Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Gap!

This is coolbert:

It was known by many names:

* Mid-Atlantic Gap.

* Atlantic Gap.

* Air Gap.

* The Greenland Gap.

* The Black Pit.

* Or simply, “The Gap”!

"The Mid-Atlantic Gap, Atlantic Gap, Air Gap, Greenland Gap or just the Gap during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II was the gap in coverage by land-based anti-submarine aircraft from Britain, Newfoundland and Iceland. This resulted in heavy merchant shipping losses to U-Boats. The Black Pit of the Air Gap where most losses occurred was the area southeast of Greenland."

That area southeast of Greenland where World War Two [WW2] North Atlantic convoys, sailing from North American to England, laden with war munitions, were MOST susceptible to attack by German U-boats.

An area out of range for allied land-based two-engine surveillance aircraft. Aircraft able to accompany a convoy and provide protection from enemy submarines [daylight only during the early stages of the war?]!

It was in this area of the North Atlantic that the allies [British?] contemplated using an iceberg as a floating airfield. To be used by anti-submarine surveillance/attack aircraft.

Until the advent of the Very-Long-Range [VLR] aircraft [B-24 “Liberator”], German submarines operated with relative impunity in the “Gap”! Either as individual boats or as part of a “wolf-pack”, could attack allied convoys and wreak tremendous damage, unafraid of attack from the air. This problem was most acute at night, all advantage in this case being to the U-boat.

The B-24, equipped with centimeter radar, able to drop bombs and depth charges, had a devastating effect upon the German U-boat service, both night and day, clear weather and inclement. The period known to the German mariner as “Black May” [1943] was due - - in large measure - - to the VLR aircraft.

"The B-24 made a massive contribution to Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic against German U-boats . . . The Very Long Range (VLR) Liberators 'almost doubled the reach of Britain's maritime reconnaissance force. This added range enabled Coastal Command patrols to cover the Mid-Atlantic gap, where U-boats had operated with near impunity."

I had originally thought that an iceberg large enough and level enough to be used as an airfield would have to been obtained from Antarctic waters. A “berg” “moved” into position from that far would have been a chore of the first magnitude.

Ideas such as using an enormous iceberg as an airfield are innovative, novel, unconventional, and quite often get the attention of “higher-ups” [Churchill in this case], but are rarely practical or implemented for a variety of reasons. Such with the iceberg/airfield.




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