Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum

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Juha 24th February 2005 15:44

Dear Jens, according to Groehler the numbers are the fighters under various Luftflotte, so I think they were all operational, I think. His 22.6.41 figures are those normally given figures for operational a/c at the beginning of Oper. Barbarossa.

Dear Christer, some knowledge of how to use statistics scientifically correctly doesn't hurt anyone. And exact use of terms is better than those like "...more or less the whole LW - particularly the day fighter force..." without first explaning what that means (60%, 70%, 85% or 90%)

I wonder why to exclude the night fighters, they were combat a/c pure and simple, in fact they needed more resource to produce, maintain and man than a average combat plane? Was the reason to get more suitable figure? If You check my message You will see that I used purely fighter figures because in the quote I referred You wrote Bf 109s and Fw 190s. According to Groehler night fighter figure on 31.5.43 was 32 in East, 456 in West and 24 in Italy.

One reason why the Western Allies had so overwhelming, other than the industrial power, was that they shoot down clearly more German a/c than than the Soviets. If we take the LW monthly fighter lossesin 1943, because You Christer had that super-veteran theory, IMHO You seem to have more interest in fighter pilots and because La-7 (the heading of this tread) was a fighter, they were, again according to Williamson Murray's LW p. 138.
At Eastern front Jan 85, Feb 63, March 100, Apr 67, May 110, Jun 85, Jul 201, Aug 150, Sept 99, Oct 94, Nov 45
At Western front 87, 77, 140, 143, 183, 157, 335, 248, 276, 284, 281
At Mediterranean 124, 89, 140, 247, 97, 131, 246, 133, 167, 92, 54

So alone in Med. LW lost 272 fighters more than in the eastern Front in the first 5 months of '43, and many of their opponents had been veterans of Eastern front. It had been a hard and heavy fight but in the end Western Allieds had mauled the LW in Med. badly and will cripple it during the next 2 months. And of course there were also the Italians, but at Eastern front there were Romanians, Hungarians, Finns, Slovaks, Croats and the small Italian contigent, so this comparasion isn't complete, but I'm not going to went through all my material to check also the lossies of smaller Axis powers.

And of course the fact that the Germans Fought 2front war helped Western Allies as it helped SU, or what You thing would have been the effect of 1000 fighters, 150 long range recon a/c, 170 heavy fighters and ground attack planes, 528 bombers etc more at the disposal of LW at the Kursk. In fact figures should be far bigger because there would not have been losses in West and in Med. And the lesser need of night fighters had made possible more other a/c.

Juha

Christer Bergström 24th February 2005 17:37

Quote:

” I wonder why to exclude the night fighters”
I never did. All I said was that the air war at night should be placed in a special category. As I said: “Before I go any further, I will make one reservation. Regarding the air war at night, the situation is the opposite to that in daytime: At night time, it is absolutely clear that the Western Allies (or more precisely, the RAF Bomber Command) encountered a level of opposition in the air which the Soviets were lucky to be saved from. I would say that the RAF Bomber Command and the Soviet Air Force were those two Allied air forces which faced the strongest opposition from the Luftwaffe.”

Quote:

”One reason why the Western Allies had so overwhelming, other than the industrial power, was that they shoot down clearly more German a/c”
Again, I never denied that. This was precisely due to:

a) The bad qualitative shape of the Soviet AF (as compared to the Luftwaffe) in the first period of the war which allowed the core of Luftwaffe experts to accumulate such a tremendous experience, and
b) The mounting Western Allied numerical superiority

Now how could this Allied numerical superiority in the air be achieved? There are several reasons:

a) Between June 1940 and June 1944, the UK and USA had no frontline on the ground to cover (this regarding Western Europe), and placed the main emphasis in the West on building up a large force of aircraft, which was tasked to soften up the grounds for the invasion toward the end of the war.

b) The USSR had lost some of its most important industrial areas and mine regions, together with millions of manpower, in the large areas of the USSR which the Germans occupied in 1941. The Western Allies never were beset by anything similar.

c) In 1941 - 1942, between two-third and 75 % of the whole Luftwaffe was actively seeking to extinguish the Soviet Air Force inside the Soviet Union itself, which of course severely hampered all Soviet efforts to re-build its battered air force. Meanwhile, the RAF was - comparatively speaking - left alone on the British isles, and faced only two Jagdgeschwader which remained largely defensive. And regarding the Americans - well. . .

d) Between 1941 and 1945, the Western Allies were able to build up the air forces on the British isles without any interference from the Luftwaffe; they were able to cancel their air offensive whenever they found the need to do so in order to conserve their forces (like the Americans did on some occasions after they had sustained too heavy losses at the hands of the Jagdwaffe). In other words, they were never “receiving” - always “giving”. Their Soviet allies never enjoyed this luxury - they had to build up their air force in the midst of enemy fire. Thus the Soviets had no chance to reach the same enormous numerical superiority visavis their enemy as the Western Allies maintained from early 1944.



Quote:

“alone in Med. LW lost 272 fighters more than in the eastern Front in the first 5 months of '43”
That of course has several reasons, and the most important the reasons were:

a) The mounting Western Allied numerical superiority (which mid-1943 reached a point at Tunisia/Sicily which the Soviets were unable to mount at any important combat zone - again because the Germans gave the Eastern Front a way higher priority than the Mediterranean).

b) Nearly 50 % of all German combat aircraft in the Mediterranean area in May 1943 were fighters, while only 23 % of all combat German aircraft in the East were fighters by the same time. Thus, when the Western Allies with their huge numerical superiority came across a German aircraft in the Med, there was a greater probability that it would be a fighter. When the Soviets came across a German aircraft over Kuban, there was a big probability that it would be a non-fighter - and with a numerical superiority.



Quote:

“alone in Med. LW lost 272 fighters more than in the eastern Front in the first 5 months of '43, and many of their opponents had been veterans of Eastern front.”
As a matter of fact, those Eastern Front super veterans gave the Western Allies a bloody nose in Tunisia. Many of them were able to attain the same amount of successes against the RAF and the USAAF over Tunisia as they previously had done in the East. Have you studied the victory-to-loss ratio for the German fighters over Tunisia during the early part of the campaign (before fuel shortage and and overwhelming Allied numerical superiority wore them down)?

Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert had carried out around 500 combat sorties and achieved 103 victories on the Eastern Front in 1941-1942 when he was shifted to Tunisia. Between January 1943 and early May 1943, he was credited with fifty victories against the USAAF and the RAF - quite comparable to the success rate achieved by other top aces on the Eastern Front at that time, and also comparable to the rate of successes that he had achieved against inferior equipped Soviets. Heinz Bär arrived from the Eastern Front to North Africa in October 1942 and shot down twenty RAF and USAAF fighters in two months - about the same rate of successes that he had scored previously on the Eastern Front.

But of course German super veterans were killed in Tunisia; they were killed everywhere.

See my article: http://www.bergstrombooks.elknet.pl/bc-rs/text.html

Quote:

“of course the fact that the Germans Fought 2front war helped Western Allies as it helped SU, or what You thing would have been the effect of 1000 fighters, 150 long range recon a/c, 170 heavy fighters and ground attack planes, 528 bombers etc more at the disposal of LW at the Kursk.”

Of course, but I think you missed my point, which was that if the Luftwaffe forces in the East and in the West had entirely swapped places at any given time from mid-1941 and onward, it would have been easier for the Soviets and more difficult for the Western Allies. The Luftwaffe was always stronger on the Eastern Front than on the Western Front, if we pay attention to both quantity and quality. (Not either quantity or quality, but the quota between quantity and quality.)

We have all (I believe) heard the discussion on the victories attained by the German fighter pilots in the East in 1941 were comparatively “easy” due to the low quality of Soviet pilot training standards. Some authors have denied that, but I think it is an irrefutable fact.

At the same time, I think it is an irrefutable fact that due to exactly the same factors, the victories attained by the Western Allied fighter pilots in the in 1944 also were comparatively “easy” due to the low quality of German pilot training standards. In 1944, German rookies who barely knew how to fly were shot down to the hundreds when they were caught in a position of altitude and speed inferiority by numerically superior Western Allied fighter pilots. Those Western Allied pilots were up to far greater difficulties when they were unfortunate to encounter such super veterans as Theodor Weissenberger, Emil Lang or Alfred Grislawski - but even those super veterans had to face a huge numerical superiority, and they were hampered through the disastrously low quality of the rookies who were assigned as their wingmen and Rottenflieger.

I am surprised that some people with considerable knowledge on the Luftwaffe is unable to see the obvious fact that the Luftwaffe was more powerful in the East than in the West, and that the Western Allies thus had an “easier” task than their Soviet allies had. With exception of the war at night, which differed radically from the war in daylight and thus is a completely different story - don’t you agree?

Again: In daylight from June 1941, the Western Allies were lucky that they were saved from facing the tremendous resistance in the air which the Soviets had to endure all the time.

I have to emphasise again that the decisive factor to the indeed very heavy German air combat losses in the West in 1943 - 1944 were the unsurpassed and steadily mounting numerical superiority which the Western Allies enjoyed. The situation in the West would have been completely different if the Western Allies would have had to settle with a force no bigger than the number of Soviet aircraft in first-line service - against a Luftwaffe force with the same power as the Luftwaffe force in the East.

All best,

Christer Bergström

Dénes Bernád 24th February 2005 17:50

A source
 
There is a source on the net, compiled by Les Butler, on Luftwaffe Aircraft Losses By Theatre, September 1943 - October 1944:
http://www.lesbutler.ip3.co.uk/jg26/thtrlosses.htm

For those of you who are not aware of it, it's worth taking a look at it.

I would highlight one conclusion:
An airplane flying a combat mission in the West was 7.66 times more likely to be destroyed than one on a similar mission in the East. It is clear that the burden of sacrifice was borne by the Luftwaffe aircrew on the Western Front and over the Reich, not on the Eastern Front.

Dénes

Graham Boak 24th February 2005 17:55

Some points
 
Two of your points can be immediately refuted.

a) 1940-1944. The Allied air forces were supporting fighting on the ground in Greece, Crete, North Africa, the Middle East, East Africa and Italy during this period, not to mention the Far East and Pacific. Not in such numbers as on the Eastern Front perhaps, but at much greater logistic cost. Nor is there any Russian equivalent to the Atlantic campaign at sea, or the massive drain on resources to supply Russia via Lease-Lend.
Just casually excluding all this effort is a cheap debating point of little value.

b) The Allies never lost some of its most important industrial areas and mine regions, together with millions of manpower? France.

JoeB 24th February 2005 19:34

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Maybe someone can provide me with some additional information here? (Meanwhile, 82 American aircraft - 52 bombers and 30 fighters - were shot down, the majority though through AAA; the German fighters claimed 12 bombers and 17 fighters shot down.)

I find this surprising, since I have the impression that the claims made by US 8th AF's fighter pilots generally seem to be fairly accurate - at least compared to claims made by fighter pilots of many other air forces. (Perhaps as a result of a wider use of gun camera?) - For instance, RAF Fighter Command claimed 909 German aircraft shot down in 1941, while actual German losses only were 183. Also, a comparison between the number of aircraft claimed shot down by the Soviets (in air combat and through ground fire) in 1941, and the actual number of German aircraft recorded as lost in the air on the Eastern Front to hostile action in 1941, gives an average Soviet overclaim ratio of 2.8 claims per actual German combat loss in the air. (I will present the exact figures in a monthly loss table in a forthcoming second edition of Black Cross/Red Star, Vol. 1.)

I look forward to reading details of Soviet claims v. German losses. 2.8 claims per loss is a surprising result, to me, given the ratio's in the 1939 war and Korea, around 6 (over a range of JAAF official loss sources I've read) and around 8 (more familiar with this) respectively.

On mid level statistician v. truth again I agree with you. The smaller wars are not as important as WWII, OTOH the Korean War especially has detailed records of all kinds for one combatant, pretty detailed claims for the other (USAF and VVS respectively) and a scale where it's feasible to count "bottom up" from individual incidents and see where losses are or aren't there to match claims combat by combat, without a lot of doubt whether say, other units' losses or claims/victories are being accidentally ommitted. So again 2.8 to 1 is a quite suprising result to me, I look forward to learning more.

On reasons for higher or lower claim accuracy, I don't believe gun camera's are a decisive one, though of course it can't hurt. Much gun camera footage shows enemy planes in aiming reticles, perhaps indicating hits, not that often conclusive as to destruction, nor proving that the plane fired on was being fired on by just one "friendly". The Soviets in Korea used gun cameras (about whose quality the airmen complained though, to be fair), and comparing results based on what you said and I did, accepting each as fact just for argument sake, claimed much less accurately with them than without them (of course there were other variables, there always are).

However again back to individual incident or day v. reams of statistics, it probably makes sense to evaluate claim accuracy over some period longer than a day, and perhaps aim for periods where the complete OOB and records can be identified with high certainty. Not an expert on it, but most sources seem to indicate a considerably higher general claim accuracy for the USAAF in late WWII than the example you gave. In Korea either for the war based on totals, but also importantly for sub periods where each incident can be counted and OOB's are certain, the USAF ratio tended towards actual enemy losses being 75% of "destroyed" claims (giving no weight to "probably destroyed" or "damaged"), though with individual days or combats much less accurate. Of course this could have increased from late WWII, but then we arrive at one AF's claim accuracy increased the other's declined sharply from WWII to Korea, a very interesting result if true.

Joe

Christer Bergström 24th February 2005 20:34

Graham,

“immediately refuted”, ”excluding all this effort is a cheap debating point of little value”??? :roll:

Please don’t let this discussion become too heated.

My main point has been this:

The decisive factor to the indeed very heavy German air combat losses in the West in 1943 - 1944 were the unsurpassed and steadily mounting numerical superiority which the Western Allies enjoyed. The situation in the West would have been completely different if the Western Allies would have had to settle with a force no bigger than the number of Soviet aircraft in first-line service - against a Luftwaffe force with the same power as the Luftwaffe force in the East.

I tried to give the main reasons why the Western Allies were able to build up such a huge numerical superiority in the air - which the Soviets never were able to do. No one can’t refute that, so I can’t see Graham’s point when he writes the following:


Quote:

a) 1940-1944. The Allied air forces were supporting fighting on the ground in Greece, Crete, North Africa, the Middle East, East Africa and Italy during this period, not to mention the Far East and Pacific. Not in such numbers as on the Eastern Front perhaps, but at much greater logistic cost. Nor is there any Russian equivalent to the Atlantic campaign at sea, or the massive drain on resources to supply Russia via Lease-Lend.
Just casually excluding all this effort is a cheap debating point of little value.

b) The Allies never lost some of its most important industrial areas and mine regions, together with millions of manpower? France.
What exactly is Graham’s point? That the Western Allies failed to build up such a huge numerical superiority as I described? Or that they did so, but that the reasons were other than what I described? (If so - then what?) What exactly does Graham think would be my point in “casually excluding” the Atlantic campaign at sea and the war in the Balkans and Africa and Pacific? I have no reason to “casually exclude” anything; all I wanted to do was to contribute to a better understanding of some fundamental issues regarding the air war during WW II.

And what’s Graham’s point with France? That the fall of France prevented the UK and the USA from building up a numerically superior air force? Allow me to be more specific: When I wrote the Western Allies, I meant precisely the UK and the USA. Those two countries never lost some of their most important industrial areas and mine regions, together with millions of manpower, like the USSR did. Let’s talk about France as such, and then I will agree that as a country, France fared even worse than the USSR; France lost the war, surrendered, and made peace with the victorious Nazi Germany. France lost all, while the USSR “only” lost something like 60 % of its mineral resources.

But I see that I forgot one other important explanation to the fact that the UK and the USA managed to mount such a numerically superior air armada against Germany, and that of course was that they were two countries; they were fortunate to combine the potentials of two major industrial countries against a single country, which had to assign the cream of its armed forces against a third major industrial country (the USSR).

Let us conclude by saying that two major industrial powers - the USA and the UK - fought a relative minority of the Wehrmacht and the industrially underpowered Japan (which was also at war with China); while one major industrial power - the USSR - fought the bulk of the Wehrmacht and a relative minority of the Japanese armed forces.

Without “casually excluding” either the Allied bomber offensive or the war in the Mediterranean, it is true that the Red Army wore down the Wehrmacht to a point where the Western Allies finally were able to land their armies in France in June 1944.

Even in August 1944, when the Western Allies had opened the second front in the West, there were 2.1 million German troops deployed in the East while 1 million opposed Western Allied operations in France. Between 1 July 1944 and 31 December 1944, the Wehrmacht sustained an average monthly loss of 20,611 killed on the Eastern Front and 8,294 killed on the Western Front. (Kriegstagebuch OKW, vol. VIII, p. 1509.)

Out of 7,620,323 casualties in the Wehrmacht during WW II, 82 % (= 6,256,026) were sustained on the Eastern Front. (Kriegstagebuch OKW, vol. VIII, pp. 1515 - 1517.)
These losses were inflicted upon the Germans during a period of 47 months; during 36 of those months, the Western Allies could sit in relative safety on the British isles and build up a tremendous air armada while their ground forces were engaged in battle campaigns where only fractions of the Wehrmacht were engaged. Even if we bring in the Pacific war zone, it is clear that the Western Allies never ever came even close to facing the tremendous opposition which the Red Army faced on the Eastern Front. And which the Red Army - nota bene - also annihilated.

JoeB,

Quote:

“it probably makes sense to evaluate claim accuracy over some period longer than a day, and perhaps aim for periods where the complete OOB and records can be identified with high certainty. Not an expert on it, but most sources seem to indicate a considerably higher general claim accuracy for the USAAF in late WWII than the example you gave.”
Absolutely. I am only studying the case of 4 - 6 August 1944 because I am studying the case of 4 - 6 August 1944 as such. As mentioned previously, I agree that most sources seem to indicate a considerably higher general claim accuracy for the USAAF in late WWII. That is, in Europe. . .

All best,

Christer

Juha 24th February 2005 21:57

Hello Christer
I see Your point, but quality is always rather dificult object to value objectively and anyway IMHO you overestimate the influence of some exeptional individuals in "Materialschlacht". I think that Your "Super-veteran" theory is an interesting hypotesh but I haven't see anything that would proven it in the sense that it would have historical importance.

I can recall only one very clear test case, that was the Tunisian campaign. JG 77 and II/JG 51, both of which had their fair share of top Experten, were transferred from East to Tunisia as were a Gruppe from JG 2 and 2? Gruppen of JG 53 (I have not checked the units). One of their major opponents (USAAF) was inexperienced, used fighter a/c that You don't value much (P-39 and -40) or that was still a bit inmature (early P-38s with insufficent intercoolers and w/o dive recovery flaps) and some Spit Vs. The other main opponents main fighter was Spit V, which IIRC You thing was not as good as the Bf 109G-2 which was the a/c with which the Eastern Gruppen were equipped. The end result was that the remaints of the LW Gruppen fleeing at wave-top height with schwartzemann or two in rear fuselage towards Sicily hoping that the marauding Allied fighters didn't catch them. I don't know if JG 77 and II/JG 51 were more efficient than the other Gruppen. Have to wait until the new edition of Shore's et al. book hits the shelves. I know that they gave a good account on themselves but that didn't change the way the things went. It doesn't matter historically if the Allied lost 50 - 100 a/c more or if the campaign took a few weeks longer because of the alleged higher quality of Eastern Front Jagdgruppen. In most that would be only a detail in greater story. This test case makes me very sceptical on "super-veteran" theory. Later the "super-veterans" would have met much more experienced USAAF equipped with better a/c, I think that there were a bigger qualitative leap from P-40F to P-51D than from G-2 to G-6/G-10. And same for RAF ( from Spit V to Spit IX/XIV or to Tempest).

My knowledge on Tunisia campaign is limited on a couple of articles by Shores and on few articles on USAAF actions there plus what the JG 51 unit history tells and something else. But Reinert's and Bär's actions are familiar to me. I have no fixed oppinion on it or on anything else on air war. Before reading first time Williamson Murray's LW I thought that the Eastern Front was more important in air war than what I think now. After reading Murray some 20 years ago I began to think that the impact of Med theatre has been underestimated, at least outside the British Commonwealth. Another thing that surprised me was that the famous Kuban actions (known through Progress Publishing) didn't show more clearly in the loss tables.

äGraham Boak mentioned the other fronts Western Allies fought. I only want to add that with the resources put on
a battleship or an aircraft carrier with its air group or an destroyer division one could manufacture lots of a/c, tanks guns etc. So the Pacific was a significant drain to Allied economies. Same goes to night fighters. Yes, night air war was different but it also drained resources from day air war. A Bf 110 in a NJG was away from a ZG or means at least a couple fewer Bf 109s in a JG, in that sense I feel that they should be taken to equation.

"...When the Soviets came across a German aircraft over Kuban, there was a big probability that it would be a non-fighter - and with a numerical superiority."

Of course that is true, but in 1943 only in Jan the LW losses were bigger at Eastern Front than against the Western Allies and during the Kuban air campaign the losses for all a/c were (Murray again, same page)
East April 43 238, May 331 or 333 (the losses in all fronts are so same that it's impossible to say for sure)
West Apr 255, May 331 or 333
Med Apr 572, May 331 or 333

And IMHO this should have made the air victories easier, I mean that I think it was easier to shoot down a couple of Ju 87s than a Bf 109. And IMHO that shows that the Germans thought that the Med was a more dangerous theathre than the Eastern Front and made their air forces there more fighter heavy. There were of course also other factors in action. IIRC the LW at beginning tried to manage without fighters in Africa, relying to Italian fighters, but that didn't work.

On one earlier point. I don't think that the wartime propaganda had a big influence on the opinions of Eastern Front veterans. They might have believed it first but usually if the propaganda differ from one's personal experiences one began to doubt the propaganda, not his personal experiences. If one fought against a good pilot in a good a/c he probably stop thinking his opponents as untermenschen or monkeys. Same happened to the Aussie pilots in Malaya in 41-42.

But I agree with You that there at least were a tendency to underestimate the impact of Eastern Front in some parts of the air war enthusiasts in USA and in British Commonwealth and also the skills of Soviet pilots and the quality of Soviet a/c. But as I had wrote before, for example AE/AI articles gave truthful appraissals on Soviet a/c rather early on. But of course there are room to more books on Eastern Front Air war.

Juha

Christer Bergström 24th February 2005 22:37

Quote:

I don't think that the wartime propaganda had a big influence on the opinions of Eastern Front veterans. They might have believed it first but usually if the propaganda differ from one's personal experiences one began to doubt the propaganda, not his personal experiences. If one fought against a good pilot in a good a/c he probably stop thinking his opponents as untermenschen or monkeys. Same happened to the Aussie pilots in Malaya in 41-42.”
Maybe you missed my point here? I do think that in general, the victories attained by the German fighter pilots in the East in 1941 actually were comparatively “easy” due to the low quality of Soviet pilot training standards. Some authors have denied that, but I think it is an irrefutable fact.

Quote:

“IMHO you overestimate the influence of some exeptional individuals in "Materialschlacht".”
To the contrary, I’d say. If you study how the few super veterans’ share of all victories increased toward the end of the war, it is clear that the Luftwaffe became increasingly dependant on the accomplishments of a handful of “super veterans”.

Quote:

“Your "Super-veteran" theory is an interesting hypotesh but I haven't see anything that would proven it in the sense that it would have historical importance.”
I never said that shifting all the Eastern Front Luftwaffe units to the West would have had any “historical importance” in the sense of “turning the fortune of the war” to the benefit of the Third Reich or something like that (if that's what you mean). But it would have had consequences far wider than “only a detail in greater story”. One effect would have been that the Western Allies would have lost more aircraft, and a certain Allied campaign could have taken a few weeks longer because of the higher quality of Eastern Front Jagdgruppen. But the main effect would have been that the great relief this transfer would have brought to the Soviets, would have enabled the Red Army to achieve a major breakthrough on the Eastern Front. If you study the air war in the East, you will find that on several occasions, the Luftwaffe was the key factor which prevented a total and disastrous collapse of the German Eastern Front. Imagine that that vital air support had not been there, but instead had been used against the far less dangerous US and British armed forces. . .

Quote:

“Before reading first time Williamson Murray's LW I thought that the Eastern Front was more important in air war than what I think now.”
Well, that depends on where one places the focus. If you focus on the things I hint at above, I think you will change your opinion again. But for a closer description of what I mean, I will have to ask you to wait until “Black Cross/Red Star”, Vol. 4.

Quote:

“I can recall only one very clear test case, that was the Tunisian campaign.”
Exactly. Read Shores/Ring, “Air War over Tunisia”. (Will there be a new edition?)

Quote:

“The end result was that the remaints of the LW Gruppen fleeing at wave-top height with schwartzemann or two in rear fuselage towards Sicily hoping that the marauding Allied fighters didn't catch them.”
Well, first of all, it was the Allied ground forces which forced the Germans and Italians out of Tunisia. Secondly, who would go looking for air combat with one or two Schwarzemänner in the rear fuselage? Thirdly, the Luftwaffe was overwhelmed at Tunisia - like on every other combat zone - mainly due to a tremendous Allied numerical superiority in the air. Not even the “super veterans” sufficed against such a vast numerical force.

Remember the relation of forces after the conclusion of the Battle of Tunisia:

Sicily and Sardinia, Luftflotte 2: 290 fighters (of which only 160 were serviceable) - opposed to 4,900 Allied aircraft, including 2,100 fighters. Even if we include all German aircraft, we still have 683 against 4,900 - i.e. one against seven. Try to wage a successful campaign with those odds. Do you think that the relation of 1.2 German aircraft against every Soviet aircraft at Kuban made the air war at Kuban less difficult for the Germans? Well of course! Now which factor do you think was the most important to the fact that the air war over Tunisia/Sicily in May 1943 was more difficult to the Germans than the air war over Kuban?

(Try to imagine what would have happened in the Battle of Britain if the Luftwaffe would have been able to mount a force which was 17 times larger than the British fighter strength - i.e. like the relations were at Tunisia/Sicily in May 1943. What would have happened if the Luftwaffe would have been able to mount not 2,600 aircraft, but 12,500 aircraft against Fighter Command's 740 fighters by 1 July 1940?)

One more time:

The decisive factor to the indeed very heavy German air combat losses in the West in 1943 - 1944 was the unsurpassed and steadily mounting numerical superiority which the Western Allies enjoyed. The situation in the West would have been completely different if the Western Allies would have had to settle with a force no bigger than the number of Soviet aircraft in first-line service - against a Luftwaffe force with the same power as the Luftwaffe force in the East.

All best,

Christer Bergström

Graham Boak 24th February 2005 23:25

My point
 
My point was quite simple: you stated four reasons for your argument. I see two of them as obviously wrong. This does not mean that the main point of the your argument is lost, but then I wasn't addressing that. Your supporting discussion clearly is.

As for the "cheap debating point" - I see you as claiming much for the Russians: fairly enough, for they achieved much. However, you miss few chances to downplay the effect of the Western Allies. The Russian effort was vital and magnificent - it does not need this kind of blinkered approach. The two points were both examples of this. By all means tell the truth about the Eastern front successes, they are indeed long underplayed in English (and German!) sources. But don't misrepresent all else.

Juha 24th February 2005 23:38

Only shortly
the first quote refer one of Your earlier message in this thread, where You speculate on the impact of propaganda. Nothing to do with the claims.

2nd quote, I mean their impact to flow of events not their share of claims.

Other points
I really don't know if the Western Allies ground forces were "far less dangerous" than the Red Army to others than PoWs.

There should be new editions on Shore's Med. books, the first should become out during this year, I think.

As I had wrote, one reason why LW was in so bad condition was the ability of Western Allies to mash it, with fighters, fighter bombers, medium bombers and heavy bombers. Plus of course the Ultra. Western Allies had multifacet instrument which was difficult to counter. One important point was its exceptional reach, and USAF remembers that even today, that's why US fighters had been long ranged ever since. British were clever and saw the possible consequence of too heavy fighter losses in France in 40 and made moves to ensure that FC would maintain at least prudent effiency. The German High Command (especially Hitler) in other hand had a habit to turn a reverse to a disaster. That helped both Western Allies and SU. And Finns found that it was possible to fight against very great odds, at least against VVS, and maintain some sort of freedom of action and even use Blemheims for tactical bombing ops in summer 44 during a major Soviet offensive (Strategic blow) without a single bomber loss to fighters. That is one reason why I doubt You claim that VVS was the best AF in the world in 45.

I usually leave the alternative history to others. This is only a statement no bun intended, a couple of my best friends are very keen on alternative history, but I'm not.

All the best
Juha


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