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How effective was tactical airpower against tanks on the Eastern front?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by USS Washington, May 31, 2015.

  1. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    It is commonly mentioned that tactical airpower(at least in Western Europe) wasn't the mass murderer of tanks as is commonly believed, but what about the Eastern front, were the Ju-87G and IL-2, being dedicated ground attack aircraft versus fighter bombers such as the P-47 and the Hawker Typhoon, anymore effective against armor?
     
  2. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    Quite effective. Particularly due to the lack of cover in some area's.


    Ju-87G
    Rudel 519
    Korol 99

    Fw190F-8
    Joswig 88
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Less than has been claimed due to the limited number of aircraft available and the extensiveness of the front .Btw : the claims of Rudel are only claims .
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    What is the evidence that these claims were accurate? These impressive figures are based on the pilot's own claims and were rarely validated by ground observation or inspection of the targets. Operational research teams matching claims of kills against actual German vehicles in Normandy and the Ardennes suggests that pilot's claims should be discounted by a factor of two or three. It was not difficult for pilots to make multiple claims for the same target or attack old wrecks or friendly forces. The same occurred in Kosevo in the 1990s. The claims made by the Soviets for the IL 2 also appear to have been inflated. .
     
  5. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Kills being inflated has always been a common place in war, Hell in the Vietnam war US forces classified killed Buffalo as VC's on occasion.
     
  6. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    What about the Hs 129?

    I don't think that Rudels claims are just propaganda.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It may well depend on what level you wan to consider the effects as well. For instance in the West there were few direct kills of tanks that were verifyably due to aircraft. On the otherhand the aircraft had a significant impact on the logistic support structure for the tanks which resulted in many being lost due to breakdowns or lack of fuel. There was also the impact on coordination. I think there's an account of one battle (again on the western front) either in a thread here or over on the axis history forum where the Germans planned a 3 pronged attack that was suppose to be simultaneous. Due in large part due to air attacks the first attack to launch suffered significant delays and the others were hours behind it and also seperated from each other. The result was that the allied forces were able to defeat each in detail and in particular apply all their local artillery assets against each attack as needed. I suspect similar effects were seen in the east.
     
  8. harolds

    harolds Member

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    We'll never be able to sort out the claim vs actual distruction ratio. However, the German and Soviet cannon were by far more accurate than the Allied rockets.

    I believe Rudel was consulted during the designing of the A-10 Warthog, the main weapon being a cannon.

    While we always here of Rudel's score, I've never run into a claim number for his entire group, which would be more indicative of the German a/c capabilities.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    One example is Fritz Bayerlein's account of the Panzer Lehr's move toward the beaches after D-Day; he reports losing just five tanks but 84 lighter armored vehicles and 130 trucks to air attack before they even entered ground combat, in addition to the delay and disorganization imposed on the division.
     
  10. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Bayerlein claimed 84 SPW lost on the approach to Normandy but Ritgen contradicted this claim in his book. In fact the SPW losses for Lehr for the whole of June was 82!
    Zetterling first uses the Bayerlein claim on page 46 of his Normandy book but the same claim in the Lehr section on page 386 is more detailed.
    That aside Zetterling goes too far in his downplaying of the effect of air power. He fails to get the balance right.
     
  11. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    You're correct validation is always a problem. I can only go off of what I've read. However if even a quarter of his claims are true it is still remarkable.

    For tactical airpower to be effective it doesn't have to destroy the enemy armor it simply has to deny or reduce the effective use of it. Which it did in the Normandy invasion slowing the German response during the crucial first few weeks. In the East it was very effective in breaking up massed armor pushes and maintaining a steadily attrition of the enemy forces. Simply the morale boost to the troops when they see friendly aircraft controlling the skies is important.
     
  12. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Dive bombing was very accurate and potent. But air superiority was needed. ..Also the Stukas' siren could cause panic amongst horses and infantry creating additional havoc, decline in moral...
    When the Stuka could not perform as a valid dive bomber, it became a deadly tank buster. Until it could no longer even perform those tasks without great risk.
     
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  13. harolds

    harolds Member

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    IIRC, several of Rudel unit were assigned to AA suppression which was very necessary. Soviet AA was not to be sneezed at! The FW 190G model was more survivable and he used them but still used the Stuka at times until the last day of the war. Just the fact that he survived all those missions proves he was a superlative pilot as well as being damned lucky!
     
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The allies did have art least one "tank buster" aircraft as no 6 Sqn RAF used hurricane IID in that roll in late 1942. The press coverage of the P39 seemed to include coverage as a ground attack tank buster. IIRC a drawing appeared in the Daily Telegraph War Illustrated supplement. But the RAF weren't into Close Air Support and did not like the P39. The Mosquito XVIII Tetse mounted a 6pdr and the B25H a 75mm Howitzer, but used both for anit shipping rather than anti tank. Other variants of the B25 and Mosquito equipped tactical air forces, but mainly for battlefield interdiction. .

    While cannon may be more accurate, they did require the pilot to get very close to the tank. Not only was this unhealthy for the pilot, but also risked losing a $100,000 aircraft and expensively trained pilot to damage a $10,000 tank. The Germans switched to using the Fw190F as it was more survivable and when equipped with SD 2 bomblets was probably more lethal than a stuka on soft targets

    Eric Winkle Brown was quite scathing about the Hs129B " a terrible aeroplane from the pilot's point of view, but a successful tank buster , although its loss rate of one in five was unacceptably, but not surprisingly high.". He described it as an under powered aircraft with a cramp[ed cockpit and appalling view and poor handling characteristics - . lumbering aeroplane with very poor pilot visibility and there was something about the running of the engines which did not inspire confidence. He quoted a German pilot as describing the A version as an "Ungeheuer" - a monster.
    .

    d 40mm
     
  15. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Including air powers undeniable effectiveness in disrupting attacks and interdicting supply lines?
     
  16. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    To sum his experience with the Hs 129 up:

    Good: Built like a tank
    Bad: Flies like a tank
     
  17. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    Another 'Bad' is its French Gnome-Rhône 14M engines. They weren't bad engines but the ones built under occupation weren't always of the best quality.
     
  18. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  20. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The "Bad" is the Argus As 410 that was originally fitted to the Hs 129. The Gnome-Rhône brought a marked improvement to the aircraft.
     

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