Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum  

Go Back   Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum > Discussion > Luftwaffe and Axis Air Forces

Luftwaffe and Axis Air Forces Please use this forum to discuss the German Luftwaffe and the Air Forces of its Allies.

Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
Old 28th April 2022, 16:16
Simon Trew Simon Trew is offline
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: London UK
Posts: 89
Simon Trew is on a distinguished road
Re: Analysing survival rates among Luftwaffe air crew in 'Steinbock' and other operations

Taking things in a different direction, again for what it is worth, if anything.

This time, looking at the experience of Steinbock aircrew, as indicated by medals and war flight awards.

I get the impression that one reason sometimes suggested for the lack of success achieved by the Steinbock crews was their inexperience and poor levels of training.

I wonder if this is true. Certainly, there were some very inexperienced men among those who were taken prisoner - among them, some who were on the first or second war flight when shot down.

But there were also many prisoners who were decorated airmen and who appear to have flown quite large numbers of war flights.

Some data and examples:

Among the 130 prisoners, 63 (i.e. almost half) were identified by interrogators as holding at least the EK 2 and/or WF Bronze (in other words, a decoration or award of some sort). There were 36 EK 2s and 31 EK 1s (11 men held both, so there were 25 men listed with just the EK 2 and 20 with just the EK 1 = 56 Iron Cross winners in total).

WF awards included 13 Bronze, 2 Silver and 9 Gold (24 total). Of the 9 Gold WF holders, 5 were identified as also holding the EK 1 and 2. There was one Deutsches Kreuz in Gold recorded.

This information is likely to be a minimum statement of the decorations and awards held by these 130 survivors (prisoners). For example, Oberfeldwebel Gopp, wireless operator in 9./KG 100 Do 217 6N+IT, captured on 30 April after the raid on Plymouth, was identified by interrogators as holding the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. But since he also claimed Luftwaffe service since 1940 and 449 war flights, he must have had the WF Gold award and probably other decorations too (since he served in Spain with the German Army, he probably held decorations from that conflict too). Likewise, the three surviving crew members of 3./KG 2 Do 217 U5+CL, shot down on 24 February, were all identified as holding the EK 1 and 2 (as was the fourth, dead, crew member); yet despite the fact that all claimed to have flown 21 operational flights together as a crew since July 1943, no reference is made in the ADI(K) report (#93) to any of them holding the Bronze WF award – for which they were all presumably eligible. As another example, none of the three surviving crew of 3./KG 54 Ju 88 B3+AL, shot down 29/1, are listed as having any award. Yet at least two of them (the wireless operator and air gunner) claimed 42 war flights since autumn 1942, which suggests that they should have had the WF Bronze award and probably some EKs too. Likewise, of the six crew (four of whom survived) of 1./KG 40 He 177 F8+HH, lost 21 January, only one (the wireless operator) was explicitly stated to have received awards (EK 1 and 2 plus WF Gold). Yet from what it is stated in the report about the experience of almost all his other crew members (three of whom were prisoners) it is difficult to believe that they were not also in receipt of a range of decorations and awards.

Another way of quantifying the experience of crews is to look at the proportion of aircraft from which prisoners were taken (59 aircraft in total) which are believed to have included at least one (often several) members – both alive and dead – who bore some sort of decoration. In this case, the figures are as follows:

KG 2: 9 of 15 aircraft
KG 6: 7 of 15 aircraft
KG 30: 5 of 6 aircraft
KG 40: 2 of 2 aircraft
KG 54: 5 of 10 aircraft
KG 66: 1 of 3 aircraft
KG 76: 1 of 2 aircraft
KG 100: 3 of 6 aircraft

TOTAL 33 (55.9%) of 59 aircraft from which at least one prisoner survived had at least one crew member with an Iron Cross and/or Bronze WF badge.
Again, this is likely to be an under-estimate. To give one example, ADI(K) 214 lists no award or decorations for the crew (two of whom survived to become prisoners) of 1./KG 6 Ju 188 3E+MH (lost 15 May). Yet given the description of the career of the pilot, Oberleutnant von Manowarda (Staffelkapitän of 1./KG 6) available at, I struggle to believe that this was an aircraft whose crew bore no war flights awards or medals.

As always, more work needed, but I can't help feeling that along with some interesting information presented in some ADI(K) reports about the quite lengthy training undertaken by even the less operationally experienced airmen, there is room here for some challenge to the view of Steinbock airmen as under-trained and inexperienced, or at least a bit more nuance?

As before, constructive criticism and suggestions for angles on this topic / sources of additional information, is very welcome.


Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 10:12.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004 - 2018,