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Engines of War: what steam locos changed WW2?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    I didn't say they did.
     
  2. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Active Member

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    just a few points on the foregoing , but nowt to do with trains!

    Lord Beaverbrook , was an astute man - he organised aircraft production in such a way that no one factory built a complete aircraft . they were assembled from parts built in many separate factories . the Luftwaffe could not kill our aircraft production ..Goering centralised production make disruption by the raf a fairly simple matter .

    the plane that won the battle of Britain was the Hawker Hurricane . it was cheaper and easier to build than the Spitfire , which was altogether more advanced (and complicated.) thank RR for the Merlin engine which powered both ,born ,as was the Spit, from the Supermarine racer of the mid '30s . I believe the ratio was 1 Spit to 5 Hurricanes
    it is true the raf were never short of planes . new /repaired units arrived at close of business each day . bluddy marvellous !
    another shrewd move was to rotate our pilots , and train new. Goering relied on the same pilots who got tired and ultimately died ,leaving inexperienced men to take their place ,who were fairly easy meat for our by then,battle hardened RAF

    Churchills decision to bomb Berlin was crucial.
    Hitler had promised there would be no bombing of Berlin .There was. ...that peed Hitler off big time , and he ordered the Blitz, in retaliation ,diverting the bombing away from the airfields . that decision saved us , and probably the rest of the free world.Our airfields were near collapse ,and the bombing of London effectively killed off the invasion because we were able to get the airfields back in business
    winter was coming . by October there was no chance of invading until the new year .so Hitler turned his attention to Russia

    the US was beginning to realise that Germany would attack them, once GB was subdued , and was rapidly getting on a war footing . GB is by far the most important lump of real estate in the northern hemisphere , strategically, (still is) . the US had to support us after the battle of Britain was won ,and Roosevelt knew it . Pearl Harbour just hurried things up a bit . Germany was already planning to bomb the East Coast , using the Azores as a refuelling stop.

    Hitlers failure to kill the RAF in August/September , and his decision to bomb London in 1940 sealed his fate , but we were sooooo lucky
     
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  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Incorrect. Both aircraft won the Battle of Britain - along with a few other types. The Merlin didn't stem from the Supermarine racers. The "R" type that powered the S6 series evolved into the Griffon.
    38 units flew the Hurricane and 21 flew the Spitfire during the BoB so not exactly a 5 to 1 ratio. Neither aircraft would have won without the other. Yes the Hurricane did shoot down proportionally more German aircraft but it was the damage inflicted on the Luftwaffe by all units irrespective of aircraft flown that finally convinced the German High Command that the air superiority they sought had not and would not be achieved. And then do not forget the importance of radar and Dowding's command and control system.
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Thinking about the notion of a locomotive that "changed the war", I thought I'd do a bit of analysis. How significant would a single loco be? Specifically, as it is associated with the war and was well regarded, how significant was the Q1?

    At the beginning of 1943, the stock of indigenous freight locos on the SR was as below. I've chosen 1943 partly because the Q1s were newly in traffic by then; partly because it was probably the very nadir of the war, at least from a British point of view.

    The SR was by nature something of a "mixed traffic" line, I've listed all the pure freight locos, but obviously most of these would occasionally work passenger trains, and some freight would be worked by passenger or mixed traffic locos. I've ignored pure shunters and mixed traffic classes. So no Merchant Navy; and no Adams B4, G6, Urie G16, Maunsell Z etc.

    Taken collectively, there were 535 pure freight locos, of which 228 were large, comparatively modern designs. (Q1 / Q / S15 / H16 / N / N1 / K). The Q1s thus represented 17% of the large locos, or just 7% of the total stock of freight locos.

    So were the Q1s a war-winning loco? They were undoubtedly a brilliant design given the conditions. But objectively, they were a small minority of SR freight locos. Put bluntly, most freight was still shifted by other designs, many of them dating from before the previous war (note the 108 Wainwright C class locos still going strong through the war and, in the vast majority of cases, into the 1960s).

    My objective isn't to do down the Q1 which was undoubtedly a great design. But the notion of a "war winning" design in any field, and particularly amongst locomotives, has to be treated with caution, for the simple reason that - on the SR at least - there were comparatively large numbers of comparatively small classes, so any individual class - however brilliant - was still only taking a small minority of the burden.

    It would be interesting to see comparative figures for the other companies.


    > 25,000lbf Tractive effort
    40 * Bulleid Q1 0-6-0
    15 * Maunsell W 2-6-4T
    25 * Maunsell S15 4-6-0
    20 * Urie S15 4-6-0
    5 * Urie H16 4-6-2T
    20 * Maunsell Q 0-6-0
    80 * Maunsell N 2-6-0
    6 * Maunsell N1 2-6-0
    17 * L Billinton K 2-6-0

    20,000 - 25,000lbf TE
    30 * Drummond 700 0-6-0
    12 * R Billinton E6 / E6x 0-6-2T
    16 * R Billinton E3 0-6-2T

    15,000 - 20,000lbf TE
    108 * Wainwright C 0-6-0
    52 * Stirling O1 0-6-0
    20 * Marsh C3 0-6-0
    48 * R Billinton C2 / C2x 0-6-0

    Below 15,000lbf TE
    18 * Adams 0395 class 0-6-0
    3 * Beattie 0298 class 2-4-0T

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  5. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Member

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    TBH I think such an agent-centric approach on micro-issues is problematic. Fundamentally you are arguing that the moment of critical juncture is the non-invasion of the UK by Nazi Germany and you are attributing this to micro-decisions made by elite level actors. I also feel that you argue that there are greater consequences of the actions that the evidence supports.

    I'd query your evidence for claims about US attitudes towards Nazi Germany and the understanding of US policy makers about the then West and Central European (rather than global conflict), remembering that policy makers are not a monolithic group.

    To place what you are saying within a broader question, Mark Mazower in 'Dark Continent' argues that the C20 can be seen through the prism of ideological conflict between Liberal Democracy, Fascism/Nazism and Communism. He argues that the 'victory' of Liberal Democracy is somewhat paradoxical because Liberal Democracies by their nature have to be responsive to domestic concerns whereas Fascism/Nazism and Communism as authoritarian systems do not. My point here is that actors act within structures, an actor can not act without the structure being there first to enable them to act in the way in which they act. Hence rather than actions, structure is a more productive place to look in terms of explaining outcomes.

    I confess to my own bias here as someone who thinks structures matter, so to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies 'I would say this wouldn't I'

    To take the discussion back to railways and to link it to the Mazower argument - I think it is worth looking at how the different systems understood the purpose of railways and their functions. For example, civilian travel in a war is a critical question - it obviously takes away from military use, but on the other hand it is vital for moving workers around but also maintaining morale as civilians can travel and there is some normalcy. The fact that travel was difficult but possible plays a part in the argument about maintaining civilian morale which in turn feeds into lack of social/political unrest (a very serious problem towards the end of WW1 everywhere), lower productivity towards the war effort (worker absence etc), and so on and so forth.

    As I've said before, the railways were a small cog in a very large system, but their role was multifaceted, in many different areas and at many different levels but hard to quantify and assess.

    So in contrast to the view that says ‘big decision x led to big event y’ I tend to argue that the outcome of ww2 is actually the result of a series of fairly mundane structural differences that cumulatively produced a series of conditions more favourable to the non-axis Powers over the long run, of which the use of railways is one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  6. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Active Member

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    What stopped the invasion was the Battle of Britain. Hitler couldn't invade without control of the air. And then he turned to attacking Russia, which, like Napoleon before him, guaranteed his defeat.

    It was nice of the Yanks to chip in, but on the European front their main achievement was preventing Russia dominating more of Europe post-WW2
     
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  7. 8126

    8126 Member

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    There are a couple of things I find interesting there. Firstly, the obvious dominance of the old SECR as a freight hauling line in the SR. Even with the minor nitpick that I believe there were actually 30 700s, the LSWR in particular was obviously very lightly stocked with pure freight power, even if you include the S15s, which would surely have been considered heavy mixed-traffic on the other three major lines. I assume that was a combination of the Kent coalfield traffic and the major channel ports, but if there were any other factors I'd be interested to hear of them.

    Secondly, if you take the slightly different position that the N was a mixed traffic class in its general employment, the Q1s were definitely the largest class of pure freight motive power the SR had built in a long time, so although they were a relatively small portion of the fleet, they certainly represented a concerted attempt to expand it the heavy end of it. I know the SECR built the N class for their heavy freight traffic, but was that really how they were used on the SR as a whole?
     
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  8. Railcar22

    Railcar22 Member

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    Hi Sir Gilbert
    The ratio was actually 3 to 1, and the kill ratio was 3-1, and the availability ratio was also strangley 3 to 1 or thereabouts,. So that is 3 squadrons of Hurriacnes to every 1 of Spitfires. However a lot of the highest scoring squadrons during the Battle of Britain, were spitfire squadrons. The Spitfire was more suited to the better than avergage pilot, whereas the Hurricane, was suited to the avergage, or below average pilot
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Re the class N and S15: clearly they were used fairly widely on passenger turns (as sometimes were the Q1s for that matter). In my defence I guess you have to start somewhere in a list like the above! The flip side of course being that an amount of freight was handled by types of loco I didn't mention above.

    I'd never thought about the relative scarcity of LSWR pure freight power, but the numbers are pretty stark now you point to out. The LSWR had a large amount of freight (not least two major ports - Southampton and Portsmouth). I guess the needs of a very heavy holiday (and other special) traffic drove them predominantly down the mixed-traffic route. Certainly in earlier times, up to the inter-war period, a lot of freight was handled by Adams "Jubilee" 0-4-2s; and the Drummond K10 4-4-0s were also frequently seen on freight duties, for which they can hardly have been ideal.

    With regard the SE&CR, it is also striking just how much freight power they had. As at 1923, the Wainwright C was the largest single class of freight locos the SR had, by a comfortable margin, though clearly something bigger was beginning to be needed, and all three constituents had gone down that route (Maunsell N / Billinton K / Urie S15). I think the Kent coalfield was only part of the story, as the SER in particular had needed large numbers of freight locos back to early days: in the mid Victorian period there were over 100 Cudworth 0-6-0s (a huge number for a modestly sized mid-Victorian railway); and they were replaced by similarly large numbers of Stirling O class 0-6-0s. My hunch is that there must have been very heavy traffic through the ports, both coal (for shipping use) and goods.

    You are right about the number of Drummond 700s; I've corrected the number above.

    Tom
     
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  10. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    We're getting madly off topic, although aircraft policy has obvious parallels to locomotive policy - and indeed the biases of enthusiasts have still more obvious parallels , but I think it could be argued that the Hurricanes were better than Spitfires at shooting down bombers, and the Spitfires were better at holding off the Messerschmitts while they did it.
     
  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    But of course it didn't always work that way.
     
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  12. Cartman

    Cartman Active Member

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    Interesting about Southern freight locos, I would have categorised things like N class, S15s etc as mixed traffic, equivalents of Black 5s or Crabs/Stanier Moguls etc. This then leaves C class, O1s and 700 class, all 0-6-0s, equivalents of Derby 4s, 3Fs and so on.

    They had no equivalent to 8Fs or ROD 2-8-0s, presumably their volume of heavy freight traffic did not justify them. As far as I know, their main freight work were to and from Southampton docks, cross London transfer freights and the Kent coalfields.
     
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  13. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    If you think the Yanks chipped in, you've a lot of study of the subject to do. There's no doubt in my mind that without the USA the tide would have run the other way eventually.
     
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  14. Cartman

    Cartman Active Member

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    Not sure about that, personally, I would say that after Stalingrad, by about the middle of 1943, the Russians probably would have been capable of beating the Germans on their own and occupying the whole of Western Europe.

    Initially, at the time of Pearl Harbour, there was a sentiment in the USA, that the war in the Pacific was their war, and the European theatre should be left to the Europeans. Hitler saved Roosevelt from having to make a difficult decision by th3 fact that he declared war on the USA, not the other way round.
     
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  15. sir gilbert claughton

    sir gilbert claughton Active Member

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    I guessed somebody would know the true figure . the Spit was a more expensive plane to produce and demanded a higher skill level so it would make sense for aircrew to graduate to a Spit squadron .as they gained experience.
    if I had been Lord Dowding I would use the spits to take on the ME109s and let the Hurricanes take the bombers .dunno f that actually happened .
    the Spits at the start of the BoB were inferior to the 109, for 2 main reasons , Spits were carburetted ,the 109 had fuel injection . this meant a Spit flying upside down had no power . additionally the Spit had machine guns v/s he cannon of the 109. .these matters were improved pretty quickly , but reflects more credit on the raf for achieving what they did
     
  16. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    Realistically, as in the WWI, the German's best chance of forcing a British surrender was probably the U-boat campaign. US material and manpower was a huge help, but particularly in the early stages, even after the USA entered the war, the Anglo-phobia of the head of US Navy and his refusal to accept advice from or provide assistance to the Royal Navy in countering the U-boat threat provided the German Navy with what they called 'the Second Happy Time' along the US eastern seaboard until, grudgingly, RN techniques were adapted and adopted, and in one case, Roosevelt issued one of only two direct orders to a military commander in the whole war to provide the aircraft necessary to close the 'mid-Atlantic Gap', a huge move in the direction of the effective defeat of the U-boats.

    Steven
     
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  17. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    West country milk traffic was substantial and highly time-critical. It was always treated as priority traffic and the best available locos tended to be rostered.
     
  18. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Part of the furniture

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    As @Spamcan81 has said, wrong - on a number of counts.

    Both Hurricanes and Spitfires could fly from grass strips, so the loss of airfields would not have been fatal. I don't recall without looking up the exact data, but the period leading up to the switch of bombing to London, I believe RAF aircraft and pilot numbers were increasing. Operation Sealion was never really a credible plan because, at that stage, Hitler expected to be able to comes to terms with Britain and when Churchill became Prime Minister and gained support to fight on, a plan for invasion had to be rapidly - and rather chaotically - formed. See https://www.philmasters.org.uk/SF/Sealion.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sea_Lion_(wargame). The latter does include reference to attacks on the Railways and presumably British and Commonwealth troop movements would have involved use of troop trains.

    Steven
     
  19. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    Perhaps the Battle of Britain strategy discussion should be split out to a different thread...

    I must say I don't disagree with the proposition that in the absence of US participation the Russians would most likely have defeated the Nazis and occupied the whole of Germany and possibly other nations further to the west. It would have taken them a lot longer though.
     
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  20. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    .... but under such circumstances, would Stalin's Red Army have stopped their westward advance when they overran Germany? Workers to be liberated.... and all that. As you say, this is getting to need a separate thread ....
     

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