Luftwaffe's biggest mistakes?

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,107
Slovenia, EU
Goering asked Hitler to allow the Luftwaffe to deal with the allies at Dunkirk. There capture may have been a significant bargaining counter against Britain. Instead they mostly escaped.
Panzers had to refit for few days, it was enough for Brits to escape.
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,107
Slovenia, EU
Don't dismiss the 109. It was formidable, perhaps a bit challenging in some circumstances, but a fighter aeroplane that was developed and kept in production throughout the war, resulting in a total of 35,000 or more airframes - no other aeroplane has been produced that much, and it was never replaced by newer designs.
Was not FW190 a better plane?
 
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Mar 2019
1,989
Kansas
It was the German Army's logistical staff who were the most sceptical about the attack, but they backed down when confronted by the army planners and Nazi leadership.
I watched a really interesting lecture about the myths of WW2. The speaker went into a bit of detail how the Generals were a lot more responsible for some of the hair brained decisions than Hitler was. He even gave some justification for Hitler's no retreat edicts on the Eastern Front.
 

redcoat

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Nov 2010
7,864
Stockport Cheshire UK
Was not FW190 a better plane?
The Fw 190 had a clear advantage over RAF fighters when first introduced but when the Spitfire Mk 9 became operational things evened up.
The Fw 190 was a sturdy aircraft that was best suited for most of it's marks for operational use at low and medium altitudes and in the fighter bomber role, while the Bf 109 was a better high altitude fighter with excellent climb and diving abilities.
 
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redcoat

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Nov 2010
7,864
Stockport Cheshire UK
Panzers had to refit for few days, it was enough for Brits to escape.
The halt order ended before any large scale evacuation had taken place but it gave enough time for the British and French to form a defensive perimeter around Dunkirk
 
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sculptingman

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Oct 2009
3,661
San Diego
That was a secondary effect, neither the US nor UK spent the manpower, lives, resources, industrial capacity, fuel, erc devoted all that to creating an Air Front to divert German old men, kids, and third rate officers to shoot them down. RAF Bomber Command lost 1/3 of its air crew personnel killed in action, the 8th AAF lost more bomber crew than Marines lost in the Pacific.

Both organizations, RAF and USAAC/F were claiming they were going to end the war themselves. Not contribute. Not help. Not assist. That they alone using Douhet and Mitchell and Trenchard doctrinal bombing to force Germany to surrender. In that they failed, utterly.

In contributing, helping, assisting they had success. In forcing Germany to divert forces, they had success. Worth the cost? I don't believe so, not when considering both countries neutered their ground forces and tactical air to fund and support strategic bombing, and those were the forces that actually strategically defeated Germany.
Can't say as I agree.
The bombing campaigns absolutely impacted German productivity and German morale.
They had ZERO effect on other allied air power expenditures as the US and Britain with US materiel support steadily increased aircraft production every single month thru the entire war.

Had the bombing campaigns NOT been done- then Germany would have had twice as many fighters on the front lines, making it that much harder for the Allies to maintain air supremacy.
Had they not devastated factories and urban centers- Germany would not have had to divert resources to repairing those factories and keeping the infrastructure in those cities operational.


And sure- we lost more aircrew than marines- but Its a little disingenuous to compare the marines who invaded enemy territory on less than a dozen occasions to the air arm that effectively invaded Germany 3 times a week for 4 years.

I do agree that the air forces of both allies had a propensity for exaggerating the potential for air forces alone to end the war... but then, air forces of this type were brand new and seemed radically devastating. It was WWII that pretty much proved that you can not "take" territory thru air power alone.

And yet- it can not be argued that the air campaign that preceded the invasion of iraq did not materially accelerate the fall of Saddam's armed forces.
Air power HAS become materially more devastating in the modern era.

And i have no doubt that, had the air forces had the nuclear bombs in 1942- they well could have won the war outright.

today- the limitation on the ability of air power, alone, to win conflicts is largely due to our ( thankful) reluctance to use nuclear bombs.
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
9,675
Most scholars agree it never had a realistic chance of success. Even the German planners warned not to invade and that they could only guarantee logistical support beyond about 450km to 500km

The German generals assured Hitler they could wing it and make it work for them.
However the German intelligence on the size of strength of the Russian army was quite wrong. hey badly underestimated the reserves available to the Red Army.

The Germans (and indeed most other nations) had a very low opinion of the Red Army , it's poerformance in the winter war lead most observers to mark down the red Army.

The Germans beleived that after the destructionof most of teh Red Amry in the Border zones where the German army would be able to be supplied easily, that it would be just mopping up.
 

pugsville

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Oct 2010
9,675
It was the German Army's logistical staff who were the most sceptical about the attack, but they backed down when confronted by the army planners and Nazi leadership.
On Miltilty History Visualtizsed youtubve channel the guy directly quotes he German Army field manual about logsitics, and German offical doctrine basically says it's up to the logistical officers to make sure logistics had no impact of oeprtaions. The Philosphiy of German army orgaizatioin and dcortien was the Logistics were totally subject to the demands of opertaional requirements, and planning could be done virtually without them, and it was up to the opertaional guys to make it work, and somehow support whatever the opertaional plan was.

People make much of the German armies greatness, but there were blind spots and weaknesses in the German military doctrine. Sure the showy "blitzkrieg" mechanized warfare, mission tactics etc , the Germans had honed operational methods and tactics. But Logistics, Strategy, Support were all areas the German army ignored. But Luftwaffe and German army suffered from a lack of spares, aircraft and tanks could not be repaired beacuse they were no spares. Under teh Nazis, everything was about Numbers (and this includes Speer) numbers of front line aircaft and tanks, over all else. Hitler cultivated this culture of Florentine numbers over along period and it had worked it's way done to how these organizations works. Producing spares would have reduced the frorntline number so it was done very grudgingly.

In 1940 the RAF was a much more robust orgtaization than the Luftwaffe. RAF out a high value, on spares, reserve aircraft, repairs, trianiing. The Whole Focus of the Luftwaffe was operational, short term operational. trinaing, repair, refit happened AFTER the campaign, there was an organizational belief in short , sharp campaigns. The Organization simply was not built or organised for sustained campaign.

Hitler's understanding of warfare was extremely poor. He was obessed with size and numbers, bigger tanks, front line numbers. His miliatry decisions were extrmeely simple flat statements with no real understanding of what was neeeded to do them. Hitler wanted to go for teh Urlriane and teh resources in 1941. There simply were not the roads and railways to suppoprt more troops in a southern fornt startegy than the Germans historically sent. Some people argue that Hitler was 'right;' to insist on a southern strategy but how could such a stragey of more troops in the south actually be done without the roads and railways to support it.

The 'operational' doiance ion ethGerman army worled agnst develiping effetcive supply lines, ofor example the COmmanders were old in 1941 to advance along railway lines so the lines were avlabel for conversion as soon as possible. They didn't do that. A small thing, but it slowed rail conversion a little bit.
 
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botully

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Feb 2011
3,547
Amelia, Virginia, USA
Can't say as I agree.
The bombing campaigns absolutely impacted German productivity and German morale.
They had ZERO effect on other allied air power expenditures as the US and Britain with US materiel support steadily increased aircraft production every single month thru the entire war.
It's simply not true to say that the CBO (Combined Bomber Offensive) had "ZERO effect". It had an enormous impact, both prewar and during the war. Four engine bombers were far more complex than a single seat fighter, or even a twin engine bomber. That complexity translated to logistical support and personnel as well. Bombers cost more and used more of everything. Other types could have been built in larger numbers instead.
Further, men like Harris regarded anything other than burning cities to be a waste of time, thus Coastal Command was starved of long range planes (four engine bombers) severely hampering the anti-uboat effort. They were reluctantly given worn out or obsolete planes. Long range planes were also desperately needed in the pacific, but again, everything went to the CBO.
I'm not saying four engine bombers shouldn't have been built, rather they used resources of every kind that could have been used elsewhere. There were always competing needs, and not everyone agreed with the bomber offensive.


Had the bombing campaigns NOT been done- then Germany would have had twice as many fighters on the front lines, making it that much harder for the Allies to maintain air supremacy.
Had they not devastated factories and urban centers- Germany would not have had to divert resources to repairing those factories and keeping the infrastructure in those cities operational.
Perhaps Germany would have built more ground attack planes instead, or transports, or instead devoted resources to other desperate needs. Funny thing about factories...it turns out that bombs blow out windows and knock over walls (if enough bombs managed to hit it at all), but the machines inside were rarely damaged. High explosives are a poor way of destroying steel machinery. It would require extensive raids over a period of time to destroy a factory, but of course obvious targets are obvious and thus well defended.
The efficacy of burning cities is doubtful. Germany didn't surrender because the cities were burned, Japan either. Even the nukes barely provoked surrender, and they were more of a face-saving excuse than a definitive reason.

And sure- we lost more aircrew than marines- but Its a little disingenuous to compare the marines who invaded enemy territory on less than a dozen occasions to the air arm that effectively invaded Germany 3 times a week for 4 years.
Even in early 1943, only 17% of Bomber Command crews would make required 30 missions. Meanwhile, the 1941 Butt Report showed that only 20% of the bombers were dropping their bombs within 5 miles of the target. Horrific losses for meager results led Harris and Bomber Command to give up trying to hit specific targets and focus on burning cities through "area" bombing.
The Americans, of course, insisted on daylight "precision" bombing, with pretty much the same result. By the end of 1943, the CBO had nearly collapsed from losses in men and planes. The Luftwaffe was not defeated. Long range fighters and the invasion of France saved the CBO.
The bomber advocates believed that they could defeat the Luftwaffe by bombing factories, fuel and the like. Instead, it was simple fighter-to-fighter attrition that did it.


I do agree that the air forces of both allies had a propensity for exaggerating the potential for air forces alone to end the war... but then, air forces of this type were brand new and seemed radically devastating. It was WWII that pretty much proved that you can not "take" territory thru air power alone.
"Propensity for exaggerating" understates it. They refused to believe evidence to the contrary. Even in 1942, during the darkest days of the CBO, Harris was arguing that if he was given 4000 bombers, an invasion of the continent would be a formality. He truly believed that the war could be won by burning enough cities. While you are correct in noting that WW2 airpower was new, there was plenty of prewar evidence to cast doubt on the claims of bomber enthusiasts. They closed their minds to all of it. What could have been achieved had the respective air forces been more realistic in assessing the new technology?



And yet- it can not be argued that the air campaign that preceded the invasion of iraq did not materially accelerate the fall of Saddam's armed forces.
Air power HAS become materially more devastating in the modern era.
Coalition planes were unopposed. But no one doubts then or now that air power can be decisive. Whether or not a bombing campaign can be is a thornier question.

And i have no doubt that, had the air forces had the nuclear bombs in 1942- they well could have won the war outright.

today- the limitation on the ability of air power, alone, to win conflicts is largely due to our ( thankful) reluctance to use nuclear bombs.
Well, yeah, but that could be said of anthrax or something as well. Not much of a victory, all things considered.
 

sculptingman

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Oct 2009
3,661
San Diego
It's simply not true to say that the CBO (Combined Bomber Offensive) had "ZERO effect". It had an enormous impact, both prewar and during the war. Four engine bombers were far more complex than a single seat fighter, or even a twin engine bomber. That complexity translated to logistical support and personnel as well. Bombers cost more and used more of everything. Other types could have been built in larger numbers instead.
It had zero effect- the US was producing planes faster than the enemy could shoot them down, of every type. There was No shortage of fighters due to bomber production by Britain and the US. There was no point after the US entered the war that the Allies did not conduct a mission for lack of equipment.

Ergo- making fewer bombers would not have materially advanced the allies plans for invasion- nor their ability to secure air superiority.

However- fewer bombing raids WOULD have materially improved Germany's ability to manufacture aircraft, AND it would have materially improved the availability of fighter aircraft at the fronts.- Unlike the US, germany had limited resources. Whereas the united states, at that time, was the world largest producer of Oil, Steel, Aluminium, copper, Plastics, Neoprene, Food, shipping, aircraft, tanks, landing craft, ammunition, boots, cotton, meat, leather, trucks, locomotives, explosives and every other materiel of war, WITHOUT having to reach outside the confines of the continental US for ANY needed materiel.

The US, alone, could supply the entire war needs of the US, Britain, Australia, and the Soviet Union... The US produced ships faster than germany could sink them- carriers faster than japan could sink them, and aircraft faster than all the axis powers could shoot them down.

Nearly Every single day of the war, the Allies had MORE equipment than the day before, regardless of enemy actions.

War is Potlatch. US production of bombers did not have any effect on their production of fighters. The US was never in the position of having to choose one thing over another.
they literally Could have it all. Hell we even had the luxury of spending 2 billion 1943 dollars inventing an atomic bomb we didnlt even have a plane that could carry- AND develop the plane, too-