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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ron Walker

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  1. WW2 French allies or Nazi Collaborators?

    And, by all accounts, had plenty of ex-patriot German volunteers serving in the Foreign Legion, who were already very experienced in anti-partisan operations.... I visited Guernsey on a cruise a few years back; there's a military museum built into what used to be a German underground fuel dump. It features an interesting selection of military firearms, which unaccountably were all collected as far away from the entry as possible, and hopelessly badly labelled. Among the displayed weapons were French light machine guns - The Fusil-mitrailleur Modèle 1924 M29 , which was a contemporary of the Browning Automatic Rifle and the Bren Gun. Germany had confiscated the entire arsenal, and supplied them to garrison units. well away from the front line. Vichy French units continued to use it.
  2. WW2 French allies or Nazi Collaborators?

    Absolutely serious. I must have seen the footage of the execution around the time that "Le Chagrin" was released.... so long back that I can't recall exactly where - but given the time, it was almost certainly on the BBC.(There having been only two TV channels back then in the UK!) I seldom remember a name, forget a face, or forget a firearm, and remember being surprised at the execution being carried out with sub machine guns of British manufacture. I.m unable to find references to the execution, but the "National Oak Tree" seems to be located in Allouville-Bellefosse...
  3. WW2 French allies or Nazi Collaborators?

    Throughout its eventual participation in WW2, the USA's attitude to France was distinctly strange. They perceived TWO different "Frances" - and wanted to befriend the one with the larger army; Vichy France. FDR seemed eager to miss no opportunity to snub deGaulle's "Free French". At the end of WW2, France was unable to send troops to Indochina to accept the surrender of the Japanese forces there (Thanks to the British having sunk the French fleet to keep it out of German hands) The USA, who had held as one of its war objectives the ending of European Imperialism, refused to assist by lending transport facilities. So the Brits turned up to do the job. Indo-Chinese Communists objected strenuously - and violently - to power being handed back to French collaborators. The British re-armed the surrendering Japanese, and in joint operations with them, defeated and disarmed the Indochinese Communists. THEN accepted the official surrender of Japanese forces, and handed its colony back to the French. It wasn't just Petain that got sentenced to death, The French National Oak Tree (I kid you not!) was also found guilty of colaboration, and executed by firing squad. (Not with chain saws but with Mk 2 Sten guns. I've seen footage of the execution!)
  4. What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    But, conversely, shortly after WW1 ended - in defeat for Germany - Germany was itself racked by civil war, between Nationalist old soldiers, and Communists, including many former Sailors from the Kriegsmarine. The old soldiers had been lied to by their commanders who told them that they had been on the brink of military victory in November 1918, but were instead betrayed by the cowardly civilian leadership.Matrx himself had predicted that the world revolution would begin in the countries with the most advanced industrial economies:Britain, Germany and the United States. The right wingers won the brief but ferocious civil war, but Germany remained polarised,
  5. Germany certainly DID have the best claim to have invented RADAR. You're assuming that RADAR can ONLY be used to detect aircraft? It was originally developed to avoid coliisions at sea in fog - by a German - in an age before there WERE any aircraft. And the Germans had A Cavity magnetron before the British... but for unknown reasons didn't use it to shorten the wavelength of Radar signals (and make possible the creation of portable Radar sets.) Before the Cavity Magnetron was successfully exploited to produce portable Radar sets, what made Britain's Radar system unique - and in many ways superior - was not a technical superiority, but rather the way it was USED to provide important information which could be immediately translated into appropriate action. Everyone who's seen a war film is familiar with the RAF's large map of Europe and SE England across which seated WAAF's push symbols of oncoming enemy Aircraft, and RAF units responding. As enemy aircraft formed up (over France) to attack, fighters could and would be advised to scramble, go to a specific location and a specific altitude, and advised of the enemy strength that they'd be encountering there. Neither the RAF fighter pilots nor the Luftwaffe were AWARE of the integrated fighter control system. The RAF pilots just got telephoned instructions, and were NOT told where the instructions were coming from, and the Luftwaffe likewise had no way of knowing how efficiently the RAF were organised. It's a logical way to run things, and others - notably the Germans - eventually caught up, But in the early days, a squadron of Hurricanes turning up up just the right place and altitude was effectively "magic".
  6. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    It answered your question perfectly, and in detail. Problem was, you then didn't bother to follow up on the HTML hyperlinks which open up further pages. After Schweinfurt, both sides rethought their strategies, and escort fighters began to be available in suffficient numbers to make a difference.Germany didn't know that was going to happen, and switched to heavier slower interceptors which could fire at the bombers from further away - with heavier calibre weapons - and were also better armoured. The might have shot down a lot of bombers... but were increasingly aware of the dangers from massed half inch machine guns. So Germany went to a gunfight carrying a knife. Their heavy fighters were no match for the new nimble escort fighters, and rather than being the hunters, they became the prey. They switched to attacking the bomber stream head-on, which at least increased the number of kills. The USAAF responded with another change of plan(s) and began deliberately targetting fighter manufacturers, AND at the suggestion of Jimmy Doolittle, sent fighters waves in AHEAD of the bomber stream to find and kill any Germany opposition.and then to "seek and destroy" any enemy planes - or trains - wherever they were found. The deliberate bombing of the factiries seems to have made surprisingly little difference. What really hurt the Luftwaffe was being constantly hounded from the air, plus shortages of experienced replacement pilots, fuel and raw materials. The Luftwafe's response to D-Day was, as a result, fairly derisory. Add in the absurd believe at the top of the German command structure that the best defence is retaliation in kind (even when you lack the ability TO retaliate) and you start to build the full picture. ALL of the above was described in detail by the hyperlinks. (They're the bits of text in s slightly different colour and underlined - click on them, and you'll be taken to a different page.)
  7. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    It seems strange that you pose these questions just a few millimetres below a quote from Wikipedia outlining the evolution of Luftwaffe and USAAF tactics, which also provided HTML hyperlinks to further explanation.....? The situation on BOTH sides was fluid, both sides changes of tactics forcing their opponents to do the same. Just scroll up to where it says "State of the Luftwaffe Fighter Arm", (just above your post,) and READ it! Schweinfurt convinced the Luftwaffe that what THEY needed were heavier fighters with more armour and bigger guns. They drew this conclusion unaware that (1) the USAAF was beginning to ship large numbers of relatively nimble long-range fighters across the Atlantic AND (2) planned to switch targets specifically to attacking Germany's industrial capacity to replace lost fighters. Both sides had changed tactics in anticipation of what they thought their opponents would do next.... and the Luftwaffe got things totally wrong. Yes, their new planes could do massive damage to the bombers... but only if they survived encounters with swarms of fighters. The escort fighters were then told not to stop when the Bombers returned home - but to use up any spare fuel to attack and destroy German aircraft that were on the ground, or taking off, or landing... To me, the great puzzle is why and how Germany - almost to the very end - emphasised a preference for bombers over fighters. Eventually, the entire senior staff of the RLM unanimously went to Goering with a plea that he'd STOP wasting resources on bombers at a time when what the country really NEEDED was fighters. Goering took their request to Hitler, and apparently returned in tears, as a broken man, who finally understood that he was no longer in favour. Hitler insisted on continuing to squander increasingly scarce resources, and claimed that the Allies could be prevented from mounting thousand bomber raids by Germany "retaliating in kind". (using WHAT?!) The Luftwaffe continued to bomb the UK by night, mainly using adaptations of the medium bombers that had failed to win the Battle of Britain... and lost planes and pilots at a steady (and unsustainable) rate. They called it "Operation Capricorn"... the Brits termeed it "The mini-Blitz".
  8. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    Strangely, we had this discussion a few weeks back after "Russia Today" (I think! It might have been another Russian media outlet!?) was touting the same aircraft. Note that it came into squadron service VERY late in the war, by which time the Luftwaffe it was facing was a poor, tired replica of what It HAD been four years earlier. This piece cites how the Yak's downed a number of (unspecified) German fighters AND two Ju87 bombers. The same Stukas that got pulled from the Battle of Britain, because they were being shot out of the sky in alarming numbers, and the survivors transferred mainly to the Eastern Front?!... By 1944/45, the Luftwaffe was perilously short of fuel, and even shorter of pilots to replace those lost in the war against the Western Allies in the skies over Germany.It was proposed that the He 162 Volksjaeger "Salamander" interceptor would be flown by Hitler Youth volunteers whose total flying experience would have been a few hours in a glider; things really were THAT bad... ANY plane put into the sky by Russia that late in the war was bound to do well. As I recall, the previous discussion found a claim that a Yak 3 had shot down a P-51... which turned out to be totally undocumented. (i.e. not a claim made by someone on this forum that they were unable to back up, but a claim made by a Yak 3 pilot which turned out to be unverifiable, and probably untrue.) I pasted this bit from the background to the development of the He162, as it shows the parlous state in which the Luftwafe found itself at the time when the Yak 3 first entered the fray. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_162
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cunningham_(RAF_officer) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/a-wwii-propaganda-campaign-popularized-the-myth-that-carrots-help-you-see-in-the-dark-28812484/ or https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/cats-eyes-72622832/
  10. My Mum heard the broadcast! Note that spreading plausible disinformation was a British speciality. If you've got a secret, the wise move is to invent a plausible lie, and then build enormous defences around the lie. The harder that the enemy has to work to uncover the disinformation, the more they believe it when they break through those defences. There is no doubt in my mind that Cunningham's "accidental" explanation was anything BUT "accidental", but rather carefully scripted for him to deliver, (and for the Germans to pounce upon!) I was on a cruise last year, and one of the entertainers (Tim Vine) included a joke about carrots and night vision in his routine. He too had heard the lie.. but was unaware of the reason behind it. British Intelligence maintained TWO complete departments whose job it was to fabricate plausible rubbish to allow the Germans to think that they'd uncovered secrets.
  11. Although the Germans were the first to develop a working cavity magnetron, they failed to see that this would allow the creation of centimetric Radar systems, which could be small enough to be mounted in aircraft. So, at the time when he RAF was fitting RADAR sets into Beaufighters (roughly contemporaneous with the Battle of Britain) the Luftwaffe remained unaware that it was even possible to make such a gadget (and thus weren't even trying to do so!) The RAF were very happy to leave the Luftwaffe in ignorance, but needed a plausible explanation for the excellent performance of RAF night fighters - and explanation which DIDN'T involve RADAR. Wing Commander Alan "Cats' Eyes" Cunningham (the night-fighter ace) was interviewed on the BBC, and "accidentally" let slip the information that RAF pilots were supplied with mountains of carrots, which they ate, and the carrotene then enhanced their night vision. Total rubbish - but plausible. A SHORTAGE of carrotene in one's diet will damage night vision, but increasing a normal persons' intake will have no effect at all. A whole generation of Brits grew up believing that eating up their carrots would help them see in the dark... It succeded in humbugging the Luftwaffe, who remained unaware that centimetric Radar sets was a possibility until an RAF plane (equipt with the new Radar) was shot down over the French coast, the wreckage examined, and the secret discovered. In other words... the Luftwaffe wasn't installing Radar in aircraft in 1941, basically because at that time, they didn't realise that it was possible!
  12. RADAR was discovered/invented pretty much at the same time by almost every nation in the world which had an airforce! Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, the USA...Far from "having no Radar", Germany probably has the BEST claim to have invented it! Admittedly used as a means for naval navigation in poor weather rather than for detecting aircraft, but the idea is essentially the same. German intelligence investigated Britain's Radar capacity when visiting the UK aboard the Hindenberg Airship.. and concluded that it was totally ineffective. Even at the height of the airwar, there is little or no evidence to suggest that the Luftwaffe understood how the British were USING Radar - namely as a force multiplier. When the Luftwaffe bombed the UK's "Chain Home" Radar towers, putting them out of action, the RAF deployed truck-born radio sets which continued to broadcast exactly the same radio signals as the towers had - this was of no us in detecting enemy aircraft, but it totally misled German SIgnals Intelligence, who concluded that the bombing was having no effect. (So it was NOT "easily seen by Luftwaffe") The German Bomber MOST seen over the Uk was the Heinkel He111 - not the Junkers Ju88!
  13. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    Oops! You were talking about the Whirlwind, not the Tornado, sorry! According to the guys who flew the Whirlwind, it was a superb flyer, and seemed both able to mix it with whatever the Luftwaffe was throwing at it (Me109's, FW190's...) and do an excellent job as a ground attack aircraft, apparently specialising in destroying trains. It also served well in Coastal Command, and seems to have been a very popular plane with the pilots. One possible let-down was a relatively short range - far too short to act as an escort fighter.
  14. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    Apparently the bearings on the extra-long crankshafts routinely burned out. The air ministry decided that rather than messing around with a hybrid of two "small" engines, it would make more sense to stick with just one BIG one... which was the (war-winning!) Merlin. If Germany had had the sense to stick (more or less) to just ONE aero engine rather than reinventing the wheel for every new project... As I suggested before, one British exception was the Bristol plant (much later taken over by Rolls Royce, and which later provided the engines for Concorde) The Beaufighter was manufactured predominantly with Bristol designed "Hercules" engines, (also used in the Shorts Stirling) but under advice from the Air Ministry, also made three hundred or so powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Griffons. The Hercules -powered Beaufighters were both faster and more reliable... Which leads me to wonder what a Mosquito, powered by the same Bristol engines might have been like. Probably "like shit off a shovel"!
  15. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    Incorrect! The disastrous Rolls Royce VULTURE was the final development:two Kestrel engines turned into one massive "X" cylinder engine, which (probably because of its rushed development) never worked properly. Hawker intended that their replacement for the Hurricane would use the Vulture in the "Tornado" fighter and AVRO intended to use it in their "Manchester" bomber. Both were scrapped - the Manchester was redesigned with four Merlin engines and became the rather successful Lancaster, and the Tornado was built with a Napier engine and became the Hawker Typhoon - also rather successful. In the pic of the Tornado, you can clearly see the DOUBLE rank of exhaust outlets.
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