Battle of Germany= Could LW have done better?

Discussion in 'Polls' started by drgondog, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    For all intents and purposes the Battle of Germany from an airwar/air superiority standpoint was fought with long range USAAF fighters from December 1943 through May 1944. It was the period when the 8th AF stopped recovering from Schweinfurt and Munster and went back on deep penetration strategic target offensive.

    The LuftFlotte Reich had betwee 400-500 s/e fighters (fw 190 and Me 109) plus perhaps 100 Me 110s and 210s available and operational of which on any day 200-300 could be concentrated on 8th AF attacks in Central, NE and SE Germany to meet 3 Air Divisions of B-17s, B-24s and either P-38s or P-51s past Munster or Stuttgart.

    The early period was defined by two operational P-38 groups in 8th AF plus one new Mustang group in the 9th AF. In January one more P-51 Group was added (363rd FG). In February two more Mustang Groups were operational (the 357th and 4th). In March one more Mustang Group and Lightning Group (355th and 364th). In April the 352nd FG converted to P-51s. On April 30th the 339th and in May the 359th and 361st were added to Mustang Target Escort capability.

    So, on any given deep penetration one Group of either P-38s or P-51s were available to escort 200-300 bombers in each division from December 1 through mid January.

    From Mid January through March two groups of mixed P-38s or P51s could be counted on to support 220-250 bombers near and over the targets.

    From mid April to end of May two and occasionally three Mustang and/or Lightning groups could escort bombers past Dummer Lake.

    So, operationally speaking with the bugs that both P-51s and P-38s had, each group would actually get 30-35 (average) fighters per group over target area through March and then average 40-45 through April.

    The Luftwaffe could achieve numerical superiority of at least 3:1 through March (i.e 220-250 to 70 US fighter escort)... and nearly that much in April.

    Boundary conditions for discussion:

    1. Given that RAF and 8th AF and 9th AF had overwhelming air superiority in numbers over Luft 4 with JG 26 and JG2 covering the coast.

    2. This discussion is all about the battles over Berlin, Brunswick, Leipzig, Posnan, Munich, etc - far beyond range of Spitfire, Tempest, P-47.

    3. This discussion includes RAF Mustangs that occasionally were assigned to Deep Withdrawal Support from areas beyond the range of P-47s. They were there occasionally and id a great job at discouraging LW attacks on the way home.

    4. This is before D-Day when a lot of LuftFlotte Reich moved west.

    Questions;

    1. Why did so many Luftwaffe pilots describe this period as one of 'overwhelming number of US Fighters attacking us"

    2. Why were the US escort to Luftwaffe s/e ratios so lopsided in favor of US Fighters during this period when the Luftwaffe had local superiority and a lot of experienced fighter pilots... and by all accounts very good fighters in case of Fw 190 and me 109s.

    If you have a different opinion regarding the LuftFlotte Reich TO&E or the 8th and 9th AF long range Fighter strength please cite your sources?

    Regards,

    Bill
     
  2. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,768
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    I am looking foward to this discussion.

    Bill do you have any info on any missions to Stuttgart or the Ansbach area. I no Schweinfurt is not far from here.
     
  3. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,162
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Communications
    Location:
    Long Island Native in Mississippi
    Home Page:
    I think that the local air superiority (German) could be looked at in 2 differing ways....

    While the Luftwaffe could send up 200 109's and 190's, it usually was never like that, 200 fighter screamnig into the escort fighters... In many instances, it was Staffels and Schwarms that mixed it up with the -51's and -38's...

    I believe that even tho there were more Luftwaffe boys in the air, "locally" they were sometimes outnumbered... Say a Staffel of 10 kites take off to rendezvous with another Gruppe, get seperated, and then someone spots the bomber pulks....

    Attack, Horrido, Attack!!!

    There are 40 P-51's waiting for them, and the Staffel gets bounced....

    Also, take into account that many of the pilots are new... Those that survive the combat land back at base and tell stories on how they were numerically 5:1 outnumbered...

    Even Experten made mistakes when estimating local Allied air strength.... Peter Crump once estimated a gaggle of 25 aircraft that bounced him, when it was infact 6-8 Tempests...

    As far as the experienced pilots went, even the loss of one Staffelkaptain was enough to jolt the security and balance of that units core... "Man, if Oblt Heilmann get smoked, how the hell am I supposed to stay alive???" The lack of moral gets on a mans brain after awhile...

    As in anything, there were engagements where the Allies WERE infact outnumbered, but I fully believe that the Allies had better trained novice/green/noob pilots at their disposal... Given the timeframe ur calling on, it definatly did happen.... Air tactics differed as well...

    I think it all comes down to 2 things Bill... "Local" superiority was never superior, and the nonsense BS stats that have been flowing through the history books, rehashed and rehashed to the point that people believe them... U urself have gone to great lengths to bring the truth of the mattter out, as this thread shows....
     
  4. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Agree with Lesofprimus on this.

    Did german fighters make single high speed firing passes on the bombers or did they turn around and have another bite? If so then one pass and game over...back to base they go.

    A fighter is bound to get hit by some 50 calibre just attacking the bombers alone. so damage of some kind is inevitable which must mean that the available fighter numbers day to day must vary.

    And since all the American fighters were there to dogfight...some of the German fighters were there to attack the bombers. So I think it was never the idea of shoot down the fighters and ignore the bombers. So German fighters actively going after the fighters would make it even.
     
  5. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,162
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Communications
    Location:
    Long Island Native in Mississippi
    Home Page:
    To get back to the question Bill posed, could the LW do better??? Yes they could have....

    If they had targeted the escorts instead of the bombers, maybe things could have been different...
     
  6. Hakenkreuz

    Hakenkreuz Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Aircraft painter
    Location:
    Herrsching
    On the 23 Dec 1943 the strength of Germanys fighter defences was a critically weak,a serviceable strenght of 480 day fighters for defending a line from the Austrian border to the northern tip of denmark and against them were 1,500 US bombers 1,200 fighters. Luftwaffe pilots were in good suppy, but quantity was being sacrificed for quality, and men arriving on the Staffeln had as little as 30 hours on type. Unforunately for the Luftwaffe, Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy refused to recognise the threat posed by the growing Allied bombing offensive. in jan 1944 the Luftwaffe went over to the offensive. NO they could not do better.
     
  7. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    13,090
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Platonic Sphere
    1. sorry Bill I do not agree that overwhelmingly superiority for that time given, after Normandie yes as that was admitted.......due the losses of territory and radar installations in France, not even all the gruppen were rushed to the French front, many but not all and then moved back into the interrior of the Reich

    2. localized it was as not all the Geschwaders due to the areas covered all over Germany could be in place for a US heavy bomber strike nor the night fighters for an RAF strike, it just was not possible during any part of the war.

    I'm still fighting the creepin crud so my brain is on overload dis=function
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Dan - I think there were in fact 'local superiority' circumstances on both sides. The typical scenario for big battles in that timeframe was really good German controllers directing Fighters to holes (or complete gaps) in Escort coverage.. and the defending fighters were engaged in dribbles, like plugging a leak with a thumb, then toes, then your nose and the leaks kept comin'

    Here is an example that Erich and several others helped me research and I find this kind of engagement typical for days when US Fighters scored big on German Fighters but German Fighters scored big on the heavies - because the battle was strung out for a 100 miles and 45-60 minutes.

    This is an example of schwarms, staffels and gruppe's engaging at different points on the track in heavy cloud cover with frantic Mustang leaders trying to piecemeal forces to deflect them while covering 250 B-17s strung out all over the place. Out of six squadrons of Mustangs, only one failed to engae and was the only Target Escort left for the bombing effort on the Do 335 facories.

    The Battle Over Munich – April 24, 1944

    If I can didg up the same Mission Summeries I would like to do one with Erich on 26 November - to illustrate both the differences in Lethality of the Fw190A8 and the vulnerability of the Fw190A8 when flown by inexperienced pilots against veteran Mustang pilots when caught. But, in my mind the summer and Fall of 1944 were 'different wars' in context of the battle types.

    Chris - I think you have seen this one of the Schweinfurt, Augsburg, Munich area. The original attacks on this Task Force on 24 April started with JG11 near Stuttgart which the 4th FG drove off.

    To summarize - I think the biggest failure of the Lufwaffe was to not let their Gruppe and Staffel leaders to plan and execute strategies against the escorts early in the cycle (1943) and adjusting to attack escorts before they used drop tank fuel. The first mistake was letting American pilots go somewhat un bloodied and build up combat leaders and replacements to compliment more training time, and the second was to strip target escort from the bombers and continue to inflict Schweinfurt and Munster and Berlin type losses - a political disaster if continued.

    Last - in this timeframe the average 'big fight involved one to two squadrons of Target Escorts simply because they were mostly too far apart to coordinate all three to repel a determined German attack - so 12 to 18 to maybe 24 effectives engaging whatever big number the LW put in the same airspace. This is why I have to smile every time I hear 'huge numerical advantage' in these air battles.
     
  9. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    I have to agree with what Lesoff said in his posting. Locally there is every chance that the LW were outnumbered and the chances of breaking through to the bombers in the sort of numbers that would be required were low. No doubt on some occasions they were able to achieve it but its likely that the pilots in place were unable to make the most of the opportunity.

    Could they have done better. Tough question given the equipment they had and the tactical position.
    Before June 1944 I think the only chance they had, was to attack the long range escort as soon as the US forces had crossed the coast. Note I don't say the escort for the bombers as I believe these tended to be shorter ranged aircraft who handed over to the long ranged aircraft later. Also note I don't mean to say they should stick around and have huge dogfights. The objective would be to distrupt the escort, make them drop the tanks early, take them away from the bombers or at least distrupt them on the way to the meeting points.
    The vast majority of fighter pilots are not good navigators. They can follow the leaders, follow the bombers and fly a course home, little more than that. Break them up and there is a good chance that a good number will either fly home or not make the meeting points with the bombers. This would make life a lot easier for the main group of defenders.
    It shouldn't take a large number of fighters to undertake this distruptive task but its a lot easier in theory than in practice.
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    We are`talking about the strength of LuftFlotte Reich against the Target Escorts available and effective deep over Germany and Czechoslovakia and Austria where no P-47, Tempest, Spitfire could help... this is strictly about the available fighters (Mustangs and Lightnings) to provide a defense to those 1500 bombers, usually split into three separate tracks.

    But in any case the ALLIES did not have more than 150 (3gp), 200(4gp), 300 (6gp), 350 (7gp) total long range escort fighters available to take off in from January 1 through April 30, of which 60-80% would actually reach the R/V point due to mechanical problems. Of the above number in March and April were 3 groups of Lightnings, which were not nearly as effective as the P-51

    That meant one group (50 at TO, maybe 30-45 at R/V) per 200-250 bombers (spread over 10-20 miles) available to protect from a concentrated number of German fighters in January (wherever the LW Controller chose to place say, 200) and perhaps two groups to cover 220-250 in April for the same coverage.

    And LuftFlotte Reich grew in numbers by May, 1944 over December 1943 to approximately 550 effectives even though attrition in those month severely reduced number of experienced pilots available to fight.

    Regards,

    Bill
     
  11. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Sorry 'bout that E. Hope you feel better soon.

    The German Controllers were good, and a lot of success was achieved in getting 200+ in the same area as one 8th or 15th AF Task Force and punishing them. This thread is all about how could either the Luftwaffe have been more successful in punishing the escorts and freeing up the Me 110s and 410s and later Fw 190A8s to attack unmolested, or use more effective strategy to force the escorts to drop tanks early and accomplish the same thing
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    I won't disagree but believe it was doable for all the reason I cited in the Goering 'go away' thread.

    Regards,

    Bill
     
  13. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    13,090
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Platonic Sphere
    back for only a moment, the truth is in my mind it is about tactics, literally sending enmasse like the Sturmgruppen wedge and line abreast in company waves in late 43 if this is the start of the time frame. the Fw 190A-8 was coming into it's own, the 30mm cannon was coming on the A-7/MK and was a nasty bomber killer.

    also the use of the R4M should of been stepped up sooner and easily wooden racks like placed on the Me 262 under the wings for the 109 and Fw 190A besdies the Me 410s. Stepping up the Dora 9 program to intercept the Mustang at higher altitidue would of been essential but this is getting into a hard what-if

    I also will go back to the fact the LW could not be everywhere at once, we have to contend also not with just the 8th AF but the 15th AF out of iItaly in November of 43 which also tied up LW reserves and even then they did not have full control over Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary and the general area, Night fighters also flew during day light hours getting clobbered out of the day skies up north as well as NJG 6 in the south
     
  14. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    I am not an expert on the actual battles that took place between the 8th and the GAF so I cannot give examples. However, I have read a fair bit about combat and the interception of bombing raids and there are some threads that seem common.

    Often you read that X number of squadrons were sent to intercept a raid and later only a proportion of those launched made contact with the opposing forces. I don't see why it would be any different in the battles over Germany.

    Also I believe the US did send out units to try and distrupt the GAF fighters before they struck the bombers. The chances of these escorts actively seeking and finding these smaller German units, efffectively outnumbering those in the combat, while the Germans are trying to form up into the larger units needed to make effective attacks seem high.
    In these combats the GAF will be on the defensive and as often pointed out, those attacked tend to have an exagerated view of the strength of the attackers. Often its the impression of being outnumbered as opposed to the actuality that counts. Even if you are not outnumbered, if you believe that you are, then you will react one way, normally evade, if you believe that the numbers are even then you will react in a different way.

    In other words by being aggressive the escort would have broken up many of the attacks before they fully formed and basically gained local air superiority in those individual combats.
    In addition it made the German pilots feel that they were outnumbered even if they weren't and its that mindset that is so valuble.

    I hope I explained where I was coming from.
     
  15. Hakenkreuz

    Hakenkreuz Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Aircraft painter
    Location:
    Herrsching
    Erich you hit the nail on the Head. They also had to defend 1,800 mile eastern front.
     
  16. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,162
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Communications
    Location:
    Long Island Native in Mississippi
    Home Page:
    Bill, that link u posted is excellently done, thx for that... I was aware of 24 Apr 44, but now have my fill of it, thx...

    I have to admit, my "deep" knowledge and info lies in the latter parts of 44 and 45, as well as the VMF-214 saga, so these spring/summer 44 conversations always get me going...

    I have to agree with just about everything being said here, cause its all correct.... I cannot cite specific information like Bill and erich can, but there are some obvious points being made here....

    Tacics seem to be the big denominator here... Like Erich and I have said before, taking out the escorts BEFORE the Sturms and Zerosters get there, now theres an idea that could work...

    Did they try it??? Of course they did...

    Did it work??? On several occasions, yes....

    But truth be told, it was ineffective, and waaaaaaayyy too many experienced pilots died in the seats of those heavily armoured up crates... Schroeder stated that it was an utter pig to dogfight with, and he knew what he was doing in the cockpit...

    Anyways, getting sidetracked.... Id say that the ground control the LW had was OK at best... Many times, they were routed to the wrong area, either by Allied feint of just plain GCI ineptitude... Then re-routed again... Next thing u know, that little red light is a flashin away, and u got to set it down....

    Mission over, no contact made...

    Glad we agree about the "local" superiority thing.... It swung both ways... I actually dont think we disagree on anything....
     
  17. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    I agree all the points, although on the last point the 15th didn't start acquiring the long range escorts (51s) until ~May, 1944 and all the 12th and 15th FC hands were 'full' below Austria... and in all fairness LuftFlotte 2 and LW Kdo Sud Ost were kinda responsible for Italy, Austria, Hungary and Romania.

    So, this is primary reason I use Reich as the central core TO&E to meet the 8th AF long range escorts (with 354 and 363FG attached).

    The 8th was hitting Germany's center of Gravity and the LuftFlotte Reich was the primary defensive force. Luft 3 had to contend with 8th/9th and RAF Penetration and Withdrawal while Luft 2 and Sud Ost with Penetration and Withdrawal from South.
     
  18. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    13,090
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Platonic Sphere
    As Bill pointed out about April 24, 44 as an interesting scenario so to 26 November 44, a different light/different battle and defended differently and everything went wrong for the German Luftwaffe even if JG 301 as a whole shot down 21 B-24's. yes true a bloody day for both the LW and the US bomber formations. If I could ever complete my written documentation of the battle from the LW point of view and subscribe it to Bill for the 8th AF account you would just be shocked in awe but in truth a fantastic comparison note(s) to the April 24, 44 aerial battle.

    part of the problem too is the LW political game set and forthwith even with the likes of Addi Galland as he surveyed the work of experimentation of the LW arms aresenal of rockets and cannon of different mm's something should of been given as the "standard" and not all the time wasted to perfect the ~~ perfect bopmber killing machine....... this is very important too as to the outcome

    Bill even with no escorts in the south from the 15th and even with the 15th heavies unescorted it still take away portions of 109 equipped JG 27, ZG's 101, 1 and 76............and these were needed full time to take on the 8th heavies. it was spread thin even by January 1, 1944. crazy but even the s/e ground attack Fw's were used against the US 15th AF
    back soon
     
  19. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    I've tried to build up a picture in my head about the length of the formations the US forces used in the attacks . This is pretty important for if the formation is relativly small in area 40-50 mile as I would assume it would be to facilitate maximum fighter coverage and mutual fire support amongst the bombers . The escort fighters would never very far from the bombers .
    Now I might be incorrect but I'm going to assume the LW fighter units were not up to strength and very rarely met the fighters from a position of strength as they were not massed and attacked from various bases and at different times .
    I've seen the numbers you've mentioned earlier but LW fighters on the ground does not equate to LW fighters in the air and same area as the USAAF
     
  20. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    I don't see any disagreement Dan. This isn't about superior US aircraft and/or inferior German aircraft.

    It is actually about strategy and hindsight - which for me came from many directions growing up, as it did you with your grandfather.

    It is also about clowns and REMF screwing up tactical decision making of the leaders with their butts in the seats day in and day out, saying There's gotta be a better way". There are a lot of 8th and 12th and 15th AF bomber crews that can thank God for Goering!
     
Loading...

Share This Page