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Thread: CIRCUS 103 A+B Why so much cover?

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    Default CIRCUS 103 A+B Why so much cover?

    I have 2 queries concerning Circus 103.

    The first is the number of different totals pertaining to allied fighter losses that afternoon. It ranges from 12 to 17 +according to which source one uses?

    The second query is why 14 fighter sqns were required for escort to cover this Op?

    If each phase comprised 2 box formations of 12 Blenheim IVs.
    Amiens (railway yards?); Mazingarbe and Bully les Mines (a power station) were all bombed.
    But is my estimate of bombers (24 in total) too conservative?

    Dave

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    One of the main purposes of any Circus was to draw the Luftwaffe into combat. That would explain the extensive fighter escort.

    Can't help you with the losses.

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    What's the date of this operation?

    Thanks,

    Stephen

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    According to Tony Wood's Combat Claims and Casualties:-

    Circus 103A saw 9 Squadrons escorting 12 Blenheims to Amiens Rail Yards, and 103B saw 14 Squadrons escorting 12 Blenheims to Bully-les-Mines Power Station, both on 27 Sep 41. Losses are given as 4 and 9 aircraft respectively, and show an almighty bunfight!

    It is well worth downloading these invaluable lists as they contain a vast amount of information.

    http://www.don-caldwell.we.bs/claims/tonywood.htm

    HTH,

    Jeff

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    Bill is correct in that the main thrust of the Circus ops was to draw the Luftwaffe into combat. The escorting fighter Wings would typically provide High Cover and Close Cover, possibly a "free lance Wing" and possibly another Wing in the Channel area to assit the withdrawing force. Diversion Wings were also employed. With 3 squadrons per Wing the number easily reaches the total mentioned and would become typical for the Circus ops post invasion of Russia.

    Ian

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    Dave,

    Considering what was taking place on the Eastern Front, Fighter Command had been carrying out intensive offensive operations since July. The main task was to destroy as much as they could on the ground and in the air with the main hope that the Luftwaffe wouldn't send any more squadrons East.

    Stephen

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    Everybody seems to think the RAF offensive of the summer 1941 was triggered by the German invasion of Russia, but in fact heavy Circus operations commenced in mid-June, about a week before the German attack. Look for example at Circus 13 on 17 June.

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    The British were well aware of German plans to invade Russia. The launching of the offensive could have been intended to assist the Russians, even if it was in advance of the start of Barbarossa.

    I don't think it was: it is another example of Trenchardian thinking in taking the fight to the enemy. If the RAF hadn't attempted to attack the Germans in France, morale would have suffered through inaction and it would have come under considerable criticism for doing nothing. This seems to be often overlooked by critics of the policy.

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    Operation Circus commenced 10 January 1941. British were well aware of the forthcoming war on the East, at least in April 1941, but the preparations were observed as early as September 1940, according to reports of the Polish intelligence.

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    Churchill fully supported the Circus plan, and a number of other offensive schemes at the time, as preparation for a return to the continent. In early 1941 some though this could happen in a few months, but history showed this to be optimistic. By the end of 1940 Churchill had made his calculation showing the German ability to produce replacement aircraft and aircrews to be less than that of the UK (with North American support), and considered that trading aircraft one for one in Circus type operations would contribute to an eventual UK victory. He probably had the math right at the time, but not the time scale.

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