5th Abteilung produces a summary of the RAF

5th Abteilung (Air Intelligence Department of the Luftwaffe General Staff under 'Beppo' Schmid) report fails to mention radar, although 3rd Abteilung (Luftwaffe Signals and Cypher service under Wolfgang Martini) were aware of its existence and - before the war - had attempted to determine the frequencies used.

GERMAN INTELLIGENCE APPRECIATION OF THE R.A.F. AND COMPARISON WITH CURRENT LUFTWAFFE STRENGTH

Oberkommando der Luftwaffe
Operations Staff IC
16th July 1940. 7

I. THE MILITARY VALUE OF THE R.A.F

A. Strength and Equipment

1. Fighter Formations

With 50 fighter squadrons each having about 18 aircraft, there are 900 first line fighters available of which approximately 675 (75 per cent) may be regarded as serviceable.

About 40 per cent of the fighters are Spitfires and about 60 per cent are Hurricanes. Of these types the Spitfire is regarded as the better.

In view of their combat performance and the fact that they are not yet equipped with cannon guns both types are inferior to the Bf 109, while the individual Bf 110 is inferior to skilfully handled Spitfires.

In addition to the above formations Blenheim squadrons are available for night fighter tasks as auxiliary heavy fighters and operate in cohesion with particularly intense searchlight defence.

2. Bombing Formations

Assuming the average squadron strength to be 20 aircraft, the 55 to 60 bomber squadrons contain about 1,150 first line bombers of which about 860 (75 per cent) may be regarded as serviceable.

This strength is divided among four types of aircraft of various series, approximately as follows:

Hampden 400
Wellington 350
Whitley 300
Lockheed Hudson 100

Comparison of these types shows that the Hampden has the best qualities as a bomber.

In addition, there is a large number of Blenheim bombers available. Most of these are in training schools but there are also some in operational units. However, in view of its performance, this type can no longer be considered a first line aircraft.

In comparison with German bombers all these types have inadequate armour, and poor bomb-aiming equipment. However, they usually have strong defensive armament.

3. Other Formations

These include coastal formations equipped with Lockheed Hudsons (reconnaissance) and flying-boats and various obsolescent types of aircraft — close reconnaissance and low-level attack aircraft designed for co-operation with the army.
These need not be taken into consideration in this report.

4. Anti-aircraft Artillery

In view of the island’s extreme vulnerability to air attack and the comparatively limited amount of modern equipment the number of heavy and light A.A. guns available (1,194 plus 1,114) is by no means adequate to ensure the protection of the island by ground defences.

The large number of efficient searchlights available (3,200) constitutes an advantageous factor in defence at night.

Only limited importance should be attributed to the numerous barrage balloons, as these can be used only at low altitudes (1,000 to 2,000 metres) owing to the medium wind velocities prevailing over the island. The balloons cannot be raised at all at appreciable wind velocities.

B. Personnel and Training

At present there are no difficulties regarding the number of men available.

From the outset the training is concentrated on the production of good pilots and the great majority of the officers in particular are trained solely as such. By comparison tactical training is left far in the background. For this reason the R.A.F. has comparatively well-trained fighter pilots while bomber crews are not up to modern tactical standards. This applies to the bomb-aimers in particular, most of whom are N.C.O.s and men with little service experience. Although there are deficiencies in equipment the comparatively low standard of bombing accuracy may be attributed to this factor.

C. Airfields

In the ground organisation there is a considerable number of air-strips in the southern part of the island and in some areas in the north. However, only a limited number can be considered as operational airfields with modern maintenance and supply installations.

In general, the well-equipped operational airfields are used as take-off and landing bases, while the numerous smaller airfields located in the vicinity serve as alternative landing grounds and rest bases.

There is little strategic flexibility in operations as ground personnel are usually permanently stationed at home bases.

D. Supply Situation

  1. As regards aircraft, the R.A.F. is at present almost entirely dependent on home production. American deliveries will not make any important contribution before the beginning of 1941.

    If deliveries arriving in Britain in the immediate future are supplemented by French orders these aircraft may be ready for operations by the autumn.

    At present the British aircraft industry produces about 180 to 300 first line fighters and 140 first line bombers a month. In view of the present conditions relating to production (the appearance of raw material difficulties, the disruption or breakdown of production at factories owing to air attacks, the increased vulnerability to air attack owing to the fundamental reorganisation of the aircraft industry now in progress) it is believed that for the time being output will decrease rather than increase.

    In the event of an intensification of air warfare it is expected that the present strength of the R.A.F. will fall and this decline will be aggravated by the continued decrease in production.

  2. Unless an appreciable proportion of present stocks is destroyed, the fuel situation can be regarded as secure.
  3. Bombs. Bomb production is limited by the method of manufacture (cast casings). However there will be no difficulty in the supplies of bombs so long as present stocks are not used and operations continue on a moderate scale. It is believed that these stocks will be adequate for intensive operations lasting several weeks.

    Most of the bombs available are of medium calibre (112 and 224 kilogrammes), of which a large proportion are of an obsolete pattern with unfavourable ballistic qualities (bombs with fins).

E. Command

The Command at high level is inflexible in its organisation and strategy. As formations are rigidly attached to their home bases, command at medium level suffers mainly from operations being controlled in most cases by officers no longer accustomed to flying (station commanders). Command at low level is generally energetic but lacks tactical skill.

II. THE OPERATIONAL SCOPE OF THE RAF.

  1. For its operations the R.A.F. has at its disposal an area of only 200 to 300 kilometres in depth. This corresponds approximately to an area the size of the Netherlands and Belgium.

    There is little possibility of Ireland being used in the system of depth owing to the lack of ground organisation and the fact that once R.A.F. units have been transferred there they cannot restore their serviceability.

    In contrast the Luftwaffe has at its disposal an area extending from Trondheim, across Heligoland Bay and along the North Sea and Channel coasts to Brest with a practically unlimited zone in depth.

  2. In view of the inferiority of British fighters to German fighters, enemy bomber formations even with fighter escort are not capable of carrying out effective daylight attacks regularly, particularly as escort operations are in any case limited by the lack of long-range single-engine or heavy fighters.

    The R.A.F. will therefore be obliged to limit its activity primarily to night operations even in the advent of intensified air warfare. These operations will undoubtedly achieve a nuisance value but will in no way be decisive.

    In contrast, the Luftwaffe is in a position to go over to decisive daylight operations owing to the inadequate air defences of the island.

III. CONCLUSION

The Luftwaffe is clearly superior to the R.A.F. as regards strength, equipment, training, command and location of bases. In the event of an intensification of air warfare the Luftwaffe, unlike the R.A.F., will be in a position in every respect to achieve a decisive effect this year if the time for the start of large-scale operations is set early enough to allow advantage to be taken of the months with relatively favourable weather conditions (July to the beginning of October).

(Quoted in Battle over Britain; Appendix K.)