April 1943 - May 1944: Luftwaffe's answer to the long range escort in the ETO?

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tomo pauk

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Apr 3, 2008
For the sake of discussion, let's say that WAllies read the tea leaves a bit better between 1940 and 1942, and deploy a sizable (if imperfect) long-range fighter force from the UK against Germany by Spring of 1943. Talk a combination of Spitfire VIII with 150 imp gals, Mustang with any Merlin that can be spared , two groups of P-38s for starters, and, from Summer of 1943, P-47s; all of them with drop tanks' facility. By early 1944, the Spitfire XIV with rear tank is introduced, the 'proper' Merlin Mustang, as well as Tempest with 190+- imp gals (instead in late Summer of 1944). WAllies deploy about 400 of LR fighters total in April 1943, with new arrivals as it is plausible.

What kind of response should Luftwaffe try to deploy, in 1943 and then again in 1944? Focus is on the Luftwaffe, not RAF+USAAF here.
 
They have no response, the Allies outnumber them, can outproduce them and can accept losses, the Luftwaffe can't, I'd suggest using Parks stripping away the fighters tactic but the Allies will simply send more, from 1943 onwards the Luftwaffe as a whole was in decline were the Allies were increasingly bringing newer faster aircraft with heavier guns, more effective ammunition and best of all better sighting equipment, their tactics were also based on not just shooting German aircraft down but totally destroying the luftwaffe as a fighting force.
 
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I think the only thing that could slow down (not stop the 8th airforce bomber build up) would be to somehow hit the bombers while on the ground, something the 8th AA never had to deal with. That and sinking the Oil tankers before they reach England. But I think both options were out of the Germans capacity by 1943.

I never did understand why they never even tried to send one of the low level FW190 hit and run raids to one of the closest USAAC bomber bases at sunrise. I am sure other more informed members will enlighten me.
 
I think the only thing that could slow down (not stop the 8th airforce bomber build up) would be to somehow hit the bombers while on the ground, something the 8th AA never had to deal with. That and sinking the Oil tankers before they reach England. But I think both options were out of the Germans capacity by 1943.

I never did understand why they never even tried to send one of the low level FW190 hit and run raids to one of the closest USAAC bomber bases at sunrise. I am sure other more informed members will enlighten me.
Hi
The Luftwaffe did undertake Intruder operations during 1943/44, covered quite well in 'Intruders over Britain, The Luftwaffe Night Fighter Offensive 1940 to 1945' by Simon W Parry. The losses of both sides is included:
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Note that Me 410s were being used, I think it would be a bit of a push to get FW 190s with bombs over 8th AF bases.

Mike
 
I was aware that they did night time intruder missions, but I believe they were all (or Mostly ) against RAF Bases. I do not remember any directed at 8th AF Bases.

I do agree that the FW190 may not have had the range with a bomb load. But I think it was a missed opertunity, could they have a large impact by 1943? Probably not, but it is easier to destroy A/C on the ground than it is in the air. Plus it could have made the 8th AF expend alot of manpower in building bomb resistant parking areas.

But thanks for the reminder of the intruder missions.
 
Unless the Luftwaffe was bombing Wichita and Michigan, the bombers would keep coming in every increasing numbers
 
I was aware that they did night time intruder missions, but I believe they were all (or Mostly ) against RAF Bases. I do not remember any directed at 8th AF Bases.

I do agree that the FW190 may not have had the range with a bomb load. But I think it was a missed opertunity, could they have a large impact by 1943? Probably not, but it is easier to destroy A/C on the ground than it is in the air. Plus it could have made the 8th AF expend alot of manpower in building bomb resistant parking areas.

But thanks for the reminder of the intruder missions.
Hi
I take it you did notice the USAAF B-24 casualties in those 1944 missions?
The map below, from Freeman's 'The Mighty Eighth' showing VIIIth AF bases in East Anglia (there were many more airfields used by the RAF as well) does indicate that the Luftwaffe may have had problems in their attacks suggested by your post:
WW2aswusuk018.jpg

To get to attack USAAF bases in daylight they would have to penetrate quite deep into British airspace, this in itself would rule out FW 190s. To be effective and cause a great deal of damage they would have to use fairly large formations, which would not remain undetected by the British Air Defence system, both fighters and AA would cause attrition on the way in and out again. To have any major effect on the USAAF daylight bomber offensive the attacks would have be done more than once, which with the losses would not be sustainable for the Luftwaffe, even if they found the 'correct' airfields (as I mentioned there were a lot of airfields in East Anglia), they would bomb the first airfield they saw and try to get out again before being killed or becoming a POW. Basically it has the hallmarks of being a 'Bodenplatte' with higher German Casualties.
On the ground the US bombers would have been dispersed around the airfield (they were not lined up as at PH in 1941) so it would be hard to destroy a lot of aircraft in one pass. As the Luftwaffe up to this 1943/44 date had 'failed' to knock out many RAF airfields or destroy the UK aircraft industry I am nor sure how you can see any German attack, with what they had at the time, could make a large impact on the bomber offensive. It is more probable that RAF Fighter Command would have left the shot down wrecks of German aircraft over the countryside so becoming a failed German strategy.

Mike
 
I am aware that any raids on the 8th AF Bases would not be effective long term, but it is the only option I could see even having any real effect on the numbers being sent out. I am also aware that Germany did not have the Aircraft or manpower to actually carry out any of the raids I suggested, it might work once if they could come in below the Radar at high speed and at dawn. But even ME410's probably could not effect such a raid.

And by that time they did not have much if any aerial recon to base the raid(s) on. So yes it is a mute point. But I haven't seen any other suggestions to the OP idea? So it would come back to cutting off the fuel supply, and again by 1943 they had effectivly already lost the U-boat war, so short of somehow moving up the production of the ME262 by almost 2 years, or the development of an accurate V2 2 years earlier (also a non starter) I just do not see a way in mid 1943 for the Germans to stop escorted daylight bomber raids?
 
In december 1943 some 20 odd fw 190's from jg2 or jg 26 attacked 1 or 2 airbases of 9 af, I think. I have never seen any reports of damage done.
Anyone have anything on this?
 
For the sake of discussion, let's say that WAllies read the tea leaves a bit better between 1940 and 1942, and deploy a sizable (if imperfect) long-range fighter force from the UK against Germany by Spring of 1943. Talk a combination of Spitfire VIII with 150 imp gals, Mustang with any Merlin that can be spared , two groups of P-38s for starters, and, from Summer of 1943, P-47s; all of them with drop tanks' facility. By early 1944, the Spitfire XIV with rear tank is introduced, the 'proper' Merlin Mustang, as well as Tempest with 190+- imp gals (instead in late Summer of 1944). WAllies deploy about 400 of LR fighters total in April 1943, with new arrivals as it is plausible.

What kind of response should Luftwaffe try to deploy, in 1943 and then again in 1944? Focus is on the Luftwaffe, not RAF+USAAF here.
IMO - impossible to change the response by LW absent realization by itler and Goering and Jeschonnek that US Strategic bomber frces were an existential threat. Speer and Milch and Galland were more concerned and vocalized such concerns in ealy 1943 to no avail. It was only mid 1943 that Milch received authority to increase Day Fighter production - which was somewhat complicated by his actions to distribute/decouple large concentrated manufacturing centers for Ball Bearings, engines and aircraft. Simply, Push the assets and commitments in plase in summer 1943 to begin in ernest in Q4/1942

Given sufficient alarm to greatly augment LW Day fighter resources, expand training for s/e fighter pilots and shift resources from 'attack/bomber' aircraft by end of 1942, I suppose the following response would have been effective on the Channel Front - but at cost to east and South airpower force projection:
1.) organize and implement early warning network in 1942 - cutting through the LW bureaucracy .
2.) Shift Fighter squadrons of experienced pilots from East and South fronts
3.) Allocate more Night Fighter squadrons to day fighter reserve
4.) Shift more production of Bf 109G to Fw 190A
5.) Institute tactics to harass, but limited engagement with, US escort to encourage range limitatons and limit associated deep escort capability
6.) Immeiately institute layered defese strategy of witholding t/e Zerstroyer force at limit of US escort radius.

IMO intruder missions must be flown in two ship missions to act as a high threat nuisance to force more dispersal of fuel, bomb dumps and aircraft as contingency.

The only factor that would have stopped 8th AF was politics over very heavy losses early (Before Blitz week) before the massive pipeline in the US began flooding East Anglia with bombers and crews.
 
In december 1943 some 20 odd fw 190's from jg2 or jg 26 attacked 1 or 2 airbases of 9 af, I think. I have never seen any reports of damage done.
Anyone have anything on this?
Hi
Are you sure of the time period? I have yet to find much in way of FB daylight attacks then (searching various sources), they appear mainly to happen in the first half of 1943 and then mainly on coastal towns on the Norfolk/Suffolk or South coast (coming in at very low altitude) not airfields. By the end of 1943 Luftwaffe day light missions were rare, due to the 'warm reception' they were getting from AA and fighters. The Germans were also having problems sending day light photo recce missions and were resorting to night missions.

Mike
 
Much like the RAF could stop (or fight to a standstill) the Luftwaffe in 1940 and the yet RAF failed to make much of an impression "Leaning into France" in 1941 with the Luftwaffe off fighting the Soviet Union the Germans are in the reverse situation.

If they (the Luftwaffe) can't stop the bombers and escorts flying into Germany in 1943 what chance have they got of trying to bomb the Allied aircraft into giving up with a bombing campaign in East Anglia?

They might be able to stage a few raids but they need to inflect steady and sever losses in excess of what the Allies can resupply.
The Germans are switching defense to offence and instead of having the aid of radar and AA guns in addition to the fighters the German intruders are now facing Allied radar and AA guns and interceptors.
The Germans have no hope of sustaining such an offence for weeks/months.

The Germans needed to prioritize anti-bomber fighters even earlier than they did.
 
As one who habitually claims that the two desisive battles of ww2 took place in the beginning of desember 1941, it may seem strange that I bother. But this is kind of intriguing.

Now, luftwaffe cannot respond properly by themselves, they need the rest of Germany on the team. While Luftwaffe does what they did historically, denude the other fronts of fighter cover to make the schwerpunkt in the west one year before, Germany as a whole need to be strictly on the defensive. Pull out of North Africa if possible (they need to see the writing on the wall to do that in time) and don't attempt Kursk. They'll still loose North Africa, of course and be driven back on the eastern front. But arguablu the allies will not be gifted a whole years advance on the two other fronts, summer 43 will not play out as summer 44. The allies does not have that much numerical superiority yet, production will not have accumulated as much and Germany will not have lost so much materiel and experienced personel.

The same goes for Luftwaffe, whether the fuel situation is any better I can't say. I think that in quality the Fw 190 of early 43 is better matched to allied fighters than in 1944, if not the bombers. Though they are also some 0.5 short compared to later. I do believe the Bf 109F is far better suited to tackle the allied fighters, those from US to some extent still have teething troubles and the very lack of heavy fire power suggests the Friedrick be used against other fighters when possible. Of course Germany need to ramp up production of fighters one year early as well, and just maybe, on account of not having lost so many JU-52's in a futile attempt to supply North Africa, training of new pilots could be less of a problem. Anyway, put the bomber pilots that haven't yet been wasted over the Mediterranean, the eastern front and the baby blitz into fighters, with some trainig,I should add. Being less at a disadvantage in quality of aircraft and pilots, and not outnumbered as badly, they might make a desent showing.
Wotes against is that they've had less time to modify fighters for shooting down heavy bombers, and less time to develop tactics and other counter meassures. But how efficiesteep was their learning curve while the daylight raids were not escorted and not so numerous? That question is perhaps more complicated than I feel comfortable answering. Anyway gun pods are not rocket science, while air to air rockets - well, I don't know how much earlier they could be used with effect. I look forward to be enlightened, however.

Also, play it smart. With fewer bombers than in 1944, some raids can be ignored- When the weather is so atrocious that it's close to impossible to take off and especially to land, hope that clouds will render the bombing less effective. Repeat the lean into France strategy of fighting when the odds are best. Make faints at the drop tank carrying fighters when they cross the cost and run like hell (unless they keep their tanks), you may have time to refuel some of them for the bomber's return journey. The German fighters in early 43 are not significantly slower than in early 44 (at least that is my impression), some of the allied are.

If they do get the upper hand, what will the allied response be, apart from trying to implement ever better tactics? Politics may indeed dictate that daylight bombing is discontinued over ETO for a while. But the production plans are not that easily altered, and there'll be a clamour to use those bombers, maybe a shift to night bombing? If not a greater focus on attacking the axis' peripheries. Arguably night bombing would be less effective considering presision, but German night fighters may be swamped and do anyhow not pose the threat they did in the winter 43/44. Will the hopes of the US day campaign be pinned on the B-29? If the US is willing to suffer the attrition, the Luftwaffe probably still will be defeated, and only slightly later albeit at greater cost.

The allies will still get to Berlin, at least the Red Army will, in the end Stalin would probably benefit the most from the earlier shift of focus away from the eastern front. I expect that the show would be over by fall of 45 anyway (there's this tiny detail of the bomb), though Japan may last into 46.
 
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As one who habitually claims that the two desisive battles of ww2 took place in the beginning of desember 1941, it may seem strange that I bother. But this is kind of intriguing.

Now, luftwaffe cannot respond properly by themselves, they need the rest of Germany on the team. While Luftwaffe does what they did historically, denude the other fronts of fighter cover to make the schwerpunkt in the west one year before, Germany as a whole need to be strictly on the defensive. Pull out of North Africa is possible (they need to see the writing on the wall to do that in time) and don't attempt Kursk. They'll still loose North Africa, of course and be driven back on the eastern front. But arguablu the allies will not be gifted a whole years advance on the two other fronts, summer 43 will not play out as summer 44. The allies does not have that much numerical superiority yet, production will not have accumulated as much and Germany will not have lost so much materiel and experienced personel.
Given that the primary focus of western Allies was Overlord and that planned dates of Invasion were May/Early June 1944, the 'happy outcome' for Germany is that the Invasion planners and SHAEF and Churchill/Roosevelt deem those dates 'high risk' of failure. Had Churchill's vision of the 'soft underbelly of Europe' proven correct, the Wermacht would have been defeated handily and by some miracle able to force into Germany via Austria and southen France. The thought died a lonely death in 1943 as Kesslering demonstrated brilliance in defense.

The dominant focus for western Europe as a gateway to Germany was POINTBLANK and the subsequent Combined Bomber Offensive. For the objective an strategy of reducing the LW and te German Industrial capability by attacking and measuarbly reducing the capacity by strategic and precise point attacks as well as destroying city centric capacity by night bombing

Boh approaches needed successful and tangible results in summer/fall 1943 to avoid serious interruption of precision daylight attacks before fall/winter europe weather set in. Had the results of Long Range Escort introduced in Fall/Winter not been successful at seriously attritting the LW Day Fighter defense I suspect that continued escalation of US losses past BIG WEEK would have cast doubts in the mind of SHAEF that sufficient air supriority over Normandy was achievable.

That thinking was behind my post above.
The same goes for Luftwaffe, whether the fuel situation is any better I can't say. I believe that in quality the Fw 190 of early 43 is better matched to allied fighters than in 1944. Of course Germany need to ramp up production of fighters one year early as well, and just maybe, on account of not having lost so many JU-52's in a futile attempt to supply North Africa, training of new pilots could be less of a problem. Anyway, put the bomber pilots that haven't yet been wasted over the Mediterranean, the eastern front and the baby blitz into fighters, with some trainig,I should add. Being less at a disadvantage in quality of aircraft and pilots, and not outnumbered as badly, they might make a desent showing.
Wotes against is that they've had less time to modify fighters for shooting down heavy bombers, and less time to develop tactics and other counter meassures. But how efficiently were they doing that while the daylight raids were not escorted and not so numerous? That question is perhaps more complicated than I feel comfortable answering.

I they do get the upper hand, what will the allied response be, apart from trying to implement ever better tactics? Politics may indeed dictate that daylight bombing is discontinued over ETO for a while. But the production plans are not that easily altered, and there'll be a clamour to use those bombers, maybe a shift to night bombing? If not a greater focus on attacking the axis' peripheries. Arguably night bombing would be less effective considering presision, but German night fighters may be swamped and do anyway not pose the threat they did in the winter 43/44. Will the hopes of the US day campaign be pinned on the B-29? If the US is willing to suffer the attrition, the Luftwaffe probably still will be defeated, and only slightly later albeit at greater cost.
The length of time to switch low time pilots and navigators inbound from US 'clear sky training' was bad enough ust coping with English weather in daylight. Imagine 3000 bombers in the sky every night over England, comng and going.
The allies will still get to Berlin, at least the Red Army will, in the end Stalin would probably benefit the most from the earlier shift of focus away from the eastern front. I think the show would be over by fall of 45 anyway (there's this tiny detail of the bomb), though Japanmay last into 46.

I agree most of your points and questions to be answered. That said, Germany needed to remove Hitler before June 1941.
 
Given that the primary focus of western Allies was Overlord and that planned dates of Invasion were May/Early June 1944, the 'happy outcome' for Germany is that the Invasion planners and SHAEF and Churchill/Roosevelt deem those dates 'high risk' of failure. Had Churchill's vision of the 'soft underbelly of Europe' proven correct, the Wermacht would have been defeated handily and by some miracle able to force into Germany via Austria and southen France. The thought died a lonely death in 1943 as Kesslering demonstrated brilliance in defense.
In a documentary about Bletchley Park and the breaking of the Lorenz code, it said that before D-Day the Lorenz code was being broken and the allies were starting to get inside Adolf's head. While they werent able to force their way into Germany by Austria, they did exploit Hitler's "give no more ground" philosophy to bleed forces into defending Northern Italy and Austria with forces that would have made D-Day and the breakout from Normandy much more difficult.

I dont know if it is available in other areas, its a good watch Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes (TV Movie 2011) - IMDb
 
I agree most of your points and questions to be answered. That said, Germany needed to remove Hitler before June 1941.
They certainly did, but who's going to replace him? And how? As somebody have commented on in connection with the first world war, Germany wasn't exclusively dependent on Hitler to make a strategic mistake.

I can't rival your detailed knowledge, and rarely disagree with your points. But while I'm entirely convinsed that the strategic objective in early 44 was to wear down German fighter strength to pave the road into conquered Europe, I do believe the original rationale for building many thousands of heavy bombers, (to a very great extent, I'm not really fond of monocausality), was to defeat Germany by destroying her ability to vage modern war. Without the grizzly affair of actually invading. That hope proved to be forlorn, but the allied vielded the wepon they had produced to great effect.

As many previous therads have shown, it is difficult to presisely assess the effectiveness of the strategic bombing campaign in itself, though certainly it made a dent. But I think most would discount the pre war optimism.
 
They certainly did, but who's going to replace him? And how? As somebody have commented on in connection with the first world war, Germany wasn't exclusively dependent on Hitler to make a strategic mistake.

For what it's worth, I think it would've been a power-struggle between Goering, Himmler, and maybe Hess (if Hitler's deposal happened before Hess's flight), and perhaps the Heer being the kingmaker?
 
That hope proved to be forlorn, but the allied vielded the wepon they had produced to great effect.

I would amend that to say that hope proved forlorn the way the bombing campaign was conducted. Had Bomber Command continued to hammer the Ruhr area in the second half of 1943 instead of switching to Berlin, and if a concentrated effort against transportation and oil (and electricity) by both the RAF and USAAF had been started in latter 1943, while that might not have prevented the need for ground troops entirely, it certainly would have hastened Germany's demise.

But of course, to be fair, this has the benefit of hindsight. something which the commanders of the time did not have.
 
For the sake of discussion, let's say that WAllies read the tea leaves a bit better between 1940 and 1942, and deploy a sizable (if imperfect) long-range fighter force from the UK against Germany by Spring of 1943. What kind of response should Luftwaffe try to deploy, in 1943 and then again in 1944? Focus is on the Luftwaffe, not RAF+USAAF here.
Deploy the 30mm cannon as the firepower answer to the USAAF heavy bombers, ignore the performance sapping the underwing cannon, rockets etc.
Assume all bomber raids will have escorts so do not reform the twin engined day fighter units, increase the single seater units instead.
Fit all the defending fighters with drop tanks to increase the ability to concentrate against a raid.

Understand the USAAF will try and fight above 20,000 feet, therefore as the Jumo 213A is available in 1943 put the Fw190D into production as soon as possible even if it is thought as the interim version until the B or C or something else works. While bombers are the priority do not pass up opportunities to hit allied fighter formations when in a good position.

By 1943 the training system has been badly hurt by the loss of instructor crews in the airlifts but try and give the day fighter pilots instrument flying training, plus increase training output. Abandoning North Africa would reduce instructor and fighter losses, not trying to defend Sicily would help with fighter losses. Abandon the Kursk attack, support the army using the Manstein flexible defence.
Had Bomber Command continued to hammer the Ruhr area in the second half of 1943 instead of switching to Berlin, and if a concentrated effort against transportation and oil (and electricity) by both the RAF and USAAF had been started in latter 1943, while that might not have prevented the need for ground troops entirely, it certainly would have hastened Germany's demise.
A concentrated allied attack increases the effectiveness of the defences, as the raids become more predictable and even with day fighter escorts the bombers were taking significant losses historically, similar for the night bombers. In 1943 the allies lack the bomb lift and the accuracy to hit even the historical oil targets hard enough. The USAAF was a visual bomber force only until 27 September 1943 (H2S) and 3 November 1943 (H2X), and through lack of equipment and training still largely visual to end 1943, with a radar bombing accuracy comparable to the 1942 night bombers. Bomber Command was still mostly thinking in terms of marking a city, not a specific target in the city, as it would change over to in France in early 1944.
 

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