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  #31  
Old 4th May 2022, 15:33
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

Another way to approach the question of experience (or at least professional competence) is look at the Luftwaffe's results in the campaign. Their ability, or perhaps willingness, to find even a major city was so poor that the British sometimes had to guess the intended target.
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  #32  
Old 4th May 2022, 16:52
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

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Originally Posted by Simon Trew View Post
I'm still getting the sense that imperfect evidence though it is, the quantity and type of medals awarded (EK etc) is a useful secondary indicator of personnel operational experience.
..Balke in his history of KG 2 (p414 Teil 2) states that a study of III./KG 2 from December 1941 indicates 140 erfolgreich durchgeführte Feindflüge was the requirement for the DKiG (pilot) and 200 for a crew member. 75 DKiG were awarded in KG 2 up to September 43.
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  #33  
Old 5th May 2022, 09:04
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

FalkeEins - thank you very much for that reference.

Nick - Impossible to disagree. If anything, I possibly went even further in one of the paragraphs of the original book proposal:

"Operation ‘Steinbock’ was a disaster for the Germans. The Luftwaffe’s under-trained and (in many cases) inexperienced bomber crews were out-thought and outfought by their opponents, who combined electronic warfare with powerful night fighter and anti-aircraft defences, and effective civil defence measures, to frustrate and hurt their enemy on almost every occasion they ventured in strength across the English Channel or North Sea. Although a few raids in February 1944 caused significant damage to small parts of London, some attacks missed their target completely and German airmen often struggled even to find the English coast, let alone drop their bombs accurately. Attempts to copy or adapt British methods of night-time target marking and other bombing procedures, and to utilise new navigational tools, proved largely unsuccessful. German losses were heavy, while British morale – though potentially vulnerable to effective bombing – remained mostly unaffected. With barely a whimper, Luftwaffe operations petered out at the end of May. By then, however, hundreds of aircraft and their crews had been lost, seriously weakening the Luftwaffe’s ability to launch offensive operations when the Allies stormed ashore across the beaches of Normandy only a few days later."

"... often struggled even to find the English coast" is possibly a little unfair, although given the difference between German figures for bombers despatched and British figures for aircraft crossing the coast, maybe not.

You have of course written at length on an example of the very worst of the Steinbock performances - the final raid on Bristol (http://www.ghostbombers.com/kf4/West/bristol1.html)

And several other raids (notably the other raids on Bristol and those against Hull, but also the first four London raids) fall into the same general category.

But not all of them; as the (RAF) Director of Intelligence 6 April 1944 report (AIR 40/2019) states, after the first four raids "the standard of performance improved to a marked extent, the fifth and sixth raids being particularly successful... With the renewal of the attacks on night 14/15 March the standard again improved and was well maintained with the following two raids."

I guess that in developing this thread, I'm partly challenging my own assumptions (as expressed in the second sentence of the paragraph reproduced above). Maybe it's only me, and it reflects my naivety, but I was a bit surprised when I started going through the ADI(K) reports in detail and began to think that a not insignificant proportion of the captured airmen (and dead crew members about which information was recorded) actually seemed to be reasonably experienced. Of course, and as some replies to my queries indicate, I could be very wrong about this (in which case better to find that out now than in any reviews that the book might get). Still, it seemed to be an avenue worth exploring.

Anyway, I'll keep on hacking away at trying to explain (rather than just describe) the Luftwaffe's poor performance in Steinbock, and see where I end up.

Thanks as always for the feedback,

Simon
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  #34  
Old 5th May 2022, 13:29
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

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Originally Posted by Nick Beale View Post
the British sometimes had to guess the intended target.

..so Ultra wasn't providing objectives/targets for each night along with the forces to be deployed ?

re the lack of experience of the KG crews - on 18 April a KG 66 Ju 188 was shot-down by day over the UK, the crew transferring for a night mission thought they were still over the Continent..
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  #35  
Old 5th May 2022, 13:44
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

Hinsley Vol 3 Part 1 p.325:

"Because the Germans had concentrated the bombers in conditions of strict W/T silence at the last possible moment, intelligence gave no tactical warning [of the first raid on 21-22 Jan 1944]."

Ibid p.326:

"The Enigma... provided little intelligence about the offensive once it had begun. It occasionally confirmed that the GAF's radio aids had been rendered ineffective by jamming. Before the FX raid of 29-30 April [against Plymouth] it disclosed that FX bombs had been brought into Bordeaux and that the GAF had knowledge of battleships in Plymouth..."

Ibid p.327:

"But... a variety of other sources frequently gave the defences notice of a raid one or two hours before the early-warning radar could do so. Kingsdown obtained such warnings from its interception of signals in which the GAF notified Flak units in the Channel Islands and ships and naval stations between Dinard and Nantes that its bombers would be passing over, and also of signals... in which in advance of a raid the Safety Service in France requested the activation of beacons and other navigational aids.... the surviving records suggest that tactical intelligence had little impact on operations, the weakness of the German offensive being largely due to lack of experience, poor training and limited resources" [this last section indicating that Hinsley is one among several sources that focus on alleged 'lack of experience & poor training']

Having seen HW 13/38 and 39, I'm aware of quite frequent references to one of the 'cues' for a raid being a request to German units to winch down barrage balloons over the Channel Islands. But fairly obviously that cue was only relevant in cases where bombers were routed over or near the Channel Islands, which didn't apply in all cases.

I haven't yet gone through all of DEFE 3 and HW 5 to confirm this impression, but what I have done so far does not indicate much foreknowledge at all.

Hope this helps.

Simon
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  #36  
Old 5th May 2022, 14:04
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

And re the Exbury Junkers (18 April), John Stanley, who seems to have investigated the matter closely, concludes (p.86 of his book on the incident) that the reason was "a compass malfunction, which had caused it to stray wildly off course." He notes that the evidence suggests that the plane flew off course from the moment it took off from Avord (p.83). He discounts 'meaconing'.

If he's right, the implication would be that the crew flew in ignorance of the problem, but in good faith. I don't know the degree to which crew experience or inexperience would matter in such a case?

Simon
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  #37  
Old 5th May 2022, 14:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FalkeEins View Post
..so Ultra wasn't providing objectives/targets for each night along with the forces to be deployed ?
If you relied solely on ULTRA you'd think Steinbock didn't happen ... well almost. There are after-action reports for the May raids on Bristol and Portsmouth plus a few from II./KG 51 intruder ops late in the campaign but that's about it.

The Germans were operating from established bases in France and the Low Countries and able to communicate by landline, so not much traffic was left to intercept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Trew View Post

I haven't yet gone through all of DEFE 3 and HW 5 to confirm this impression, but what I have done so far does not indicate much foreknowledge at all.

Simon
I have gone through all of the HW 5 for the period and I quite agree.
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  #38  
Old 5th May 2022, 14:36
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

PS on the Exbury Junkers. Stanley has researched the crew (and passengers) (pp.37-44). He is cautious about saying whether or not they were an experienced crew but he concludes they had been together as a crew for a year and had very likely flown (with 3./KG 6) on operational sorties before they were transferred to KG 66. The observer was the oldest member of the crew (23 years) and I think it is fair to say that he was experienced. He flew on operations with 6./KG 26 from May 1941 to January 1942 and attended many training courses as well as gaining operational flying experience.
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  #39  
Old 5th May 2022, 15:02
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

interesting, thanks!
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  #40  
Old 5th May 2022, 15:42
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Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

As to getting compass bearings 180 degrees out, this happened regularly to experienced and inexperienced crews
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