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"WW2 Desert Air Base Defence" Topic

11 Posts

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2,306 hits since 11 Mar 2016
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Comments or corrections?

bridget midget the return11 Mar 2016 3:55 p.m. PST

Hope you knowledgeable folks will be able help me. I've got an idea to do a raid on a desert advanced airbase scenario (DAK or Italian raiding DAF initially). What defences would such an advanced airbase have, tooled up ground crew is obvious but would they have an RAF Regiment detachment, or army support?
Thanks in advance.

kallman11 Mar 2016 4:37 p.m. PST

Not sure. I do know from reading accounts of Operation Torch that a company of American M3 Stuart tanks successfully attacked a German airfield destroying lots of planes and only suffered one tank destroyed and another missing. (I always wondered about the missing tank.) Anyway if I recall correctly it appears that the airfield had little in the way of defense, probably because the Americans had surprised them and the airfield was supposed to have been deep within Axis held territory. The account talks about German ground crews trying to get to Anti-Aircraft batteries, most likely flak 20mm which could have taken out the thin armor on a Stuart if the crews could depress the guns enough.

If you want to make the scenario challenging I would say it is safe to assume at least an army detachment of at least a couple of squads or platoon strength with a couple of machine gun nests set up. There would probably be AA emplacements as well which again might be able to be depressed to fire on ground targets. However I know that was frowned upon by British command as they could not get their head around the idea that something designed to shoot aircraft out of the sky might also make for excellent anti-personnel and anti-tank weaponry. This continued even after the Germans started doing this with the 88 mm FlaK which after all was originally designed as an anti-aircraft weapon.

The British had an excellent AA weapon in the QF 3.7-inch AA. Which if British command in North Africa had allowed would have been even more deadly than the 88 working out to around being a 94 mm anti-tank weapon. I should note that in other theaters the British forces did use the QF 3.7-inch in an anti-tank role. Mea culpa for the digression.

Regardless I think it would be feasible to have some kind of regular army on station to protect the air field from attack.

lou passejaire12 Mar 2016 4:29 a.m. PST

After Operation Exporter , Free French Tank company ( equipped with R35 ) was on guard duty on air bases in Egypt .
Some Free French Units who suffered heavy losses in Syria were send on guard duty on airfields too … waiting for reinforcement …

Vigilant12 Mar 2016 9:31 a.m. PST

From a quick look through my Mediterranean Air War books best guess would be Vickers K megs on anti-air mounts at the very least. There's also a picture of 2 RAF Regiment Humber armoured cars at 1 base. Depending on the period of the war you want to play I suppose there could be Rolls Royce, Marmon Herrington or Humber armoured cars. From a tactical point of view I would expect these to be attached to forward bases, probably patrolling outside the base perimeter rather than sitting on it. In addition you would have erks with rifles and pilots with pistols (more dangerous to themselves than the enemy if my father's wartime experiences with armed aircrew is anything to go by!).

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2016 1:25 p.m. PST

The 3.7-inch was a lot less mobile than the 88mm – weighed 9 tons vs 2, or something.

Re the question, I think you could justify almost any level of ground defence from none to not a lot. By the time of Alamein the DAF was a nice safe distance begin a very solid front line. At all other times they dotted about from airstrip to airstrip with the ebb and flow of the campaign. I would think that the longer any unit spent in situ the more cohesive the air defences would have become.

foxweasel12 Mar 2016 4:54 p.m. PST

're the question about RAF Regiment, we weren't formed until February 42 and the first real ops in Africa were the Torch landings in late 42 and after then were primarily on offensive ops. Before then defence of the desert airstrips was down to the RAF Armoured Car Companies (later transferred into the RAF Regt) with Rolls Royce armoured cars.

wisercj13 Mar 2016 12:27 p.m. PST

If it is a hypothetical scenario then you can have whatever you want: For British, Bren guns, Vickers K guns, captured Breda 20mm/65, 40mm Bofors, 3.7" AAA. Probably more important is what is needed to balance the scenario. If your raiding force contains Light Tanks or even Armored Cars then you should have something capable of dealing with it, at least a bofors or two, otherwise it won't be much fun for the defender.

AndreasB13 Mar 2016 1:48 p.m. PST

L.G.125, which was the most advanced landing ground during CRUSADER, was defended by a section of Bofors, some H.A.A., and a company of Fordson Armoured Cars of the R.A.F. Regiment.

All the best


foxweasel13 Mar 2016 2:31 p.m. PST

Sorry Andreas, the unit defending L.G 125 was No 2 Armoured Car Company,the RAF Regt wasn't formed until February 1942 and didn't have any units in N Africa until September 42. Crusader was end of 41.

bridget midget the return13 Mar 2016 3:36 p.m. PST

Thanks guys, some real food for thought building the scenario.

AndreasB15 Mar 2016 12:48 p.m. PST

Thanks for the correction foxweasel!

All the best


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