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Sintubin
06-20-2006, 11:33 AM
The November 1944 battles between the Luftwaffe and the US Air Force

The November 1944 battles between the Luftwaffe and the US Air Force is a chapter which has not been given the attention they would deserve in history writing. The big battles between the Luftwaffe and the 8th Air Force in the summer and autumn of 1943, and the most important days of the Battle of Britain are surpassed by the big days in November 1944 both in terms of numbers of aircraft involved, and the numbers of aircraft shot down.

In order to find other days with such vast aircraft losses in a single battle, we have to go to much more famous days like 10 May 1940 (and the massacre on Luftwaffe transport planes), 22 June 1941 (and the masses of shot down Soviet aircraft), or 19 August 1942 (with its disastrous RAF losses).

Through November 1944, fighters of US 8th and 9th Air forces were credited with a total of 492 aerial victories against only 80 own fighters recorded as lost in air combat - an average of more than six victories for each own loss, speaking for itself.

Clearly, the victories attained by the well-trained US fighter pilots in the great November 1944 battles were among the "easiest" victories achieved by any fighter pilots in World War II, quite comparable to the kills which were scored by the Luftwaffe veterans against Soviet rookies when Soviet pilot training had reached its lowest level in the summer of 1942.

In November 1944, the rebuilt German fighter arm gave a clear proof of the fact that sheer numbers but lacking quality against an enemy who enjoyed a superiority both regarding numbers and quality was bound to result in disaster.

The foundation for this was laid in the costly air battles over Germany in the first months of 1944, when a numerically inferior German fighter force was pulled into a very costly battle of attrition with US 8th and 9th Air forces.

In January 1944, the German day fighter force completed a total of 3,315 combat sorties in the Home Defence - against 12,541 effective combat sorties by US 8th and 9th Air forces. By May 1944, the monthly figures were 3,805 German day fighter combat sorties against 55,358 effective by US 8th and 9th Air forces (including 32,860 by US fighters). Thus, the German numerical inferiority rose steeply from one against almost four in January to one against over fourteen in May 1944. By the latter time, there were almost nine US fighters in the air for every German fighter over the Reich.

Out of an average German fighter pilot strength of 2283 for the period, no less than 2262 were lost in the period January through May 1944. German day fighter aircraft combat losses in the West, Home Defence and the south increased each month - 143 in January 1944, 524 in February, 583 in March, 687 in April and 758 in May. The grand total is 2425.

Indeed, the losses the German fighter pilots inflicted on their enemy still was higher than the own losses. The USAAF alone recorded 4,103 aircraft losses in Europe between January and May 1944, and 2223 of these were recorded as shot down by enemy aircraft. To these losses should be added those sustained by the RAF's Mediterranean forces, plus 421 of the British fighters which operated from the UK.

However, while the Allies could sustain such large losses and still maintain their high quality, the German losses inevitably and rapidly wore down the quality of the Luftwaffe.

As was noted in the article The effect of Allied numerical superiority in the air over Normandy in 1944, pilot training quality inevitably suffered. It started with the calling of many instructors to first-line service. This first step lowered the quality of the trainers themselves. Next, the pilot training schemes were shortened. Already in early 1944, the Luftwaffe fighter pilot training was shortened to an average of 160 flight hours. A few weeks later, it was further shortened to only 112 hours. Finally, in the spring of 1944, the B flight schools were disbanded, and the pilots were sent into first-line service directly after A schools. The condition for the A2 flight certificate included a basic training of sixty training flights with a total of 15 flight hours. Meanwhile, the average USAAF or RAF fighter pilot's training consisted of 225 flight hours.

Following bitter losses over Normandy in June - August 1944, the Luftwaffe's I. Jagdkorps was reduced to merely 339 serviceable fighters in September 1944.

However, German armament industry was increasing its production. Through September 1944, no less than 3375 new fighter planes were delivered from the industry. The battered fighter units were replenished with large numbers of new fighters. By 1 November 1944, the fighter force in Germany had increased to 1964 fighter planes, of which around 1500 were serviceable. The scene was set for a revival of the massive fighter attacks against the heavily escorted US heavy bomber formations which by that time dominated the skies over Germany.

But there was one decisive negative factor. The hastily trained rookies which were sent from the flight schools barely knew how to fly the aircraft, not to mention how little they knew of combat tactics. The negative effect of the shortened pilot training schemes was further aggravated through a desperate lack of fuel. The bombings of German oil targets resulted in a rapid decline in the amount of fuel stock. The amount of fuel which was assigned to the flight training schools plummeted from 50,000 tons in April 1944 to 15,000 tons in August and merely 7,000 tons in October 1944.

Many of the German fighter pilots who were sent up against the US formations in November 1944 had only three to five flight hours on a Bf 109 or an Fw 190. (Prien, "IV./JG 3", p. 250.)

The first among these Big Battles took place on 2 November 1944.


2 November 1944: Sturmj√¬§ger Slip Through

On 2 November 1944, US 8th Air Force dispatched 1100 effective heavy bomber sorties against mainly oil targets in Germany, with focus on the Merseburg plant. Escort was provided by 873 effective fighter sorties.

The Luftwaffe rose in force - 490 fighters were scrambled in the first major effort to oppose the 8th Air Force since early September 1944. The Bf 109s of JG 27, climbing to reach the heavy bombers, ran straight into the more than 209 Mustangs of the 20th, 352nd, 359th and 364th Fighter groups which escorted the 1st Bombardment Division.

In their classical chronicle of JG 27, German historians Hans Ring and Werner Girbig describe the ensuing combat as a "turkey shoot". The dispersed German fighters then were pursued as they sought to escape, and many were shot down as they landed. 20th Fighter Group's 1/Lt Ernest C. Fiebelkorn caught four Bf 109s in a landing pattern and destroyed two of them, giving him three for the day and a total of 11 destroyed. Only small parts of JG 27 managed to break through to the bombers. Among those was Hauptmann Heinz Dudeck, IV./JG 27's commander, who got himself shot down by the bomber gunners' defensive fire.

When JG 27 finally had landed, 27 pilots were missing. Another 11 were wounded. No less than 53 of its Bf 109s had been shot down. In return, JG 27 claimed only eight victories, all against Mustangs.

II./JG 3 was no more successful. Its Bf 109s ran into the same Mustangs. 352nd FG ace Major George Preddy called his Group C.O., Col. Joe Mason: "Hello Topsy, this is Ditto Black Leader. Fifty plus bandits headed for the big friends!" In total, the 352nd FG was credited with 39 victories against only two own losses. II./JG 3 lost 23 Bf 109s and claimed only three Mustangs and a B-17 shot down.

However, while the 200 Mustangs slaughtered JG 27 and II./JG 3, the Fw 190s of the Sturmgruppe IV./JG 3 managed to slip through to the bombers. Carrying out a slow attack from the astern, the Sturmj√¬§ger claimed to have shot down 21 B-17s in just three minutes. Indeed it was a heavy strike, and the 1st BD actually lost 27 bombers out of 210 committed - a fearsome 13 % loss rate which testifies to the effectivity of the heavily armoured Sturmj√¬§ger.

But above all, the effectivity of the US fighters was displayed this day. When the Fw 190s broke off following the initial onslaught on the bombers, they became targeted by Mustangs from all directions. When the battle was over, 22 Fw 190s had been shot down. It is not known how many of these fell prey to the US fighters. Oblt. Werner Gerth, one of the most daring "four-engine killers" in IV./JG 3, perished as he rammed a B-17.

On 2 November 1944, I. Jagdkorps sent 490 fighters into the air against 1,973 US aircraft. A total of 305 German fighters managed to engage the enemy, and of these, no less than 133 were lost - in other words over 40 %! A total of 73 German fighter pilots were killed and 32 sustained injuries.

US losses were not light - 58 aircraft, 42 bombers and 16 fighters, were lost. But the US fighters had given proof of a vast superiority by bringing home 102 aerial victories.



21 November 1944: Five Each for Whisner and Crenshaw

On 21 November 1944, US 8th Air Force sent 2245 aircraft against Germany - 1291 heavy bombers and 954 fighters. Once again, the oil factory at Merseburg was the main target.

Due to adverse weather, the German fighter controller failed to spot the exact location of the main bomber force. Thus, the fighters scrambled too late, and some units still were assembling when the US fighters struck them from above. II./JG 27's Bf 109s scrambled from Hopsten and was engaged by numerous Mustangs and Thunderbolts from both 8th and 9th Air Forces. In the ensuing combat, four Bf 109s were shot down while II./JG 27's pilots claimed to have shot down one Mustang and three Thunderbolts.

III./JG 4 managed to break through the fighter escort and attack 1st BD's bombers near Merseburg, claiming four B-17s and a Mustang shot down against a price of eight own losses. In the meantime, I./JG 1 was lucky to reach the bombers before the US escort fighters had intervened, but due to the pilots' lacking experience, only a part of the Jagdgruppe managed to get into shooting position in a frontal attack.

Having claimed eight B-17s shot down, I./JG 1's pilots again gave proof of their inexperience by conducting a dive after the attack which brought them through humid but could skies from 20,000 feet altitude down to only 2,000 feet. The result was heavy icing which covered the cockpits and limited sight to a small spot forward. In that moment the Mustangs struck. A total of 27 Fw 190s were shot down from I./JG 1. In his "The Mighty Eighth", Roger A. Freeman describes the scene as the Americans interpreted it:

"One unit of Fw 190, encountered by elements of the 352nd and 359th Groups, did not drop their belly-tanks when attacked. Markings suggested that this Gruppe was a tactical fighter unit, a possibility borne out by the inexperience exhibited."

The three Gruppen of JG 301 tried to form up in the Stendal area, but was harassed by Mustangs which broke up the Gefechtsverband. I./JG 301 was locked into a prolonged fighter versus fighter combat which cost the Gruppe a loss of eight Fw 190s.

352nd FG's Captains William Whisner and Claude Crenshaw claimed to have shot down five Fw 190s each. Afterward, an enthusiastic Crenshaw attributed his success to three factors: The presence of such a large number of easy targets, the K-14 gyro gunsight, and his G-suit which enabled him to make tight manoeuvres.

In total, JG 301 lost 25 Fw 190s against claims of no more than four Mustangs shot down. 352 and 259 FGs reported 36.5 victories against three own losses.

II./JG 27 was sent into the air once more, to attack the withdrawing bombers, but again became embroiled in dogfights with the US fighters, losing three more Bf 109s against claims of two Mustangs shot down.

When the battle of 21 November was over, I. Jagdkorps had lost 83 fighter planes. The 8th Air Force recorded 48 losses - including 33 heavy bombers, of which the majority were due to AAA.

26 November 1944: Misfortune of the Liberators

The next US major operation against German oil targets, on 25 November, was almost unopposed. However, when the 8th performed 1741 effective sorties (1073 heavy bomber and 668 fighter) against oil and communication targets on the 26th, the battered I. Jagdkorps again sent its pilots into almost cloudless skies.

The first German fighters to scramble were those of II. Jagdkorps - JG 3, JG 26, JG 27 and IV./JG 54. They were instructed to form one concentrated Gefechtsverband, but this plan was thwarted through the intervention of US fighters. I./JG 26, with five Fw 190s, joined III./JG 26 over the airfield at F√ľrstenau. But shortly afterward they were attacked by 364th FG's Mustangs, which split up JG 26's formation and prevented it from fulfilling its mission.

JG 27, scrambled at 1010 hours, formed up with IV./JG 54 and engaged 1st BD's B-17s on their return flight from the Misburg petroleum facilities. A violent clash broke out as both Mustangs and Thunderbolts attacked JG 27's Bf 109s and IV./JG 54's Fw 190s from all directions. III./JG 27 failed to reach the bombers and lost eleven of their own number. IV./JG 27 and IV./JG 54 managed to break through to the bombers, claiming three B-17s shot down, but then these two Gruppen also became embroiled in clashes with Thunderbolts and Mustangs, resulting in 13 Germans and five American fighters going down. Total losses for JG 27 and IV./JG 54 were a frightening 38 fighters.

The Fw 190s of I./JG 1 and JG 301 were lucky to catch 2nd Bombardment Division's Liberators just above their target at Misburg. The Fw 190s went through the B-24s in repeated waves, knocking down 20 heavies - 15 from the 491st Group and five from 445th BG.

However, the 600 US fighters which were in the vicinity were not late to come to the aid of their "big friends".

"Again the inexperience of some Luftwaffe pilots was evident," wrote Roger A. Freeman.

JG 301 paid a terrible price for its initial success against the Liberators. When the battle finally was over, no less than 51 of JG 301's pilots had been shot down. Although many of these were destroyed by US bomber gunners (2nd BD claimed to have shot down 12 German fighters), the superiority of the Mustangs was unquestionable. The 356th FG claimed twenty-one, and 361st FG twenty-three victories - without any loss to either group. Lt Jack Daniel of 339 FG reportedly shot down five Fw 190s in what was his very first combat.

III./JG 6 sacrificed another 11 fighters, bringing the day's total to a stunning 119 losses for the Luftwaffe day fighters in Germany.

US 8th Air Force recorded 130 victory claims for 26 November 1944 (114 by the fighters and 16 by the bombers) against 53 own losses (42 heavy bombers and 11 fighters).



27 November 1944: Not even a single bomber is shot down

Due to the numerous replacements which arrived from the aircraft industry and the flight training schools, the Luftwaffe could dispatch hundreds of fighters against the Americans already on the day after the 26 November defeat.

When the 8th Air Force on 27 November sent its three Bombardment divisions, covered by over 700 fighters, against marshalling yards in Germany, the II. Jagdkorps of Luftwaffenkommando West also was called in to reinforce the defensive effort. The exact number of Luftwaffe fighters brought into the air on that day is not known, but the Allies estimated 750 fighter sorties - a record number.

II. Jagdkorps again ordered JG 3, JG 26, JG 27 and IV./JG 54 into the air - defying very bad weather. JG 26 historian Don Caldwell wrote:

"The Geschwader pilots on duty could see the clouds coming in, and were very surprised to receive an order to scramble and rendezvous with the Bf 109s of JG 3 and JG 27."

III./JG 26 took off with 15 Bf 109s and met I./JG 26 with only four Fw 190s. Don Caldwell refers to the account by one of the participating German pilots, Uffz. Georg Genth, and writes:

"The Messerschmitts could not maintain close formation, but lurched around in the sky like so many drunks. The canopy of [Uffz. Genth's] Bf 109 K-4 iced over, and he could see only straight ahead through the armoured glass panel. He cleared a small spot on the left canopy pane by breathing on it, so he could see to the rear. He was at the rear of the formation, and (. . .) saw two P-47s banking on an attack curve. . ."

Seven of JG 26's fighters were shot down.

Meanwhile, the thick layer of clouds caused the German ground control to vector some units of I. and II. Jagdkorps towards "bombers" that materialised in Mustangs, and other units failed to find any US aircraft at all.

Thus, II./JG 27 saw no combat, while I./JG 27 scrambled from Rheine at 1100 hours and was engaged in a brief fight with Mustangs, resulting in one Mustang getting shot down without German losses. But the Gruppe never reached contact with the bombers. IV./JG 27 ran into nothing but Mustangs and Thunderbolts, losing eleven Bf 109s (nine of which were due to air combat) against claims for two Mustangs and a Thunderbolt. 352nd FG's ace Captain Walter E. Starck, who bagged three Bf 109s near Hameln, after which he got himself shot down and captured, probably fought IV./JG 27. In total, the 352nd reported 18 victories against three own losses on 27 November 1944.

The inexperienced JG 300 and JG 301 fared even worse. In Roger A. Freeman's words, the German "novice formations stupidly clung together while Mustangs shot them down". JG 300 was completely hacked to pieces, losing 39 Bf 109s and Fw 190s to several US fighter groups. JG 301 lost 15 Fw 190s. Among 357th FG's pilots, Captain Leonard Carson bagged five Fw 190s, Captain Chuck Yeager shot down four Fw 190s (increasing his total score to 11.5), and 1/Lt. Frank L. Gailer, Jr. brought his total to five by destroying two Fw 190s. In all, the 357th FG claimed 30 victories against a single own loss. The 353rd FG also participated in this slaughter, attacking a group of fighters where "once again the Germans continued to hold formation". In total, the 353rd claimed 18 kills - whereby 1/Lt. Charles J. Cesky achieved his fifth victory in total by bagging a Bf 109 near Hannover at 1205 hours - and lost two of their own.

The 359th FG pair of Captain Ray S. Wetmore and 1/Lt. Robert M. York which came across two large formations of German fighters - one with Bf 109s and one with Fw 190s below - probably also encountered JG 300, where the III. Gruppe's Bf 109s flew together with the Fw 190s of the other Gruppen.

Without hesitating, and without any other US fighters in sight for the moment, the two Mustang pilots attacked the mass of German aircraft. York gives his account in Eric Hammel's "Aces Against Germany":

"As I cleared the first 109, I found another Me 109 in my sight. There were so many German airplanes in the sky, in this small area, that I did not have to maneuver at all to locate my next target."

The two Mustang pilots succeeded in shooting down six Bf 109s, three apiece, and then got away unscathed. Thus, Wetmore reached a total victory score of 13.25. It should, however, be noted that only a few minutes after Wetmore and York engaged the German aircraft, they were reinforced by another ten Mustangs from the 359th FG.

Despite a massive effort, the Luftwaffe failed to shoot down even a single US bomber on 27 November 1944. All intercept missions were successfully contained by US fighters. No less than 81 German fighters were brought down, and the Americans lost only 16 fighters - of which many were to ground fire.


The November 1994 Air Battles: Results and Conclusions

As a result of the four major days of air battle in November 1944, the German fighter force lost 416 aircraft in combat. Without doubt, the majority of these were the victims of US Mustang fighters.

The cost for this among the participating US fighter units was only around one tenth of the German fighter losses - a total of 43 US fighters were lost on those four days. And not even all those losses were due to German fighters; probably a significant share were due to ground fire.

While dealing more blows against Germany's Achilles heel, the oil industry, the US 8th Air Force lost 117 heavy bombers on those four days. The bulk of these losses were due to the increasingly effective German antiaircraft artillery. (Of 209 heavy bombers lost on all operations in November 1944, only 50 were due to fighters.)

The German Sturmj√¬§ger tactic had once again proved that it could be a very deadly method against US heavy bombers. However, the presence of large numbers of Mustangs largely rendered the Sturmj√¬§ger missions into suicidal flights.

At the same time as the lacking experience and flight skills among the German pilots is evident from these four days, so is also the stamina among the German fighter pilots. Several accounts testify to the very high combat spirits among the young German fighter pilots in 1944.

Although perhaps the majority of them by this time suffered from an understandable sense of inferiority toward the Mustang pilots, they showed the Americans that they were willing to fight to the end. The fact that the German fighter pilots clung together in formations maybe was not merely "stupidly", as the Americans interpreted it; it could also be viewed as a reflection of a stiff determination to reach and destroy the hated bomber formations. These young German pilots had been told - which also was correct - that if they clung together in tight "Gefechtsverb√¬§nde" would they be able to deal crippling blows against the masses of heavy bombers. Indeed they were misled by an evil political system, but they also were convinced that they were the last hope for their tormented families in Germany's bombed cities.

On the other side of the hill, the US fighter pilots had received an equipment which was far superior to that of their German counterparts. The K-14 gunsight that had a gyro-actuated optical system that computed the lead angle was an important step forward, as was the G-suit. Both inventions distanced the US fighter pilots from the dogfights of World War One and brought them closer to today's computerised air fighting. As Eric Hammel points out in "Aces Against Germany", dealing with November 1944:

"American fighter pilots got better and better at what they did, and they had technologies at their disposal that made killing less sportsmanlike and more businesslike by the day."

If anything, the four major days of air battle in November 1944 puts the scenario for Galland's dreamed-of "Big Strike" into great doubt.

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Sintubin
06-20-2006, 11:33 AM
The November 1944 battles between the Luftwaffe and the US Air Force

The November 1944 battles between the Luftwaffe and the US Air Force is a chapter which has not been given the attention they would deserve in history writing. The big battles between the Luftwaffe and the 8th Air Force in the summer and autumn of 1943, and the most important days of the Battle of Britain are surpassed by the big days in November 1944 both in terms of numbers of aircraft involved, and the numbers of aircraft shot down.

In order to find other days with such vast aircraft losses in a single battle, we have to go to much more famous days like 10 May 1940 (and the massacre on Luftwaffe transport planes), 22 June 1941 (and the masses of shot down Soviet aircraft), or 19 August 1942 (with its disastrous RAF losses).

Through November 1944, fighters of US 8th and 9th Air forces were credited with a total of 492 aerial victories against only 80 own fighters recorded as lost in air combat - an average of more than six victories for each own loss, speaking for itself.

Clearly, the victories attained by the well-trained US fighter pilots in the great November 1944 battles were among the "easiest" victories achieved by any fighter pilots in World War II, quite comparable to the kills which were scored by the Luftwaffe veterans against Soviet rookies when Soviet pilot training had reached its lowest level in the summer of 1942.

In November 1944, the rebuilt German fighter arm gave a clear proof of the fact that sheer numbers but lacking quality against an enemy who enjoyed a superiority both regarding numbers and quality was bound to result in disaster.

The foundation for this was laid in the costly air battles over Germany in the first months of 1944, when a numerically inferior German fighter force was pulled into a very costly battle of attrition with US 8th and 9th Air forces.

In January 1944, the German day fighter force completed a total of 3,315 combat sorties in the Home Defence - against 12,541 effective combat sorties by US 8th and 9th Air forces. By May 1944, the monthly figures were 3,805 German day fighter combat sorties against 55,358 effective by US 8th and 9th Air forces (including 32,860 by US fighters). Thus, the German numerical inferiority rose steeply from one against almost four in January to one against over fourteen in May 1944. By the latter time, there were almost nine US fighters in the air for every German fighter over the Reich.

Out of an average German fighter pilot strength of 2283 for the period, no less than 2262 were lost in the period January through May 1944. German day fighter aircraft combat losses in the West, Home Defence and the south increased each month - 143 in January 1944, 524 in February, 583 in March, 687 in April and 758 in May. The grand total is 2425.

Indeed, the losses the German fighter pilots inflicted on their enemy still was higher than the own losses. The USAAF alone recorded 4,103 aircraft losses in Europe between January and May 1944, and 2223 of these were recorded as shot down by enemy aircraft. To these losses should be added those sustained by the RAF's Mediterranean forces, plus 421 of the British fighters which operated from the UK.

However, while the Allies could sustain such large losses and still maintain their high quality, the German losses inevitably and rapidly wore down the quality of the Luftwaffe.

As was noted in the article The effect of Allied numerical superiority in the air over Normandy in 1944, pilot training quality inevitably suffered. It started with the calling of many instructors to first-line service. This first step lowered the quality of the trainers themselves. Next, the pilot training schemes were shortened. Already in early 1944, the Luftwaffe fighter pilot training was shortened to an average of 160 flight hours. A few weeks later, it was further shortened to only 112 hours. Finally, in the spring of 1944, the B flight schools were disbanded, and the pilots were sent into first-line service directly after A schools. The condition for the A2 flight certificate included a basic training of sixty training flights with a total of 15 flight hours. Meanwhile, the average USAAF or RAF fighter pilot's training consisted of 225 flight hours.

Following bitter losses over Normandy in June - August 1944, the Luftwaffe's I. Jagdkorps was reduced to merely 339 serviceable fighters in September 1944.

However, German armament industry was increasing its production. Through September 1944, no less than 3375 new fighter planes were delivered from the industry. The battered fighter units were replenished with large numbers of new fighters. By 1 November 1944, the fighter force in Germany had increased to 1964 fighter planes, of which around 1500 were serviceable. The scene was set for a revival of the massive fighter attacks against the heavily escorted US heavy bomber formations which by that time dominated the skies over Germany.

But there was one decisive negative factor. The hastily trained rookies which were sent from the flight schools barely knew how to fly the aircraft, not to mention how little they knew of combat tactics. The negative effect of the shortened pilot training schemes was further aggravated through a desperate lack of fuel. The bombings of German oil targets resulted in a rapid decline in the amount of fuel stock. The amount of fuel which was assigned to the flight training schools plummeted from 50,000 tons in April 1944 to 15,000 tons in August and merely 7,000 tons in October 1944.

Many of the German fighter pilots who were sent up against the US formations in November 1944 had only three to five flight hours on a Bf 109 or an Fw 190. (Prien, "IV./JG 3", p. 250.)

The first among these Big Battles took place on 2 November 1944.


2 November 1944: Sturmj√¬§ger Slip Through

On 2 November 1944, US 8th Air Force dispatched 1100 effective heavy bomber sorties against mainly oil targets in Germany, with focus on the Merseburg plant. Escort was provided by 873 effective fighter sorties.

The Luftwaffe rose in force - 490 fighters were scrambled in the first major effort to oppose the 8th Air Force since early September 1944. The Bf 109s of JG 27, climbing to reach the heavy bombers, ran straight into the more than 209 Mustangs of the 20th, 352nd, 359th and 364th Fighter groups which escorted the 1st Bombardment Division.

In their classical chronicle of JG 27, German historians Hans Ring and Werner Girbig describe the ensuing combat as a "turkey shoot". The dispersed German fighters then were pursued as they sought to escape, and many were shot down as they landed. 20th Fighter Group's 1/Lt Ernest C. Fiebelkorn caught four Bf 109s in a landing pattern and destroyed two of them, giving him three for the day and a total of 11 destroyed. Only small parts of JG 27 managed to break through to the bombers. Among those was Hauptmann Heinz Dudeck, IV./JG 27's commander, who got himself shot down by the bomber gunners' defensive fire.

When JG 27 finally had landed, 27 pilots were missing. Another 11 were wounded. No less than 53 of its Bf 109s had been shot down. In return, JG 27 claimed only eight victories, all against Mustangs.

II./JG 3 was no more successful. Its Bf 109s ran into the same Mustangs. 352nd FG ace Major George Preddy called his Group C.O., Col. Joe Mason: "Hello Topsy, this is Ditto Black Leader. Fifty plus bandits headed for the big friends!" In total, the 352nd FG was credited with 39 victories against only two own losses. II./JG 3 lost 23 Bf 109s and claimed only three Mustangs and a B-17 shot down.

However, while the 200 Mustangs slaughtered JG 27 and II./JG 3, the Fw 190s of the Sturmgruppe IV./JG 3 managed to slip through to the bombers. Carrying out a slow attack from the astern, the Sturmj√¬§ger claimed to have shot down 21 B-17s in just three minutes. Indeed it was a heavy strike, and the 1st BD actually lost 27 bombers out of 210 committed - a fearsome 13 % loss rate which testifies to the effectivity of the heavily armoured Sturmj√¬§ger.

But above all, the effectivity of the US fighters was displayed this day. When the Fw 190s broke off following the initial onslaught on the bombers, they became targeted by Mustangs from all directions. When the battle was over, 22 Fw 190s had been shot down. It is not known how many of these fell prey to the US fighters. Oblt. Werner Gerth, one of the most daring "four-engine killers" in IV./JG 3, perished as he rammed a B-17.

On 2 November 1944, I. Jagdkorps sent 490 fighters into the air against 1,973 US aircraft. A total of 305 German fighters managed to engage the enemy, and of these, no less than 133 were lost - in other words over 40 %! A total of 73 German fighter pilots were killed and 32 sustained injuries.

US losses were not light - 58 aircraft, 42 bombers and 16 fighters, were lost. But the US fighters had given proof of a vast superiority by bringing home 102 aerial victories.



21 November 1944: Five Each for Whisner and Crenshaw

On 21 November 1944, US 8th Air Force sent 2245 aircraft against Germany - 1291 heavy bombers and 954 fighters. Once again, the oil factory at Merseburg was the main target.

Due to adverse weather, the German fighter controller failed to spot the exact location of the main bomber force. Thus, the fighters scrambled too late, and some units still were assembling when the US fighters struck them from above. II./JG 27's Bf 109s scrambled from Hopsten and was engaged by numerous Mustangs and Thunderbolts from both 8th and 9th Air Forces. In the ensuing combat, four Bf 109s were shot down while II./JG 27's pilots claimed to have shot down one Mustang and three Thunderbolts.

III./JG 4 managed to break through the fighter escort and attack 1st BD's bombers near Merseburg, claiming four B-17s and a Mustang shot down against a price of eight own losses. In the meantime, I./JG 1 was lucky to reach the bombers before the US escort fighters had intervened, but due to the pilots' lacking experience, only a part of the Jagdgruppe managed to get into shooting position in a frontal attack.

Having claimed eight B-17s shot down, I./JG 1's pilots again gave proof of their inexperience by conducting a dive after the attack which brought them through humid but could skies from 20,000 feet altitude down to only 2,000 feet. The result was heavy icing which covered the cockpits and limited sight to a small spot forward. In that moment the Mustangs struck. A total of 27 Fw 190s were shot down from I./JG 1. In his "The Mighty Eighth", Roger A. Freeman describes the scene as the Americans interpreted it:

"One unit of Fw 190, encountered by elements of the 352nd and 359th Groups, did not drop their belly-tanks when attacked. Markings suggested that this Gruppe was a tactical fighter unit, a possibility borne out by the inexperience exhibited."

The three Gruppen of JG 301 tried to form up in the Stendal area, but was harassed by Mustangs which broke up the Gefechtsverband. I./JG 301 was locked into a prolonged fighter versus fighter combat which cost the Gruppe a loss of eight Fw 190s.

352nd FG's Captains William Whisner and Claude Crenshaw claimed to have shot down five Fw 190s each. Afterward, an enthusiastic Crenshaw attributed his success to three factors: The presence of such a large number of easy targets, the K-14 gyro gunsight, and his G-suit which enabled him to make tight manoeuvres.

In total, JG 301 lost 25 Fw 190s against claims of no more than four Mustangs shot down. 352 and 259 FGs reported 36.5 victories against three own losses.

II./JG 27 was sent into the air once more, to attack the withdrawing bombers, but again became embroiled in dogfights with the US fighters, losing three more Bf 109s against claims of two Mustangs shot down.

When the battle of 21 November was over, I. Jagdkorps had lost 83 fighter planes. The 8th Air Force recorded 48 losses - including 33 heavy bombers, of which the majority were due to AAA.

26 November 1944: Misfortune of the Liberators

The next US major operation against German oil targets, on 25 November, was almost unopposed. However, when the 8th performed 1741 effective sorties (1073 heavy bomber and 668 fighter) against oil and communication targets on the 26th, the battered I. Jagdkorps again sent its pilots into almost cloudless skies.

The first German fighters to scramble were those of II. Jagdkorps - JG 3, JG 26, JG 27 and IV./JG 54. They were instructed to form one concentrated Gefechtsverband, but this plan was thwarted through the intervention of US fighters. I./JG 26, with five Fw 190s, joined III./JG 26 over the airfield at F√ľrstenau. But shortly afterward they were attacked by 364th FG's Mustangs, which split up JG 26's formation and prevented it from fulfilling its mission.

JG 27, scrambled at 1010 hours, formed up with IV./JG 54 and engaged 1st BD's B-17s on their return flight from the Misburg petroleum facilities. A violent clash broke out as both Mustangs and Thunderbolts attacked JG 27's Bf 109s and IV./JG 54's Fw 190s from all directions. III./JG 27 failed to reach the bombers and lost eleven of their own number. IV./JG 27 and IV./JG 54 managed to break through to the bombers, claiming three B-17s shot down, but then these two Gruppen also became embroiled in clashes with Thunderbolts and Mustangs, resulting in 13 Germans and five American fighters going down. Total losses for JG 27 and IV./JG 54 were a frightening 38 fighters.

The Fw 190s of I./JG 1 and JG 301 were lucky to catch 2nd Bombardment Division's Liberators just above their target at Misburg. The Fw 190s went through the B-24s in repeated waves, knocking down 20 heavies - 15 from the 491st Group and five from 445th BG.

However, the 600 US fighters which were in the vicinity were not late to come to the aid of their "big friends".

"Again the inexperience of some Luftwaffe pilots was evident," wrote Roger A. Freeman.

JG 301 paid a terrible price for its initial success against the Liberators. When the battle finally was over, no less than 51 of JG 301's pilots had been shot down. Although many of these were destroyed by US bomber gunners (2nd BD claimed to have shot down 12 German fighters), the superiority of the Mustangs was unquestionable. The 356th FG claimed twenty-one, and 361st FG twenty-three victories - without any loss to either group. Lt Jack Daniel of 339 FG reportedly shot down five Fw 190s in what was his very first combat.

III./JG 6 sacrificed another 11 fighters, bringing the day's total to a stunning 119 losses for the Luftwaffe day fighters in Germany.

US 8th Air Force recorded 130 victory claims for 26 November 1944 (114 by the fighters and 16 by the bombers) against 53 own losses (42 heavy bombers and 11 fighters).



27 November 1944: Not even a single bomber is shot down

Due to the numerous replacements which arrived from the aircraft industry and the flight training schools, the Luftwaffe could dispatch hundreds of fighters against the Americans already on the day after the 26 November defeat.

When the 8th Air Force on 27 November sent its three Bombardment divisions, covered by over 700 fighters, against marshalling yards in Germany, the II. Jagdkorps of Luftwaffenkommando West also was called in to reinforce the defensive effort. The exact number of Luftwaffe fighters brought into the air on that day is not known, but the Allies estimated 750 fighter sorties - a record number.

II. Jagdkorps again ordered JG 3, JG 26, JG 27 and IV./JG 54 into the air - defying very bad weather. JG 26 historian Don Caldwell wrote:

"The Geschwader pilots on duty could see the clouds coming in, and were very surprised to receive an order to scramble and rendezvous with the Bf 109s of JG 3 and JG 27."

III./JG 26 took off with 15 Bf 109s and met I./JG 26 with only four Fw 190s. Don Caldwell refers to the account by one of the participating German pilots, Uffz. Georg Genth, and writes:

"The Messerschmitts could not maintain close formation, but lurched around in the sky like so many drunks. The canopy of [Uffz. Genth's] Bf 109 K-4 iced over, and he could see only straight ahead through the armoured glass panel. He cleared a small spot on the left canopy pane by breathing on it, so he could see to the rear. He was at the rear of the formation, and (. . .) saw two P-47s banking on an attack curve. . ."

Seven of JG 26's fighters were shot down.

Meanwhile, the thick layer of clouds caused the German ground control to vector some units of I. and II. Jagdkorps towards "bombers" that materialised in Mustangs, and other units failed to find any US aircraft at all.

Thus, II./JG 27 saw no combat, while I./JG 27 scrambled from Rheine at 1100 hours and was engaged in a brief fight with Mustangs, resulting in one Mustang getting shot down without German losses. But the Gruppe never reached contact with the bombers. IV./JG 27 ran into nothing but Mustangs and Thunderbolts, losing eleven Bf 109s (nine of which were due to air combat) against claims for two Mustangs and a Thunderbolt. 352nd FG's ace Captain Walter E. Starck, who bagged three Bf 109s near Hameln, after which he got himself shot down and captured, probably fought IV./JG 27. In total, the 352nd reported 18 victories against three own losses on 27 November 1944.

The inexperienced JG 300 and JG 301 fared even worse. In Roger A. Freeman's words, the German "novice formations stupidly clung together while Mustangs shot them down". JG 300 was completely hacked to pieces, losing 39 Bf 109s and Fw 190s to several US fighter groups. JG 301 lost 15 Fw 190s. Among 357th FG's pilots, Captain Leonard Carson bagged five Fw 190s, Captain Chuck Yeager shot down four Fw 190s (increasing his total score to 11.5), and 1/Lt. Frank L. Gailer, Jr. brought his total to five by destroying two Fw 190s. In all, the 357th FG claimed 30 victories against a single own loss. The 353rd FG also participated in this slaughter, attacking a group of fighters where "once again the Germans continued to hold formation". In total, the 353rd claimed 18 kills - whereby 1/Lt. Charles J. Cesky achieved his fifth victory in total by bagging a Bf 109 near Hannover at 1205 hours - and lost two of their own.

The 359th FG pair of Captain Ray S. Wetmore and 1/Lt. Robert M. York which came across two large formations of German fighters - one with Bf 109s and one with Fw 190s below - probably also encountered JG 300, where the III. Gruppe's Bf 109s flew together with the Fw 190s of the other Gruppen.

Without hesitating, and without any other US fighters in sight for the moment, the two Mustang pilots attacked the mass of German aircraft. York gives his account in Eric Hammel's "Aces Against Germany":

"As I cleared the first 109, I found another Me 109 in my sight. There were so many German airplanes in the sky, in this small area, that I did not have to maneuver at all to locate my next target."

The two Mustang pilots succeeded in shooting down six Bf 109s, three apiece, and then got away unscathed. Thus, Wetmore reached a total victory score of 13.25. It should, however, be noted that only a few minutes after Wetmore and York engaged the German aircraft, they were reinforced by another ten Mustangs from the 359th FG.

Despite a massive effort, the Luftwaffe failed to shoot down even a single US bomber on 27 November 1944. All intercept missions were successfully contained by US fighters. No less than 81 German fighters were brought down, and the Americans lost only 16 fighters - of which many were to ground fire.


The November 1994 Air Battles: Results and Conclusions

As a result of the four major days of air battle in November 1944, the German fighter force lost 416 aircraft in combat. Without doubt, the majority of these were the victims of US Mustang fighters.

The cost for this among the participating US fighter units was only around one tenth of the German fighter losses - a total of 43 US fighters were lost on those four days. And not even all those losses were due to German fighters; probably a significant share were due to ground fire.

While dealing more blows against Germany's Achilles heel, the oil industry, the US 8th Air Force lost 117 heavy bombers on those four days. The bulk of these losses were due to the increasingly effective German antiaircraft artillery. (Of 209 heavy bombers lost on all operations in November 1944, only 50 were due to fighters.)

The German Sturmj√¬§ger tactic had once again proved that it could be a very deadly method against US heavy bombers. However, the presence of large numbers of Mustangs largely rendered the Sturmj√¬§ger missions into suicidal flights.

At the same time as the lacking experience and flight skills among the German pilots is evident from these four days, so is also the stamina among the German fighter pilots. Several accounts testify to the very high combat spirits among the young German fighter pilots in 1944.

Although perhaps the majority of them by this time suffered from an understandable sense of inferiority toward the Mustang pilots, they showed the Americans that they were willing to fight to the end. The fact that the German fighter pilots clung together in formations maybe was not merely "stupidly", as the Americans interpreted it; it could also be viewed as a reflection of a stiff determination to reach and destroy the hated bomber formations. These young German pilots had been told - which also was correct - that if they clung together in tight "Gefechtsverb√¬§nde" would they be able to deal crippling blows against the masses of heavy bombers. Indeed they were misled by an evil political system, but they also were convinced that they were the last hope for their tormented families in Germany's bombed cities.

On the other side of the hill, the US fighter pilots had received an equipment which was far superior to that of their German counterparts. The K-14 gunsight that had a gyro-actuated optical system that computed the lead angle was an important step forward, as was the G-suit. Both inventions distanced the US fighter pilots from the dogfights of World War One and brought them closer to today's computerised air fighting. As Eric Hammel points out in "Aces Against Germany", dealing with November 1944:

"American fighter pilots got better and better at what they did, and they had technologies at their disposal that made killing less sportsmanlike and more businesslike by the day."

If anything, the four major days of air battle in November 1944 puts the scenario for Galland's dreamed-of "Big Strike" into great doubt.

http://www.bergstrombooks.elknet.pl/

Now @joeap say that i am wrong please http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

actionhank1786
06-20-2006, 02:10 PM
oh come now, let's be mature and stop starting squabbles between people.

joeap
06-20-2006, 02:16 PM
Sintubin, just drop it. If you want to talk about Bergstrom and his article it was already posted elsewhere and a fine article it is too. I won't make any more comment on your opinions but will discuss this article when I have the time.

Thanks have a nice evening.

I'll bet Bergstrom is happy now (1-1). If he likes football. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

VW-IceFire
06-20-2006, 03:32 PM
Not sure where the animosity is coming from.

Neat article...coincides with my readings on that time with the 2nd TAF during that period. The Luftwaffe picked up some strength after this but its true that they just kept being knocked down and while the Allies never walked away without some bloody noses they could always replace their losses while Germany couldn't afford to.

It wasn't in planes either. By January 1945 Germany was producing more fighters than it had during the rest of the war...the problem was finding pilots and fuel to put those planes into the air.

LEBillfish
06-20-2006, 04:29 PM
http://www.babesandstuff.com/forum/images/smilies/fight.gif

I have this from official sources that in 1944, there were NO, none, 0, nada, Luftwaffe or U.S. 8th and 9th Air Forces in the Pacific.....

I thank you.......

http://www.babesandstuff.com/forum/images/smilies/bow_kneelsuckers.gif

VW-IceFire
06-20-2006, 04:55 PM
Good point. How'd this get here? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

leitmotiv
06-20-2006, 11:39 PM
Sportsmanship? The master, v.Richthofen, said it was about killing and all else was nonsense. Where was the sportsmanship in 1917 when the Germans enjoyed superiority in the winter and spring and wreaked havoc on the crates the Entente put up? Where was the sportsmanship in 1941 when the Luftwaffe destroyed the pre-war Soviet air arms in days---the biggest massacre in air warfare history. Where was the sportsmanship when the Americans were slaughtered in the October 1943 Schweinfurt raid? Sportsmanship in WWII, the most grotesque war of extermination in world history?

The most interesting period in the war between the German day fighters and the American Air Forces in England and Italy was the period of "Big Week" in the winter of 1944 when the AAF put into action an accelerated program to try to knock out the German aero industry. The AAF was trying out long-range fighters and the tactics for them. The Germans were forced to fight. It was a titanic struggle.

horseback
06-21-2006, 12:03 PM
I think that too many people forget that WWII was a series of battles, and that each battle set the stage and conditions for the next.

At the war's outset, the German pilots had generally better equipment, training and tactics than their opponents, but had yet to develop the individual skills, unit discipline and institutional wisdom that came with widespread combat experience. The first fights were much more even and individualistic than the ones that came later, and much more dependent upon an individual's flying abilities and luck.

This first phase lasted into the ealry stages of the Battle of Britain, which saw a more rational approach to air combat by the jagdewaffe, led by the examples of Molders and Galland.

These gifted tacticians and leaders recognized that the advantages of the proper formation, unit discipline and the application of their aircraft's strengths to the opposing aircrafts' weaknesses would lead to more of their men getting home with scalps on their belts. Applying these principles led to the ascendency of the jagdewaffe over the Allies from mid-1940 to at least mid 1943.

During this time, the German fighter corps dominated their opposition well out of proportion to their numbers.

This may have led to a certain complacency on the part of the German political leadership, which came to believe that the Allies would never be able to develop a competitive long range escort for the heavy daylight bombers, and so ignored the need for expansion of the jagdewaffe even in the face of the nearly exponential growth of Allied air forces fighter strength.

The arrival of the long range Lightning and Mustang fighters in late 1943, coupled with the hard core of experienced fighter pilots that the Allies in Britain had built up changed things radically in a very short time.

After the disastrous Schwweinfurt raids in October 1943, the 8th AF had to certainly regroup, but the onset of a particularly harsh winter may have had as much to do with the curtailment of missions over Europe than heavy losses. The Germans, satisfied that they were winning in the air over western Europe, made no great effort to ramp up fighter pilot training or fighter production while the Americans and British re-examined their strategy, built up their strength, and introduced two new fighter groups flying Lightnings and as a failsafe, one group with the unproven P-51B.

Coupled with GEN Doolittle's decision that the primary goal was the destruction of the Luftwaffe whereever and however it could be found, these longer ranged fighters paved the way for the veteran Luftwaffe's ultimate destruction.

While the P-38 groups had serious limiting problems over Europe, the P-51 group, quickly supplemented by two more groups by early March, made their presence felt over Germany. From January to May of 1944, the core of LW fighter veterans who had ruled the skies over Europe were largely eliminated from combat. Yes, many of the best pilots still managed to survive, but much of their supporting cast was gone, dead or wounded, by May of 1944.

Any examination of the Westfront expertens' scoring rates will show a severe dropoff during this period; it became much more difficult to score victories without reliable wingmen especially with increasingly dangerous prey.

What started as an uneven fight favoring the jagdewaffe in January of 1944 turned into a route by mid Spring of that year. Conversion of more groups to the P-51, plus the addition of pylons for extra droptanks on P-47s led to the USAAF being able to reach Berlin with a significant portion of its fighter strength by May of 1944.

At this point the Allies were able to maintain at least temporary air superiority over much of western Europe, and this was when the period of "five to one odds and barely trained kids fighting over Germany" began.

Christer Bergstrom's description was of a specific period after the Allies won air supremacy over Europe, and many of the veterans who won that supremacy had already rotated home, to be replaced with less experienced, but very well trained and equipped pilots.

cheers

horseback

LEXX_Luthor
06-21-2006, 05:56 PM
About numerical superiority of German forces.

The Luftwaffe needed that 4:1 numerical superiority in September 1939 or be mashed into Grunde Beefun. Although, 1939 has no relevance for Online dogfight shooter webboards.

AVG_WarHawk
06-21-2006, 07:30 PM
P-40 Warhawk won the warhttp://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y270/AVG_WarHawk/deadhorse2.gif

EiZ0N
06-22-2006, 06:59 AM
Sportsmanship?

Are you LITERALLY taking the piss?