Why didn't the Germans use anti personnel bombs on D Day?

Nov 2014
192
United States
Why didn't the Germans use anti personnel bombs on D Day?

The German SD 2B Schmetterling was also used effectively against the Russians during Operation Barbarossa, beginning in June 1941. The SD 2B, fitted with the (70)A chemical/mechanical long delay and anti-disturbance fuze with a selectable self-destruct time from four to thirty hours, constitutes one of the earliest self-destructing scatterable mines. Nevertheless, the Germans forbade the use of SD 2s with anti-disturbance fuzes against retreating opponents due to the hazard to friendly forces. The SD 2 with anti-disturbance fuze was intended for use against targets behind enemy lines for “harassing effect” only. The Germans “at least understood the value of these little bombs against military formations. Colonel S. M. Lovell, a member of a British military mission to the U.S.S.R. who had the duty of advising on bomb disposal matters, had found that the Russians attached the greatest importance to the butterfly bomb… Used in high concentrations it had cost the Red Army great numbers of casualties and effectively held up the movement of formations. Russian soldiers had been reduced to detonating bombs by rifle fire, a method certain to cause casualties since the butterfly’s fragmentation range was a hundred yards, at which distance it presented, at best, a poor target-and the rifleman was bound to have his face toward the bomb.”

During the campaign in North Africa, Field Marshal Rommel employed scatterable mines. On 5 April 1941 Major Heymer, one of his staff officers, “had been sent on a mission with two aircraft to mine the tracks east of Mechili”, presumably to further isolate this post in preparation for an attack. During the period August to September 1942, the Luftwaffe dropped “many thousands” of ‘butterflies’ just in the 2nd New Zealand Division area, but caused few casualties. At the end of October during Operation Lightfoot, German aircraft dropped SD 2s on the 2nd New Zealand Division’s artillery, apparently in one of the first attempts to re-seed a minefield that the British 8th Army had breached earlier in the battle. The Luftwaffe also employed SD 2s in Tunisia and Italy.

During the difficult days at Anzio in February 1944, “The enemy used increasingly large percentage of anti-personnel ‘butterfly’ bombs in his night attacks, which caused casualties throughout the beachhead.” Soldiers serving at Anzio referred to the German pilots who regularly dropped strings of antipersonnel bombs that crackled as they dispersed, Popcorn Pete. These landed in every corner of the beachhead. “Between January 22 and March 12, antipersonnel bombs dropped from German planes killed 40 men and wounded 343.” On 7 February, a German plane under attack by British Spitfires jettisoned its cluster bombs. In the tightly backed beachhead, these fell on the 95th Evacuation Hospital, killing 28 and wounding 64. “Two raids on March 17 killed 16 and wounded 100.”

During preparations for the invasion of Europe, the British were deeply concerned about the use of butterfly bombs against the marshalling and embarkation areas. “No such attacks were made either on the ports and their surroundings or on the close-packed Caen Peninsula (in Normandy). The neglect of such an obvious, effective and economical weapon at such a time was never to the author’s knowledge, been satisfactorily explained.” Impressed by the effectiveness of the SD 2, the US attempted to copy it as the M83.
Source: Butterfly Bombs - Axis History Forum

Considering how good they were against groups of soldiers marching or running or just in close proximity with one another not only in the East but in Italy and North Africa, why weren't they used at D Day against the Allied forces?

What if they did use butterfly bombs against the troops on D Day?

How effective would it have been? Would casualties have been higher than they were?

Or would the planes dispersing the bombs be shot down before they could make an impact?
 

OpanaPointer

Ad Honoris
Dec 2010
11,643
Near St. Louis.
The Allies dominated the air over Normandy, the Luftwaffe didn't have a chance to do anything substantive for the defense of the Reich there.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,676
Cornwall
Dont quote me on the exact figures but it's something like 'of 200-odd active divisions in the German army at that time only 2 were in Normandy'. Totally unprepared.

They had more to worry about than what type of weapon to choose next!
 

OpanaPointer

Ad Honoris
Dec 2010
11,643
Near St. Louis.
Dont quote me on the exact figures but it's something like 'of 200-odd active divisions in the German army at that time only 2 were in Normandy'. Totally unprepared.

They had more to worry about than what type of weapon to choose next!
I once did a count and found that the Germans had 95 divisions covering the Atlantic/Mediterranean coast. Quality varied as this was not an "active" front.

It reminded me of the old saying, "He who tries to guard everything, guards nothing."
 

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,711
Texas
I once did a count and found that the Germans had 95 divisions covering the Atlantic/Mediterranean coast. Quality varied as this was not an "active" front.

It reminded me of the old saying, "He who tries to guard everything, guards nothing."
The Germans did attempt to launch several air attacks on the landing, and on the landing fleet. Those were repulsed. It has been argued that the air war over Germany's major effect was reducing the Luftwaffe operational capacity to a minimum.
 

funakison

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,381
Between a rock and a hard place
By the time of D-day allied air superiority was close to 40:1 in the Normandy area, the Germans could barely get anything off the ground . If you look at pictures of German troops fighting in that area there is almost always someone looking skyward, and with good reason. The allies ruled the skies.
 
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Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
If the 1962 movie about D-Day-''THE LONGEST DAY''- is to be believed then the Luftwaffe's sole contribution to the Normandy June 6 Day Day battle was a sole strafing run by Josef ''Pips''Priller and his wingman.
No bombs. Just 20 mm cannon shells and 7.9mm machine gun fire.
So your original question is really redundant. Aerial bombs simply did not figure.
At the Salerno beachead in Italy iin 1943 the Luftwaffe- using glider bombs did cause allied invasion shipping some worrying problems which were conspicuous by their absence on June 6 1944, at D-Day.
Had the Luftwaffe been able to produce the aerial dstruction they achieved during ''Operation Bodenplatte ' in January 1945, at Normandy on D-Day that too, could have been very problematic for the allies.
The Dieppe raid of August 1942 was one of the Luftwaffe's finest hours against allied airplanes supporting the coastal assault on Dieppe(the RAF lost more planes than the Luftwaffe did in that aeriel battle in the skies above Dieppe).).But again , nothing remotely like that Dieppe August 1942 combat form was reproduced by the Luftwaffe on D- Day over Normandy in June 1944.
 

hop

Jun 2012
794
In total the Luftwaffe managed 319 sorties over Normandy on the first day of the invasion (few made it as far as the beaches).

The RAF and USAAF between them mounted 15,000 sorties over Normandy in the 24 hours beginning 9pm on the 5 June. Another 10,000 sorties were flown by heavy bombers and other aircraft in support of the landings.

The saying amongst German soldiers was: If you see a black aircraft it's British, if it's silver it's American, if you can't see any aircraft at all that's the Luftwaffe.
 

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,711
Texas
Hop do we have a record of Luftwaffe planes shot down during DDay, or potentially taken out on the ground on the months prior? Its my understanding the Allies started specificity targeting airfields some time before DDay to suppress the Luftwaffe prior to the operation.
 
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redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,808
Stockport Cheshire UK
Hop do we have a record of Luftwaffe planes shot down during DDay, or potentially taken out on the ground on the months prior? Its my understanding the Allies started specificity targeting airfields some time before DDay to suppress the Luftwaffe prior to the operation.
Another reason for the lack of numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft was the "Little Blitz" on Britain which was launched in December 1943 and lasted until May 1944, it cost the Luftwaffe the majority of its bomber force in Northern Europe, with the number of operational bombers falling from 695 to just 133 aircraft.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Steinbock
 
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