65 Years Operation Bodenplatte

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tango35, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. tango35

    tango35 Member

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    65 years ago - on 1st Jan.1945 the Luftwaffe flew their last big attack against the allied airforces.
    Here a copy from Wikipedia .

    Remember all the young airmen and soldiers on both sides which were killed or wounded or are still MIA.

    Unternehmen Bodenplatte (English: Operation Baseplate or Operation Ground Plate), launched on January 1, 1945, was an attempt by the Luftwaffe to cripple Allied air forces in the Low Countries of Europe during Second World War. The Germans husbanded their resources in the preceding months at the expense of the Defense of the Reich units in what was a last-ditch effort to keep up the momentum of the German Army (German: Heer) during the stagnant stage of the Battle of the Bulge (German: Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein). The operation was a Pyrrhic success for the Luftwaffe as the losses suffered by the German air arm were irreplaceable. The losses of the Allied Air Forces were replaced within weeks. The operation failed to achieve air superiority, even temporarily, and the German Army continued to be exposed to air attack. Bodenplatte was the final major Luftwaffe offensive during World War II.

    Bodenplatte

    The plan

    On 14 December Generalleutnant Dietrich Peltz of the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (Luftwaffe High Command) initiated plans for a major blow against the Allied air power in northwest Europe. This plan was worked out with the help of all of the Luftwaffe's Jagd-Geschwaderkommodore. It was originally scheduled to support the Battle of the Ardennes, the German Army's offensive, which began December 16, 1944. However, the same bad weather that prevented the Royal Air Force, United States Army Air Force, and other Allied air forces from supporting the ground troops, also prevented the Luftwaffe from carrying out the attack. It was, therefore, not launched until 1 January 1945 in an attempt to help regain the momentum of the struggling ground troops, supporting the second phase of the offensive, Operation North Wind (Unternehmen Nordwind).

    The plan of Operation Baseplate called for a surprise attack against 17 Allied air bases in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. The object was to destroy or cripple as many Allied planes, hangars and airstrips as possible. Every fighter and fighter-bomber unit currently occupied with air defence along the Western Front was deployed, and additional units of Junkers Ju 88 and Junkers Ju 188 night-fighters and bombers acted as pathfinders. The strike planes themselves were mostly single-engined Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf 190 fighters. It was hoped that the speed with which the attack could be carried out would offset the relatively small bomb loads such aircraft could carry. It was also hoped that by flying low and fast to the targets maximum surprise would be achieved. The attack was timed to be carried out at 0920 hours.

    In a major oversight, the planners had set flight paths which took many units over some of the most heavily defended areas on the Continent; namely the V2 launch sites around The Hague. These sites were studded by large numbers of Flak units, none of which had been warned about the operation. As a result many of the German fighter units lost aircraft to "friendly fire" before the attacks could be initiated.]

    Another problem was the fact that many of the Luftwaffe pilots were very poor marksmen and lacked flight skills. By late 1944 there were no safe areas in which pilots could be trained without the possibility of air attack. Aviation fuel supplies were at a premium and there was a lack of experienced instructors. Many of the training units (eg JG 104) were forced to fly front-line operations in order to bolster the front-line Jagdgeschwader. Allied personnel who witnessed the attacks frequently remarked on the poor aim of the strafing aircraft, and many of the Luftwaffe aircraft shot down by Allied anti-aircraft fire were caught because they were flying too slow and too high: "The shooting was atrocious, and the circuit at Evere reminded us of more of a bunch of beginners on their first solos than pilots of front-line squadrons." (Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson).
    The units deployed and their targets
    See also: Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II

    In all, 1,035 aircraft were deployed[8] from several Jagdgeschwadern (JG - fighter wings) Kampfgeschwadern (KG - bomber wings) and Schlachtgeschwadern (SG - ground attack wings); of these approximately 900 aircraft were fighters and fighter-bombers. Facing the German aircraft were the American strategic Eighth and Ninth Air Forces, as well as the (predominantly British) Second Tactical Air Force (2nd TAF). Most of the airfields used by the Allied air forces had been previously built and used by the Luftwaffe, as a consequence of which the layout of them was well known.

    Aftermath

    A total of 495 Allied aircraft were damaged or destroyed. Most of the targeted airfields remained out of action for up to two weeks following the attack. Due to Allied fighter counter-attacks, and surprisingly numerous Allied anti-aircraft guns—intended to prevent V-1 attacks—the Luftwaffe lost 280 aircraft, 271 of which were fighters or fighter-bombers, with a further 69 aircraft damaged. Allied fighters claimed 62 destroyed, Allied anti-aircraft guns claimed 88, and 84 were lost to friendly fire. (Due to the secrecy required for the mission, German flak commanders had not been briefed on the mission and the crews opened fire on their own planes, both on the way to and from the targets.)

    While "a bold stroke" that achieved tactical surprise, it was undone by poor execution and low pilot skill.[verification needed] The Luftwaffe lost 143 pilots killed and missing, while 70 were captured and 21 pilots wounded, - the largest single-day loss for the Luftwaffe. Many of the formation leaders lost were experienced veterans, which placed even more pressure on those who were left. Additionally, while it was supposed to "revive" the offensive, it could have preceded the Ardennes attack, without the need to rely on weather. Thus, Bodenplatte was a very short-term success but a long-term failure, for while Allied losses were soon made up (within weeks), lost Luftwaffe aircraft and pilots were irreplaceable, leaving the Luftwaffe "weaker than ever and incapable of mounting any major attack again".

    Thomas
     
  2. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    Increadable, thanks for posting that.
     
  3. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    too many MIA from the LW in fact for the whole silly month of January 1945. JG 301 shot down 4 B-17's but lost 8 Fw 190's in process with most pilots wounded, the I. gruppe was involved with P-51's totally tied up while II. gruppe tried to get the US bombers, III. gruppe was slightly more successful but during the chaos and lost records initial victories still cannot be determined.

    nearly all this will never be made known due to the fact of Bodenplatte a major goof up even with Ju 88 NF's as pathfinders but due to little known areas to see at night and the expectation of pilots, some from the Ost front brought in to unknown territory and then ordering them up to lead day fighter gruppen was just plain insane. it really was the blind leading the blind several JG's attacked the same airifields by mistake while at least 2-3 were just plain lost and were torn apart by those Allied fighters airborne
     
  4. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    So many lives wasted in the last months of the war.
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    How come 9:20AM was the chosen time?

    Wouldnt you want to hit the airfields a little after sunrise so the AA gunners would be looking into the sun?
     
  6. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    I believe the sun would have hindered the allied pilots more as from what I've gleaned they were suffering from the after effects of some monstrous New Years eve bashes . I can't recall the squadron but they went through several hundred bottles of champagne
     
  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Man, what a waste.
     
  8. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    I've posted this before, and not all the footage pertains to Bodenplatte, but it seems apt to post it again today.

    Bodenplatte
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Thanks Maxim.

    In that video at the 2:15 mark, is that a parachute I see, just a second after the wing was blown off?
     
  10. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Such a waste. Thanks for posting that Maxim.

    :salute:
     
  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good and very apt post Tango, and an interesting Pathe movie Paul, thanks to both.
    Syscom, at that time of year, and allowing for the German-operated time system, it would have been an hour earlier, so the sun would have been only a few degrees above the horizion and, in theory, the attackers would have been coming out of the sun. However, this was diffused, at least in some areas, by ground mist. Note the haze in the Pathe movie, where the Bren gunners and riflemen are deploying, although these clips are almost certainly 're-enacted'.
     
  12. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Last hope?

    The allied losses in hardware amounted to a days worth of production. The pilot losses were "nothing".
     
  14. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Oh my, forgot all about Y-29 yesterday!

    Oh well, here's a salute to the heroes of Y-29 and all the Allies of the battle of the Bulge!
     
  15. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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  16. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    As posted by others - an unfortunate waste - the LW lost a lot of pilots that it was not able to replace - the Allies lost some aircraft (not enought o make any significant difference) and the use of some airfields - for two weeks - again not serious enough to change the overall picture. The big difference was the lack of pilots lost - which the Allies could still have replaced.

    Because a lot of the LW losses were at such low level - their pilots had virtually no chance of surviving. So that they did not have the home town advantage that the RAF had during the BoB. Some of our pilots who were shot down were able to bail out and be recovered - if not so seriously injured as mant were - and could re-join the fight at a later date.
     
  17. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Just did a little search on the Internet and found some Tempest / Bodenplatte info.
    Hawker Tempest - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "In December 1944, the first month of operations, 52 German fighters were downed and 89 trains destroyed, for the loss of 20 Tempests. Following the Luftwaffe's Operation Bodenplatte of 1 January 1945, No. 122 Wing bore the brunt of low to medium altitude fighter operations for the Second Tactical Air Force. Spitfire XIVs of 125 and 126 Wings often provided medium to high altitude cover for the Tempests. The Wing came under intense pressure, losing 47 pilots in January.

    Tempests also scored a number of kills against the new German jets, including the Messerschmitt Me 262. Hubert Lange, a Me 262 pilot, said: "the Messerschmitt Me 262's most dangerous opponent was the British Hawker Tempest — extremely fast at low altitudes, highly-manoeuvrable and heavily-armed."[28] Some were destroyed with a tactic known to 135 Wing as the "Rat Scramble":[29][11] Tempests on immediate alert took off when an Me 262 was reported to be airborne. They did not intercept the jet, but instead flew towards the Me 262 and Ar 234 base at Rheine-Hopsten.[30] The aim was to attack jets on their landing approach, when they were at their most vulnerable, travelling slowly, with flaps down and incapable of rapid acceleration. The Germans responded by creating a "flak lane" of over 150 quadruple 20 mm (.79 in) guns at Rheine-Hopsten, to protect the approaches.[31] After seven Tempests were lost to flak at Rheine-Hopsten in a single week, the "Rat Scramble" was discontinued. For a while, in March 1945 a strict "No, repeat, No ground attacks" policy was imposed; this only applied for a few days.[32]"
     
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