Equally influence of air superiority on western front and eastern front ?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Harry64, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. Harry64

    Harry64 New Member

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    The Allied air forces had indeed decisive influence on the German mobility and combat strength of armed forces in the west front, some movements were no longer possible and the Allied fighter-bombers had decisive influence on the output of many fightings.

    Was that also at the ostfront, the Soviet airforce had the superiority, but the German armed forces were able to develop better here and I think the movements were not so hindered I think.

    What do the facts, maybe I´m wrong and the German movements were although hindered?

    Thanks

    Harry
     
  2. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Possibly the sheer size of the eastern front. Over the skies of France the RAF and USAAF were concentrated over a relatively small area of land. Northwest France could be dropped into the eastern European front and would barely be noticed. if your trying to control an area 20 times the size you need 20 times the aircraft.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'd be interested to know how many air superiority type aircraft the Soviets had. They didn't have to commit somewhere in the region of 50% of their resources on a strategic bombing campaign.! I've always assumed that very late in the war they had attained air superiority but by then the two major fronts weren't far apart and the Luftwaffe was defeated.
    Steve
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    and they dudn't have those "20 times the aircraft." I would agree with fastmongrel on that. Size matters. :)
     
  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Air superiority over the eastern front was all about control over the battlefield at the point of attack for the Russians. The Luftwaffe role was dominantly to kill IL-2s and protect Hs 129s, Ju 88s and 87s tactical ops during daylight. The LW tried to replace the Stuka with Fw 190s for Jabo role but I don't believe it ever achieved the anti armor effectiveness of the Stuka and killing Russian tanks was crucial.

    Conversely, killing the Luftwaffe was the primary objective for air superiority in the West, and permit unrestriced strategic operations by the bombers to attack key German industries. The second and nearly as important mission was denying LW tactical free roaming over the battlefield similar to the Russians. The third important mission was fighter bomber operations to attack the Wermacht.

    The key distinction between East and West/South fronts was the absence of strategic operations in Russia - forcing most of the combat to low and middle altitudes, wheres athe West was from the ground to 30,000 feet - placing more pressure on LW reserves - and the LW responded by shifting major resources from East to West from mid 1943 through January 1945, when the LW stripped the West for resources to attempt to stop the Russians.
     
  6. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #6 michaelmaltby, Sep 12, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
    Until the end of Kursk (Aug '43) - air superiority shifted back and forth - according to who was on offense in a given sector. The points made about the sheer size of the whole Eastern Front changes EVERYTHING - in comparison with The West. So either side had the means and resources to achieve air superiority in a given theater, for a given time, to support the opening of an offensive. (I think that's how it worked :), until Kursk. After that it was retreat, defend, retreat, defend all the way to Berlin.

    MM

    Thanks for the correction :)
     
  7. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Just one correction though - Battle of Kursk was in July 1943 and not in 1944.
     
  8. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Two different Air Wars. East started and stayed a tactical air war all the way through while the West started tactical, went strategic and drifted back to tactical having a higher level of requirements later in the war. But the Western Air Forces were always centered around the Strategic Goal of victory through airpower.

    Eastern Front air warfare was based on supporting the Army tactical situation. Neither side had 4 engined bombers. It was rare a bomber attack went deeper than 50 miles, for either side.

    Western Front was primarily a Strategic Battle up until 1944 when the Tactical Air Forces started taking a greater role. Strategic bombing includes attacking targets far to the rear of the battle line. As such, the aircraft, tactics, operating level and equipment tended to be much different.

    For the Eastern Front, a Germany division wouldn't have much trouble moving around until it got within about 30 miles of the front line. On the Western Front, the same division would have a delay of up to 5x (estimate) in travel based on damages to the infrastructure, supply problems caused by various allied attacks and the need to move only at night (especially later in the war).
     
  9. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    I've noticed in more than one first hand account of Soviet soldiers that German air attacks were often quite effective even pretty late in the war. There were *some* LW ground attack units in the West and some cases of effective attacks v Allied forces but it's more of a curiosity; in East it was apparently still pretty common, despite very large Soviet numerical superiority by say 1944 (as in the West, the bulk of German fighter force by then was deployed to defend Germany, not in tactical operations over the front).

    OTOH it's clear from many German accounts that Soviet a/c didn't pose anywhere near the constraint on daylight movement that Allied ones did. The density of the front is one factor. But also the stereotype of Soviet air as rigid and inflexible had a good deal of truth to it. For example in late 44 and into 45 the Germans used their remaining heavy cruisers and panzerschiffe ('pocket battleships') to support the left flank of their ground forces along the Baltic with their guns. The Soviets had overwhelming numerical superiority in the air, but according to German accounts large numbers of Soviet a/c would routinely fly past the ships to their pre-briefed targets on the ground; it wasn't in their orders to attack the ships. But the ships were quite effective, according to the Germans, and that's easy to believe. Also even when a/c would attack the ships, they weren't very accurate or effective. It's inconceivable that Allied or Japanese ships engaged in such operations, including in daylight, would survive for any length of time against Japanese, German or western Allied air superiority. Yet none of the big German ships was seriously damaged in these ops over a period of months.

    Joe
     
  10. Harry64

    Harry64 New Member

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    That is what I´m looking for.
    So the main reason`s why air strikes much more hindering the German Ground Forces in the west as in the east are the much wider fronts and the tactical inflexibility of the Soviet Air Forces at the Eastern Front.

    Many thanks for your help.
     
  11. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    If I were to distill it down, no....it was not the case till after 43 because unlike the Western Front, the Luftwaffe had the strength to contest and/or hold air superiority and fullfill their own bombing missions against Soviet formations and movements. The VVS was able to occasionally gain local superiority but attrition would eventually wittle it down in the face of Jagdwaffe perserverence.

    While the Luftwaffe mission profile included it's traditional operational support role, it was increasingly called upon to act as "Flying Artillery" in tactical support of friendly troops. In defensive battles such as over the first winter of 41/42, Luftwaffe contributions here were critical to German survival. In cases where the Luftwaffe caught mass Soviet ground formations out in the open (but restrictive in terms of being able to spread out and/or find cover quickly), the slaughter was such that "whole regiments" were decimated as described. It wasn't the norm, but it did occasionally occur.

    The German success against Soviet bombers led to VVS bomber missions in 41 and early 42 led to their being restricted to night time roles. (Not counting IL-2 missions, if numbers permitted)
     
  12. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    Some good points in this discussion. A few thoughts:

    From the Soviet Air Force order of battle on 1/1/45 we get the following:

    - 4.698 fighters
    - 3.718 sturmovik
    - 3.220 bombers
    - 13.936 front line aircraft.

    http://www.rkka.es/Estadisticas/VVS_stat/02/02_11.htm

    USAAF aircraf strength deployed against Germany was very similar (~14.000) but the RAF (9.000 aircraft in 1944) must be added. Front line in Western Europe was shorter if compared to Eastern front, and this allowed a much higher concentratrion of aircraft for tactical use. Also, allieds made use of strategic assets for tactical battles in Normandy.

    I would also like to add that USAAF fighters had a much longer range than Soviet types, allowing more flexibility if used as fighter bombers.
     
  13. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    The Germans believed in air superiority. Those tactical bombers often weren't escorted and it also wasn't necessary. Because the frontline was so long and because the Russian fighters rarely flew into German territory the changes of German bombers or attack aircraft being intercepted were relatively low. Almost all Hs 129s lost were lost because of ground fire, very very few were shot down by Russian fighters.

    Oh, and the Stuka nor the Hs 129 were all that effective in destroying Russian tanks. The numbers claimed were around 4 or 5 times higher than the actual numbers destroyed.[/QUOTE]

    Kris
     
  14. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    100% agree. This was exactly how I see it as well

    Don't agree so much here, particularly not when you take night operations into account. There are plentiful instances of Soviet night bombing, including more than 35 Soviet raids on Berlin. The Soviets often hit German (and Polish) cities from 1941 right through to the end of the war.

    The Soviets did have a 4 engine bomber, the Pe-8. While it was used in penny packet numbers compared to the USAAF/RAF fleets (raids were typically less than 15 aircraft), it was used to bomb strategic German targets.

    Soviet daylight long-range strategic bombing was tried in 1941 and again in 1942, and then largely abandoned due to losses.

    Soviet medium bombers (Tu-2, Db-3/Il-4, Pe-2) were primarily used for tactical bombing purposes, but also carried out medium-range strategic missions, hitting targets well behind the forward battle areas.
     
  15. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Some food for though about the geographic distances and areas involved... the Eastern Front was necessarily engagements between small tactical forces, as neither side had aircraft enough to cover such a vast area.. aircraft density was far, far lower.

    Compare the Kursk operational area alone - its about as large as the half of France, and Kursk area is just one tiny spot on the Eastern Front.
     

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  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Neat comparison :)
     
  17. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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  18. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Really nice Kurfurst, gives a nice perspective on things!!

    Almost all of those attacks on Berlin were in the early months. Losses were not the reason why they were abandoned but a total lack of success.

    Post-war interviews with German officers reveal that the Russians rarely ventured deep over the German frontline. The Russians also lacked the recon or tactics for strategic bombing.

    Kris
     
  19. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Now ADD could deliver fairly big attacks, look for ex.
    Bombing of Tallinn in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Bombing of Helsinki in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    On tactical use, Soviets concentrated some 1550 a/c against Finns in Karelian Isthmus in June 44. When one remembers that the frontline there between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga was only some 70km long and actual attack sector some 15km wide, I’d say, that concentration was rather powerful, 100 a/c per km of attack sector IMHO isn’t very low density.

    Juha
     
  20. VG-33

    VG-33 Banned

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    Hello

    Kris[/QUOTE]

    Why 4 or 5? Have you got any sources or examples?

    Regards
     
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