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Old 7th May 2012, 22:55
Paul Thompson Paul Thompson is offline
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Post Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

Hello,

I am very glad to have become a forum member!

I've been interested in Luftwaffe loss figures for a long time, and I've become ever more confused as to their precise meaning. My specific question concerns Ed Hooton's 2010 book - http://www.ianallanpublishing.com/the-luftwaffe.htm

On page 143 of this book, Mr. Hooton provides a summary table of Luftwaffe Losses in the Western Mediterranean

To give an example, for Q4 1942 he gives figures of 432 aircraft lost to EA (enemy action) and 489 to accidents

The sources he gives are as follows:
BA MA RL 2 III/875-881 and Mr Nick Beale (A member of this forum!)
Note: Figures exclude seaplane and transport units


My question is:
Are these total losses (100%), or do the totals include aircraft damaged beyond repair (60% and above), or all aircraft sustaining any damage (5% and above?)

Why were more aircraft lost to accidents than enemy action? Does this indicate that the figures include even minor damage, presumably sustained in many take-off and landing knocks?

Paul Thompson
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Old 8th May 2012, 14:20
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

I don't know which of my things Ted Hooton was citing, so it's difficult to comment on how he did his maths.

Taking one of the files you mention, RL2 III/881, this offers detailed breakdowns of aircraft on strength and lost in units during August 1944. It categorises these losses under: enemy action, not by enemy action, given up to other units, and sent to industry (for major repair/overhaul). Aircraft received are divided into new production, from other units, and repaired.

I don't know if anyone has ever worked out the ratio of aircraft sent to industry vs. the reconditioned machines that units received. Presumably many written off aircraft would have yielded useable parts so that (in theory) you'd get a whole machine from every so many wrecks.
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Old 8th May 2012, 14:57
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

In RAF practice, the main fuselage carried the identification, so it would not be possible to generate a totally new airframe as it would still carry the identity of the fuselage. Everything else would just be spares. I suspect a similar situation existed in the Luftwaffe; the likeliest contender for such an item being the centre fuselage/wing centre section on most types.
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Old 8th May 2012, 23:02
Paul Thompson Paul Thompson is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

Nick and Graham, thank you for your ideas!

Nick, your description of RL2 III/881 closely matches the layout of the Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen available on Michael Holm's website. Are they indeed the same or similar?

The gist of what both of you are saying seems to be that Ted Hooton's totals are most likely those for aircraft lost or damaged beyond repair, minus any which were eventually extensively reassembled. I've looked at my notes again and I've found that on page 213 of the same book Mr. Hooton describes a similar set of figures for the Eastern Front as relating to aircraft destroyed or severely damaged. I am guessing that this should mean aircraft sustaining 60% damage or greater according to the Luftwaffe classification and so you are right.

However, all of the above raises a couple of "global" questions. Did the Luftwaffe really lose such a large proportion of aircraft to non-combat causes? Is this an exception or the rule among the air forces of World War Two? I find myself at a loss to answer those.

I've reproduced the Mediterranean table below to show the magnitude of the non-combat losses. Nick, I hope it might also give you some idea of how the calculations were done, by giving more data to compare with any totals that you may have.

Table below:

Quarter Year EA Accident Ratio of EA to Accident
Q4 1942 423 489 0.87
Q1 1943 448 471 0.95
Q2 1943 677 461 1.47
Q3 1943 1114 578 1.93
Q4 1943 261 129 2.02
Q1 1944 458 162 2.83
Q2 1944 421 162 2.60
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Old 8th May 2012, 23:57
Don Pearson Don Pearson is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

For comparison, Wikipedia provided this data for the USAAF;

"88,119 airmen died in service. 52,173 were battle casualty deaths: 45,520 KIA, 1,140 died of wounds, 3,603 were MIA and declared dead, and 1,910 were nonhostile battle deaths... 35,946 non-battle deaths included 25,844 in aircraft accidents, more than half of which occurred within the Continental United States."

Don
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Old 9th May 2012, 00:19
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Thompson View Post
Nick and Graham, thank you for your ideas!

Nick, your description of RL2 III/881 closely matches the layout of the Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen available on Michael Holm's website. Are they indeed the same or similar?

Did the Luftwaffe really lose such a large proportion of aircraft to non-combat causes?

I've reproduced the Mediterranean table below to show the magnitude of the non-combat losses. Nick, I hope it might also give you some idea of how the calculations were done, by giving more data to compare with any totals that you may have.
1) Yes.

2) Maybe but I've not tried to compile the stats. Lots of people died in accidents in all air forces but I don't have comparative data. Flying in the 1940s was far more hazardous than now and in wartime aircraft were often overloaded, operated from less than ideal fields etc. Runway and hazard lighting was kept to a minimum in the general blackout. Loading bombs and fuel could result in fire and explosions. Luftwaffe pilot quality deteriorated as training was curtailed. Delivery flights to North Africa were over water, those to Italy over mountains. Aircraft construction suffered from materials shortfalls, bombardment, dispersed production in sheds, tunnels forests. Germany was using slaves to produce aircraft. All of this is likely to have affected the quality of the final product.

3) I've never made any attempt to calculate total losses in the MTO or elsewhere, only for given units at particular times or for individual actions, so I can't really help. At a tactical level, an aircraft is lost when the user requires a replacement for it; where that replacement comes from is not too important (provided refurbished machines really are "good as new" and not obsolete marks, of course). At a strategic level however, the more severely damaged planes you can put back into action alongside new production, the better.
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Old 9th May 2012, 08:37
Maxim1 Maxim1 is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

In the Soviet VVS more than 50% of aircraft (ca. 45,200 out of total 88,300) were lost to non-combat causes, such as accidents, wear and tear etc.
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Old 9th May 2012, 11:54
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

From my own experience, I would say that it was usual for an air force to lose more aircraft in accidents than by enemy action, but only if you include rear area units (flight schools, operational training schools and so on).

From the summary of Luftwaffe losses between 22 June 1941 and the first days of 1945, frontline units will suffer 25-40% of their unrepairable losses (> 60%) in accidents and the rest due to enemy action (either in the air or on the ground)

Some examples:
II./JG 27: 140 accident losses, 509 total = 27%
III./JG 53: 177 accident losses, 477 total = 37%
II./JG 53: 121 accident losses, 467 total = 26%
I./JG 53: 129 accident losses, 422 total = 31%

JGr.West (an operational training unit): 399 accident losses, 477 total = 84%

As for the figures in your tables, you can see that the Q4 1942 and Q1 1943 are the ones where the percentage of losses in accidents are the highest, probably for four reasons:
1) lot of flying was done over water (between Tunisia and Sicily/Italy) or terrain where it was difficult to recover aircraft (desert or Tunisian mountains)
2) the Luftwaffe was operating from rude airfield compared to Germany or North Europe
3) there was a great number of transport units involved in MTO operations, and up to April 1943 and operation Flax they suffered more losses in accidents than due to enemy action
4) lack of spare parts and good workshops: an aircraft that could have been repaired in Germany or in France will be dumped in Tunisia.

If you exclude these two periods, from Q2 1943 to Q2 1944, your figures are 2931 losses due to enemy action and 1492 in accidents = 32%.
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Old 9th May 2012, 12:44
RT RT is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

In the Soviet VVS more than 50% of aircraft (ca. 45,200 out of total 88,300)

So few ,,,???

Rémi
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Old 9th May 2012, 14:19
Maxim1 Maxim1 is offline
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Re: Hooton's Luftwaffe Loss Totals - request for clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by RT View Post
In the Soviet VVS more than 50% of aircraft (ca. 45,200 out of total 88,300)

So few ,,,???

Rémi
Well... what figures did you expect to see?

88,300 are only the losses suffered by a frontline units, these figures don't include losses in training units, schools etc.
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