September, 1940 AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING 259 according to British official statements, some success, in causing damage to a few houses in the town. Aircraft Engineering We may here interpose an interesting sidelight on the difference in the attitude of the two countries towards the revelation of Devoted to the Science and Practice of Aeronautics the truth in regard to the results of air raids. In a British com and to Allied and Subsidiary Branches of munique of Aug. 24 it was stated with commendable frankness th e Engineering Industry that, " attacks were also made on the R.A.F. aerodrome at Manston, near Ramsgate, where considerable damage was done to buildings." Editor: Lieut.-Col. W. Lockwood Marsh, F.R.Ae.S.. M.S.A.E., F.I Ae.S. Now the German News Agency of Aug. 12—a fortnight before— had claimed: "The air base of Manston was reduced to ashes. Vol . XII, No. 139 September 1940 The runway has been ploughed up by bombs of all calibres, from the heaviest to incendiary bombs. The hangars and other buildings have collapsed." It is a little difficult to visualize the need for again attacking, and being able to cause " considerable damage " T may be interesting, particularly to readers in neutral countries, to an aerodrome which has already, only a fortnight before, been to give some impressions of the effectiveness of the enemy " reduced to ashes." It is not, in our opinion, invariably the aeroplane attacks that have been made since the occupation intention of German communiqués of this nature deliberately to mislead. It is rather the effect of a certain arrogance and optimism of northern France. It is hoped to succeed in making these in the German character which makes it difficult for it to believe observations as nearly objective as is, in the circumstances, possible, and avoid exaggeration in either direction. So many that the object of an attack can have been so disobliging as to rumours are, of course, in constant circulation that it is by no fail to disappear. A characteristic example of this tendency was means easy to sift the reliability of any particular item of the claim that the aircraft carrier " Ark Royal " had been sunk when the ship heeled over under the influence of the helm in a information, but by personal contacts and checking several sources sharp turn made to avoid a bomb which dropped so close as against each other it is as a rule possible to arrive at a reasonable approximation to the facts. momentarily to smother her stern with spray—which led the crew of the aeroplane concerned to believe, and report, that she had I t may be said at the outset that the German Air Force does turned over and sunk. The danger of this attitude of mind from not appear to be particularly successful in effecting damage on the point of view of the inhabitants of the country being attacked points of military importance. It seems clear that it is finding is that after a time one tends to disbelieve every claim made in the carrying out of raids on determined and well-organized defences the German reports—which may not invariably be justifiable. a very different operation from those it made, in the initial stages of the war against Poland, or, in the later campaigns, against There is no doubt whatever that the aeroplane bomb in German Holland, Belgium and France. Poland was not, of course, in a hands when used against defended positions is not proving to be position to offer any effective resistance to the concentrated air a weapon of extreme precision. Whether this is due, as there is attacks that were launched concurrently with the invasion and some reason to suppose, to the inadequacy of the German bomb in an incredibly short space of time every aeroplane was immobi sight or merely to the difficulty, which undoubtedly was not lized and every aerodrome rendered useless. Holland and Belgium fully realized in peace time exercises, of maintaining an aeroplane were no better placed—and equally suffered under the disadvantage sufficiently long on a straight and level course in the face of A.A. of being subjected to surprise attack—while France, as we well and hostile aeroplane attack to ensure accuracy, is not clear; knew before the war started though were debarred from divulging though the fact that the British aeroplanes seem unquestionably it, had a pitifully inadequate air force both in numbers and more successful in hitting their actual objectives rather points quality. This gave an alarming impression of the dominating to the former explanation. effect of " air power," which has by no means been borne out up With the best will in the world and the most determined effort to the present by the attacks on Great Britain. Generally speaking to be cautious, it is impossible to do anything but insist on the —and this is said without the intention of depreciating the quality definite superiority of the British aeroplanes in comparison with of the German pilots who are, in many instances, undoubtedly those they have so far had to meet. We have already referred courageous and skilful—no great determination in pressing home on former occasions to the fighter's advantage in manoeuvrability— attacks in the face of strong opposition has been shown and where which is even more striking and important than their less pre it has been attempted it has not usually met with success. It ponderating superiority in performance. Another feature in which has been officially stated, for instance, that in a dive-bombing British machines of most types have had an initial advantage attack by Ju. 87's on Croydon Aerodrome, which is, of course, over those they have had to contend with is in fire-power, both owing to its close proximity to London extremely well defended, offensive and defensive. The superiority in defensive armament— every aeroplane was lost. due mainly to their power-operated gun-turrets—of the British The occupation of the whole of the Channel coast of France bomber types is most marked and has enabled them with astonishing naturally gave Germany a magnificent chance, one would have frequency not only to escape from but to destroy enemy fighters thought, of rendering coastal traffic along the South Coast and attacking them. Without this adequate defensive armament the through the Channel off Dover impossible, and there is little doubt German bombers have been quite unable to put up similar per that there was every intention of achieving this. Repeated and formances against the British fighters, who have consequently heavy attacks (in some instances large numbers of machines being been in a position to attack with much greater confidence and engaged) on convoys steaming along this route have, however, determination. This superiority in armament has been equally to put it mildly, not been overwhelmingly successful. That this marked when the fighters of the two countries have met each other. is so is evidenced by the fact that after a week or so of repeated That this is not merely a belief or expression of opinion on our bombing attacks of this nature the aid of land artillery brought part is proved by the fact that in all operations during the period up to the coast of France was called in to take over, or at any August 8-20, 701 German aeroplanes were known to have been rate aid in, this work. In one instance, when this method also destroyed while only 192 British machines were lost. This has, proved abortive, dive bombers were, after all, sent over to press of course, done something towards redressing the balance in home the attack ; without, however, proving any more effective, numbers possessed by the Germans when France surrendered: since the convoy emerged, after an hour or so, from the Channel a balance which was, in any case, being rapidly reduced by the with, it is stated, no losses in ships. During the same period, astonishing increase in the output of aeroplanes from British attempts were made to put Dover Harbour out of action. At the factories. This increase is such that MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL end of all this effort, The Times was able to publish a photograph was able to state categorically on August 21 that the production of the harbour and town showing them to be completely undamaged is already greater than that of Germany. That this position should —which we can confirm from the testimony of an independent have been attained in less than twelve months, in view of the leeway and completely reliable witness on his return from there. Here that had to be made up last September is, as we have said, again, the aid of shore batteries has been called upon, with, astonishing.
Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 1, 1940
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