“What's wrong Sir?”
“We’ve got another war on our hands, a war of tactics.”
“How so Sir?”
“Please indulge me Major. I'm just thinking out loud. Not only are two powerful factions fighting to decide how the fighters are to be managed. But we also have more ideas over how the airfields should be defended. One side believes that the anti aircraft gun and the VT fuse will solve all our problems and that the combat air patrol over all airfields is no longer necessary. That basically the airfields can defend themselves. I've seen the studies and the VT fuse is wonderful and the statistics don't lie. The Americans have used it quite well in the battle against the kamikaze. All though the kamikaze did still get through at times.
Once you get that question out of the way we still have to decide whether to use the fighters in a Big Wing like Bader and Leigh-Mallory camp proposed or in small squadron sized units like Dowding and Park proposed. Being outnumbered four to one is going to make it a very hard decision I'm afraid I'm leaning towards the Big Wing Theory. We just can't afford to be wrong in this.”
“Forgive me for being presumptuous Sir. May I play the devil’s advocate? Couldn't we experiment? In the original battle of Britain 11 Group used the Fighter Tactics and 12 Group used the Big Wing as they had more time to prepare. Both seem to have worked in their various areas given the situations that the commanders were presented. Another consideration is that of course our radar is much better now so we will have much more time to prepare.”
"Yes I suppose given the increased amount of time our new radar installations will give us we will have ample time to detect any formations. Keeping that in mind the Big Wing will probably be the best solution for our current problem. The extra time provided by more powerful radar well give will allow us to form the Big Wing much faster and therefore intercept much faster. We will also be able to concentrate our forces to attack the enemy where he is the weakest.”
Yet another problem is how do we base our fighters? Do we spread them out or concentrate them and guard them with heavy anti aircraft defenses. If we spread them out there is less likely chance that they will get caught taking off or landing but they'll be harder to concentrate them into the larger formations. If we concentrate them in the few airfields then we are going to have to rely on our anti aircraft defenses to protect them. Plus there is the fact that if we concentrate them they will be able to form Big Wings faster to reach the enemy earlier and in force.
We still are going to have to shoot down 4 planes to our 1 before the Reds will be convinced to stop. Ivan is no stranger to casualties. The kind of casualties that they have taken over the years will have to be horrendous to convince Stalin that he is defeated. That is something the Americans don't seem to understand. The casualties they suffered compared ours were slight. Compared to the Russians they were miniscule. I do believe the American leadership understands this but the average American will become very upset if their casualty rate is anywhere near what we and the Soviets have suffered. I doubt the American public will stand for it for long."
"You are probably right Sir American politicians have quite a dilemma on their hands but I would suggest Sir that that is not our problem at the moment."
“Yes … yes of course. I get side tracked easily these days. So basically we are faced with a number of decisions we have to make you have to make them quickly.
1. Big Wing or Squadron formations
2. Heavily defended airfields and no combat air patrol or use our limited resources for combat air patrol.
3. Spread out our fighters or concentrate them in a few well defended airfields.
4. Do we meet them over the channel or after they start their return. We don’t want to be in the same air space as the VT fuse without special considerations.
First decision must be whether we're going to use the Big Wing Theory or not. I have a feeling this will bring about the same heated discussions that occurred during the first battle of Britain. Both sides insisted that they were right and in the end it was some misplaced bombs hitting London that cause the Hun to change his tactics. They stopped hitting our airfields and radar after we retaliated and bomb Berlin. Many historians believe that this was the turning point as the Luftwaffe was about to clear the skies our fighters. It never really was conclusively proven whether the Big Wing was effective or not.
Another factor to consider is that the Soviets outnumber us 4 to 1 were as the Germans outnumbered us 3 to 2. I believe this makes it imperative that we go with the Big Wing. And if we go with the Big Wing that means that we have to go with concentrating our fighters so they can get organized faster in order to reach the Soviet formations before they can do too much harm. That of course leads me to the conclusion that we have to have heavily defended, smaller amounts of airfields in close proximity to each other and rely on the anti aircraft guns and the VT fuse.”
"I suggest Sir that another tactic we may use would be to drag and the Soviet fighters over our flak traps. This might cause problems with identification and we should find a solution for our fighters to distinguish themselves from their opponents. Perhaps we could use the same type of markings that we use during the invasion, those invasion stripes come to mind Sir or some kind of strobe light that we could turn on the could be seen during the day that would warn our gunners not to shoot at our own planes."
“That is a problem we are going to have to work on but I don’t think it is surmountable. Yes I think I will present this to the minister and put the matter up for discussion. We have to prepare and time is running out. Playing to your devil’s advocate I would conclude that after weighing all the options our best course of action will be to use the Big Wing, concentrate our airfields and surround them with flak traps and put our faith to the hands of the vaunted VT fuse and the 3.7 inch antiaircraft gun. I know the fighter pilots will be chaffing at the bit to tear into Ivan before he can reach their ground crews but that’s what bomb shelters are made for eh. “
“Well I suppose you are right sir. It seems like we have to make some hard decisions involving some bad choices. Given the number of Ivan’s in that are going to be in the air this will be a close run thing.”