Leandros wrote:In my book I have lined it up like this:
This is the kind of thing that gives me gas. Need to justify a crackpot assumption – that an ad hoc conglomeration of AA guns in ad hoc mountings on an ad hoc flotilla floating off the British Isles will shoot down all and sundry aircraft the RAF sends against it? All you need to do is haul a convenient author off the shelf, extract a random factoid that seems to bear a relationship to the question – after all, its British airplanes being shot down by German flak right? No need to do anything messy like, oh, think about it or do some actual research on what happened in detail to see if it matches the crackpot assumption…
Okay, so what do we have? What happened?
The first attack on the Gaulier Bridge by British forces from the AASF was in the morning as streams of German equipment were crossing. The two squadrons dispatched at 0500 encountered heavy flak but no fighters.
No. 103 Squadron with eight Battles had one badly damaged that crashed on landing.
No. 150 Squadron with ten Battles lost none.
1 of 18 lost, to flak (5.6%)
The second attack in the afternoon encountered both heavy fighter and flak opposition.
17 aircraft of No. 71 and 76 Wing went in first.
No. 150 Squadron launched at 1520 with 4 Battles. All were lost, cause unknown.
No. 12 Squadron launched at 1527-1533 with 5 Battles. Four were lost, cause unknown.
No. 142 Squadron launched c. 1520-1530 with 8 Battles. Four were lost, three causes unknown, one to small arms fire.
12 of 17 were lost, one to small arms fire (8.3%)
The second group was from all three wings:
No. 103 Squadron launched at 1530 with 8 Battles. Three aircraft were lost, one confirmed to a Bf-109, one confirmed to flak, and one unknown.
No. 105 Squadron launched at 1540 with 11 Battles. Seven aircraft were lost, cause unknown.
No. 88 Squadron launched 10 Battles. One aircraft was lost and one damaged (and later abandoned), cause unknown.
No. 218 Squadron launched 11 Battles. Five were lost, one to small arms fire, the rest cause unknown.
No. 114 Squadron launched 2 Blenheims. One was lost, cause unknown.
No. 139 Squadron launched 6 Blenheims. Four were lost, one to fighters, three to causes unknown.
21 of 48 were lost, two to flak (7.7%) and two to fighters (7.7%)
In fact, 33 of 65 aircraft participating in the second attack were lost, plus one damaged and later abandoned. The confusion in most accounts appears to be that the RAF reported 33 Battles and 5 Blenheims lost in total on 14 May (and one Battle damaged), but only 34 aircraft were actually recorded as lost or abandoned by the squadrons involved. The error seems to be in No. 218 Squadron. Usually it is reported it lost ten, but that appears to be incorrect. Furthermore, as noted, the number launched is also probably incorrect, since the squadron had already lost at least seven aircraft by 14 May and only had an IE of 16. Otherwise, the remaining five were probably damaged or abandoned aircraft written off that day. In any case, it matters little since overall the losses for the day were still catastrophic and essentially no different than the usually accepted count of 38 (or 40) lost of 71.
In any case, there is simply no way to make the assumption that German flak was the primary cause of loss. In the morning attack, when no German fighters were reported present, losses were negligible. In the afternoon attack more aircraft were lost, but the sample where cause of loss is identified is so small to be almost meaningless. It is possible to claim that 3 were lost to flak and 2 to fighters out of the 33 lost, but that is about it.
Of course, then it must be considered that the Gaulier Bridge and the German columns crossing it (2. Panzer advancing west from south of Donchery, 1. Panzer advancing west and south from Chehery, and 10. Panzer advancing south from Wadelincourt) occupied a target area roughly ten by fifteen kilometers. That was defended by 303 flak guns: 36 8.8cm, 36 3.7cm, and 231 2cm (three mixed and four light battalions, plus three divisional light batteries) for the corps of three divisions. Compare that to the typical corps landing force in Seelöwe – one mixed battalion and two light batteries, 12 8.8cm and 45 2cm, covering perhaps a twenty by ten kilometer area.
In essence you have, yet again, extracted a pineapple and a banana from your bag of tricks and declared that, because they are both fruits, they are one and the same.