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Old 6th May 2010, 07:10
tmoj2000 tmoj2000 is offline
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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

Last edited by tmoj2000; 6th May 2010 at 12:56.
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