Friday, July 6, 2018

Remembering

Spitfire Mk IIa P7350 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
is the only existing airworthy Spitfire that fought in the Battle of Britain.

(Source)
As many of you know, I think the Supermarine Spitfire is amongst the most beautiful aircraft to ever take to the air. In fact, in my estimation, it owns the number one spot on that list. You may argue that the Mustang should be number one, with some vehemence, and be justified in doing so, but on my list, it's the Spit. Perhaps it's that elliptical wing, perhaps it's the history behind the aircraft.

In the summer of 1940, all that stood against the Nazi juggernaut poised just across the English Channel was the Royal Air Force. Specifically Fighter Command of the RAF with their Hurricane and Spitfire fighters. "The Few," if you will, and I do.

If the German air force, the Luftwaffe, could gain air superiority over the Channel and southern England for only a short time, the full fury of the Nazi military would descend upon the green hills of England. If German aircraft could prevent the Royal Navy from interfering with the German invasion force long enough, the odds are that the British would have had to make Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech a reality.

Though the old country seems to have fallen far since those days in 1940, I wouldn't count the British people out anytime soon. They once stood alone against one of the greatest monsters history has ever seen. And won.

They may well do so again.

At any rate, Tuna sent the following video along, a trailer for a film on the Spitfire. A most beautiful bird. I just had to share it...



But what's this? Another trailer? I need to see this film.





72 comments:

  1. Ooooh.....my.......must see this......Put together a number of various Spit Marks when I was much younger. Thanks for the heads up Sarge.

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  2. Eric Brown's two favorites were the SeaFire, and the F6F Hellcat. He said the Hellcat was a heavyweight boxer armed with an ax, and the SeaFire was a ballerina with a switchblade.

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    1. For those wondering, the Seafire was the navalized version of the Spitfire.

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  3. "In the summer of 1940, all that stood against the Nazi juggernaut poised just across the English Channel was the Royal Air Force. Specifically Fighter Command of the RAF with their Hurricane and Spitfire fighters. "

    Well, no. The Royal Navy commanded the channel and prevented "Sea Lion". Air superiority(defeat of the RAF)was a German objective, but not determinant. "the few" performed heroically, and all hail to them; however the propaganda since has ignored the actual situation and the essential importance of sea denial in the Channel by the RN. I commend to you "The Battle for Britain" by Anthony J. Cumming.

    I do like the Spit though.

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    1. I'll have to disagree Cap'n. I think that the crews of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse might argue that having no air cover is not a winning recipe in the face of nearby land-based enemy air.

      Air superiority WAS a determinant in Hitler's decision to cancel Sea Lion. With air superiority over the Channel and screens of U-Boats both north and south of the seaway from Calais to Dover, the Royal Navy would have been hard pressed to stop an invasion without possibly crippling the fleet. There would have been multiple replays of Prince of Wales and Repulse. Look at the damage the Luftwaffe did to the convoys traveling north to Murmansk.

      Without air superiority the Germans could have kept the Royal Navy out of that part of the Channel long enough to get their army across.

      Propaganda? No, historical fact, no matter what revisionist historians might say. Yes, the Royal Navy stood between the Nazis and Britain, but without the Royal Air Force overhead, the RN would have been so many gray-hulled targets.

      Just my thoughts on a matter which I have studied for many years. Personally I don't think Hitler had the cojones to actually order the invasion, he had his eyes on Russia. Perhaps the inability of the Luftwaffe to defeat the RAF was an excuse to call it off. But airpower is a trump card. Ask the 840 dead from Prince of Wales and Repulse, compared to the 18 dead from the attacking Japanese, and that was over a year AFTER the Battle of Britain.

      The book does look interesting.

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    2. I don't disagree with either of you. However, I think the British won the Battle of Britain. All branches of the Service had important missions during it and without the effort of all, the battle would likely have been lost. Perhaps the most important factor was that of the civilians. To never give up and start lobbying Churchill to negotiate a peace, required quite a bit of courage in and of itself.
      It may "take a village" to raise a child, but it takes a nation to win a war. As we have learned the hard way a few times over the last 50 years or so.

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    3. And, yes, the Spitfire is probably my favorite WWII fighter, Mustang, Mosquito, and Corsair are in hot pursuit though. Post WWII favorite? Well, of that I am certain! :-)

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    4. Ha. Isn't one of the slogans of the Air Force "The Peacemakers" or something like that?

      Good save, Juvat, and good points all.

      One can also say that the American people, who donated private weapons to Britain to arm the Home Guard also contributed. Hitler and his Generals expected after Dunkirk to have a mostly unarmed populace to deal with. America rapidly sending over a metric butt-load of bangsticks was sure to be a minor but painful annoyance on the Germans' part.

      Overall, the AirWar over Britain was won primarily by the pilots, but spotter ships of the Royal Navy, anti-aircraft of the Army and Royal Navy, the Barrage Balloons, the Radar Stations, Radio Detection Units, and those really weird concrete sound amplifying dish thingymabobs all worked as a combined force to rid the skies of 'Jerry.' Hitler moving from attacking airfields to attacking cities helped a lot, too.

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    5. Juvat @8:54 - Yes, it was a team effort, the British population really stepped up in 1940.

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    6. Juvat @9:10 - Oh yes, the Mosquito is another favorite. Might be those Merlin engines, which the P-51 had as well. Well, had once we'd got our act together.

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    7. Beans - You're thinking of SAC maybe, that whole "Peace is our profession" thing. Which some wag will always add on, "War is our hobby."

      And yes Beans, all played a role, perhaps the Chain Home radar stations most of all.

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    8. OAFS: I align more with juvat than you on this one. Some of the books that I have read strongly suggest that Hitler never had his heart in invading England, that he would have preferred to ally with the English against the Russians. Of course, when Churchill became PM, that just was not going to happen. Andrew's point about switching targets is also a strong factor. The remainder of his fourth paragraph is extremely cogent.

      All that said, it is a very good post.

      Thanks for the post.
      Paul L. Quandt

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    9. Hitler may not have had his heart in it (if he actually had such an organ) but if the Luftwaffe had managed to gain air superiority over the Channel in short order, he would have given the "go" order. The Germans biggest mistake was going after London and not persisting in going after Fighter Command. It was very much a "near run thing."

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    10. As I remember, the Peacemaker is what the B-36 was called.

      Paul

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    11. Humph. Well, I will point out that the Luftwaffe could not prevent operation Dynamo from working, and also, that Operation Sea Lion had to go at night as well as during the day. The RN would have slaughtered the slow troop lighters the Germans planned on using throughout the night hours. Also: "Crippling the Fleet" was not a consideration in protecting the Homeland. I refer to ABC Cunningham: "The Navy can rebuild a ship in a year, it can never rebuild a tradition". I would aver that reliance upon air to escort a fleet of slow landing craft across the channel against an alerted and resolute defense was truly not viable. The Germans planned it as essentially a river crossing. It would not have been.

      Nothing against the very gallant individuals, but the RAF has a propaganda machine second only to that of the USMC. Case in point the Falklands, where, as my RN friends like to say, the RAF flew one sortie, dropped a bomb, and the immediately built a monument to themselves. :-)

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    12. Points well taken Cap'n, I think Jerry could have jumped over the Channel with the Luftwaffe holding the RN at bay, but...

      We'll never know. Thank God.

      Ah, we airmen have ever been good at blowing our own horns.

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    13. Even with theoretical air superiority Luftwaffe had not enough dedicated shipkillers to ensure at least half of batteredHome Fleet would reach the invasion fleet and exact teribl;e vnegeance on hapless Heer troops stuck in barges, transports etc.
      Also Luftwaffe could not intervene by night.
      Crete was indicative of how it could end, and at Crete British had-and exercised - the option to retreat to minimise casualties.

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    14. Good points. I'm not saying it wouldn't be hard, just saying that it could have been done.

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  4. The Spitfire was a beautiful aircraft. I really like the way a Malcom hood fit it, more like a bubble canopy.
    The Hurricane was a stable gun platform (Tuck's Luck - nice book I borrowed from my school library for a couple years)
    And the speedy Mossy was a gorgeous plane. Mostly wood, and fast as light.

    Do it again? On the plus side, they won the communist insurgency in Malaysia. But now, I dunno. They seem to learn the wrong lessons from history. After WW1, they disarmed their population to the point that US civilians sent them guns so they COULD fight on the beaches if need be. Their heavy industry went away sooner than ours did. Gravy, they are limiting pointy objects now on the hopes that it will ease their brutal knife culture!! Fighting back against a villain will earn you more time in prison than if you WERE the villain. I really don't know what they are using for grey matter...

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    1. I have friends in Britain who would disagree. The problem is that the Labour Party keeps importing foreigners who want free stuff and think they can remake Britain into a Muslim state.

      Eventually the British have to throw out their corrupt politicians and toss those non-assimilating hordes infesting their country.

      Or they will fall. But again, don't believe everything you see in the media.

      Would love to hear what our British readers have to say.

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    2. It seems weird that the British government is restricting common knives, when in actuality the 'knives' used by most of the non-Anglo-Normano-Saxon miscreants are full blown machete length weapons, almost short swords.

      It's like the 'common sense' gun control argument here, controlling semi-auto weapons because some turd-burgler somewhere used a 'fully semi-auto clip-fed magazine supporting assault weapon with a barrel shroud (isn't that the thingy that goes up and you put your shoulder against?)' The Media and the Politicians are attacking everything but the very thing they should be addressing. Here it's legally owned guns, in Britain it's legally owned kitchen knives.

      They (the Brits) would freak out over my kitchen knife drawer, with it's 18 knives of various 'calibers' not to mention the fully loaded knife block with an additional 6 knives of various sizes. I'm not even talking about the collection of Mrs. Andrew, that now numbers over 45 units of sharp, slashy, pointy death (she thinks they are pretty. Some nights when I've been a smart-mouth, I wonder...)

      Britain also has that whole lack of free-speech thingy going against them. Sure, the British people may be slowly getting pissed, but just look at Brexit. How many times has the Government tried to un-Brexit the Brexit vote? With little protesting and negative speech against the un-Brexiting?

      Then there's the whole "Tommy Robinson" thingy. Sure, he's a foul-mouthed lout. But since when is being a foul-mouthed lout a crime? Especially when he's correct about what he's saying? And then to transfer him to a prison that is over 70% full of the very people he's complaining about? That would be like, say, Trump being arrested and thrown into a prison that is 70% MS-13. (No, I am not advocating that, I am just using a shock example.)

      Britain, the Britain that stood up against the Nazis, against the 'Huns' of WWI, against the Boers, the Zulu, the Russians, the Indians (dot) and the French (over and over again) is no longer visible to us in the US. The British Bulldog, if it exists as a majority of the population, seems to be no more. Brexit looks like it's last gasp. I hope I am mistaken.

      We know the British need to overthrow their government. The question is, can they? When to speak against the government is actually a crime?

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    3. I'm watching that whole mess very closely. It's exactly what the leftists in this country want.

      Damn them all to Hell.

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    4. As they are not citizens but subjects, I'll wait and see. Since their "bobbies" would rather feed their daughters to "asian" rape gangs than appear to be racist, their courts see self-defense as worse than invading another's castle, and their government's dogged determination to remove screwdrivers, pliers and plastic picnic supplies from circulation tells me they are just about past civilization and the vandals are waiting in the wings.

      I learned about stick fighting the Brits used to do. They learned it from their overseas colonies, and taught it to everyone, even boy scouts in the early part of the 1900's. Do that now, and your attacker gets a pass and you go to prison. "Chin up dear, I'm sure these asian men will tire of you soon...." Ye gods! what a distance to fall..... I fear we are but 4 strides behind......

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    5. It's a mess. Remember, this is exactly what the Progressives want for us.

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    6. Had not seen this before---Another OAFS puts out THE WORD---

      http://theferalirishman.blogspot.com/2018/07/well-said-by-chief-master-sgtgeorge.html#comment-form

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  5. Agree with you about the Spitfire's looks. Operational it was good for fighter to fighter. The Hurricane was sturdier, easier to build, and easier to repair. The ugly duckling, but very effective against as a heavy bomber interceptor, was the Beaufighter. Four 20 mm cannons, nose mounted vs .303 wing mounted machine guns? I'll leave it to the fighter pilots to argue that one.

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    1. The Beaufighter would be good against unescorted bombers, easy meat for the Me-109s though.

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  6. Our two best fighters (Mustang and Corsair) looked utilitarian, not beautiful. But I do have a soft spot in my herart for the P-38. Not sure that "beautiful" is the right word, but it sure was cool.

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    1. Ah, the P-38! I agree with you on that one, she's not beautiful in a classic sense but she IS one of the coolest looking aircraft to ever fly.

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    2. I disagree. The P-38 is an elegant lady. She looks like she's going fast just sitting still. Beautiful lines, like those salt-marsh speedsters made from her droptanks after the war. Curvy, elegant, those two beautiful... engines.

      But me? I like the farm girl. I'm one of those people that think the P-47 is drop dead gorgeous. Lots of meat, big massive engine, powerful, tough, and able to do it all from scrumming with other fighters to getting dirty on the deck. Youser!

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    3. The eye of the beholder, as always.

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    4. All of those great fighter aircraft and made in their thousands. Also, thousands of pilots trained to man them. The Germans and Japanese were unable to match either number.

      PLQ

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  7. In just a little over three months (July-October) in 1940 about 2,300 pilots (about the strength of two Marine infantry battalions) were able to deny the Luftwaffe from gaining air superiority over England for the planned invasion. Their achievement is remarkable because of the relatively larger numbers of German forces and the fact that, had they failed, the invasion might have been successful. The RAF, using Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes, made a magnificent stand. In the process they shot down about 2,400 German aircraft, and also destroyed Fat Herman's claims of Luftwaffe invincibility.

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    1. Being at the maximum range of their aircrafts, which limited loiter time and ingress-egress routes (basically doing the same thing that Johnson and his ilk purposely did to our boys in Vietnam (ooh, I said Johnson (hwack-ptoooie)) allowed the English to concentrate their forces. If 'Jerry' had just a little bit longer range and been able to come from all angles, it would have been a very different airwar. Sometimes luck does play a reasonable part of a victory.

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    2. Well, our guys going up North did have tanker support. But yes, if the Me-109 had more range, it may have been a different outcome.

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    3. I was referring to the third worse administration since I sprang fully formed upon this Earth decrying the stupid, asinine, horribly predictable Route Packages that pissed away our best and brightest, and many more of the lower hanging fruit, so to speak. Rather than allowing the strikes to come in at all angles, times, altitudes, in an unrelenting air war that WE perfected in WWII. Maximum Precision with Maximum Power with Maximum Effect. War is an extension of Politics, it should not be run by politicians. We had the range in Viet-Nam. We weren't allowed to use it to best effect.

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  8. It's interesting how much we place on looks for our fighter aircraft. Ships? Not so much, but it's important to us for our aircraft. That's probably because there's a bit of romanticism with aviation and we like our cool weapons to look good too. The Warthog is one (of probably many) notable exceptions however. Remember the guppy look of the Lockheed variant during the run off for the F-22? That thing was never going to get made, just based on looks. I'd put the Tomcat at the top of my list, followed by the Rafale, P-38, P-51, F-4, SLUF, T-38, Tornado, F-15E, and the F-18 if in Blue Angel livery.

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    1. It is odd how we look at aircraft. Personally I think the A-10 has a brutal elegance about it.

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    2. I don't know about "brutal elegance", but I do know I wouldn't want to see an A-10 with his nose pointed at me in anger, in the air or on the ground.

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    3. Yeah, that 30 mm cannon will get your attention.

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    4. Just saw an A-10 last Sunday. That 30 mike mike is BIG. With the rate of fire, one sure wouldn't want anyone flying one to be angry with you.

      Paul L. Quandt

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    5. I must be weird. I like the way the A-10. It looks like it's role. Rugged, tough, dirty low-down fighter who's not afraid to curb-stomp her opponent in the neck when she wants to. Scarred, broken and reset nose, you know she'll do her opponent in. Not like those fast movers look. But the fast movers can't dance like the A-10 can. She'll take you for a quick low spin around the field that will leave your armored parts lying all akimbo, and she'll like it. You? It's not about you, it's all about the A-10, baby.

      But then again, I've professed my love for the Thunderbolt and the Thud, both planes who most people don't think 'sexy' is a good word for.

      Sigh.

      And, yes, I do find farm tractors 'sexy' and love the beautiful lines of bull-dozers, especially armored ones.

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    6. Beans - I watched two A-10s beat up our airfield at Kunsan back in the day.

      A beautiful thing, though our Wing King didn't think so.

      The sound of those engines gives me goosebumps!

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    7. I have sweet spot for the sweet little sixteen.... ever since I saw her first in some movie back in 1980s.
      F-16 has just the curves that Spitfire would have if she had been mach 2 jet

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    8. Ah, I had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Viper, the visibility was unbelievable compared to the F-4.

      The WSO had the opportunity to ride in the backseat of a Viper, pretty spectacular.

      Your comparison of the F-16 and the Spitfire seems close to the mark.

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  9. Just watched the 1942 version of "Spitfire" on TV last week. It chronicled the development of Supermarine aircraft from the Schneider Trophy racers to the Spitfire. Of interest was how the Rolls Royce Merlin came to be associated with the aircraft. I'm not sure how much was Hollywood and how much was actual history. I've got me some studyin' to do.

    The Spitfire has been one of my personal favorites. I'd trade significant parts of my anatomy for a chance to fly one.

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  10. One of the first books I remember reading as a lad, was "Spitfire Pilot". Couldn't tell you who wrote it, but I was very impressed by it.

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    1. Flight Lieutenant David Crook, D.F.C.

      Available on Amazon. :)

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    1. What movie, the one from the trailers?

      Source man, I need a source! (Yes, I want one as well.)

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  12. As beautiful as Spitfire was, it was the Hurricane that was the workhorse of the Battle of Britain, ioncluding the famous Polish 303 Sqn. which boasted one of the highest kill counts off the battle...
    Hurricane was robust, stable firing platform that was able to kill bombers reliably amd survive badly shot to be fixed quick and easy. And that was what mattered most since German 109s invariably lacked fuel to keep the bombers company all the way to target and back... something which would become problem for Allied bombing efforts later int he war as well...

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    1. Yup, the Hurricane was put to good use by a number of fine squadrons, 303 Squadron is a favorite of mine.

      Remember, the reason the Hurricane was "easy" to repair is that it was a wooden bird, most of the RAF ground crews were used to repairing wooden aircraft. The Spit was modern in those days.

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  13. One more comment...
    Women of Air Forces Auxiliaries, both US and UK have done helluva job ferrying combat aircraft even without firing a shot in anger. Respect!
    Soviets even mobilized some women into combat units. Most flew Po-2 light night bombers , but few managed to become fighter pilots like Lydia Litvak

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    1. Some of the ladies from the ATA were seen in those clips. I liked one lady's comment that the Spitfire "was a lady in the air but a bitch on the ground." Narrow undercarriage, same issue the Me-109 had.

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  14. As a Brit who didn't serve in the military but spent 32 years as a cop I hope you will let me comment:
    Favourite WW2 Aircraft - The P51D Mustang. I've seen them fly at Duxford and wondered what it must have been like to see them fly in their 000's with the 8th Airforce. The noise would have been intense. The Spitfire is beautiful but I like the aggressive purposefulness of the P51. I also have a thing for the big carrier fighters like the Hellcat and Corsair with my all time favourite piston engine fighter being the Hawker Sea Fury.
    Now, on to other things. With regard to the Battle of Britain and a German invasion, as I said I'm not military but the concept was war gamed in about 1974 with people who would have been participants on both sides. The agreed results were that the Germans would have secured a beachhead but there was no way they could have sustained it. As Pawel said the Luftwaffe at that time didn't have a dedicated anti shipping and the Kriegsmarine was given a bit of a seeing to in the Norway campaign. The Germans did not have dedicated landing craft, they were using river barges and anything they could get their hands on. The RN would have inflicted massive slaughter on them and I believe the attitude at the time was that they would have borne the costs. The RAF could also have withdrawn further north. The home defences may have been short of materiel but remember the use of poison gas would have been sanctioned. It would have been a bloody affair.
    Post WW1 what happened was looked at. The result was that by 1940 the UK had an integrated air defence SYSTEM using visual and radar input. BTW I don't think sound mirrors were used to any extent but a recent TV programme using modern microphones showed they work.
    Retired

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    1. Odd that, a Brit likes the P-51 whereas this Yank prefers the Spit. Though in reality I view the two as ranked 1 and 1a, Spit followed closely by the Mustang, right on its tail you might say.

      Yes, a German invasion would have been an extremely bloody affair.

      I enjoy your comments "Retired," you're always welcome here.

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    2. Kriegsmarine was given a bit of a seeing to in the Norway campaign
      thats what I call British understatement
      there have been left like less than 10 ships rarger than DD in combat readiness after the mauling at the hands of RN (and occassional stalwart Norwegian coastal battery...)

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    3. Great scene in the film, The King's Choice, the sinking of KMS Blücher.

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    4. yup...
      one of few cases coastal defence turned the tide
      other being wake island

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    5. Well, not exactly turned the tide but it did give the attackers a bloody nose. So to speak.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)