The Battle Of Kursk - the air battle

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Thanks for the input, Altea. What conditions regarding the Soviet air operations in the area are in regard to what the Russians called Operation Kutuzov, the counterattack against the German Prokhorovka operation?

What's the relationnship? Kutuzov was a planned operation since previous spring. It took place in the north of the salient on july the12th, Prokhorovka occured in the south on the same day. Maybe it was a part (rather uninspired due to conditions) of the general strategic plan.

Kutuzov map:

On july the 12th, Western and Briansk fronts launched the big offensive, followed by central front on 15th

Яндекс.КарÑ'инки: операция куÑ'узов
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like I said earlier as you guys try and do a spin on this thread remember who started or should say was asked to start a thread on the KURSK air operations. my intent was to give Parsifal needed background information where he could try and decipher and see how this can/could play into the thread overall along with his own data acquired.

verstehen ?
Quite a few people have approached me to start a new thread about the battle of Kursk. A little reluctantly I have agreed.

So what were the main features in the air battle, how did it progress, what were its outcomes. What were the precursors that led to the battle. I would suggest that we limit our discussion from the last days of Stalingrad, through to the battles in November, but the focus should be the battle in July.

However, I would also be interested to hear peoples views about the air battle if Mansteins ideas had been adopted and the battle had occurred in late May. Would the outcome of the air battle have been any different?

And finally, what might have happened, if the germans had not undertaken the battle at all, simply fortifyiong and waiting for the Russians to attack? Would it have been possible foir them to wear down the Russians to the peace table if they had not been so rash as to attack them again in 1943.......

Anyway, hold on, here we go...enjoy guys

Would need to dig out Glantz's excellent book on the battle of Kursk for specifics, but from what i remember....the Germans had to resort to establishing "local" air superiority over specific battlefields at specific times as they simply did not have the strength to dominate the entire battlefield and put the VVS on it's heels as in the old days such as what occured after Case Blau started (though one key difference in the case of Blau was that initially the VVS held it's own, even scoring near 1:1 exchanges in the critical sectors...until attrition took out their carefully hoarded cadre of trained airmen and then the domino effect began)

I recall from Glantz that during these times, VVS casualties were appalling but they just kept coming and once the Luftwaffe had to either withdraw to rearm/reorg or simply move to try to address the latest emergency, the VVS would move in to fill the gap. Glantz painted the VVS effort as one of brutal finesse and with the typical Soviet disdain for casualties.

I'm sure that there were specific incidents of skills.....even though Glantz's book is focused entirely on the battle, the air component would naturally revolve around major movements so specific air battles where one regiment or squadron performed with skill would be overlooked. So i don't consider the author to be dissing the VVS, just looking at it from the Big picture.
The U.S. 8th Air Force began large scale operations over Europe during 1943 and RAF Bomber Command continued to expand. I suspect that countering these bombing campaigns took quite a bite out of German aviation gasoline reserves by July 1943.
as you pointed out Dave, the Reich defense command was formed and the order was for most eastern front Jagdgeschwaders to re-arm and refit back into Germany to defend the homeland in July of 1943 this was the case for twin engine ZG 26, 76 and 1 to reform as Zerstörern formations against the US AF heavies.

the reality was that there was not that good of ground to air correspondence during Kursk or really any time afterward on the Ost front.
Hello Dave
not really, according to USSBS the aviation fuel situation of LW was better in summer 43 than it had been in 42. And one should not forget Med, it was very important and to LW very costly theathre from Oct 42 to Oct 43 and in Apr, Jul and Sept 43 LW losses in Med were clearly higher than in the East and in Apr and Jul also clearly greater than in the West and over Reich, in Sept 43 losses in the West + over Reich wwere slightly higher than in the Med (522 vs 503, in the East 338 ).

I agree. The Med was the Anglo-American Schwerpunkt during 1943. All the battles absorbed significant amounts of German airpower including the usually ignored (by popular histories) fighting in Greece and the Agean.

Spring 1943. Tunisia.
July 1943. Sicily.
September 1943. British and U.S. landings on Italian mainland.
September 1943. Fighting between German and Italian forces in Greece.
September to November 1943. Failed British attempts to seize control of the Agean islands.
lack of Strategic bombers

The Luftwaffe achieved huge operational successes, destroying thousands of Soviet aircraft. But it failed to destroy the Red Air Force. Due to a lack of Strategic bombers, the Luftwaffe could not strike at Soviet production centers regularly or with the needed force. As the war dragged on, the Luftwaffe was eroded in strength. The defeats at the Battle of Stalingrad and Battle of Kursk ensured the gradual decline of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. All fronts actually. Tic Toc.
please take into consideration that Stalingrad and Kursk did not weaken the LW in any way in manpower or resources in fact they came into their own in 1944 even when fighting US heavy bomber formations and fighters via their production activities
yes you are correct. Stalingrad Kursk did in no way weaken the luftwaffe. The Soviet airforce is like
angry wasps. one comes out to try to bite you, you kill one, then they come in hundreds to bite you,
you kill hundreds, eventually, if you don't kill the nest, the wasps will kill you. Thats what happens
without Stategic Bombing of manufacturing plants fuel/oil depots. The Soviets, or anybody else for
that matter, will win. Even is the loser is techincally superior. Kursk was the begining of the end of the
Luftwaffe in the east in my opinion.
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an earlier posting of mine says it all Riech defense was formed in July of 1943 nearly all S/E and T/E fighter GEschwaders were ordered to return to the Reich and re-arm and re-equip plus training. what was left in the East ? not a whole lot JG 51 portions, JG 52 and 54 to take on the whole of the WS. the LW in the Ost never had one chance, one can easily see how the bulk of kills was so high for these three Geschwaders
Heavy bombers did little to impair the German military-industrial complex. What makes you think they would work any better against the Soviet industrial base?
I think, and this is only my opinion, that the Soviets were not capable of repairing/rebuilding military complexes as fast as the Germans could. I also believe that in conjunction with destroying Soviets railroads, it would have been impossible in any reasonable time. Thus allowing the Germans more 'freedom' in Soviet airspace, resupply of Soviet troops would be much harder, etc. again, this is only my opinion.

I know that in 1944, the Germans while under constant and heavy bombarbment did produce more fighters then in any other year, their only
problem was a lack of fuel, which led to a lack of adequite fighter pilot training and the trickle down effect thereof. Constant Strategic bombing is very effective, as the Americans proved.

I hope this makes sense, I'm open to criticism.
Heavy bombers did little to impair the German military-industrial complex. What makes you think they would work any better against the Soviet industrial base?

I believe it was Speer who said the Allied Strategic bombing cost Germany 30% of its manufactured war material. That would mean another ~10,000 Me109s, for example. The SBC also diverted personnel and materials defending and repairing damage that could have been better used elsewhere.
Soviets were not capable of repairing/rebuilding military complexes as fast as the Germans could
The Soviets weren't working alone. Industrial centers such as Tankograd were built very quickly during 1942 to 1943 with American machine tools and American engineering assistance. They will repair bomb damage just as quickly.
I wasn't talking about single targets once a week, I'm refering to multiple targets daily like the Americans did.
Imagine if they did that during Operation Barbarossa. There was a guy who's name escapes me now, (he died
in 1936 I believe?) who was pushing Germany for Long range heavy bombers. After he died, why they concentrated
on short range fighters only is beyond me. I mean, I know the whys but why not both.. kinda like a primary/secondary
The fellow you refer to is General Wever. There is a thread on this forum regarding him and the question of the German Strategic Bomber.

The target for those planes would have been Russian hydo-electric generating capability. That might have not been as easy to restore rapidly as manufacturing capability. I'd go into the whys and why nots here, but it is not the primary line of enquiry for us here. Back to Kursk, if you please, Sirs. Regards
There was a guy who's name escapes me now, (he died in 1936 I believe?)

General Walter Wever

Commander of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, and later became Chief of Staff.
His death, the dismissal of Wimmer and a suddenly again more involved Göring (after the death of Wever), were key elements to the arrangements of the Luftwaffe after 1936.
I assume you are referring to the final year of the war when both 8th Air Force and RAF Bomber Command each had over 1,000 heavy bombers. That's out of the question. Germany cannot afford to spend about 20% of their entire military budget on a heavy bomber force.
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