited, scouting,
recovering pilots- rescue, that kind of thing.
If anyone cares the Avalon Hill General once published some Panzer
Blitz scenarios involving helicopters in hypothetical Eastern Front
1941-42 situations. The usual situations - seizing bridgeheads,
inserting troops - essentially the sort of thing the USA and USMC took
for granted in Vietnam.
Rich Rostrom
2004-12-23 19:05:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Let us put forth the idea that during WWII, most
militaries throughout the world had at least one
helicopter for every ten fighters,
"fighters" = "fighter aircraft"?
Post by r***@go.com
...and that some
might have had as high a number as one to five or
one to four.
...
Would this have resulted in any differences in both
strategy and tactics with regard to how WWII was
fought?
Vast differences. Helicopters provide "airmobile"
operations. Heliborne troops can cross the front
at will and land, fully organized, in the enemy rear.

They can also withdraw, unlike paratroops whose
entry is a one way trip.

Thus the possibility of _major_ raids in the rear
becomes very real.

Airmobiles can also ignore many kinds of terrain
barriers, and land in places where a paradrop
would be impossible - the top of a mountain,
for instance (there just needs to be a flat area
large enough for a helo or three to set down).

Crossing a river, swamp, lake, or narrow sea
becomes easy. Fixed defenses, like the Maginot or
Mannerheim Lines become much less effective.

Airmobiles have now largely displaced over-the-beach
amphibious attack. They allow 'amphibious' attacks
to be made almost anywhere, not just where there are
good beaches and calm water. Is the seafront a sheer
cliff 20 meters high? No problem - just land on top.
A kilometer deep tidal beach/mud front? Just fly
across. Rocks and reefs? Same thing.

Command of the air is required, of course, except
for raids.

Effects on WW II: it seems to me that it would be
much more difficult for Finland to hold out against
Soviet numbers when the Soviets could also make
airmobile strikes into the rear areas behind the
Mannerheim Line or against the coast.

More new technology would only increase the German
advantage over France, i.e. the French would fail
to understand and use helos as they did with tanks,
aircraft, and radios.

There would be grave danger to Britain: German
airmobiles could easily cross the Channel. Where
Germany had no amphibious forces in 1940, and tried
to improvise some, the airmobiles would be ready
beforehand. Germany might be able to take advantage
of the 'empty net' of June 1940.

Contrariwise, 'Festung Europa' is that much more
vulnerable later on.

At sea - ASW helos would be deployed fairly early
on - much easier and more effective than 'catafighters'.
Any large ship could carry one or two.

In the Pacific - island hopping would be airmobilized.
Island groups would tend to be treated as a single
large body.
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
mike
2004-12-25 23:56:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
There would be grave danger to Britain: German
airmobiles could easily cross the Channel. Where
Germany had no amphibious forces in 1940, and tried
to improvise some, the airmobiles would be ready
beforehand. Germany might be able to take advantage
of the 'empty net' of June 1940.
As with other Sealoins, diverting Nazi war output to choppers
and then putting Boots on the Ground in England, just shortens
the War. You just cant put enough Jackboots on British soil,
without heavy equipment- and expect anything better than
a Gallipoli,Salonika or Anzio in the end.

The only hope of that operation is a Coup de Main, and hope Brit
Morale plummits before Churchill gives the goahead to use
all that surplus 18 pdr gas shells from the last war on the
Nazi held areas.

The Nazis just didn't have the field radios to pull off an
operation like that.

I'd not want to be Fritz riding the Fw Draches on in,
dodging everything from Lewis Guns on up banging away
at your ass.

**
mike
**
david
2004-12-26 17:36:00 UTC
Permalink
In message
Post by Rich Rostrom
There would be grave danger to Britain: German
airmobiles could easily cross the Channel. Where
Germany had no amphibious forces in 1940, and tried
to improvise some, the airmobiles would be ready
beforehand. Germany might be able to take advantage
of the 'empty net' of June 1940.
Unless we assume resources being waved out of thin air, these airmobiles
will use up resources that were, OTL, being used elsewhere. Since two of
the major bottlenecks on the Germans at this time are aero engines and
pilots. These can only come at the expense of other flying stuff, and
the Luftwaffe is already monstrously overstretched without adding to its
workload.

Unless something truly odd is going on, the Germans still do not have
the ability to get anything other than light infantry across. These
helicopters are not going to be dropping and supplying any artillery or
tanks worth speaking of. Even if we assume that the Germans have
developed airmobile infantry units, and have practised with them such
that they can conduct an operation without major cock-ups (minor
cock-ups are inevitable), and even if we assume that the British don't
actually notice this capability, the numbers are still fairly
problematic.

Let us assume, pulling convenient numbers out of the air, that 1
helicopter can transport 30 infantry supplied for 3 days operations. Let
us also assume that the Germans have 1000 such helicopters that have
been handwaved into existence, using zero resources and with perfect
automatic pilots that can do anything human pilots can do. Let us also
assume that these helicopters never suffer mechanical faults, have
perfect navigation, and achieve perfect surprise on Day 1, such that
they suffer zero losses from any cause whatsoever on the first wave. The
Germans can therefore land 30,000 light infantry somewhere in South East
England. Let us also assume that the RN is busy dealing with the
conventional amphibious operation that coincides with this operation.

The situation is that the Germans have 30,000 troops in place, and 3
days supplies. Unfortunately, they don't have any heavy equipment. They
have no artillery, nor any means of taking out strong points other than
through tactical infantry operations. That's a slow process. Meanwhile,
resupply involves helicopters having to go through the RAF In June, RAF
Fighter Command hadn't undergone significant attrition, and helicopter
versus fighter is not good news for the chopper. Casualties among
subsequent helicopter actions are going to make entertaining reading for
those with that sort of sense of humour. In addition, the heliborne
infantry that has already been delivered are in known locations,
allowing the British to concentrate resources on those known locations.
A June operation means that any German amphibious operation has had
precious little time to gather troop carrying capacity, so that is going
to be on a smaller scale than would be the case come September. That
means that there is much reduced pressure elsewhere on British forces,
and allows the British to concentrate resources on dealing with the
heliborne forces.

Even with modern kit, it is generally recognised that heliborne
operations are only really a runner if one can reliably ensure that
there will be minimal enemy air activity, and that the heliborne
operation is very specific and of short duration - grabbing a key point
prior to being relieved by heavy units, or grabbing a key point prior to
running away again. Without heavy support, all you achieve is an
expensive way of killing Germans.
--
David Flin
The Horny Goat
2004-12-27 07:19:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by david
Even with modern kit, it is generally recognised that heliborne
operations are only really a runner if one can reliably ensure that
there will be minimal enemy air activity, and that the heliborne
operation is very specific and of short duration - grabbing a key point
prior to being relieved by heavy units, or grabbing a key point prior to
running away again. Without heavy support, all you achieve is an
expensive way of killing Germans.
In other words pretty much the kind of air superiority conditions that
OTL Nazis "knew" would be required for a Sealion attempt.

:)
Rich Rostrom
2004-12-27 22:53:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by david
Post by Rich Rostrom
There would be grave danger to Britain: German
airmobiles could easily cross the Channel. Where
Germany had no amphibious forces in 1940, and tried
to improvise some, the airmobiles would be ready
beforehand. Germany might be able to take advantage
of the 'empty net' of June 1940.
Unless we assume resources being waved out of thin air, these airmobiles
will use up resources that were, OTL, being used elsewhere. Since two of
the major bottlenecks on the Germans at this time are aero engines and
pilots. These can only come at the expense of other flying stuff, and
the Luftwaffe is already monstrously overstretched without adding to its
workload.
The assumption of the thread was: WI helicopters
had been developed before WW II and all the major
powers had significant numbers of them.

Yes, helicopters would consume resources that OTL
would be used elsewhere. This would be true for
all other powers that had them. British helicopter
development would cut into RAF bomber and fighter
deployment, for instance - unless one assumes that
Germany and only Germany was resource-limited.

Unless one concludes that helicopters were inferior
to any other use of the related resources, it seems
very likely that all powers would invest in them.

Also bear in mind that airmobile infantry would
largely replace some other resource hungry elements,
such as glider and parachute troops. It's a big
upgrade for anyone who has it.

OTL the Germans were way, way ahead of the rest
of the world in using glider and parachute troops.
ISTM that they would be similarly expert with
airmobiles, and that their capabilities would be
a significant surprise to the Allies.

The significance for the 1940 is this. OTL, the
Germans had no practical way to project organized
force across the Channel. Forgetting for a moment
British opposition, they had three ways for
actually getting across:

1 - Small ships and boats

2 - Parachuting and gliders

3 - The tugboat-and-coal-barge abortion devised for SEELOWE

3 was hopeless, of course. It was not even ready till
September, by which time British defenses had been
effectively reorganized.

2 is hopeless by itself. The Germans need to capture some
kind of port so they can bring in vehicles, heavy equipment,
supplies, and reinforcements. Trying to accomplish this with
a semi-organized crowd of paras and glidermen would be near
impossible. Also, German airborne forces were badly used up
in Holland and so were not available in June.

1 requires taking a port basically by coup de main - which
the Germans did in Norway, but is not practical against an
alerted enemy.

_However_: ISTM that airmobiles, which would be much more
effective than the same weight of paras, probably could
take a port where follow-on forces could land. Difficult,
but barely doable. Most importantly, doable in June when
the British army was most disorganized, disarmed, and
demoralized.

This would be because (ISTM) an airmobile move across the
Channel would not be fundamentally different from any other
airmobile move 30-50 km out. It would not require the same
degree of specific planning as an airborne op or the
improvisation needed for a seaborne op, which the Germaans
had not anticipated. It would be an exercise of a capability
they already have.

Another point: ISTM that Fighter Command's bases in Kent
and Sussex would be vulnerable to heliborne commando raids.
Again, bear in mind the surprise factor: the Germans are
using a new mode of warfare; it would take time for the
British to adapt to it, and in the first round it could
be devastating.

As for follow-up:

Men and supplies could come by helo at night.
Vehicles and heavy equipment must come by water; but the
Germans don't have to control the Channel, they only need
to disrupt British control enough for some fast transports
to sneak through at night. The Channel Fleet would be
pretty beat up at that moment, coming off Dunkirk.

The whole proposition is still odds on, no question.
But it seems a lot less improbable with airmobile
forces (IMO).
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
Phil Edwards
2004-12-27 23:55:41 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 16:53:49 -0600, Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
ISTM that airmobiles, which would be much more
effective than the same weight of paras, probably could
take a port where follow-on forces could land. Difficult,
but barely doable. Most importantly, doable in June when
the British army was most disorganized, disarmed, and
demoralized.
If you can insert enough chaps with guns, quickly enough and with
enough concentration, you can /take/ just about anything. The problem
is securing it, or rather holding it until forces able to secure it
can get there. Nazi helicopters would make smash-and-grab raids
easier, but I'm not sure that they'd enable the Germans to secure
anything significant. A couple of hundred yards of beach were a close
thing in OTL, with massive Allied force concentration and with the
Germans convinced that the main attack would fall elsewhere.

Phil
--
Phil Edwards ***@amroth.zetnet.co.uk
"Is there any way to make John Calvin pope?"
- Steven J. thinks the unthinkable
Paul J. Adam
2004-12-28 12:56:47 UTC
Permalink
In message
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by david
Unless we assume resources being waved out of thin air, these airmobiles
will use up resources that were, OTL, being used elsewhere. Since two of
the major bottlenecks on the Germans at this time are aero engines and
pilots. These can only come at the expense of other flying stuff, and
the Luftwaffe is already monstrously overstretched without adding to its
workload.
The assumption of the thread was: WI helicopters
had been developed before WW II and all the major
powers had significant numbers of them.
Yes, helicopters would consume resources that OTL
would be used elsewhere. This would be true for
all other powers that had them. British helicopter
development would cut into RAF bomber and fighter
deployment, for instance - unless one assumes that
Germany and only Germany was resource-limited.
Only if the UK is adopting them in large numbers. What does the UK use
helicopters for? I can see them replacing floatplanes on ships for
spotting and scouting (and once the war kicks off, replacing Y gun with
a helipad starts looking good for destroyers). Lacking a mission,
though, the helicopter ends up in the same niche as the autogyro.

In Germany, the notion of heliborne assault may take root as a superior
option to gliders and parachutes: but why is the UK acquiring a large
fleet of helicopters to the detriment of, for example, Fighter Command?
Post by Rich Rostrom
Unless one concludes that helicopters were inferior
to any other use of the related resources, it seems
very likely that all powers would invest in them.
Only if there's a mission for them to fill.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Also bear in mind that airmobile infantry would
largely replace some other resource hungry elements,
such as glider and parachute troops.
Helicopters don't exactly replace gliders: you can make gliders out of
wood, while helicopters need aluminium, aero-engines and high-octane
fuel. Higher training and maintenance burdens, too. You do gain a lot
more flexibility, but it's not a simple swap.
Post by Rich Rostrom
OTL the Germans were way, way ahead of the rest
of the world in using glider and parachute troops.
Well, apart from the Soviets...
Post by Rich Rostrom
ISTM that they would be similarly expert with
airmobiles, and that their capabilities would be
a significant surprise to the Allies.
The threat of airborne attack was widespread by the time France fell
(cue cartoon of a golfer snapping at a group of heavily-armed
Fallschirmjagers "Would you kindly stop rustling those parachutes?" as
he lines up a tricky putt)

However, the Germans actually had only five parachute battalions in OTL,
and they were reconstituting and recovering after suffering significant
losses: they'd been committed in Holland, France, Denmark and Norway and
had lost men and equipment (and Student himself had been badly wounded)

The Wehrmacht airborne force was a nominal 25,000, but only 6,000 or so
were trained parachutists (and how many men were actually assigned to
the units, as opposed to the nominal roll, is a good question; as is the
cohesion and equipment of the units after detachments had been sent out
to assorted hotspots).

Going heliborne reduces the demand for parachutes and skilled jumpers,
which was handy since silk was in severely short supply, but means
you've got to provide the helicopters.

The actual inventory of air transport available in OTL was 1,000 Ju-52s
(serviceability under 75%) and only 150 gliders.
Post by Rich Rostrom
_However_: ISTM that airmobiles, which would be much more
effective than the same weight of paras,
Why? You're still sharply limited in what you can lift, still need a
clear LZ, still have to form up and move to the objective.
Post by Rich Rostrom
probably could
take a port where follow-on forces could land. Difficult,
but barely doable. Most importantly, doable in June when
the British army was most disorganized, disarmed, and
demoralized.
Trouble is, so is the Kriegsmarine, and Fighter Command hasn't been
chewed down.

The seaward side of the operation is going to struggle for all the usual
reasons (the Kriegsmarine are badly outnumbered even by the RN
quick-reaction force, let alone the main force which can be in the
Channel within 24 hours.)

The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
Post by Rich Rostrom
This would be because (ISTM) an airmobile move across the
Channel would not be fundamentally different from any other
airmobile move 30-50 km out. It would not require the same
degree of specific planning as an airborne op or the
improvisation needed for a seaborne op, which the Germaans
had not anticipated. It would be an exercise of a capability
they already have.
In isolation, yes. However, protecting the air bridge and getting the
necessary seaward reinforcements and resupply there remains a serious
problem. Having seized the port, you need to bring across enough troops
to defeat the 29 divisions still at home in Britain together with their
supplies and equipment

Otherwise, all you've achieved is to make a nasty mess in (for example)
Folkestone, which ends with the survivors of your elite airborne troops
being marched into captivity: meanwhile the wrecked helicopters are
melted down into Spitfires. Fighter Command licks its wounds and the RAF
and Navy argue fiercely over who saved the day.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Another point: ISTM that Fighter Command's bases in Kent
and Sussex would be vulnerable to heliborne commando raids.
True to an extent, but there are a number of bases and German
intelligence was very poor (especially in the timeframe you're looking
at): as it was they wasted a lot of time, fuel and ordnance on training
and Coastal Command fields.

Remember, they don't have that many air-assault troops, nor helicopters:
and helicopters both show up on radar, and because of the speed
differential are rather hard to escort.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Again, bear in mind the surprise factor: the Germans are
using a new mode of warfare; it would take time for the
British to adapt to it, and in the first round it could
be devastating.
But only if there's a way to follow up the gains thus made.

Trouble is, the "surprise" argument only works if the heliborne assault
really is a new concept: which means it wasn't used in Holland, or
France, or anywhere else previously (so how is Eben Emael being taken?)
and isn't given away by raids on Manston.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Men and supplies could come by helo at night.
This is a difficult evolution even today, with trained crews using night
vision goggles. Falklands experience was that night helicopter
operations were demanding even for NVG-equipped singletons: the notion
of flying a fleet of lightless helicopters across the Channel, seeking a
landing zone in the blackout (of course, it could be lit up to help both
the German pilots and the British artillery spotters...) while
nightfighters flit about, is not comforting if you're depending on them
for reinforcement, resupply and medevac.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Vehicles and heavy equipment must come by water; but the
Germans don't have to control the Channel, they only need
to disrupt British control enough for some fast transports
to sneak through at night.
MI14 did some detailed analysis of the logistics involved, and tried to
err on the side of the Germans. Assuming Folkestone to be captured
intact, without the blockships in place or the quaysides being fouled,
then an optimistic 150 tons per day could be unloaded for the first
week, rising to 600 tons per day after that. (If Dover could also be
taken, then it could manage 800 tons per day after the first week).

This tonnage was insufficient to supply even two British infantry
divisions: even assuming the Germans fought with tighter belts and
shorter rations, MI14 couldn't get their supply requirements down below
300 tons per division per day. (Note that this is to supply a division
that's made it ashore: to ship them in would have to be done over the
same quays and within the same limits)

The bad news was, UK Home Command could call on 29 divisions plus eight
independent brigades. The worse news was that, as well as assuming the
ports to be almost magically falling into German hands, MI14 granted the
enemy control of the seas and assumed the worst case of no RN
intervention.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Channel Fleet would be
pretty beat up at that moment, coming off Dunkirk.
Thirty-six destroyers in four flotillas (the Humber, Harwich, Sheerness
and Dover) on dedicated anti-invasion duty, with the Auxiliary Patrol
having 400 armed trawlers and drifters and 700 other scouting vessels
available. The RN met its destroyer losses off Dunkirk by depleting the
Western Approaches, rather than weakening the defence against invasion:
and the force at Scapa demonstrated its capability to be in the Channel
within 24 hours of notice to steam.

Meanwhile, the Kriegsmarine was in a really sorry shape. Scharnhorst and
Gneisenau were in dock with torpedo damage: only two cruisers were fit
for duty, and the numbers of operational destroyers could be counted
without running out of fingers. Not good odds to try to lift multiple
divisions across the Channel into a contested port.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The whole proposition is still odds on, no question.
But it seems a lot less improbable with airmobile
forces (IMO).
Seizing the port and preventing its Cherbourg-style demolition is made
more likely: but then what?
--
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar I:2

Paul J. Adam MainBox<at>jrwlynch[dot]demon{dot}co(.)uk
Rich Rostrom
2004-12-28 23:40:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
The assumption of the thread was: WI helicopters
had been developed before WW II and all the major
powers had significant numbers of them.
Yes, helicopters would consume resources that OTL
would be used elsewhere. This would be true for
all other powers that had them. British helicopter
development would cut into RAF bomber and fighter
deployment, for instance - unless one assumes that
Germany and only Germany was resource-limited.
Only if the UK is adopting them in large numbers. What does the UK use
helicopters for? ... Lacking a mission,
though, the helicopter ends up in the same niche as the autogyro.
Yes, now that you make this excellent point, it's obvious:
Helicopters are a complete waste of money for any army or
air force, and the thousands of military helos built over
the last sixty years are evidence of the universal idiocy
of military establishments.

Yet somehow I can't help feeling dubious about that. Maybe,
just maybe, the armies of the world all found a lot of
valuable uses for helicopters when they became available
in the postwar era. And maybe, just maybe, they would all
have found valuable uses for helicopters in the 1930s if
helicopters had been available then.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Also bear in mind that airmobile infantry would
largely replace some other resource hungry elements,
such as glider and parachute troops.
Helicopters don't exactly replace gliders...
So how many combat gliders were produced after helos
became available?
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
OTL the Germans were way, way ahead of the rest
of the world in using glider and parachute troops.
Well, apart from the Soviets...
The Soviets were early in forming paratroops, but did
little or nothing with them until late 1941. The Germans
_used_ paratroops to great effect in the 1940 campaigns.

Where did the Soviets _use_ paratroops?
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
ISTM that they would be similarly expert with
airmobiles, and that their capabilities would be
a significant surprise to the Allies.
The threat of airborne attack was widespread by the time France fell
(cue cartoon of a golfer snapping at a group of heavily-armed
Fallschirmjagers "Would you kindly stop rustling those parachutes?" as
he lines up a tricky putt)
But still only vaguely understood.
Post by Paul J. Adam
However, the Germans actually had only five parachute battalions in OTL,
and they were reconstituting and recovering after suffering significant
losses: they'd been committed in Holland, France, Denmark and Norway and
had lost men and equipment (and Student himself had been badly wounded)
All true. In OTL.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Going heliborne reduces the demand for parachutes and skilled jumpers,
which was handy since silk was in severely short supply, but means
you've got to provide the helicopters.
The actual inventory of air transport available in OTL was 1,000 Ju-52s
(serviceability under 75%) and only 150 gliders.
Post by Rich Rostrom
_However_: ISTM that airmobiles, which would be much more
effective than the same weight of paras,
Why? You're still sharply limited in what you can lift, still need a
clear LZ, still have to form up and move to the objective.
You don't think a unit that can step off its helos in formed
squads is more effective than a unit whose men and equipment
is scattered across 8 or 10 hectares?
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
probably could
take a port where follow-on forces could land. Difficult,
but barely doable. Most importantly, doable in June when
the British army was most disorganized, disarmed, and
demoralized.
Trouble is, so is the Kriegsmarine...
See below.
Post by Paul J. Adam
The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
See below. In June the Germans couldn't have real fighter
strength over the Channel (forward bases not ready). So they
fly at night, which neutralizes Fighter Command - though with
other costs.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Another point: ISTM that Fighter Command's bases in Kent
and Sussex would be vulnerable to heliborne commando raids.
True to an extent, but there are a number of bases and German
intelligence was very poor (especially in the timeframe you're looking
at): as it was they wasted a lot of time, fuel and ordnance on training
and Coastal Command fields.
Good point.
Post by Paul J. Adam
and helicopters both show up on radar, and because of the speed
differential are rather hard to escort.
Helos can fly low, avoiding radar, and British radar of 1940
is still fairly primitive. The British are not going to have
clear timely warnings. Also, the Germans would fly at night.
British night interception was crappy till AI radar.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Again, bear in mind the surprise factor: the Germans are
using a new mode of warfare; it would take time for the
British to adapt to it, and in the first round it could
be devastating.
...Trouble is, the "surprise" argument only works if the heliborne assault
really is a new concept: which means it wasn't used in Holland, or
France, or anywhere else previously (so how is Eben Emael being taken?)
and isn't given away by raids on Manston.
_Effective_ adaptive response to a novel form of warfare
rarely happens in a month. There have to be some serious
disasters before base commanders really understand that
(say) doubling the sentries is not an adequate response.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Men and supplies could come by helo at night...
Vehicles and heavy equipment must come by water; but the
Germans don't have to control the Channel, they only need
to disrupt British control enough for some fast transports
to sneak through at night.
MI14 did some detailed analysis of the logistics involved,
and tried to err on the side of the Germans.
<analysis snipped>

They were considering a sustained campaign, which is
probably impossible. I'm thinking in terms of a second
assault 'wave': enough tanks and motor vehicles to provide
a minimal armored punch and some degree of mobility.

For the Germans to win, the result has to be a near-
immediate coup de main into or near London. While this
may seem absurd, once panic and disorder set in, small
forces can sometimes accomplish near-miracles. Rommel's
first attack in Africa, for instance; or the pursuit
after Gazala.

OTOH it's just as likely that the German strike force
would get bogged down and used up fighting a multitude of
little Home Guard and Territorial die-hard groups, while
the Guards Armored Division sets up an unshakeable blocking
position.
Post by Paul J. Adam
The bad news was, UK Home Command could call on 29 divisions
plus eight independent brigades.
I find this number implausible. Britain deployed only about that
many divisions in Germany and Italy in 1945, and that included
Canadian, South African, Indian, and Polish divisions.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Channel Fleet would be
pretty beat up at that moment, coming off Dunkirk...
Meanwhile, the Kriegsmarine was in a really sorry shape.
At this date it's pretty much a write off (which I know), but
even full strength it wasn't enough. But that was true in
Norway, too, but the Germans pulled it off.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
The whole proposition is still odds on, no question.
But it seems a lot less improbable with airmobile
forces (IMO).
Seizing the port and preventing its Cherbourg-style
demolition is made more likely: but then what?
As suggested above: get a panzer kampfgruppe across,
and press with them and the airmobiles. Britain _might_
crumple. OTL, never any chance. With airmobile capability,
barely possible. It gives the Germans a chance of getting
the force into place to strike the blow. That's all.
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
Michael Emrys
2004-12-29 03:54:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul J. Adam
Meanwhile, the Kriegsmarine was in a really sorry shape.
At this date it's pretty much a write off (which I know), but even full
strength it wasn't enough. But that was true in Norway, too, but the Germans
pulled it off.
Against an unmobilized neutral country not expecting to be attacked. That
description would hardly fit the UK in the summer of 1940.

Michael
Paul J. Adam
2004-12-29 11:11:52 UTC
Permalink
In message
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
Only if the UK is adopting them in large numbers. What does the UK use
helicopters for? ... Lacking a mission,
though, the helicopter ends up in the same niche as the autogyro.
Helicopters are a complete waste of money for any army or
air force, and the thousands of military helos built over
the last sixty years are evidence of the universal idiocy
of military establishments.
What does the UK use helicopters for in the 1930s? Or are you just
trying to handwave?

Germany in this TL is considering an aggressive war of expansion against
enemies with fortified borders, where a heliborne force offers similar
or greater advantages to parachute or glider troops: they have a task
for these aircraft to fulfil. But where's the 1930s British purpose for
a large helicopter force?

Things changed, of course, and it's worth remembering that the UK did
the first serious vertical envelopment (combined arms amphibious and
heliborne landing) at Suez in 1956 - but that doesn't directly relate to
the 1930s.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Yet somehow I can't help feeling dubious about that. Maybe,
just maybe, the armies of the world all found a lot of
valuable uses for helicopters when they became available
in the postwar era. And maybe, just maybe, they would all
have found valuable uses for helicopters in the 1930s if
helicopters had been available then.
And maybe, just maybe, if a bull had udders it would be a cow.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
Helicopters don't exactly replace gliders...
So how many combat gliders were produced after helos
became available?
Since the first powered helicopter flew in 1907, the answer might be
"all of them".
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
The threat of airborne attack was widespread by the time France fell
(cue cartoon of a golfer snapping at a group of heavily-armed
Fallschirmjagers "Would you kindly stop rustling those parachutes?" as
he lines up a tricky putt)
But still only vaguely understood.
Post by Paul J. Adam
However, the Germans actually had only five parachute battalions in OTL,
and they were reconstituting and recovering after suffering significant
losses: they'd been committed in Holland, France, Denmark and Norway and
had lost men and equipment (and Student himself had been badly wounded)
All true. In OTL.
And as always, if you want to ramp that up, you have to cut back
elsewhere.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
Why? You're still sharply limited in what you can lift, still need a
clear LZ, still have to form up and move to the objective.
You don't think a unit that can step off its helos in formed
squads is more effective than a unit whose men and equipment
is scattered across 8 or 10 hectares?
This doesn't change the equipment limit (man-portable gear only, limited
supplies) nor the requirement for a LZ that has to be kept clear and
operational, nor the problems of fighting from that LZ to the objective
and then securing the corridor between the two.
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
See below. In June the Germans couldn't have real fighter
strength over the Channel (forward bases not ready). So they
fly at night, which neutralizes Fighter Command - though with
other costs.
Outside a handful of specialists, night navigation was not a great
Luftwaffe strong point at the best of times, even when they were only
trying to drop bombs. I think you underestimate the problems involved in
operating a significant helicopter lift at night: given that even now
it's considered a difficult task, expecting the world's first heliborne
assault to go in at night is a courageous decision. (Bear in mind that
extensive rehearsals risk compromising your surprise factor)
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
and helicopters both show up on radar, and because of the speed
differential are rather hard to escort.
Helos can fly low, avoiding radar, and British radar of 1940
is still fairly primitive.
The Chain Home Low sets
Post by Rich Rostrom
The British are not going to have
clear timely warnings. Also, the Germans would fly at night.
British night interception was crappy till AI radar.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Again, bear in mind the surprise factor: the Germans are
using a new mode of warfare; it would take time for the
British to adapt to it, and in the first round it could
be devastating.
...Trouble is, the "surprise" argument only works if the heliborne assault
really is a new concept: which means it wasn't used in Holland, or
France, or anywhere else previously (so how is Eben Emael being taken?)
and isn't given away by raids on Manston.
_Effective_ adaptive response to a novel form of warfare
rarely happens in a month. There have to be some serious
disasters before base commanders really understand that
(say) doubling the sentries is not an adequate response.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Men and supplies could come by helo at night...
Vehicles and heavy equipment must come by water; but the
Germans don't have to control the Channel, they only need
to disrupt British control enough for some fast transports
to sneak through at night.
MI14 did some detailed analysis of the logistics involved,
and tried to err on the side of the Germans.
<analysis snipped>
They were considering a sustained campaign, which is
probably impossible. I'm thinking in terms of a second
assault 'wave': enough tanks and motor vehicles to provide
a minimal armored punch and some degree of mobility.
For the Germans to win, the result has to be a near-
immediate coup de main into or near London. While this
may seem absurd, once panic and disorder set in, small
forces can sometimes accomplish near-miracles. Rommel's
first attack in Africa, for instance; or the pursuit
after Gazala.
OTOH it's just as likely that the German strike force
would get bogged down and used up fighting a multitude of
little Home Guard and Territorial die-hard groups, while
the Guards Armored Division sets up an unshakeable blocking
position.
Post by Paul J. Adam
The bad news was, UK Home Command could call on 29 divisions
plus eight independent brigades.
I find this number implausible. Britain deployed only about that
many divisions in Germany and Italy in 1945, and that included
Canadian, South African, Indian, and Polish divisions.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Channel Fleet would be
pretty beat up at that moment, coming off Dunkirk...
Meanwhile, the Kriegsmarine was in a really sorry shape.
At this date it's pretty much a write off (which I know), but
even full strength it wasn't enough. But that was true in
Norway, too, but the Germans pulled it off.
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
The whole proposition is still odds on, no question.
But it seems a lot less improbable with airmobile
forces (IMO).
Seizing the port and preventing its Cherbourg-style
demolition is made more likely: but then what?
As suggested above: get a panzer kampfgruppe across,
and press with them and the airmobiles. Britain _might_
crumple. OTL, never any chance. With airmobile capability,
barely possible. It gives the Germans a chance of getting
the force into place to strike the blow. That's all.
--
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar I:2

Paul J. Adam MainBox<at>jrwlynch[dot]demon{dot}co(.)uk
david
2004-12-30 05:31:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by david
In message
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
Only if the UK is adopting them in large numbers. What does the UK use
helicopters for? ... Lacking a mission,
though, the helicopter ends up in the same niche as the autogyro.
Helicopters are a complete waste of money for any army or
air force, and the thousands of military helos built over
the last sixty years are evidence of the universal idiocy
of military establishments.
What does the UK use helicopters for in the 1930s? Or are you just
trying to handwave?
One obvious use would be for the Fleet Air Arm to use them in ASW
operations. Swordfish were used significantly in this role, and
helicopters have advantages over Swordfish in this role.

Another use would be to extend the range of the Navy when it comes to
dropping off Marines on raids. Once the Commando concept has been
developed (which may happen earlier if the helicopter offers insertion
and extraction options), smash-and-run operations become much more
viable.

The Navy could also make use of helicopters as advanced observation
posts for bombardment. The Army has less need, because they usually have
bodies on the ground that can do the same job. If a warship is sailing
in to bombard, it doesn't necessarily want to put bodies on the ground
to observe and direct fire. A helicopter offers that opportunity.

All of this suggests that the main potential customer for helicopters in
the UK would be the RN. If this proves to be the case, I think we can
also see the RAF and the Army arguing strongly that the helicopter is a
waste of money and resources and is both obsolete and untried.
Post by david
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
Why? You're still sharply limited in what you can lift, still need a
clear LZ, still have to form up and move to the objective.
You don't think a unit that can step off its helos in formed
squads is more effective than a unit whose men and equipment
is scattered across 8 or 10 hectares?
While a helicopter landed force will be less scattered than a parachute
deployed force (especially if there is any sort of wind, when the actual
DZ would be considerably more than 8-10 hectares), a heliborne force is
still going to be very vulnerable in the initial phases. A couple of
machine guns active on the LZ will make one hell of a mess of the
assault. The LZ needs to be secure or else the operation is a bust.
Post by david
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
See below. In June the Germans couldn't have real fighter
strength over the Channel (forward bases not ready). So they
fly at night, which neutralizes Fighter Command - though with
other costs.
Outside a handful of specialists, night navigation was not a great
Luftwaffe strong point at the best of times, even when they were only
trying to drop bombs. I think you underestimate the problems involved
in operating a significant helicopter lift at night: given that even
now it's considered a difficult task, expecting the world's first
heliborne assault to go in at night is a courageous decision. (Bear in
mind that extensive rehearsals risk compromising your surprise factor)
The pilot has to fly close to ground level, but not TOO close - and with
lack of identifying marks, it can be difficult to distinguish exactly
where the ground is.

In addition, the navigational requirements being placed on the pilots
are quite severe. They have to find the LZ at night, while flying low,
with little margin for error. If a bomber drops its bombs on the wrong
country, that's not a major problem. If a helicopter pilot misses the LZ
by as little as a quarter of a mile, that's a major problem. Then there
is the additional problem that if the airborne operation is to achieve
anything of strategic importance, it will be operating close to the
South Downs, with the attendant risk of running into the side of a chalk
hill.
Post by david
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
Post by Rich Rostrom
Men and supplies could come by helo at night...
Vehicles and heavy equipment must come by water; but the
Germans don't have to control the Channel, they only need
to disrupt British control enough for some fast transports
to sneak through at night.
The logistics of this is not viable.
Post by david
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
MI14 did some detailed analysis of the logistics involved,
and tried to err on the side of the Germans.
<analysis snipped>
They were considering a sustained campaign, which is
probably impossible. I'm thinking in terms of a second
assault 'wave': enough tanks and motor vehicles to provide
a minimal armored punch and some degree of mobility.
Are these tanks and motor vehicles being carried by helicopter, or are
they coming by sea? If the former, we are effectively in the realms of
fantasy, because if the Germans have enough helicopters capable of
carrying enough tanks to make a difference, then we will not have
proceeded to June 1940 in anything like OTL.

If the latter, then the limiting factor is the ability to get stuff
across the Channel in boats.
Post by david
Post by Rich Rostrom
For the Germans to win, the result has to be a near-
immediate coup de main into or near London. While this
may seem absurd, once panic and disorder set in, small
forces can sometimes accomplish near-miracles. Rommel's
first attack in Africa, for instance; or the pursuit
after Gazala.
OTOH it's just as likely that the German strike force
would get bogged down and used up fighting a multitude of
little Home Guard and Territorial die-hard groups, while
the Guards Armored Division sets up an unshakeable blocking
position.
If we are assuming an airmobile coup-de-main, the problem is that such
forces, by their very nature, have to be lightly equipped, which makes
carrying out a coup de main difficult.
--
David Flin
T***@quarry.nildram.co.uk
2004-12-31 11:04:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by david
One obvious use would be for the Fleet Air Arm to use them in ASW
operations. Swordfish were used significantly in this role, and
helicopters have advantages over Swordfish in this role.
There was an unofficial proposal, published in the British 'Flight'
magazine early in WW2, for an 'autogyro carrier' to accompany convoys
(basically a modified cargo ship with a short flight deck), so that a
watch for U-boats could be kept. Bearning in mind how successful the
MAC ships were later in the war, this seems like a very sensible
proposal to me, especially since the RAF already had autogyros in
service. It didn't get anywhere, though.

Tony Williams
Military gun and ammunition website: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk
Discussion forum at: http://forums.delphiforums.com/autogun/messages/
k***@cix.compulink.co.uk
2004-12-29 19:07:42 UTC
Permalink
In article
Post by Rich Rostrom
, and the thousands of military helos built over
the last sixty years
How many were built with piston engines?

Ken Young
***@cix.co.uk

Those who cover themselves with martial glory
frequently go in need of any other garment. (Bramah)
The Old Timer
2004-12-31 20:59:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul J. Adam
The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
That's true, but wouldn't their lack of speed make them a difficult target for
a fairly high-speed fighter? I could however, see a Fairey Swordfish or
Blackburn Shark going after them with ease; those aircraft were pretty slow and
reasonably heavily armed.


-- John
The history of things that didn't happen has never been written.
. - -
- Henry Kissinger
Michael Emrys
2005-01-01 00:56:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Old Timer
Post by Paul J. Adam
The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
That's true, but wouldn't their lack of speed make them a difficult target for
a fairly high-speed fighter? I could however, see a Fairey Swordfish or
Blackburn Shark going after them with ease; those aircraft were pretty slow
and reasonably heavily armed.
Or they could drag out any remaining Gladiators.

;-)

Michael
Paul J. Adam
2005-01-01 11:42:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Old Timer
Post by Paul J. Adam
The air bridge is going to be highly vulnerable: laden helicopters die
quickly when met by fighters.
That's true, but wouldn't their lack of speed make them a difficult target for
a fairly high-speed fighter?
Not particularly: the speed differential isn't that great in the first
case, and a slow target like a helicopter is simply a semantic argument
as to whether it's air-to-air gunnery (it's flying, isn't it?) or
strafing (it's slow, isn't it?)
--
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar I:2

Paul J. Adam MainBox<at>jrwlynch[dot]demon{dot}co(.)uk
k***@cix.compulink.co.uk
2005-01-02 22:11:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul J. Adam
case, and a slow target like a helicopter is simply a semantic
argument as to whether it's air-to-air gunnery (it's flying, isn't
it?) or strafing (it's slow, isn't it?)
There were cases of German fighters hitting the drink trying to shoot
down Swordfish. A Swordfish could happily fly slower than the stall
speed of a Bf 109. On the other hand the Swordfish was notoriously
damage tolerant.

Ken Young
***@cix.co.uk

Those who cover themselves with martial glory
frequently go in need of any other garment. (Bramah)
Paul J. Adam
2005-01-03 09:47:20 UTC
Permalink
In message <cr9ri0$ap7$***@thorium.cix.co.uk>, ***@cix.compulink.co.uk
writes
Post by k***@cix.compulink.co.uk
Post by Paul J. Adam
case, and a slow target like a helicopter is simply a semantic
argument as to whether it's air-to-air gunnery (it's flying, isn't
it?) or strafing (it's slow, isn't it?)
There were cases of German fighters hitting the drink trying to shoot
down Swordfish.
There were cases of aircraft flying into terrain during strafing runs,
too, but that didn't mean you could drive a fuel truck from Vire to Le
Beny Bocage if there were Typhoons around...
Post by k***@cix.compulink.co.uk
A Swordfish could happily fly slower than the stall
speed of a Bf 109. On the other hand the Swordfish was notoriously
damage tolerant.
Didn't help Esmonde's flight of six during Operation Cerberus, sadly.
--
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar I:2

Paul J. Adam MainBox<at>jrwlynch[dot]demon{dot}co(.)uk
Errol Cavit
2005-01-04 01:09:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by k***@cix.compulink.co.uk
Post by Paul J. Adam
case, and a slow target like a helicopter is simply a semantic
argument as to whether it's air-to-air gunnery (it's flying, isn't
it?) or strafing (it's slow, isn't it?)
There were cases of German fighters hitting the drink trying to shoot
down Swordfish. A Swordfish could happily fly slower than the stall
speed of a Bf 109. On the other hand the Swordfish was notoriously
damage tolerant.
There is at least one case of Italian bi-planes hitting the drink trying to
shoot
down a Swordfish.
--
Errol Cavit | ***@hotmail.com
"You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than about
10^12 to 1."
Attributed to Ernest Rutherford.
Phil Edwards
2004-12-29 00:01:04 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 28 Dec 2004 12:56:47 +0000, "Paul J. Adam"
<***@jrwlynch.demon.co.uk> wrote:

<snip scenario>
Post by Paul J. Adam
all you've achieved is to make a nasty mess in (for example)
Folkestone, which ends with the survivors of your elite airborne troops
being marched into captivity: meanwhile the wrecked helicopters are
melted down into Spitfires. Fighter Command licks its wounds and the RAF
and Navy argue fiercely over who saved the day.
This last sentence touches on a WI angle which I'd like to see a bit
more of. For instance, a slightly more successful *Dieppe might not
make any noticeable difference to the timetable for OVERLORD, but what
would be the knock-on effects in terms of rivalry between the
services, or between the Western Allies?

Phil
--
Phil Edwards ***@amroth.zetnet.co.uk
"Is there any way to make John Calvin pope?"
- Steven J. thinks the unthinkable
Michael Emrys
2004-12-29 03:59:19 UTC
Permalink
For instance, a slightly more successful *Dieppe might not make any noticeable
difference to the timetable for OVERLORD, but what would be the knock-on
effects in terms of rivalry between the services, or between the Western
Allies?
My hunch is that the American press harder for in invasion in NWE in 1943.
Whether Dieppe was ever formally held up as a counter-argument in
discussions of the Combined Chiefs, it must have been in the backs of
everybody's minds and strengthened the British position that careful
preparation must precede re-entry to the Continent.

Michael
david
2004-12-28 06:58:45 UTC
Permalink
In message
<rrostrom.21stcentury-***@news.isp.giganews.com>, Rich
Rostrom <***@rcn.com> writes

Assorted snips
Post by Rich Rostrom
_However_: ISTM that airmobiles, which would be much more
effective than the same weight of paras, probably could
take a port where follow-on forces could land. Difficult,
but barely doable. Most importantly, doable in June when
the British army was most disorganized, disarmed, and
demoralized.
This would be because (ISTM) an airmobile move across the
Channel would not be fundamentally different from any other
airmobile move 30-50 km out. It would not require the same
degree of specific planning as an airborne op or the
improvisation needed for a seaborne op, which the Germaans
had not anticipated. It would be an exercise of a capability
they already have.
Another point: ISTM that Fighter Command's bases in Kent
and Sussex would be vulnerable to heliborne commando raids.
Again, bear in mind the surprise factor: the Germans are
using a new mode of warfare; it would take time for the
British to adapt to it, and in the first round it could
be devastating.
With current technology, airmobile operations rely on control of the air
(helicopters dropping off troops are somewhat vulnerable to air attack),
and are used for short-term objectives - mainly because lightly-equipped
airborne troops don't have the heavy kit necessary to hold objectives
long-term. Basically, they are smash-and-run operations (viable because
helicopters, unlike parachutes, allow for withdrawal as well as
insertion) or as a grab of a key point awaiting the arrival of the
cavalry.

I can't see that basic premise being modified for the assumption, namely
early development of helicopter operations. Therefore, any German
operation would either be smash-and-run operations, or a grab of a
strategic point immediately prior to invasion proper.

Unfortunately, smash-and-run operations against fighter command bases in
SE England run into the problem that RAF fighters are quite likely to
make a serious mess of such operations - if there is one place that the
Germans couldn't guarantee control of the air, it would be in the
immediate vicinity of a British fighter base (1). Operating at night
will reduce dramatically the threat from British fighters, but brings
with it major navigational problems. In OTL, German air operations at
night were not noted for precision navigation. While navigation in
helicopters can be eased (hovering at zero feet while the navigator
turns the map the right way round, for example), locating the airfields
with the precision required is going to be a rather hit and miss affair.
This will have certain consequences; it has to be noted that a lot will
depend on the degree of co-operation and trust between helicopter pilots
and heliborne troops (2). Given what we know of German inter-service
co-operation, I suspect that the first time the Germans try a
large-scale night-time heliborne operation, it will be somewhat
shambolic. I can't see the Germans giving control of flying the
helicopters to the airborne troops, and I can't see the Luftwaffe
devoting much in the way of resources to creating an infantry force to
be dropped off. In all probability, control will be split, with the
Luftwaffe flying the helicopters, and the German army providing the
troops to drop out of the helicopters.

The alternative suggestion, making a grab for a port, suffers from the
problem that Britain realised that the ports were key targets, and these
were defended with some bulk. A heliborne landing is not going to take
place inside the port, but will need clear ground outside (you may or
may not be able to land a helicopter in a town square. You won't be able
to land a dozen helicopters there). That means that the assaulting force
will need to land, find each other, and then take a defended town
(involving street fighting) without heavy equipment against defenders
who do have heavy equipment (3). They have to do this without damaging
the port infrastructure, and they have to hold it until the barges
arrive. They have to make sure that British attempts to dislodge them
from the port doesn't result in damage to the port infrastructure -
which is going to be an interesting exercise given that the British can
call in artillery and bombing raids. Essentially, the German seaborne
assault is pretty much going to have to co-incide with the heliborne
attack, and both will depend utterly on the success of the other. If the
heliborne assault is stalled, the seaborne landing tries to do so in the
face of defenders who have been alerted to their coming. If the seaborne
forces fail to arrive on time, the heliborne troops are lost. If we are
assuming a June 1940 operation, the seaborne element is going to be
fairly insignificant, the RAF is not going to have been attrited (bye
bye resupply), and the German forces are still recovering from the
Battle for France.








1. I am ignoring the German inability in OTL to accurately identify
fighter airfields. We'll assume that airmobile operations bring with it
a greater ability to interpret information.

2. Cf the difference in parachute drops by British and American forces
during D-Day. Because the British pilots had trained extensively with
the paratroopers, their drops were much closer to the DZs than the
American equivalents, who didn't have such a close working relationship.
There were other factors involved, but that is the primary reason for
the difference in drop quality.

3. For example, ports had priority for anti-aircraft guns. It is also
worth noting that the ports that received troops from the Dunkirk
evacuation (ie, those most likely to be subject to such an assault) had
equipment above establishment (mainly half-inched from the British
troops). Dover, for example, had a number of anti-tank guns so acquired,
along with more bren guns than the defenders could conveniently use.
--
David Flin
Phil Edwards
2004-12-29 11:07:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by david
the assaulting force
will need to land, find each other, and then take a defended town
(involving street fighting) without heavy equipment against defenders
who do have heavy equipment. They have to do this without damaging
the port infrastructure, and they have to hold it until the barges arrive
I can see the ATL film trailers now:

"It's useless, sir! We're outnumbered and outgunned! We're all going
to die here, die like rats in an English trap!"
"Steady, sergeant[1]. I know things look a bit shaky now[2], but we
just need to hang on here - hang on until the barges arrive!"
[Gravelly voice-over] UNTIL THE BARGES ARRIVE - an epic tale of
fortitude and endurance, and how One Man[3] discovered...

you know the kind of thing. To be followed, some years later, by a
disenchanted, ironic take on the same events, "A Barge Too Far"...

Phil
[1] Could NCOs talk to their superiors in these terms in the
Wehrmacht? More than once?
[2] Do German military types go in for understatement? I suspect not,
regrettably.
[3] In theory, the stress laid on the Fuehrerprinzip at all levels of
society should mean that the How One Man school of film-making
flourished in the Reich. In practice, I suspect that the
TOOAHprinzip[4] took precedence most of the time.
[4] "One Adolf Hitler..."
--
Phil Edwards ***@amroth.zetnet.co.uk
"Is there any way to make John Calvin pope?"
- Steven J. thinks the unthinkable
robert j. kolker
2004-12-29 12:14:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil Edwards
you know the kind of thing. To be followed, some years later, by a
disenchanted, ironic take on the same events, "A Barge Too Far"...
You wanted a groan. Here it is. Groan!!!

Bob Kolker
robert j. kolker
2004-12-29 12:15:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil Edwards
you know the kind of thing. To be followed, some years later, by a
disenchanted, ironic take on the same events, "A Barge Too Far"...
They will make a musical out of it too. How about "The Sea Lion King"?

Bob Kolker
J.J. O'Shea
2004-12-29 16:27:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by david
Unfortunately, smash-and-run operations against fighter command bases in
SE England run into the problem that RAF fighters are quite likely to
make a serious mess of such operations - if there is one place that the
Germans couldn't guarantee control of the air, it would be in the
immediate vicinity of a British fighter base (1).
ooh, yes.
Post by david
Operating at night
will reduce dramatically the threat from British fighters, but brings
with it major navigational problems. In OTL, German air operations at
night were not noted for precision navigation.
They'd have to use the radio-beam navigation systems. Except that those
weren't ready until _much_ later than June-July 1940.
Post by david
While navigation in
helicopters can be eased (hovering at zero feet while the navigator
turns the map the right way round, for example), locating the airfields
with the precision required is going to be a rather hit and miss affair.
This will have certain consequences; it has to be noted that a lot will
depend on the degree of co-operation and trust between helicopter pilots
and heliborne troops (2). Given what we know of German inter-service
co-operation, I suspect that the first time the Germans try a
large-scale night-time heliborne operation, it will be somewhat
shambolic. I can't see the Germans giving control of flying the
helicopters to the airborne troops, and I can't see the Luftwaffe
devoting much in the way of resources to creating an infantry force to
be dropped off.
You _do_ remember that the German paras where _Luftwaffe_ troops, not Army? 7
Flieger Div was all-Luftwaffe. 22 Luftlande Div was Army, with Luftwaffe
aircrew for the transports and (IIRC) Luftwafee aircrew for the gliders.
Post by david
In all probability, control will be split, with the
Luftwaffe flying the helicopters, and the German army providing the
troops to drop out of the helicopters.
The Luftwaffe would probably grab the whole thing. "If it flies, it's
_mine_." describes Fat Hermann Meyer's attitude. He even insisted on
controlling the anti-aircraft systems. No, the unit would be Rotary Wing
Assault Division Herman Goering, And he'd try to find a way to sling a few
tanks under the helicopters, as as to make it Rotary Wing Armoured Assault
Division Herman Goering.
david
2004-12-30 05:31:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by J.J. O'Shea
Post by david
While navigation in
helicopters can be eased (hovering at zero feet while the navigator
turns the map the right way round, for example), locating the airfields
with the precision required is going to be a rather hit and miss affair.
This will have certain consequences; it has to be noted that a lot will
depend on the degree of co-operation and trust between helicopter pilots
and heliborne troops (2). Given what we know of German inter-service
co-operation, I suspect that the first time the Germans try a
large-scale night-time heliborne operation, it will be somewhat
shambolic. I can't see the Germans giving control of flying the
helicopters to the airborne troops, and I can't see the Luftwaffe
devoting much in the way of resources to creating an infantry force to
be dropped off.
You _do_ remember that the German paras where _Luftwaffe_ troops, not Army? 7
Flieger Div was all-Luftwaffe. 22 Luftlande Div was Army, with Luftwaffe
aircrew for the transports and (IIRC) Luftwafee aircrew for the gliders.
Actually, I had completely forgotten that.

Of course, while this means that co-operation between pilots and
airborne troops will be much improved, it also means that co-operation
of strategy between airmobile operations and sea-borne operations is
likely to be worsened.

Note, for example, the levels of co-operation that existed between Army,
Navy and Air Force in planning for Sealion. It was a major achievement
to get them all to attend the same meeting at the same time, and
anything discussed at the meeting was a bonus.
Post by J.J. O'Shea
Post by david
In all probability, control will be split, with the
Luftwaffe flying the helicopters, and the German army providing the
troops to drop out of the helicopters.
The Luftwaffe would probably grab the whole thing. "If it flies, it's
_mine_." describes Fat Hermann Meyer's attitude. He even insisted on
controlling the anti-aircraft systems. No, the unit would be Rotary Wing
Assault Division Herman Goering, And he'd try to find a way to sling a few
tanks under the helicopters, as as to make it Rotary Wing Armoured Assault
Division Herman Goering.
You're probably right. I can also see Goering promising Hitler that with
enough airmobile forces, he could conquer Britain without any help from
the Army or Navy.
--
David Flin
j***@faf.mil.fi
2004-12-30 13:07:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich Rostrom
Yes, helicopters would consume resources that OTL
would be used elsewhere. This would be true for
all other powers that had them. British helicopter
development would cut into RAF bomber and fighter
deployment, for instance.
Another point: ISTM that Fighter Command's bases in Kent
and Sussex would be vulnerable to heliborne commando raids.
Again, bear in mind the surprise factor: the Germans are
using a new mode of warfare; it would take time for the
British to adapt to it, and in the first round it could
be devastating.
First, you're suggesting that the British Royal Air Force would both
actively develop and deploy helicopters in this timeline - yet, for
some reason, you continue with another suggestion that the German
heliborne assault against the British Isles in this timeline would
benefit from the fact that Britain would be unprepared for this "new
mode of warfare".

Simple question: aren't you contradicting yourself?
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Paul J. Adam
The bad news was, UK Home Command could call on 29 divisions
plus eight independent brigades.
I find this number implausible. Britain deployed only about that
many divisions in Germany and Italy in 1945, and that included
Canadian, South African, Indian, and Polish divisions.
I don't really understand your line of reasoning. The number of British
Home Defence and Militia Divisions prepared for mobilization and the
defence of the British Isles in 1940 may very well have been somewhere
around thirty; the number of regular British and Commonwealth Divisions
deployed on the European Continent in 1945 doesn't really have anything
to do with it.

I'll leave the other parts of the post uncommented, because frankly, I
think that you're making a lot of unwarranted conclusions.
Rich Rostrom
2004-12-31 18:34:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by j***@faf.mil.fi
First, you're suggesting that the British Royal Air Force would both
actively develop and deploy helicopters in this timeline - yet, for
some reason, you continue with another suggestion that the German
heliborne assault against the British Isles in this timeline would
benefit from the fact that Britain would be unprepared for this "new
mode of warfare".
Simple question: aren't you contradicting yourself?
Did the French military, in the 1930s, develop and deploy
tanks? In numbers sufficient to cut into resources
available for other combat arms?

Yes.

Was the French military, after this development and
deployment, "unprepared for this 'new mode of warfare'"?

Yes.


Did the RAF, in the 1930s, develop and deploy heavy
bombers? In numbers sufficient to cut into resources
available for other combat arms? (The Wellington,
Hampden, and Whitley were all considered heavy bombers
when designed.)

Yes.

Was the RAF, after this development and deployment,
"unprepared for this 'new mode of warfare'"?

Yes. (The RAF insisted that celestial navigation
was sufficient for accurate night bombing, even
though they'd never actually tried it. For the
first two years of the war, British strategic
bombing was largely ineffective.)


There are many other comparable screw-ups from
WW II: US torpedoes, for instance.
--
Nothing which was ever expressed originally in the English language resembles,
except in the most distant way, the thought of Plotinus, or Hegel, or Foucault.
I take this to be enormously to the credit of our language. -- David Stove
T***@quarry.nildram.co.uk
2004-12-25 07:10:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@go.com
Making no PODs up to and including the Wright
Brothers, what PODs would be needed from then on,
up until the beginning of WWII, to make this ATL
possible?
A lot of well-funded, intensive research.

It is worth noting just how slow the development of helicopters was
compared with aircraft, considering that the first one flew very early
in the history of flight. This is an extract from the Chapter
'Helicopters go to War' in 'Flying Guns - the Modern Era: Development
of Aircraft Guns, Ammunition and Installations since 1945' by Emmanuel
Gustin and myself:

"The first helicopter to fly, designed by Frenchman Paul Cornu, took to
the air as early as 1907. However, the development of this type of
aircraft was very slow and intermittent as the technical problems were
much greater than with aeroplanes and there was also uncertainty about
the best configuration. The first closed-circuit flight of one
kilometre was not made until May 1924 by another Frenchman, Etienne
Oemichen, but this was with a complex device which bore no relationship
to modern helicopters, with its four lifting rotors and eight
stabilising propellers.

The main technical problem is the need for a properly articulated rotor
head. This is more than a strong link between the rotor blades and the
axis; it has to balance the various forces which work on the helicopter
in flight and also allow its flight to be controlled. The fundamental
issue is that in forward flight, the advancing rotor blade on one side
of the axis passes through the air at higher speed than the retreating
blade on the other side. If unchecked this would generate more lift on
one side than the other and turn the helicopter over. Another problem
is that when the rotor is driven, the reaction forces tend to rotate
the helicopter in the opposite direction. This either has to be
counteracted (by using a tail rotor, or twin, counter-rotating or
intermeshing rotors, or by some other means) or avoided by using rotor
tip jets. These technical problems severely limit the performance of
helicopters in comparison with fixed-wing aircraft and, in conjunction
with the maintenance requirements of the rotor head and its
vulnerability to damage, have been restricting factors in the
development of combat helicopters."

As for developments in WW2:

"At that time Germany was well in advance. Flettner actually achieved
the helicopter's first quantity production order, from the Kriegsmarine
in 1940, for the Fl 265, which had two intermeshing rotors. This was
succeeded by the two-seat Fl 282 Kolibri (humming bird), which was used
operationally in the Second World War, both for general liaison
purposes and from various ships, including cruisers and merchant
vessels, for scouting and anti-submarine reconnaissance in the North,
Baltic, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Although 1,000 were ordered,
only about 24 were completed by the end of the war. It was partnered by
the big two-rotor Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache (kite) transport
helicopter, of which perhaps only a dozen or so were completed. It
could carry four passengers or lift 900 kg, and was the first
helicopter to carry a gun armament. A 7.9 mm MG 15 could be fitted into
the transparent nose for self-defence purposes, as it was intended to
be used for potentially hazardous tasks such as rescuing downed pilots
or inserting special forces."

A somewhat easier, if partial, technical solution could have been the
autogyro:

"At one time the autogyro seemed to have a bright future as a military
liaison type but it saw only limited use, perhaps most famously in the
form of the Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze, an engineless rotor kite
which was towed behind U-boats in the Second World War to increase
their observation range. Less well known are the Soviet military
autogyro developments such as the powerful Kamov-designed TsAGI
(Tsentralyj Aero-Gidrodinamichesij Institut = Central Aero-Hydrodynamic
Institute) A7 intended for front-line liaison and spotting duties. This
had a crew of two and was equipped with both synchronised and twin
flexible PV-1 RCMGs. It first flew in 1934 and saw some service in the
Second World War, but only a few were built. The A-15 of 1937 was a
similar concept, even more powerful with a maximum speed of 260 km/h,
but it was not proceeded with."

Tony Williams
Military gun and ammunition website: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk
Discussion forum at: http://forums.delphiforums.com/autogun/messages/
Charlie Stross
2004-12-28 16:01:03 UTC
Permalink
Stoned koala bears drooled eucalyptus spittle in awe
... It was partnered by
the big two-rotor Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache (kite) transport
helicopter, of which perhaps only a dozen or so were completed. It
could carry four passengers or lift 900 kg, and was the first
helicopter to carry a gun armament. A 7.9 mm MG 15 could be fitted into
the transparent nose for self-defence purposes, as it was intended to
be used for potentially hazardous tasks such as rescuing downed pilots
or inserting special forces."
As I recall, one of the FA-223 prototypes was actually used on some kind
of active mission in early 1945. The British took the surviving
prototypes after VE day, and managed to crash one and trash the other
(by not appreciating the increased maintenance requirements of
helicopters compared to fixed-wing aircraft). Prototype V12 made history
by rescuing 17 people trapped by bad weather on Mont Blanc, and V1 set a
helicopter speed record in 1940 of 113mph. Some basic stats, looted from
http://www.germanvtol.com/fockeachgiles/fa223folder/fa223.html:

Vertical Rate of Climb - 1,100 ft per min.
Service Ceiling - l6,000 ft
Cruising Speed 75 mph
Maximum Speed 109 mph
Empty Weight - 7,000 lbs
Loaded Weight - 11,000 lbs
Range - 435 miles (with auxiliary fuel tank)

If you look at the photographs of the FA-223, it resembles more recent
twin-rotor designs, albeit with the rotors mounted on booms out to
either side rather than in-line along the fuselage.

As with all early helicopters, the real problems are power to weight ratio
and maintenance workload; without turbines you can't really carry a
substantial load (the FA223A maritime patrol version was to carry just
two 250Kg bombs -- and this was a *big* chopper), and the lack of trace
additives that crippled the German jet engine programs would have put
the boot in on a really effective helicopter as well as the Me-262. (You
don't want to run a big cargo helicopter using engines where the MTBF is
5 hours!)


-- Charlie
Charlie Stross
2004-12-28 16:01:05 UTC
Permalink
Apropos my earlier post, a fun note found on a history of the FA-223:

"Fa-223 V12 was designated in September 1943, to rescue Benito
Mussolini from his mountain prison. At the last moment, however the
helicopter had mechanical problems, and a Fieseler 156 Storch had to be
substituted for the attempt."

I think this says it all about WW2 helicopters, really.


-- Charlie
The Horny Goat
2004-12-28 19:26:26 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 28 Dec 2004 16:01:05 GMT, Charlie Stross
Post by Charlie Stross
"Fa-223 V12 was designated in September 1943, to rescue Benito
Mussolini from his mountain prison. At the last moment, however the
helicopter had mechanical problems, and a Fieseler 156 Storch had to be
substituted for the attempt."
I think this says it all about WW2 helicopters, really.
Certainly the rescue of Mussolini by helicopter would get a LOT more
interest going in helicopters by the Allies...most likely in a way
liable to NOT get them used in the non-invasion of Japan in September
1945...
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