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Old March 18th, 2017, 11:52 AM   #1
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Air Superority


It has been mentioned on other threads that even if Germany had won the BoB, they still could not have successfully invaded Britain because of the Royal Navy. I disagree, as I feel that with air superiority, success in any way is a likely possibility.

But my question is this; has there ever been a war where a side that had total air superiority lost? I don't mean coups or civil war, but a war between two or more nations?
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Old March 18th, 2017, 12:11 PM   #2

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Originally Posted by paranoid marvin View Post
It has been mentioned on other threads that even if Germany had won the BoB, they still could not have successfully invaded Britain because of the Royal Navy. I disagree, as I feel that with air superiority, success in any way is a likely possibility.

But my question is this; has there ever been a war where a side that had total air superiority ,lost? I don't mean coups or civil war, but a war between two or more nations?
US in Vietnam War, - fall of Saigon would be the obvious answer
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Old March 18th, 2017, 12:15 PM   #3
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Vietnam. Potentially any war where the side without air superiority used unconventional warfare to negate the enemy air advantage.

Among conventionally fought wars, maybe someone with more knowledge than I of the India-Pakistan wars could comment. Did Pakistan ever win or fight to a stalemate despite Indian air superiority? Another possibility is the Iran-Iraq War.

Or did India, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq all fight each other to mutual destruction, to some extent so that at the end there was little air power remaining to anyone?

This thread could provoke an argument over the definition of air superiority.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 12:17 PM   #4

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Yes. A great book, in fact the classic on world war two, studies the BoB called Battles Lost and Won. Would recommend, great read.

Air superiority is only useful if ground attack planes are pooled together.

Some examples of air-superior forces losing wars:

- Korean war: Chinese had no air force to speak of but surrounded and destroyed 3 US armies using ex-KMT prisoners congregated into "volunteer armies" (these, for the record, were only a fraction of Chinese strength). Used a ban on cooking fires, pre-smoked meat, and mountain marches to avoid air cover.

- Chinese civil war: Same story- superior Communist tactics and their hard-driving attitude let them stomach losses from air attacks and overwhelm the KMT in the right places.

- Iran-Iraq war: Iraq had total air supremacy by the end of the war, except for Iran's only air zone around its vital Khark Island oil plant. That didn't stop them from getting consistently whooped. Much of this was Iraqi ineptitude. As I mentioned before, air support is only valuable if it's massed and concentrated. A bomb might kill or wound three soldiers. Thirty bombs might kill or wound 30. But 10 platoons losing 3 men move on, one platoon losing 30 men will be stopped in its tracks. The Iranians in contrast during the period of equal air forces from 1980-83 were actually very good at using their air force, with the famous raid of H3 and on the Iraqi oilfields destroying billions in Iraqi assets.

- Eastern front before 1944: Germans had air superiority but the Russians pushed on. Russia compensated for air superiority by brilliantly massing ground attack planes and throwing them, hundreds at a time, at an enemy division, totally destroying it. The Germans in contrast enforced air superiority over the whole sector and only barely damaged these concentrations of ground attack fire.

- Basically any victorious asymmetric conflict. Great examples are Vietnam, the Cuban revolution (very famous response of Fidel Castro to Batista's bombings), the Portuguese colonial wars, Algerian war of Independence, and French Indochina war.

- Northern front of the II. Sino-Japanese War: while the KMT was hilariously inept, the CCP actually did very well against the Japanese in the hundred regiments offensive and other battles. Despite Japanese air cover, the Chinese communists adapted and were able to launch what they called "blitzes", or quick, coordinated attacks at 100 points, moving quietly through the countryside in the mean time, to eliminate Japanese forces.

- 1999 Kosovo War: Milosevic and the Serbs held firm in the air war, and they only backed down from Kosovo once NATO grew a pair and threatened to invade Serbia from the ground. The NATO air campaign was actually a horrendous failure at neutralizing the Serb military, which continued to launch offensives despite the bombing. Only around 25% of the Serbian air force was neutralized: camouflage and clever countermeasures saved the rest. The Serbs actually stepped up their anti-guerilla operations and by the end of the war had totally liquidated the Kosovo Liberation Army, undeterred by NATO. They had camouflaged their vehicles and moved during the night to avoid bombing.

- 2014 war in Iraq and Syria: Syria and Iraq had total air superiority, backed by the coalition as well, but lightning offensives by ISIS overran the Iraqi and Syrian armies anyways. ISIS developed countermeasures, attacking during sandstroms in the battle of Ramadi, for example, and connecting houses with corridors. They kept patrols off the streets and developed their own counters such as SBIVEDS (suicide vehicles) to replicate the effects of air bombardment with the enemy. Once again, preponderance of air power was neutralized by the ineptitude of those using it. Coalition air forces still don't have spotters on the ground due to the interference of Iran in Iraqi politics, the Syrian and Iraqi air forces are terribly trained, and the Russians are inaccurate.

From these examples we can see:

- Air power massed and concentrated shatters the enemy, whether you have air superiority or not.
- Air power dispersed does nothing, even if you have total air supremacy.
- A hardened, clever, and quiet force can minimize air power as a factor.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 12:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by paranoid marvin View Post
It has been mentioned on other threads that even if Germany had won the BoB, they still could not have successfully invaded Britain because of the Royal Navy. I disagree, as I feel that with air superiority, success in any way is a likely possibility....

You like many people see the Battle of Britain as being "won" and "lost"
What would your criteria be for the RAF to "lose" the BoB ?


The Royal Navy was indeed the force that prevented invasion - even if the RAF didn't exist, Britain was safe from German invasion because Germany didn't posses a fleet or an amphibious resource to transport a military force, across the English Channel, large enough to conquer the UK.

Even if Germany did have a few specialist landing craft, getting German troops on to English beaches wasn't even half the problem...supplying them was impossible

Germany's airborne forces were puny (but then all nations' airborne forces were small in 1940)


However the fact is that Germany didn't try to "win" the Battle of Britain. Germany just made a series of phases of aerial attacks on the UK from channel shipping, ports, factories, air fields, RADAR installations and finally bombing raids on cities (most notably London)

To say these attacks were in some way meant to pave to way for an invasion is nonsense. Indeed most of the RAF wasn't even ever subjected to attack - including all of Bomber Command.


Quote:
But my question is this; has there ever been a war where a side that had total air superiority lost? I don't mean coups or civil war, but a war between two or more nations?
Vietnam

Both the French and the American wars
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Old March 18th, 2017, 02:08 PM   #6

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air supremacy cannot guarantee victory. There are many factors in winning any campaign. The Luftwaffe even after defeating the RAF would have had to destroty the Royal Navy, and that was no easy effort. Overlord is an example of how to prepare for an invasion. The Allies amassed troops, bombed bridges and targets, and made sure the Germans had little chance to regroup or mount a decent response. There was no way ever the Allies would have lost Overlord for this reason without a major catastrophe. Germany had only scratched the surface of British infrastructure, and had not pacified things to have it safe to invade.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 02:15 PM   #7

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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
You like many people see the Battle of Britain as being "won" and "lost"
What would your criteria be for the RAF to "lose" the BoB ?


The Royal Navy was indeed the force that prevented invasion - even if the RAF didn't exist, Britain was safe from German invasion because Germany didn't posses a fleet or an amphibious resource to transport a military force, across the English Channel, large enough to conquer the UK.

Even if Germany did have a few specialist landing craft, getting German troops on to English beaches wasn't even half the problem...supplying them was impossible

Germany's airborne forces were puny (but then all nations' airborne forces were small in 1940)


However the fact is that Germany didn't try to "win" the Battle of Britain. Germany just made a series of phases of aerial attacks on the UK from channel shipping, ports, factories, air fields, RADAR installations and finally bombing raids on cities (most notably London)

To say these attacks were in some way meant to pave to way for an invasion is nonsense. Indeed most of the RAF wasn't even ever subjected to attack - including all of Bomber Command.


Vietnam

Both the French and the American wars
Couldn't the Luftwaffe destroy Royal Navy bases?
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Old March 18th, 2017, 02:20 PM   #8
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...Overlord is an example of how to prepare for an invasion. The Allies amassed troops, bombed bridges and targets, and made sure the Germans had little chance to regroup or mount a decent response. There was no way ever the Allies would have lost Overlord for this reason without a major catastrophe. Germany had only scratched the surface of British infrastructure, and had not pacified things to have it safe to invade.
You make a couple of very good points - Overlord was years in the planning

Sea Lion was planned in under a month. If nothing else, this proves how real the plan was

Despite overwhelming Allied Air and Naval supremacy on D-Day, success was never guaranteed and a persuasive case can be made that had the Germans reacted differently, D-Day may have failed.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 02:24 PM   #9
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Couldn't the Luftwaffe destroy Royal Navy bases?

No

Most RN bases were outside of Luftwaffe fighter range and therefore bomber range

Secondly RN warships can remain at sea for months

Thirdly, the RN doesn't even need to block the first wave of German invasion craft....stopping the second and third waves would do well enough

Without supplies, those soaking wet Germans crawling out of the English Channel will go hungry very quickly and run out of ammunition even quicker

Churchill actually remarked that there were some in the British command who actually wanted Germany to invade so as to hand Hitler a serious defeat.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 03:19 PM   #10

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Couldn't the Luftwaffe destroy Royal Navy bases?
Main bases of Rosyth and Scapa were far beyond LW fighter range, and had RAF and AA protection.
The LW even had difficulty hitting Plymouth, which had 2 - 3 battleships berthed there during the war.
Even then, there were other place in the UK to berth
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