Sunday, September 23, 2012
The Swarm Rises
The swarm started to rise on the radar screens all over Britain. Low level and high level radar picked up the now daily activity. It was obvious that the Soviets were trying to intimidate the British government as well as practice for the upcoming hostilities. Thousands of planes climbing for the sky and daily flying off to do practice bombing and strafing runs filled the skies of France and the Low Countries. On the radar screens it sometimes looked like a mayfly swarm rising from the waters of a clear mountain lake. Only it was September and these mayflies had the power to destroy a nation.
Novikov was in his element. Directing and choreographing on a macro level the deadly ballet that he had promised would lay waste to the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. This of course has been tried before and failed. Some say that Goering and the Luftwaffe came within a hairs width of defeating the RAF and some say the issue was never in doubt. By this time in history many a historian and military strategist had waxed eloquently on what the RAF did right and where the Luftwaffe efforts went wrong.
Novikov had read many of these essays and even interviewed a fair number of German and captured British commanders who fought in the first battle for the skies of Britain. He and his staff had immersed themselves in the history and lore of the Battle of Britain. A few very large and significant factors seemed to stand out.
As the Americans and the Germans found out, the range of their fighters must match the range of the bombers if they were to bomb in daylight. They must be escorted to and from the target. This lesson seemed clear.
Sergo and his minions had made sure that the VVS had competitive fighters that could range over the entire British Isles. In addition thousands of the acknowledged best fighters to come out of the last war would have their range extended by the use of drop tanks. The Yak 3s and Lag 7s would swarm the area over Southern England known as 11 Group. Not as well known in the West, these models were well known to the Germans.
The Yak 3U was a late war model that once the Germans got to know its characteristics the orders came to avoid engaging it below 5000 meters. It was considered too dangerous and they had no plane that could match its performance. It was easily competitive to the best of the US and UK fighters below 5,000 meters.
The Lag 7 had ended the vertical maneuvering superiority of the German fighters and was faster than the FW 190 fighter bombers who plagued the Soviet troops with their hit and run tactics. They could no longer run.
The Luftwaffe failed in the initial Battle of Britain because of situational awareness and lack of basic intelligence. They had no idea if their attacks were effective, what was working and what was not. Did a second raid need to be made or even the location of the targets themselves? Very often the wrong targets were hit and when the right ones were hit they did not know how effective the strike was. In addition no one of competence was given over-all command.
This would not be the case in this battle. The excellent Soviet spy system had been feeding information to the NKVD and Beria for years. They knew the initial disposition of virtually every fighter squadron and its back up fields as well. Each factory location and what they produced there was carefully plotted. Their destruction carefully planned and their magnitude of importance to keeping the RAF flying carefully projected. The luxury of six months to plan was indeed a welcome change from the war years.
The VVS also had the luxury of not caring about the RAF bomber fleet and its demise. Their only concern was the destruction of Fighter Command. Their bombers were not going to be used for terror raids or shipping attacks. Their sole purpose was to either lure fighters into the air or to destroy them on the ground.
The elimination of the air defense system from the equation was well thought out. The British Anti-Aircraft Command was a formidable foe and the first 4 weeks of the campaign would be critical. The combination of defeating the VT proximity fuse and other planned innovations and tactics should be enough to accomplish the task of leaving the air fields of the RAF helpless for significant periods of time.
In the lower half of the British Isles this would once again be the time of the Sturmovik. With its range augmented by drop tanks the IL10 would range far and wide in southern England decimating anything that moved around the RAF fighter fields. Eventually it was planned that the regions known to the RAF as Group 11 and 12 would be devoid of safe places to land and gain respite from their relentless pursuers.
The other areas of the British Isles that harbored fighter squadrons would fall to other models of Soviet planes but Group 11 and 12 would be the domain of the Sturmovik and its unrivaled variety of deadly ground attack ordinance. Once the initial attacks began there would be nowhere to hide for the fighters of Group 11 and 12. Every waking hour the skies would be filled with Sturmoviks on the hunt.
They would have to retreat, but where? If they failed to rise to the fight then the VVS had won. If they ran to Iceland or Spain then the VVS had won. The destruction of the British infrastructure would begin just like it had to a helpless and prostrate Germany and Japan. The TU2S held as many pounds of incendiaries as the B17 and Lancaster bombers that fueled a fire storm in Dresden. The TU2S could range all over the British Isles. The Tu2S was significantly faster than the B17.
With the British populace devoid of an air umbrella the Pe 8 and Pe 9 heavy bombers of the VVS could be used with impunity, dropping their full loads of 11,000 lbs of bombs on the helpless populations below.
If victory was not swift in coming the British would invent counter measures to the ones being practiced overhead. Novikov knew that for his own health and well being, he needed the Second Battle of Britain to be over in less than a month. With 5 to 1 odds it was imperative that he defeat Fighter and Anti-Aircraft Command quickly.
Stalin’s goal was not to invade Great Britain but to take it out of the war effort…to make it a neutral observer. To prevent it from becoming the unsinkable aircraft carrier it became in World War Two. To let the internal communist sentiments rule over the unruly…to assist a nascent communist party in its efforts to gain control over the people of the British Isles…to have them join the workers’ paradise…to throw out the Capitalist dogs that have held sway over the world’s peoples for far too long.