A mathematical model determines that the Luftwaffe would have defeated the RAF in the Battle of England if the Nazi attack had begun earlier and concentrated on the airfields. Mathematicians at the University of York have used a statistical technique on some of the big questions of “what would have happened if …” in the transcendental battle of World War II for the dominion of the skies of Great Britain.
What would have happened if deciding on the march the bombing of London had not happened? What if a more anxious Hitler had driven an earlier start of the campaign? What if Goring had focused on attacking British airfields during the entire period of the battle?
These are just some of the alternative scenarios that have formed a long debate among the historians and enthusiasts of World War II about what could have affected the outcome of the battle, which took place between May and October 1940.
Mathematicians at the University of York have developed a new model to explore what would have been the impact of the changes in the tactics of the Luftwaffe. His approach uses statistical models to calculate how this battle could have taken place if history had taken one of several alternative courses. The researchers, who publish their work in the Journal of Military History, say the method could now be used as a tool to investigate other historical controversies and unrealized possibilities, giving us a deeper understanding of events such as the Battle of the Atlantic (the military campaign continues longest of World War II).
The statistical technique is called “Weighted start” and computer simulation is like taking a ball for the events of each day of the Battle of England and putting it in a lottery hype. The balls are drawn, read and replaced to create thousands of alternative series of battles for days, but in a different order, and perhaps with some days with more activity or none.
Then, the researchers repeated the process to test the “what would have happened” of the battle, making some days more or less likely to be chosen, depending on how a protagonist (like Hitler) would have changed their decisions if they had been using different tactics, inform Eureka Alert.
The co-author of the article, Dr. Jamie Wood of the Department of Mathematics at the University of York, said: “The weighted boot technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its objectives “The Luftwaffe could only have made available the necessary bases in France to launch an air strike against Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign advances the air campaign in three weeks.
We test the impact of this and other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days. ” The results provide statistical support for a change in tactics that several historians have argued that could have brought the victory of the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940: the simulations suggested that if they had started the campaign before and focused on bombing airfields, the RAF It could have been defeated, paving the way for a German land invasion.
According to the mathematical model, the impact of these two changes would have been dramatic. Although it is impossible to estimate what were the real statistical possibilities of a RAF victory in July 1940, the study suggests that whatever the prospects of Great Britain are, an earlier start and a focus on aerodromes would have changed the battle significantly in favor of the Germans.
For example, if the probability of a British victory in the real battle had been 50%, these two tactical changes would have reduced it to less than 10%. If the real probability of British victory were 98%, the same changes would have reduced this to only 34%. Ep