D-Day Documentary: air attack failed due to weather, why wasn't there a Plan "B"?

D-Day Documentary: air attack failed due to weather, why wasn't there a Plan "B"?

Joined: October 7th, 2007, 4:55 am

June 7th, 2012, 1:29 am #1

Just watched Military Channel documentary on Omaha slaughter, which was epically tragic. The allied air attack designed to destroy German defenses on the beach failed due to weather, the historians say.

I didn't go to West Point, but my question is: why wasn't there a Plan B at Omaha? A few squadrons of P-47's and Tempests covering the Omaha invasion, flying under the mist and fog, would have saved hundreds of lives. Heck, even a few Hellcats from the FAA would have made an huge difference. They may not have destroyed German emplacements but would have at least given the first wave a chance to get out of tht boats.

This invasion was war-gamed both in the States and in England, under English weather conditions. Amazing how the planners anticipated the need to take out German defenses, but devised a woefully inadequate plan to protect the beach head.
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Joined: May 26th, 2005, 5:39 am

June 7th, 2012, 1:54 am #2

It becomes the cost of doing business, and the invasion overall was a resounding success. Despite the high casualties, the Omaha contingent was not thrown back into the sea either.

If you assume a Plan "B", then you multiply that by all the other invasion points, and there have to be resources to spare for each of those, including basing, planning, controlling, adequate lines of communication, and a crucial issue of timing. The com resources in particular were so rudimentary that we can hardly comprehend them at this remove. Simply put, if resources like that had existed, the ability to bring them to bear in the proper time and space on an ad hoc basis were next to zero. So such resources were employed directly, to the extent they could be supplied and controlled and targets identified for them.

"Don't take your life too seriously, son. At the end of it, you won't be alive anyway."

Red Skelton's mother
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Joined: September 7th, 2006, 2:03 am

June 7th, 2012, 4:29 am #3

Just watched Military Channel documentary on Omaha slaughter, which was epically tragic. The allied air attack designed to destroy German defenses on the beach failed due to weather, the historians say.

I didn't go to West Point, but my question is: why wasn't there a Plan B at Omaha? A few squadrons of P-47's and Tempests covering the Omaha invasion, flying under the mist and fog, would have saved hundreds of lives. Heck, even a few Hellcats from the FAA would have made an huge difference. They may not have destroyed German emplacements but would have at least given the first wave a chance to get out of tht boats.

This invasion was war-gamed both in the States and in England, under English weather conditions. Amazing how the planners anticipated the need to take out German defenses, but devised a woefully inadequate plan to protect the beach head.
its "Best" Generals in charge.
For the Army of Northern Virginia that price for Robert E Lee, was Gettysburg. The French paid for Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo.
Pick a British general: they all have their bad days!
For the US Army on D-day, the price for having Omar Bradley was Omaha Beach.

I do NOT have a issue with Bradley's abilities, overall I think he was a good, competent general, and was always mindful of casualties in his operations. But everyone can make mistakes and Bradley made an error of judgement two months before June 6th that had tragic repercussions.

Gen. Omar Bradley is the one who Turned Down the British Army's offer to supply him with the ALL the necessary "Funnies" (ie: the specialised amphibious tanks and engineering vehicles) to support the Omaha landing, relenting only in the case of the DD shermans - ask any of the crews how that turned out after they were launched in rough, open water, and NOT at the edge of the beach shallows as intended.
The result was that the american troops faced an opposed landing without tanks or heavy engineering support, not even armoured dozers, which could have been employed to provide cover.
Think I'm wrong? I would point out a simple and often overlooked fact: Omaha Beach was the ONLY beach where the "funnies" were NOT deployed in numbers.
Roosevelt and the other generals there quietly wheedled them out of the British for the Utah landings and the Canadians and British both used them extensively at their own beaches.(Gold, Juno and Sword) The "Funnies" were developed in the wake of the disaster at Dieppe (read up on how badly that operation was done)in 1942, which should have warned anyone about the NECESSITY for heavy engineering support in Amphibious landings.

I DO, however, think the lack of 'proper air cover' was ALSO a factor, but that also happened at other beaches at varous points. None of themturned into a bloodbath like Omaha.It took a lot of bloody, hard fighting, and most of the day, to shift the defenders from their prepared positions.
IMHO, it was the lack of the "Funnie" tanks and dozers that shifted the advantage to the defenders from the get go.


Brett

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Joined: April 4th, 2006, 7:00 pm

June 7th, 2012, 2:03 pm #4

I recently read this book:



...which can be browsed here:

http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Hitlers- ... 0811705897

You can read the section on "The Funnies and Omaha Beach" on pages 246-248.

First, the conventional wisdom that Americans simply turned down the funnies is apparently incorrect. There were logistical issues involved, including the simple fact that there were not enough funnies to accommodate all of the needs, nor was there enough transport (LCTs) to get them there even if the funnies were available.

The author contends that the presence (or absence) of funnies was not the deciding factor at Omaha. Terrain and defensive positions were disadvantageous to their use. Loss of funnies and heavy equipment was very high at the Commonwealth beaches, and while there were instances of them performing well (even brilliantly), they were not the decisive factor in winning the day.

The decision to launch the DD tanks into rough surf so far from Omaha beach, resulting in most of them being lost, was a factor, but even the presence of armor on the beach was not decisive, though it was useful. At Omaha, the defenses were well off the beach up the bluffs, making them difficult targets, and the terrain was too soft to accommodate heavy vehicles.

The timing at Omaha was delayed due to heavy surf and tide, so the beach obstacle and gap clearing teams did not have sufficient time to do their work before landing craft, and the tide, came in. This caused major problems, some of which became fortuitous when some units shifted to less defended stretches of beach and were able to get organized. The only unit to land where it was supposed to showed up alone on a heavily defended stretch and was virtually wiped out (Co. A, 116th RCT).

I highly recommend the book: It gives a completely different perspective on the landings and emphasizes the crucial role planned for and played by the engineering teams.

Cheers,

Lee G.
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Joined: April 4th, 2006, 7:00 pm

June 7th, 2012, 5:30 pm #5

It becomes the cost of doing business, and the invasion overall was a resounding success. Despite the high casualties, the Omaha contingent was not thrown back into the sea either.

If you assume a Plan "B", then you multiply that by all the other invasion points, and there have to be resources to spare for each of those, including basing, planning, controlling, adequate lines of communication, and a crucial issue of timing. The com resources in particular were so rudimentary that we can hardly comprehend them at this remove. Simply put, if resources like that had existed, the ability to bring them to bear in the proper time and space on an ad hoc basis were next to zero. So such resources were employed directly, to the extent they could be supplied and controlled and targets identified for them.

"Don't take your life too seriously, son. At the end of it, you won't be alive anyway."

Red Skelton's mother
Regarding the specific situation on Normandy, figher-bombers were heavily committed, but the heavies were tasked with beach defense suppression, along with shore bombardment. Shore bombardment, however, was very limited due to the need for surprise. When the bombers strayed too far inland and killed cows instead of beach defenses, or had to abort due to weather, the timetable was such that there was no time for alternate beach defense suppression: The landing craft were queued up and ready to go, with rockets and naval gunfire going over their heads. Everything was timed to the minute, with some latitude for some activities, but calling another bomb raid was out of the question, and fighter-bombers flying low over the heavily defended beach areas would have been creamed for little effect: The fighter bombers just would not have been able to make a significant dent in the entrenched beach defenses no matter how much time they had.

Parts of the plan worked, other parts did not, but the overall objective was attained: A functioning foothold by nightfall on enemy-occupied France.

EDIT: Another thought: The fighter bombers were heavily involved in air interdiction to paralyze German road, rail, and river traffic, taking out known strongpoints behind the beaches (tactical support), and keeping the Luftwaffe away from the beach head. It probably wasn't feasible to assign them the task of beach defense suppression even if they wanted to do it.

Cheers,

Lee G.

Last edited by leegee_77 on June 7th, 2012, 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: May 8th, 2005, 2:36 am

June 7th, 2012, 11:26 pm #6

Couple of thoughts that have been published before concerning combat:

A. No op plan survives contact with the enemy - "On War" Clauswitz

B. "Murphy is alive and well" - Anon
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Joined: January 18th, 2007, 6:05 am

June 9th, 2012, 3:34 am #7

Just watched Military Channel documentary on Omaha slaughter, which was epically tragic. The allied air attack designed to destroy German defenses on the beach failed due to weather, the historians say.

I didn't go to West Point, but my question is: why wasn't there a Plan B at Omaha? A few squadrons of P-47's and Tempests covering the Omaha invasion, flying under the mist and fog, would have saved hundreds of lives. Heck, even a few Hellcats from the FAA would have made an huge difference. They may not have destroyed German emplacements but would have at least given the first wave a chance to get out of tht boats.

This invasion was war-gamed both in the States and in England, under English weather conditions. Amazing how the planners anticipated the need to take out German defenses, but devised a woefully inadequate plan to protect the beach head.
said it some 20 centuries ago:

"The best battle plan is only good till the first arrow is loosed"!
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