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Old 14th May 2005, 06:41
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

Earlier this month, the accuracy of Axis estimates regarding Soviet aircraft destroyed was questioned in another thread. It was interesting until the last few messages, when the moderator locked out the discussion because some readers continued with personal vendettas (not directed against me, but I still had to read them to find content buried amongst the insults). I would like to continue the exchange, this time without seeing personal remarks about our readers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kari Lumppio
When you write about Soviet combat losses is it combat losses (=recorded expressly as such) or combat losses + "did not return" ?


He was quoting statistics from Grif Sekretnosti Sniat, edited by Colonel-General G. F. Krivosheev. The English translation was retitled, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century.

Table 95 shows aircraft losses by year, including total losses compared to combat losses. There are separate categories for combat aircraft and other planes used for transport, training, etc. The chart indicates that the total Soviet aircraft losses (all types) was 106,400 of which 46,100 were considered to be combat losses. The losses of 'combat aircraft' (Bombers, Ground-Attack, Fighters) was 88,300 of which 43,100 were identified as combat losses.

Table 97 repeats the above figures for losses of combat aircraft, but adds that these were "Irrecoverable Material Losses" -- I would intrepret that as destroyed, damaged beyond economical repair, or War Weary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kari Lumppio
Juri Rybin has done extensive work of the Northern airwar. Valtonen's book gives numerous examples from late 1944 where German claims well exceed the real Soviet losses. The same is true vice versa and Rybin takes a lot of flak from his Russian colleagues because he has also written so. Mombeek's JG5 book uses (I guess) data from the same source and again there are many cases of german claims without real losses (or "no data found"). Was JG 5 the only Luftwaffe unit overclaiming? If II/JG54 did not overclaim then FinnAF nor Finnish AAA did not shoot down any Soviet plane during the Summer 1944 Soviet offensives. Should I believe that?



No, but the record from the Axis side is incomplete. If Krivosheev's numbers are accurate, about 45,000 Soviet aircraft were destroyed or badly damaged by enemy action, but I cannot find enough data to calculate Axis estimates. According to Musciano's Messerscmitt Aces, the Jagdwaffe was credited with 45,000 aerial victories -- with another 16,000 aerial victories credited to Germany's Allies. But, he neglected to consider aerial victories credited to German bombers (KG), destroyers (ZG), fighter-bombers (SKG), and reconnaissance aircraft. Also, he did not put a number to how many Soviet planes were credited as destroyed on the ground by Germany and her Allies, or the number credited to Flak gunners of the Luftwaffe, Heer, Waffen-SS, Kriegsmarine and Germany's Allies.

Undoubtedly, some planes shot down by Flak were never claimed because they crashed long after they passed beyond the view of the gunners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kari Lumppio
"Did not return" inevitably contains also noncombat losses. My guestion of the Soviet losses stemmed from the fact that the "did not return" category losses are often of the same level as combat losses. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that more than half or so of the "did not return" were caused of loss of orientation, bad weather, loosing instrument in clouds etc.


Krivosheev does not show a loss subcategory for Aircraft FTR (Failed to Return) or Aircraft MIA (Missing In Action). The writers distinguished only between combat losses and noncombat losses. The explanation was brief:

"...In the air force over half of losses were non-combat losses. This was mainly because of inadequate pilot training and reduced training time, especially the time allowed for mastering new equipment, but also because of lack of discipline during flight training among aircrews and officers in charge of flying. Design and manufacturing faults in aircraft also contributed to the number of non-combat losses..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Boak
Let's note that, as a general rule, accidents made up as many losses as aerial combat.


Krivosheev did not mention it, but some aircraft were lost because they were simply worn out from hard use. How many planes did expert pilots go through? Airframes became overstressed and damaged from violent manueuvering. War Weary planes were often stripped of usable spare parts and the rest was scrapped. Combat aircraft were designed for maximum performance, not longevity.

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 14th May 2005 at 06:46.
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  #2  
Old 14th May 2005, 11:19
Ruy Horta's Avatar
Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Re: Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

Quote:
Originally Posted by Six Nifty .50s
No, but the record from the Axis side is incomplete. If Krivosheev's numbers are accurate, about 45,000 Soviet aircraft were destroyed or badly damaged by enemy action, but I cannot find enough data to calculate Axis estimates. According to Musciano's Messerscmitt Aces, the Jagdwaffe was credited with 45,000 aerial victories -- with another 16,000 aerial victories credited to Germany's Allies. But, he neglected to consider aerial victories credited to German bombers (KG), destroyers (ZG), fighter-bombers (SKG), and reconnaissance aircraft. Also, he did not put a number to how many Soviet planes were credited as destroyed on the ground by Germany and her Allies, or the number credited to Flak gunners of the Luftwaffe, Heer, Waffen-SS, Kriegsmarine and Germany's Allies.

Undoubtedly, some planes shot down by Flak were never claimed because they crashed long after they passed beyond the view of the gunners.
Just out of curiority I decided to grab my copy of Musciano, but his numbers are not really strong and pretty much "guestimates".

P. 192

It has been estimated that the Soviet Union lost a total of about 77.000 aircraft and that about 45.000 of these fell as victories of the Jagdwaffe. Germany's Allies destroyed about 16.000 of the total. The remainder were shot down by flak or were destroyed on the ground.

To summarize Musciano's figures:

77.000 Total combat losses
=====================
45.000 Jagdwaffe
16.000 German Allies
=====================
16.000 FlaK & Destroyed on Ground

But look at the text.

It has been estimated...

Germany's Allies destroyed about...

etc etc etc

The whole text lacks authority and foundation. The "lack" of other Luftwaffe claims is less impacting imho, perhaps even misleading. It is appearant that 45.000 is a total air-to-air claim, probably mistakenly attributed to the Jagdwaffe alone. Although lets face it, the bulk of air credits would go to (single engine) fighters anyway.

But to back track, the whole text is slippery as ice and I would not dare to make it my starting point when comparing to a more official statistical record.

Krivosheev sounds like a must have btw.
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  #3  
Old 14th May 2005, 12:13
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Csaba B. Stenge Csaba B. Stenge is offline
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Re: Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

IMHO the 16 000 claim by German Allies is a wrong info, it must be much more less number.

You mean: just over the eastern front, against the Soviet planes?
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Old 14th May 2005, 17:49
Dénes Bernád Dénes Bernád is offline
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Re: Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

Quote:
Originally Posted by Six Nifty .50s
According to Musciano's Messerscmitt Aces, the Jagdwaffe was credited with 45,000 aerial victories -- with another 16,000 aerial victories credited to Germany's Allies.




Csaba was quicker than I (apparently, he wakes up earlier and on a different continent).


The figure of 16,000 is way too high, even in general terms of all air victories scored against all of the small Axis' enemies - not only the VVS alone (by the end of war, most of the small Axis converted to small Allies).

According to my own estimates, the fighter pilots of the Rumanian air force - the largest Axis air force fighting on the Eastern Front - claimed about 1200 enemy airplanes destroyed in air or on ground (VVS, USAF and even Luftwaffe). Bombers and other non-fighter airplanes claimed a few dozens more. Anti-aircraft gunners added almost one thousand more to the overall claim number.

If we factor in variable degree of overclaiming, I believe the Rumanians destroyed overall fewer than 1000 Soviet airplanes, between 1941-1944.

The other small Axis air forces obviously achieved even less, due to their sheer smaller number fighting the VVS.


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Last edited by Dénes Bernád; 14th May 2005 at 17:52.
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Old 14th May 2005, 19:07
Jens Jens is offline
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Re: Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

1. Combat loss in VVS(PVO) means:
a) shot down in aircombat
b) shot down by AAA
c) damaged destroyed at airfield
c) did not return from sortie!

2. Other loss means:
a) Accidents/Training
b) Weared

Note: Especially fighters had many train-versions (i. e. LA-5UTI) which mostly were of course non-combat losses, if so.

In 12/1944 "Fremde Heere Ost" calculated the soviet airlosses. Heer and Luftwaffe (=flying units and AAA) claimed 70.256 Airkills! "Fremde Heere Ost" even "guessed" 113.744... . These caluclations are without the claims of the german allies.

ZAMO gives for 1944 and only VVS (not PVO and so on) following figures:
Shot down in Aircombat: 645
Shot down by AAA: 1049
Did not return from Sortie: 6612!

Non Combat: ~11.000

There is of course a high propability, that most "Did not return from Sortie" airplanes, were indeed shot down by Germans anyway, let's guess two third, would made ~ 7000 kills for the Germans in 1944. IIRC alone german fighters claimed ~9000 kills.
For the observation of German fighter kills are following examples interesting:
IL-2:
Shot down in Aircombat: 107
Shot down by AAA: 583
Fighters:
Shot down in Aircombat: 508
Shot down by AAA: 376
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  #6  
Old 14th May 2005, 19:18
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dénes Bernád
The figure of 16,000 is way too high, even in general terms of all air victories scored against all of the small Axis' enemies - not only the VVS alone


The writer, Walter Musciano, did not list sources or documents for the statistics, so I wouldn't know how he calculated 16,000 planes destroyed by German Allies.

Maybe it was a typographic error by the author or the publisher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dénes Bernád
According to my own estimates, the fighter pilots of the Rumanian air force - the largest Axis air force fighting on the Eastern Front - claimed about 1200 enemy airplanes destroyed in air or on ground (VVS, USAF and even Luftwaffe). Bombers and other non-fighter airplanes claimed a few dozens more. Anti-aircraft gunners added almost one thousand more to the overall claim number.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dénes Bernád

If we factor in variable degree of overclaiming, I believe the Rumanians destroyed overall fewer than 1000 Soviet airplanes, between 1941-1944. The other small Axis air forces obviously achieved even less, due to their sheer smaller number fighting the VVS.


Does anyone have Finnish estimates of Soviet aircraft downed by their air force and ground defense gunners?
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Old 14th May 2005, 19:40
Mazila Mazila is offline
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Re: Soviet air force losses 1941-1945

the finnish forces had claimed 2800 Soviet aircraft, the flying units thereof 1600 and AAA 1030, the rest being shared by the naval units, observed crashes or were destroyed on the ground
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Old 15th May 2005, 13:04
Mirek Wawrzynski Mirek Wawrzynski is offline
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Re: Credibility of Krivosheev? Rather low, :-(

Some of you are talking about a book Grif Sekretnosti Sniat, edited by Colonel-General G. F. Krivosheev. I wonder what edition do you think about. This book has 2 edition : first in 1993 (about) and secon in 2001 (Poteri voruzonnych sil Rosji i CCCP w XX wiekie) form 2001. I have the second the first I had seen some times ago.
My impresion about this books as following.

What is for me "shocking" in both books are political manipulation of statictic provided by Russians/Soviets historians. Both book do not have credible datas.
When you check the tables about the Soviet tanks in June 1941 you will get to know that Soviets had about 22.600 tanks in the Red Army.
Other Russian sources edited also in the last years given highr fighyres (I think about Kolomyjetz and his series Frontovaja Ilustratzya) in his series he can specifiy tanks according the types and their serviceability - he put the total figure of Soviet tank force on about 26.000 on June 1941. -all category of tanks.
The sem you will have when you check the amount of Soviet planes in June 1941.
Krivosheev simply uderestimate own forces and overestimate enemy power (no matter tanks, planes ect).

When you check Soviet VVS RKKA losses over Poland during Russian agression on Poland you will get figure of 4 killed (differen reasons of killed given in both edition: 1993-2001). Some time ago I have got form my Russian firneds a list of Soviet airmen killed during invasion on Poland and there is the names of 11 Russian killed form various reason. I can give other such "cases" different figures given in Krivosheeev and other Russian officila sources written according documents.
This is not the point.
I think that these both book do not presnets credible datas and figures as we should expected from such sources "Krivosheev team".
Some of your calculation based according mentioned sources (both books) can easly provide you with flase picture of Soviet losses and war statisctic.

I have realised this when I did start to resarch some of figures given in this official Russian book and other Russian sources. I think about "Air war over Chalchingol" Air war over Poland IX/X 1939" and "Barbarossa period".
Being an author of several articles concerning mentioned titles I just see Krivosheev books as a additional sources of any estimation and calculation because fact and figures given in other Russian sources, documents presents quite differen picture then both books because erlier mentioned reason " underestimate own power and losses over estimate enemy strengh and losses. Last biut not least the language of Krivosheev books is also far of being objective and balanced and have strong political (red/Soviet oriented) colour/flovour.

Regards
Mirek Wawrzyński


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Old 15th May 2005, 14:04
Jens Jens is offline
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Re: Credibility of Krivosheev? Rather low, :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirek Wawrzynski
What is for me "shocking" in both books are political manipulation of statictic provided by Russians/Soviets historians. Both book do not have credible datas.
When you check the tables about the Soviet tanks in June 1941 you will get to know that Soviets had about 22.600 tanks in the Red Army.
Other Russian sources edited also in the last years given highr fighyres (I think about Kolomyjetz and his series Frontovaja Ilustratzya) in his series he can specifiy tanks according the types and their serviceability - he put the total figure of Soviet tank force on about 26.000 on June 1941. -all category of tanks.
The sem you will have when you check the amount of Soviet planes in June 1941.
Krivosheev simply uderestimate own forces and overestimate enemy power (no matter tanks, planes ect).
So what are Kolomyjetz sources and why he must be right and Kriwoshejiew wrong?
I don't get, why some people believes, that soviet losses were even much higher? The figures in Kriwoshejiew are very high, especially at the airplane figures. No other Airforce in World War 2 had such high losses (excluding maybe Germany). Take i.e. 1943 where soviet losses in Kriwoshejiew are very high, more death soldiers and combat lost airplanes than in 1942!
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Old 15th May 2005, 17:33
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Credibility of Krivosheev? Rather low, :-(

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirek Wawrzynski
Some of you are talking about a book Grif Sekretnosti Sniat, edited by Colonel-General G. F. Krivosheev. I wonder what edition do you think about. This book has 2 edition : first in 1993 (about) and secon in 2001 (Poteri voruzonnych sil Rosji i CCCP w XX wiekie) form 2001. I have the second the first I had seen some times ago.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirek Wawrzynski
My impresion about this books as following.

What is for me "shocking" in both books are political manipulation of statictic provided by Russians/Soviets historians. Both book do not have credible datas.
When you check the tables about the Soviet tanks in June 1941 you will get to know that Soviets had about 22.600 tanks in the Red Army.
Other Russian sources edited also in the last years given highr fighyres (I think about Kolomyjetz and his series Frontovaja Ilustratzya) in his series he can specifiy tanks according the types and their serviceability - he put the total figure of Soviet tank force on about 26.000 on June 1941. -all category of tanks


Yes, statistics are always open to interpretation. Both numbers cannot be correct, unless one uses different criteria for inclusion. On the other hand, you compared two numbers in which there is not a significant difference. It is possible that the first number is wrong. But, did you consider that the second number might be less accurate than the first?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirek Wawrzynski
Last biut not least the language of Krivosheev books is also far of being objective and balanced and have strong political (red/Soviet oriented) colour/flovour.


That is possible, but then again some people have accused the German armed services of the same behavior. Certain historians from every country want to believe that their own soldiers and flyers were/are "more honest than the other side", which in itself is strongly political, and far from being objective and balanced.

I would encourage anyone to raise questions about statistics, but I think it is unfair to make assumptions that political motives caused someone to intentionally 'cook the books'.

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 15th May 2005 at 17:35.
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