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Thread: Defeat of the Luftwaffe

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    Defeat of the Luftwaffe

    Again, I will bring a polemic content, but please guys, considerate it is with with the best intention

    In another forum, two members posted the following about how the Luftwaffe was defeated on the Eastern Front, not the West.

    The first posted:

    Anglo histories make much of the air war, no doubt because for most of the war the Anglos were unable to do much more than drop bombs on Germany. The fighting in Africa and Italy was a sideshow considering the limited commitment Hitler made to support Rommel or Kesselring. It was bloody and vicious and still very much war, but there can be no doubt that no army of any description was going to get to Berlin from Sicily.

    Back to the air war: it is my opinion that the supposed destruction of the Luftwaffe over Germany by P-51s is another Great Myth. There wasn't much left of the Luftwaffe by the time the Eighth Air Force hit its stride.

    The Luftwaffe was finished by the time of Kursk. The creme de la creme had been sent to the Eastern Front in 1941, when they achieved great success, comparable to the complete destruction of Soviet ground forces that took place at the same time. Germany controlled the air during 1942, which was another year of German victories until they got to Stalingrad.

    Stalingrad was a disaster for the Luftwaffe. Göring promised a miracle, and dispatched the entire air transport force to support the encircled Sixth Army. When that proved inadequate, he stripped the training cadres of multi-engine aircraft and sent them in, as well as bomber squadrons. They were all destroyed.



    From that point, the Luftwaffe was deprived of its offensive capability. The few bombers that remained were all that there were. There would be no more forthcoming because there were no more teachers, or training aircraft. After Stalingrad, the Luftwaffe became Hitler's fire brigade, and the few assets left were sent hither and yon to cover a series of emergencies, stripping the Front in one area to meet a threat in another
    .

    The other replied:

    As many here will already know, I've done a wee bit of reading about the Luftwaffe. While I agree in principle with your "big picture" statement, IMO, RLM procurement/operational procedures were a greater determinant than was the outcome of individual combats on any any singular "front".
    I've been outspoken on this board in my appraisals of the RAF's "incursions" on the Channel "front" from 1941-43. Little was achieved in terms of "attrition" on the (mere) two Geschwadern that opposed the incursions. All the RAF "supporters" balk at the stats, but I tend to lean in the favor of the RLM records. The combats were fought over France and confirming the existence of a crumpled pile of metal and body bits in a farmers field was little more than a formality; but it was always pursued.
    Without launching into a ten thousand word essay (encapsulating and expounding on Williamson Murray's seminal work), suffice to say that yes: the bulk of the Luftwaffe's assets were engaged in the east, for the greater part of the war. Especially the Bomber forces.
    Much like all of the "greatest this" and "uber that", people always focus on the Jagdwaffe to the exclusion of all of the other elements that made up the entire effort. The KG's, StG's, SG's, Aufklarungs, Transport units, ZG's, Organic communications and liaison aircraft; all an integral part of the big picture. All suffered losses on a huge scale in the East; and ALL tacitly ignored by the people who focus on the 400-500 fighter planes operated by the "glamour boys" of the Jagdwaffe. Yes Scott, the heart of the Luftwaffe died in obscurity on the Eastern front. The losses among the "exigently" employed transport units get more press than they are due. Idiotic idea? You bet. It was all down to decisions made years before; the Schule units always had an operational assignment. They were drafted for the Norway operation, Fall Gelb, and the unexecuted Seelowe. That the pattern continued at Demyansk, Kholm and later Stalingrad and Tunisia should come as no great surprise. This was the bed they'd made for themselves. As an item of interest? A large number of (nominally) civilian pilots from the national airline (Lufthansa) died in these operations as well.


    It was a discussion with already some time and from a forum I don't participate anymore.

    Personally, I think those guys were pseudo intellectuals, and were doing nothing more than put forward the B* Soviet propagandistic version of the Cold War.
    Last edited by Jenisch; 02-11-2012 at 09:25 PM.

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    To counter this argument, an interesting (and impartial) text:

    Bourgeois falsifiers of World War II history attempt by any means at their disposal to minimize the role of the Soviet Air Force in the defeat of the Luftwaffe. They affirm that the power of the Luftwaffe was undermined by the Anglo-American bombing raids on German aircraft factories. However, historical documents and facts overthrow these unfounded assertions.(p. 382) *

    *The Soviet Air Force in World War II: The Official History, Originally Published by the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, translated by Leland Fetzer, edited by Ray Wagner (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1973, $12.95), 440 pages.

    Despite the ideological bias evident in the above statement, those interested in the Second World War will not want to dismiss lightly this Soviet history. While there are many good books available about the war, a perusal of Janet Ziegler’s bibliography World War II: Books in English 1945-1965 reveals the disproportionate lack of publications about the Russo-German part of the war. Miss Ziegler lists more books on the North African campaign than on the entire war in Russia. Although that disparity might be excused because of the Anglo-American military operations in Africa, it can lead to a distorted conception of the war that mistakenly minimizes the Soviet effort. Furthermore, the bulk of the literature about the war on that eastern front usually concentrates on the ground war; for example, neither Alan Clark’s Barbarossa nor Albert Seaton’s The Russo-German War gives any significant attention to air operations. On the other hand, Asher Lee’s The Soviet Air Force and Robert A. Kilmarx’s A History of Soviet Air Power give some attention to the air war but do so within a broader context of Soviet air power. And, unfortunately, most of the monographic literature on the Russo-German air war reflects Germany’s point of view.

    Official histories often are suspect, and while for us Soviet histories probably are more so than others, they cannot be discounted offhand, for at the very least they are indicative of the party line at the time of publication. This history, for example, demonstrates how a “de-Stalinization” policy may operate: it makes no accusations against Stalin; instead his role in the war is generally ignored (there are only six references to him), and the command decisions are attributed to the General Headquarters of the High Command (Stavka).

    In this account, the war on the Russo-German front is divided into three periods. During the first, which ran from the invasion of 22 June 1941 to November 1942, the principal feature was that of defense. Then the period to December 1943 included the battles for Stalingrad and Kursk and the reoccupation of Soviet territory to the Dnieper River. And the last, 1944-1945, was a period of Soviet successes on all fronts. For each of these periods there is a discussion of the general military situation and Soviet objectives, data are provided on aircraft types and production, and an account is given of the preparations for and conduct of various campaigns. The discussion of each period closes with a summary of the accomplishments and an assessment of Soviet air strengths and weaknesses.

    The narration, like the air war itself, emphasizes the tactical ground support role of Soviet aviation; but strategic operations, reconnaissance, and air support of partisan forces also receive attention. However, no attempt has been made to draw a large canvas of the war, and matters of grand strategy and diplomacy are ignored. There are numerous vignettes of individual Soviet heroism, which at first seem more suitable for the Soviet propaganda pamphlets published during the war;l but, on reflection, these differ little from similar accounts of American heroism narrated in books like Samuel Eliot Morison’s The Two-Ocean War.

    The book is especially enhanced by the annotations of the editor, Ray Wagner, author of American Combat Planes and The North American Sabre. He has provided additional data on Soviet aircraft, has noted discrepancies in the narrative from other evidence, and has added clarifying comments that considerably assist the reader. Included are about forty good photographs of World War II aircraft. The Soviet planes pictured range from the then obsolete I-153 biplane fighter and the TB-3 four-engine bomber to the later Yak-3 and La-7 fighters that were a match for the Luftwaffe Me-109 and Fw-190. Mr. Wagner also has added three appendices: on Soviet aircraft, Lend-Lease, and U.S.S.R. and German aircraft production.

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    This reader found the discussion of the first two periods the most interesting. In them it is argued that during the most critical years of the war the Soviets fought virtually unassisted by the Allies and that prior to 1944 the outcome of the war had been determined—by Soviet action alone.

    Avoiding the issue of Stalin’s failure to initiate a state of readiness in June 1941, the book claims that the initial Luftwaffe onslaught succeeded because the Soviet Air Force was caught in the midst of a modernization program and forward airfield construction. It further claims that, despite the loss of over one thousand aircraft on the first day of the war, throughout the general retreat of 1941 Soviet air power played a vital role in the ultimate containment of the German attack. In accordance with prewar strategy that had assigned to long-range bombardment air power the responsibility for annihilation of important targets and destruction of enemy air forces, during the first days of the war Soviet aircraft struck at cities and industrial targets ranging from Königsberg in the north to Bucharest and Ploesti in the south, and Berlin was bombed in August and September 1941. Such operations were soon abandoned, however, and all air resources were applied to the tactical situation.

    In defending Moscow during the winter of 1941-42, the Russians learned lessons concerning the essential priorities for the employment of air power. These lessons stressed the importance of thorough air reconnaissance and the attacking of enemy communications, troops concentrating for battle, and aircraft on the ground. The Soviets also recognized the advantage of mass air offensive and, most important, the fact that control of the air was a prerequisite for successful ground offensive. By December 1941 they established air supremacy around Moscow and were able to launch a counteroffensive.

    Following the Moscow counteroffensive, major organizational changes were made within the Red Army Air Force. The incorporation of air forces within the armies and of different types of aircraft within the air divisions had proved to be impracticable; therefore, separate air armies and divisions were created as well as an Air Force for Long-Range Operations. It should be noted, however, that only some two hundred outmoded bomber aircraft were available, and the strategic strike concept had little significance. Aircraft production increases during 1942 provided the opportunity not only for air superiority at the front but for the creation of substantial reserves as well.

    The climax of the second phase of the war came in the summer of 1943 at the battle for Kursk, where, this history states, “the struggle against the Luftwaffe . . . concluded in the destruction of its basic forces.” Strategic control of the air was gained as “the German command could no longer replace its great losses, especially in flying personnel.” (p. 186) Thereafter, say the Soviets, the Luftwaffe no longer had the ability to influence significantly the outcome of the war. (p. 201) In this period the Soviet Air Force was able to launch massive attacks upon the enemy with great success both in support of Soviet ground offensives and in destruction of the Luftwaffe on the ground and in the air. About 796,000 sorties were flown, and more than 20,000 aircraft were destroyed. A great increase in the use of radio communications, improved bombing accuracy and navigation procedures, and more aggressive air tactics all contributed to the Soviet superiority. Following the Kursk campaign, the Soviet offensive continued until the end of 1943, by which time the enemy had been driven across the Dnieper River. After that, declares the Soviet history, although the last two years of the war were dramatic and difficult, they were anticlimactic because by the beginning of 1944 the U.S.S.R. showed that it could defeat Germany singlehanded.

    Within this book there is much that students of tactical air power will want to read. It honestly acknowledges initial Soviet deficiencies in the quality of aircraft, organization and combat procedures, but any stereotype of Soviet inflexibility and awkwardness is dispelled by the evidence of the continued evolution of tactical effectiveness. Although the repeated insistence on the aggressiveness of Soviet flyers from the very beginning of the war may be somewhat exaggerated, in the light of what we know about the offensive nature of Soviet soldiers, the characterization appears more correct than the hesitant qualities attributed to them by German analysts. Moreover, the combat accomplishments of the Red Army Air Force alone would merit that judgment.

    In the present Soviet era of internal detention but of external détente with the West, one notes that, nevertheless, this history is most critical of Allied wartime policy and operations. The Anglo-American strategic bombing offensive is declared ineffective, the invasion of Europe in 1944 is regarded merely as a response to the Soviet success in the east and not as significant to the defeat of Germany. Throughout the war, it is argued, the Germans maintained the bulk of their forces, including their most experienced air units, on the Russian front, and Allied air superiority was gained in 1943 not through Anglo-American air raids “but by the defeat of its [the Luftwaffe’s] best squadrons on the Soviet-German front.” (p. 383) In general, Anglo-American military operations and assistance are dismissed as being too little, too late.

    Despite tales of heroism and other citations of individual Soviet airmen included in the book, this is an impersonal narrative of aircraft and operations without any discussion of the interplay that must have gone on between air and other leaders and planners as to the direction of Soviet strategy and operations. Neither N. G. Kolesnikov nor N. V. Voronov, the Soviet Air Force representatives on the General Staff, is cited, which is unfortunate as they are generally ignored in S. M. Shtemenko’s The Soviet General Staff at War: 1941-1945, also. In all, no Arnold, George, or Spaatz emerges. Air Marshal Alexander A. Novikov, who became chief of the Soviet Air Force in April 1942 and held that position throughout the remainder of the war, is mentioned more than any other person except Hitler, but one acquires little appreciation of him either as an individual or as a commander. There is no comment about his removal in 1946 and disappearance from public attention until 1953. Nor is the organizational relationship between the Soviet Army, Navy, and Air Force made clear. Although there are many references to the Stavka, its subordinate relationship to the State Defense Committee (GOKO) is not mentioned.

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    The casual dismissal of Anglo-American assistance as insignificant requires further comment. Admittedly most combat aircraft provided the Soviets through Lend-Lease were not the latest models available, but it was a considerable effort in view of the facts that the United States was engaged in expansion of its own forces and those of the British and that deliveries to the Soviet Union involved difficulties in long-distance transportation. Robert Huhn Jones, in his study of Lend-Lease, tabulates 1663 Allied aircraft delivered to the Soviets by 1 November 1942—which he notes exceeded the number of modern Soviet-built aircraft used at Stalingrad.2 One of the greatest difficulties in assessing the Lend-Lease contributions to Russia is the lack of information about the Soviet employment of these aircraft. However, German sources have stated that after the spring of 1942 American and British aircraft were particularly noticeable on the Leningrad and Kuban fronts and that, on the latter, Allied aircraft sometimes outnumbered those built by the Soviets.3 It should also be remembered that as early as 1942, when the war was still undecided, Stalin was offered an Anglo-American bomber force that would operate from the Caucasus beginning in 1943, but for political reasons he rejected the proposal, desiring only the aircraft.4 The $11 billion of Lend-Lease also provided raw materials, foodstuffs, and technical assistance vital to Soviet sustenance and production.

    Neither can the contribution of Anglo-American strategic bombardment be so brusquely condemned. The Soviet analysis emphasizes the tactical nature of the Russian operations, which they claim had won air superiority in 1943 and thus ultimate victory before extensive Western air raids had begun. No one questions that Allied strategic air power was applied belatedly or that targeting mistakes were made.5 However, the Soviet argument may hinge upon their own lack of a strategic capability and upon their desire to underplay the Allied invasion and subsequent ground operations in Europe by claiming that the outcome had been determined prior to that time. As Asher Lee has stated, the Soviet long-range bomber force was “without a really accurate destructive punch throughout the Second World War. It was typically realistic on the part of the Kremlin defense authorities to use their Soviet air arm primarily as a weapon of tactical air support and air transport.”6 And, too, the Germans had a different outlook. Albert Speer has written of the importance of 12 May 1944 as the day on which “the technological war was decided. Until then we had managed to produce approximately as many weapons as the armed forces needed, . . . But with the attack of nine hundred and thirty-five daylight bombers of the American Eighth Air Force upon several fuel plants in central and eastern Germany, a new era in the air war began. It meant the end of German armaments production.”7 This would indicate that the critical period of the war came much later than the Soviet history claims. As for the death blow to the Luftwaffe, according to Galland it was struck not in 1943 but in the winter of 1944-45, when Germany exhausted its fighter capability in the Ardennes campaign.8 Moreover, the Germans, who were subjected to and could assess both Soviet and Western applications of air power, not only regretted their inability to cope with the Anglo-American strategic bombardment but saw their lack of such a capability as a decisive factor in their defeat in Russia.9

    Frank Futrell, whose knowledge of air power history is second to none, once commented at an Air Force Academy military symposium that despite the spate of surveys of World War II strategic operations an absolute evaluation was not available. He attributed that to the researchers’ lack of essential standards and techniques. He further noted that the “evaluators and historians tended to fall back upon the slippery facts of experiential history and to base many of their judgments upon the intensely personal experiences and views of the participants in the conflict. These varied views and experiences have permitted different interpretations.”10 The same same is true for other aspects of the air war, as this Soviet history attests. It is unfortunate that not until twenty-eight years after the war has this official Soviet record of the Red Air Force appeared in an English-language edition. Professional military men and other students of air power will want to read it.


    Soviet Air Power and Victory in World War II

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    Another source of information:

    4.06 times as many aircraft were lost in combat in the West than were lost in the East, a ratio reasonably close to Groehler's 3.41 for all "losses". The most chilling statistic for the JG 26 pilots appears in the sortie data. An airplane flying a combat mission in the West was 7.66 times more likely to be destroyed than one on a similar mission in the East. It is clear that the burden of sacrifice was borne by the Luftwaffe aircrew on the Western Front and over the Reich, not on the Eastern Front.

    http://don-caldwell.we.bs/jg26/thtrlosses.htm

    I also think they didn't considerate the losses the Western Allies inflicted in 1939-40, particularly during the BoB, which were high and certainly did make a difference in the East. And while one can argue that by the time the Luftwaffe started to be removed from the East, the VVS was much more stronger to hold their own, I found hard to not considerate other actions from the Western Allies that were connected with the Luftwaffe (and the Wehrmacht in general) losses in the East, such as the naval blockade, the need to built U-boats, the bombing, the Lend-Lease for the Soviets (not only aircraft, everything) and much other things. I considerate much valid to argue about such things, because Germany was fighting against multiple enemies, and those factors were affecting significantly the German hability to conduct war in the East, while the Soviets were fighting with all their industry and still receiving much from their Allies, not to mention their direct contribution in combat, which again is something to think about. For example, the many transport aircraft lost in Africa and the Mediterranean, the majority of the Fw 190s, much better than Stukas as attack planes and that would certainly reduce much of their losses were most employed in the West, and the fact the attack aviation would not suffer so much losses in the East if it had fighter escort, the thousands of AA guns in the West that would inflict much more losses in the Soviet planes if were present there, etc. And all this should be analized in a cumulative matter in my view, and that's why it's clear that is impractical or pro-Soviet analyze the things in their way.
    Last edited by Jenisch; 02-11-2012 at 09:38 PM.

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    It's pretty daunting task to weight all of the opinions from those articles you've provided, but Luftwaffe, willy-nilly, was suffering atrition from Sept 1939, with many planes & pilots lost on West in 1940, then turning East to take further losses. The Germany was not the nation that could supply it's AF with pilots from abroad (unlike RAF), to produce planes in US scale, let alone to fuel them. German allies were scarcely able to come to aid; it was more about Germany coming to help them. No wonder the pilots & planes were consumed at good rate from Day One, result being Alied planes flying over Germany well prior WW2 ended.

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    I'm from the opinion of many German officers of the war: alone, it was possible to deal with the Soviets, at least counter them. Without the naval blockade, need to built U-boats, Lend-Lease and the bombing, the Germans would be much more stronger economically. Being able to import raw materials, it would be at least much harder for the Soviets to defeat Hitler.

    Just in the historical Lend-Lease there are many skeptical authours about the Soviet hability to continue fighting without it, such as the professor Hubert van Tuyll, authour of Feeding the Bear, who says:

    “In the first 1.5 years the Soviet Union was fighting for survival and would have won without lend lease, but further victories and movement to Europe would be questionable”

    American aid to Soviet Union, or unknown lend-lease

    If the critics of the Lend-Lease decisiviness argue about quantity in the critical periods (which I don't think it's fair, because this involves factors such as the Soviets stopping of produce certain things to focus in others with sure they would receive them later, including free a large workforce in the industry and agriculture for the armed forces), I'm arguing about the Soviets without Lend-Lease, and the Germans with a much more stronger economy, being able to import everything they needed, and turning Festung Europe in a much more stronger economic zone. If only the absent of the Lend-Lease historically already could have hurt the Soviets, there's nothing more to mention about how the situation would be with Germany much stronger.

    I'm a strong critic of historians like David Glantz in this regard. People who say the Soviets would likely won the war alone always desconsiderate the factors I mentioned.
    Last edited by Jenisch; 02-12-2012 at 07:28 AM.

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    "..... To counter this argument, an interesting (and impartial) text:

    Bourgeois falsifiers of World War II history attempt by any means at their disposal to minimize the role of the Soviet Air Force in the defeat of the Luftwaffe ........ "

    Bourgeois ... now that is a word I actively seek out in top-of-the-line military analysis .....

    Oh, Jenesch, what are you try to say?

    MM

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    In My Opinion - you can argue till the cows come home all the intracies that you want about reasons but it still comes down to this - quanity over quality. The economic might of the Allies (which includes the US, UK and USSR) swamped the Luftwaffe in the skies in all areas eventually.

    "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it's English, thank a soldier!"


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    To sound credible, it is not wise to write these two lines in the same message , at least next to each other:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenisch View Post
    ..an interesting (and impartial) text:
    Bourgeois falsifiers of World War II history



    It further claims that, despite the loss of over one thousand aircraft on the first day of the war, throughout the general retreat of 1941 Soviet air power played a vital role in the ultimate containment of the German attack
    German attack in 1941 was stopped by Soviet ground forces alone, nor German or Soviet air forces played any significant part.
    Last edited by Timppa; 02-12-2012 at 10:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelmaltby View Post
    "..... To counter this argument, an interesting (and impartial) text:

    Bourgeois falsifiers of World War II history attempt by any means at their disposal to minimize the role of the Soviet Air Force in the defeat of the Luftwaffe ........ "

    Bourgeois ... now that is a word I actively seek out in top-of-the-line military analysis .....
    Perhaps if you and Timppa have read the text those comments would not be posted.

    Oh, Jenesch, what are you try to say?

    MM
    Dismiss a view that the Luftwaffe was defeated in the Eastern Front.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timppa View Post
    German attack in 1941 was stopped by Soviet ground forces alone, nor German or Soviet air forces played any significant part.
    The Germans were not prepared for winter warfare, their logistics were inadequate and the winter of that year was more cold than usually. If you are thinking the Russians would be able to mount only winter offensives without control of the air for the rest of the year, no way. And this is specially true if they were alone against the Germans and pushed them back or made they retreat, because then they would be in the same boat as the Germans: logistical problems of an enemy with much more industrial power and with factories beyond your range. And the Germans also had tecnological advantage.
    Last edited by Jenisch; 02-12-2012 at 10:53 AM.

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    I admit to looking at these questions in a simplistic way. Its my belief that Germany failed simply because it lacked the economic strength to take on the war on two fronts. They came desperately close to beating Russia despite these handicaps.

    Had they not attacked France but just gone for Russia then they would have won, Russia wasn't liked by the West or the USA and no help would have gone their way. The Russians wouldn't have had the T34/KV1's that arrived in the nick of time, IL2's wouldn't have been around to hammer the German Army.

    Germany simply didn't have the numbers to take on everyone at once

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glider View Post
    I admit to looking at these questions in a simplistic way. Its my belief that Germany failed simply because it lacked the economic strength to take on the war on two fronts. They came desperately close to beating Russia despite these handicaps.

    Had they not attacked France but just gone for Russia then they would have won, Russia wasn't liked by the West or the USA and no help would have gone their way. The Russians wouldn't have had the T34/KV1's that arrived in the nick of time, IL2's wouldn't have been around to hammer the German Army.

    Germany simply didn't have the numbers to take on everyone at once
    My view? The Americans frustrated Germany in both wars. In WWII, they first keep Britain in the war by helping it with the Lend-Lease, and later helped the Soviets and entered the conflict. They also were behind the war in the Pacific, with their hard line against the Japanese, which prevented any possibility of Japan to join in the war against Russia.

    Richard Overy states in Why the Allies Won that Germany didn't lost because the multi front war, citing the US as an example of a country that fought in multiple fronts. I found this argument paradoxal, because how can Germany be defeated by the joint Allied efforts, and at the same time being not?

    Many historians also like to do comparisons of dubious impartiality, like: "If not for the Russian resistance, the Allies would be unlikely to defeat Germany". Interestingly, the other way around could be quiet similar: if not for the British resistance in 1940, the Nazis would be free to pursue their goal of conquest Russia, and even if they fail, they would still have a back door to have at least a chance of a stalemate.

    About the Soviet military hardware, without the war in the West, Germany would be able to send thousands of Panther and Tiger tanks to the front, together with all the Luftwaffe equipped with modern aircraft such as the Fw 190 Jabos, Hs 129s and the jets. In my opinion, it would be a bloodbatch for the Russians. Even if a victory was possible in theory, the cost would probably be prohibitive.

    Logically, I'm not claiming that this that would happen, it's just a possibility, and a fair one in my view.
    Last edited by Jenisch; 02-12-2012 at 11:44 AM.

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    After Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, he was essentially fighting on two main fronts; the Eastern Front and the Western Front. Yes, there was fighting in North Africa, but not in anywhere NEAR the numbers of either of the two main fronts. It was brutal, but not numerically large in comparison.

    Approximately 65% of the Luftwaffe resources were on the Eastern Front from 1942 - 1944. Since this is an aviation forum, I am speeaking below of air opertions; not ground or Naval fighting.

    What can be said without much argument is that the Sviet Union absorbed a lot of early losses, learned the lessons of air combat quite well, and rebounded to defeat the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front.

    The British did not suffer as many losses statistically as the Soviet Union but did, in fact, give about as well as they took, early on, at least as far as the RAF / Luftwaffe are concerned. Later, when the American joined the effort, we helped with large numbers of aircraft, armaments, and crews. We probed, learned what worked and what didn't, and eventually defeated the Luftwaffe on the Western Front.

    As Germany got pounded from both fronts, her ability to produce aircraft (as well as other war material), fuel, pilots, and even food decreased to the point where any sane person would have seen the writing on the wall and surrendered. Eventually, surrender was forced, but SHOULD have been offered in 1944.

    As a U.S. citizen, it is natural to suspect any Soviet history reports since most were the product of state operated propagangists. There was little in the way of Soviet freedom of the press. But I cannot doubt the contrubutions of the Soviet Air Force. Without the Russian Front, the entire resources of Nazi Germany would probably have conquered Europe. Then Hitler could have turned on Russia with no Western Front. Without a divided front, the outcome was much less predictably a Soviet victory.

    So it is my take that the Eruopean Allies would have lost without the Russian Front to help divide German forces, and the Soviet Union could e asily have also lost eventually if the European Allies had not kept fighting in the West. That is, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the U.S.A. all needed each other's contributions or the outcome could easily have been otherwise. So neither the Soviets nor the British / US can claim they "won the war." We needed each other to get it done.

    For the life of me, I cannot see how so many people can claim over the years that the efforts on one front or the other were the real determining factor ... both fronts were required in order to have Germany fighting a divided front war.

    I am not ignoring Japan, Itay, or any other country, but the discussion was about the German Luftwaffe, not about the "Axis Powers."
    Last edited by GregP; 02-12-2012 at 11:42 AM.

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