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Blutarski2004
06-09-2007, 08:28 PM
Excerpted from this site -
https://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/EARS/Hallionpaper...siveairpower1950.htm (https://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/EARS/Hallionpapers/decisiveairpower1950.htm)

I don't buy everything the author is selling, but he does give some interesting commentary. For example...

quote-

After the war, the Wehrmacht's Director of Medical Services, Lieutenant General (Professor Doctor) Siegfried Handloser stated that, through mid-1943, infantry weapons caused most German combat casualties, followed by artillery and then air attack. Late in the year, air attack assumed preeminence, followed by artillery and then infantry weapons; by 1945, Allied air power was "far ahead of either artillery or infantry weapons as a cause of casualties in the German armed forces." Indeed, the ratio of wounded to killed over this time period changed dramatically, a demonstration that air attack was significantly deadlier than conventional infantry and armored attack: casualties shifted from 8: 1 wounded-to-killed at the time of the Blitzkrieg in 1940-41, to 5 : 1 in 1943, and, finally to 3 : 1 wounded-to-killed in 1945, a transformation which Handloser "attributed entirely to the devastating effect of aerial warfare." Further, wound patients were more seriously injured than earlier in the war, requiring far longer hospitalization, and rendering many unfit for further military service, exacerbating Germany's already severe wartime manpower shortages.

What is more remarkable is that one would expect German casualties to have been greater from infantry and armored fighting vehicle attacks in the 1944-45 time period if for no other reason than Germany was fighting a multi-front land war: in Western Europe (after the D-day and Southern France landings), on the Russian Front, and in Italy, in addition to the steady toll taken by partisans and resistance fighters from Norway through Yugoslavia and Greece. That, even in the face of such constant losses from "conventional" surface warfare, air was still the most significant contributor to German combat casualties is a powerful indicator of the decisiveness of air power a mere forty years after the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk.

After Normandy on-call Allied air power (typified by the ubiquitous Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and the rocket-armed Hawker Typhoons roving ahead of Allied armored columns looking for German armor) remained a defining characteristic of Allied ground operations; Lieutenant General George Patton's Third Army, for example, relied on the Brigadier General Otto P. "Opie" Weyland's XIX Tactical Air Command to protect his flank as he raced across France. As Patton biographer Ladislas Farago wrote, "Knowing how dependent his own success was on air support, Patton shrewdly singled out the airmen for special attention and friendly treatment. . . he gave [Weyland] and the whole XIX TAC a feeling of importance and a keen sense of belonging. There was nothing Weyland and his airmen would not have done for Patton in return."

So accustomed were the U.S. Army's ground forces to having this air power available that it came as a total shock when, in December 1944, under the cover of abysmal weather, the German's launched a mighty counteroffensive (and last gasp), the so-called "Battle of the Bulge." So serious did Patton judge his need for air power that he commissioned a weather prayer from his chaplain so that the airmen could intervene. The weather eventually cleared, and masses of Allied fighter-bombers made short work of the already overstretched and vulnerable German columns. That a committed and dedicated surface warrior such as George Patton could be moved to call upon the Almighty to direct aerial intervention upon his foes, as with the previously cited statistics on German casualties from both Normandy and the Bulge, speaks mightily for the perceived decisiveness of air power in the European theater by land war commanders. But what, if any role, did air attack play in the Bulge?

In the Bulge operations, air attacks figured prominently both in the defensive "decisive halt" phase of operations (December 16 to December 27), and then in the offensive follow-up. 12th Army Group commander General Omar Bradley stated after the war that, during the defensive phase, "the greatest benefit derived from the tactical air force was in the offensive action of the fighter-bomber in blunting the power of the armored thrust, and striking specific targets on the front of the ground troops." The most productive attacks, in the judgment of German forces, were those directed against fuel dumps and fuel trucks, for they produced immediate effects on German mobility. For example, veterans of the 9th SS Panzer, the Hohenstaufen Division, credited the destruction of just one key truck (carrying three tons of gasoline) as the principal reason why they failed to seize Liege, for its loss held up the division's movement for two critical days. Interrogated after the war, General Bayerlein "particularly noted the disastrous and calculated selection of fuel tank trucks as fighter-bomber targets. He and others have vivid memories of precious forward gasoline dumps lost through air attack." Bereft of fuel, Panzer divisions had to abandon increasingly scarce tanks on the side of the road: 53 from the battered Panzer Lehr division which had been essentially reconstituted after St. Lo, and 180 from the Sixth SS Panzer Army.

-unquote

Friendly_flyer
06-10-2007, 03:05 AM
Very interesting view of the battle in the Ardennes!

Kurfurst__
06-10-2007, 03:11 AM
It's from an airforce guy given the source..from the 1950s where the air force was seen something as the first and foremost striking power of the US armed forces. I don't buy the casulty ratio at all. Looking at some available figures of daily losses, it was usually the case that if one big urban area was being besieged (ie. Budapest), the daily manpower loss equalled that of the entire Western Front alone in a siege. And I doubt it was Sturmoviks picking off people from fortfied houses. Under special conditions, ie. retreating army at or after Falaise that has little contact with the enemy groundtroops but being strafed all the time by the AF it's possible. Otherwise, no, I am very much in disbelief.

It's perhaps possible that indirect effects were also included in losses? Ie. shooting out fuel trucks as noted -> vehicles stop and they all become prisoners because of this?

I'd believe the indirect damage of beating up supply and communications lines would far exceed that of the direct damage done. The Ardennes is a fine example of that, but the other half of the story is that the Wehrmacht's fuel supply position was poor to start with : lack of supply trucks, the weather and road conditions were awful, the consumption being twice as big than the HQ optimistically predicted; I am not sure but I recall they didn't even have enough fuel issued for the operation in the first place, captured fuel dumps being key part of the plan (rather suspicious though given the lower octance gasoline used in Allied tanks for example).

The Air aggrevated these problems, and made much worse, not quite single handidly created them, as the author suggest for the audience.

leitmotiv
06-10-2007, 04:29 AM
Fascinating B. Flies in the face of the conventional wisdom which is that artillery was the great killer in World Wars I and II. I have no reason to disbelieve the High Command's own medical expert. I am truly astonished infantry weapons caused the most casulties through 1943.

Blutarski2004
06-10-2007, 03:03 PM
Originally posted by Kurfurst__:
It's from an airforce guy given the source..from the 1950s where the air force was seen something as the first and foremost striking power of the US armed forces. I don't buy the casulty ratio at all. Looking at some available figures of daily losses, it was usually the case that if one big urban area was being besieged (ie. Budapest), the daily manpower loss equalled that of the entire Western Front alone in a siege. And I doubt it was Sturmoviks picking off people from fortfied houses. Under special conditions, ie. retreating army at or after Falaise that has little contact with the enemy groundtroops but being strafed all the time by the AF it's possible. Otherwise, no, I am very much in disbelief.

It's perhaps possible that indirect effects were also included in losses? Ie. shooting out fuel trucks as noted -> vehicles stop and they all become prisoners because of this?

I'd believe the indirect damage of beating up supply and communications lines would far exceed that of the direct damage done. The Ardennes is a fine example of that, but the other half of the story is that the Wehrmacht's fuel supply position was poor to start with : lack of supply trucks, the weather and road conditions were awful, the consumption being twice as big than the HQ optimistically predicted; I am not sure but I recall they didn't even have enough fuel issued for the operation in the first place, captured fuel dumps being key part of the plan (rather suspicious though given the lower octance gasoline used in Allied tanks for example).

The Air aggrevated these problems, and made much worse, not quite single handidly created them, as the author suggest for the audience.


..... I agree that the author's conclusions must be viewed with caution. For example, although the German casualty data are stated to come directly from a primary German source, the context within which the figures were collected and collated remains unknown. Did the German data perhaps include civilian casualties from strategic bombing.

Blutarski2004
06-10-2007, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Fascinating B. Flies in the face of the conventional wisdom which is that artillery was the great killer in World Wars I and II. I have no reason to disbelieve the High Command's own medical expert. I am truly astonished infantry weapons caused the most casulties through 1943.


..... My eyebrows went up at those figures as well. The only sense I can make of it is that perhaps fast-moving "Blitzkrieg" style tactics prevented the enemy from bringing their artillery effectively to bear. That would cover 1939 through 1941. I don't know enough about condition of the Russian artillery arm in 1942; perhaps there were ammunition shortages.