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tmoj2000 6th May 2010 07:10

Luftwaffe Losses Revisited
I know this topic has been discussed before, but I have not found a definitive answer. I am interested in total Luftwaffe losses (all causes) and their breakdown between the eastern front and western front. I am also interested in a similar breakdown for all other axis air forces. Any data on the losses that the Luftwaffe/axis air forces inflicted on their ennemies is also appreciated.

I am trying to understand where the Luftwaffe was "broken". It seems that if one looks at the fighter losses then the western front was where the Luftwaffe was bled. I would like to know however what is the big picture when bombers are factored in.

The topic of aircraft losses during WWII is a complex one

- Firstly, one would need to define which aircraft are being counted (do recon, artillery spotting planes count... do gliders count etc?). For the purpose of this discussion, I say count them all
- Secondly a high percentage of planes in all air forces was lost due to "accidents" (this includes planes damaged by ennemy fire which managed to somehow land in one or several pieces), as reliability was a huge issue in these days
- Thirdly the durability of planes varied greatly depending on models. Some were very durable, others had to be "thrown away" after a limited number of missions. So just looking at the production statistics to figure out what losses might have been does not work since many planes would not have been destroyed by ennemy action but rather simply "broke beyond repair"
- Fourthly many planes would have been lost on the ground as armies retreated when bases were overrun by the ennemy. As many as 20 to 30% of planes would have been in maintenance at any given point and many of these would not have been able to "fly away" if an unexpected ennemy offensive overran their base

I assume the simple wear and tear of conducting numerous missions on the eastern front, often in dreadful weather conditions, from improvised airfields with poor landing strips and equipment took a heavy toll on the men and machines of the Luftwaffe. But I dont have confirmed numbers to back up that assumption.

I have estimates of around 3000 planes lost during the 6 first months of Barberossa. But then I have estimates of less than 1,500 lost between Jan and June 1942 which seems quite low. After that, the data gets shaky

I also have a report comparing claims made by the 8th air force to actual losses of the Luftwaffe for the period October 1943 to june 1944.. The 8th claimed 4,200 planes destroyed, actual losses were around 1,300 (so about 3 times less).

Comments are appreciated

Nick Beale 6th May 2010 10:18

Re: Luftwaffe Losses Revisited

Originally Posted by tmoj2000 (Post 106354)
- Secondly a high percentage of planes in all air forces was lost due to "accidents" (this includes planes damaged by ennemy fire which managed to somehow land in one or several pieces), as reliability was a huge issue in these days.

In the Luftwaffe at least, I think you'd find that such losses were attributed to combat damage. You see entries like "Bruchlandung inf. Flakbesch." = crash landing as a result of being shot up by Flak. As you say though, losses just from something going wrong with the machine or pilot were a major factor.

Maxim1 6th May 2010 15:41

Re: Luftwaffe Losses Revisited
In my opinion, Luftwaffe lost at least 30,000 aircrafts on the East and around 50,000 - 60,000 on the West.

Dénes Bernád 6th May 2010 20:36

Re: Luftwaffe Losses Revisited
These opinions are worthless, unless supported by some proofs, or at least solid reasonings.

tmoj2000 7th May 2010 07:12

Re: Luftwaffe Losses Revisited
Well according to US air force stats, the US destroyed about 30,000 german planes (about half of that in 1944) while losing 20,000 of its own. During the same period there were an amzing 14,000 a/c lost in training accidents in the US with almost 14,000 dead.

Whilst for their own (US) losses the records are probably more or less accurate, I am not so sure about German losses. Overclaims could be as high as from 100 to 200% .... It would be great to compare with Luftwaffe records to cross check.

Horst Weber 7th May 2010 18:58

Re: Luftwaffe Losses Revisited
Good evening tmoj2000 !

When researching my books about the air-war events in the Counties of Bitburg and Prüm, Germany, I had the chance do do this cross-checking.

The area is in the due west of Germany and was the built-up and breakthrough area for the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. From this are, the attack was launched in its majority and here, the high tide of air-battles took place in the early stage of the Ardennes.

The Luftwaffe had during Oct.-Dec. reequipped and repiloted 24 Jagdgruppen to full strenght and had the transferred to airfields in a considerable distance north and east of the braekthrough area.

The busiest days in the area were Dec. 17th, Dec. 19th, Dec. 23rd-27th 1944 and Jan. 14th, 1945.

The sources of the researches were Frank Dr. Olynyk's "Fighter claims" the Prien/Rodeike books of JG 1, JG 3, JG 11, JG 27, the Mombeek book of JG 4 and several written and oral statements of whitnesses.

When you cross-check the claims and the losses on both sides, you can not find a significant overclaiming, neither on the one side nor on the other side. The percentage of overclaiming in this period of campaign was not higher than 20. There was one exception on Dec. 23rd, 1944. Many Luftwaffe pilots claimed Marauders this day. It was a bad day for the Marauders and 36 were shot down by fighters. But the claiming regulations never found really out, who shot up whom.

Well, by following the researches, I'm sure no high overclaiming was confirmed on both sides.

Besr regards !

Horst Weber

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