Luftwaffe in the second half of war

German Air Force of World War II.
Part II: The German Air Force in the second half of the war.

Me 110 night fighters returned from a misison
An Me 110 night fighters returned from a mission and the crew is welcomed.

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Jeschonnek’s successor, General Günther Korten, began with the correct concept. He reorganized the Luftwaffe allowing goal to strategic bombing, specifically of Russia, and to home defense, minimizing the use of air strength supporting the ground forces as low as possible. Sadly for Korten’s strategies, the Soviet counter-offensive between the summer of 1943 and the spring of 1944 mainly disregarded the strategic bombing of Russian production centers. At the same time, the Axis powers had been pushed away from North Africa and the Allies were moving forward progressively upward through Italy.

Even so, throughout the first half of 1944 Korten had some reason for confidence. His first-line planes strength was currently well over 5,500; the petrol problem was starting to indicate signs of advancement; and so was the providing of better-trained aircrew from the Luftwaffe flying schools. A number of long-awaited modern types of planes were beginning to get into service, like the He 177 and Ju 188 bombers, the Me 410 Zerstörer (destroyer, heavy fighter) as well as the He 219 night fighter; a great deal was predicted from the new technology of jet fighters next under development; and the night fighter force was starting to show good results versus the Allied bombers.

US fighter behind Me 110
An American escort fighter catches a German heavy Me 110 twin-engined fighter.

A pair of primary aspects were to conspire in opposition to his positive outlook. Initial, since the early summer of 1943 the Allied bombing war bad been focused increasingly more versus the facilities of German planes and aero-engine manufacturing; 2nd, the presence of American day fighters like the long-range P-51 Mustang, which in turn offered much-needed coverage to the formerly unescorted USAAF day bombers flying far into German territory.

Many experts have calculated that Allied air raids around mid-1943 and the end of 1944 destroyed the Luftwaffe some 14,000 fighters and 4,000 other planes in lost production. However, if these planes had been ready, shortages of aircrew, fuel and munitions might have seriously restricted their successful use.
Included in this campaign were certain Allied strikes on Romanian along with other oilfields providing fuel for the German war effort.

Next, during the summer of 1944, followed the D-Day invasion in Normandy and the Soviet advance into Poland, and following that the drop accumulated impetus. Panic actions, like the V-weapons production, the increase of fighter manufacturing to the practical elimination of bombers and other planes, the appearance of jet- and rocket-powered fighters, almost all arrived too late to stern the tide. The night fighter force diminished in performance; the serious raids on Allied airfields in Western Europe at the outset of 1945 – Operation Bodenplatte – was unsuccessful; and, ultimately, the fuel ran out.

Heinkel He162 Salamander jet fighter of I.Gruppe, Jagdgeschwader 1
Too late for the Luftwaffe and the Third Reich was this Heinkel He 162 Salamander jet fighter of I Group, Jagdgeschwader 1, which was on the point of beginning operations with this type when the war ended.

In August 1939, on the eve of ww2, Goering’s Order of the Day to the Luftwaffe had mention of an air force ‘inspired by confidence in our Führer and Commander-in-Chief … prepared to undertake each order from the Führer with fast momentum and undreamed of might’.

The fact, the epitaph to have an air force that was failed by its leaders, had been written after the conflict by General Karl Koller, who succeeded to the rank of Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff following General Korten, who was killed by Stauffenberg’s bomb in the Führerhauptquartier:
‘There are numerous explanations why Germany lost World War 2; political, economic and military factors which were our own failing. Not one of these causes had been crucial on their own, neither were they in unison crucial. Had they been prevented, an even more beneficial progression of the war might definitely have been likely. Really aside from them, what was crucial by itself was the lack of air supremacy.
We continued to be voices crying useless in the forests. Guarantees were made to produce the greatest air force practical following the end of the Russian conflict. Countless men were then to be removed from the Army and were to be taken to the aircraft industry and to the German Air Force. Just the Air Force was to be increased. At the moment, nevertheless, the air armament was placed way down on the list; initially were u-boats, next followed tanks, after that assault guns, then howitzers or Lord knows what else, and after that followed the Air Force. Meanwhile, the Russian war was eating away soldiers, material, weapons and aircraft and the simply stuff that remained for the Air Force was a guarantee that was in no way saved. Its job was to make sacrifices.’

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The top Fighter Aces of World War II:

Germany Hartmann, Erich352
Barkhorn, Gerhard301
Rall, Günther275
Kittel, Otto267
Nowotny, Walter258
Bautz, Wilhelm237
Rudorffer, Erich222
Bär, Heinz 220 (16 with Me 262 )
Graf, Hermann212
Great Britain Pattle,
Johnson, J.E.38
Malan, A.G.35
Russia Kozhedub, Iwan Nikitch62
Pokryshkin, Alexander Ivanovich59
Rechkalow, Grigori Andreevich58
Gulayew, Niklai Dmitrievich57
Yewstigneew, Kirill Alekseevich52
U.S.A Bong, Richard40

References and literature

Luftkrieg (Piekalkiewicz)
German Aircraft of World War 2 in Colour (Kenneth Munson)
Luftwaffe Handbook (Dr Alfred Price)

1 thought on “Luftwaffe in the second half of war”

  1. The maximum German production of aircraft and armor was Nov. 1944 despite all the bombing! The only truly effective target was Germany’s fuel refineries!

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