Concernings about german aircraft fuel production in 1944/45

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delcyros

Tech Sergeant
2,068
83
Mar 2, 2005
Berlin (Kreuzberg)
From time to time I noted that the fuel shortness, caused by the strategic bombing campaign in mid 1944, was a general explenation for inefficency of the Luftwaffe in this particular timeframe. I would like to share my views about this topic to you.
What is the source for this fuel-shortness?
The german oil fields are limited (Uckermark and around Hamburg) some other major oil sources are: Ploesti in Romania, synthetical oil production (Leuna) and a few others. This is resulting in an average (latent) fuel shortness anyway but how about real numbers?
The attacks in may 1944 (12th of may with 935 heavy US bomber against Leuna, Lützkendorf, Böhlen, Zeitz and Brüx, 28th of may against Leuna, Lützkendorf and Zeitz again) reduced the fuel production to 56 %.
The highest production rate in 1944 was in may with around 170.000 tons of high grade (aircraft suited) fuel (including Ploesti). (~100%)
Continuing attacks by 8th and 15th US airforce and Bomber Command reduced the high grade fuel production capabilities of Germany greatly:
June 1944 was around 72.000 tons (42%)
Jule 1944 was around 38.000 tons (22%)
August 1944 was around 15.000 tons. (8%)
September 1944 was around 10.000 tons. (6%)Oktober 1944 was around 20.000 tons. (12%)
November 1944 was around 42.000 tons. (25%)
For example: A single Attack by a whole He-177 Geschwader against a target in medium distance needs 480 tons of high grade fuel (a whole days fuel production in august 1944!)
Effective (10 sorties a month + training) use of the heavy bombers would take some 35.000 tons of high grade fuel, that is more than was avaiable after June 1944.
With these numbers in mind I think that the oil bombing campaign had great impact on the late war at ETO. Was it a great succes? Yes, I think so, it shortens the war considerably. My questions are two:
1.) What was the reason why these targets haven´t been bombed prior to that advanced stage in the second world war?
2.) Why was the bombing reduced in very late 1944/early 1945? With continued oil bombings, the Battle of the Bulge would have been more difficult, if not impossible for the germans.
What do you think? :rolleyes:
 
I must admit, that I cannot check the weather properly with my sources. But I would like to have any help with this.
Can the weather be the only explenation? the Bomber Command was able to do nighttime bombing raids with radar aid. Why not during bad weather?
Between september 11th and september 19th not a single ton of high grade fuel was produced. With this pressure continued, Nazi Germany could have collapsed between dezember 1944 and february 1945(maybe march).
 
The winter of 1944/ 45 was one of the worse European Winters in history. There were many flight restrictions with regards to visible precipitation and visibility, even if you had radar and even during the height of the war - I'll get those requirements later.
 
I believe you needed at least 3 miles visibility during WWII for take off. Although I couldn't find much on ceiling, it seems about 800' was the norm. The problem you had is once you take off, you got to be able to land if you have a major equipment failure. Radar, although used for some navigation and bombing isn't going to help you on a "soup" approach. Sure, you could use radar to bomb in bad weather, you still had to fly back and land. There were no real landing instrument landing aids during this period, so that may explain your query
 
FIDO or Fog Intensive Dispersal Operation, was a system used on the most importand bomber command airfeilds and was a system used to clear low fog from airfeilds, baisically fuel in pipes was burned and this heat would make the fog rise, however this used allot of fuel............
 

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OK! I remember those things now! :idea1:

But to land safely, you're still going to need at least 2 or 3 miles visibility and say an 800' ceiling and be dead nuts on with your navigation. Its hard enough flying through the soup, hoping to break out and have the runway right in front you under normal situations, imagine doing that with a shot up airplane, wounded crew on board, and enough fuel for one approach! :eeeeek: If you mis judge your altitude or place yourself in a part of the sky that has growing terrain, well the saying is "he hit a granite cloud." :dead: :angel9:

Although there were early Non Directional Beacons (NDB) these approaches are the hardest to track and fly, usualy you needed about 1 mile and 1000'. :magnifyglass:
 
delcyros said:
I must admit, that I cannot check the weather properly with my sources. But I would like to have any help with this.
Can the weather be the only explenation? the Bomber Command was able to do nighttime bombing raids with radar aid. Why not during bad weather?
Between september 11th and september 19th not a single ton of high grade fuel was produced. With this pressure continued, Nazi Germany could have collapsed between dezember 1944 and february 1945(maybe march).

Anyway my friend, I bet the weather is the reason why this happened!
 
Agreed, weather really could be an explenation, but where can I get weather figures of these particular timeframe? I checked that the Luftwaffe at it´s peak flew some 500 sorties a day at the western front in mid dezember. Weather is different in central europe but still the other question remains:
Why was the oil industry a target that late in ww2? Oil industrial complexes are even an easier target than cities, the collateral damgae is much less and the impact on the curse of war high. Imagine a large scale attack in mid ´43! This could have the potencial to shortened the war against Germany by nearly a year...
 
You know its my guess that the military planners of the day wanted to subdue the threat that was faced on a daily basis - armament. Ball bearing plants, aircraft factories, munitions. I think after awhile they might of seen the bigger picture and decided to after oil producing complexes. Also, the USAAF had a nasty experience when attacking a large oil complex in 1943 called Ploesti. I would guess that behind the scenes anytime someone brought up bombing an oil refinery, that "P" word stood in the back of their minds! :scratch:
 
the lancaster kicks ass said:
there's always that danger but this system helped to guide back thousands of thankful men............

Yea you're right, but by today's standards using an NDB and a giant Bunsen burner for an instrument approach is as close to suicide as one could get! :shock:
 
FLYBOYJ said:
You know its my guess that the military planners of the day wanted to subdue the threat that was faced on a daily basis - armament. Ball bearing plants, aircraft factories, munitions. I think after awhile they might of seen the bigger picture and decided to after oil producing complexes. Also, the USAAF had a nasty experience when attacking a large oil complex in 1943 called Ploesti. I would guess that behind the scenes anytime someone brought up bombing an oil refinery, that "P" word stood in the back of their minds! :scratch:

Ploesti was a low level raid and at a VERY long distance.

One thing to consider why the 'oil' targets were not attacked sooner, besides the Allies not relizing the impact the bombing would have on the German war machine, is that these 'oil' targets were well inside Germany. Fighter escort would be required all the way to the targets if another Swinefurt/Regensburg was not to happen.

Oil Production In Tons
Year Germany
1939 8 million
1940 6.7 million
1941 7.3 million
1942 7.7 million
1943 8.9 million
1944 6.4 million

from http://www.angelfire.com/ct/ww2europe/stats.html

Almost all German aviation fuel came from coal.
 
KraziKanuK said:
FLYBOYJ said:
You know its my guess that the military planners of the day wanted to subdue the threat that was faced on a daily basis - armament. Ball bearing plants, aircraft factories, munitions. I think after awhile they might of seen the bigger picture and decided to after oil producing complexes. Also, the USAAF had a nasty experience when attacking a large oil complex in 1943 called Ploesti. I would guess that behind the scenes anytime someone brought up bombing an oil refinery, that "P" word stood in the back of their minds! :scratch:

Ploesti was a low level raid and at a VERY long distance.

One thing to consider why the 'oil' targets were not attacked sooner, besides the Allies not relizing the impact the bombing would have on the German war machine, is that these 'oil' targets were well inside Germany. Fighter escort would be required all the way to the targets if another Swinefurt/Regensburg was not to happen.

Oil Production In Tons
Year Germany
1939 8 million
1940 6.7 million
1941 7.3 million
1942 7.7 million
1943 8.9 million
1944 6.4 million

from http://www.angelfire.com/ct/ww2europe/stats.html

Almost all German aviation fuel came from coal.

Well said, but as you mentioned, many oil targets were within Germany. Ploesti went off without fighter escort and look at the price paid. I think Ploesti has to be on the all-time top 10 military blunders! :stoopyd:
 
:) Welcome to this, Krazikanuk!
(I checked once more the Bf-109 K, a very few planes have been equipped with MK-103: Bf-109 K-6 (partly, small series at turn 44/45) and K-10 (prototypes for this series), compare: H.J. Nowarra, Die deutsche Luftrüstung 1933-1945, vol. 3 (Koblenz 1993), page 203f.)
Back to the topic:
I still have problems with the late oil bombings. Night attacks would have been possible quite early, even the losses of the Schweinfurt/Regensburg attacks did not reduce the heavy bombing activity considerbly.
As far as I know, the effect of the strategic bombing campaign against german industrial complexes is much overrated, since the production numbers haven´t been reduced by this campaign. In opposition to this the numbers even increased from 1943 to 1944 (and even 1945, as long as terretory wasn´t occupied by ground troops). The raids against the oil industries on the other hand greatly reduced the ability of ground and air forces to operate properly.
The synthetical fuel production, unlike the ammunition and aircraft industry, couldn´t even participate in Speers dispersal programm. They couldn´t build synthetical complexes as underground facilities like Kahla.
Unknowledge?
 
the lancaster kicks ass said:
FIDO or Fog Intensive Dispersal Operation, was a system used on the most importand bomber command airfeilds and was a system used to clear low fog from airfeilds, baisically fuel in pipes was burned and this heat would make the fog rise, however this used allot of fuel............

Heres a a few more Lancs that got home to a fido station...

Taken From Lancaster in Action...
 

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