Luftwaffe's biggest mistakes?

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,166
#81
The obsession with dive bombing did lead to a measure of wasted effort as manufacturers struggled to add that capability to aircraft not designed nor suitable for it, but the idea was accurate bombing, which gets overlooked in the criticism. Dive bombing had proven itself prior to WW2 as very effective in hitting targets but the problem is that it caused huge strain on the airframe which most designs weren't sufficiently strong enough to withstand. In a sense, the idea persisted in a muted form as fighters on all sides were regularly used to carry bombs for small scale attacks. Hitler even ordered that all fighters should carry bombs - his idea was to improve the tactical usefulness of fighter squadrons in support of ground operations right to the end, a paradigm he had always promoted. I don't think dive bombing was the cause - it was the lack of insight that failed to see strategic bombing as a weapon of huge importance and the inability of the Third Reich to invest resources in their development. But then, they had not planned for a long term strategic war and began by quickening the pace of their speedy annexations and local invasions to acquire territory. The change came of course when Hitler fell to temptation and invaded Russia in 1941, then declaring war on the US in early 1942 which released them from any legal restraint on involvement of their forces and vast industrial base - which was beyond the range of Axis aircraft anyway and relied on submarine interdiction, which ironically was increasingly vulnerable to aircraft.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,166
#82
The obsession with dive bombing did lead to a measure of wasted effort as manufacturers struggled to add that capability to aircraft not designed nor suitable for it, but the idea was accurate bombing, which gets overlooked in the criticism. Dive bombing had proven itself prior to WW2 as very effective in hitting targets but the problem is that it caused huge strain on the airframe which most designs weren't sufficiently strong enough to withstand. In a sense, the idea persisted in a muted form as fighters on all sides were regularly used to carry bombs for small scale attacks. Hitler even ordered that all fighters should carry bombs - his idea was to improve the tactical usefulness of fighter squadrons in support of ground operations right to the end, a paradigm he had always promoted. I don't think dive bombing was the cause - it was the lack of insight that failed to see strategic bombing as a weapon of huge importance and the inability of the Third Reich to invest resources in their development. But then, they had not planned for a long term strategic war and began by quickening the pace of their speedy annexations and local invasions to acquire territory. The change came of course when Hitler fell to temptation and invaded Russia in 1941, then declaring war on the US in early 1942 which released them from any legal restraint on involvement of their forces and vast industrial base - which was beyond the range of Axis aircraft anyway and relied on submarine interdiction, which ironically was increasingly vulnerable to aircraft.

Duplicate post - please disregard
 
Nov 2015
1,678
Kyiv
#83
I think there was also an economic reason for the limited release of heavy bombers in Germany. Their high cost, which could prove to be an unbearable burden for German industry and finance

As an example, the popular American fighter Curtiss P-40 was worth 41 thousand dollars (1944). B-17 bomber - five times more. 238 thousand

At the same time, more than half of the German fighters throughout the war — even at the height of the Battle of Kursk — were outside the Eastern Front. Mainly in the Reich Defense Force against British and American air attacks. Fighters all the time was not enough for the Germans. And they exerted such a burden on the industry that the German authorities had to almost forget about heavy bombers.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,166
#84
There is that. However, the chief proponent of a Luftwaffe strategic bombing arm, Wever, was killed in an air accident before his work reached fruition. I do agree that that the needs of the moment mitigated against the development of heavy bombers but don't forget that in the Third Reich you had a number of private manufacturers vying for contracts from a very politicised system reft with factions and rivalries.

With the Allies, the situation was different. Britain, clearly unable to counterattack a German continent early in the war, saw only two means of carrying the war to the Germans. One was operations in the Med/Middle East, the other strategic bombing. This experience and motive was not lost on the Americans who saw heavy bombers as a means of military superiority anyway. The Germans however had tailored the Luftwaffe, itself a branch of the army, for cooperation and support in ground offensives. Once the Germans had lost the initiative both by their own successes, geography, and the materiel situation, they were left with an airforce not best suited for their needs in comparison with enemy strategy. it is true that with enough effort some changes could have been made, but the supply of raw materials and the resources to operate large scale aerial activity were diminishing as the war went on, speeding up markedly after D-Day. They were running short of suitable personnel. More than fifteen thousand individuals were killed or injured in training accidents alone. By mid-44, the situation was reaching a crisis. Realistically, by that stage, straegic bombing was not possible irrespective of whatever the manufacturers offered the state.
 
Apr 2019
13
On my horse.
#85
Wever, was killed in an air accident before his work reached fruition
Wever got killed because a flap had not been retracted. A similar accident with a commercial plane in the US led to the introduction of pre-flight checklists, however the Germans never did such a thing.
German pilots suffered a lot, especially during the later period of the war when their pool of recruits became raw and the training hours became few.
 
Feb 2012
5,166
#86
Why would a non-retracted flap cause a crash? It might cause some drag and change of trim, or even some minor airframe damage at higher speeds, but of itself should not cause an aeroplane to crash. The only possibility is that one flap was damaged, the other not, leading to low speed handling difficulties with insufficient rudder authority in a 1930's aircraft. I've flown an aeroplane with flaps not properly tested (effectively I was the test pilot of a post 100hr check aeroplane, but at least the mechanics did warn me) and the handling was slightly peculiar, but that was of course a 1970's Cessna.

German training was not what they believed it to be. I forget the individual's name, but one Luftwaffe veteran admitted that whilst early in the war they thought they were the best trained air force in the world, experience proved otherwise. I'm reminded of 1942 when pilots from Finland arrived to pick up exported 109G's. The Germans were horrified at their short field techniques and fully expected a disaster, but the Finns were quite capable and not daunted by the demanding Messerschmitt.
 
Nov 2015
1,678
Kyiv
#87
German training was not what they believed it to be. I forget the individual's name, but one Luftwaffe veteran admitted that whilst early in the war they thought they were the best trained air force in the world, experience proved otherwise. I'm reminded of 1942 when pilots from Finland arrived to pick up exported 109G's. The Germans were horrified at their short field techniques and fully expected a disaster, but the Finns were quite capable and not daunted by the demanding Messerschmitt.
If we talk about Finnish fighter pilots, it is not bad to recall their aces who managed to shoot down many dozens of Russian aircraft on Soviet trophy I-16s. Even in 1941 the I-16 was considered by the Russians themselves to be a very obsolete aircraft.
 
Apr 2019
13
On my horse.
#88
Why would a non-retracted flap cause a crash? It might cause some drag and change of trim, or even some minor airframe damage at higher speeds, but of itself should not cause an aeroplane to crash. The only possibility is that one flap was damaged, the other not, leading to low speed handling difficulties with insufficient rudder authority in a 1930's aircraft. I've flown an aeroplane with flaps not properly tested (effectively I was the test pilot of a post 100hr check aeroplane, but at least the mechanics did warn me) and the handling was slightly peculiar, but that was of course a 1970's Cessna.
A non-retracted flap as in gust lock not removed. Wever died piloting his own aircraft.
 
Feb 2019
211
California
#89
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.
It wasn't manning the A.A. guns that was the issue. It was having to maintain the bulk of their fighter force in the West (and its resulting attrition). Imagine if the Germans had felt free to maintain all but a small percentage of its fighters on the Eastern Front. The results could very well have been different.