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View Full Version : When did LW broke down?



zugfuhrer
03-19-2006, 09:17 AM
As far as I know, during the spring 1944 Luftwaffe was hunted down so efficient that the allies got total air superiority over Normandy.
Are there any sources on the net showing statistics as losses, kills and other interesting figures from Luftwaffe RAF, US Air force and VVS?

VW-IceFire
03-19-2006, 09:55 AM
Actually what you just repeated is largely a misnomer. The Allies had near total air superiority during the first few days of the invasion. After that...the Luftwaffe put up a very solid fight. Numerous aircraft were lost on both sides during July, August, September and onwards.

Right down to the last days (April 1945)...the Luftwaffe was fighting. The few pilots who were left were either rookies with no experience or the battle hardened experten.

Grendel-B
03-19-2006, 10:44 AM
Yup. LOsing air superiority does not equal "breaking down". The Luftwaffe was fighting to the very end. Especially in the east. While they could put less and less planes into air, those units that could kept flying for the Vaterland. Especially in the jet units the spirits were high even in the very end, as the pilots knew they had the superior equipment and were the hunters, not the hunted.

Also, getting the air superiority over Normandy had little to do with the previous aerial campaigns. It's kinda easy to put thousands of planes over target area from your prepared bases, without needing to move planes to the operational bases from farther away. It is a numbers game. Yet, the aerial superiority over Normandy was not purely Allied game, but German Luftwaffe did put up a fight from the D-Day onwards. There was much more happening than just the myth of just two fighters buzzing the beachhead. Yet, Luftwaffe reinforcements arrived in too few numbers, into bases under constant attacks, into disorganized situation and simply could not put up enough force to turn to situation.

So, when did Luftwaffe's back break? Sometime during the summer-winter 1944. Not immediately, but slowly, as the fuel supplies dried and losses were rising higher than the pilot replacements... But Luftwaffe was never completely finished, even though its efficiency and ability to wage war was only a fraction of the previous times. Maybe the Ardennes offensive and the useless aerial attack on Allied airbases was the straw, when all too many experienced commanders and pilots were lost to no gain.

Ruy Horta
03-19-2006, 11:29 AM
Strategically the Luftwaffe cracked in the winter of 43/44, when it lost the battle of attrition over most fronts, especially the Reichsverteitigung.

It could not keep up training pilots to a sufficient skill level to survive in combat, from than on it's a vicious circle. Less skill, more losses, more pressure to shorten training cycle, less skill etc.

Also the winter of 43/44 saw the effect of RLM indecision, a gap in technological development, it took about 6-12 months to catch up to the hiatus.

VW-IceFire
03-19-2006, 11:35 AM
Another thing to keep in mind...the Luftwaffe never really ran short of aircraft or spare parts. Germany's full production capabilities were not fully realized until early 1945. The largest numbers of produced aircraft are actually in the February to May 1945 period. Despite allied bombing the factories were going full steam...most of them had been relocated underground where bombing had little impact on them.

There were plenty of Focke Wulfs and Messerschmidts sitting around on fields waiting for a pilot or fuel. And those two were the crucial factors...fuel and good pilots were scarce. When you did find good pilots...they were usually exceptional (having survived battle after battle). JG26 was still in pretty good shape when the war ended...Closterman has a story in his book where a JG26 FW190D-9 got one or two of his flight and damaged his plane before speeding off...perfect bounce.

LeOs.K_Walstein
03-19-2006, 12:09 PM
As far as I have understood the critical factor really was the lack of fuel. Luftwaffe did not lack pilots until autumn, but the problem throughout the year 1944 was lack of fuel.

They could not afford let the trainees fly enough. That is why the Luftwaffe had to use truly inexperienced fighter pilots. If I remember right there was a campaign in autumn when the allied wanted to hunt down as many Luftwaffe aces as possible including shooting them in their parachutes. So, by the end of year 1944 germany really was lacking trained pilots.

If I remember right, the highest out put of the aircraft factories was in july of 1944. The rest of the wartime Germany faced the situation, where they had increasing number of aeroplanes and decreasing quantity of fuel - and trained pilots.

Wallstein

RocketDog
03-19-2006, 12:31 PM
Originally posted by LeOs.K_Walstein:
If I remember right there was a campaign in autumn when the allied wanted to hunt down as many Luftwaffe aces as possible including shooting them in their parachutes.

I've never heard that. How could you tell someone was an ace - either in his aircraft or dangling from a parachute?

Generally, in the West the Allies and LW did not shoot at parachuting airmen because both sides recognised they might have to take to their chutes at some time and did not want to set a precedent. On the Eastern front and in the Far East it was different because these conflicts became wars of annihiliation.

Cheers,

RocketDog.

horseback
03-19-2006, 01:44 PM
While several LW fighter units, especially the ones with a longterm tradition or those based inside Germany proper, continued to function and make an effort to fight almost to the end, the general breakdown started making itself obvious in late Spring of 1944. Bomber and transport units don't get a lot of notice on these boards, but they may have maintained their professionalism a bit longer.

Most historians and the participants themselves note that due to the ongoing hemorrhage of experienced flight leaders and unit commanders, particularly in defense of the Reich, the 'talent level' of the German fighter corps dropped sharply about April/May 1944, morale slipped and combat effectiveness became more and more rare.

At this time, the 'star system' that the Jagdewaffe had in place came back to bite them on the @ss; when all your skill and initiative lies in a limited number of people, and the enemy is killing them in disproportionate numbers (the urgency of the need, duty, and 'expectations' naturally led to most of these men taking progessively greater risks-and therefore greater casualties).

Even so, as defenders, individual German pilots had a wealth of targets, and greater opportunities build up a score than their Allied counterparts-IF they could avoid being added to someone else's score.

Now, about shooting people in their 'chutes. I've read more than a couple of US reports about seeing German fighters killing Allied aircrew or guys who safely landed only to be mobbed by civilians or killed by troops, and at least an equal number of reports of killing German pilots in their chutes that took the attitude that he was going down back into his own territory and would be back up the next day, smarter and a bit more skilled.

EDIT: I should note that it was generally a personal decision, rather than a command policy. As far as I know, no unit commander ordered that enemy pilots be killed in their parachutes.-horseback

The cold blooded appraisal was that the experienced pilot was at least as valuable combat asset as his aircraft, and that they weren't playing tiddley winks; killing him hurt the enemy's war effort more than trashing an airplane that could be replaced less than a day.

From a strictly military standpoint, it is sound reasoning.

Still, an awful lot of the top German pilots beat the odds (even then, a parachute was not a guarantee of a safe landing) and safely parachuted several times; one guy as many as 17-18 times. Proof yet again that it is far better to be lucky than it is to be good.

cheers

horseback

JG4_Helofly
03-19-2006, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by RocketDog:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LeOs.K_Walstein:
If I remember right there was a campaign in autumn when the allied wanted to hunt down as many Luftwaffe aces as possible including shooting them in their parachutes.

I've never heard that. How could you tell someone was an ace - either in his aircraft or dangling from a parachute?

Generally, in the West the Allies and LW did not shoot at parachuting airmen because both sides recognised they might have to take to their chutes at some time and did not want to set a precedent. On the Eastern front and in the Far East it was different because these conflicts became wars of annihiliation.

Cheers,

RocketDog. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

In the book "Feindber├╝hrung" Julius Meimberg describe that the u.s pilots shooted at parachutes and emlanded planes to kill the pilot.

Max.Power
03-19-2006, 03:16 PM
You can tell by studying a dossier on the various aces that are operating in the area, and seeking for specific markings on plane types.. You assertain what likelihood you would encounter any given ace, given your AO and the enemy squadrons operating in the area. When you encouter enemy aircraft, you then passively seek for the plane markings you were briefed on before the mission... ie. Focke Wulf Dora Green 4 + from some-such squadron belongs to such and such an ace...

I have no idea about aces, I just made up those markings.

LeOs.K_Walstein
03-19-2006, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by RocketDog:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LeOs.K_Walstein:
If I remember right there was a campaign in autumn when the allied wanted to hunt down as many Luftwaffe aces as possible including shooting them in their parachutes.

I've never heard that. How could you tell someone was an ace - either in his aircraft or dangling from a parachute?

Generally, in the West the Allies and LW did not shoot at parachuting airmen because both sides recognised they might have to take to their chutes at some time and did not want to set a precedent. On the Eastern front and in the Far East it was different because these conflicts became wars of annihiliation.

Cheers,

RocketDog. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Got your point but I can not defend my opinion since I am too tired at the moment to search for any adequate reference. As I said, I wrote what I remember (having read about). Anyhow, I still believe that I remember correctly that there was a campaign where the task was to KILL THE GERMAN ACES, not just shoot them down.

As somebody said above, from a standpoint of military view, it was smart. Of course it was, I have to say and I never meant to say against that.

How could you tell who was ace? I was not there so I cannot tell you, but according to the common sense; perhaps you could tell it by the way the aces used their aeroplanes? I donÔ┬┤t know!

Wallstein

willyvic
03-19-2006, 05:56 PM
Originally posted by LeOs.K_Walstein:
Got your point but I can not defend my opinion since I am too tired at the moment to search for any adequate reference. As I said, I wrote what I remember (having read about). Anyhow, I still believe that I remember correctly that there was a campaign where the task was to KILL THE GERMAN ACES, not just shoot them down...


Wallstein

Well get some rest and report back with your references to the campaign. I think we all would like to read up on such a thing.

WV.

Jumo_211
03-19-2006, 06:42 PM
I think the point of the breakdown was that the Luftwaffe had to fight over too many fronts. In 1943 when the day bombing on the Reich began, there were just not enough planes, wings and pilots to defend the Reich. German fighters were also desperately needed above the Eastern front, over North Africa, Italy, France, ... as looked not very fortunataly for Germany on these fronts.

Bombing industrial plants caused lack of fuel, ammo, planes (or well educated pilots). It was just a pure lack of one of these components which caused the break down.

p1ngu666
03-19-2006, 07:26 PM
the bomber and ground attack, aka offensive weapons lost much of there effect through the war years, kind of the opposite of the allies, ie mostly pants at the start but mighty at the end, the lw was mighty at the start and pants at the end.

in terms of results, they had some very good bombers latewar, or potential anyways.

alert_1
03-20-2006, 01:38 AM
When they lost Romanien old field...

zugfuhrer
03-20-2006, 01:55 AM
I was thinking of when was Luftwaffe prevented from doing more extensive operations, like supporting ground forces, attacking harbours attacking convoys, with bomber force and protecting fighters.
Were the convoys in the Mediterranean frequently attacked?
Was the bombers that attacked the Marshalling yards in France prevented?
Did fighters protect the withdrawal from Falaise?
As far as I know many German tanks where killed by air attacks.

As for November 1944
In the area of I Jagdkorps under Generalleutnant Schmid, 155 Allied aircraft were shot down for the loss of 404 German aircraft, while personnel casualties amounted to at least 300 on the four principal days alone. The November 1944 figure for day-fighter pilots killed or missing, excluding accidents, was 244.
It must be suicide to fly under these conditions.
Outnumbered by superior aircrafts.
According to the figures taken from http://www.spitfireperformance.com/
The spit was always superior in curving and became later (43) superior in climb and speed too.

trumper
03-20-2006, 02:52 AM
They lost ground when Hitler interfered with the L/W and turned any advantages they had in technical achievements by wanting to add bombs on the jets and dilute the defence.
Have a read of Adolph Gallands "First and Last",the fuel and pilot training were major problems and also the fact that they were under attack from the moment they got into planes and until they left the planes.

anarchy52
03-20-2006, 03:17 AM
Originally posted by zugfuhrer:
As far as I know many German tanks where killed by air attacks.

Somebody posted the doc of allied examination of abandoned and destroyed german equipment in Normandy. IIRC 9 tank kills were credited to aircrafts. Yes thats nine.

Ruy Horta
03-20-2006, 03:48 AM
Be carefull, that report is pretty specific IIRC, that means 9 tanks which destruction were solely attributed to ...

You need not destroy a tank to put it out of action.

1. destroy its fuel supply
2. destroy its ammo supply
3. destroy its spare parts supply

4. make retrieval impossible

So 9 tanks were definately destroyed, but how many were left behind with minor damage and / or empty fuel tanks?

It appears that (at least in WW2, but I'd think it still holds true today) he who controls the battlefield after a tank clash generally has lower final number of tank losses, since many tanks that were put out of action can be repaired. The side that loses, in general cannot retrieve its damaged vehicles.

As for US pilots going for the kill, there are sufficient signs that the americans were playing hardball by 1944, but no hard evidence of an order. If there had been such an order, it was given verbally.

Actually the aim was to get at the Luftwaffe in the air, on the ground and in any way in between. Of course you can interpret that in any way you want.

luftluuver
03-20-2006, 08:36 AM
Originally posted by alert_1:
When they lost Romanien old field... German avgas was made from coal.

AKA_TAGERT
03-20-2006, 08:55 AM
Originally posted by zugfuhrer:
As far as I know, during the spring 1944 Luftwaffe was hunted down so efficient that the allies got total air superiority over Normandy. More like 1937

Grendel-B
03-20-2006, 09:30 AM
Originally posted by zugfuhrer:
Did fighters protect the withdrawal from Falaise?
As far as I know many German tanks where killed by air attacks.


Much less than believed.

Quote:

"British War Office analysis of 233 destroyed Panther tanks in 1944 revealed, that only 14 of those were destroyed by aerial attack. 11 with rockets, 3 with cannons.

During battle of Mortrain 7-10. August RAF and USAAF air forces claimed destruction of 252 German tanks destroyed. Germans only had 177 tanks and tank destroyers in that battle. Of those, 46 were lost. Nine were destroyed by aerial attacks. Seven by rockets, two by bombs.

During the German retreat to Seine, 388 AFVs were destroyed and examined. Of those only 13 were destroyed by aerial attack.

During the battle of Ardennes, of 101 destroyed AFVs only seven was destroyed by aerial attack. Claims were for 90.

During WHOLE Normandy campaign only about 100 tanks were destroyed to Allied air attacks."