Author Topic: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA  (Read 2217 times)

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« on: April 19, 2015, 09:59:57 PM »
Reading up about the new Airfix Beaufighter in AMW and their background on the types service in Coastal Command, including how they were also called, "Cinderella Command" due to their low priority with the RAF in comparison with Bomber and Fighter Commands and I got wondering what if Coastal Command had been transferred to the RN at the same time as the carrier based units.

I am not saying Coastal Command would have done any better or worse under the RN, I don't know enough about that time, priorities and resources, but I am interested in the thoughts of others.  Would the Coastal Command have been any better or worse off, bigger, smaller, different equipment, etc?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 12:40:21 AM by Volkodav »

Offline kerick

  • Responsible for all surrendered booty....Arrrr!!!!
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2015, 11:28:08 PM »
That is a good question. It's always been my impression that Coastal Command got the short end of the stick throughout the war. Unjustified considering their responsibilities. There were U-boats just off the coast if I'm not mistaken. Of course, Coastal Command was better prepared than US forces at the beginning.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2015, 09:07:27 AM »
Well, Coastal Command had been fighting for nearly 3 years by the time the US came into the war, so its no wonder really.  War is a stern master.

As for Coastal Command going to the FAA would the FAA have the experience or the understanding of the mission, as well as the aircraft to carry the mission out?  Remember, Coastal Command was a bit of a misnomer.  By 1941 it should have been "Oceanic Command".  It's responsibilities ranged far out to sea, deep into the ocean.  It operated light, medium and heavy bombers and flying boats to cover the area that it was responsible for.

By 1942, it's importance had been recognised and it received new aircraft rather than the second-hand discards that the other RAF commands no longer wanted or needed.  By the end of the year it was striking deep into Axis held territory and destroying U-boats in the Bay of Biscay and the Northern seas, off the coast of Norway.   There was effectively no major fleet units left outside the Baltic for them to attack or find.

As to whether the FAA would have done a better job?  Difficult to say.  The earlier the split, the better for Coastal Command.  Would they still be wearing RAF blue or RN blue?  Can't imagine them still being RAF personnel, really.  Loads of changes of camouflage to RAA schemes, from RAF ones.

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2015, 12:53:36 PM »
I was imagining when the FAA was split off that the Coastal Command squadrons went with them.  One definite benefit I could see would have been closer cooperation between the Command and the Fleet but as too whether the Admiralty could have swung them any better aircraft than they managed under the RAF control.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 01:43:46 PM »
I was imagining when the FAA was split off that the Coastal Command squadrons went with them.  One definite benefit I could see would have been closer cooperation between the Command and the Fleet but as too whether the Admiralty could have swung them any better aircraft than they managed under the RAF control.

Doubtful.  The FAA was usually seen as the poor man's cousin compared to the RAF.  It had some distinctly FAA ideas on what was required in naval aeronautical circles and stuck to them, even after it was rather obvious that an extra crewman to act as a navigator wasn't needed in a fighter.   Eric Browne has it pretty set out in his various books on flying and comparing the aircraft from WWII.  I'd recommend reading them if you can.  They give a real insight into FAA thinking.

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2015, 07:41:39 PM »
Another thing, that I was completely unaware of until I read it today, was that UK intelligence (or those who received it) tended to "mirror" foreign services on their own force structures.  Specifically when the UK became aware of the Mitsubishi G3M Nell (and following G4M Betty), they assumed it was an Imperial Japanese Army Air Service medium bomber along the lines of the RAFs Whitley and Wellington, rather than the extreme, long range heavy bomber, with torpedo capability, designed to attrite the US fleet as it set forth from Pearl Harbour to Japanese waters in the event of a war, that it really was. 

Based on this "mirroring", if Coastal Command was part of the FAA, the UK may have had a different view of the role of the Nell and 'possibly' may have realised that Japan had a very long range anti shipping capability at their disposal and 'possibly' may have determined that battleships could not, ever, be used against Japan without air cover, based on the RAF (which the FAA and Coastal Command had so recently been a part of) belief that "the bomber will always get through".  A lot of assumptions and suppositions but far more likely to have occurred had the Admiralty been looking at Japanese capability through the prism of their own, sea power centric, biases. 

We then have a possibility of the RN pushing for a long range land based fighter to support the fleet within range of Japanese airpower, or an earlier evolution of the Light Fleet Carrier to get more fighter cover for the fleet to allow the battleships to do their job.  Bit of a stretch I know but then again, butterfly effect.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 04:37:31 PM »
I take you are aware of HMS Indomitable role or rather lack of it, in the sinking of Force Z?  HMS Indomitable was to sail East with Force Z but ran aground in the Caribbean on trials and had to put into the US port for re[airs IIRC.   Without HMS Indomitable, Prince of Wales and Repulse were pretty well at the mercy of the Japanese Nells while the RAF's aircraft had only a limited time overhead to protect them.   Giving the RN land based fighters wouldn't have made much difference.  What was required was a carrier, on station with the two capital ships to make sure that the slow, unmanoeuvrable Nells were destroyed.   Alternatively, you could of course give the RAF some idea of how vulnerable the capital ships were?

What would have been better might have been more carriers for the RN...

Offline Cliffy B

  • Ship Whiffer Extraordinaire...master of Beyond Visual Range Modelling
  • Its ZOTT!!!
    • My Artwork
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 07:28:34 PM »
Never knew that Rick!  Thanks for that piece of history.  My idea builds are lighting now  8)
"Radials growl, inlines purr, jets blow!"  -Anonymous

"Helos don't fly.  They vibrate so violently that the ground rejects them."  -Tom Clancy

"If all else fails, call in an air strike."  -Anonymous

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: Coastal Command is split from the RAF with the FAA
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2015, 10:39:37 PM »
I take you are aware of HMS Indomitable role or rather lack of it, in the sinking of Force Z?  HMS Indomitable was to sail East with Force Z but ran aground in the Caribbean on trials and had to put into the US port for re[airs IIRC.   Without HMS Indomitable, Prince of Wales and Repulse were pretty well at the mercy of the Japanese Nells while the RAF's aircraft had only a limited time overhead to protect them.   Giving the RN land based fighters wouldn't have made much difference.  What was required was a carrier, on station with the two capital ships to make sure that the slow, unmanoeuvrable Nells were destroyed.   Alternatively, you could of course give the RAF some idea of how vulnerable the capital ships were?

What would have been better might have been more carriers for the RN...

Yes I was aware of that.  Also of relevance is Ark Royal was designed with a war with Japan in mind, while the Armoured Fleet Carriers were designed to be survivable in a European war. 

An improved Ark, based on experience with the first could have been very interesting, for instance Arks sea trials demonstrated that she would have been capable of achieving her design speed with only two thirds of her propulsion plant, i.e. four boilers and two shafts.  This would have reduced weight, fuel consumption, hydrodynamic drag, increased bunkerage and permitted greater subdivision, making the design more capable, survivable (Ark was lost when a single torpedo caused total loss of power and flooding across theunsubdivided boiler room) and efficient, not to forget cheaper to build.  In service it was realised that the lower hanger was difficult to use and could have actually been deleted for little loss in overall aircraft capacity or capability. 

Basically the RN could have pretty much ordered the first three Illustrious class for European service but instead of Indomitable and the Implacables, built five or six two shaft, single hanger Arks for global service and had them entering service from early 1942. These ships would have been larger and more capable than the light fleets, carrying more and potentially larger aircraft, more fuel and ordinance for them and been available in sufficient numbers to counter the Japanese earlier, perhaps even save Force Z.

On Force Z, another factor is the destroyers had been dispatched to Australia, I wonder if the presence of a number of escorts could have helped them escape, say L class AA destroyers, Didos, or even just a couple of Town class cruisers or even my postulated Tribal class DD AA (5 twin 4", 2 quad 2pdr pompoms and 4 twin Oerlikon / single Bofors, plus directors).  Another thought is Fulmar floatplane scout / fighters, supplementing or replacing the the embarked Walruses on POW and Repulse, how much difference could four of them have made (more if escorting cruisers carried another one or two Fulmars (or Hurricanes) each.