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Old 28th February 2005, 19:21
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Regarding Huppertz’s (III./JG 2) last combat on 8 June 1944:

As you said yourself, Franek, combats of D-Day are a real mess - not least due to the large number of aircraft involved - and there are errors in both dates and times, locations are unprecise, etc. Unless we assume that 56 and 353 FGs engaged German ghost aircraft - i.e. non-existent Fw 190s - we have to assume that they encountered the German fighters which were in the air for real. Since both 56 and 353 FGs claimed Fw 190s during the morning mission over France, we have to conclude that those belonged to the Fw 190 unit which is known to have flown in that area by that time - namely III./JG 2. That leads us to the conclusion that the pilots of 56 and 353 FGs made an error when they calculated the area where they clashed with Fw 190s - which would be plausible, contrary to the alternative, which implies the existence of “ghost Fw 190s”.

Franek’s thesis “361FG was clearly involved in combat with JG11 and not JG2” is based on Clark’s personal assumption that 2./JG 11’s (not II./JG 11, as Clark writes) Ofw. Kokisch was shot down by 361 FG at around 0950 hours. (David Clark, CD “Daily Data tables of the Normandy Air War Diary”, 6 June 1944.) However, in the chronicle on JG1/11 (page 1020), Prien tells us that Ofw. Kokisch crashed at Rennes - which is too far away (100 miles) from the area where 361 FG operated to be explained as a mere navigational error. (Clark has made several erroneous judgements based on the material which he presents on his CD, and what I have done is not only to take everything which Clark says for granted, but I use the material presented by Clark as one of many sources upon which I build my picture of the air combats.)

I don’t know why Franek dismisses not only that III./JG 2 was engaged by 56 FG, 353 FG, and 361 FG - but even by any Allied fighter unit at all! The statistics presented on Clark’s CD clearly show that all those fighter groups were fighting Fw 190s in the vicinity by the same time, no other Fw 190 unit can be traced as airborne in that area by that time - and III./JG 2’s Wurmheller claimed to have shot down a Mustang! Still Franek draws the inexplicable conclusion that: “I cannot find opponent of JG2 but it is possible they were bounced by Allied AA.” I am surprised!

This also is surprising: All sources state that Wurmheller was killed when he collided with his own wingman near Alencon, but Franek writes: “It is believed the victor could have been F/O Fleming of 441 Sqn.”

Regarding Simsch’s last combat, I get the impression that Franek wants to reduce the number of involved Allied aircraft at any price - thus unconsciously implying that despite their access to ULTRA, the Allied were unable to make rational use of their numerical superiority.

The facts are that:

a) On 8 June 1944, I./JG 11 despatched around 20 Fw 190s in a fighter-bomber mission against the Allied landing fleet. Having endured the hellish fire from hundreds of AAA guns from the landing fleet, the dispersed remnants of I./JG 11 were attacked by numerically superior Allied fighters. (Prien, “JG 1/11”, pp. 1019 - 1020.) Note - of the originally 20 Fw 190s, some had by then had already been shot down or damaged by the AAA, while the remnants were dispersed. Thus we can assume that there were maybe 10 - 15 Fw 190s without battle damage, divided as they were after a fighter-bomber attack into an AAA barrage into maybe half a dozen small groups, each consisting maybe one, two or three planes. So obviously, these small groups were attacked by several Allied fighter units. We don’t know exactly how many Allied fighters that engaged the battered remnants of I./JG 11 after the terrifying encounter with the AAA barrage, but to give anyone a chance to judge I gave these vital background facts:

b) the Allies conducted 1096 fighter sorties for beach patrol (many of which surely must have engaged Fw 190s which attacked those beaches, unless the commanders of the beach patrols ought to have been court-martialled), and

c) another 869 Mustangs and Thunderbolts of US 8th Air Force simultaneously were out on search-and-destroy missions against German lines of communications at Normandy.

Indeed, we have to expect that among the Allied fighters which attacked the scattered small groups of III./JG 2 Fw 190s after their attack over the Normandy beaches, probably most were among those assigned to provide the beaches with fighter cover against precisely such air attacks. However, according to David Clark’s “Angels Eight”, Simsch was killed in combat with Mustangs of 339 FG, which formed part of the 869 other US fighters which also were airborne in the area. Thus, it is plausible to assume that Simsch and III./JG 2 were hemmed in by various Allied fighters from several units, assigned with two different tasks.

Franek’s own conclusion from all of this is highly improbable: “This means about 20 against 30+” Please remember that these figures are only Franek’s own conclusion!

Rather, it would seem probable that a German formation consisting of Simsch’s Fw 190 and maybe one or tow other Fw 190s was fighting to survive in an environment where hundreds of Allied fighters were hunting maybe half a dozen small groups of Fw 190s, each consisting one, two or three planes which desperately tried to escape after a costly fighter-bomber mission into a terrible AAA barrage.

Or should we assume that not only did the AAA on the huge fleet (which was tasked to cover the sensitive landing fleet against German air attacks) fail to inflict any damage to 20 Fw 190 fighter bombers, all those 1096 fighters which were assigned to provide the landing beaches with fighter cover also missed the 20 fighter-bombers and allowed them to escape - until nothing more than a relatively small formation of US Mustangs - assigned with a completely different task - was lucky to catch the (nota bene complete!) formation of 20 battleworthy Fw 190s!? (Also, we don’t know the number of Mustangs participating in the mission with the that the US fighter group in question, 339 FG; all we know is that all three squadrons participated in the fight against Simsch. How come Franek assumes that three whole squadrons of 339 FG numbered no more than 30 Mustangs, when the normal number of US fighters participating in a single 8th AF squadron mission by that time was between 15 and 18 - which would give an assumed total of fifty 339 FG Mustangs involved in Simsch’s last combat .)

In conclusion, if we pay attention to all known factors, it is hard to arrive at a conclusion similar to Franek’s.

In the case of the Polish unit involved in the combat on 8 June 1944, I can easily accept the facts which Franek presents, since I have no contradicting facts, and apparently Franek is better informed regarding that particular combat. So possibly this was one of the exceptions when the Allies failed to make use of their numerical superiority over Normandy, and fortunately for the Poles they managed without the usual reinforcements from masses of other Allied fighters on that occasion. Yes, I agree with Franek that it is strange that the German report deals with over 30 Mustangs if no more than four Mustangs engaged the ten Bf 109s.

However, Franek’s way of first denying the vast Allied numerical superiority, and then - when I provide him with a row of facts which testify to this vast numerical superiority even under the very special conditions which he demands (“a single combat where we know the exact number of aircraft on both sides, where the Germans were outnumbered by ten to one”) - simply dismissing all evidence by pointing at the very nature of the vast concentrations of Allied aircraft which he previously denied, is . . . surprising.

What is the purpose of this discussion? To add our respective knowledge in order to together arrive at a better understanding? Or to defend a prejudical position at all costs?

I gave one example of 524 P-51s and P-47s supporting a heavy bomber operation in the Chartres area, encountering 10 Me 109s and Fw 190s. Obviously as a way to dismiss that uncomfortable fact, Franek resorts to scholastic tricks: “Do I have to understand all those Allied aircraft were at one place and time?” - As if 524 P-51s and P-47s supporting a special heavy bomber operation could be on the same spot simultaneously, even if it was aimed precisely against the Chartres area! :!: As if Franek knew that those 10 Me 109s and Fw 190s were on the same spot simultaneously, and not divided into maybe two or three groups! :!: As if this combination of scholastics and illogical bad mathematics would neutralise the whole impact of the vast Allied numerical superiority! :!: :!: Objections of the kind which Franek brings forward here, are only humiliating to the one who uses such tricks to slip out of a situation which he for some reason finds uncomfortable.

Why not face it? The fact that the Luftwaffe was outnumbered by eight to one in the air over Normandy had a very powerful impact on the outcome of that air war - particularly when the majority of the German pilots were inadequately trained rookies who were easy prey to the "normally" trained Allied fighter pilots!

Again - please remember that this is only a hobby, so stay friends! My harsh words to Franek are only because I want to advice against the use of discussion methods which brings such an interesting discussion to a sad end where everyone just withdraws in dismay.

All best,

Christer Bergström
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