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  #31  
Old 10th March 2005, 21:30
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Hello
I had only 30 min. to do some checking, but some info from Maj. Gen. I.S.O. Playfair et al book The Mediterranean and Middle East vol IV (London 1966)

p. 355 26.2. - 30.3.43 losses were Allied 156, Germans 136, Italians losses unknown, but according to Santoro 22 Italian a/c were lost in Tunisia during Feb and March. BTW Hooton's Eagle in Flames, which is the second volume of his 2 part history of LW, p. 221 gives LW losses in March as 160a/c. This was the time when experienced Desert Air Force was very active on the SE side of Tunisia (Rommel's badly failed counterattack at Medenine and the battle of Mareth line). So losses seems to be more or less same according to this book. But of course Allied numerical superiority was rather marked by that time. Hooton seems to more or less ignore this phase in his Eagle in Flames but on page 224 he gives LW losses in Med. 1.11.42 - 30.4.43 as 2.422 a/c. When we added the Italian losses (unknown to me at the moment) clearly the Axis had suffered a blood letting to which they hardly could afford at that stage of war.

Juha

Ps thanks Andrew for the exact loss figures for the western front of Tunisia campaign in Jan. 43. Jagdfliegern did even better than I had supposed against partly inexperienced USAAF units.
If You will be so kind and post the whole Desert War info from Feb to Oct 42 on this forum on the other thread, I'd greatly appreciate. I'm still waiting the reprint of Fighters over the Desert, tried today check Grub Street's web-site, but got only the info that they are updating the site.
  #32  
Old 11th March 2005, 01:35
Andrew Arthy Andrew Arthy is offline
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Tunisian air war

Hello Juha,

The loss figures for November and December 1942 were just as bad for the Anglo-American fighter units in northern Tunisia. Take 3 December 1942, for example:

No German fighters lost, 4 German fighters damaged

14 British and American fighters lost

And of course on the next day was the famous massacre of the British Bisley's near Mateur.

I've posted the rest of the Allied fighter losses in North Africa in that thread.

Cheers,
Andrew A.
  #33  
Old 11th March 2005, 06:15
NickM NickM is offline
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Interesting thread guys!

I must say between my past readings of Shores, et als books on the war in Libya & Tunisia & Mr Arthy's FW book, I am sometimes surprised at how light the LW's losses were to both fighters & flak...indeed I sometimes got the impression that the LW dominated the airspace for much of the time; also, one of the most decisive factors in the air war was the allied airforces constant & unrelenting attacks against the LW lines of supply & airfields; the bombers almost always got thru & their always managed to drop on whatever airfields the LW was using. Their superiority in the air came to naught in light of the fact that they could get pounded into dust while on the ground & they seemed to not be able to do much about it...Armin Kohler's recollections of how demoralizing it was were most enlightening.

NickM
  #34  
Old 11th March 2005, 09:19
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Juha,

With regard to a reprint of Fighters Over the Desert, or Fighters Over Tunisia, I have to say that that is not what is planned. Chris Shores is planning on a complete rewrite of those two books, and to carry the story to the Anzio invasion. But he has not yet started writing them.

The Air War in Burma volume has been completed and turned in, and he has finished indexing the book, so it is well on the way to publication.

The second volume of the 2nd TAF history is due out at the end of this month or early in April. He is in the middle of writing volume 3 (he is up to March I think he said). Once that is finished he has one, possibly two, biographies that he committed to writing long ago. Then, he will start writing the Mediterranean air war volumes.

Frank.
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  #35  
Old 11th March 2005, 10:27
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Thanks Frank

Yes, in a hurry I used the wrong term on Shores N Africa books, I was aware that he is planning a rewrite not a reprint but... my mistake. And thanks a lot for the update of his schedule even if the news on Mediterranean Theatre books means at least a couple years more waiting.

Thankfully
Juha
  #36  
Old 11th March 2005, 17:07
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Quote:
Maj. Gen. I.S.O. Playfair et al book The Mediterranean and Middle East vol IV (London 1966) p. 355 26.2. - 30.3.43 losses were Allied 156
Very interesting! Due to that other British public wartime source which I mentioned (the one which said that the Allies lost 151 aircraft in air combat in Tunisia in January 1943), the Allies lost 104 aircraft in air combat in Tunisia in March 1943.

Also, in the period 26 February - 30 March 1943, the German fighters in the area reported at least 212 victories against at least 62* own aircraft shot down and destroyed in air combat or crashed due to unknown causes (with another four shot down and destroyed by ground fire).

* I don’t have the exact aircraft loss figures for JG 27, so I used the figure of the number of pilots killed, MIA, PIW or wounded pilots. This figure on average is about nine-tenths or so of total aircraft combat losses. Hence the reservation “at least 62 own aircraft shot down”.

So we can see a quite dramatic drop in the victory-to-loss relation for the German fighter units in this area - from between 8 and 9 victories for every loss in air combat (269 - 32) in January 1943 to less than half that relation only two months later, between 3 and 4 for every loss in air combat. Clearly an effect of a mounting numerical inferiority. The combined Allied air forces in the area expanded from 600 in late 1942 to 1,500 in mid-March 1943. Of course that will be reflected in the German losses, just like could be expected if the number of Allied antiaircraft guns would have increased by 2.5 times.

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in his Eagle in Flames but on page 224 he gives LW losses in Med. 1.11.42 - 30.4.43 as 2.422 a/c.
Yes, those were crippling losses. But again, here we are dealing with “losses” which include a large number of aircraft which sustained damage from 10% damage degree and above, many of which thus were repaired and returned to service. Plus that those figures include aircraft damaged even in accidents. It is probable that in the figure above we can find the same aircraft appearing two, three or even more times - each time sustaining moderate damage and being repaired. Compare those figures with the similar figures given by Williamson Murray - who we have seen gives only figures for both damaged and destroyed, and to all causes, non combat included - on p. 230 in his “Luftwaffe”.

But it is absolutely clear that the Axis sustained absolutely crippling losses due to the overwhelming Allied numerical superiority in the air in North Africa.

Quote:
clearly the Axis had suffered a blood letting to which they hardly could afford at that stage of war.
Indeed - as I wrote previously:

Quote:
Please consider these figures for Tunisia, April 1943:

I./JG 53 lost 47 Bf 109s (including 15 to enemy action) and received only 21 Bf 109s as replacement, and had only 13 Bf 109s on 1 May 1943. (During the same period, it achieved 32 victories.)

II./JG 53 lost 51 Bf 109s (including 18 to enemy action, 14 of which were destroyed in bombing attacks against II./JG 53’s air base) and received only 38 Bf 109s as replacements. (During the same period, it achieved 24 victories.)

II./JG 77 lost 28 Bf 109s (including 9 to enemy action) and received 26 Bf 109s as replacements. (During the same period, it achieved 34 victories.)

In total, the combined strength of these three Jagdgruppen went down from 103 Bf 109s on 1 April 1943 to 66 on 1 May 1943, a drop of 35 % in just one month.

http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/viewto...r=asc&start=45
This is clear proof of the fact that the Allied ability to not only replace their losses, but even increase their number of aircraft, was the single most important factor to the fact that the Allies finally managed to achieve air supremacy in Tunisia. Despite sustaining higher losses than the Axis, the Allies managed to increase their aircraft strength in Tunisia - from 600 in late 1942 to 4,900 (including 2,100 fighters) in late May 1943.

As we have seen, not even the Luftwaffe’s superiority regarding pilot experience will suffice against such a numerical superiority - or, as Juha expressed it from the other side of the coin, even inexperienced USAAF units can prevail against a more experienced enemy when they reach such a vast numerical superiority.
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  #37  
Old 11th March 2005, 22:45
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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As a contribution to an earlier discussion, I found this Order of battle for regia Aeronautica on 9 July 1943:

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaver.../ra.html#Husky
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  #38  
Old 12th March 2005, 08:53
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Hello Christer
some of those 156 were shot down by ground fire, IIRC for example the 6 Sqn alone lost surely more than 4 Hurricane IID tank-busters to ground fire, and probably the Italians got at least a few kills, so if LW lost appr. 62 fighters in air combat, so JGs exchange rate was probably only some 2 kills to one loss.

One reason for this worsening exchange rate was of course Allies growing numerical superiority, but probably those at first inexperienced Allied units had learned something. It would be nice to know if the Desert AF got better results against Axis than was that NW African AF in Tunisia in fighter combat.

On the superiority, according to Playfair et al in SE the DAF plus USAAF units there had 535 fighters, fighter bombers and tank-destroyers (Hurri IIDs) plus over 200 bombers plus the equivalent of 3 air recon sqns and to top of that all B-25s and B-26s of NASAF (less 2 B-25 anti-shipping sqns) were made available for the 20. and 21.3.43. Against this LW had on 20.3. 129 a/c in southern Tunisia of which 83 were serviceable and there seems to have been about 40 Italian a/c fit for operations.

If we assume that the serviceability of Italian planes was alittle bit lower than that of Germans, we had some 200 Axis planes vs those 535 fighters, fighter bombers and tank-destroyers plus the equivalent of 3 air recon sqns, that is probably appr. 580a/c plus bombers. Axis also had bombers on call deeper rear, in Sicily, in Sardinia and in Italian mainland but probably fewer and then there were USAAFs heavy bombers.

I must stop now
Juha

Ps Thanks for those RA OoBs
  #39  
Old 12th March 2005, 09:44
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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so JGs exchange rate was probably only some 2 kills to one loss.

Sure, if not even lower than so. A considerable drop compared with the relation of around 5 enemies actually shot down for each own air combat loss in January 1943, i.e. only two months previously.

Regarding increased experience on the Allied side - well, considering the fact that the Allies sustained higher losses (see what happened to 33rd FG which had to be withdrawn from combat because it was almost annihilated), and the fact that apparently such a very large of new Allied aircraft and airmen flooded to the area - I would say that the average experience among the Allied airmen in Tunisia probably did not increase that much. Also, we must keep in mind that also the German airmen increased their experience.

It would be interesting to compare the sources used by Playfair et al (780 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943) and E. R. Hooton (1,500 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943).
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  #40  
Old 12th March 2005, 12:29
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Hello
Christer wrote "...Playfair et al (780 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943) and E. R. Hooton (1,500 Allied aircraft in the Tunisia sector in March 1943)."

Playfair's book number is for the SE or eastern side only and exact number there is appr. 800, in my earlier message been over 200 is 220 if we are exact (140 day-bomber and 80 205 Group Wellingtons and Halifaxes), same to the Axis side (probably JG 77 plus I./SchG 2 plus some Ju-87s and the Italians, I haven't time to check). I wasn't exact on bombers because I haven't time to check the numbers of Axis bombers available.

Sorry, time out again
Juha
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