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JOSTURM

What if the RFC had been at Gallipoli ?

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JOSTURM

Ignorance is not bliss, its ignorance.

I'm assuming the RFC and RNAS were not present at Gallipoli due to lack of friendly landing areas, and refuelling distances from Mudros etc ??

What if Gallipoli had been in 1917, or indeed, the RFC had expanded faster and been more capable in Sprin 1915.

What difference would air reconn and air bombardments have made on Turkish defences.

Did the Turks have air power at gallipoli - Did they not bomb the beaches ?

I'd be interested to know.......

JOSTURM :P

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MartinWills

Ahhhh, but the RNAS were present at Gallipoli and briefly had a short landing ground at Cape Helles. Sea planes featured in the campaign and mapping was enhanced by flights over the Turkishlines. Turkish/German aircraft also dropped some bombs on the allies - though the bombs were literally dropped by hand.

Before he successfully took his submarine through the Dardanelles Naismith got the RNAS to take him on a recconaissance flight over the straights which helped greatly with visual recognisation of landmarks seen through a periscope.

In reality neither side was likely to be able to muster enough "modern" aircraft for an effective air campaign - the allies certainly did not want to divert aircraft from the western front and the Turks would have been reliant upon German aircraft. The few aircraft that saw service were essentially obsolete. There were ballon ships (such as "Manica" used for naval gunnery observatiion and the RNAS also provided a couple of armoured car squadrons at Cape Helles.

I suspect that even had it been 1917 the better aircraft would have been reserved for the western front.

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michaeldr

Coverage of this aspect of the campaign is skimpy but nevertheless available

'The War in the Air - Vol II' by H. A. Jones covers it on pages 1-77

'Royal Naval Air Service 1912-1918' by Brad King has some coverage and good photographs

For a Turkish version of events see http://www.tayyareci.com/hvtarihi/canakkale/index.asp

Regards

Michael

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Dolphin

A good first-hand account of the air war over the Dardanelles is the 1967 book Sailor in the Air by Vice Admiral Richard Bell Davies VC CB DSO AFC.

Gareth

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SiegeGunner

I think Samson was involved. I came across his grave by accident last summer, in Putney Vale Cemetery.

Mick

post-11021-1173863289.jpg

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Adrian Roberts
I think Samson was involved.

Samson was CO of 3 Wing RNAS, the principal RNAS unit involved. Bell Davies was his second-in-command, and it was he who took Naismith on his scouting trip in a Maurice Farman. Bell-Davies describes artillery spotting using wireless communication, a technique that was in its infancy at that time.

Adrian

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horatio2
A good first-hand account of the air war over the Dardanelles is the 1967 book Sailor in the Air by Vice Admiral Richard Bell Davies VC CB DSO AFC.

Gareth

Who, of course, won his VC on 19 Nov 1915 during the Gallipoli Campaign.

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per ardua per mare per terram

The RNAS arrived in theatre March 1915, Samson was spotting on 25th April (and before). He gives a good account in Flights and Fights.

The RNAS were more capable than the RAF in 1915!

What aircraft do you think would have made a difference? The Handly Page bombers were ordered in responce to recommendations by the RNAS.

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SiegeGunner
What aircraft do you think would have made a difference?

Apache, Harrier ...

Seriously, though, a seaplane/aircraft carrier could have made a great difference, providing a safer alternative to the landing ground at Helles, which was exposed to artillery fire. Engadine, perhaps.

Mick

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per ardua per mare per terram

The RNAS thought of that! Ark Royal and Ben-My-Cree both served in theatre. The monitor Roberts used a Shorts 166 as a spotter. They also had spotter kite balloons from a kite ballon ship.

Up to November 1915 Samson reported: "179 bombs of 100 lb. weight and 507 bombs of 20 lb. weight have been dropped."

For the rest of his reports on what the RNAS had done see the Samson doc on this thread

 

 

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per ardua per mare per terram

As for the RNAS having obsolete aircraft compared to the RFC on the Western Front, it doesn't stand up to the facts! Samson made a poor assessment of the BE2c, a type still in RAF service in June 1918 (17 Sqn) and on the Western Front until August 1917 (8 Sqn). The RNAS in the Dardanelles had the Bristol Scout, not issued to 17 Sqn RFC (in Egypt) until July 1916. The RNAS sourced their aircraft independently so in 1915 thay had most if not all the so called modern aircraft that were available on the Western Front and even if your fantasy for 1917 had happened, they would have sent "modern" planes then too.

Ray Sturtivant & Gordon Page Royal Navy Aircraft Serials and Numbers (Air Britain, Tonbridge. 1992)

Wing Cdr. CG Jeffords MBE, 'RAF Squadrons,' (Airlife Publishing Ltd. Shrewsbury, 1988)

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per ardua per mare per terram

Compared with raids that the RNAS had already done, the refuelling distance from Mudros it was minimal. The first RNAS long range bombing missions took place in September 1914 and they bombed Cologne and Dusseldorf in October.

On 21st November 1914 in an attack on the Zeppelin works in Friedrichshafen, on Lake Constance, 3 RNAS officers: Squadron-Commander EF Briggs, Flight-Commander JT Babington and Flight-Lieutenant SV Sippe flying single seater aircraft flew 120 miles into German territory. The Germans had been informed of the approach and threw up a barrage of Anti Aircraft and Machine Gun fire, Sqn-Cdr Briggs was wounded and his petrol tank was pierced and had to land to be captured; but the other 2 flew back another 120 miles.

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Justin Moretti

British naval air power is responsible for more 'firsts' than many people seem to realize. Taranto, for example, was only the end expression of what the RNAS had laid on for the High Seas Fleet if the war had gone on into 1919.

"A carrier-launched strike that caught the enemy fleet at anchor and decimated it." But for lack of time to prepare, this might have been Germany's fleet, not Italy's or the United States'.

British naval air power was let down at Jutland by Campania not being able to join in, by Engadine's aircraft becoming U/S and having to return, and by the messages it transmitted somehow not being passed on to Jellicoe (source: The Rules of the Game, A. Gordon). But the concept was all there; launch air reconnaissance from your carriers and find the enemy fleet. It's a pity, too, that the Engadine had to tow the Warrior home (and later take off her crew). One can imagine a scenario in which she was up at first light, and might have been directed to engage the Zeppelin that reported Jellicoe's movements and allowed Scheer to finally evade him. Or, if Campania had been there, to maybe launch a torpedo strike? The Seydlitz was in no condition to evade, and would certainly have been rolled over by one or two good hits (okay, maybe being as submerged as she was, they might have just smashed into the belt, but even a few extra frames loosened might have done for her), and one or two of Hipper's other BCs might not have made it back if they'd had a little extra water on board - or busted rudders...

Aah, the big ifs of history!

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essdee

Thought you might find it of interest. It's dated 8 Sept'15 from a report by Brig Gen RA 9th Corps.

Stuart

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JOSTURM
Thought you might find it of interest. It's dated 8 Sept'15 from a report by Brig Gen RA 9th Corps.

Stuart

Hi, does anybody know the best easily available book that covers the work of the RNAS from 1910 to 1918, before RAF formation :D . I have the RFC books by Ralph Barker, but hadn't realised so much had been achieved by the RNAS.

Josturm.

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Dolphin
Hi, does anybody know the best easily available book that covers the work of the RNAS from 1910 to 1918, before RAF formation?

Peter

Two books that spring to mind are:

The Royal Naval Air Service 1912-1918 by Brad King, ISBN 0 9519899 5 2; and

Naval Aviation in the First World War by R D Layman, ISBN 1 55750 617 5 (this covers more than just the British efforts);

If you're really keen, there are the six volumes of The War in the Air by Sir Walter Raleigh and H A Jones, re-printed by Naval and Military Press.

Regards

Gareth

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per ardua per mare per terram

Capt SW Roskill, Documents Relating to the Naval Air Service (Navy Records Society, 1969). Roskill printed extracts from the archives with linking explanations. The copies of the reports that I've posted on the forum were scanned from here. But even this does not have information on Friedrichshafen.

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James A Pratt III

"Over The Front" magazine contains a number of articals dealing with the Gallipoli air operations. See Volume 9-1, 9-2, 9-3, 11-1.

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michaeldr

Quote from Martin:

"In reality neither side was likely to be able to muster enough "modern" aircraft for an effective air campaign - the allies certainly did not want to divert aircraft from the western front and the Turks would have been reliant upon German aircraft. The few aircraft that saw service were essentially obsolete. There were ballon ships (such as "Manica" used for naval gunnery observatiion and the RNAS also provided a couple of armoured car squadrons at Cape Helles.

I suspect that even had it been 1917 the better aircraft would have been reserved for the western front."

Martin's thoughts are shared by Wavell who has the following footnote in his biography of Allenby [page 210]

"The authorities at home were apt to be short-sighted in the distribution of new aeroplanes. When a new type was produced they usually insisted on equipping all the squadrons on the Western Front before any of the new machines were sent East. It took many squadrons to produce much effect in France, while a single squadron could change the whole balance of air-power on the Palestine front in a few days."

I think that Wavell's remark could equally apply to Gallipoli

regards

Michael

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per ardua per mare per terram

Who knows? Gallipoli took place in 1915, not 1917. The aircraft that the RNAS had were a wide range and included the same types that were used to equip squadrons for the Western Front. 18 Sqn RFC was the last to arrive in France in 1915, as far as I can tell, and went with: Martinside S.1, Bristol Scout, and Vickers FB5 'Gunbus.' The RNAS does not appear to have used Martinsides but both of the others were with their contingent. What they lacked was pilots rather than 'modern' aircraft.

14 & 17 Sqns RFC were sent out to the Middle East in 1915 and were still using the BE2c over 2 years later. In your fantasy scenario, if the RFC had equipped the 1917 Gallipoli campaign support then yes, I agree they would have had obsolete aircraft. If the RNAS were tasked with the job then they would have had modern aircraft including Camels and Handley Page 0/100s; with probably Furious in support and if Samson was given the command then I’d expect that pressure would have been applied to speed up the Vindictive and Argus.

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michaeldr

I agree that the pilots were over worked; Brad King clearly makes this point in his book

However regarding their machines, H. A. Jones writing in 'The War in the Air' Vol.II lists six types of aircraft which the RNAS originally took out to the Dardanelles, and he has complaints against four [13 aircraft]. Leaving two BE2 and three Maurice Farman "for all the spotting and reconnaissance and bombing"

with the further note that one of the MFs had already done 120 hours in France

The first reinforcements to arrive in May were six Henry Farmans powered by 80 hp Gnome engines which had already proved useless over the peninsula. They were sent back, untouched, in their original packing as they would be useful at home as school machines. In June five Voisins with 140 hp Canton Unne engines arrived, but they had to run full out to be useful and they lasted only about 20 hours

The impression gained is that the service was willing, but that they weren't given a fair crack of the whip.

regards

Michael

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per ardua per mare per terram

Still no one has answered which aircraft should have been sent instead of those that were or what difference other aircraft would have made in 1915 or 1917.

Just before the comment on reinforcements Jones wrote: “There is, perhaps, something of pathos in the fact that the air service, as the year wore on, became so strong that it was able to deny the enemy any sight of an attention to withdraw from the peninsula.” That was no mean achievement, surprising it wasn’t quoted!

The first RNAS aircraft for the Dardanelles arrived in Ark Royal, she was laid down (as a collier): 7 Nov 1913; totally redesigned to be the first seaplane carrier: May 1914; launched 5 Sept 14 (not bad given they had no experience in the design); Commissioned 9 Dec 14 (according to Jones); arrived Tenedos 17 Feb 1915, sent off first successful flight the same day, dropped a 20lb bomb on Kum Kale.

Samson’s detachment arrived in March and included BE2a No.50: Samson’s favourite; it has already attacked Dusseldorf on 22 Sept 1914 - what were the RFC doing by then? Apart from the BE2s and three Maurice Farman mentioned, the other aircraft had carried out photo reconnaissance and the Tabloids were used for single-seater fighters, though they were rarely called upon for that role.

Ben-my-Chree, commissioned 2 Jan 1915; sailed for the Dardanelles in May 1915, with reinforcing aircraft, and on 12 Aug launched the world’s first successful torpedo attack.

By 2 May 1915 (see the report in previously mentioned thread) Samson’s unit had flown 18,851 miles. He wanted more 100hp Maurice Farmans (probably longhorns) and 135 hp Maurice Farman pushers. He was not the first front line commanding officer not to get what he indented for! He was already describing the BE2c as useless, but the RFC was still equipping squadrons with them in November 1916 and sent them into the front line as late as Sept 1916 ; picking up on Wavell’s point that was in Egypt and as I have written before the RFC kept the BE2c in service until 1918. The difference is that Samson returned the useless reinforcements, the RFC kept theirs.

As far as I know, all the pre war British experiments with aircraft (landplanes and sea planes) had been in home waters/skies. They therefore were pushing the envelope in pioneering conditions for Gallipoli and could have had little idea what the differences in temperature, humidity and other conditions would make to the machines available, so a selection was a good idea. They cacked the whip, who would have done it better?

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MartinWills

I rather find myself puzzling over the advantage of air superiority at Gallipoli. In many instances trenches were so close as to invalidate attacking the front line. Good spotting (balloons and naval observers on land) and naval fire did at least as much as bombers might have achieved on areas behind, though the low naval trajectory for shells did not always help, and much of the allied mapping of the Turkish lines was achieved through air observation (perhaps we did have air superiority ......)

It is worth noting that the airstrip at Cape Helles was quickly pounded by Turkish fire rendering it impractical as a base, though later the campaign a dummy aircraft placed there survived for weeks unscathed although the area around it was filled with shell holes ........

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michaeldr

Gareth's reminder about "Naval Aviation in the First World War by R D Layman, ISBN 1 55750 617 5 (this covers more than just the British efforts)"

was timely, and I see on my re-reading of it, that it was K who was adamant that the RFC should not be represented in the MEF

"On 12 March.........Major-General W. P. Braithwaite had an interview with Kitchener in which he requested a contingent of up-to-date RFC aircraft with experienced pilots and observers. Kitchener curtly and rather angrily refused."

The point about up-to-date aircraft and experienced pilots and observers was well made. Several writers are at pains to point out that the best efforts of the RNAS were thwarted by their under-powered aircraft which necessitated that the job of observer in these craft was given to untrained Midshipmen, on account of their light weight!

Martin is probably right when he mentions the usefulness of good spotting from balloons, for the balloons could carry up trained [and full weight] observers.

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lancashire

Afternoon,

Are there any lists of personnel were stationed on / flying off the islands, my grandfather was on the Ark Royal (RNAS Pilot) from the ships log there are occasional gaps in flying duties, (one crew logs the pilots and planes another does not) his last named entry is:

Kephalo Bay Lat 40.17, Long 26.0

3:00am: 1st Dispatch boat left for patrol, Lieutenant Garnett in charge

I wonder if he became island based be it Tenedos or Imbros?

JG

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