dwg -> RE: Aviation Support (3/5/2012 3:22:30 PM)
I work in the US Department of Transportation. As my highway engineer pals constantly remind me, you can triple the number of engineers working on a road or bridge project, but that will not get the bridge built three times faster in real life. In AE, it does.
I've seen enough aircraft development projects up close and personal to know that the Mythical Man-Month effect is real, that there is a point past which throwing people at a project actually slows it down rather than helping. (Of course the usual response to hitting that point is to throw more managers at a project, which is even more of a problem, but I digress <g>...)
OTOH there's a point that people seem to be forgetting in this discussion, which is that we have two separate issues: 'how many people can you usefully put on aviation support, or airfield construction, at a single airbase?', and 'how many people can you usefully put on aviation support, or airfield construction, in a complex of airbases stretching over a 40 mile hex'. I live in Kent, pretty much the whole county will fit in a WITP hex, and there are something like 70 active or historical strips in the county.
Here's just a quick list of what was active in WWII (ALG=Advanced Landing Ground, quickly constructed in 43-44 for use by USAAF groups at D-Day, some were back in agricultural use before the end of 44):
Ashford, ALG, 3 sqns
Biggin Hill, 3 Sqns
Brenzett, ALG, 3 Sqns
Detling, 3 sqns
Eastchurch, Coastal Command and training base
Gravesend, 3 sqns
Hawkinge, 3 sqns
Headcorn, ALG, 3 sqns
High Haldon, ALG, 3 Sqns
Kingsnorth, ALG, 3 sqns
Lashenden, ALG, 3 Sqns
Lympne, 4-6 sqns
Manston, 3 sqns. With 9000' by 750' emergency diversion strip for damaged bombers returning from the continent. Manston was also one of the bases for Operation Market Garden, with 2 squadrons, with at least 56 Albemarles, launching from Manston towing 98 Horsas over 2 lifts.
New Romney, ALG
Newchurch, ALG, 4 Sqns
Penshurst, 1 Sqn
Rochester, Short Brothers site with Stirling production line (and proof that 4-engined bomber runways need be neither paved, nor particularly flat, Rochester has a distinct dip in the middle!)
Rochester Esplanade - Short's seaplane works - Sunderland and Shetland
Staplehurst, ALG, 3 sqns
Swingfield, 1 Sqn
West Malling, 2 Sqns
Woodchurch, ALG, 3 Sqns
That's a minimum of 53 squadrons, primarily single-engined fighters (West Malling was a night fighter base with Beaufighters), potentially as many as 1000 aircraft. Not counting the waterfront site at Rochester Esplanade, that is 21 airfield sites available for simultaneous use, or development. All this within a single 40 mile hex. If I'd picked Lincolnshire or East Anglia, then you would see a similar pattern of intense development, but we would be talking about 4-engined bomber bases instead.
The point of this is the sheer number of airfields which can be incorporated in a single WITP hex. There is a tendency to think 1 hex = 1 airfield, but other than the smaller islands, where stacking limits may be the more effective limitation, we need to remember to think in terms of multiple airfields. Throwing 21 battalions worth of construction engineers at a single airfield would invoke the Mythical-Man Month effect in spades, but throwing 21 battalions at 21 separate airfields would be entirely reasonable. Similarly 1000 aircraft operating out of a single airfield is entirely unreasonable, but 75 aircraft, or even more, operating out of a single airfield was perfectly normal, multiply that 20 times over and you get not 1000 aircraft, but 1500.