Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum

Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum (http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/index.php)
-   Luftwaffe and Axis Air Forces (http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/forumdisplay.php?f=8)
-   -   Luftwaffe fighter losses in Tunisia (http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=661)

Christer Bergström 4th March 2005 18:21

Luftwaffe fighter losses in Tunisia
 
I found the loss figures for the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean area suspiciously high in Williamson Murray’s “Luftwaffe” (published in 1985). According to Williamson Murray, the Luftwaffe lost no less than 282 aircraft, including 124 fighters, in the Mediterranean area in January 1943 alone. (Murray, “Luftwaffe”, p. 211.)

These figures give a completely different impression than the picture one gets through Christopher Shores’s very detailed “Air War over Tunisia”. (In the latter book, Shore’s conclusion is that the Luftwaffe’s fighters held the upper hand in the air combats and generally sustained relatively few losses in air combat.)

If we go to another book which is quite similar to Murray’s “Luftwaffe”, and also based on a wealth of original documents, namely E. R. Hooton’s “Eagle in Flames: The Fall of the Luftwaffe” (published in 1997; ref. p. 221), we will find completely different figures:

Here is a comparison of loss figures for the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean in Murray’s and Hooton’s books - all aircraft types included:

Jan 1943: Murray: 282. Hooton: 105
Feb 1943: Murray: 206. Hooton: 99

Hooton’s figures are more in line with other sources - not only with Shores’s “Air War over Tunisia”, but above all with the official “Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen” and the daily returns to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.

Due to “Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen” and the daily returns to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, the Luftwaffe fighter units in the Mediterranean sustained the following aircraft losses in air combat in January 1943:

II./JG 2: 2
JG 27: 0
II./JG 51: 7
JG 53: 8
JG 77: 15

Total sum: 32.

That should be compared with Murray’s figure of 124 Luftwaffe fighters lost in the Mediterranean in January 1943!

The character of the air fighting in the Mediterranean through January 1943 is clearly displayed by the statistics for the Luftwaffe fighter units: 269 victory claims against 32 own aircraft lost in combat. (Among those 269 victory claims, Heinz Bär was responsible for 13 and Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert for 10.)

Since I don’t have Shores’s “Air War over Tunisia” here - which contains most losses sustained by both sides - the only source I have for Allied losses is a quite unreliable, and probably “sweetened” British public source from WW II itself (i.e. publicly issued in 1943). Due to that source, the Allies lost 151 aircraft (78 fighters and 73 bombers) in air combat over Tunisia in January 1943. This figure probably is lower than the actual figure, but even this figure gives a relation of five Allied aircraft shot down in air combat for every Luftwaffe fighter shot down in air combat. The actual Allied losses in air combat probabably were higher than those wartime released figures.

(Shores's research in "Air War over Tunisia" shows that only a small part of Allied losses in Tunisia were due to Italian fighters.)

How shall we explain Murray’s unique and very high figures, when other sources give considerably lower figures? Maybe Murray used outdated and erroneous material - after all his book was published 20 years ago.

BTW, E. R. Hooton’s conclusion about the air war in Tunisia reads: “The Jagdgruppen exploited conditions similar to those in Russia a year earlier and inflicted heavy losses: om 4 December Oberleutnant Julius Meimber’s 11./JG 2 annihilated 11 Blenheim V bombers of Nos 18 and 614 Squadrons and on 13 March JG 77 wiped out seven P-39s, while experienced US 33rd Fighter Group was reduced from 75 to 13 fighters and withdrawn to Morocco.” (p. 220.)

As an indication of the Luftwaffe fighters’ effectivity - in the face of an Allied numerical superiority in Tunisia in January 1943 of 600 aircraft against 140 German and 288 Italian (Hooton, p. 219) - II./StG 3 and III./StG 3 flew successful operations against the Allied positions throughout January 1943 wihout more than two Ju 87s being registered as lost due to enemy fighters. (Another four Ju 87s were registered lost due to “Feindbeschuss” or unknown reasons.) Moreover, III./SKG 10 also flew fighter-bomber missions thoughout January 1943, without losing more than a single aircraft to Allied fighter interception. (Arthy & Jessen, “Fw 190 in North Africa”, pp. 153 - 154.)

It would be great if anyone could contribute with some facts (supported by source references). Maybe someone here has access to the figures of actual Allied aircraft losses in Tunisia in January 1943?

Juha 4th March 2005 20:48

Hello Christer
have You checked Michael Holms pages. I checked only a old print (5.6.200) for II/JG 51, and according to it II/JG 51 lost in Jan. 43 durch Feindeinw. 9 Bf 109Gs and ohne Feindeinw. 9 Bf 109Gs that makes 18.
And if I added the figures right the JG 77 lost 56 Bf 109s in Jan .43. I haven't time to try to dig out Allied losses and I doubt that I can add the complete figure from my info fracments.

HTH a little bit
Juha

Christer Bergström 4th March 2005 22:59

Quote:

“I checked only a old print (5.6.200) for II/JG 51, and according to it II/JG 51 lost in Jan. 43 durch Feindeinw. 9 Bf 109Gs and ohne Feindeinw. 9 Bf 109Gs that makes 18.
And if I added the figures right the JG 77 lost 56 Bf 109s in Jan .43.”
Juha, I have the exact and complete list of daily loss returns to Generalquartiermeister, down to every individual aircraft, its Werknummer, pilot, cause of loss, etc.

The website you refer to lists all aircraft above 10 % damage degree. Losses of 60 % damage degree and above were total losses, i.e. destroyed. All other aircraft were in repairable condition.

In fact, II./JG 51 registered not 18, but 19 aircraft sustaining damage from 10 % damage degree and above in January 1943. The breakdown is as follows:

60 % damage degree and above (i.e. destroyed) to hostile action: 7
Below 60 % damage degree (i.e. repairable) to hostile action: 3*

60 % damage degree and above (i.e. destroyed) not to hostile action: 6
Below 60 % damage degree (i.e. repairable) not to hostile action: 3

(* = There is one record of a Bf 109 G-2 Bauchlandung nach Luftkampf mit Bomber, and it seems as though the damage it received could have been below 10%. That probably is the reason why the total on the website which Juha refers to gives 18, while I found 19. But I decided to include it, since it was included in the returns to Generalquartiermeister.)

You may count all damaged aircraft if you like, but that doesn’t show real losses, does it?

As an example, we all know - for instance - that US 8th Air Force lost 64 heavy bombers during the operation against Schweinfurt and Regensburg on 17 August 1943. No one includes the damaged aircraft to say that the Americans lost 232 heavy bombers on that day (which would give a horrific loss rate of 73.6 % for a single major mission). (All figures from Freeman, “Mighty Eighth War Diary”, pp. 89 - 90.)

JG 77’s daily loss returns to Generalquartiermeister totals 68 aircraft which received any kind of damage from 10% and above, to all causes. But only 15 of these were shot down by the enemy and destroyed.

You may count as you wish, but if you are going to include also aircraft which were damaged in take-off accidents etc, you have to compare it with similar figures on the Allied side. Since there were more Allied aircraft than Axis aircraft, and thus logically more Allied aircraft which encountered no enemy aircraft on missions, the number of aircraft lost or damaged due to accidents as a share of all aircraft which were lost or damaged ought to have been higher on the Allied side. Since the relation between aircraft shot down & destroyed and all aircraft destroyed or damaged to all causes is 1:4 for II./JG 51 and JG 77 in Tunisia in January 1943, the relation in the Allied air forces in the same area in January 1943 can be estimated to have been at least 1:5. Thus, if we include all of JG 77’s and II./JG 51’s damaged and destroyed aircraft to all causes, those two units would have “lost” altogether 87 aircraft through January 1943.

I think you solved it, Juha! Probably that was how Williamson Murray got his figures!

Out of 32 German fighters shot down and destroyed in the Mediterranean in January 1943, a total of 22 (= nearly 70 %) were from II./JG 51 and JG 77. If we add all aircraft which received any kind of damage from 10 % and above to any reason, the figures for II./JG 51 and JG 77 in January 1943 are 87. And 87 equals 70 % of Murray’s figure of 124 for “German fighter losses in the Mediterranean in January 1943”.

Let us now compare that figure with an estimated corresponding number on the Allied side.

Let’s assume that the British wartime published figure of 151 Allied aircraft (78 fighters and 73 bombers) lost in air combat over Tunisia in January 1943 is correct. (The actual figure probably is higher than what the British admitted to the press in 1943.)

Now, if we estimate according to the relations above, we would arrive at a figure of 755 Allied aircraft “lost” in Tunisia in January 1943, according to that way of counting: 390 fighters and 365 bombers.

I suggest that we stick to the classical way of counting, namely that we confine our comparison to aircraft shot down and destroyed.

So we still have at least 151 Allied aircraft shot down and destroyed versus 32 German fighters shot down and destroyed.

At least we now know how Murray got those exaggerated numbers; they don’t represent losses, but both aircraft destroyed and aircraft damaged.

Funny, though, that he seems to be comparing apples with pears. I found that he gives the figure 332 destroyed aircraft on the Eastern Front for September 1942; those figures relate only to aircraft totally destroyed and do not include damaged aircraft - of those, 277 were destroyed due to hostile action.

Maybe Murray put together figures from various sources, where all Eastern Front figures were only destroyed aircraft, while the Mediterranean figures obviously included both damaged and destroyed? However, not even that theory holds. While Murray includes all aircraft with even a damage degree above 10 % to all causes for the Mediterranean in January 1943, his figure for the Eastern Front in January 1943 is inexplicably low: 85. But the number of transport planes alone (He 111s not included) which were destroyed due to hostile action on the Eastern Front is 79 in January 1943! Add the number of aircraft destroyed through hostile action in just one Eastern Front Geschwader, SchG 1, which is 12 for January 1943, and you have already surpassed the figure Murray gives for the whole Eastern Front.

As some of you may have seen in “Black Cross/Red Star”, Vol. 2, I have started to give the monthly numbers of aircraft destroyed in each Geschwader on the Eastern Front. I will continue to do so throughout the series. I don’t want to give the figures for the Eastern Front here and now - I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to wait for that volume of “Black Cross/Red Star”. But I can say that the number of German aircraft which were destroyed due to hostile action on the Eastern Front in January 1943 is way above both the figure given in Murray’s table and the number of Luftwaffe losses in the Mediterranean. The loss figures for the transport aircraft and SchG 1 above should give you a hint.

(The source for these loss tables are the daily loss returns to Generalquartiermeister.)

BTW:

The Luftwaffe standard for the classification of damage to aircraft was divided as follows:

Below 10 %: Minor damage that can be repaired by the aircraft’s ground crew.
10 % - 24 %: Medium damage that can be repaired through small repair works at the unit.
25 % - 39 %: Damage that requires a major overhaul at the unit.
40 % – 44 %: Damage to that requires whole replacements of landing gears or other systems, such as hydraulic systems.
45 % - 59 %: Severely damaged aircraft where large parts of the aircraft needed to be replaced.
60 % - 80 %: Write-off category. Certain parts could be used as spare parts for other aircraft.
81 % - 99%: Totally destroyed, crashed on German-controlled area.
100 %: Totally lost, crashed or disappeared over enemy-controlled area or over sea.

BTW 2:

I have put together my various postings (plus some new stuff) from the discussion on the effect of Allied numerical air superiority over Normandy 1944 to an article, which I posted to my new Bergström Aviation Books website. Scroll down on the site to reach a link to the article:

http://www.bergstrombooks.elknet.pl/

And watch that Messerschmitt pilot on the photo! 8) :P

There will be more non-Eastern Front air war articles posted to that site soon.

Juha 4th March 2005 23:52

Hello Christer
good point that of what Murray means on losses, checked a little bit from his book, in some earlier tables he gives Destroyed and Damaged but on these 1942 and 43 tables Losses. So his Losses seems to meant all those damaged over 10%. I should check more carefully, but nix time. Source for those 43 tables is given as BA/MA, RL 2 III/1185-1195, Genst. Gen. Qu. (6.Abt), "Flugzeugunfälle und Verluste bei den Fliegenden Verbänden." so it was that standard source.

If Murrey had used different criteria for different fronts that VERY bad. But Christer, You have been a little sloppy on this Murray gives in his Tables Eastern Front losses in Jan. 43 85 FIGHTERS but 482 a/c in TOTAL. Transport a/c and SchG 1 losses sure belonged under the TOTAL not under FIGHTERS. I'm afraid that You have mixed the tables.

But a) you cannot use only those lost in air combat, also those lost on the ground are lost to hostile action plus those lost in transit by enemy action. I think that is the classic way to count war losses and also those lost for operational reasons were also lost but those are usually given separately.

b) You way to estimate the relation between Allied aircraft shot down & destroyed and all aircraft destroyed or damaged to all causes is purely speculation, nothing scientific in it, I'm afraid. You need at least some randomly (statistically speaking) collected sample of real figures on that relation on Allied side to be able to approximate some sort of range inside which the real figure would be on certain probability.

Juha

Christer Bergström 5th March 2005 00:29

Quote:

”If Murrey had used different criteria for different fronts that VERY bad. But Christer, You have been a little sloppy on this Murray gives in his Tables Eastern Front losses in Jan. 43 85 FIGHTERS but 482 a/c in TOTAL. Transport a/c and SchG 1 losses sure belonged under the TOTAL not under FIGHTERS. I'm afraid that You have mixed the tables.”
As a matter of fact, Murray seems to be using different criteria for different fronts regarding September 1942 - at least if we compare with January 1943. But I admit that I was sloppy when I read 85 losses for Eastern Front January 1943, not noticing that it was only for fighters, and that the total for all aircraft given by Murray was 482. The only defence I can think of is that my wife was calling: “When are you going to come and watch that film on TV with me?” :wink: (Yes - she actually said "watch film" and nothing else! :D )

Quote:

“But a) you cannot use only those lost in air combat, also those lost on the ground are lost to hostile action plus those lost in transit by enemy action. I think that is the classic way to count war losses and also those lost for operational reasons were also lost but those are usually given separately.”
It depends on the perspective. If the subject for our study is supremacy in air combat - which I think you were interested in in that other thread, where I said that the Luftwaffe “super veterans” inflicted very heavy losses on the Allies in Tunisia - we have to concentrate on aircraft destroyed in air combat. (That also is the classical way of comparing losses in e.g. the Battle of Britain.) To use one of your words - that would indeed be a scientific approach, the approach of a professional historian.

However, a professional historian can have various perspectives, and can focus his study on various issues. If the focus is to examine the overall attrition on the warring sides, then also aircraft which were damaged in take-off accidents and that had to be sent to repair must be included. Then of course one must include all aircraft which for one reason or another were put out of commission - including, naturally, those destroyed on the ground. And then you also have to include each side’s possibility to replace losses - a field where the Allies clearly were superior to the Axis, since in spite of their much higher losses, the Allies managed to increase their number of aircraft in Tunisia from 600 in January 1943 to 1,500 in mid-March 1943. (Hooton, a.a., pp. 219 & 223.)

However, in this case, I chose the perspective of supremacy in air combat. In that perspective, other losses are - from a scientific viewpoint - irrelevant.

Quote:

”b) You way to estimate the relation between Allied aircraft shot down & destroyed and all aircraft destroyed or damaged to all causes is purely speculation, nothing scientific in it, I'm afraid. You need at least some randomly (statistically speaking) collected sample of real figures on that this relation on Allied side to be able to approximate some sort of range inside which the real figure is on certain probability.”
Wow, strong words, or - as we say in Sweden - much noise but little workshop. :roll:

Couldn’t we agree to either contribute new facts, supported by source references, or just ask questions - but please not that kind of loose talk!
:(

“Nothing scientific in it”? :roll: Which are your criteria for “scientific”? (That was a rethoric question - please donät answer it - at least not on this board!) If we agree that mathematics is a science, it is scientific. If we agree that logics is scientific, it is scientific. This is how professional historians operate, making assessments based on known factors. Juha, if you think that historians - or almost any scientist - operates only with 100 % waterproof facts, I have to say that I don’t agree. There is nothing unorthodox or unscientific to make assessments based on known factors. What distinguishes a scientific approach from a non-scientific approach is that the professional historian admits that some factors are unknown to him and he admits that he has made estimations based on other known facts, extrapolations; while the guy with a non-scientific approach yells that it is possible to know the WHOLE and FULL truth. Remember, when I wrote my estimations, I wrote: “Let’s assume that” and “if we estimate according to the relations above, we would arrive at. . .” If you think that is unorthodox, then you should ask a professional historian.

That said, please let’s all stop playing “scientists” here. :!:

I’ve said it before, and I say it again, no one among us here is a professional historian, and no one among us here approaches the subject with the methods of a professional historian - i.e. a scientist. :!:

And besides everything, I gave those “speculated figures” only as a reply to Murray’s in the context irrelevant figure for all damaged Luftwaffe aircraft. I thought I was clear that I think we can settle with the figures of at least 151 Allied aircraft shot down and destroyed versus 32 German fighters shot down and destroyed.

Now please - can we return to the subject as such and stop educating each other in other subjects? Or at least save that for the off-topic board.

Please letäs continue only by either contributing new facts, supported by source references, or just asking questions. Isn't that the best way to forward the discussion in a meaningful way?

Moderators, are you watching this time?

And please allow me to attend to my wife for a short while. :P

Juha 5th March 2005 01:10

No reson continue this but some short notes.
I think it's important to count also those destroyed in ground on losses, was it during BoB, on the first day of Oper. Barbarossa etc. Ability to protect own bases and ability to knock out enemy bases are important factor when evaluating how good an AF was. In many important air campaigns the losses on groud had signifance.

Read what your opponent wrote, I happened to ephacize " some sort of range inside which the real figure is on certain probability.” that's entirely different than " a non-scientific approach yells that it is possible to know the WHOLE and FULL truth". I'm not going to make other comments of use of statics in historical research but I happened to have the education of historian.

It was You who baselessly gave impression that Murray, who didn't even participe on this board, is giving distord figures by using different basis for figures of different fronts, that You will proof in Your coming book that the losses in Jan. 43 on the Eastern Front were bigger than in Med contrary to those dubious figures of Murray when we few who had that book can easily see that according to Murray the losses in Jan. 43 were 482 in East and 282 in Med etc. So i think You should be able to take some critic without feeling too strong on that.

Juha

Nash 5th March 2005 01:34

Quote:

Due to that source, the Allies lost 151 aircraft (78 fighters and 73 bombers) in air combat over Tunisia in January 1943. This figure probably is lower than the actual figure, but even this figure gives a relation of five Allied aircraft shot down in air combat for every Luftwaffe fighter shot down in air combat.
Are you sure that the figure of 151 Allied aircraft lost over Tunisia is not all losses, or at least all combat losses, and not just "air - air combat" as you seem to be assuming?

Christer Bergström 5th March 2005 01:36

Nash, it says explicitly "shot down in air combat".

Gizmo 5th March 2005 01:48

Hi
In my favourite polish book about Jagdwaffe Aces - "Elita Luftwaffe" by Robert Michulec - I've read that JG 77 in Africa claimed 497 enemy a/c, against following own total loses: 218 Bf-109 lost, 61 seriously damaged, and 44 damaged. Also 67 pilots was KIA and 17 WIA.

One more:
During combat with III./JG 1 and Hptm. Weber, polish 306 Sqn lost 2 a/c, S/L Łapka (WIA) and F/O Łaszkiewicz (POW) . Next one was shot down by Flak (F/Lt Gęca - KIA). III./JG 1 did not claim any polish Mustang III, so maybe Hptm. Weber before his death shot down one or two of them ?

Christer Bergström 5th March 2005 02:04

Hi Gizmo,

Thanks a lot for your contribution. Generally, the number of fighters pilot casualties were close to the number of shot down and destroyed fighters. So we can assume, on fairly good grounds, that JG 77 had a victory-to-loss ratio of around 5:1 in Africa. (I don't have the time to sit down and go through the whole list.)


Quote:

During combat with III./JG 1 and Hptm. Weber, polish 306 Sqn lost 2 a/c, S/L Łapka (WIA) and F/O Łaszkiewicz (POW) . Next one was shot down by Flak (F/Lt Gęca - KIA). III./JG 1 did not claim any polish Mustang III, so maybe Hptm. Weber before his death shot down one or two of them ?
If you are correct, it means that out of four Mustangs which attacked III./JG 1, only one was not shot down? Quite a hard blow, if that is true. If so, then I have to change my mind. So those Poles suffered really badly from the Allied failure to fully exploit their numerical superiority on that occasion? If this version is correct, the lonely guy who returned must have been quite mad - also against his other 20 comrades who apparently were flying around in the vicinity, without coming to help their four badly pressed comrades against 10 bad Germans!

However, weren't those Polish losses sustained during Ramrod 980 in the morning, with Mustangs of 306 Sqn, 315 Sqn and 129 Sqn in combat with JG 26? (Four Mustangs were shot down on this occasion - including three in air combat - while two Fw 190s were lost. Sources: Clark CD, Caldwell "JG 26 Diary" II/pp. 269 - 270, Franks "F-Com Losses".)

Anyway, thanks again for your most welcome contribution, Gizmo! Could you please refer to your source?

Gizmo 5th March 2005 03:24

F/Lt Gęca was shot down before fight with Luftwaffe fighters. Hit by Flak, his Mustang exploded, killing the pilot. When it happen bombs was still under wings.

My source is:
- "Elita Luftwaffe" by Robert Michulec -page 251/252

- Article about Mustang service in Polish Air Force by Piotr Wiśniewski ( Polish Magazine "Lotnictwo" No 5/2002)

Quote:

However, weren't those Polish losses sustained during Ramrod 980 in the morning, with Mustangs of 306 Sqn, 315 Sqn and 129 Sqn in combat with JG 26? (Four Mustangs were shot down on this occasion - including three in air combat - while two Fw 190s were lost. Sources: Clark CD, Caldwell "JG 26 Diary" II/pp. 269 - 270, Franks "F-Com Losses".)

306 Sqn was twice in combat with German planes on this date. First one at 10:35 (Pont Audemer aera) with 3 a/c lost, and second at 18:00 (Argentan Caen aera - with no losses. Claims at http://www.psr.netfriend.org/mysliwc..._zestrzaly.htm all Bf-109, not I. and II./JG 26 Fw-190)
I'm looking at Tony Wood's Luftwaffe claims lists and see that time of fight with Mustang, according German pilots is 6:20 - 8:10.
10:35 for RAF it's 11:35 for Luftwaffe - It's I'm Right ?

Nash 5th March 2005 03:56

Quote:

Nash, it says explicitly "shot down in air combat".
If it's a source intended for public consumption, you can't really assume that they are drawing that much of a distinction. Obviously if it gives losses to other sources as well, that's a safe assumption, but I'd expect any public announcement of losses to lump them all together.

Quote:

Generally, the number of fighters pilot casualties were close to the number of shot down and destroyed fighters.
I am registered at the 1stJMA forum as Hop (and many other forums too, with "Nashwan" being my name at a couple of game sites). (No attempt at deception, I tried to register here with the name Hop but never recieved the confirmation email, and couldn't find a way to get it resent)

During one of the debates there about BoB casualties, where you claimed that the RAF really suffered around 1,800 fighters lost (iirc), I pointed out that that would mean almost 4 lost aircraft per pilot, which seemed oddly high. You responded that 4 lost aircraft per pilot was fairly normal, and was the same ratio the 109 units suffered.

I can see why during the BoB period the Germans would lose a disproportionate number of fighters per pilot, because British fighters of the period were armed only with MGs, which are more likely to cause damage than catastrophic failure, and many pilots might have been tempted to bail out rather than risk a channel crossing with smoking engine.

I can't see many reasons why the RAF fighter losses should have been so disproportionate to pilot losses though.

Six Nifty .50s 5th March 2005 06:43

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
I found the loss figures for the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean area suspiciously high in Williamson Murray’s “Luftwaffe” (published in 1985). According to Williamson Murray, the Luftwaffe lost no less than 282 aircraft, including 124 fighters, in the Mediterranean area in January 1943 alone. (Murray, “Luftwaffe”, p. 211.)

Due to “Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen” and the daily returns to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, the Luftwaffe fighter units in the Mediterranean sustained the following aircraft losses in air combat in January 1943:

II./JG 2: 2
JG 27: 0
II./JG 51: 7
JG 53: 8
JG 77: 15

Total sum: 32.

That should be compared with Murray’s figure of 124 Luftwaffe fighters lost in the Mediterranean in January 1943

What about twin-engined German fighters?

You cannot hide them behind names like Zerstorer, Panzerjager, and Nachtjager because the Allies used singles and twins for the same tasks, and convoy patrols. Allied single-engined planes were also used for dive-bombing, so if you intend to count their losses then you should count the Stuka losses as well.

By the way, you missed 1./Sch.G 2 which had three staffeln of Bf 109s, along with one staffel of twelve Hs 129s. In January 1943 the remaining Hs 129s were lost when the Eighth Army advanced on the Libyan capital. I'm not sure if there was any flyable Hs 129s left when the staffel evacuated to Bari, Italy for refit.

The original Bf 109-equipped III./ZG 1 was redesignated 1./Sch.G 2 (the unit mentioned above) and a new III./ZG 1 was formed with Me 210s, in November 1942.

I'm not certain about the total number of ZG, NJG and Stuka units in the Mediterranean Theatre during January 1943. By that time the German petrol stocks were seriously depleted and that may have restricted flying, and therefore reduced crashes.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
The website you refer to lists all aircraft above 10 % damage degree. Losses of 60 % damage degree and above were total losses, i.e. destroyed. All other aircraft were in repairable condition.

You may count all damaged aircraft if you like, but that doesn’t show real losses, does it?

You certainly have massaged the numbers in favor of the Germans. How many of those damaged German planes were actually repaired -- or cannibalized for spare parts?

Franek Grabowski 6th March 2005 09:51

Hello

Quote:

In my favourite polish book about Jagdwaffe Aces - "Elita Luftwaffe" by Robert Michulec - I've read that JG 77 in Africa claimed 497 enemy a/c, against following own total loses: 218 Bf-109 lost, 61 seriously damaged, and 44 damaged. Also 67 pilots was KIA and 17 WIA.
Well, I once attempted to list all the errors and nonsenses there but after a few pages found that it is impossible.

Quote:

One more:
During combat with III./JG 1 and Hptm. Weber, polish 306 Sqn lost 2 a/c, S/L Łapka (WIA) and F/O Łaszkiewicz (POW) . Next one was shot down by Flak (F/Lt Gęca - KIA). III./JG 1 did not claim any polish Mustang III, so maybe Hptm. Weber before his death shot down one or two of them ?
306 did not fight with JG1. It is one of the many nonsenses Michulec wrote.

Quote:

F/Lt Gęca was shot down before fight with Luftwaffe fighters. Hit by Flak, his Mustang exploded, killing the pilot. When it happen bombs was still under wings.
Gęca was not shot down, his aircraft being downed by a bomb blast. This was the reason of Łapka and Łaszkiewicz losses as well. Łapka was not wounded but bailed out behind the front due to coolant leak. He evaded.

Quote:

My source is:
- "Elita Luftwaffe" by Robert Michulec -page 251/252
- Article about Mustang service in Polish Air Force by Piotr Wiśniewski ( Polish Magazine "Lotnictwo" No 5/2002)
My source is my article at Ciel de Guerre #2. Sources were cut (as was my name) by a publisher, but footnotes are all there.

Christer Bergström 6th March 2005 11:50

Quote:

” What about twin-engined German fighters?
You cannot hide them behind names like Zerstorer, Panzerjager, and Nachtjager because the Allies used singles and twins for the same tasks, and convoy patrols. Allied single-engined planes were also used for dive-bombing, so if you intend to count their losses then you should count the Stuka losses as well.”
Please calm down, SixNifty. This is just a hobby, and we should all be friendly to each other.

Quote:

“You certainly have massaged the numbers in favor of the Germans.”
:roll:

I am not trying to hide anything. . .

Facts about the German losses in Tunisia in January 1943:

Due to “Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen” and the daily returns to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, the Luftwaffe fighter units in the Mediterranean sustained the following aircraft losses in air combat in January 1943:

II./JG 2: 2
JG 27: 0
II./JG 51: 7
JG 53: 8
JG 77: 15

Total sum: 32.

Quote:

“you should count the Stuka losses as well”
I did.

II./StG 3 and III./StG 3 flew successful operations against the Allied positions throughout January 1943 wihout more than two Ju 87s being registered as lost due to enemy fighters. (Another four Ju 87s were registered lost due to “Feindbeschuss” or unknown reasons.)

There were no other losses registered by any Stukageschwader in the whole Mediterranean area in January 1943. (Source: Daily reports to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.)

III./SKG 10 flew fighter-bomber missions thoughout January 1943, without losing more than a single aircraft to Allied fighter interception. (Arthy & Jessen, “Fw 190 in North Africa”, pp. 153 - 154.)

III./ZG 1 sustained no losses at all to hostile activity, not even a damaged plane. (Source: Daily reports to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.)

I./SchG 2 reported four Bf 109s destroyed or damaged due to hostile action through January 1943. (Source: Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen.)

I./NJG 2 reported two aircraft damaged in accidents, and not other losses, in the Mediterranean area in January 1943. (Rökker “”Chronik I./NJG 2”, p. 221.)

SchG 2 registered no more than a single Hs 129 damaged due to hostile activity in the Mediterranean through January 1943. (Source: Pegg, “Hs 129”, p. 319.)

Note: I started this thread, and the subject for this study is supremacy in air combat - because of a doscussion in another thread, where I said that the Luftwaffe “super veteran” fighter pilots inflicted very heavy losses on the Allies in Tunisia, and this was doubted. In that perspective, losses by Stukas etc are relevant only afar as they show how effectively the German fighter pilots managed to cover the Stukas etc. The German fighter pilots definitely managed to protect their Stukas from Allied fighter attacks in January 1943 - which is more than one can say about the numerically superior Allied fighters.

SixNifty's mere guess about Stukas and ground attack aircraft mainly grounded due to fuel shortage in Tunisia in January 1943 can't be accepted since it seems not to be based on any facts at all. In any case, I can find nothing which supports his guesswork. Read through Arthy's and Jessens's very detailed "Fw 190 in North Africa", and it describes a quite hectic activity by the Schlachtflieger. The same regarding the Stukas due to documents from StG 3. What does Shores's "Air Combat over Tunisia" say? IIRC, according to that study, the Luftwaffe Stukas and ground-attack aircraft were in full action throughout January 1943. However, IIRC, it says that regarding the Italian aircraft, they were largely grounded due to a non-functioning Italian supply situation (regarding e.g. spare parts and ammunition etc for Italian aircraft types). (I had that book, but lost it. I'm waiting for the second edition. I wish someone here with access to that book could "jump in".)

SixNifty, how would it be if you based your assumptions on facts instead of mere guesses? And please, SixNifty, save us from totally unfounded implications that serious researchers are deliberately trying to falsify history. That will only bring down your own credibility.



BTW, a general rule is that when one refers to sources, one can’t refer to oneself. If you only say that “elsewhere I have mentioned sources”, you might as well say nothing. :roll:

Andrew Arthy 6th March 2005 14:38

Air war in Tunisia, January 1943
 
Hi Christer,

You asked for some figures for Allied fighter losses in combat, so I thought I'd go through the text of Shores, Ring & Hess for you.

Allied fighter pilot losses in combat with German fighters and bombers in northern and central Tunisia in January 1943 were as follows:

Failed to Return/Missing - Killed - Wounded

72 Sqdn 1 - 0 - 0
81 Sqdn 2 - 1 - 0
111 Sqdn 0 - 3 - 1
242 Sqdn 7 - 0 - 0
243 Sqdn 1 - 1 - 0
1st FG 6 - 2 - 0
14th FG 9 - 3 - 1
33rd FG 2 - 4 - 0
52nd FG 1 - 0 - 0
82nd FG 8 - 0 - 1
GC II/5 0 - 1 - 1

Total: 37 missing/failed to return
15 killed
4 wounded

In comparison, German pilot losses in combat with Allied fighters and bombers:

Failed to Return/Missing - Killed - Prisoner - Wounded

I./J.G. 53 1 - 1 - 2 - 1
II./J.G. 53 0 - 0 - 0 - 0
II./J.G. 51 2 - 0 - 0 - 3
II./J.G. 2 1 - 1 - 0 - 0
III./S.K.G. 10 1 - 1 - 0 - 1

Total: 5 killed
3 missing/failed to return
2 prisoner
5 wounded

So in combat the Allies lost 56 fighter pilots, while the Germans lost 15.

No matter what way you use the statistics, it is clear that the Germans held a degree of air superiority in northern and central Tunisia in January 1943. For example, in that month two Allied units (81 Sqdn and the 14th FG) were withdrawn from combat due to heavy losses (and the 33rd FG was forced to withdraw early in February 1943). On the German side, no fighter unit withdrew from northern Tunisia in January 1943, although II./J.G. 51 was withdrawn briefly in February 1943.

Of course a major issue was the downing of American four-engined bombers, something the German fighter forces in northern Tunisia always struggled to do. This was due in part to the light armament of the Bf 109, according to a complaint in the records of the Führer der Luftwaffe Tunis:

"Erfahrung: Bewaffnung BF 109 G – 4 mit 1 Kanone gegenüber viermot Bombern zu schwach. Bomber zeigen ausserordentliche Standfestigkeit. Es wird gebeten zu prüfen, ob statt 3,2 cm Kanonen (G-2) eine 3,7 und zwei 2,2 cm bzw. 2 MG eingebaut werden können." [Source: BA-MA RL 7/32, p.53]

As for lack of fuel preventing ground-attack operations, no, that was not a problem in January 1943. In fact, the main thing that did prevent German ground-attack operations on some days in that month was the inclement weather, quite common in Tunisia in the winter of 1942/1943.

If anyone wants an accurate picture (from the German side) of the air situation in northern Tunisia in January 1943, then you should check BA-MA RL 7/32. From this source, II./St.G. 3 flew the following missions:

01.01.43 - 10 sorties, four aircraft damaged by anti-aircraft fire
02.01.43 - 10 sorties, 3 Ju 87s lost with crews (one crew returned a couple of days later), four damaged. A Ju 87 gunner claimed one Spitfire shot down in return.
03.01.43 - 4 sorties, no aircraft damaged
05.01.43 - 10 sorties, no aircraft damaged
11.01.43 - 35 sorties, four aircraft lightly damaged by anti-aircraft fire
13.01.43 - 9 sorties, no aircraft damaged

I don't have time to include more, but hopefully that gives some idea of the scale of operations by the Ju 87 unit in northern Tunisia in this month. This Gruppe continued flying operations into April, until at least 14 April 1943. (Source: Logbook of II./St.G. 3 gunner). Not bad for an aircraft often considered "obselete" since 1940.

I won't deal with operations in southern Tunisia (J.G. 77 and Sch.G. 2), because that is not an area I've researched enough (BTW: is anyone out there interested in doing a unit history of I./Sch.G. 2?).

I hope some of the above is helpful (and I'm not trying to provoke anyone!!!)

Cheers,
Andrew A.

"You'll never silence the voice of the voiceless" - Rage Against The Machine

Christer Bergström 6th March 2005 18:01

Thank you veey much for that, Andrew! I wish all posts were that clean, fact-oriented, and source relating as your post! Your post should be viewed as a model for us all.

So now we know - there were almost four Allied fighters shot down for every Luftwaffe fighter which the Allies managed to shoot down. Of course an effect of the German "super veteran" fighter pilots, who were totally superior to the Allied pilots. If we bring in other aircraft than fighters, we will find that the German fighter pilots in reality managed to shoot down maybe five (or perhaps even more?) aircraft for every loss which they sustained themselves in air combat. (Do you have those figures, Andrew?) Quite interesting, if we consider the relation during the Battle of Britain of Luftwaffe total losses to air combat and RAF Fighter Command losses to air combat - which were far from as good as the Luftwaffe fighter unit records in Tunisia in January 1943. What else than superior German fighter pilots can explain that?

Just one more piece of information which I found:

In "The 9th Air Force in World War II", Kenn C. Rusts gives the figures for US 57th FG's losses in in Tunisia January 1943: 26. (Rust, p. 25.)

I know - those losses probably are to all causes and can't be compared with the "destroyed in air combat only" figures which we gave above, but there's no harm in giving those figures. After all, we have the Luftwaffe figures down to even damaged in take-off accidents.

(PS: I am only trying to find actual facts. I have no bias at all. The German fighter pilots were on the average much better than the Allied pilots in Tunisia in January 1943. Let me say that I also think that The Allied fighter pilots were on the average much better than the German pilots at Normandy in June 1944. Sometimes, one side was better than the other side - that's nothing strange about that. We Swedes have always had one of the best ice hockey teams, but I can easily admit that there was one other nation's ice hockey team which always was better than our team.)

Christer Bergström 7th March 2005 00:12

(I shifted the relevant text on German fighter superiority in Tunisia from this place to another place farther below, so that no trolling will destroy this nice thread.)

Six Nifty .50s 7th March 2005 00:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Quote:

”What about twin-engined German fighters? You cannot hide them behind names like Zerstorer, Panzerjager, and Nachtjager because the Allies used singles and twins for the same tasks, and convoy patrols. Allied single-engined planes were also used for dive-bombing, so if you intend to count their losses then you should count the Stuka losses as well.
I did. Didn't I? II./StG 3 and III./StG 3 flew successful operations against the Allied positions throughout January 1943 wihout more than two Ju 87s being registered as lost due to enemy fighters. (Another four Ju 87s were registered lost due to 'Feindbeschuss' or unknown reasons.) There were no other losses registered by any Stukageschwader in the whole Mediterranean area in January 1943. (Source: Daily reports to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.)

SixNifty's mere guess about Stukas and ground attack aircraft mainly grounded due to fuel shortage in Tunisia in January 1943 can't be accepted since it seems not to be based on any facts at all. SixNifty, how would it be if you based your assumptions on facts instead of mere guesses?

What guesses?

" As of today we have a total of 76 cubic metres of petrol available in this theatre of operations. Despite extreme economy measures, our rapidly decreasing supply of fuel is no longer sufficient to permit adequate reconnaissance activity, the necessary fighter escort duty, or the occasional committment of fighter-bomber aircraft. Our present supply must be kept in reserve in order to avoid development of a serious crisis... We have had to curtail drastically the employment of dive-bombers because of their relatively high petrol consumption "
Fliegerfuhrer Afrika to C-in-C South, August 1st, 1942

" The fuel situation of German units makes any mobile operations, in particular counterattacks by our panzer formations, more or less impossible. The fuel at present with the troops is just enough to carry out the first stage of the withdrawl as ordered, namely as far as the area Agheila - El Mugtaa "
Day report by Panzerarmee, December 12th, 1942

Quoted from opening page of JAGDWAFFE: The Mediterranean, 1942-1943 by Jean Louis Roba & Martin Pegg.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
And please, SixNifty, save us from totally unfounded implications that serious researchers are deliberately trying to falsify history. In any case, I can find nothing which supports his guesswork

Are you suggesting that German officers lied about the fuel shortages?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
I started this thread, and the subject for this study is supremacy in air combat - because of a doscussion in another thread, where I said that the Luftwaffe Òsuper veteranÓ fighter pilots inflicted very heavy losses on the Allies in Tunisia, and this was doubted. In that perspective, losses by Stukas etc are relevant only afar as they show how effectively the German fighter pilots managed to cover the Stukas etc. The German fighter pilots definitely managed to protect their Stukas from Allied fighter attacks in January 1943 - which is more than one can say about the numerically superior Allied fighters.

Could it be that German losses were limited because their aviation fuel was limited?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
III./SKG 10 flew fighter-bomber missions thoughout January 1943, without losing more than a single aircraft to Allied fighter interception. (Arthy & Jessen, ÒFw 190 in North AfricaÓ, pp. 153 - 154.)

III./ZG 1 sustained no losses at all to hostile activity, not even a damaged plane. (Source: Daily reports to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.)

I./SchG 2 reported four Bf 109s destroyed or damaged due to hostile action through January 1943. (Source: Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen.)

I./NJG 2 reported two aircraft damaged in accidents, and not other losses, in the Mediterranean area in January 1943. (Rškker ÒÓChronik I./NJG 2Ó, p. 221.)

Thank you for the clarification. Any losses of Me 110s from the ZGs?

In the last message I forgot to mention that II./SchlG 2 and III./ZG 2 were also equipped with Fw 190s, but I'm not sure exactly when they received them. (See Roba & Pegg p. 156, 187).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
SchG 2 registered no more than a single Hs 129 damaged due to hostile activity in the Mediterranean through January 1943. (Source: Pegg, ÒHs 129Ó, p. 319.)

Possibly true. I read the following from John Weal, Luftwaffe Schlachtgruppen, p.59-60:

"4.(Pz)/SchlG 2 was initially equipped with a dozen of the twin-engined Henschels. But by the time the Staffel, commanded by Hauptmann Bruno Meyer, arrived at El Adem, south of Tobruk, on 7 November, this number had shrunk to eight, only four of which were servicable! The Hs 129s nevertheless claimed a dozen British tanks knocked-out during their first reported action just one week later.

However, not renowned for their reliability at the best of times, the mixing of the Hs 129s Gmome-Rhone engines with Libya's all-prevailing dust and sand was a certain recipe for disaster. After only a few more operations, during which two machines were lost when forced to land behind enemy lines, the Staffel was withdrawn to Tripoli. Here, attempts were made to produce a satisfactory sand filter for the recalcitrant powerplants, but without much success. And, when the advancing 8th Army entered the Libyan capital on 23 January 1943, the remaining unservicable Henschels were reportedly destroyed and the Staffel was evacuated to Bari, in Italy, for re-equipment "


To be fair, a lack of satisfactory air filtering was a common problem on both sides. Ingestion of excess dust and sand reduced the life of otherwise reliable Allison engines in P-40 and A-36 ground attack aircraft.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Read through Arthy's and Jessens's very detailed "Fw 190 in North Africa", and it describes a quite hectic activity by the Schlachtflieger. The same regarding the Stukas due to documents from StG 3. What does Shores's "Air Combat over Tunisia" say? IIRC, according to that study, the Luftwaffe Stukas and ground-attack aircraft were in full action throughout January 1943.

Did they write that, or did you? Tell us how many sorties were flown in January 1943, by SGs, KGs and Stukas in the Med Theatre.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
And please, SixNifty, save us from totally unfounded implications that serious researchers are deliberately trying to falsify history. That will only bring down your own credibility. Maybe SixNifty is a troll who is only trying to provoke me

The German supply shortage has been common knowledge for decades. Only a troll would challenge it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Why this unpleasant tone? And above all - calm down, Six Nifty. This is just a hobby, and we should all be friendly to each other. After all, he gave us no loss facts at all, he only was rude and provocative. I am giving facts supported by source references.

Moderators - keep an eye open now!

Christer, I'm not impressed with your special pleading. After reading your posts, I cannot say that your approach to sharing information is friendly or polite.

You get excited and try to project that behavior onto others. At times, you've displayed an unbending conviction about statistics and numbers extracted or cobbled together from many works cited. Later, you claimed to be nothing more than a hobbyist, suggesting that you are not very serious about researching your subject matter. I wish you would make up your mind.

It's fine with me if you insist on annotating every number with sources. But like the rest of us, you are selective about it. I realize that no individual has instant access to all data, but I think you are ignoring information that conflicts with your ideas. Certain numbers quoted from selected reports might be fact, but not necessarily your conclusions about them.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Please confine yourself to giving facts backed up by source references, or asking questions.

Thanks for the tip.

Yours in accuracy,
Six Nifty .50s

Christer Bergström 7th March 2005 00:54

Please, what we are talking about here is the air war in Tunisia in January 1943.

SixNifty tells us that the Luftwaffe had problems with fuel shortage in Egypt on 1 August 1942 - not only 1,350 miles from northern Tunisia, not only half a year before the situation which we are discussing, but in a completely different situation. . .

It is common knowledge that the Afrikakorps was completely starved on fuel in the summer and autumn of 1942.

That has nothing to do with the supply situation in northern Tunisia in January 1943.

Then Six Nifty tells us that German tanks had problems with fuel shortage in eastern Libya (“area Agheila - El Mugtaa “) on 12 December 1942. Yes, we all knew that too. But that is 850 miles from the place we are talking about. . .

That doesn't either have anything to do with the supply situation in northern Tunisia in January 1943.

Why did the Axis troops in Libya and Egypt encounter such severe supply problems? Because the British were sinking the supply ships which went the long way from Italy to Libya.

The Axis used another, and a much shorter and better protected, supply route to northern Tunisia. That too is kind of basic knowledge. I can't see why SixNifty brings up those things here. I can give hom dozens of other quotations on the bad supply situation in eastern Libya and Egypt in 1942.

But, again what we are talking about here is the air war in Tunisia in January 1943.

Andrew Arthy, who made a very detailed study of the Luftwaffe air activities on Tunisia in January 1943, concludes:

“As for lack of fuel preventing ground-attack operations, no, that was not a problem in January 1943.” (See Arthy's post above!)

I think Arthy should know. As far as I know, the most recent book on precisely Luftwaffe operations in Tunisia in January 1943 was written by Arthy (in cooperation with Morten Jessen): “Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in North Africa” (Chevron, 2004). It is based on a wealth of original documents, and I doubt there is any other book which is better researched regarding the Luftwaffe’s operations in Tunisia.

So if an expert as Andrew Arthy tells us that the Luftwaffe was not held down by a lack of fuel, I think we have reason to believe that. So far, we have seen nothing which would imply that a researcher like Arthy has completely missed such a vital fact as an alleged fuel shortage which curtailed Luftwaffe operations from Tunisia in January 1943. But, yes - Rommel sure had some bad supply problems in Egypt and eastern Libya in 1942. . . Don't you think Arthy knew that?

Christer Bergström 7th March 2005 01:14

Although January 1943 has been the focus for this thread, I find 2 February 1943 to be of some interest in the context.

In a morning action, ten US Airacobras and Warhawks (the latter from US 33rd FG) clashed with Ju 87s and four II./JG 2 Fw 190s. The 33rd FG pilots claimed to have shot down two Fw 190s (including one by Major Levi Chase) and one Ju 87. (Hammel, “Air War Europa”, p. 99.)

In reality, no Fw 190s were lost in that combat (Arthy & Jessen, “Fw 190 in North Africa”, loss list on p. 154), and the only Ju 87 even mentioned in the returns to the Generalquartiermeister from Tunisia that day was a Ju 87 D-3 of II./StG 3 which sustained 20 % damage during a forced landing at Gabes. (Source: Daily returns to the Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.) However, three US fighters were shot down in that engagement with II./JG 2, and two of those were from 33rd FG.

Eric Hammel writes that later that same day, the 33rd FG lost another eight P-40s (six shot down or missing and two written off). (Hammel, “Air War Europa”, p. 99.)

I have an old note from an unspecified source which says that II./JG 51 shot down five of 33rd FG’s Warhawks in a single combat on 2 February 1943, but I doubt that is true. I only have two claims by II./JG 51 on that day.

Andrew, could you please tell us what Shores tells us about this day? (BTW, there were no German fighter losses due to enemy action in Tunisia on 2 February 1943.)

Six Nifty .50s 7th March 2005 04:36

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Please, what we are talking about here is the air war in Tunisia in January 1943.

SixNifty tells us that the Luftwaffe had problems with fuel shortage in Egypt on 1 August 1942 - not only 1,350 miles from northern Tunisia, not only half a year before the situation which we are discussing, but in a completely different situation. . . It is common knowledge that the Afrikakorps was completely starved on fuel in the summer and autumn of 1942.

Then Six Nifty tells us that German tanks had problems with fuel shortage in eastern Libya (“area Agheila - El Mugtaa “) on 12 December 1942. Yes, we all knew that too. But that is 850 miles from the place we are talking about. . .That doesn't either have anything to do with the supply situation in northern Tunisia in January 1943.

Then why did you quote fighter losses for the Mediterranean Theatre of operations? Your original statement was:

Due to “Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen” and the daily returns to Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, the Luftwaffe fighter units in the Mediterranean sustained the following aircraft losses in air combat in January 1943:

II./JG 2: 2
JG 27: 0
II./JG 51: 7
JG 53: 8
JG 77: 15

Total sum: 32.


If you wanted to limit the discussion to only the planes based in Northern Tunisia or operating over Northern Tunisia, you should have been more specific. Not everyone has a map available showing all German air bases in the Mediterranean Theatre as of January 1943.

Christer Bergström 7th March 2005 11:22

Another quite interesting day is 10 March 1943. At around 1630 hrs that day, Bf 109s of JG 77 were escorting Ju 87s when - according to the German report - several formations of P-40s attacked. JG 77’s fighter pilots claimed 13 P-40s shot down between 1632 hrs and 1648 hrs, for the loss of a single Bf 109, plus that the Allied fighter pilots were prevented from shooting down any Ju 87s. Major Jochen Müncheberg and Hptm. Heinz Bär claimed to have shot down two P-40s each.

Again, I don’t have Shores’s excellent book here, but due to the 112 Squadron website, RAF 112 “Shark” Sqn alone registered six of its P-40s shot down, with another two receiving damage. http://www.geocities.com/raf_112_sqdn/planelosses.html

Are there any other Allied fighter losses registered that day, maybe in Shores’s book?

Nevertheless, by mid-March 1943, the Allies had managed to build up their combined air force in North Africa to no less than 1,500 combat aircraft. (Hooton, “Eagle in Flames”, p. 223.) Against such an overwhelming numerical superiority, the German fighter pilots would find that the “easy days” were gone. The German situation was further deteriorated through the decision to return II./JG 2 to France in March 1943.

Franek Grabowski 8th March 2005 21:37

A few points.
In the German monthly returns there appears a word 'Abgang'. This literally means outcoming AFAIK. Therefore this number most not include aircraft damaged up to 39% as they should be repaired within the unit. Monthly returns do not differentiate between serviceable and unserviceable aircraft.
(BTW The damage is percenteage of what? Labourtime, weight, value?)
Another thing is that until appearance of Spitfire IXs, Allies in the area had no high altitude aircraft. This gave significant advantage to the Germans.
Finally, it is a question rather than comment. Does anyone know anything about Allied radar network in Tunisia?

Christer Bergström 8th March 2005 23:35

It is a fact that Abgang includes all losses from 10 % and above. For an explanation as to what the various damage degrees means, see my first post in this thread.

In the Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen, which we are discussing here (see below), there is "Abgang" (= removed) and "Zugang" (= received).

Among the ”Zugang”, you have not only “Neufertigung” (= newly produced) and “von andere Verbände” (= received from other units), but also “Reparatur” (= repaired).

If you study for instance I./JG 53’s daily returns to the Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, you will find that it sustained a total of four Bf 109s damaged with repairable degrees in January 1943 (incidentally, none of which was due to hostile action). Due to Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen, I./JG 53 also registered four Bf 109s in the “Zugang” category “Reparatur” in January 1943. In other words - four damaged but repairable, and four repaired. Well done, bicycle repairman! :wink:

Everyone interested can check out the lists at Michael Holm's excellent site:

http://www.ww2.dk/oob/bestand/flugbew.htm

Don't we all owe him a great big THANKS? :D

Juha 9th March 2005 00:21

Hello
1.500 a/c may not be so overwhelmed superiority after all, I haven't time to dig the March 43 figures but according to Shore's article Victory in the Desert in RAF Yearbook 1983 in Jan. 43 LF 2 had 1.220 combat a/c of which about 850 where in Sicily, Sardinia and Tunisia and then there were the Italians but I haven't time to check their numbers. But in March 43 there were with JG 77 and I./Sch.G. 2 etc. in SE 2 Gruppi of fighters/fighter-bombers and surely/probably there were more Italian units elsewhere in Tunisia, but of course I cannot be sure on that.

Juha

Christer Bergström 9th March 2005 00:57

The strength return for 10 January 1943 shows 854 Luftwaffe aircraft in the whole Mediterranean area:

Fliegerführer Afrika: 178 aircraft
Fliegerkorps Tunis: 119
Kommando Roth: 48 (Gabés)
Fliegerkorps II (Italy): 311
Fliegerkorps X (Greece): 163
OB Süd: 35


Luftflotte 2: Mediterranean and North Africa
10. January 1943
Fliegerführer Afrika
Close-Reconnaissance: 4.(H)/12 Me 109 11 (3) Bir Dufen Koluft Pz. Armee Afrika

Long-Range Reconnaissance: 1.(F)/121 Ju 88 6 (4) Bir Ngem Fliegerführer Afrika
Castel Benito

Day-Fighter: Stab/JG 77 Me 109G 7 (6) Bir Dufen Nord Fliegerführer Afrika
I./JG 77 Me 109G 27 (19) Bir Dufen Nord Fliegerführer Afrika
II./JG 77 Me 109G 26 (15) Zarzur Fliegerführer Afrika
III./JG 77 Me 109G 29 (19) Bir Dufen Nord Fliegerführer Afrika

Schlacht: I./Schl.G 2 Me 109 27 (16) Zarzur Fliegerführer Afrika
4./Schl.G 2 Hs 129 7 (0) Castel Benito Fliegerführer Afrika

Stuka: III./St.G 3 Ju 87 38 (18 ) Bir Dufen Nord Fliegerführer Afrika

Kommando Roth (Gabes)

Close-Reconnaissance: Part 2.(H) /14 Me 109 4 (2) Gabes Kommando Roth

Day-Fighter: II./JG 51 Me 109G 30 (23) Gabes Kommando Roth

Stuka: II./St.G 3 Ju 87 14 (11) Gabes Kommando Roth

Fliegerkorps Tunis

Close-Reconnaissance: 2.(H) /14 Me 109 4 (2) Tunis-Aouina Fliegerkorps Tunis

Day-Fighter: II./JG 2 FW 190 23 (10) Kairouan Fliegerkorps Tunis
Me 109G

I./JG 53 Me 109G 36 (25) Mateur Fliegerkorps Tunis
II./JG 53 Me 109G 28 (20) Mateur Fliegerkorps Tunis

Schlacht: III./SKG 10 FW 190 14 (10) Bizerta Fliegerkorps Tunis

Stuka: Part II./St.G 3 Ju 87 14 (10) Sebala Fliegerkorps Tunis

II. Fliegerkorps
(Italy, Sicily & Sardinia)

Long-Range Reconnaissance: 1.(F) /122 Ju 88, FW 200 15 (4) Elmas II. Fliegerkorps

Day-Fighter: 7./JG 53 Me 109G 15 (11) Comiso II. Fliegerkorps

Zerstörer: III./ZG 26 Me 110 38 (22) Trapani II. Fliegerkorps
10./ZG 26 Ju 88C 11 (8 ) Trapani II. Fliegerkorps
III./ZG 1 Me 210 15 (15) Grottaglie & Lecce II. Fliegerkorps

Bomber: I./KG 26 He 111 19 (16) Elmas II. Fliegerkorps
II./KG 26 He 111 25 (8 ) Elmas II. Fliegerkorps
Stab/KG 30 Ju 88 1 (1) Comiso II. Fliegerkorps
II./KG 30 Ju 88 21 (17) Comiso II. Fliegerkorps
III./KG 30 Ju 88 24 (16) Comiso II. Fliegerkorps
9./KG 40 FW 200 14 (4) Lecce II. Fliegerkorps
Stab/KG 54 Ju 88 1 (1) Catania II. Fliegerkorps
II./KG 54 Ju 88 17 (10) Catania II. Fliegerkorps
III./KG 54 Ju 88 15 (10) Catania II. Fliegerkorps
Stab/KG 76 Ju 88 2 (2) Catania II. Fliegerkorps
I./KG 76 Ju 88 14 (8 ) Gerbin1 II. Fliegerkorps
II./KG 76 Ju 88 15 (10) Gerbini II. Fliegerkorps
Stab/KG 77 Ju 88 1 (0) Gerbini II. Fliegerkorps
I./KG 77 Ju 88 29 (15) Gerbini II. Fliegerkorps
1. u. 2./KG 60 Ju 88 19 (10) Elmas II./Fliegerkorps

X. Fliegerkorps

Long-Range Reconnaissance: 2.(F) /123 Ju 88, Ju 86R 13 (7) Kastelli & Tatoi X. Fliegerkorps

Day-Fighter: III./JG 27 Me 109G 21 (21) Kastelli X. Fliegerkorps

Bomber: Stab/LG 1 Ju 88 1 (1) Iraklion X. Fliegerkorps
I./LG 1 Ju 88 20 (10) Iraklion X. Fliegerkorps
II./LG 1 Ju 88 33 (21) Iraklion X. Fliegerkorps
III./KG 26 Ju 88 Torp. 23 (13) Iraklion X. Fliegerkorps
III./KG 100 He 111 38 (27) Kalamaki X. Fliegerkorps

Coastal-Reconnaissance: 2./SAGr. 125 Ar 196 14 (2) Suda X. Fliegerkorps

Oberbefehlshaber Süd

Long-Range Reconnaissance: Stab (F)/122 Ju 88 4 (3) Trapani Oberbefehlshaber Süd
2.(F)/122 Ju 88: Me 210 11 (6) Trapani Oberbefehlshaber Süd

Night-Fighter: Stab II./NJG 2 Ju 88C 1 (1) Comiso Oberbefehlshaber Süd
4./NJG 2 Ju 88C: Do 217 13 (9) Comiso Oberbefehlshaber Süd

Transport: Korps Kette X. Flkps. Fi 156 6 (3) Comiso Oberbefehlshaber Süd

(See: http://www.lesbutler.ip3.co.uk/tony/tonywood.htm . . . and open the document "Mediterranean & Southern Front 1943. Vol II".)


Add 288 Italian aircraft in Tunisia (figure from 15 November 1942), but keep in mind that Regia Aeronautica was badly hampered by a lack of spare parts, ammunition, etc, due to chaos in the Italian war organisation by that time.

BTW - the Luftwaffe conducted a total of 8,413 sorties in the Mediterranean in January 1943 (Hooton, “Eagle in Flames”, p. 221) - mostly of course in Tunisia. That is a higher number than any previous month since the April 1942 air offensive against Malta. The January 1943 total is even 50 % higher than the totals for both November 1942 and December 1942 together.

John Vasco 9th March 2005 01:23

Christer,

That ZG 1 reference above should read III./ZG 1. II./ZG 1 flew Bf 110s from January 1942 through to its disbandment in mid-1944.

Just a gentle correction.


John V.

Christer Bergström 9th March 2005 01:37

Thanks, John. A gentle but important correction. Clearly a typo.

II./ZG 1 also served on the Eastern Front - where it sustained many more losses in January 1943 than III./ZG 1 did in the Mediterranean in January 1943. Oops, I did it again! :wink:

Franek Grabowski 9th March 2005 13:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
For an explanation as to what the various damage degrees means, see my first post in this thread.

I do not find an answer of my question there. To make it more literally, if aircraft is damaged in 50% does it mean 50% of value is to be exchanged or time that is to be consumed is 50% of time necessary to build new aircraft or 50% of volume of aircraft is to be exchanged or what?

Quote:

In the Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen, which we are discussing here (see below), there is "Abgang" (= removed) and "Zugang" (= received).
Among the ”Zugang”, you have not only “Neufertigung” (= newly produced) and “von andere Verbände” (= received from other units), but also “Reparatur” (= repaired).
There is also Überholung category.
Anyway, those monthly returns do mention aircraft that arrived or left a unit but do not reffer to serviceability of the aircraft. In other words, those documents define movement of aircraft in and out of the unit but do not reffer to aircraft remaining on strenght but for some reasons - minor damage or malfunction - are not flyable.
Of course the question remains why monthly returns do not fit to GQ6 returns.

Juha 10th March 2005 22:30

Hello
I had only 30 min. to do some checking, but some info from Maj. Gen. I.S.O. Playfair et al book The Mediterranean and Middle East vol IV (London 1966)

p. 355 26.2. - 30.3.43 losses were Allied 156, Germans 136, Italians losses unknown, but according to Santoro 22 Italian a/c were lost in Tunisia during Feb and March. BTW Hooton's Eagle in Flames, which is the second volume of his 2 part history of LW, p. 221 gives LW losses in March as 160a/c. This was the time when experienced Desert Air Force was very active on the SE side of Tunisia (Rommel's badly failed counterattack at Medenine and the battle of Mareth line). So losses seems to be more or less same according to this book. But of course Allied numerical superiority was rather marked by that time. Hooton seems to more or less ignore this phase in his Eagle in Flames but on page 224 he gives LW losses in Med. 1.11.42 - 30.4.43 as 2.422 a/c. When we added the Italian losses (unknown to me at the moment) clearly the Axis had suffered a blood letting to which they hardly could afford at that stage of war.

Juha

Ps thanks Andrew for the exact loss figures for the western front of Tunisia campaign in Jan. 43. Jagdfliegern did even better than I had supposed against partly inexperienced USAAF units.
If You will be so kind and post the whole Desert War info from Feb to Oct 42 on this forum on the other thread, I'd greatly appreciate. I'm still waiting the reprint of Fighters over the Desert, tried today check Grub Street's web-site, but got only the info that they are updating the site.

Andrew Arthy 11th March 2005 02:35

Tunisian air war
 
Hello Juha,

The loss figures for November and December 1942 were just as bad for the Anglo-American fighter units in northern Tunisia. Take 3 December 1942, for example:

No German fighters lost, 4 German fighters damaged

14 British and American fighters lost

And of course on the next day was the famous massacre of the British Bisley's near Mateur.

I've posted the rest of the Allied fighter losses in North Africa in that thread.

Cheers,
Andrew A.

NickM 11th March 2005 07:15

Interesting thread guys!
 
I must say between my past readings of Shores, et als books on the war in Libya & Tunisia & Mr Arthy's FW book, I am sometimes surprised at how light the LW's losses were to both fighters & flak...indeed I sometimes got the impression that the LW dominated the airspace for much of the time; also, one of the most decisive factors in the air war was the allied airforces constant & unrelenting attacks against the LW lines of supply & airfields; the bombers almost always got thru & their always managed to drop on whatever airfields the LW was using. Their superiority in the air came to naught in light of the fact that they could get pounded into dust while on the ground & they seemed to not be able to do much about it...Armin Kohler's recollections of how demoralizing it was were most enlightening.

NickM

Frank Olynyk 11th March 2005 10:19

Juha,

With regard to a reprint of Fighters Over the Desert, or Fighters Over Tunisia, I have to say that that is not what is planned. Chris Shores is planning on a complete rewrite of those two books, and to carry the story to the Anzio invasion. But he has not yet started writing them.

The Air War in Burma volume has been completed and turned in, and he has finished indexing the book, so it is well on the way to publication.

The second volume of the 2nd TAF history is due out at the end of this month or early in April. He is in the middle of writing volume 3 (he is up to March I think he said). Once that is finished he has one, possibly two, biographies that he committed to writing long ago. Then, he will start writing the Mediterranean air war volumes.

Frank.

Juha 11th March 2005 11:27

Thanks Frank
 
Yes, in a hurry I used the wrong term on Shores N Africa books, I was aware that he is planning a rewrite not a reprint but... my mistake. And thanks a lot for the update of his schedule even if the news on Mediterranean Theatre books means at least a couple years more waiting.

Thankfully
Juha

Christer Bergström 11th March 2005 18:07

Quote:

Maj. Gen. I.S.O. Playfair et al book The Mediterranean and Middle East vol IV (London 1966) p. 355 26.2. - 30.3.43 losses were Allied 156
Very interesting! Due to that other British public wartime source which I mentioned (the one which said that the Allies lost 151 aircraft in air combat in Tunisia in January 1943), the Allies lost 104 aircraft in air combat in Tunisia in March 1943.

Also, in the period 26 February - 30 March 1943, the German fighters in the area reported at least 212 victories against at least 62* own aircraft shot down and destroyed in air combat or crashed due to unknown causes (with another four shot down and destroyed by ground fire).

* I don’t have the exact aircraft loss figures for JG 27, so I used the figure of the number of pilots killed, MIA, PIW or wounded pilots. This figure on average is about nine-tenths or so of total aircraft combat losses. Hence the reservation “at least 62 own aircraft shot down”.

So we can see a quite dramatic drop in the victory-to-loss relation for the German fighter units in this area - from between 8 and 9 victories for every loss in air combat (269 - 32) in January 1943 to less than half that relation only two months later, between 3 and 4 for every loss in air combat. Clearly an effect of a mounting numerical inferiority. The combined Allied air forces in the area expanded from 600 in late 1942 to 1,500 in mid-March 1943. Of course that will be reflected in the German losses, just like could be expected if the number of Allied antiaircraft guns would have increased by 2.5 times.

Quote:

in his Eagle in Flames but on page 224 he gives LW losses in Med. 1.11.42 - 30.4.43 as 2.422 a/c.
Yes, those were crippling losses. But again, here we are dealing with “losses” which include a large number of aircraft which sustained damage from 10% damage degree and above, many of which thus were repaired and returned to service. Plus that those figures include aircraft damaged even in accidents. It is probable that in the figure above we can find the same aircraft appearing two, three or even more times - each time sustaining moderate damage and being repaired. Compare those figures with the similar figures given by Williamson Murray - who we have seen gives only figures for both damaged and destroyed, and to all causes, non combat included - on p. 230 in his “Luftwaffe”.

But it is absolutely clear that the Axis sustained absolutely crippling losses due to the overwhelming Allied numerical superiority in the air in North Africa.

Quote:

clearly the Axis had suffered a blood letting to which they hardly could afford at that stage of war.
Indeed - as I wrote previously:

Quote:

Please consider these figures for Tunisia, April 1943:

I./JG 53 lost 47 Bf 109s (including 15 to enemy action) and received only 21 Bf 109s as replacement, and had only 13 Bf 109s on 1 May 1943. (During the same period, it achieved 32 victories.)

II./JG 53 lost 51 Bf 109s (including 18 to enemy action, 14 of which were destroyed in bombing attacks against II./JG 53’s air base) and received only 38 Bf 109s as replacements. (During the same period, it achieved 24 victories.)

II./JG 77 lost 28 Bf 109s (including 9 to enemy action) and received 26 Bf 109s as replacements. (During the same period, it achieved 34 victories.)

In total, the combined strength of these three Jagdgruppen went down from 103 Bf 109s on 1 April 1943 to 66 on 1 May 1943, a drop of 35 % in just one month.

http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/viewto...r=asc&start=45
This is clear proof of the fact that the Allied ability to not only replace their losses, but even increase their number of aircraft, was the single most important factor to the fact that the Allies finally managed to achieve air supremacy in Tunisia. Despite sustaining higher losses than the Axis, the Allies managed to increase their aircraft strength in Tunisia - from 600 in late 1942 to 4,900 (including 2,100 fighters) in late May 1943.

As we have seen, not even the Luftwaffe’s superiority regarding pilot experience will suffice against such a numerical superiority - or, as Juha expressed it from the other side of the coin, even inexperienced USAAF units can prevail against a more experienced enemy when they reach such a vast numerical superiority.

Christer Bergström 11th March 2005 23:45

As a contribution to an earlier discussion, I found this Order of battle for regia Aeronautica on 9 July 1943:

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaver.../ra.html#Husky

Juha 12th March 2005 09:53

Hello Christer
some of those 156 were shot down by ground fire, IIRC for example the 6 Sqn alone lost surely more than 4 Hurricane IID tank-busters to ground fire, and probably the Italians got at least a few kills, so if LW lost appr. 62 fighters in air combat, so JGs exchange rate was probably only some 2 kills to one loss.

One reason for this worsening exchange rate was of course Allies growing numerical superiority, but probably those at first inexperienced Allied units had learned something. It would be nice to know if the Desert AF got better results against Axis than was that NW African AF in Tunisia in fighter combat.

On the superiority, according to Playfair et al in SE the DAF plus USAAF units there had 535 fighters, fighter bombers and tank-destroyers (Hurri IIDs) plus over 200 bombers plus the equivalent of 3 air recon sqns and to top of that all B-25s and B-26s of NASAF (less 2 B-25 anti-shipping sqns) were made available for the 20. and 21.3.43. Against this LW had on 20.3. 129 a/c in southern Tunisia of which 83 were serviceable and there seems to have been about 40 Italian a/c fit for operations.

If we assume that the serviceability of Italian planes was alittle bit lower than that of Germans, we had some 200 Axis planes vs those 535 fighters, fighter bombers and tank-destroyers plus the equivalent of 3 air recon sqns, that is probably appr. 580a/c plus bombers. Axis also had bombers on call deeper rear, in Sicily, in Sardinia and in Italian mainland but probably fewer and then there were USAAFs heavy bombers.

I must stop now
Juha

Ps Thanks for those RA OoBs

Christer Bergström 12th March 2005 10:44

so JGs exchange rate was probably only some 2 kills to one loss.

Sure, if not even lower than so. A considerable drop compared with the relation of around 5 enemies actually shot down for each own air combat loss in January 1943, i.e. only two months previously.

Regarding increased experience on the Allied side - well, considering the fact that the Allies sustained higher losses (see what happened to 33rd FG which had to be withdrawn from combat because it was almost annihilated), and the fact that apparently such a very large of new Allied aircraft and airmen flooded to the area - I would say that the average experience among the Allied airmen in Tunisia probably did not increase that much. Also, we must keep in mind that also the German airmen increased their experience.

It would be interesting to compare the sources used by Playfair et al (780 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943) and E. R. Hooton (1,500 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943).

Juha 12th March 2005 13:29

Hello
Christer wrote "...Playfair et al (780 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943) and E. R. Hooton (1,500 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943)."

Playfair's book number is for the SE or eastern side only and exact number there is appr. 800, in my earlier message been over 200 is 220 if we are exact (140 day-bomber and 80 205 Group Wellingtons and Halifaxes), same to the Axis side (probably JG 77 plus I./SchG 2 plus some Ju-87s and the Italians, I haven't time to check). I wasn't exact on bombers because I haven't time to check the numbers of Axis bombers available.

Sorry, time out again
Juha


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 17:24.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004 - 2018, 12oclockhigh.net