Air War 1936

uk 75

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Just been reading "Hitler's War" by Harry Turtledove about a war starting in 1938 rather than 1939.
From the RAF point of view the book does not make much difference. Which had me thinking about what would have happened if the RAF had had to go to war in 1936 over the Rhineland crisis.
There are many historians who still argue that this was the time France and Britain should have resisted Hitler.
Here I am interested in the RAF rather than the Army or Navy because of the wonderfully exotic biplanes still in service in 1936. The Luftwaffe was also not the sleek force it was in 1939.


Bombing would have been an even more hazardous and rudimentary exercise than in 1939. But fighters would also have been less capable. Close air support for the German Army might have been decisive.


Anyone know any books?
 

Avimimus

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Written on this premise? No. But it is a very interesting premise.

I suspect that the Spanish Civil War is the best source for what it would have been like. So in a sense - it actually happened.

Bombers would be largely unaffected. Some countries used considerably simpler bombsights than the Norden throughout much of the war. It also took a while to upgrade the defensive armament. So the main difference between a He-111 in 1937 and 1941 is engine power and bomb load (and maybe slight improvements to the turrets and durability).

The first generation of the new monoplane fighters would have just appeared in 1936. Since aerial combat was still at a somewhat lower speed (and lower wing loadings) in general, the monoplanes would have an advantage in acceleration, but Bi-planes would generally be better at evasive maneuvers (think Werner Voss's last flight). As a result, it wouldn't be as stark a difference.

An often overlooked factor is weaponry: The few aerial cannons that existed in 1936 had low muzzle velocities, high jam rates, and small magazines. An MG-FF is not an MG-151. As a result the probability of scoring a hit, or multiple hits, from long range with a cannon was much lower. So one of the major factors in the lethality of fighters against slower (biplanes) and larger (bomber) targets isn't really present.

Many of the existing fighters were relatively slow compared to some of the fast bombers of the period - so, while they could usually catch a bomber, they would be forced into trail pursuit (the most dangerous position for an attacking fighter to be in).
 

Rickshaw

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The main difference? Open cockpits and biplanes. Biplanes were still the predominate weapon of air war in 1936, in most air arms. The RAF was just receiving it's last biplane - the Gladiator. The French were still heavily reliant on them. The Italians were still receiving them in 1940! All (or nearly all) had open cockpits.

The bombers flew lower and slower and carried far less - bombs and defensive armament. Bombsights were, as already mentioned, simpler. But then, so were the sights and armament on the fighters as well. Airwar 1936 would have been a much simpler affair, radar was only just being built along the south coast of the UK and pretty well unknown except as a scientific oddity elsewhere.
 

uk 75

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Thanks for the excellent input. I think it would be a fascinating story. There is a commercial wargame available, but not with detailed squadrons and aircraft.
 

JFC Fuller

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An arms race began in the mid 30s, at that time it took about 4 years (approximately/on average/usually/roughly etc) to take a new aircraft type from specification to flying an operational mission. Thus in 1939 the new types were only then starting to to appear in significant numbers in the relevant air forces. Building up industrial capacity in economies hollowed out first by disarmament and then by the depression took even longer. That should give a pretty good indication of what to expect.
 

Avimimus

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uk 75 said:
Thanks for the excellent input. I think it would be a fascinating story. There is a commercial wargame available, but not with detailed squadrons and aircraft.

If you are looking at mocking up simulations of what it would have been like - you could try picking up Il-2 1946 (available DRM free at GoG.com). It has a bunch of aircraft from that period (Gloster Gladiator, TB-3, Blenheim Mk.1, PZL P.11c, M.S.406, Avia B-534, SB-2, R-5, S-328, I-15, I-16 Type 5 & 6, A-5M, Ki-27, Ju-52, S.M.79, Fairy Swordfish, TBD-1), as well as a bunch from a little later that lacked the performance to really stand out (G.50, CR.42, Brewster Buffalo, CW-21, P-36A, D.XXI).

It is really quite fascinating if you set up air battles using only <1938 aircraft - the dynamic is completely different.
 

uk 75

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Been thinking about this old thread in the light of discussions about alt history 1936-41 RAF or Luftwaffe.
The RAF in early 1936 was still a biplane force with the Fury and Hart as fighters and various weird bomber types. The French and the Germans were not much better off.
With no combat experience for 18 years since WW1 but kit that was not much more advanced a clash of air forces would have been interesting.
 

Dilandu

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The RAF in early 1936 was still a biplane force with the Fury and Hart as fighters and various weird bomber types. The French and the Germans were not much better off.
Well, actually France was much better in 1936: they just introduced the revolutionary D.500 fighter, the first all-metal monoplane fighter design. In 1935-1936, they were literally the best fighters in the world.

And bomber fleet just introduced massive Farman F.222 bombers. Again, modern four-engine monoplanes with retractable landing gear. Only one other nation - USSR - have four-engine machines.
 

Michel Van

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1936 state of Luftwaffe ?
to put it mildly, there have there pants down !
3 years have past since it's foundation by Göring
90% of their pilots were rookies in training.
The Bf-109 just enter production, but was not ready for service until 1937.
First He-111 and Ju 87 arrive autumn 1936, at the Luftwaffe for Training to enter service in 1937.
While they have five Ju 86 aircraft

But the French and British airforce have similar issue

If this war happen over Rhineland crisis in March 1936
this will be race for who get there Airforce ready fast as possible
with Real Air fight starting in 1937

For the ground forces, the Wehrmacht were in similar condition like Luftwaffen.
Middle of build up and not ready
Actually Hitler was afraid that his take on Rhineland would end military conflict he not win.
unfortunately the allies let them past and gave Hitler 3 more years on armament...
 

Dilandu

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But the French and British airforce have similar issue
Well, as I mentioned above - France actually have the best fighter and some of the best heavy bombers around in 1936. Granted, they quickly lost that advantage by 1938. But in 1936, French fighters would clearly make a short work out of anything Luftwaffe could throw at them (let's not forget, that Luftwaffe did not have Spanish experience...)
 

uk 75

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Thank you all for joining in. It would be wonderful to have a simulation of the air forces of this era in action.
 

Michel Van

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under a 1936 war
i think that Third Reich would not have a long survival rate.
with France Airpower (the British RAF ready before Third Reich) = Game Over Man.
Also on Ground once France army marching into Rhineland to get it back.
If Hitler makes the mistake for invasion of Belgium to fall the France army in back
this would call the British also to Arms and BEF and RAF attack Wehrmacht in Belgium
next to that Polen, Czechoslovakia could declare War on Third Reich
what bring the litte screaming Austrian into difficulties: A two front war he not wanted.

The Wild card here is USSR and Stalin
will be He neutral and wait for right moment or will intervene in this War?

On long term he could Win
after the defeat of Third Reich and new humiliation by French and British and the Failure of National Socialism,
the Germans will look for another ideology that bring them salvation:
Communism
 
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