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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

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Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

Postby DrMatthewZar » July 30th, 2014, 8:04 pm

Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805 ranked 9th at http://www.crackedhistory.com/10-wacky-military-ideas/

Does anyone think such a plan could have worked?
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Re: Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

Postby Josh&Historyland » July 30th, 2014, 9:21 pm

I'm not at all sure how much time Napoleon even spent on investigating this option, much like the idea of him burrowing under the channel, the seriousness of this particular threat was hyped by British press. He was more than consumed in trying to mobilise, train and coordinate the invasion barges and the navy. The article is right.

Practically I can't see it ever working in a military capacity with any kind of effect. He'd have needed thousands upon thousands of them for a start, any infantry landing would be scattered and they would be without cavalry or field artillery support, then there's the problem of controlling them in the wind, landing in the desired place in large numbers would've been almost impossible. Those that didn't crash into the channel, wreck on the beaches, get blown way off course could have been mopped up by any half descent yeomanry or militia regiment. Think how hard it was to organise parachute drops in ww2!

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Re: Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

Postby Mark » July 31st, 2014, 7:31 am

No doubt a whacky idea suggested to Napoleon by an equally whacky advisor. They would have to have made a silly number of such balloons to get enough troops across the channel, and even then there would have been no way to get horses and artillery pieces to England. As Josh says the nature of the weather would have further complicated matters, and half of them would have got killed while the other half landed in the wrong place. All-in-all a very bad idea.

However, as an aside, the Russians once considered using ballons during the Napoleonic Wars. I believe they considered the idea of dropping bombs/grenades from heights over the enemy. In the end the idea was abandoned, but a lot more feasible than trying to transport an army across the sea.

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Re: Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

Postby Dominique T. » July 31st, 2014, 7:59 am

The compagnie des Aérostiers was disbanded during the Egyptian campaign - where they were never used - and never recreated.

The balloons needed days to be filled with hot air and had to be moved inflated, which was very impracticable.
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Re: Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

Postby terry1956 » August 1st, 2014, 9:18 am

Napoleons advisors had many plain silly ideas, but no more then some of the military plannners of today.michael
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Re: Napoleon Invasion of England by Balloon, 1805

Postby Dominique T. » August 1st, 2014, 9:22 am

Is there ANY historical evidence that this even was suggested as a plan, other that some stupid drawings by non-military cartoonists ?
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