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  #21  
Old 25th March 2005, 02:47
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Re: Tunisian losses

What's up with all that blank space Christer, doesn't really improve your posts now does it?
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  #22  
Old 25th March 2005, 03:05
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Isn't this OT, Ruy? But okay - I don't know. That happens when I write the text in Word and then paste it into this post form. It didn't happen with the 12 O'Clock forum which you had last month. Let's return to Tunisia now. . .
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  #23  
Old 25th March 2005, 03:24
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
I am re-reading "Fighters over Tunisia" with great interest. The massacre on Ju 52s over Tunisia on 5 April 1943 is another result of the US tactic of operating in large, concentrated numbers: The formation of Ju 52s was escorted by only two Bf 109s (II./JG 27) and three Bf 110s (III./ZG 26). These were attacked by 46 P-38s, divided into two formations (due to the US report).
What about your tactics?

By using that incident as an example, I guess Christer wants us to believe that USAAF Lightnings always roamed the North African skies in group-sized wolfpacks. Nothing could be further from the truth -- the P-38 squadrons were usually committed piecemeal at the whim of army commanders. That is one reason why the 14th Fighter Group was temporarily withdrawn from battle the previous January, they were badly mauled, especially from mounting numerous ground attacks.

Your example of forty-six P-38s together in one place was not an everyday occurrence in that campaign, so we have to wonder why you tried to portray it otherwise. John Mullins' history of the 1st FG confirms that some of their planes were present that day, with the rest from the 82nd FG. According to Mullins, no P-38s from 1st Fighter Group were involved in the more famous "Palm Sunday Massacre" of German air transports.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
"I only saw Italian fighters on about six occasions." ("Fighters over Tunisia", p. 395.)
Sounds familiar, but then again some German pilots in Tunisia tried to avoid battle no matter what the odds. And let's face it, combat refusal is one way to reduce your losses.

"...They used to dodge combat. It was only sneaky attacks by Focke-Wulf 190s, which were very fast, very heavily armed, and what-not else, but they were not manoeuverable. And if we could catch one, and get on his tail he couldn't shake us off. But in the Spitfire Mk. Vs we were totally outclassed, in speed, climb, all except manoeuvrability..."

According to Andrew Arthy those were the words of a Kiwi Spitfire pilot (See Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in North Africa, p.53.)

  #24  
Old 25th March 2005, 05:59
marsyao marsyao is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Christer, according to "FW190 in North Africa", I have no confidence to the accurancy of Herr Bühlingen and Rudorffer 's claims, they obviously overclaimed heavily,
And I do have a copy of "“Fighters over Tunisia” , but NO ! I will not sell it even for $4000 !
  #25  
Old 25th March 2005, 10:17
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Quote:
According to Mullins, no P-38s from 1st Fighter Group were involved in the more famous "Palm Sunday Massacre" of German air transports.
That is correct. The "Palm Sunday Massacre" on 18 April 1943 was carried out by a total of 46 Warhawks from all three squadrons of US 57th FG, plus an attached squadron from 324th FG, provided with a top cover by 11 Spitfires from 92 Sqn. The 65 Ju 52s which these attacked were escorted by 16 Bf 109s and MC 202s and three Bf 110s. Again, there were 19 Axis fighters against almost 60 Allied fighters - no wonder the Axis fighter pilots failed to protect the Ju 52 transport planes. The 15 Bf 109s claimed 7 P-40s shot down against a single own loss (in reality, the Americans lost six P-40s), so it must be concluded that if the numbers of fighters had only been even, the "Palm Sunday Massacre" could have had the opposite meaning - namely a massacre on American fighters. This only as an illustration of the significant importance of numerical inequality.

Quote:
I guess Christer wants us to believe that USAAF Lightnings always roamed the North African skies in group-sized wolfpacks. Nothing could be further from the truth -- the P-38 squadrons were usually committed piecemeal at the whim of army commanders. That is one reason why the 14th Fighter Group was temporarily withdrawn from battle the previous January, they were badly mauled
Here is a row of examples of strengths of US P-38 Lightning formations in Tunisia, from "Fighters over Tunisia", each time with reference to the US reports in question:


10 March 1943: 36 P-38s from 1st FG escorted bombers and were involved in combat with 15 Bf 109s.

12 March 1943: 32 P-38s from 82nd FG escorted B-25s. A little later, 30 more P-38s escorted bombers to attack Sousse.

15 March 1943: 38 P-38s of 1st FG escorted B-26s.

20 March 1943: 29 P-38s of 82nd FG escorted B-25s.

22 March 1943: 23 P-38s of 82nd FG escorted B-26s, and they were engaged by two Bf 109s. Later during the mission, the same US formation of bombers and P-38s was attacked by six Bf 109s.

23 March 1943: 27 P-38s of 1st FG escorted B-17s to bomb Bizerta.

When I described the US success against Ju 52s on 5 April 1943, my point was to describe it as the result of an overwhelming US numerical superiority in fighters in that combat. There were 46 P-38s against 5 Bf 110s and Bf 109s, later reinforced by 8 Bf 109s, and although the German fighters shot down six P-38s, they could not prevent 14 Ju 52s from getting shot down. Of course the result would have been completely different if the figures would have been reversed - if there would have been 46 Bf 109s and Bf 110s and only 13 P-38s.

It is true that the Americans made several tactical errors, due to their inexperience, early in the Tunisian campaign. One of these mistakes was to not fully exploit their numerical.

In consequence, the inexperienced US fighter units also were badly mauled by the Luftwaffe veterans. Here are some examples:

On 26 December 1942, 1st FG escorted B-17s, but lost two P-38s to German fighters while the German units sustained no losses.

On 2 January 1943, 27th FS/1st FG despatched eight P-38s to escort B-17s, but these were bounced by 12 Bf 109s of ÍI./JG 51 and the C.O., Capt. Glenn, and Lt. H. K. Smith were both shot down - by Fw. Anton Hafner and Ofw. Otto Schulz - without German losses.

On 8 January 1943, eight P-38s of 49th FS/14th FG, along with some P-38s of 97th FS/82nd FG and P-40s of 58th FS/33rd FG clashed with II./JG 2. In their excellent "Fw 190 in North Africa" (pp. 71 - 72), Jessen & Arthy write: "In this slaughter, the 48th FS/14th FG suffered three aircraft destroyed and two damaged. 58th FS/33rd FG and 97th FS/82nd FG losses are unknown."

On 10 January 1943, 14th FG again despatched eight P-38s on a mission, but these were attacked by Ofw Otto Schulz (II./JG 51) and his wingman, and one P-38 was lost without German losses.

On 11 January 1943, ten P-38s of 1st FG escorting B-17s again came across II./JG 51 and lost two more P-38s (one of them to Ofw. Otto Schulz) without German losses.

On 15 January 1943, eight P-38s of 48th FS/14th FG escorted bombers, while eight more from the 49th FS escorted other bombers. Both formations were attacked by Luftwaffe fighters. Capt. Fulmer was seen to crash into the sea, while Lt. Auton and Lt. Lawrence failed to return. Shores et al describe a third Lightning mission that same day ("Fighters over Tunisia", p. 153) : "Other P-38s escorted 18 B-26s . . . 12 Bf 109s of II./JG 51 attacked . . . records confirm the loss of two P-38s during this mission, the unit involved is not specified."

On 21 January 1943, another two P-38s were shot down out of a formation of ten 82nd FG P-38s.

On 23 January 1943, 16 P-38s of 48th FS/14th FG clashed with Bf 109s of II./JG 51 of about the same strength as the Americans, and the P-38 pilots Lt. Schottlekorb, Lt. Mark Shipman, Lt. Stuteville, Lt. Harley, Lt. Yates, and Lt. Soliday - a total of six Lightnings - were shot down without any German losses. Again Ofw. Otto Schulz - the Eastern Front veteran who started to emerge as a first class "Lightning killer" - was among the successful German pilots.

Here we can clearly see that II./JG 51 was the main reason why the 14th Fighter Group was so badly mauled that it had to be temporarily withdrawn from battle, as Sixnifty points out: At least ten, maybe over a dozen, of this unit's P-38s were shot down in only three of those examples above, all by II./JG 51 - which apparently sustained no own loss to P-38s during those days.

On 4 February 1943, ten P-38s of 1st FG escorted B-17s, and four P-38s were lost in combat with Bf 109s.

But the Americans eventually learned to pull together their fighters into formations which outnumbered the enemy, and due to this quite rational tactic, their successes increased.

The mass formations of US fighters started to appear in the Tunisian skies from late February 1943 and onward. Thus, on 25 February 1943, 1st FG pulled together 34 P-38s from the 27th, 71st and 94th squadrons to escort B-17s (together with numerous Spitfires). From then onward, the ruling phenomenon was this - as expressed by many German fighter pilots whom I have met and interviewed:

"Die Amerikaner kamen immer in die Masse." - The Americans always came in masses.

The tactic of despatching concentrated masses of fighters to gain an overwhelming numerical superiority against the enemy had been used by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain from August 1940, not without success.


The conclusion that "German pilots in Tunisia tried to avoid battle no matter what the odds" seems to be far fetched. Reading through "Fighters over Tunisia" rather gives the opposite impression, of very aggressive German fighter pilots actively seeking combat. On page 53 in "Fw 190 in North Africa", which Sixnifty quotes to prove his thesis, it is the Fw 190-equipped ground-attack unit III./SKG 10 which is dealt with. The task of a ground-attack unit is to deliver as many and as effective strikes as possible against ground targets, and for this reason, the ground-attack pilots are often forbidden to engage in air combat if they are not drawn into it. The ground-attack pilot has to drop his bombs, use his ammunition against ground targets, and then bring his own aircraft undamaged to base.

Also, Sixnifty left out the continuation of Spitfire pilot Peart's quote on p. 53 in "Fw 190 in North Africa":

"I think that all of the Luftwaffe pilots were good. I can't really comment on the pilots of the 190s because we had more fights against the 109s. The 190s weren't used in a straight out combat role. They were more attack, bomb and get out fast. They were fighter-bombers, and they wouldn't stick around for a dogfight." (End of quotation in the book.)

Regarding overclaims by II./JG 2, it should be noted that II./JG 2 fought much against the US aviation in northern Tunisia, and the US records for aircraft losses in Tunisia obviously are flawed by an unusually high degree of white spots. However, the comparison with Allied loss records in "Fighters over Tunisia" shows that the other German fighter units - mainly the former Eastern Front units II./JG 51, JG 53 and JG 77 - had a relatively good accuracy in their claiming. Not least if one compares with Allied or Italian claiming, which often was vastly exaggerated.
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Last edited by Christer Bergström; 25th March 2005 at 11:42.
  #26  
Old 25th March 2005, 10:49
Kari Lumppio Kari Lumppio is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Hello!

For what it is worth.

Of the April 5th, 1943 Ju 52 massacre.

Anton Wöffen (Woeffen if ö is not showing) was one of the escorting JG 27 pilots and was shot down during the battle as was his wingman Uffz Rolf Piltz.

In his book "Ich war kein Jagdflieger-As" Wöffen writes about the battle on p. 118-119*. According Wöffen there was 65 Ju 52s which didn't flew in a concentrated formation but instead "everyone flew as they pleased". Additionally the flight altitude was relatively high, so attacks from below and behind were easy. Also Wöffen mentions that the Lightnings would have been escorting Marauders (these were two scouting Bostons instead?). Wöffen writes that he could see several Lightning formations each consisting of eight planes. According him the first eight P-38 attacked the escorting Bf 109s. Wöffen and Piltz were both down soon.

It is interesting that Wöffen writes 53 out of 65 Ju 52s would have been shot down, when the real numbers seem to be 13 out of 31.

Translator Hannu Valtonen has also added in the book the two losses as:

Uffz Rolf Piltz, MIA air battle 30 km ESE Cap Bon, Bf 109 G-4 Trop; WNr 15062, black 5.

Fw. Anton Wöffen, air battle, parachuted, Bf 109 G-6 Trop, WNr 16423.



Cheers;
Kari

PS I for one fail to understand what the argument here is. Does numerical superiority exclude the possibility that the pilots/planes/organization/leadership is equal or better than the opponent with fewer numbers?


*I have the Finnish edition "Sittenkin ässä", published by Koala-kustannus 2003, ISBN 952-5186-45-8.
  #27  
Old 25th March 2005, 11:26
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Quote:
It is interesting that Wöffen writes 53 out of 65 Ju 52s would have been shot down, when the real numbers seem to be 13 out of 31.
Wöffen probably is confusing this with the figures for another Ju 52 massacre, namely that which took place on 18 April 1943, when 65 Ju 52s were attacked, of which 24 were destroyed and 35 damaged.


Quote:
Does numerical superiority exclude the possibility that the pilots/planes/organization/leadership is equal or better than the opponent with fewer numbers?
Of course not. However, when 46 American fighter pilots attack 31 Ju 52s and 10 fighters and 17 of the American pilots claim to have shot down enemy aircraft, I think it is reasonable to conclude that if the figures would have been reversed - if there would have been 10 American and 46 German fighters - the result would have been different. Also, ten German fighter pilots managed to shoot down six Lightnings. I think it's reasonable to conclude that more US fighters would have been shot down if the Germans also would have had 46 fighter pilots in that combat. I feel that the objections we hear rather are of the opposite nature, namely implications that numerical superiority is a negligible factor, and that any success in air fighting shall be interpreted mainly as the result of superior skills on the "winning" side. (I am happy that the Swedish ice hockey team does not draw the conclusion that numbers don't matter. Can you imagine "Tre kronor" with only two men on the ice meeting the Finnish team - or even the Polish team! )
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  #28  
Old 25th March 2005, 12:15
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christer Bergström
Isn't this OT, Ruy? But okay - I don't know. That happens when I write the text in Word and then paste it into this post form. It didn't happen with the 12 O'Clock forum which you had last month. Let's return to Tunisia now. . .
No it is not OT, since I am a moderator.

If the directives from some continue I think it may be time for me to set some things straight. Now we can continue with the thread.
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  #29  
Old 25th March 2005, 14:37
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: Tunisian losses

Ruy
May I expect your reaction? Christer Bergstroem's posts are off topic and not related to the subject of this thread. That is one thing. Another is that I still expect answers from him. How we can discuss anything if one side does not answer questions but goes off topic instead?
  #30  
Old 25th March 2005, 14:56
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Re: Tunisian losses

Could you please stop telling me how to run my forum?

Since this thread has ended in the usual gibberish, I'll close it down as the first one.

Lets see if you are able to learn from your mistakes.
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