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

Which Airforce was more Dominating.

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Leitung Panzer, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Leitung Panzer

    Leitung Panzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0
    Which of the following had a more dominant effect over the battlefield:

    The Blitzkrieg Luftwaffe, with messerschmits and Stukas that dominated Poland, France, and early Russia

    -OR-

    The Late War Allied AF (US+UK), with Divebombers, heavy bombers, and fighters in huge numbers.

    The Luftwaffe was a thing to be feared right up to BoB, and it's greatest fault there was bombing cities instead of airfields.

    The AAF, had complete dominance over Axis ground and Airforces.
     
  2. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    I think there needs to be some parameters mentioned here............

    cannot think you can compare early Luftwaffe with late war Allied.

    interesting poll though and open for lengthy discussion

    by the way you forgot to mention the Luftwaffe night fighter arm which was not overwhelmed in the least. It's losses were the airfields being overun and the Nachtjagd arm being compressed with the restriction daily of the Reich. Plenty of eager crews and plenty of aircraft.

    Erich ~
     
  3. Monty Cassino

    Monty Cassino Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2003
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Not even a fair comparison really. The USAF in Europe had a ridiculous amount of aircraft. It puts it into perspective when you realize that Germany had committed her whole air force to the war, while the US split hers between the European and Pacific theaters, and was dominant in both. Germany's limited production in comparison to the Allies meant that Blitzkrieg warfare usually meant only local air superiority could be achieved, while allied forces were unchallenged.

    This reminds me of that scene in The Longest Day where 'Pips' Priller has just strafed the invasion beaches, and starts yelling that the Luftwaffe has made its great appearance, (or something similar). Then you realize that Priller's single sortie constituted 50% of the entire number of Luftwaffe missions flown against the Normandy beach head! :eek:
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,578
    Likes Received:
    1,483
    Location:
    London, England.
    Although Priller and Wodarczyk flew over the beachhead first, and were the only sorties to strafe the area, JG2 and JG26 were in action against aircraft over the Normandy area later in the day. The Richthofen Geschwader claimed 3 P-47s, 5 P-51s and nine Typhoons for the loss of nine Fw 190s.

    To keep some perspective, the Luftwaffe flew 172 combat sorties over Western France on D-Day, the Allied Air Forces flew 14,000 ..... :eek:
     
  5. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    London, UK
    The 'Blitzkrig' Luftwaffe was a jack of all trade and as such could not create dominanace in the air. The dominance it created pre BofB came more from the lack of coherent doctrine of its enemies rather than its dominance. its Operational Air War doctrine meant it could adopt to most circumstances but not specialist in any.

    The advantage of the 1944 AAF was that due to overhwelming equipment and airpower, not to mention superlative doctrine it was able to perfect and improve on the german Operational Air War and be specialist in all strategic and tactical areas of air power.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    25,045
    Likes Received:
    1,797
    Location:
    Finland
    Definitely in itself the allied bombing method was more effective but I think that the Blitzkrieg was more revolutionary to the war campaign system at the time. Just my opinion.

    And the bombing of cities was not really part of the Blitzkrieg, I think, rather terror bombing.

    the Stukas were pitifully slow in BoB and were shot down like flies but in suitable circumstances like Balkans Spring 1941 and Russia summer-autumn 1941 they were doing a great job, even as late as 1944 in the Ostfront and the Karelian front ( finnish front to Russia ).
     
  7. Greenjacket

    Greenjacket Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    Messages:
    324
    Likes Received:
    1
    I think an equally striking figure is simply fighter levels - 170-ish German a/c in Luftflotte III and some 5,700 Allied in June 1944.
     
  8. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    and did you know that Fw 190A-8 equipped III./JG 54 scored around 100 kills during Normandie and basically all the Luftwaffe units that took part in the fighter role during this campaign were slaughtered
     
  9. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    52
    At the time it was, without a doubt, more revolutionary. In 1939-1940 there was no air force in Europe that could work so effectively and in such way and, of course, it was not surprising since the Luftwaffe had war experience acquired in Spain and during the Polish campaign.

    The RAF and L'Armée de l'Air in 1939 and 1940 were not ill-equipped as were the Poles, but the way they used their air power was a waste. A good example is that in 1940 the Luftwaffe placed 100+ reconnaisance aircraft and 500+ dive-bombers in the western front against the Allies' 30+/- of the first and 50- of the latter. :eek:

    It wasn't until the Luftwaffe faced super modern fighters flown by experienced pilots over the Channel that its supremacy was challenged.

    Indeed, Kai. But there's a 'but' here. During 'Barbarossa' the Soviet foot soldier didn't panick at the sound and sight of a Stuka diving on him, instead, the Iváns shot the thing with anything they could fetch. The dive-bombers' losses due to ground fire were very high at this time.

    And what about the Red Air Force? It's not often talked about except when it comes to mention how it was wiped out from the skies during 'Barbarossa', but it kicked some German asses later in the war and destroyed many thousands of German planes, though its rôle is very different than that of the RAF and USAF in the western front.

    Thanks to the gigantic Soviet production, to very good though simple aircraft designs and uninterrupted fighting, the Red Air Force developed into an efficient, experienced and very powerful force, almost entirely dedicated to the support of Soviet ground units. The Red Air Force was a tactical air force which didn't seek absolute air supremacy —an impossible thing in such a wide air space as in the eastern front—, instead, concentrated at critical spots of the front, immediately above the spearhead units, almost warrantying a breakthrough.

    Any thoughts?
     
  10. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Fried the account of the Soviet air force was different that the Luftwaffes as it based it's fighters on the midrange and ground attack level. As the Luftwaffe had to contend with high altitude US especially; forces the need for a competitor was of chief importance and thus the jet/rocket fighters were born, Doar 9 and later the Ta 152. You also mentioned that the Soviets fired with everything they had at their disposal and this was also the case of the Wehrmacht during 1945. The fantastic Il-2 a heavy weapons platform it was, still could be brought down by ground fire and not always by the prescence of a skilled Luftwaffe pilot.
     
  11. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    52
    Erich is more than right. The tactical rôle of the Red Air Force made it a very different force from the RAF and the USAF and even with the Luftwaffe units deployed in the west. There, the Germans had to deal with heavy bombers raiding their cities and high-level fighters and tactical support units. In the east there was not the first case and the Luftwaffe had to fight accordingly.

    Now, it is very important to remember too that the Soviet comouflage and diversion device, the 'Maskírovka' played a key rôle in the tactical use of the Red Air Force. 'Operation Bagration' is a good example. The Soviets managed to keep dozens of airfields hidden and keep the German reconnaisence planes away from the flanks of Army Group 'Centre'. At the same time, false intelligence reports, false radio traffic and air activity in the Ukraine and the Baltic made the Germans to make a re-deployment of the planes within the Luftflötten: the air support of Army Groups 'North' and 'South' were reinforced at the expense of the planes of Army Group 'Centre'. Result? In June-Agust 1944 there were some 400 German planes against some 2.500 Soviet machines in the offensive's main sectors. Once the Germans withdrew planes from the north and south, the Red Army and the Red Air Force threw thousands of men and planes against Army Group 'North' and the southern Army Groups. The just-re-built Luftwaffe was almost annihilated that summer.

    My question is, which rôle suited the Luftwaffe best from 1943 onwards? Anti-heavy-bombing, anti-tactical, offensive tactical and strategical? Erich already told us that the night-fighter arm was all but crushed and put out of action, even by late 1944. :confused:
     
  12. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Fried maybe a slight misunderstanding

    no the Nachtjagd arm was still quite potent but because of lack of fuel and compression of the Reich forward airfields were withdrawn to grass/crap fields to operate from. There were plenty of a/c and crews to take to the air, but on many occassions only experienced crews were allowed to take to the air unless the Gruppenkommandeur said "let's go ", then all present would take off. It does seem that Reich (DAY) defence had the priority so you can assume where the needed liquid went to.........

    v/r

    ok guys let's hear from ya before I continue my two cent triviality :cool:

    E [​IMG]
     
  13. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    52
    Why were the daylight raids the priority?

    Because the USAF was the one who hit the industry the hardest?

    It makes no logic to me: the RAF was destroying more cities, killing more people and breaking, if not the morale, the Germans' thrust in Hitler and deteriorating the Home Front. :confused:
     
  14. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,578
    Likes Received:
    1,483
    Location:
    London, England.
    It was always clear that, although the Nachtjagd could - and did - inflict terrible losses on RAF Bomber Command at night, 'they' would keep coming ; the technical difficulties of locating and destroying the bombers were so great.

    However, with the USAAF's daylight bombing offensive gathering pace during 1943, the German High Command thought it saw an opportunity to win a decisive strategic victory.

    'It guessed that the German fighter forces, even though inferior in numbers, could inflict such unbearably prohibitive losses that the USAAF might be compelled to cease larger operations.' ( Generalmajor von Rohden, Reich Air Defence In WWII , August 1946 ).

    Of course, despite titanic air battles and dreadful losses, the US' military and production might, and the advent of the P-51 Mustang, ultimately gained for the USAAF air superiority over the Reich. The German High Command fatally underestimated the USAAF, and overestimated the powers of the Luftwaffe .
     
  15. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    In addition to Martin's statements it must be observed that day time combat activity was more of a moral booster, especially to the German civilian population who could at times watch the great air battles and see US heavy bombers explode and hit the ground. It was felt by many leaders that the US contribution to the air war had to be stopped at all means and with this idea came the Sturmstaffel. On the other hand Goebbels in more than one speech eluded to the attacks by the Mossies of the LNSF as pin pricks on Berlin but that they had to be stopped.....
     
  16. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    764
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    At its peak the Luftwaffe never approached the efficency of the late war USAAF. Luftwaffe strategy never seemed to really coallese into a solid foundation. Instead, the Luftwaffe was more a collection of strategic improvisations and dabbling by its leadership.
    Strategic bombing in the sense the Allies did it was occasionally tried but never on a sustained basis.
    Ground support in tactical battles was relegated to Richtofen's VIII Flieger Korps for half the war before any real attempt was made to spread a consistant doctrine throughout the Luftwaffe. Even then, the Luftwaffe never approached the efficency of late war Allied air support of ground troops. On occasion, where the planning was in place and the mission known well ahead of time (like at the Meuse in France or at Kursk) the Luftwaffe performed adequitely as a tactical ground support force but did no better. Even in these cases, real time forward air control was minimal.
    The primary reliance on flak for air defense was a mistake.
    There was little cooperation with the Kriegsmarine in maritime support operations. This is one area where the Luftwaffe could have made a sustained and significant impact but failed to do so.
    In transport operations too much was expected and the equipment in use was often obsolesent or non-existant (like electronic navigation aids) resulting in repeated failures in this area.
    The near disdain shown for many technical advances by the Luftwaffe's leadership and their myopic and, for want of a better word, near ignorant view of industrial and economic processes was criminal. Radar and its potential was virtually ignored until Colonel Kammhuber was reluctantly put in charge of night defense of Germany. Aerial radar usage was at first sneered at by pilots and given little attention by the leadership until it proved itself valuable.
    The same can be said of jet aircraft and rocketry. In each case, the end result was too little, too late.
    The Germans also showed a penchant for introduction of new weapons in penny packets. This usually resulted in the Allies gaining valuable experiance at minimal cost when these weapons were introduced. It also usually meant that they were quickly countered. Two excellent examples of this are the German use of electronics in the Battle of Britain and their guided bombs. Both were rapidly countered when put into service. The first because of its simplicity and the second because it was used in small quantity.
    The Allies learned from the Battle of Britian from German experiance with electronic navigation aids valuable lessons that made their own such aids far harder to detect and jam. The Germans learned little or nothing from their experiance and,instead, simply gave the situation up as hopeless.
    Technical oddities and allowing the aircraft industry to develop a plethora of prototypes and one-off designs was simply a waste of scarce resources. Manufacturers were often had considerable slack in their production capacity due to poor planning by the Luftwaffe. Henschel for example was almost ignored as a potential aircraft manufacturer.
    The cult of personality was too strong in the Luftwaffe. This meant that frequently poor choices for command and technical positions were made on the basis of who one was rather than on the basis of what one was capable of.
    The USAAF was by no means perfect either. But, at least their production planning was good if pedestrian and their strategic concepts were carried through to a useful conclusion. The example of daylight bombing: The Germans tried this as did the British. Both determined quickly that in the face of determined opposition it was not possible with the equipment at hand. The US simply developed / found equipment that would work and put it in place. At the same time, they also developed new tactics to make their chosen strategy viable.
    In the tactical field the US (and British) continued to improve their capabilities and also assigned specific air forces to this role in a consistant fashion.
    The US also sought and developed technologies and equipment in a fairly rational manner. Aircraft types in production were limited to a few successful designs at a time which all aircraft manufacturers produced to their full capacity.
     
  17. Rooster

    Rooster recruit

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am new here but I flew a P-47 with the 404th Fighter Group and I flew 4 missions on D-Day and never saw a single German aircraft...Our Group lost just one airplane that day and the cause was mechanical and not combat related...There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that our P-47's and P-51's plus some P-38's and the British Tempests and Mossies and Typhoons held complete dominance over the battlefield...The "killing ground" at Falaise just before the breakout at St.Lo is a perfect example...(I actually participated in this)...Shortly after this I was made an "Air Liason Officer" or Forward Air Controler for 30 days and drove through this area in a jeep...The carnage was simply UNBELIEVEABLE!...The Germans used a large amount of horse drawn artillery pieces for example and there dead horses all over the place!...Burned out and destroyed tanks and vehicles of all kinds had been shoved from the road by our bulldozers to make a path...Quite frankly, it's the worst 'mess' I have ever seen...

    Hitler was a true madman and thought he could "out-general" his best...The Bulge was his last gasp and the 'true' primary objective was FUEL...Our bombing had severely damaged their abilty to produce fuel and the Wermacht simply ran out of gas...When my Group moved into Fritzlar, Germany late in the war, there were several brand new German planes on the field but NONE of them contained any fuel!...The Luftwaffe too just ran out of gas...
    Rooster
     
  18. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Sir, may I be the very first to welcome you to our boards. You are so correct, the Luftwaffe during D-day was not ready for the Allied invasion and were caught off guard perfectly. although fighter missions did take place against US bomber formations and some dive bombing did occur. Teh Luftwafe was actually in proicess during the first week of June moving to new allocated bases from which to operate. too bad for them as many of them were hit as part of the softenin gup process for allied landing forces.

    Fuel fuel fuel. Plenty of eager German pilots and aircraft but none of the precious liquid during 1945..........

    Erich ~
     
  19. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    20,080
    Likes Received:
    2,637
    Location:
    Stirling, Scotland
    I think it's great seeing so many veterans joining the boards. It's ok for the rest of us reading this stuff out of books; I'd rather listen to the guys who were actually there any day.
     
  20. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2004
    Messages:
    731
    Likes Received:
    3
    Amen to that Gordon, nothing better that a first hand source when it comes to learning about the day to day operating of these units and what those who participated went through during this time. Welcome aboard Rooster, I look forward reading your take on the events that you took part in.
     

Share This Page