The Challenge

perfectgeneral

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New title: AHC: Peerless Air Ministry

Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister
(later Lord, then Earl Swinton) is your stooge. He can turn down the peerage (for political capital) and make the ministry do your bidding. Can you undo ALL the mistakes and poor choices of the ministry June 1935 - September 1939?

He is a lawyer of some intellect and has ministerial experience in Trade, Colonies and earlier in National Service. Rose to Major during the Great War and served with Winston Churchill for a time.

Let us say you have him in your pocket. Bribery, blackmail, brainwashing, whatever. You only have knowledge available at the time to work from, but you can cherry pick the right knowledge given a believable excuse.

Bonus if he stays on throughout WW2 and has further impact. Keep within his brief and plausible history for the period.
 
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Can you undo ALL the mistakes and poor choices of the ministry June 1935 - September 1939?
The problem is how far you can push it without going ASB?

Power jets and a better really high speed wind tunnel at Farnborough might get very close to ASB by 39.......
 
This reminds us Anthony Williams’ book “The Foresight War,” and the few chapters that I have written in my own RCAF ‘46 Canada-wank.
Williams would have a modern-day academic (historian or engineer) time-travel back to the 1930s and advise his Lordship on which projects should be aborted, which projects should be retired after “lessons-learned” and finally, which projects to rush into full-scale production.
 

perfectgeneral

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The problem is how far you can push it without going ASB?

Power jets and a better really high speed wind tunnel at Farnborough might get very close to ASB by 39.......
Not at all. There are perfectly reasonable grounds to support such work. Pretty much a mystery why the ministry wanted to rely on a US transonic wind tunnel. Which aero-engine company would you partner the fledgling Power Jets Ltd with? Gloster? Fairey? Hawker-Siddeley? deHavilland? Metrovick?

Some are busier than others. Some more able to work in a similar area to superchargers and turbines. OTL they finally went with Gloster. Although all of these, but Fairey, came up with a turbojet soon after.
 
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perfectgeneral

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This reminds us Anthony Williams’ book “The Foresight War,” and the few chapters that I have written in my own RCAF ‘46 Canada-wank.
Williams would have a modern-day academic (historian or engineer) time-travel back to the 1930s and advise his Lordship on which projects should be aborted, which projects should be retired after “lessons-learned” and finally, which projects to rush into full-scale production.
It is going to stand out if you start suggesting ideas that nobody else is proposing. A legal background with friends in industry does not a designer/inventor/engineer make. You might be less inclined to express an unqualified view that a single engine aircraft is too small to mount cannons (OTL) or to sit on funding for aircraft cannon licensing and development for couple of years. Plenty of scope without straying from the commissioning and budgeting within the ministry brief.
 
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In 1936 on the grounds that they are ahead of what became the Beaufort and Botha in development and therefore likely to suffer shorter delays order a TB version of the Hampden to replace the Vildebeest and a GR version of the Wellington (built by Blackburn) to replace the Anson.

However, as the Hampden and Wellington cost about a third more than the Battle and Blenheim the proposal is likely to be vetoed by the Treasury. In that case stick to the plan to replace the Anson with a GR Blenheim and have Blackburn build them instead of the Botha. Then there should be at least 11 squadrons of GR Blenheims in Coastal Command in September 1939 instead of the 11 Anson squadrons. The Ansons would still have been built and used to accelerate the planned expansion of the training organisation.
 
A Taster.
June 1935 upon taking up his post, Sir Philip reviews all the various sub-committees working under the auspices of the AM. The Work of CSSAD (Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence) under the wing of Sir Hugh Dowding and Chairmanship of Henry Tizzard catches his attention. Upon being briefed by them of detail of the work being done on the electronic detection of attacking bombers and the associated fighter direction and control systems Sir Philip comes to the conclusion that Balfours famous prediction of the "Bomber will always get through" is not necessarily a 'given'. With this insight also throwing into doubt the veracity of the entire 'Trenchard Doctrine' that formed the basis of the strategic role of the RAF, Sir Philip proceeds to quietly carry out a 'Root and Branch' review of the entire purpose and roll of the RAF in National defence.
To be continued?
 

Ramontxo

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And having a ingrained respect for the Oldest Service, Sir Philip forms a subcommite for extending Downings work to the RN and decides to dedicate a sizeble quantity of the cheapest of the next fighter generation (the Hurricane) to be developed as a sea fighter suitably trained in the new interception tactics (and as guided from the carrier by RADAR using just one pilot)
 
From National Archives File Air 20/67

Aircraft Requirements - Scheme F Required by 31.03.39 Mk 2.png
 
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perfectgeneral

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@NOMISYRRUC:
You seem to be ordering quantity over quality at this stage. Building up the training capability? All those Battles etc. are going to soak up valuable engines. Can they swap out for weaker engines when they become second line? Are you planning on a table of selections and orders like this for each year? Yes please! Bollingbroke could a maritime patrol job, but they too shall be training aircraft pretty soon. EATS could start planning and establishment stages? I'm amazed at how much was spent OTL on less than ideal aircraft.

Sir Philip proceeds to quietly carry out a 'Root and Branch' review of the entire purpose and roll of the RAF in National defence.
To be continued?
Does he have the authority to make an early Inskip award of the FAA back to the RN?
How easy are Mosquitoes to detect by "radar", is there still enough of a return just from the engines with wooden aircraft? How high and fast does an interceptor need to be at short notice?
Can we test the accuracy of a long range bombing mission using a test range in the western desert? Can we scientifically test the assumptions that our doctrine is based upon?
 
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Accepted!
I do not think that Sir Philip can actually return the FAA to the Navy but he can certainly lay the ground work in preparation for it.
So here goes so to speak to mix my metaphors 'In for a Penny in for a Pound here's my tuppence worth'

Sir Phillip Takes the Helm. Part 1.
June 1935 upon taking up his post, Sir Philip reviews all the various sub-committees working under the auspices of the AM. The Work of CSSAD (Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence) under the wing of Sir Hugh Dowding and Chairmanship of Henry Tizzard catches his attention. Upon being briefed by them of detail of the work being done on the electronic detection of attacking bombers and the associated fighter direction and control systems, Sir Philip comes to the conclusion that Balfour’s famous prediction of the "Bomber will always get through" is not necessarily a 'given'. With this insight also throwing into doubt the veracity of the entire 'Trenchard Doctrine' that formed the basis of the strategic role of the RAF, Sir Philip proceeds to quietly carry out a 'Root and Branch' review of the entire purpose and roll of the RAF in National defence.

For the rest of 1935 Sir Phillip carried out a review of the capabilities of all branches of the RAF and of how new technologies available in the immediate future would change those capabilities. He gathered around him a small committee of serving officers, scientists, engineers and industrialists who could advise him, even if that advice could be considered partisan. Among those whose opinion and support he sought was that of Winston Churchill, though he was sceptical of Professor Lindeman's influence on him. Whilst dining with Churchill at the House of Commons in the autumn of 1935, Sir Phillip asked Churchill what had caused him more concern in 1917, the Botha bombing raids and the possibilities of civilian panic or the unrestricted submarine warfare and the potential starvation of Britain. Having thought for a moment Churchill replied that it was the submarines which really worried him.


Shortly afterwards, Sir Philip had a private meeting, dinner again, with the First Sea Lord Chatfield. He surprised the first Sea Lord by informing him that he would support the return of the FAA directly to the RN and that this should take place as soon as the reorganisation of the RAF into separate commands took place in mid 1936. The sharing of abnitio pilot training and the retaining/transfer of RAF pilots until the FAA had a sufficient pool of Naval pilots was also agreed. The final date of transfer of command would be set once the extent of the required naval reorganisation and infrastructure had been assessed. Sir Philip explained that this transfer of responsibility was in line with his perceived change in the role of the FAA that the new technology of RDF would bring to the capabilities of naval aircraft both in attack and defence. The ability shipborne RDF to detect and attack and permit fighters to be directed to intercept it and the ability of the airborne system to ‘Find, Fix and Track’ the enemy fleet by day or night irrespective of weather and visibility was a quantum leap in capability. Sir Phillip at this time handed over to the First Sea Lord a briefing paper prepared by his advisory committee on the future naval application of RFD for the FAA. For there was every indication at that time that all the RN research on the subject was focused solely on RDF’s application to gunnery. Agreement was reached that the two gentlemen would occasionally dine together to exchange views and progress of developments pertinent to both of their services.

Sir Phillip had reached some startling conclusions and knew that both Lord Trenchard and Lord Salmon would fight him tooth and nail therefore he needed a way to disarm them. As Sir Phillip saw it the primary strategic role of the RAF post 1935 and the development of RDF was to prevent a potential enemy from delivering the much vaunted “Knock Out Blow” because if any potential enemy had themselves matched the RAF development in RDF and Fighter control then the fear of the RAF Bombers as a deterrent from aggression would no longer a tenable position. So with the proposed re organisation of the RAF into separate commands as of the middle of 1936, Sir Philip proposed that the primary command would be Fighter command with Bomber command coming second. Until Fighter command could by both Day and Night provide a comprehensive defence against Arial attack it would remain the priority for both material and personnel. Sir Phillips heresy was that he considered that the RAF bombers were incapable of flying to targets of strategic importance and hitting them let alone actually destroying them. This conclusion was drawn from examining the results of the various bombing exercises and navigation tests flown. Sir Phillip’s keen legal mind quickly unpicked the bias and outright deceit hidden within the parameters of the exercises to arrive at his own conclusions regarding the effectiveness of the current RAF bomber force and found it distinctly unfit for purpose. He concluded that with the new technologies of RDF the RAF bombers would suffer unsustainable losses during daylight attacks and in a nigh time campaign would be ineffectual in hitting the enemy.

I plan part 2 to take us up to the start of 1936 but I must dive back into my sources before completing the writing of it so it will not be posted till at least later today.
 
@NOMISYRRUC:
You seem to be ordering quantity over quality at this stage. Building up the training capability? All those Battles etc. are going to soak up valuable engines. Can they swap out for weaker engines when they become second line? Are you planning on a table of selections and orders like this for each year? Yes please! Bollingbroke could a maritime patrol job, but they too shall be training aircraft pretty soon. EATS could start planning and establishment stages? I'm amazed at how much was spent OTL on less than ideal aircraft.
Post 13 is a transcript of an Air Ministry document. It's not what I think should have been done. It's what the Air Ministry was actually doing. About 2,200 Battles were eventually built which is about two thirds more than the number on requisition in October 1936.
 

GarethC

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Will there be a Defiant or a Roc?

Is there a need for the Hampden, Wellington, Whitley trifecta? If there is a Whitley, will it need Merlins?

Can the Battle be better? More armour, two crew, smaller wings, etc?

Is there scope for a radial-engined fighter(-bomber) for the Far East?

Is there a chance to review the Hurricane wing?

Is there an opportunity to look at airborne warning and control earlier than OTL?
 
The Battle was a result of abiding by what the Geneva Disarmament conference may decide on Bomber weights. The Wellington was designed at the same time, that was allowed to grow in weight, but the Battle was kept low. Good enough for a couple of years, but should have been replaced. Note similar US aircraft of the period swiftly went from the Curtis Shrike A-12, to A-17, twin-engine A-18 then to DB-7!

The Hampden, Wellington, and Whitley were all in their own ways successful - though only the Wellington had a long service life; only trouble because of its specialised construction only Vickers could build it. The Hampden like the Battle suffered from the GDC hence the narrow fuselage. While the whitely held the line until better aircraft became available.
 
1.) Will there be a Defiant or a Roc?

2.) Is there a need for the Hampden, Wellington, Whitley trifecta? If there is a Whitley, will it need Merlins?

3.) Can the Battle be better? More armour, two crew, smaller wings, etc?

4.) Is there scope for a radial-engined fighter(-bomber) for the Far East?

5.) Is there a chance to review the Hurricane wing?

6.) Is there an opportunity to look at airborne warning and control earlier than OTL?

1.) I'd say one or the other, preferably the Roc as it's less of a waste of Merlins

2.) Were they hedging their bets or was each aricraft designed for a silightly different role?
Maybe axe the one with the least development potential.

3.) And will probably make a better naval fighter.

4.) Vickers Venom? Gloster "Gallant"? Radial engined M.20?

5.) This would give it more development potential, perhaps more speed as a Fighter Bomber too,
the reason the Hurricane became obsolete was that they couldn't make it any faster and it was physically
impossible to put any more weapons on.

6.) Zeppelins? Just kidding.
 
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