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Old 21st April 2017, 14:50
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

Just out of curiosity, did the results of your study lead you to your conclusions, or did you want to proof your point by using statistics?
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Old 21st April 2017, 20:35
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

Originally Posted by Ruy Horta View Post
Just out of curiosity, did the results of your study lead you to your conclusions
Hello Ruy,

I am happy to see the father of the House contribute to the thread. The motivation for writing my study was to make history as an undertaking scientific and rigorous. The aim of history should be to present systematic information about the course of events, and then to use this information to analyse the causes and consequences of the events described.

What I did in my work is set out how the Luftwaffe's resources were distributed, to the extent that I was able given the limitations of the accessibility of original documents and the problem that only a small proportion has survived. In the introduction on Michael Holm's website, I briefly summarised the conclusions I was able to reach after analysing the information I had collected. It would be most appropriate to collect more information on such subjects as the number of sorties flown by the Luftwaffe in each theatre and the deliveries of aircraft to frontline units, to extend the conclusions reached and add greater specificity to the information available at the moment. I would be very glad if other members contributed to the search for additional information. I plan to write further pieces on the subject in the immediate future.

Kind regards,

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Old 22nd April 2017, 14:57
Delmenhorst Delmenhorst is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

I would be glad to receive questions and comments from members, whether supportive or critical!

Dear Mr Zamansky

I have with great interest read our report and there are some interesting points.

I have a few questions and comments.

Page 4:
Access to ‘Personelle and materielle Einsatzbereitschaft’ is not a rare privilege. A few thousand people have had access to these files.

Page 6:
You use the term Western front. Do you mean Luftwaffenkommando West or the whole of western Europe including Luftflotte Reich etc ? I guess that it is the latter.

Page 7:
You are writing about allocation of German aircraft, but it is more interesting to investigate allocation of air crews, aircraft and fuel. One without the other is useless.

You are using the term ‘reserve’ on page 7. What do you mean by that term ?

Page 8:
You are stating that allocation of aircraft to the East fell in December 1941. Have you investigated why ?
The Luftwaffe strength fell on the eastern front at that time, but it could be due to weather, lack of suitable airfields, problems with fuel supplies and the Russian air force.

Page 11:
You states that the need to react to the allied landings in North Africa was one of the fundamental causes of the failure of the Stalingrad airlift. I disagree with you. The Stalingrad air lift failed because the Luftwaffe did not have suitable aircraft for maintaining the air lift, not enough airfields and because bad weather caused a lot of problems. The Russian AA defence around Stalingrad was so strong, that the air lift never could have worked.

You are writing about Scandinavia. Do you with this term mean Scandinavia or Luftflotte 5 ?

Page 15:
You are writing that Rolf Pringel was shot down by a small formation of Stirling bombers. Well, that is twisting it a bit. Bomber Command sent three Stirings against Chocques power station in France. One Stirling, R6017 from No. 7 Squadron, was shot down. Pringels Bf 109 was damaged by return fire from the two last Stirlings and he was then shot down by a Spitfire flown Sergeant J Smigielski from No. 306 Squadron. Pringel would have shot down the Stirling if the Spitfire did not come to the rescue. No four engine bombers could survive without fighter escort.

You are writing that the 210 mm rocket mortar was the most powerful weapon used by German fighters during the war. I disagree. The 210 mm was the largest caliber, but it was short range, difficult to aim (+ hit with) and there were a lot of malfunctions. The R4M was the most powerful rocket that the German fighter arm had. The 210 mm was only used in the West because it could only be used (in air combat) against big slow moving aircraft. It would have been even more useless on the Eastern front where the situation was different.

Page 19:
You are again writing about Scandinavia. Due to your extensive research, you are familiar with the fact, that the German Navy was responsible for AA defence quite a few places in Norway and Denmark. Are you only talking about Luftwaffe guns or the whole Flak arm ? Some cities in Germany was also protected by the Navy and not the Luftwaffe (for instance Wilhelmshaven and Kiel).

You are using the term ‘German air defence’ a few times. Are you talking about the AA defence. In my world the Air Defence consist of radar, fighters and AA.

Page 20:
You are writing that it is regrettable that information about the distribution of gun-laying radar is unavailable. Well, you have to go back to Freiburg. There is a lot of information about that subject. You are right – there were many more gun laying radars in the West than in the East.
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Old 22nd April 2017, 19:22
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

Originally Posted by Delmenhorst View Post
I have with great interest read our report and there are some interesting points.
Delmenhorst, thank you for your words of praise! It is very pleasing that my work is of interest to people like you. I have responded to your points below and have also sent you a private message regarding a couple of specific points in your message.

Personelle and materielle Einsatzbereitschaft

I should hope that a few people have had access to this source, since it is so important. The privilege that I was referring to involved seeing the colour originals, rather than the microfiche copies of the files. The originals are in a tender state, though by no means as tender as a few of the documents from past centuries that I had a chance to view at the British National Archives. The benefit of seeing the originals is that the textual notes regarding the state of various Luftwaffe units can be read easily. I should clarify that I only saw a small selection of the volumes in the series and access to the rest is dependent on their physical state. I did not have the time to find out how many files in the series are accessible.

Western Front

This was one of several generalisations that I had to make to save space in my work and to avoid excessive detail for what was a non-specialist audience. You are correct, the Western front is shorthand for operations in Western Europe and over Germany.

Aircraft, crews and fuel

You are right that it is best to analyse these three in combination, but I found absolutely no data concerning the allocation of fuel between operational theatres and very little data concerning aircrew. If you know where to look for this, I would be very glad to find out!

Aircraft in reserve

I mean all aircraft not subordinated to an active command, so units resting, re-equipping or transferring from one theatre to another. I relied on the written comments in the Einsatzbereitschaft series to make this determination.

Fall in aircraft strength in the East in November-December 1941

This was caused by the withdrawal of some units for rest, due to German over-confidence, and by the transfer of other units to the Mediterranean. Losses were not as significant an influence, because German losses had declined precipitously from the peak in June-July 1941, as the Soviet air force had been largely destroyed, for the time being. Logistical and weather issues played a part too, but the core point is that the Wehrmacht was making a maximum effort to capture Moscow and defeat the USSR, so there was no operational pause during which the Luftwaffe could make the choice of reducing its activity, as there was in late spring 1943 before the battle of Kursk.

The Stalingrad airlift

It is likely that the airlift would have failed in any case, because the Germans had put themselves in an untenable position. However, it is not possible to argue that a doubling of Luftwaffe transport strength would not have changed the situation. Even if the Stalingrad pocket could not be maintained by an air lift, which is probable, the improvement in German logistics could have facilitated a successful relief of the pocket and the withdrawal of at least part of the 6 Army. Even if this were not to be the case, the general crisis along the entire southern sector of the German front would have been reduced, as units moving up to the front could have been supplied more easily. On the subsidiary point regarding the effectiveness of Soviet AA fire, I think it is clear that Allied fighters and long-range bombing attacks on airfields, the dominant dangers in the Mediterranean, posed a much more serious threat. Flights into the Stalingrad pocket were vulnerable to AA fire, but the Soviet forces could only rarely attack transport aircraft bases or formations of aircraft in the air.


This is shorthand, and you have again understood it correctly. I used Scandinavia to avoid having to discuss the precise nature of the deployment of Luftflotte 5, for which I did not have space.

Stirlings and four-engine bombers in general

I was not aware of the full details of the shoot down of Pingel, but the point still stands. It was far more difficult to attack heavy bombers, even weaker-armed RAF types, than other aircraft types. RAF Blenheims and Soviet Il-4s could not survive without fighter escort in the very literal sense, that is entire formations were shot down. In the case of four-engine bombers, the destruction of entire formations was rare and required great exertions from the Luftwaffe.


Rockets represent a resource cost, this is the main point. If rocket fighters had not been needed, the time and effort spent on this activity could have been redirected to address the requirements of the Eastern front. I am aware of the deficiencies of the 210 mm rocket, but it had an explosive charge far larger than any other cannon or rocket system used in air combat during the war. Thus, it is an excellent illustration of the lengths to which the Luftwaffe had to go to attack USAAF bomber formations. Indeed, the 210 mm rocket did make a significant contribution to the heavy losses suffered by the USAAF in autumn 1943, in spite of all the problems with this weapon. The case of the R4M only reinforces the point that the Luftwaffe had to develop a weapon of extraordinary complexity, the Me 262 jet fighter with rocket armament, to finally solve the problem of attacking bomber formations, and it took until the final weeks of the war to do this. The resources expended on this effort could have been allocated to producing more machine-guns and cannon to equip the standard types on the Eastern front.

Marine flak and IADS (Integrated Air Defence System)

I am aware of the existence of naval flak units of course. I could not locate data on the distribution of these units. Are you in a position to help? To use modern USAF terminology, an IADS consists of a multitude of components, from the surface and aerial defences to the variety of communications and command units that coordinate the air defence system. I would be very interested in writing about all this, but again the difficulty is finding data.

Gun-laying radar

This is excellent news! I am looking forward to going back to Freiburg to look at this information. I am not surprised that most gun laying radar were in the West, but it is good to have independent confirmation from you.

Kind regards,

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Old 1st May 2017, 02:55
Andrey Kuznetsov Andrey Kuznetsov is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

Hello Dan,

thank you for the article. Some of statistic tables are interesting. I have some comments and questions.

As for your main thesis I can only repeat the question of Ruy Horta: “Did the results of your study lead you to your conclusions, or did you want to proof your point by using statistics?”
The problems of your article begin from the first sentence of the abstract: "German air force, a key component in the initial German victories during the Second World War".
Not a key component, but one of the components, not more.

But comments and questions:

1. Table 1. Allocation of Luftwaffe operational aircraft …, and following tables.

How you divide the units between “At the front” and “In reserve”? Maybe if you will list the units with allocation for the specific date (for example 10.Feb.43) your methodology will become clearer. Also distribution between Ostfront, Germany, West, Southeast, Mediterranean etc. more useful than the faceless “West”.
How and where you are counting Lfl.5?

For the estimation of comparable efforts the number of sorties is more important than allocation. Do you saw that data in BAMA? If not, for some large timeframes these data survived the war in the reports to Heeresgruppen, to armies etc.

2. Table 6. Allocation of German anti-aircraft guns and supporting equipment, December 1942.

About zero in the row “Heaviest guns (105-128 mm)”: I don’t have entire picture but in Kerch area in Jan.43 (and evidently in Dec.42) were two “heaviest” batteries: 105 mm 4./321 and 128 mm 1./Lehr u.Versuchsabt. If the data in other rows are likewise “correct” …

Also, Heeres-Flak and Flak units integrated in ground forces divisions etc are beyond this analysis. And the lion’s share of ground forces was in the East.

3. Table 9. Anti-aircraft batteries lost with all equipment, 1939 to July 1944

As you write correctly “Of course, losses of entire batteries exclude the many losses of individual guns during routine operations”. So the losses of “batteries lost with all equipment” have a questionable value for the analysis. But it is more important that the data seems doubtful, both for East and West.

In 1941-43 in the “West” (in Tunisia) were lost 19. and 20.Flakdivision. Some batteries probably were lost in Libya, maybe on Sicily and in 1940 in Narvik. But more than 150 batteries?
How many batteries were in Tunisia in May 1943 for example?

For the East: it seems that only Stalingrad is counted. But German army had retreated (partly in disarray) many times in 1941-43: from the outskirts of Moscow, from Caucasus, from Upper Don, from Orel-Kursk-Kharkov-Mius etc etc etc with heavy losses of all kinds of weapon. Some AA batteries were lost in the Kerch peninsula in Dec.1941 certainly during Soviet landing operation.

4. Table 11. Luftwaffe losses before and after 22 June 1941 …

For such inhuman phenomenon as the war the losses and their replacement is a normal process - as far as the replacement remain on the same or the higher level (quality and quantity) as the lost means of war and personnel. You probably know when the reduction of quality of the Luftwaffe crews began. It was certainly not before 22.Jun.41. In 1939-41 some crews were lost, but all other became more hardened. Green crews had a time to training due to great pauses between significant operations in 1939 - 1st half of 1941.

5. Table 12. Luftwaffe losses January to August 1942, by theatre of operations

Do you saw the following thread?
From the 98 planes captured after Stalingrad on the Chir station at least 68 planes are the total losses unknown from the German documents or known as repairable before the discussion about Chir finding. It isn’t singular known example. And how many such examples are not known yet …
So the statistics based on GQM returns is certainly incomplete, unrepresentative. At least the losses of planes transferred to the repair units are not counted. It was in Tunisia also, as Andrew Arthy wrote, but the scale of such Ostfront losses is certainly far more high for obvious reasons.

6. These mines were particularly effective in the initial period of the Soviet-German war, because the Soviet navy was “practically unready” to defend against their advanced firing mechanisms, which included combined acoustic and magnetic detonators (Kuznetsov and Morozov 2015: 42, 50)

As co-author of the book you cited I can say that though Soviet navy indeed was practically unready to sweep these mines 22.Jun.1941, German mining campaign had failed. Partly because the solution was founded quickly (among others the further «father» of Soviet A-Bomb and of nuclear energetics Kurchatov and further President of Academy of Science Aleksandrov had worked with that problem in Sevastopol). Partly it was due to German unwise tactical solutions and even due to bad knowledge of the operational characteristics the own mines by German headquarters. The sole palpable result for German airdropped mines was later, during April-May 1942 in the Kerch Strait, partly due to difficulty of minesweeping due to local German air superiority.
And I'm surprising that Germans had used 41% of aerial mines in 1942 in the East, during the almost pure overland campaign.

7. Table 16. Expenditure of selected classes of Luftwaffe munitions, second half of 1941

It is amazing technique to not count the most used bombs (50 kg and lower) with explanation that more heavy bombs were «reserved for especially important tasks». No comments.

Too long post, I’m stopping.

Best regards,
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Old 1st May 2017, 10:20
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

Originally Posted by Andrey Kuznetsov View Post
Hello Dan
Hello Andrey,

Thank you for your response. I have been busy with work, but I will reply to you here and hope to also reply to the others who are waiting for a response within the next few days.

Let me begin by saying that attacking my integrity is not the best way to start a discussion. I did not see Ruy's comment as an attack in the way that you have implied, and I will leave it to Ruy to speak for himself. Your attack is unwarranted, since I have set out a substantial body of evidence, some of it never before presented. Only after presenting the evidence did I reach my conclusions, which the evidence supports.

I am very surprised that you, as a historian of the Second World War, suggest that the Luftwaffe was "one of the components, not more" of the initial German victories. It is abundantly clear that the campaigns in Scandinavia and in the West in 1940 were critically dependent on the German air force. It was the Luftwaffe that broke Allied resistance and allowed other German forces to succeed. Much the same phenomenon was in evidence during the summer of 1941 on the Eastern front. Suggesting otherwise betrays a fundamentally incorrect understanding of the course of the war, so I am quite surprised that you have made such a comment.

To reply to your specific comments:

1. Aircraft distribution

To start with your main point, the distribution between East and West is the crux of my study. This allows an understanding of German resource allocation between the very different wars against the Western Allies and the Soviet Union respectively. Greater detail of aircraft distribution by theatre would be useful to discuss the interplay between Luftwaffe operations on the Western front and in the Mediterranean. I may include this data in a future study.

Data on total numbers of sorties flown is certainly interesting, but I would strongly dispute it is more useful than the the data on aircraft strength. Data on aircraft strength gives an overall sense of capability in a given theatre of operations, while sortie numbers are dependent on a large number of factors, for example range to target, availability of specific equipment needed for particular missions etc. Nevertheless, overall data on the number of sorties by front and aircraft class (single-engine fighters, bombers etc.) would be extremely interesting, but I have never seen it. There are fragments about the Battle of Sevastopol in 1942 and other selected operations, but nothing which allows a comparison between fronts. I am aware of the reports to army groups and other army units submitted by various air headquarters, but again these are merely fragments in the history of the war as a whole. If someone could collate such reports, it would be of substantial utility for our field of research, but this is a vast task on its own and would probably not provide much data which can be compared across different fronts.

As for Luftflotte 5, I have divided its units between East and West, based on some comments in the original documents themselves and on secondary sources. I may have made some errors in this division, but because of the small size of Luftflotte 5 and of the specific units involved, this does not materially affect the overall argument. As sircraft in reserve I counted those with units resting, refitting or in transit, as well as newly delivered aircraft which had not yet been absorbed by frontline units. I will give a breakdown for a specific day of the war when I will have had time to set it out formally unit by unit, since clarity of public presentation is important.

2. Allocation of guns

Thank you for the note concerning heavy flak units in the Kerch area. It is clear that the summary report is in error here, but you are wrong to imply that this somehow casts the entire body of data presented in the report into doubt. The overwhelming majority of every single category of flak equipment was deployed against the Western allies. It would, of course, be very interesting to present similar information on army and naval anti-aircraft units. The majority of army flak was in the East and of naval flak in the West, but there is no reason to suggest that adding these units would change the overall picture. The majority of German flak guns was concentrated under Luftwaffe control.

If you can provide data, or reference to sources at Freiburg, which give a more specific breakdown of anti-aircraft guns by front, I would gladly make use of this and would gratefully acknowledge your assistance.

3. Losses of anti-aircraft batteries

I think this data is very useful, since the majority of flak batteries were not deployed on the battlefield, but some distance behind the frontline. Therefore, losses of entire flak units were relatively rare events and it is interesting to see where such events occurred. The phenomenon that you are surprised by, that so many more batteries were lost in the Mediterranean than in the East in the years 1941 to 1943, is quite easy to explain. The Allied forces were far more efficient at sinking Axis ships than Soviet forces were, so some flak units would have been sunk in transit. Furthermore, the retreats in Africa and the final surrender in Tunisia happened at a speed and intensity which was rare on the Eastern front. The German army suffered many defeats in the East, but rarely would it flee at a speed and for such a long distance as after the Battle of El-Alamein, for example.

There is data at Freiburg summarising the losses of flak guns by Luftflotte for most months of 1942 and 1943, so this can be calculated and adduced as additional evidence. If you want to help with this endeavour, I would be glad! The key observation to make is that since the Soviet war effort was less technologically advanced than that of the Western Allies, the Soviet armed forces had difficulty inflicting substantial losses on German forces away from the immediate frontline. Therefore, even with the greater scale of ground fighting in the East, Luftwaffe flak losses were not particularly large.

4. The replacement of losses

It is extraordinary to read the statement that there was no reduction in the quality of Luftwaffe aircrew before Operation Barbarossa. This would mean that the very high losses of experienced aircrew in the Battle of Britain, in particular, had no effect on the quality of Luftwaffe personnel as a whole. Furthermore, the suggestion that all new crews became battle-hardened is clearly at variance with the facts. Experienced and successful aircrew were extremely difficult to replace for all air forces, something which is frequently commented on in a variety of secondary sources.

5. Completeness or otherwise of German loss records

While a few questions have been raised about the completeness and accuracy of the Gen.Qu. loss lists of individual aircraft, it has not been demonstrated that the same issue affects summary loss reports. You assume that these were simply summaries of individual loss returns, while they could have been formed based on a much wider and more complete set of sources. Looking at the issue as a whole, it is very difficult to sustain the position that the Luftwaffe simply did not know or consciously under-reported its losses in its internal accounting. Furthermore, there is no reason to think that in the case of individual aircraft losses, the problem of Gen.Qu. reporting was more pronounced in the East than on other fronts. Vast numbers of airframes were abandoned not just in Tunisia, but in Sicily and southern Italy and later in France. There are a few researchers on this forum who will have much to say about this, including Andrew, of course.

6. Aerial mines

It is excellent to read your response here, thank you! Kurchatov was not in any substantive sense the ‘father’ of the Soviet nuclear programme, but to get back to the subject at hand, you are right that the Germans misused aerial mines. However, I think you are changing the emphasis subtly in your response. During spring 1942 in the Kerch straight, there was a palpable immediate operational effect of the use of aerial mines. This in itself is highly unusual for a single weapons system, since usually only a combination of different weapons has an effect at an operational level. The main effect of aerial mines was to put a general stress on Soviet naval operations, which was significant, as can be seen from your own writing. It was certainly not in any sense decisive, as you emphasise, but it is very reasonable to suggest that if much more than 9% of German aerial mines were used in the East in 1941, the Soviet navy would have had very substantial problems. You know the context very well, that even less sophisticated naval mines caused catastrophic problems in selected operations, especially the evacuation of Tallinn. If you look at the raw numbers, you will see that the greater proportion of mine expenditure in the East in 1942 was a function of the overall decrease in the scale of mining operations on all fronts.

7. Counting bombs

As a naval historian, you will be well aware that small bombs were of very limited utility in attacking any protected target, be it warships or coastal fortifications. Therefore, it is very reasonable to treat heavier bombs separately, since certain types of operations were entirely impossible when such bombs were unavailable. Given what you know of German problems of reducing the fortifications of Sevastopol and sinking warships in the Baltic and Black Seas, it is surprising that you have “no comment”.

Kind regards,

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Old 4th May 2017, 10:20
Dan History Dan History is offline
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Re: I have just written a new analysis of Luftwaffe resource distribution - it is on Michael Holm's website

Originally Posted by kalender1973 View Post
On the other hand the Luftwaffe cumulate so huge experience in 1939-40
Hello kalender, I will finally reply to your follow-up message below:

The experience of Luftwaffe aircrew and replacement of losses

As I have commented to Andrey above, it is difficult to sustain the idea that the Luftwaffe did not suffer from losing so many experienced aircrew in the period from 1939 to June 1941. The example of Barkhorn, who was a fighter pilot at the outbreak of war, illustrates the depth of quality personnel in the pre-war Luftwaffe. As Larry de Zeng and Doug Stankey's database shows, he joined the Luftwaffe in March 1937 - . Most pilots who entered the Luftwaffe during the war did not receive nearly as much training. There were exceptions, like Hartmann, who was sent to the Eastern Front only two years after joining the Luftwaffe, but such exceptions prove the rule.

A comparison of the Luftwaffe with the USAAF is inappropriate, especially by 1944, because the USA was the dominant military and industrial power of the Second World War. The Americans could train enormous numbers of aircrew without any restrictions on consumption of aviation fuel and very few limits on flying hours, something which was impossible for the Luftwaffe. What my study shows, on pages 26 and 47, is that once the USAAF effectively employed a large proportion of its strength against the Luftwaffe from April 1943 onwards, German losses became unsustainable. This is can be observed from many other sources, for example the recently published third volume of the excellent Mediterranean Air War series.

Luftwaffe losses in 1941

You correctly observed that the Luftwaffe sustained considerable losses in a short time during Operation Barbarossa, but this was a unique series of events. As the loss data shows, the Luftwaffe did not experience the high daily losses of June-July 1941 again, at least until the end of 1943.

The importance of fighters compared to other types

The issue is that, as I wrote on page 10, "single-engine fighters were the nearly exclusive means of destroying enemy aircraft in air combat and thus attaining air superiority". Therefore, even though you are right to emphasise that the close air support and battlefield interdiction roles were performed by other aircraft, the fighters were the most important element of the force. Given the profound impact that even small numbers of German fighters had on the Eastern front, it is entirely possible that just one or two hundred more fighters could have significantly affected the outcome of the Battle of Moscow or Stalingrad. For example, at Stalingrad, an even greater deficit of transport aircraft would have accelerated the collapse of 6 Army, but strengthened frontline fighter units would have made it much more difficult for the Red Army to conduct an advance westwards into Ukraine. Soviet air force operations, haphazard as they were, did seriously affect German defensive operations, so the presence of more units like the Platzschutzstaffel Pitomnik would have eased the burden on German ground forces considerably.

Non-operational losses

The reason that it is best to treat non-operational losses together with operational losses is that these combined to reduce the strength of units at the front. Strictly speaking, it is difficult to separate the two loss categories, since it was sometimes impossible to determine whether a particular loss was operational or non-operational. Furthermore, some non-operational losses, such as crashes on transfer flights between airfields, could have been caused by combat fatigue or other reasons directly connected to operations. Presenting operational and non-operational losses together gives an overall picture of atrittion in a given theatre of operations.

Kind regards,

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