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Old 19th February 2005, 21:15
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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"You wrote:"...The Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day. . . I'm not sure on that, at end of Bob, IIRC JG 51 was the most successful of the JGs but JG 26 and JG 2 were also amongst the most successful JGs so IMHO there were no qualiative gap between JGs in West and in East at the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa"

I meant, of course, that from 22 June 1941, the Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day.

If we speak of 22 June 1941, I think you should remember that what we are talking about is the quota between the number of German aircraft and the quality of pilots/tactics/equipment/methods. Then it should be fairly clear that what the Soviets encountered on 22 June 1941 was far worse than what the RAF encountered by that time.

From around mid-1942 and onward, the large core of immensely experienced German airmen on the Eastern Front had no similarity anywhere else. While German fighter units in the West constituted mainly badly trained rookies in 1944 - 1945 (a result of huge losses in air battles with US heavy bombers with fighter escort), the German fighter units in the East had amassed a core of extremely experienced veterans which made these fighter units stronger than ever. JG 52 alone had thirteen "plus 100" aces (each with a score of 100 or more victories) in service in October 1944. I am not saying that the number of victories as such shows how good a fighter pilot is, but undoubtedly a pilot with 100 victories has earned a huge experience from hundreds of air combats. The fact that more than every tenth pilot serving with JG 52 in October 1944 was a "plus 100" ace is quite telling, and also reveals much about the quality of their wingmen. In October 1944, the Western Allies were very lucky that they were confronted with mainly inadequately trained rookies and not with hardened veteran units like JG 52.

In January 1945, more or less the whole Luftwaffe - particularly the day fighter force - was shifted east. So while the Western Allies thus had a comparatively "easy" final period of the air war, the Soviets stood alone against more or less the whole Luftwaffe. The concentration on the Eastern Front of 1,500 Fw 190s and Bf 109s, which conducted 2,500 sorties during the first two days of February 1945 alone (to be compared with the average of 366 German fighter sorties over France in June 1944), represents a striking force which the Western Allies largely were saved from during the whole period from 22 June 1941 to the end of the war.

There were only some isolated cases when the Western Allies were faced with the same kind of massive opposition - regarding quantity/quality - in the air. One such case was 14 October 1943, when Göring's "Big Strike" dealt a disastrous blow against US 8th Air Force, causing the US commanders to cancel the whole air offensive against Germany.

All best,

Christer Bergström
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