Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Luftwaffe lacking a good long range bomber

Discussion in 'Axis Bomber Planes' started by JJWilson, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    Hello everyone, I hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing Sunday, because I sure am! I have been studying, reading, watching, and learning about WW2 for about 12 years. In that 12 year span, the focal point of my studies have been and always will be, aviation's role in the war. I know of pretty much every major air operation in every theater, both Axis and Allied in nature, I can identify and give specifications on a little more than 100 aircraft that served in the conflict, and I have met over 30 WW2 vets who in some way were apart of the air war. So I have a pretty in depth knowledge on the subject as a result of my interest in powered flight and air combat (I say that in the humblest way possible). Despite the amount of information I do know, like everything in life, there is always more for me to learn and understand, and even get wrong. Today I am wondering how the possession of a reliable and effective long range bomber, would have changed the war for the Luftwaffe. As I'm sure a majority of you know, The allies, mainly the USAAF and RAF, used heavy four-engine bombers to strike at strategic locations deep behind enemy territory hindering the logistics and creation of war materials to the various fronts the Germans were operating from. The Luftwaffe never had the same luxury for countless reasons. Before I get into these reasons though, I want to point out the main bombers the Luftwaffe possessed throughout the war, and compare them with the Allies heavy bombers in 2 categories, bomb load (in pounds) and range (in miles).
    Bomb load (Ibs, Internal capacity) Range (Miles)
    Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 17,600 Ibs 2,000 miles
    Consolidated B-24 Liberator 19,500 Ibs 2,100 miles
    Boeing B-29 Superfortress 20,000 Ibs 3,250 miles
    Short Stirling 14,000 Ibs 2,330 miles
    Handley Page Halifax 13,000 Ibs 1,860 miles
    Avro Lancaster 14,000 Ibs 2,530 miles
    Luftwaffe
    Dornier Do 17 2,205 Ibs 628 miles
    Heinkel He 111 4,400 Ibs 1,429 miles
    Junkers Ju-88 3,100 Ibs 981 miles
    Focke-Wulfe Fw 200 11,905 Ibs 2,212 miles
    Heinkel He 177 13,227 Ibs 957 miles
    Junkers Ju-188 6,612 Ibs 1,360 miles

    If you're not able to see the problem from this graph, let me break it down for you. The Luftwaffe's FW 200 has the best range out of the other German models, but is still only 4th place in the whole allied side. The Heinkel He 177 boasts an impressive 13,227 Ib bomb load, but it would rank 6th in the allied lineup, and it's range is far from adequate. Now going back to the FW-200, the Condor has the most promising numbers on the Luftwaffe side, and statistically should be a decent long range bomber, so why wasn't it?

    1.)
    Fw 200 wasn't built to be a bomber, let alone serve in the military. Focke-Wulfe received a request from Lufthansa in 1934 for a long range airliner, after 3 years the Condor took flight. The Luftwaffe saw the potential for a maritime patrol/ recon role for the Condor, not a strategic bomber. Totally capable of carrying a pretty significant amount of bomb tonnage, and the ability to fly from Berlin to London, The Luftwaffe missed out on a potentially game changing bomber in the FW 200 that was instead used for anti-shipping and transport roles.

    2.)
    Herman Goering. Yes, Herman deserves a lot of the blame for the Luftwaffe's inability to find a suitable and effective long range bomber when they had one already in the Condor. Goering and Hitler both wanted the Luftwaffe to work in Unison with the German ground forces and Navy, rather than work on their own, so they encouraged the development of twin engine short to medium range bombers and fighters meant to stay close to the front lines. Initially this worked quite well in the campaigns in Poland, and the low countries, but with the Battle of Britain is was clear that the Luftwaffe was limited in it's ability to reach out and harass the U.K's manufacturing and supply lines.

    3.) The Fw 200 wasn't mass produced. This absolutely could have been changed, but going back to Herman Goering and the Luftwaffe's stuborness, this was never realized. Only 276 Fw 200's were ever made, that isn't even close to the numbers needed for a sufficient long range bomber force. Had the Fw 200 been mass produced like the Bf-109 and Heinkel He-111, the Battle of Britain could have gone much differently.

    The Luftwaffe's inability to adapt to the changing tactics in the air war for Europe's skies, allowed the allies to pound Germany to nothingness and have the Luftwaffe all but beaten by 1944. The Allies didn't gain air supremacy until late 1943, allowing the Luftwaffe oh....4 #$@%*&^ years to mass produce the Fw 200, or make a whole new long range bomber to bomb the U.K and the U.S.S.R incessantly into submission before the U.S got involved.

    What are you're guy's thoughts on the matter?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    988
    There’s a difference between strategic bombing and mass bombing...Germany wanted strategic bombers...Germany also lacked a sufficient ‘big’ engine capable of coupling with others to create a good long range bomber...fires were a constant problem...what engines they did have went to fighters and mid range bombers...they lacked the need early on for a long range bomber and only half heartedly looked for one later in the war, by then defence became the priority...even the allies needed each other to make a day and night long range attack system...the Germans wanted speed not a mass of slow targets for the USAF and RAF...it’s an old question, the German fighting plan simply didn’t include (need) long range bombers....
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    I agree with a lot of what you're saying CAC, but I think the Germans failed to realize the importance of mass bombing. The Allies had a one two punch system, they had the heavy bombers bomb cities and infrastructure day and night, while medium bombers bombed other front line targets day and night. Meaning the Luftwaffe had to choose between the heavies bombing their cities and factories, or the medium strategic bombers bombing their supply lines and troops. They couldn't really fight both effectively, so in a sense it was a pick your poison situation. If the Luftwaffe had managed to utilize this, I think they could have extended the war by many more years. The German war machine was more than capable of mass producing aircraft (35,000 Bf-109's made), so they very well could have put more resources early on from 1939 to 1941 into the Fw 200. They could have used both Strategic Medium bombers and Heavy mass bombers in the battle of Britain, leaving fighter command to choose which one was a greater threat, stethcing their already thin numbers, even thinner. As for engines, the Bramo 323 engine the Fw 200 used was a reliable and good engine, it had too have good engines because of it's pre-war role as an airliner. Just a few thoughts.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    988
    Th condor would need a major redesign...even then, bomb load and speed would be a problem...for each bomber made, four to five fighters could have been made...the allies could make aircraft far away from Germans...the US...Ireland...even Canada and Australia...bombing factories wasn’t going to work for Germany....they needed speed not a protracted air war they would never win...they couldn’t do it...and discovered they had lost the air war of attrition by not defeating quickly...they knew it would happen and it did...a more relevant question is why more FW190s and Me262s weren’t produced to,achieve the speed of defeat their plan needed...Ask Hitler...
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    In 1940, the U.S, Australia, and Canada were producing limited numbers of aircraft, while most of the RAF's aircraft were still being made in the U.K at that time. The War certainly was not lost by 1940, or even 1941, so the Luftwaffe had plenty of time to devote it's resources to Bombers. As I said before the Fw 200 was the most suitable for the role of "mass bomber" but the Luftwaffe certainly could have developed and designed a new bomber without delay or issues (There factories for the most part out of range of RAF bombers). The Heavy German bombers would bomb the factories, while the Medium Strategic bombers would bomb the airfields, and the Stuka's would attack the shipping and radar stations. The RAF could not fight all three of these attacking forces at once, which leads me to believe the Germans could very well have won the battle of Britain. As you said CAC, later in the war, if they still managed to lose the battle of Britain, then making bombers would be pointless.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    988
    Heavy...medium...and Stukas all needed fighter protection...smaller area of the UK made it easier to defend. Can’t have it all in this situation...sitting in France Germany didn’t need long range bombers...concerned with Europe Germany didn’t need long range bombers...Africa didn’t need LR bombers...not even wanting the US in the war they didn’t need LR bombers...in my mind maybe some Mediterranean campaigns or once the Soviets moved their factories might LR bombers been helpful...a luxury they couldn’t afford.
     
  7. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    As I said earlier, I may very well be wrong.........good arguments CAC.
     
    CAC likes this.
  8. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    I guess a better question to pose is this, if the Luftwaffe devoted it's resources too making more fighters, would that have really helped in the long run? The U.S and RAF combined could outproduce the Luftwaffe 3:1, but if the Germans didn't waste their time making bombers would the extra few thousand aircraft made make a difference? I think it would increase allied losses, and even extend the war by a few months, but it would still result in a Allied victory. The Germans might have had more aircraft available to throw up at the Bombers, but by that point the Allied pilots were better trained, and a lot of them had gained valuable experience that fewer and fewer Germans had.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    8,282
    Likes Received:
    1,753
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Most of these numbers are highly suspect, especially all of the Allied numbers and the FW-200, also they do not reflect actual combat loads and ranges. For instance, normal loadout for an FW-200 was only 4,630 lbs. Not to mention that the rather limited service ceiling of the FW-200 makes it meat on the table for any Allied fighter an Flak gun. Further, the FW-200 was structurally deficient which was never completely corrected during the war.

    Whuh?????

    The Germans had several bombers that lingered for years in development hell, because they could not figure out the technical issues of them or their powerplants. Had nothing to do with Allied bombing.

    The problem here is that Germany can only produce a finite number of planes. By adding a completely new class of aircraft you dilute the total of the rest. That means fewer medium & light bombers, as well as fighters. Would the German Luftwaffe have been as effective during the war with the addition of heavy bombers? Or would it just be a wash given the decreased effectiveness in medium & light bombers and fighters...

    Jack of all trades, master of none.

    Or the Germans could have just kept attacking the airfields, instead of switching to city bombing.
     
    USMCPrice likes this.
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    8,282
    Likes Received:
    1,753
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    IIRC, the FW-190 was only intended to supplement the Bf-109 not supersede it. Also, the performance of the FW-190A fell of dramatically around 21,000 feet, so, it was not really a high-altitude fighter.

    As to the Me-262, I believe that fuel and engine spares were more the problem than the number of air frames. Having 50,000 Me-262s will not do you any good if you can only fuel 500 of the 50,000.
     
  11. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    I did not realize that the Fw 200 had said deficiency's, so thank you for informing me of that (Could you tell me what these deficiency's were?). Most German attacks on the U.K were below 10,000 ft during the battle of Britain.

    Yes the Germans were pretty awful when it came to designing new aircraft that were practical and were good at one task. As you said Takao, they made aircraft with multiple roles, not one.

    I kept in mind the idiotic decision Hitler made to bomb the cities rather than the airfields, I was suggesting that they could do both simultaneously, forcing fighter command to focus on one. I feel like there is a misunderstanding regarding this?
     
  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,249
    Likes Received:
    988
    Even Galland spoke of the need for more 190s....and as for,the 262 I mean not put the project on the back burner but pump more material and people into the project to fast rack...
     
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,405
    Likes Received:
    448
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    Galland stressed the need for more aircraft, but he also stressed the importance of having well trained and experienced pilots. All of those new aircraft won't mean much, when 80% of the pilot's flying them have only 50 to 60 flight hours in non-combat situations. It's rarely about the aircraft, it's about the master at the controls, and clearly the Allies had better masters behind the controls.
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    8,282
    Likes Received:
    1,753
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    The war was already well underway when he claimed to have made this statement(1943) to Hitler. Further, he specifically said the Dora model and later variants. Not to mention that completely stopping 109 production, and converting those factories over to the 190 Doras would entail a short term loss of production that the Germans could ill afford. The same reasoning kept the Panzer IV in production, they could not afford to shut down production.

    At the time, 1940, the 262 had serious design and engine issues which may or may not be solved(some never were), the Germans were also facing the pressing need of getting fighters now - not some years from now. Further, in 1940, the Germans were well on their way to winning the war(or so it seemed to them), so they could work out their wonderwaffe weapons later, after they had won.
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    8,282
    Likes Received:
    1,753
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    copied from another forum

    Yes, and when they did it during daylight...They got slaughtered. So they decided to switch to night bombing, which threw out the window any hopes of accuracy.


    No, you are not being misunderstood...It is a dilution of the German air effort. The Germans need to win the air war, and bombing cities, and Channel convoys, doe not further this effort to any great effect. As such, the Germans too most focus their effort, which they did against the airfields, and were well on their way to winning control of the air, when their objective was changed.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,232
    Location:
    Michigan
    As others have noted it was both fragile and could carry a minimal load at max range. Either here or on Axis History there is a fairly long thread about a potential German invasion of Iceland. There are a lot of details about the problems with the FW 200 in that thread (along with a lot of other good info).
    Blameing Goering is a bit off the mark IMO. The Whermacht viewed the LW as a substitute of heavy artillery that they were forbidden to have by treaty. They didn't see much of a need for a strategic bombing force when they were very resource constrained as it were. If they got into a contest when they ln deeded one they were in serious trouble anyway.

    I don't think that's the case. I think it's more of a case that they couldn't afford it.
    And with fewer fighters they will be in even more trouble won't they.
    You fail to realize just how resource constrained Germany was. Basically they were producing all the engines they could with the resources available. So for every heavy bomber you have 4 less fighters and unescorted bombers don't do well. As it was Germany went into the BoB with an edge in the number of operational fighters and lost that edge fairly early in the battle never to regain it. Start with fewer fighters and they will loose both more fighters and more bombers.

    For a good look at Germany's resource constraints I recommend Wages of Destruction. The parts on economics are excellent (some significant criticisms of the part dealing with military operations have been brought up though.)


    Did it? During the BoB Britain was producing more aircraft than Germany on their own. Looking at:
    World War II aircraft production - Wikipedia
    IN 1940 Britain produced almost 50% more air craft than Germany and the US another 50% more. By 41 the US and Britain together are producing 3 times the aircraft Germany is and probably devoting 4 times or more the resources to it. Note that Germany's production of aircraft only increases by ~20% while GB's increased by 1/3. Germany had to win on the ground and they had to do it quickly. The only way to defeat the British though was by air and sea which Germany had little or no hope of doing.
    They don't have to fight them all at once but indeed they could have. Given the fragility of the FW200 they wouldn't have lasted long especially if they are operating out of fighter escort range. Furthermore each one built would mean 4 or 5 less fighters at least which makes it even easier on the British defence.
     
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,553
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    London UK
    There possibly three factors that influenced the Germans away from heavy bombers.

    #1 Cost. In the 1930s the Germans wanted numbers of aircraft. IIRC it was Goering who decided that two medium bombers were more impressive than one four engine bomber.

    #2 Lack of an accurate bomb sight in the 1930s led the Germans to believe that dive-bombing was a mandatory requirement. In some ways the Germans were right. the B17 was hopelessly inaccurate in its designed anti-shipping role and the RAF heavy bomber fleet could neither find nor hit anything smaller than a city. Eventually the Germans built the Lotfe 7 bomb sight, but by this time every German bomber was built to dive bomb - even the He177.

    #3 Higher military priorities. Whatever clever ideas for heavy bombers could be created on the drawing board, these were solutions looking or problems to solve. It may be fun to think about the idea of bombing America, it wasn't going to win the war. Nor, I suspect would a Ural bomber force have lasted long. The Fw200 wasn't a great maritime patrol aircraft, but even if the Germans had an aircraft as good as the B24 it would not survive long once convoys had escort carriers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  18. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2000
    Messages:
    5,734
    Likes Received:
    559
    Location:
    Festung Colorado
    German Air Doctrine policy was focused on lighter/faster bombers than a Heavy Bomber. From my understanding, the Germans liked Dive Bombing over Strategic Bombing as it was a lot more accurate, cost a lot less in terms of aircraft production, etc. Stukas were used like Artillery during the invasion of France.

    One could also question the point of heavy bombers. They were wildly inaccurate and apart from the murder of civilians, they didn't really accomplish anything. Bombing cities did not break the will of the people or make them surrender. Bombing factories was obviously inaccurate and as far as I am aware, did not really affect anything. German shortages later in the war were more from convoy-raiding and the world embargoing the Germans.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,232
    Location:
    Michigan
    That's quite a bit off the mark.
    Indeed the prewar concept of stargegic Bombing was seriously flawed although it played a huge part in Japan's surrender.
    Part of the problem there was that they switched targets just as they were starting to have an effect in most cases. The end of war targets of logistics and fuel did have some pretty significant effects though.
    The breakdown in the logistics system and spending resources to defend against strategic bombing as well as mitigating its effects played a significant part as well. Indeed the strategic bombing campaign may well have been essential to gaining air supremacy in the West.
     
  20. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,931
    Likes Received:
    708
    The major bottleneck was engines. The aircraft engine industry was essentially non-existent prior to 1933. The Nazi's established BMW, Junkers, and D-B as the major engine producers and rationalized to a few designs, initially the Jumo 211 and DB 605, while prioritizing development and expansion on the Jumo 213 and DB 603. The problem then became the more modern engine designs, required for heavier aircraft development, took too long for development. The Ostmark plant, built in 1941 to produce the DB 603, delivered its first engine in May 1943.

    By August 1940, there were only five plants producing high-performance aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe: BMW-Munich, and DB-Berlin, Brunswick, Kassel, and Genshagen for a total output of 583 engines. In the same month, the U.S. produced 1,012 engines for tactical aircraft, also coincidentally from five plants. At peak in April 1944, Germany's 13 plants produced 4,692 engines and in the same month the 13 (still coincidentally) U.S. plants produced 19,959.
     
    USMCPrice likes this.

Share This Page