Cannon Fodder?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by kettbo, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    Bowman in Osprey P-47 vs Bf109G/K says the LW new fliers were misused as cannon fodder
    any comments?
     
  2. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I think that's making it sound quite dramatic, but it is true that the quality of the Luftwaffe pilots was declining rapidly as Germany was trying to compensate for it's losses.

    The high command made several terrible decisions, one of which, was the send a large number of veteran pilot school trainers to the Eastern Front to fly transports in the operation to supply the beleaguered Wehrmacht forces and many were lost during that mission.

    The same can be said for the Japanese pilots, as well. The Axis losses far exceeded what the schools could produce, even after they critically shortened the time of training. So the Axis pilots that were taking to the air were barely qualified and had a VERY short life expectancy.
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #3 GregP, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
    I think he means they were thrown into combat with little flight time and little to no combat training, so they were merely VERY inexperienced. That uisually results in high casulaties verus experienced adversaries. By the late war, most Allied pilots WERE experienced, maybe not to the degree of the Luftwaffe Experten, but they certainly were no combat greenhorns, either.

    The result is that if the average training and combat experience of one side exceedes the other, the outcome is not seriousl in doubt, given anywhere NEAR equal equipment. Near the end, the equipment was very much NOT equal.

    The Germans had good equipment, but not all that much was operational and they had very little fuel or qualified people to opertate it.

    They didn't HAVE a real fuel shortage, they had SERIOUS problems trying to get it to operational units since there were literally thousands of Allied fighters (and bombers) flying around looking for moving "targets of opportunity" to attack. Once THAT started, the Germans were done due to both a poor pilot training program relative to losses and a development program that developed MANY excellent planes, but few to production combat status with the ability ti affect the outcome of the war.

    They had similar issues with the U-boats and surface Navy, too, but that doesn't seem to get much attention. Many peole today believe the U-Boats nearly won the war. True up through about 1942, but false after that time.

    The Luftwaffe had a similat experience. They DID have snatches of briliance and many brave, talented pilots, but they were coupled with idiotic implementaion of an Air Force by people who were not qulaified to decide what to do with it. Hitler was a power maniac and really didn't grasp the capabilities or potential of aerial warfare. He entrusted his Air Force to a man who also didn't grasp the capability and potential of the force. Goering was an Ace in WWI, but an idiot in WWII.

    Good thing, too.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #4 stona, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
    Yes they did. Long before the Allied bombing campaign against oil targets and long before the Axis rail and road routes were being interdicted the Luftwaffe was suffering from serious fuel shortages that would prove catastrophic for their training programs.

    By 1942 the Luftwaffe required 160,000 tons of aviation fuels per month and by June its reserve had sunk to just 1 months supply. Training programs were radically cut to the extent that at the Rominten Conference of 10th July '42 it was stated that only 40% of the required replacement fighter pilots and 20% of the required bomber pilots could be produced from the flying schools.

    Training Command had its allocation of fuel cut from 27,000 tons (December '41) to 15,000 tons. Stringent fuel saving measures were put in place. Taxying was forbidden at all schools (AB and C). Usual criteria for flying, such as weather, were subordinated to fuel availability. Many students flying hours were suspended altogether, all were curtailed. Cross country training flights were suspended, though C schools managed to arrange some by flying to replacement or even front line units where refuelling was carried out often on the back of personal friendships. The fuel from these units was not part of Training Command's allocation.

    That is a REAL fuel shortage.

    As a direct result, by January 1943 the OKL was considering a reduction in bomber forces from 17 Geschwader to 4 or 5. According to a January 16th 1943 general situation conference the Staffeln in most bomber units were commanded by 'the youngest Lieutenants' and many existed effectively only on paper.

    It got MUCH worse later, to the point that USAAF day light raids were sometimes able to fly unmolested over Reich territory. It wasn't until June 1944 that German aviation fuel production started to decline as a result of Allied air campaigns and by September it had collapsed to less than 10% of 1943 levels. It did briefly rally to about 30% of 1943 production towards the end of the year before collapsing to virtually zero at the end of the European war. That too is a REAL fuel shortage.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  5. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #5 Koopernic, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
    Towards the second half of 1944 Luftwaffe pilots were going into combat with as little as 25 hours of air time. They were up against allied pilots with 300 hours.

    Would anyone want to go up against someone with up to 12 times the amount of training? Not short of murder.

    When the famous Ta 152 (4 Ta 152) versus Tempest V combat took place the RNZAF pilot Owen Mitchell (RIP) lost his life in combat with Willi Reshke. Mitchell is often described as a Rookie but he had 700 hour of flying, had half an engineering degree (before volunteering), was a talented musician, several hundred hours of work as an instructor as well as 6 weeks of combat flying during which he shot down one aircraft. Reshke himself entered combat in 1942.

    Owen more represents the fantastic level of talent and training the allies had. (His bad luck was that the Ta 152 were misidentified as Fw 190 or Me 109 rather than the tighter turning Ta 152 and he was in a Tempest V, notorious like the Fw 190 of stalling without warning).

    The peril was understood belatedly by the Luftwaffe. I also have the impression that Hitler had to a degree given up on the fighter force and was resourcing the effort into the FLAK.

    This was not to bad an idea I will argue.

    The Luftwaffe had tried desperately to produce superior engines and aircraft such as the Fw 190D9 and its MW50 system but with superior fuel and equal talent the allies would mostly be a step ahead.

    By mid 1945 I doubt the allies would have enjoyed the technical superiority they had with the P-51/Spitfire/P-47 with aircraft such as the Ta 152 and Fw 190D13 with the 213EB engine around: all piston aircraft were at their limit.

    The overall solution was the jet aircraft. I don't believe the Me 262 or Arado 234 was ready till effectively April 1945 when engineering improvements to the fuel control system would have greatly improved the reliability of the jets and made them easier to handle. This is the accelerator control valve that controlled fuel in proportion to pressure sensors that measured air mass flow.

    Although the Jet fuel was easy to synthesise The Me 262 would still use too much. Hence the He 162 was born, its fuel use would be less than half that of the 262 per mission. Furthermore it would be easy to produce. The basic He 162 had an endurance of 2.5 hours at around 8000m when flying full throttle, this was only 25 minutes at seal level. However fuel tank increases had raised this to 35 minutes and there was another increase on the way.

    The idea is that the performance and speed (as well as ejection seat) would keep rookie pilots alive long enough. Technically the He 162 was the fastest fighter of the war. The BMW 003E2 engine had only 800kP thrust compared to the 880kP of the Jumo 004 but had a higher cruise rating and actually had a 900kp 30 second overload that at 562mph made it the fastest fighter of WW2. This is a speed not exceeded by the P80A till 1947 and then only with a special narrow nose and clipped wings. The BMW 003C with a new compressor was on the way and its likely the BMW 003E2 would have just been uprated as it had no surging issues like the Jumo 004 (BMW 003 developed nearly 2000kP on the test stand).

    The aircraft did need some debugging and was a little harder to fly than hoped which would have delayed it but nothing insurmountable.

    Ultimately I believe the Luftwaffe would have been able to avoid having much of an air force apart from ground attack aircraft and of course jets.

    The Henschell Hs 117 Schmeterling SAM had been ordered into production, with nearly 200 produced, it would have shared guidance with the supersonic Wasserfall missile due in about 1 year. It had quality issues but such issues had been overcome on the V2 and V1.

    The V2, whose total cost inclusive of materials was 4000 hours after the 10000th unit was to be capable of placing 4000 short tons of explosives on Britain per month, the V1 perhaps a similar amount. Of course only the winged V2 (A4b) would have had the range after 1945 due to the allied advance.

    The jets would also be able to deliver a certain amount of strategic load.

    So, apart from ground attack aircraft, the Luftwaffe was building a force in which they could fulfil the same function is the allied air forces with a fraction of the aircrew. The problem is this: SAM, V2, V1 needed to be ready before the advent of total allied air domination.

    However this was probably the only way forward as I do not see how the Luftwaffe could train enough pilots otherwise.
     
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  6. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #6 kettbo, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
    OK, I have been aware of 'greatly reduced' training quality and flight hours.
    Also aware that the Ill-Trained guys referred to as New Growth facing the US and RAF guys that were well-trained.
    The few Experten, a handful of mid-war arrivals coming up in their kill tallies, and some experienced Alte Hassen NCO pilot were all in the minority with 50% being novices midwar, much worse later on.

    It seems to me after reading JG26 War Diary a few times that the LW tried to season the new pilots. There were some mentions of mentorship, new pilots were given maintenance hops, shuttle flights etc to bring up their hours, skills, awareness. Later in the book you get more frequent mention of "lost on 1st, 2nd, 3rd combat sortie." Even highly trained fliers are vulnerable their first few missions as they take on their new environment, perhaps first combats; also vulnerable during their last few missions. Leads to this famous saying, "There are Old pilots, there are Bold pilots, but there are no Old Bold pilots! Watching the old gun camera film, most of the target aircraft seem to be straight and level greatly simplifying the work for the shooting Allied Fighter.

    In any case, my readings so far do not show the LW using the new guys as cannon fodder as a tactic. It seems they did the best that they could down at the unit level. Yes, mentions of DECOY FLIGHTS but it was not the intent to let these guys get slaughtered but to set anyone going after them up to be bounced. I'm an Army combat Vet, Iraq late 03-late 04. We arrived as a trained unit. Few casualties, few replacements but this is squad ground opns after some integration training vs flying. I cannot imagine the mental turmoil the LW Operations guys and Commanders went through; do I post the hundred mission guy who is tired, has been wounded twice, bailed out twice, belly landed three times, who really deserves a break but will probably return home safe OR do I post the FNG to the mission, limited flight time in training, a few hops here, almost certainly to be shot down if there is contact.

    Again, Bowman says "...primarily misused as "Cannon Fodder." " which implies a strategy to put these guys in more dangerous missions at the expense of others. I am finding this statement weak and lacking in substance in my readings. Please leave your thoughts.
     
  7. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    Koopernic,

    SAMs, a few jet interceptors, and a lot of AAA...sounds like North Vietnam!
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Even at front line units non-operational flying was strictly limited in the Luftwaffe, certainly from 1942 onwards. Many units alloted members flying hours which could be used for training flights, this curtailed the 'on the job training' customarily provided for newly arrived pilots.
    Werner Schroer, who went on to become a successful pilot himself recalled that his first Staffelkapitan in 1./JG 27, Karl-Wolfgang 'Vati' Redlich, "taught me shooting at the expense of many hours of his flying allowance for months".
    I am not aware of any such restrictions applied on RAF flying hours at this time, even in North Africa. There must surely have been localised fuel shortages at some places and some times around the world it was not a systemic problem throughout most of the war.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #9 FLYBOYJ, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
    Osprey publication?

    I read up on Martin Bowman, it seems he's written alot of books but I don't take many publications from Osprey very seriously.
     
  10. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    It's semantics as far as I can tell. The phrase is still in use today, but means an easy kill, not the intentional use of a novice to attrack gunfire to benefit more experienced soldiers.

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Here's my view:

    Germany’s production of oil, including home crude, home synthetics and imports, went down by 17% from 1939 to 1940 and then went up every year until 1944, when the end was evident. Down 17% 39 to 40; up 23% from 40 to 41; up 6% from 41 to 42; up 17% from 42 to 43, and down 38% in 1944. Unknown in 1945. These numbers are for all German oil prodution including aviation.

    German aviation oil production is unknown for 1939 but it went up 48% 40 to 41; up 12% from 41 to 42; up 28% from 42 to 43; down 23% from 43 to 44; and down 92% in 1945.

    German aviation consumption is unknown in 1939 but went up 48% from 40 to 41; up 12% from 41 to 42; up 28% from 42 to 43; down 23% from 43 to 44; and down 92% from 44 to 45.

    About the middle of 1944 was when the handwriting on the wall became clear to anyone with good vision. Much of the drop in 1944 production took place in the last half of the year. Domestic aviation production dropped 44% from 43 to 44, mostly from Allied attacks. Imports during the same time went down 17%, mostly due to Allied attack of the supply lines.

    In my view, things were going along just fine with oil and even aviation oil until Allied attacks disrupted deliveries and domestic production equipment. The oil shortage was not due to lack of oil availability, it was due to lack of delivery and increasing damage to the production facilities … in other words ... a shortage due to attacks. In fact, aviation oil production was still 1.1 million metric tons in 1944 and aviation oil consumption was still 1.4 million metric tons in 1944. The hopeless fall in 1945 was mostly due to no production industry left and no way to deliver it reliably if they produced it.

    Here is only one source: Strategic raw materials and oil production, Second World War
     
  12. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    The April/May 1944 mining of the Danube and the May-July 1944 air attacks on Germany’s oil infrastructure hurt production considerably, particularly in high-octane aviation fuels. The capture of Ploiesti in August 1944 by Soviet troops and the high-intensity November 1944 bombing attacks (about one sixth of all oil campaign tonnage) then put the final nails in the coffin of Germany’s oil supply.

    The Luftwaffe received only about 10% of its declared minimum fuel requirement in 1944, and most of that was delivered in the first four months of the year.

    The hydrogenation plant/synthetic oil production industry, which produced 95% of Germany's aviation fuel, was sensitive to bombing attacks, but keeping the plants out of operation required repeated attacks.

    Jonathan Morales’, in his analysis of the role that oil played in the Eastern Front war, gives the example of the Leuna synthetic plant, which was the largest oil facility in Germany and possibly the most heavily Flak protected place in all of Europe.

    It was first attacked in early May 1944, which knocked it out for 10 days, after which it resumed partial production. It was then attacked another 21 times, by the USAAF and the RAF, in raids large and small and in all weather.

    The attacks would lead to production being halted for a couple of days, then resuming at a fraction of total capacity. In all, 6552 sorties were flown against the plant, 18,300 tons of bombs were dropped and more than 130 bombers lost.

    The end result was that the plant only produced 9% of its total capacity over the final 12 months of the war.
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The Luftwaffe did NOT receive only 10% if it’s desire fuel in 1944.

    Germany produced 1,917,000 metric tons of fuel in 1943. They produced 1,105,00 metric tons in 1944, and that certainly IS a drop.

    But they consumed 1,825,000 metric tons of aviation fuel in 1943 and 1,403,000 metric tons in 1944. While that is a drop, it certainly isn’t a 90% drop; it is a 23% drop. While not fun to “do more with less,” it should NOT have devastated the Luftwaffe to fly 77% of the sorties as the year before when the Allies dropped the major percentage of bombs dropped in the war, and that percentage tapered off as the war wore on.
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    But here's a question...

    If there was 1,403,000 tons of fuel produced...how much of it made it to it's destination?

    The bulk of it had to be shipped via rail or by barge...then there were storage facilities, transfer stations, transit by road and then storage at airfields and disbursed by truck to the waiting aircraft. All extremely vulnerable targets...

    Now...how many tons could a typical train transport (capacity of each tank car times the amount of cars in a single train)? Now take that supply train and multiply it many times over, and that will give you a slight idea of what the Germans were facing. They had plenty of aircraft, they had plenty of tanks...what they didn't have, was plenty of fuel.

    Here's a few quotes regarding the fuel situation:

    A million gallons seems like alot, but take into consideration what a single Fw190 carried per sortie. The Fw190 was part of a Schwarme and that Schwarme was part of a Gruppen and that Gruppen had to operate several missions per day. And that was a single Gruppen which was part of a Geschwader. Then you had bomber groups, transport groups, recon groups, maritime and so on...all operating on a single day and all across the shrinking fronts. And that day leads to another and another and so on...

    This doesn't include ground vehicles: transports, ambulances, messengers, staff...then you have the fighting vehicles active on all fronts...everything from the KubelWagon to the Tigers.

    And that also doesn't factor in the Kreigsmarine with it's share of vessels reliant on fuel...

    So now a million gallons of fuel doesn't look like much, does it?
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    by the latter part of 1944 the exchange rate for the LW was running at around 6:1 against them. They were still able to get airborne respectable numbers in intercept situations, they were also fielding types that were very competitive, if not superior in the air, so something was going badly wrong. I can only suggest it was fuel, if not for front line operations, then certainly for training, and that led to disproportionate losses
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #16 stona, Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
    Who said it did? I said that production of aviation fuels fell to 10% of the typical 1943 value in SEPTEMBER 1944, before rallying slightly (to about 30% of 1943 levels) at the end of the year. It subsequently fell away to virtually zero by March/April 1945 and the end of the European war. I should have specified synthetic fuels, a large majority of those used by the Luftwaffe. This catastrophic fall was a direct result of the implementation of the 'Oil Plan'

    The shortages in 1942 which were very real and had a profound effect on Luftwaffe training were not caused by a fall in production of oil, they were caused by a large rise in the requirements to fuel widening front(s). Production figures have to be compared with consumption. If production does not keep pace with increased consumption then you have a shortage.

    The reduction in fuel supply to the Luftwaffe's training command from 27,000 tonnes per month to 15,000 tonnes per month in mid 1942, a fall of 45%, is well documented as are the dire consequences for all Luftwaffe training schools. The least effected were the C schools, but they all suffered.
    This was not an imaginary or short term shortage due to problems with transportation. It was a result of there not being enough aviation fuel to supply the front line units who had priority and all the other commands properly. The situation was never rectified and the result was that the Luftwaffe was not able to produce enough properly trained pilots.

    Those it did produce were of a far lower quality than those trained pre-war or even in 1940/41. I would not describe them as cannon fodder, nor were they ever intentionally used in such a role. At front line units these young men were usually protected and kept away from operational flying whenever possible. I know of two JG 54 pilots who had joined the unit in October and November 1944 who were shot down on their second operational missions on Ist January 1945 (Bodenplatte) for example. The shortages of fuel actually helped some units to do this. Whenever possible efforts were made to give them some sort of on the job training, this on the other hand was severely hampered by a lack of fuel.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  17. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #17 Koopernic, Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
    Indeed its a good analogy, as one can't imagine Vietnamese pilots developing a 'top gun' school in their 3rd world country. The German training problem has different origins of course.

    Surface to air missiles was a missed opportunity for the Luftwaffe. They had some superb engineers and pioneers in the field with highly progressive companies.

    There was Max Kramer at Ruhrstahl, known for the Fritz-X and X-4 developed the "Fuerlille" SAM; Herbert Wagner at Henschel, known for the Hs 293 developed the Hs 117 Schmeterling, there was von Brauns Army Team at Penemunde who developed the "Wasserfall" supersonic SAM as well as the Taifun unguided SAM. (It used storable hypergolics, significant because the highly consistent thrust of liquid rockets allows them to have the same dispersion as artillery; At Messerschmitt Dr Wurster developed the Enzian missile.

    All these missiles were proposed in 1941 such as Kramers and Wagners missiles but rejected till 1943 which meant development started 2 year too late to have an effect on the air war when it was needed 1943 to 1944. All were good but only the Hs 117 schmeterling was allowed to continue into 1945 as it was closest to deployment along with the highly advanced Mach 3 Wasserfall.

    These missiles were to have rather sophisticated guidance systems, the claim that they were to have simple manual command line of sight (MCLOS) is completely wrong. The Kehl-Strassberg system used from the HS 293/Fritz-X was for testing only. Operational missiles would have received the Kogge-Bigge system which used directional impulse modulated microwaves (24cm) so that the missile received only commands from the rear.

    All of these missile underwent multiple test flights, not just paper projects.

    Tracking of target was by standard FLAK radar or a optical tracker similar to that used in FLAK predictors. A separate team tracked the missile either optically or by a radar/transponder and a basic computer called a parallax converter commanded the missile. There was also an number of terminal guidance systems under development active radar, passive homer for H2S, H2X), infrared as well as beam riding.
     
  18. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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  19. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #19 Koopernic, Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
    There was the case of Kammando Elbe; these were not really suicide pilots the German terms is "selbst-opfer" (self sacrifice) rather than "Selbst-mord" (self murder).

    The idea was to basically ram USAAF bombers, generally by cutting of a tail so that there was some modest chance of bailout.

    They were asked to volunteer for a mission that had only a 1 in 10 chance of survival. Quite a few did, they were maybe 19 or 20 years old and thought the 1 in 10 would be them. In fact it turned out that the survival rate after a successful ramming was a surprisingly high 50% or thereabouts.

    The aircraft, because they were lightened, were expected to be able to outfly escorts. However the low levels of training meant the pilots had trouble manoeuvring their aircraft so as to get close enough even after visual contact.

    If it had of worked it would have been cost effective.

    In terms of oil production: don't forget the Allied effort to cut off Romanian production, or note that the Soviets were no longer supplying. The Germans desperately needed the oil around Grozny and the Caucuses but failed to hold those oil fields.

    I believe US production was about 100 times greater.

    The Germans calculated they had about 300,000 to 600,000 civilian vehicles (eg trucks used for delivery) that could be switched over to LPG which was a byproduct of coal to oil. They just couldn't make the bottles.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #20 stona, Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
    Useful charts.

    For aviation fuel these, compiled from the same data, may be easier to read.

    [​IMG]

    You can see that whether production was above or below consumption the general trend is that consumption follows production. In layman's terms this means that the Germans were always using roughly all the aviation fuel that they could produce. This is why priorities had to be set in 1942 and why there were such acute shortages in some areas of the Luftwaffe.
    The 1942 crisis was caused rather obviously by the huge amounts of oil products needed to fuel 'Barbarossa' when consumption massively outstripped production. This also virtually eliminated reserves. The entire Luftwaffe had only one month's (160,000 tonnes) reserve by June 1942. That disagrees with the USSBS which gives 200,000 tons rather than 176,000, but is the figure given at the conference I referenced in an earlier post, and given to Goering no less. This is an example of an acute shortage being caused by consumption outrunning production. Because the front line units were prioritised drastic measures to limit fuel consumption were put in place in other areas, including Luftwaffe training. An allied airman would find it inconceivable that his training would be completed without any cross country flights for example.

    The USSBS gives production indices, expressing production as a percentage of total production capacity. With a few minor glitches the Germans were able to maintain this index until the Oil Plan effectively reduced the capacity to a fraction of what it had been. Luftwaffe flying had been severely curtailed before this, though front line units, being prioritised, were less effected.

    [​IMG]

    The Oil Plan obviously did work, but when looking at data summarised by the USSBS it is always worth remembering that it was in its interest to show that such plans had worked :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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