Goering and close escort

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by stona, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone got any evidence to support the often repeated contention that it was Goering that ordered the Bf 109s of the various Jagdgeschwader on the Channel front to fly close escort for the bombers during what we Brits call the BoB?

    I can find evidence that he was concerned about mounting bomber losses and wanted the bombers preserved for what he and everyone else fondly imagined would be post BoB operations, but not that he ever ordered the single seat fighters to fly close escort. Even in the infamous 'give me Spitfires for my wing' conference with Galland et alter the decision as to how escort would be performed was left to the various Kommodoren.

    Galland, ideally, liked to use three fighter Gruppen to escort each bomber Gruppe, one flying a 'freijagd' ahead, one as top cover and only one unlucky Gruppe flying close to the bombers. Goering never stopped him or anyone else from doing so as far as I can tell. These tactics would be familiar to Allied commanders a few years later. It was a fact not lost on the Germans that if all the escorts flew close escort, then the Spitfires and Hurricanes invariably reached the bombers which was precisely they were trying to prevent. It also meant that more fighter pilots and fewer bomber crews were lost, something that caused tension within the Luftwaffe. Goering was not the only one that felt that many of his sore throated experten were more concerned with their scores than with preventing Dorniers being shot down into the Channel.

    If anyone has some firm evidence to the contrary I'd be interested. I feel the Goering/close escort issue might be just another of the many myths emanating from this period.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  2. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #2 Koopernic, Jul 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
    There is an online interrogation of Goering by USAAF General Spaatz. Goering said it was the RAF were using head on attacks and the German bombers frontal armament was too weak to protect against such attacks so the solution was to use the fighter armament to protect against such attacks.

    Of course it may not have been Goering that had the idea, he however went along with it. The Luftwaffe was the first to have to deal with the need to escort bombers.

    From the stormbird ascending book by Caruthers on the Me 262.
    Snap5.jpg


    I rather suspect that had Goering's strategy been followed the 3rd Reich would still be
    Lost Prison Interview with Hermann Goring: The Reichsmarschall‘s Revelations
     
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  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #3 stona, Jul 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
    But that doesn't imply close escort. The fighters did cover each other and the bombers. Even looking at operational accounts from the other side (RAF) it is clear that the Luftwaffe invariably had some single seat fighters as high cover for their formations, even in 1940 this was often very high. On occasions when these fighters did 'bounce' climbing or cumbersome (Big Wing) formations they inflicted considerable losses. Often they decided not to engage, particularly in the latter stages of the campaign. Some fighters did have to fly close to the bombers but the contention that they all did and that the fighters' freedom of manoeuvre was fatally constrained by such an order is simply not supported by any evidence. Those flying close escort certainly did suffer trying to dogfight British fighters in a way that pandered to their strengths rather than exploiting those of the Bf 109.

    There was an overriding need to conserve the Luftwaffe's limited resources and great pressure was put on the fighter leaders to protect the bombers whilst not taking undue risks themselves. I can't find any evidence that anyone other than the commanders of the various fighter units decided how best to achieve this. Post war the few of those men who survived developed a pronounced tendency to blame every misfortune that befell the Luftwaffe on Goering rather than themselves, or actions taken by the opposition. This is ludicrous and has I think contributed to yet another myth.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #4 Koopernic, Jul 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
    Goering, indeed Hitler, were both dead in 1945 so they naturally could be scapegoated for decisions and failures they had little to do with.

    Goering for many years was the scapegoat for the He 177, though he bears responsibility for appointing the people under whose supervision the program failed.

    If you hate someone one is prone to make them out as incompetent and I suppose and the author of rigid, unreasonable and bad decisions. Honestly so many people hate GW Bush at one point you could blame him for the He 177 failure and some people would go along with it. If you were a lazy historian it's easy to just go along with sentiment in western (or any country) where some enemy leaders are presented as incompetent, loathsome etc so that the anger can be personalised.

    I suspect some of this might come from Adolf Galland's book "The First and the Last" where Galland apparently lets his feelings be known on the close escort issue. (i.e. When asked what they wanted to improve their fighters Modlers asked for more powerful engines and Galland, irritated with the close escort policy, supposedly asked for Spitfires because of its tight turn would be more suited in this role)

    One interesting line of inquiry would be asking how many RAF encounter reports indicate this practice was present and how easy or difficult it was dealing with these close escorting aircraft.

    It may just have been an experimental tactic.

    It would be interesting if you can deflate this myth, perhaps like many myths they start of with a grain of truth and then get embellished.
     
  5. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    It was the same with all the LW, Army and Navy leaders. When things went well it was because of them. When things went wrong it was Hitlers, Goerings and so on and so ons fault.

    The ones that lived got to rewrite history in lots of cases.
     
  6. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Goering didn't die in 1945, he committed suicide in Oct. 1946.

    I'd have a hard time putting much trust in any translation of a interview with him.

    Just look at the few lines posted. The He177 a development of the Ju-87 ? The Ju-88 primarily a commercial airplane ?

    Was he just blowing smoke ?
    Or is that interview a bad translation of what he said ?
     
  7. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The Ju 87 bit could be referring to the dive bombing requirement instance on the He 177. I'm not sure how that Ju 88 bit could have gone so far off base from translation error ... the Ju 86 might make some sense there but I don't think it saw service in the Battle of Britain at all. (the Ju 52 would make even more sense given the phrasing, but again not in the context of the Battle of Britain)
     
  8. SpicyJuan11

    SpicyJuan11 Member

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    He was more than likely being sarcastic. He said the He 177 was a development of the Stuka because that was what Udet wanted it: a huge four-engined Stuka carrying out diving attacks. I'm not sure what he meant by the Ju 88 though.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    You don't see too many dive bombers in the civilian world. So I wouldn't place too much weight on Goering's statement.
     
  10. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I have just re read Steven Bungay's "The most dangerous enemy" and I cant find anything specific, apart from the obvious point (from me) that when the raids switched from multiple targets to a stream headed for London it was impossible to operate sweeping ahead. Galland did manage to bounce Bader's big wing but that was a different matter.
     
  11. SpicyJuan11

    SpicyJuan11 Member

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    Perhaps he confused it with the Do 17?!:shock:
     
  12. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    #12 Njaco, Jul 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The Do 17 wasn't really ever a commercial/civil aircraft. One of the prototypes were used as a high-speed/record setting airliner, but it was pretty much a recon/bomber aircraft from the start. The He 111 was the only 'civil' design used heavily in the BoB as far as I know. (it was also one of the more capable/successful bombers of that battle, so the criticism doesn't make sense)
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It was a fact, however, that Udet insisted on nearly everything with wings be capable of dive-bombing.

    The Ju88 development was delayed because of Udet's insistance that it be capable of dive bombing in 1937, so modifications had to be made for this capability.
     
  15. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    I know I've been saying this a lot lately, but I still find it odd that the primary exception to 'nearly everything with wings' was fighters. Fitting Bf 109s with bomb racks and dive breaks seems like a better idea for a tactical dive bomber than trying the same with the likes of large twin engine aircraft. (shallow dive bombing with larger aircraft still had some merit though and I believe is more what the Ju 88 ended up doing in as far as operational 'dive' bombing) The larger winged 109T seems a better starting point for that too.

    Fighters tended to be rated for high G loads already as well ... so less compromise for weight of added reinforcement that level bombers would need. (putting dive breaks on the Fw 190, Bf 110 and Fw 187 would make sense too)
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The Bf 110s (and to a lesser extent Bf 109s) of Erprobungskommando 210, carrying out what we would call low level fighter bomber attacks gave by far the most effective return on investment of any of the Luftwaffe bombers during the period in question. They also suffered losses which discouraged the Luftwaffe from developing the tactic at that time.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Of all the aircraft mandated to be dive-bombers (Stuka and Hs123 excluded), only the Ju88 proved it's worth in that respect.

    All the retro-fitting, reworking and trouble-shooting did nothing but cause delays in production of aircraft that weren't design for the task.

    When I read Goering's interview, I can almost detect a bitter sarcasm in this respect.
     
  18. SpicyJuan11

    SpicyJuan11 Member

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    The remarkable and slightly suspicious thing is that Göring kept him for all of those years.
     
  19. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    #19 kool kitty89, Jul 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
    Most cases of fighters being fitted with dive breaks (or flaps intended to operate as dive breaks, or landing gear used as such) with other countries tended to be fairly successful with varying degrees of actual accuracy and generally little detriment to fighter performance. (again, structural requirements would be rather similar to existing fighter G loads, especially with the 12 G -ultimate load- requirement for American fighters)

    Adapting level bombers to that role is another matter entirely, that and fighters developed with relatively light maximum G loads in mind.


    Goring coerced Udet into joining the Nazi party in the first place to help organize the LW ... it was partially a matter of prestige and partially related to Udet's objectively good talents in aviation and military planning. It seems Goring was rather ill informed on what his associates or those he delegated authority to were up to at times. As was argued earlier in the thread it's a bit hard to distinguish history written by the victors (or survivors) from the more genuine incompetence and faults in Goering's abilities.

    Udet's talents likely would have been far more useful if more tempered and complemented by some additional rational force. (Like having someone around to point out the serious potential to adapting fighters to dive-bombing capable fighter-bombers) He was really best suited at matters relating to fighters and small tactical bombers (CAS aircraft in general) and not so much large/long range tactical bombers and strategic bombers.

    The Hs 123 also worked out well as a dive bomber for the same reason many pre-war fighters did (including the Curtiss Goshawks purchased for the developing LW and used to test Udet's dive bombing ideas) it was a biplane with enough drag to allow stable modest diving speeds without added dive breaks. Pretty much any small fighter or CAS aircraft could fit that role more or less but some needed added drag-inducing devices to achieve it.
     
  20. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    The He 111 could certainly be described as a development of a high speed mail plane or airliner that came out of He 70 technology but the same can't be said of the Ju 88.

    Remember Spaatz asked him a probably set up question but very leading question "was the Ju 88 designed for the Battle of Britain". Remember he was being charged with "waging aggressive war" so admitting would be used by the prosecution to prove premeditation. The Ju 88 was a general purpose warplane with no specific target or nation in mind. Goering was very intelligent and would have understood that. Calling it a civil aircraft avoided all of that complexity.
     
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