Impact of the Luftwaffe transfers to the West

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Hello,

    I would like to have your views about the impact that the Luftwaffe transfers of aircraft and pilots to the Western theaters, specially from mid-1943 onwards, had in the German operations on the Eastern Front. Did those transfers significantly altered the war in the East in terms of both the air war and ground operations related to it, they were not so significant in that regard or they represented a somewhat middle term impact in the conduct of the war?
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    How could the transfers not adversely affect operations in East and South. More than 30+ squadrons of experienced fighter pilots were pulled to attempt to stop daylight strategic ops in Germany.
     
  3. MrMojok

    MrMojok New Member

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    The prior event is kind of interesting too, when in preparation for Barbarossa they moved basically everyone to the East. Granted, the big daylight bombing raids had not even begun, but they left only JG2 and JG26 to cover the entire channel front, by themselves!
     
  4. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    MrMojok, that's an interesting point. And even so the Germans didn't manage to destroy the VVS, although the great LW presence was certainly related to the substantial the casualities the Soviets suffered (both in air and ground) in the first two years of the war.

    As for the influence in the war the Luftwaffe transfers to the West to counter the Allies bombing, I don't think they would have changed the scenario to a point where the destruction of the VVS would be feasible, rather than that I'm just thinking about their influence in at least avoid the virtual collapse of the Eastern Front, which occured with Operation Bagration.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #5 parsifal, Mar 22, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
    This is an exercise in trying to determine Soviet Air Strength, and the effect the LW would have had if it had concentrated all its efforts in the east.

    The LW's failure on the east front can be traced back to a number of key issues, its over-use, small numbers, the inability to concentrate it forces and the overuse of the forces fire brigade style that sent its crew quality and serviceability rates into a steep nose dive from 1943 onward. Without the pressure applied in the western europe area, none of those pressure would have arisen and by extrapolation, the VVS would not have been able to recover as it did, one would think. However the ability of the LW to control the overall battle by these attritional means is fairly limited....they just cant shoot down enough VVS a/c to make that much difference, and once the Soviets got onto that, the game was up really. once the VVS did start to recover its hard to see the LW being able to control the front quite as it did 1941-2. Soviet crew quality did slowly improve after Kursk, from an average of about 40 hours combat time to well over 150 hrs a year later. LW experience fell from about 250 hrs at the time of Kursk, to under 100 hours per pilot by June 1944. It will depend on if a few extra fighters on the eastern front for the LW could make a substantial difference to the VVS attritiion rate. I think that it would be hard to argue that the numbers would be decisive. By the post Kursk period, LW fighters were largely irrelevant to the battle on the east front, they could not shoot down nearly enough Soviet a/c to make any difference to the ground battle, which is all the VVS was ever interested in after Stalingrad and the Novikov reforms

    To put this into perspective, the 30 squadrons mention by DG might amount to about 500 a/c. Sounds like a lot, and it ought not be scoffed at. However, in 1943, the operational strength of the VVS grew from an estimated 4500 aircrafdt, to about 25000 in the front line units. The front was over 2500 miles long (not including the front opposite Finland) and the Soviets had taken to hitting the Germans where they were weakest. The shortages in MT by 1943 meant the LW support and maintenance formations could not be moved as efficiently as they had a year before and that meant the LW had to be in place all along the front....not able to concentrate in other words. Those 500 odd fightersare going to be spread thinly across.the entire front, at an average density of 1 a/c every 5 miles. Combinewd with the historical strengths deployed, the LW had a frontal density of about 4 a/c per 5 miles, to the Soviet 50 over 5 miles. At odds of 12:1+ I cant see too much different happening as far as outcomes. but the trick is in getting to that point. the Soviets in 1942 had to forego a lot to beef up their training and replacement capability. Once there, and once they had worked out the correct formula for defeating the germans in the east, I dont think there was any way to stop them with the resources available to the germans.
     
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  6. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #6 Jenisch, Mar 22, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
    Parsifal, I was also thinking about the air units the Soviets had in the Far East. In an emergency they could not be bring to the West in order to fight the Germans?

    PS: sorry Parsifal, I wrote your username incorrectly.
     
  7. Reegor

    Reegor Member

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    I have not studied the E. Front air war. But the indirect evidence is pretty strong. By late 1943, the Luftwaffe was entering a training/experience/casualties downward spiral. New pilots were sent up in the West with inadequate training, and killed before got much experience. The underlying problem was partly lack of fuel for training. See Murray, 1983 book. I will try to upload a few pages I wrote about this.
    If the situation was this bad in the West, despite transfers from the East, it presumably was bad in the East as well. Unless for some reason the E. was favored for pilots, but given the political pressure caused by bombing of Germany, that is unlikely.
     

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  8. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    they did that to an extent during the December '41 emergency. for the remainder of the war the soviets retained a sizable reserve in its Far Eastern MDs, typically around the 5000 a/c mark, providing much the same function as the US home squadrons. There was a constant revolving door of personnel and training obligations that could have been called upon in an emergency, but with complications further down the track as far as training and replacements were concerned.
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    it wasn't quite the same in the east. In the west the Fighter groups were being bled dry by over commitment and unsustainable losses. In the east, the loss rates were far more modest on a per sortie basis, and the soviets were just not in a position to threaten vital german interests in the same way as the western powers were. LW losses were steady, even heavy, but not quite as out of control as they became in the west.

    what held the germans back in the east wasn't losses, it was overall numbers that could be committed coupled with distances. The Luftwaffe strengths committed to the east after Stalingrad generally hovered around the 2500 mark, which was just enough to hold the Soviets up to Kursk. After kursk, the VVS just took off in terms of both numbers and quality, though the primary aim of the VVs was never to go after the LW per se. that was irrelevant to the VVS. They were focussed almost exclusively on supporting the ground offensive, with the fighters tasked with keeping their ground support assets alive long enough to provide the punch through oomph just when needed and keeping the LW GS assets at bay for the reverse reasons. the Soviets were never really committed to wiping out the LW as such. they didn't need to. Most LW losses were achieved during the exploitation phases of a breakout battle as Soviet mobile forces would overrun vast numbers of unserviceable LW aircraft parked just behind the front lines.
     
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  11. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #11 Jenisch, Mar 23, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
    I think an interesting factor that would arise in this scenario is a substantially larger participation of the Fw 190 in the East, specially in terms of fighter units equipped with it. Given that the 190 was able to operate better in harsh conditions, I was wondering if it could make a substantial difference in non-combat casualities among the German fighter pilots, specially in take-off and landing accidents.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Germans didn't manage to destroy the VVS

    Not a realistic goal when your opponent is constantly building new aircraft and training new pilots.

    First hand Soviet accounts suggest Luftwaffe bombers were a serious problem during 1941 and 1942. First hand Heer accounts suggest Luftwaffe provided relatively good fighter cover during 1941 and 1942. That's what changed when Luftwaffe moved west during 1943.
     
  13. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    is that 25000 ac in front line units accurate? If so I would like to see the break down of s/e fighters, t/e fighter/bomber, med and lg bombers if you have them
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Its an estimate, and i would not like to be too dogmatic about its accuracy. But Soviet sources have placed VVS air strength atr various times during the war at the following levels

    VVS number:

    January 1, 1942: 21.900 airplanes
    January 1, 1943: 34.900 airplanes
    January 1, 1944: 46.400 airplanes
    January 1, 1945: 59.900 airplanes
    May 10, 1945: 64.200 airplanes

    There are many, many sources that disagree with those numbers. Hayward, for example, concentrating on the southern sectors, from July '42 to April 43 puts VVS numbers in the southern sector at 4500. I still think thats too high as only about 1500 Soviet a/c were available when the trap was slammed shut. Red Phoenix puts the numbers in June 1944 supporting the main offensives at 16000. and the numbers at Berlin 8 months later at 19000.

    Bergstrom ("Kursk - The Air Battle 1943 ") is generally a very good reference, but i disagree with his numbers on this issue. He places the number of VVS a/c available 4 July at just under 1000 for the entire sector. I know that at least 5000 were available in the reserve formation. I think Bergstrom s not counting those reserves, but that doesnt make any sense to me. If he is going to discount those formations, why not also discount the reserve tank armies, the ones that defeated the Germans at Prokorovkha?.

    You cant be precise about the eastern front. The information is scant and contradictory and many people have axes to grind still about the eastern front. I think the figures Ive given are sort of middle of the road and should be okay
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    At the moment everyone is concentrating on Luftwaffe fighter units because these were most obviously transferred away from the east. I've just been having a quick flick through Hayward's 'Stopped at Stalingrad' and the one thing that jumps out is how rarely the fighter units are mentioned. The Germans simply didn't have enough aircraft of any types and the crucial shortage was not in fighters but in all the other types, transports, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Despite efforts to improve the numbers of some of these aircraft it was always too little and too late.
    This is the result of a far more fundamental problem, summed up by the fact that the Germans started the invasion the Soviet Union with roughly the same number of aircraft available in ALL theatres as they had at the beginning of the Battle of France.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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  16. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    Soviet air forces 1st june 1941
    Bomber 6,887 (3,714 SB)
    Fighters 9,881 (4,262 I-16)
    Ground Attack 57 (Il-2)
    Recce 1,934 (761 MBR-2)
    Transport&Passenger 108
    Training 623
    Various 108
    Schools 4,574
     
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