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Aerial Reconnaissance in WWII


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#1 71st_AH_Scojo

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 14:49

So I've been playing Steel Division the past few days and I've been enjoying using Recon aircraft to spot for artillery.

 

This has compounded my interest in what aerial recon was really like in WWII.

 

Are there any good reads, whether articles or books, about aerial recon?

 

I'm mostly interested in the big picture/general history of it, but pilot accounts and plane info would be welcome as well.

 

Some specific questions I've always had are:

  • Were recon planes ever escorted?
  • Were recon pilots attached to air groups, ground forces, or both?
  • What were the reasons for having dedicated recon aircraft as opposed to retrofitting aircraft such as the 110 which would also have armament?
  • How integral was aerial recon with artillery?
  • How far into enemy territory would dedicated recon missions fly?
  • Was night time recon a thing or very popular?

I know a decent amount about aerial recon in WWI, but hardly anything about it in WWII.

 

Also, for the sake of this Sim's setting being the Eastern Front, we can steer the discussion and sources in that direction.


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Fighting in the air is not sport. It is scientific murder.                                                                                                                                                    — Captain Edward V. 'Eddie' Rickenbacker, USAS


#2 Finkeren

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 19:14

I'll try my hand based on the not-insignificant amount I've read over the years.

1. Were recon planes ever escorted?

- Yes, but most often not. It was far more common to draw potential interceptors away from the recon planes by doing fighter sweeps in a nearby area. Generally speaking, more effort was done to avoid interception, either by avoiding detection (and a single aircraft is much harder to detect that a squadron) or by flying really high and/or really fast.

2. Were recon pilots attached to air groups, ground forces or both?
With few exceptions (such as recon aircraft launched from naval ships) recon aircraft were part of the airforce, though occasionally they would be in direct contact with ground or naval forces. Also keep in mind, that some airforces during WW2 were tied to a branch of the armed forces rather than being their own branch. In the US for instance, the army, navy and marine corps each had their own separate air force.

Edited by Finkeren, 20 April 2017 - 19:15.

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#3 Finkeren

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 19:35

3. What were the reason for having dedicated recon aircraft as opposed to retrofitting aircraft such as the 110 which would also have armament?

- Actually the latter was very common. Not as much with planes like the Bf 110 but with faster, better climbing single-seat, single-engine fighters (though planes like the P-38 and the Mosquito had great success as recons) It's a question of the right plane for the right job. Fast fighter planes are great for pre-planned photo recon of a specific area, whether from high or low altitude. Slower, dedicated recon planes with better downward visibility and multiple crew members are better for things like detecting forces on the ground, directing artilleri fire and weather recon (which is an often overlooked but extremely important job for recon pilots.

4. How integral was aerial recon with artillery?

- Directing artilleri fire was less common than in WW1, but was still done. Identifying targets for artillery and observing results of artillery fire and air attacks was very common.

5. How far into enemy territory would dedicated recon missions fly?

- Pretty much as far as their fuel would last. Special built recon Spitfires, which normally aren't known for their great range, did photo recon over Berlin in broad daylight flying from bases in England. Recon sorties far into the hinterlands were usually done by fast and/or high flying aircraft and almost always was either pre-planned photo recon or weather recon ahead of an incoming bomber attack (if you've seen "Memphis Belle" you'll notice, that they receive regular updates on cloud cover over the target, even after they've taken off. Most likely from a Mosquito flying ahead of the bomber stream)

6. Was night time recon a thing or very popular?

-It existed, but was obviously limited in what it could achieve. Night flying at the time was never really popular with most pilots.
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#4 Finkeren

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 19:45

One recon job, that was both dangerous and extremely important, but which people rarely think of, is the German job of "Fühlungshalter" ("contact-keeper"), I'm sure there was a British equivalent, whose task was to keep in contact with attacking bomber formations. They would stay just outside of firing range and report on numbers, damaged or destroyed aircraft, changes in altitude, speed and course for use by interceptors and AAA, and most important: Make sure the air defense didn't lose track of the bomber formations, which as strange as it sounds was a real issue.
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#5 ZachariasX

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 20:03

One recon job, that was both dangerous and extremely important, but which people rarely think of, is the German job of "Fühlungshalter" ("contact-keeper"), I'm sure there was a British equivalent, whose task was to keep in contact with attacking bomber formations. They would stay just outside of firing range and report on numbers, damaged or destroyed aircraft, changes in altitude, speed and course for use by interceptors and AAA, and most important: Make sure the air defense didn't lose track of the bomber formations, which as strange as it sounds was a real issue.


Stalking Bombers was an important task. Doing so, the Germans discovered that US bombers landed at the airbase Poltawa behind the Russian front During operation FRANTIC1 and 2. Attacking the airfield with He111 etc. made for the largest blow ever dealt to the US airforce. Also thanks to Stalins idea about providing "air defense". They often used twin engined Bombers like the Ju88 for such, more discreet missions.

As for field reconnaissance, the Fw189 was a very sucessful aircraft on the eastern front. Actually, one of the most sucessful ones the Germans had at all.

In the west, there was very little German recon flights after the Battle of Britain. They wouldn't have lasted long, even if they tried. The odds there were very soon very, very lopsided. It was not until the Germans had operational jets that they had some recon again.

The allies in the meantime took enough photograhs that, measured in square kilometers, was enough to map entire Germany twice.
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#6 DD_Arthur

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 21:57

I'm sure there was a British equivalent, whose task was to keep in contact with attacking bomber formations.

 

Nope.  No need for it over the UK as the only massed bomber formations occurred during the BoB.   Attacking RAF formations acted on information from radar and the Observer Corp.

 

The LW needed such a technique as radar coverage did not extend into the whole interior of Germany and massed B17 raids could fly the length of the country. 


Edited by DD_Arthur, 20 April 2017 - 22:03.

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#7 216th_Retnek

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 22:00


Scojo, one would need a large book on this, and afaik there is none, at least not about the Luftwaffe ... I read anything I could get about the Luftwaffe-recce-operations, the quality of sources differ VERY much. Anyhow, one respectable source on this:

 

http://www.airrecce.co.uk/index.html

 

First of all: in general there were two types of recon, long range photo-recon for strategic aspects, against an air defence system mostly flown as high and / or as fast as possible, often at night using flash-bombs. And tactical recon often done visually from slow and agile planes.

 

      * Were recon planes ever escorted?

 

Rough conclusion: long-range recon very rarely, tactical recon sometimes

  • Were recon pilots attached to air groups, ground forces, or both?

Germans had them organized in squadrons (ca 12 planes), long-range targets usually were ordered for a single plane via Luftwaffe high command. Short-range squads were associated with a larger army structure like an "Armee" or a "Korps" and got their individual orders directly from the army HQs.

  • What were the reasons for having dedicated recon aircraft as opposed to retrofitting aircraft such as the 110 which would also have armament?

High speed, very high max. altitude (check Ju-86 P), very long range and enough film material to cover large areas for the long range recon planes. Tactical recon often tried to "sneak" along the front line very low, maybe at the clouds base, find a gap, sneak around behind the lines, used binoculars often. So it was good to be agile, not too fast with a good visibility.

  • How integral was aerial recon with artillery?

Very different, for the Luftwaffe is was an option, but not a "common" procedure along the front lines. I read about it especially when the high command focussed to conquer important single target areas like Sevastopol. Away from that kind of focal point it might have been rarely done. But that's really difficult to say because the sources are scattered. For the western allies in 1944/45 it was a common, day-by-day procedure. The Soviets used it, too, don't ask me about the extend. Another reason to add on the pair Po-2 Kukuruznik and Fi-156 Storch to IL-2 BoX  ;-)

  • How far into enemy territory would dedicated recon missions fly?

Several thousand km for strategic aspects or 10 - 20 km to gather unit-level-information about numbers and types of formations at the front line.

  • Was night time recon a thing or very popular?

For the Luftwaffe in the West and Med from 1942 on often the only way to do any long-range recon at all. The few recon-jets changed it somewhat in late 44. The loss of aerial superiority forced the Germans to use fast Me-109 recon-planes for tactical recon more and more, since any other planes like Fw-189 and Hs-126 had no chance to survive more than a few sorties. In contrast the western allies did much better with several well suited fast planes like Spit, Mossie and P-38. Haven't seen that much about the Soviet recon operations, in short: not that advanced as the western allies, but the usually thin German air cover gave them lot's of operational freedom to become very effective.

 

PS: another large topic is the maritime recon, not covered here


Edited by 216th_Retnek, 20 April 2017 - 23:08.

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#8 unreasonable

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 05:43

Lots of good replies so I will only add a couple of points, especially relating to the Eastern Front.

 

1) The proportion of aircraft that were recce dedicated is much higher than you might think as a player of CFSs, where they are under-represented or omitted entirely.  At the start of Barbarossa, for instance, the GAF aircraft assigned to support the invasion were:

 

Long range bombers     775    28%

Dive bombers                310    11%

Single engine fighters   830    30%

Twin engine fighters       90      3%

Long range recce         340    12%

Tactical recce                370   13%

Coastal                           70     3%

 

Total  2,770

 

Source: The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force 1933-45

 

So 25% altogether were in dedicated recce units. The long range recce were mostly high-altitude and long range versions of bomber types, while the tactical recce were mostly Fw 189 [edit assigned at Army Group or Army level].

 

2) What aircraft to use for tactical recce? The Germans used Fw189 because it had outstanding visibility allowing pilots/observers to make immediate real time reports of enemy positions.  On the other hand, it was dead meat if caught by fighters and the tactical recce units suffered extremely high losses: as had the RAF's Blenheims used in the same role during the German invasion of France in 1940.  That is why the RAF later preferred to use fighters as tactical  recce despite their pilots having a harder time seeing anything: use of cameras and ground based analysis replaced eye-ball based reporting and the sorties were much more likely to avoid interception.  Of course the Germans used LR photo recce too - but that is hard to do at a tactical level during a fast paced action when your air units are operating out of primitive airstrips.

 

Last point - once your opponent gains air superiority your ability to carry out aerial recce virtually disappears. Hence towards the end of the war the GAF gave up on recce types altogether and the fog of war descended. 


Edited by unreasonable, 21 April 2017 - 05:45.

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#9 Finkeren

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 09:51

The Fw 189 had one single thing going for it, when attacked by fighters: I was extraordinarily maneuverable and had an awesome sustained turn at a speed where high-powered fighters were about to stall. There are presumably accounts (haven't personally read any of them) of Uhus escaping a fighter attack by turning inside the atrackers and denying them a shooting solution.
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#10 71st_AH_Scojo

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 10:52

Wow, great info, everyone! Very interesting stuff

 

One recon job, that was both dangerous and extremely important, but which people rarely think of, is the German job of "Fühlungshalter" ("contact-keeper"), I'm sure there was a British equivalent, whose task was to keep in contact with attacking bomber formations. They would stay just outside of firing range and report on numbers, damaged or destroyed aircraft, changes in altitude, speed and course for use by interceptors and AAA, and most important: Make sure the air defense didn't lose track of the bomber formations, which as strange as it sounds was a real issue.

 

I guess they would get lost in the flak and clouds? Or just hard to keep track of because of altitude?

 

Do you happen to know what Russian planes were popular for Recon on the Eastern Front?


Attacking RAF formations acted on information from radar and the Observer Corp.

I saw a documentary on these guys which is more info than I've learned about any other intel type operation in the war. They ran a fine ship it seems.


Edited by 71st_AH_Scojo, 21 April 2017 - 10:52.

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Of all my accomplishments I may have achieved during the war, I am proudest of the fact that I never lost a wingman.                                           — Colonel Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann, GAF

I mean, I had fast motor cars and fast motor bikes, and when I wasn't crashing airplanes, I was crashing motor bikes. It's all part of the game.      — Sir Harry Broadhurst, RAF, 12 victories WWII

Fighting in the air is not sport. It is scientific murder.                                                                                                                                                    — Captain Edward V. 'Eddie' Rickenbacker, USAS


#11 71st_AH_Scojo

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 10:58

Hopefully we can get the FW-189 in the game as an AI only plane, at least


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Of all my accomplishments I may have achieved during the war, I am proudest of the fact that I never lost a wingman.                                           — Colonel Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann, GAF

I mean, I had fast motor cars and fast motor bikes, and when I wasn't crashing airplanes, I was crashing motor bikes. It's all part of the game.      — Sir Harry Broadhurst, RAF, 12 victories WWII

Fighting in the air is not sport. It is scientific murder.                                                                                                                                                    — Captain Edward V. 'Eddie' Rickenbacker, USAS


#12 216th_Retnek

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:00

The Fw 189 had one single thing going for it, when attacked by fighters: I was extraordinarily maneuverable and had an awesome sustained turn at a speed where high-powered fighters were about to stall. There are presumably accounts (haven't personally read any of them) of Uhus escaping a fighter attack by turning inside the atrackers and denying them a shooting solution.

Yes, can confirm this from my sources, the Fw-189 must have been a very difficult prey with a capable pilot. But reports we read mostly were written by the few survivors. Those were lucky and usually knew their business very well. One should not generalize those reports, it's like looking at the peak of an iceberg. All those poor men of average capabilities remain silent below the waterline.


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#13 Finkeren

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:10

Yes, can confirm this from my sources, the Fw-189 must have been a very difficult prey with a capable pilot. But reports we read mostly were written by the few survivors. Those were lucky and usually knew their business very well. One should not generalize those reports, it's like looking at the peak of an iceberg. All those poor men of average capabilities remain silent below the waterline.


Agree completely. A Fw 189 outflying a fighter well enough to escape would be the exception, not the rule.
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#14 Finkeren

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:16

Do you happen to know what Russian planes were popular for Recon on the Eastern Front?


The KhAI-5/R-10, the R-5 and obviously the Po-2 comes to mind when speaking of tactical recon. For strategic fast, long range photo recon, I'm not sure the VVS did that much if it, but they would likely have been using planes like the Pe-3. I don't know if they ever fitted cameras on stripped-down fighters.
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#15 216th_Retnek

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:30


Do you happen to know what Russian planes were popular for Recon on the Eastern Front?
 
-> never read any solid study about this, so this is based on several "snapshots" I read in German sources mostly:
 
- early in war a single-engine light bomber Kharkiv R-10 (KhAI-5) was used
- the "single fast recon Pe-2" is common topic in several reports
- the Po-2 was THE plane for front-line recon
 
Anyhow, it's difficult to conclude because the sources are rare and show inconsistent results. There's a "western doctrine" telling the Soviets did a sufficient (low-tech) recon along the front lines and a very limited "medium range" recon to gather information about the front-line backyard, marshalling yards, supply lines, movement of large formations aso. But this follows a standard narrative pattern, the fairy tale of a "primitive Soviet warfare" proved wrong to often. Hopefully there are or will be reports in cooperation with Russian historians.

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#16 unreasonable

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 15:34

I suppose you could just read through the list https://en.wikipedia...Army_Air_Forces

 

But the one I had in mind as being a common recce aircraft, the Su-2, probably because it was used in that role in IL2 46 campaigns ;)  is listed here as a bomber/attack. Then you have the various bi-planes for short range work. My guess would be that when the Soviets were on the back foot and desperate they just used whatever they had. 

 

Re Retneks comments above - long range recce requires specialized aircraft with pressurization, armour and weapons replaced with fuel and cameras, specialist training for crews etc.  If you do not have that you get intercepted too easily.  I have not seen much along these lines that ever got into service on the Soviet side. On the other hand, they had partisan bands operating who could give a lot of information about rail movements, for instance, so arguably their need was less. So I suspect that the "western narrative" is in this case correct, although I have an open mind - as always!


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#17 -=PHX=-SuperEtendard

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 16:53

The Hs 126 was the predominant German recon plane at the start of Barbarossa if i'm correct, the Fw 189 is more famous though :P

 

1_zps901d20c3.jpg

 

55-4.jpg

 


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#18 Finkeren

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 18:26

Is it a sign of insufferable nerddom that I instantly identified the planes above and below the Hs 126 in that poorly cropped picture?
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#19 216th_Retnek

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 22:23

The Hs 126 was the predominant German recon plane at the start of Barbarossa if i'm correct, the Fw 189 is more famous though :P

 

Correct, it was the main workhorse of the "Nahaufklärer" (short range recon), replaced slowly by the Fw-189 from 1941 on.


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#20 unreasonable

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 04:12

Is it a sign of insufferable nerddom that I instantly identified the planes above and below the Hs 126 in that poorly cropped picture?

 

Yes! :)


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#21 unreasonable

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 04:22

The Hs 126 was the predominant German recon plane at the start of Barbarossa if i'm correct, the Fw 189 is more famous though :P

 

1_zps901d20c3.jpg

 

 

 

Indeed: but you can see why flying that about in daytime in airspace not entirely cleared of enemy fighters would be a very dangerous proposition! Edit - In contrast, here is a tactical recce aircraft that gives it's pilot a chance:

 

Pink Spitfire.jpg


Edited by unreasonable, 22 April 2017 - 04:26.

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#22 HBPencil

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 08:37

A fascinating subject although the only real reading I've done it has been about recon Spitfires, so I'm afraid I can't say anything useful about Eastern front recon (although the Soviets did operate a handful of Spitfire PR.IVs), but here's my two cents worth anyway:
 

 

Were recon planes ever escorted?

Sometimes, depended on the situation. For example, late in the war when the Me163 and Me262 were operational the Americans (and I believe the Brits as well) provided P-51 escorts for their PR Mosquitos. The Americans also provided those escorts for their Spitfire PR.XI despite the fact they couldn't fly as high as the Spit.
 

 

What were the reasons for having dedicated recon aircraft as opposed to retrofitting aircraft such as the 110 which would also have armament?

Like any aircraft type, it's all about the compromises; a dedicated PR Spitfire could fly far further (and a bit higher) and carry more cameras than a FR (fighter-recon) variant (basically a standard fighter with a camera fitted) but would be more vulnerable in a battlefield recon role due to its lack of armor and inability to shoot back. The Brits started the war using the term 'reconnaissance' as a blanket term but eventually separated it into PR (photo recon, i.e. strategic recon) and TacR (tactical recon, i.e. battlefield recon, often in direct radio contact with the army units in the area).

On a side note, the one book I've read each on the Yak fighters and the Pe-2 both claim they were fitted with cameras and were armed. I've definitely seen photos of camera equipped Pe-2s.
 

 

How integral was aerial recon with artillery?

I'm afraid I don't know but I do know extensive use was made of spotting aircraft for the warships' big guns during the Normandy invasion.

As for pilot's memiors', the only one I've read was by a guy who flew PR Spitfires over Nth Africa and then Burma, then transferred to a TacR Hurricane squadron (also over Burma) which must've been equal parts thrilling and terrifying, but I can't really recommend the book.


Edited by HBPencil, 22 April 2017 - 08:50.

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#23 MiloMorai

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 11:15

Recon a/c did more than just take photos, they also were used for weather condition forecasting and the weather on the route to the bombers target.


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#24 JtD

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 12:38

Indeed: but you can see why flying that about in daytime in airspace not entirely cleared of enemy fighters would be a very dangerous proposition! Edit - In contrast, here is a tactical recce aircraft that gives it's pilot a chance:


This is a bit of an apple and orange comparison. There also were recon Bf109, but they did not replace the Hs126 or Fw189.

The recon Spitfire is most famous for repeated solo flights over Brest at the time the Kriegmarine had Scharnhorst and Gneisenau stationed there, keeping the British informed about the condition of the ships and their intentions. These flights contributed a lot to essentially neutralizing these two ships for the year they were stationed there. Luftwaffe pilots were joking about the daily Spitfire, being less than impressed with the British cross channel operations. The lack of understanding about the value of these recon flights and their effect for the Kriegsmarine is very typical for the Luftwaffe and the inter service relation to the Kriegsmarine at that time.

Edited by JtD, 22 April 2017 - 15:10.

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#25 unreasonable

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 13:12

War is about playing apple/orange/pear: if you both have only apples the one with the most apples wins easily, so the one with least will surrender rather than fight. :)

 

Broadly I think we are in agreement: the Hs 126 and Fw 189 disappeared because they became obsolete.  It is easy enough to use slow aircraft with good visibility when you can clear the air of enemy fighters. If you cannot - as the RAF found in France in 1940, this approach leads to huge losses and poor recce results too. Using 109s was a reaction to the fact that Hs 126s and Fw 189s could not survive in a heavily contested air environment: even in Barbarossa, they took huge losses. By the 1944, the German High Command did not have a clue what any of their enemies was going to do next.

 

GAF recce over the UK prior to D-Day was almost entirely ineffective, in stark contrast to the RAF's efforts over Europe. The only flights that were allowed through were the ones that were going to look at the dummy tanks in Patton's fake 1st US Army Group.

 

It is just part of being thoroughly defeated in all aspects of air warfare.


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#26 Feathered_IV

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 13:47

So I've been playing Steel Division the past few days and I've been enjoying using Recon aircraft to spot for artillery.

 

This has compounded my interest in what aerial recon was really like in WWII.

 

Are there any good reads, whether articles or books, about aerial recon?

 

 

 

Last year I read Spies in the Sky by Taylor Downing.  For the most part it concerns the Allied activities in the west, but I enjoyed it immensely.

 

https://www.amazon.c...pies in the Sky


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#27 71st_AH_Scojo

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Posted Yesterday, 10:47

Really great stuff guys, and thanks for the book suggestion.

 

In reference to fighters retrofitted for recon, I guess it comes down to production numbers and battlefield context on which is preferred to use in terms of effectiveness and cost.

 

A lot of the time in war games, people get pretty caught up in what's better or worse performance-wise and we forget that in the context of the war there were many other factors at play determining what was in the toolbox of a certain faction and at what quantities.


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Of all my accomplishments I may have achieved during the war, I am proudest of the fact that I never lost a wingman.                                           — Colonel Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann, GAF

I mean, I had fast motor cars and fast motor bikes, and when I wasn't crashing airplanes, I was crashing motor bikes. It's all part of the game.      — Sir Harry Broadhurst, RAF, 12 victories WWII

Fighting in the air is not sport. It is scientific murder.                                                                                                                                                    — Captain Edward V. 'Eddie' Rickenbacker, USAS


#28 Finkeren

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Posted Yesterday, 12:26

In reference to fighters retrofitted for recon, I guess it comes down to production numbers and battlefield context on which is preferred to use in terms of effectiveness and cost.


Just to clarify, though you probably didn't mean it that way: Fighters were not generally "retrofitted" for recon duty. The recon versions of fighter aircraft were purpose built and designed specifically for that task (with few exceptions). Some of them were very different from their fighter equivalents (like most of the PR Spitfires) while others were quite similar (like the Bf 109G8) but they were almost always purpose built.
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The P-51 won the war.


#29 71st_AH_Scojo

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Posted Yesterday, 13:44

Just to clarify, though you probably didn't mean it that way: Fighters were not generally "retrofitted" for recon duty. The recon versions of fighter aircraft were purpose built and designed specifically for that task (with few exceptions). Some of them were very different from their fighter equivalents (like most of the PR Spitfires) while others were quite similar (like the Bf 109G8) but they were almost always purpose built.

No that's what I meant. thanks for correcting me. I didn't know that there would have been a different design skew for them, but it makes sense when you think about the equipment difference between recon and combat


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Of all my accomplishments I may have achieved during the war, I am proudest of the fact that I never lost a wingman.                                           — Colonel Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann, GAF

I mean, I had fast motor cars and fast motor bikes, and when I wasn't crashing airplanes, I was crashing motor bikes. It's all part of the game.      — Sir Harry Broadhurst, RAF, 12 victories WWII

Fighting in the air is not sport. It is scientific murder.                                                                                                                                                    — Captain Edward V. 'Eddie' Rickenbacker, USAS


#30 216th_Retnek

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Posted Yesterday, 15:34

... that there would have been a different design skew for (the recon Spit) ...

That's a great reading (see above), those recon pilots / crews were a special breed. Fly a lone Spit to Berlin and back, during daylight. (BTW - is it true the PR-Spit had no autopilot and just the standard Spit-trim? All versions or just the early ones?) Or start with a Ju-88 in France 1942, go all around Southern England, go N to the Irish Sea, try to find a gap in the backyard of the RAF-air-defence, take your pictures somewhere over mid-England (without clouds!) and try to come home ... and any RAF-fighter all along the way was able to close in.


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#31 Feathered_IV

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Posted Today, 06:22

Cheers Scojo, I hope you will be able to find a copy of that book.

Aerial recon during WW2 is a bit of a pet subject for me.  Another book if you can find it is The Eight Ballers: Eyes of the Fifth Air Force.  It's a very revealing unit diary of a P-38 outfit in the Southwest Pacific.  Great illustrations, and the writer must have been an adman or race commentator in peacetime.  Very immersive, and some of the entries really make you laugh out loud.


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"Nineteen years of age, eight years public education, three years military service. Intelligent, normally observant and answered all questions freely. He was arrogant and proud to be a pilot. Fellow prisoners in hospital consider him mentally unstable..."




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