The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

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JAG13
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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by JAG13 » 14 Dec 2019 16:30

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 02:41
JAG13 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 00:40
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 00:25
I agree that the Luftewaffe was effective against enemy ships at sea. I just think investing in the Heer would have generated better returns. For Germany, WW2 was in essence a ground war. Its fate depended on victory on land - not in North Africa, but on mainland Europe.

Naval warfare was a useless side show that Germany could never win. For all the ships sunk by the LW and KM, Germany never came close to contesting any sea zone other than the Baltic, which was the only one strategically necessary. Maybe if bombers were needed to keep the Soviet Baltic fleet at bay I can see a case, but I don't think bombers were necessary for that purpose in the OTL.

I agree that it was about politics. Politics led to a horribly inefficient economy and Werhmacht that tried to do everything and ended up doing nothing well enough. Germany had extremely limited resources and needed to focus them on mass producing the most important equipment for the war: rifles, machine guns, artillery, mortars, ammunition, trucks, and trains.
The KM dis well considering:

1. It had no aerial recce for its ships and subs.
2. Its torps didnt work at first.
3. Had too few subs to really make an impact.
4. Used its new magnetic mines way before having a stock to make their introduction worthwhile.
5. Had no air arm.
6. Had no plan, intelligence on, or ships designed to fight the UK due to Hitler's meddling.

Change that and then tell me if they could have never won, you already know what a dozen improvised and flimsy Condors reluctantly did.
I know the KM did well, given its small size relative to the Allied navy. I'm just saying it didn't accomplish anything that actually helped Germany win the war. The war for Germany took place on land. The sinking of Allied ships only helped the land war to the extent it made it more difficult for the Allies to land their troops on continental Europe. I've debated this with TheMarcksPlan, but basically zero WW2 historians claim that the KM's efforts delayed the Allied invasion of Europe.
It didnt because Hitler screwed up, not because it was imposible to do, Germany had much to gain from a properly conceived KM which is why the RN was willing to reach a compromise in 1935.

Regarding delays, just think about the expense caused by convoying and the Uboat campaign and what the allies could have done with those massive resources absent the KM.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 22 Dec 2019 20:31

The OP is based on a false premise. Not sure if is lack of knowledge, or something else. The example cited do not reflect the broad spectrum of bomber operations of the early war. Particularly the general LOC interdiction, or the damage to morale. To look at one specific example:
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Dec 2019 07:16
...
  • Sedan: The supposed crowning achievement of the Luftewaffe as a tactical bomber force, the 1000+ sorties flown by the Luftewaffe killed a whopping 56 French soldiers (source: Lloyd Clark, Blitzkrieg, Myth and Reality. The money would have been better spent on just about anything else.

...
The best result of the 2+ hour air bombardment was the destruction of the morale of the Series B formations in the target area & the desertion of their positions. The artillery Group was physically undamaged. The cannon crews and command staff 'broke' crippling artillery support before the assault across the river started. Similarly the morale of the infantry battalions in the target area were broken & desertion underway. The air attacks led to the decision of the artillery commander to move his CP hastily, disrupting communications at a critical moment.

Doughtys 'The Breaking Point' details the destruction of the French 55th Division & X Corps. The role of the large air strike was pivitol. The 72 howitzers covering a three Division assault lacked numbers & ammunition to create a similar effect. The direct fire support was confined to targeting the defense on the river bank & had no ability to support beyond that. The tanks did not begain crossing for hours after the assualt, & were present in only small numbers during the night.

The 56 given as French killed is one estimate. The collapse of the 55th Info Div prevented any accurate accounting. Neither does it include the wounded. Estimates for desertion or unauthorized retreat of units suggest the division lost 50 to 80% of it's fighting capacity when the ground assualt started. This collapse was not confined to the junior ranks, but included a number of company & battalion cadres retreating without orders or deserting.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 22 Dec 2019 23:13

Doughty says the air attack "contributed significantly" to the "enormously disruptive panic that swept" the French 55th Infantry Division on the evening of the 13th. Since the air attack was in the afternoon (not the evening), this is an entirely subjective assessment.

https://books.google.com/books?id=3FXxBQAAQBAJ

He also says "very little damage actually occurred", even to the exposed artillery, which resumed firing once the Germans started their crossing. It was the individual bravery of the German infantry who cleared a path through the French bunkers (which were not affected by the Stukas) that won the day for Germany at Sedan.

So your response is based on a false reading of the book. Not sure if it's a lack of knowledge or something else. :P

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Dec 2019 01:02

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
22 Dec 2019 20:31
The OP is based on a false premise. Not sure if is lack of knowledge, or something else. The example cited do not reflect the broad spectrum of bomber operations of the early war. Particularly the general LOC interdiction, or the damage to morale. To look at one specific example:
HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Dec 2019 07:16
...
  • Sedan: The supposed crowning achievement of the Luftewaffe as a tactical bomber force, the 1000+ sorties flown by the Luftewaffe killed a whopping 56 French soldiers (source: Lloyd Clark, Blitzkrieg, Myth and Reality. The money would have been better spent on just about anything else.

...
The best result of the 2+ hour air bombardment was the destruction of the morale of the Series B formations in the target area & the desertion of their positions. The artillery Group was physically undamaged. The cannon crews and command staff 'broke' crippling artillery support before the assault across the river started. Similarly the morale of the infantry battalions in the target area were broken & desertion underway. The air attacks led to the decision of the artillery commander to move his CP hastily, disrupting communications at a critical moment.

Doughtys 'The Breaking Point' details the destruction of the French 55th Division & X Corps. The role of the large air strike was pivitol. The 72 howitzers covering a three Division assault lacked numbers & ammunition to create a similar effect. The direct fire support was confined to targeting the defense on the river bank & had no ability to support beyond that. The tanks did not begain crossing for hours after the assualt, & were present in only small numbers during the night.

The 56 given as French killed is one estimate. The collapse of the 55th Info Div prevented any accurate accounting. Neither does it include the wounded. Estimates for desertion or unauthorized retreat of units suggest the division lost 50 to 80% of it's fighting capacity when the ground assualt started. This collapse was not confined to the junior ranks, but included a number of company & battalion cadres retreating without orders or deserting.
I haven't read Doughty's book but it looks to be based on unit reports. Regarding air attacks in WW2, unit reports frequently greatly exaggerated their scale and effects. This happened on both sides. Blaming air attacks was a convenient excuse both for the individual ground commanders supposedly devastated by them and for his superiors tasked with scrutinizing subordinates' claims: by shifting blame to the air forces accountability shifted outside the entire chain of command through which reports were passed and analyzed. Blaming a neighboring unit for exposing one's flank, on the other hand, would have prompted reply from that unit and, because it also implicated a shared superior, would face resistance there as well.

This dynamic was all the more heightened in France in light of national humiliation and a narrative based on overwhelming German air power - rather than better soldiering - was more palatable. If Doughty doesn't address these dynamics explicitly the book should be dismissed.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Dec 2019 04:49

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Dec 2019 01:02
I haven't read Doughty's book but it looks to be based on unit reports. Regarding air attacks in WW2, unit reports frequently greatly exaggerated their scale and effects. ...
If you have not read the book its a bit difficult to comment on its sources, no? I do have a copy of Loyd Clarks Blitzkrieg, Myth and Reality on the desk here. First: in chapter Six the raid/s are described as starting in the morning with "harassment", a larger series of attacks against specific target areas beginning at noon (German time), a larger single raid lasting 90 minutes starting at 16:00, after 17:30 the airstrikes continued to dusk & were directed against the rear areas of the French X Corps to interdict reserves & efforts to activate defense positions or counter attacks.

Second: Clark describes the same as Doughty, Morale collapsing during the hours of bombardment & the start of desertion or retreat before the ground assault. Ditto the collapse in communication within the infantry regiments and with the artillery. Horne, Chapman, Jackson all note the same in their histories of the campaign.

As for unit reports. Very little of thes authors seem to have been derived from such. The 55th Inf Div nearly ceased operations on the 14th, losses from desertion, prisoners, and casualties were such could not produce a battle worthy formation for the next five days. The 55th was dissolved on the 18th May. The 71st ID was also "vaporized" as one observer put it. It was also disbanded, on the 20th or 21st. On the German side any documentation collected was apparently lost in a 1943 air raid where the records of Guderians XIX Corps were destroyed. Accounts for the German side come from stray records, & personal accounts. On the French side the assorted historians seem to be drawing from the extensive accounts collected during the investigations conducted by the French Army 1941-1942. Clark includes post war interviews and personal accounts in his bibliography, as does Doughty.

While its easy to see the French senior leaders efforts to blame the 'Communists', unreliable Parisian units, or each other those are fairly transparent as one keeps reading. The accounts of the Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants or privates add up better & match the German accounts far better.

Returning to the descriptions of the battle, the disruption f the French artillery is matched in the German observations. The later do describe French harassing & interdiction fires on the evening of the 12th as the XIX Corps closed to Sedan & the river, then again on the morning of the 13th. But there is little described during the afternoon. Its notable by its absence in the German accounts. Since the French had 172 cannon in their X Corps, in range of the crossing sites & there was a set of fire plans & intent to use them to repel the ground attack, it suggests there was something very wrong with the French artillery.

I'll note that there seems to have been one French battery or battalion group intact into the evening. There may have been one such positioned to the west & untargeted. The afternoon effort of the 2d Pz Div to cross the river at Doncherry failed to reach the river . German tesitimony describes them as driven back to a railroad berm some 500 meters from the river, by long range MG, mortar, and artillery fires.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Dec 2019 05:17

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
22 Dec 2019 23:13
Doughty says the air attack "contributed significantly" to the "enormously disruptive panic that swept" the French 55th Infantry Division on the evening of the 13th. Since the air attack was in the afternoon (not the evening), this is an entirely subjective assessment.

https://books.google.com/books?id=3FXxBQAAQBAJ

He also says "very little damage actually occurred", even to the exposed artillery, which resumed firing once the Germans started their crossing. It was the individual bravery of the German infantry who cleared a path through the French bunkers (which were not affected by the Stukas) that won the day for Germany at Sedan.

So your response is based on a false reading of the book. Not sure if it's a lack of knowledge or something else. :P
& I can find descriptions in Doughty, Clark and others that say otherwise. I've been though these multiple times, to the point of boredom after 27 years. The elite rifle battalions of the 1st & 10th Pz Dv & the Gross Deutschland. were dealing with a poorly trained French corps that disintegrated under the pressure of a day long series of airstrikes of over 1200 sorties. What resistance there was on the 13th came mostly from the local 147 Fortress Regiment. A pre war mix of Active & A Series reservists. These men manned the riverside bunkers & held together when the Series B reservists of the 55th DI abandoned them. Unfortunately those unsupported companies were not enough to resist three divisions.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Dec 2019 11:03

Carl Schwamberger wrote:If you have not read the book its a bit difficult to comment on its sources, no?
It's entirely reasonable to inquire about a book's assertions before devoting time to reading it. Thus academic book reviews, for example.

Does the book explicitly address the WW2-wide phenomenon of exaggerating air attacks and their impacts?

Finally, even if Doughty's characterization is accurate, that doesn't resolve the question raised by HG. As repeatedly emphasized but consistently ignored, Germany was spending 3-4x as much on LW (mostly bombers) as on Heer equipment. Would the Germans have been better off with 3x the panzer divisions or with - granting your point for now - a few dramatic LW successes?

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by ljadw » 23 Dec 2019 11:22

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
12 Dec 2019 07:16
I've written elsewhere that the Luftewaffe's bomber force was ineffective and overly expensive:

viewtopic.php?f=76&t=244765
viewtopic.php?f=76&t=244917

The bombers suffered a ridiculously high casualty rate, were easy prey to enemy fighters, and made little difference in ground engagements. It was the soldiers of the Heer who won Germany's early battles, not the Luftewaffe.

So what if the Luftewaffe were restricted to only making fighters for the entire war?

There are a few examples where bombers made an impact early in the war:
  • Warsaw: the city was surrounded and surrendered after being bombed heavily. But a surrounded city is doomed anyway, so the absence of bombers just leads to a delay.
  • Norway: This was principally an air invasion. So the absence of transports (yes, not even mass transports in this ATL) would mean Germany could not invade Norway. So potentially Germany is stuck using lower grade iron ore the rest of the war (more on that here: viewtopic.php?f=76&t=243663)
  • Fort Eben Emael: Okay, a few transports for a small elite force of Fallschirmjäger will be necessary.
  • Rotterdam: The Dutch were already negotiating a surrender, so the bombing of Rotterdam didn't really matter.
  • Sedan: The supposed crowning achievement of the Luftewaffe as a tactical bomber force, the 1000+ sorties flown by the Luftewaffe killed a whopping 56 French soldiers (source: Lloyd Clark, Blitzkrieg, Myth and Reality. The money would have been better spent on just about anything else.
  • Barbarossa: The Luftewaffe destroyed most of the Red Air Force on the ground in the opening week of the invasion ... except the Red Air Force was back up and running by late summer and in many sectors had air superiority. But the Heer was still able to win. Air forces simply weren't that effective on the battlefield in 1941. And more fighters would have better protected the Heer.
Since the Luftewaffe's bombers did not inflict that many casualties or significant damage on enemy forces, the main effect was psychological. But fighters can have the same, perhaps better psychological effect. A fighter can still strafe - I've heard accounts that strafing was more fear inducing than bombing. And a focus on fighters would mean more air superiority, and thus better psychology for the Heer and worse for its enemies.

This would also save Germany a ton of resources and manpower. The Luftewaffe was a tremendous drain on the resources of the Reich (40% of the armaments budget, 1.8 million laborers by 1941 and more aluminum than the Reich could produce). Fighters are far cheaper than bombers. This would have freed up men, material and factories for the Heer, which never received enough equipment during the war.

And the biggest advantage would be late war - the focus on fighters would mean the Luftewaffe would at least be better prepared than in the OTL for the Allied air onslaught that wiped out the Luftewaffe from 1944-1945. There would be more trained fighter pilots, more efficiency in producing fighters, more technological research and expertise put into fighters, and more institutional experience in running a fighter based air force.
1 That the bombers were ineffective and too much expensive is wrong.
2 That by building less bombers the Germans could build more fighters is also wrong .
3 Besides : more fighters does not mean more pilots .
4 That less bombers would give the army more resources is also wrong : it is a rehearsal of the old claim : less battleships mean more submarines .
5 Due to their short range capacity,fighters were not fit for offensive operations on big scale .
6 Fighters could not attack submarines
7 Fighters could not attack the enemy's economy,or the enemy's transport system .
In the Ardennes it was very simple : the Germans had to cross the Meuse, but this was impossible because of the enemyMGs. To eliminate these,the Germans needed artillery, as it would take too much time to move artillery from Germany to the Meuse,the Germmans used flying artillery = the Stukas. Without them, the crossing of the Meuse at Sedan was impossible .

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by ljadw » 23 Dec 2019 12:13

The OP is also founded on 2 wrong assumptions
1That Germany produced too many bombers compared to fighters
2 That the production of fighters and of bombers were dependent on each other and influenced each other ,
Look at the figures
1 Bomber production
1940 2852
1941 3373
19424337
1943 4649
1944 2287
2 Fighter production
1940 2746
1941 3744
1942 5515
1943 10898
1944 25285

3 Production of fighter-bombers( bad translation of Schlachtflugzeuge )

1940 : 603
1941 :507
1942 :1249
1943 :3266
1944 :5496
Conclusions
1 The Germans built 3 fighters for 1 bomber
2 The production of fighters increased while the production of bombers increased ,thus less bombers does not mean more fighters
3 The production of 25285 fighters in 1944 did not help the Germans
4 To produce more fighters in 1944, the decision had to be taken in 1943 .
5 As the training of a pilot lasted longer than the time needed to build a fighter, to increase even more the production of fighters would result in a situation where fighters would wait on pilots .
6 The situation where pilots were waiting on fighters did not exist .
7 There is no proof that Germany could have produced more fighters in 1944 than it did produce .

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by ljadw » 23 Dec 2019 12:28

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Dec 2019 11:03
Carl Schwamberger wrote:If you have not read the book its a bit difficult to comment on its sources, no?
It's entirely reasonable to inquire about a book's assertions before devoting time to reading it. Thus academic book reviews, for example.

Does the book explicitly address the WW2-wide phenomenon of exaggerating air attacks and their impacts?

Finally, even if Doughty's characterization is accurate, that doesn't resolve the question raised by HG. As repeatedly emphasized but consistently ignored, Germany was spending 3-4x as much on LW (mostly bombers) as on Heer equipment. Would the Germans have been better off with 3x the panzer divisions or with - granting your point for now - a few dramatic LW successes?
Less bombers does not mean more tanks and an increase of tank production by 300% does not mean a trebling of the number of PzD .
If in 1941 no bombers were build instead of 3373,this would not mean that Germany would have 60 Pzd . And if it had 60 PzD, it would not help Germany .The Soviets had 60 tank divisions in June 1941,and it did not help them .

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 23 Dec 2019 13:51

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Dec 2019 04:49

Second: Clark describes the same as Doughty, Morale collapsing during the hours of bombardment & the start of desertion or retreat before the ground assault.
Neither Doughty nor Clark describe any desertion or retreat before the German ground assault. The only tangible effects Doughty describes are (1) disruptions in French communications during the attack (which were able to be restored once bombing ceased) and (2) suppression of French artillery fire while the Germans advanced to the Meuse (although French artillery fire resumed once the aerial attack ended and the Germans started their river crossing).

The second effect was certainly important. Was it important enough to justify the existence of Stukas? Who knows. In any event, the real expense of the Luftewaffe was in its medium bomber program, which dwarfed the Stukas (1600 vs 400 by May 1940), so even if we allow for the production of some Stukas, a great deal of cost savings (20-30% of the OTL German military budget) can still be achieved.

Doughty also notes that German fighters contributed to the aerial assault on May 13 through strafing, even describing this as accurate enough to pick off individual French in the open. Since the French artillery were out in the open, a pure fighter force would still be able to suppress them.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Dec 2019 13:58

Read the "Bloody Triangle" for a Soviet POV of LW air power in 1941.

This idea that the LW ground-attack force was low impact is grossly ill-informed and based on an agenda of Germany winning WW2....

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 23 Dec 2019 14:06

ljadw wrote:
23 Dec 2019 12:13
The OP is also founded on 2 wrong assumptions
1That Germany produced too many bombers compared to fighters
2 That the production of fighters and of bombers were dependent on each other and influenced each other ,
Look at the figures
1 Bomber production
1940 2852
1941 3373
19424337
1943 4649
1944 2287
2 Fighter production
1940 2746
1941 3744
1942 5515
1943 10898
1944 25285

3 Production of fighter-bombers( bad translation of Schlachtflugzeuge )

1940 : 603
1941 :507
1942 :1249
1943 :3266
1944 :5496
Conclusions
1 The Germans built 3 fighters for 1 bomber
2 The production of fighters increased while the production of bombers increased ,thus less bombers does not mean more fighters
3 The production of 25285 fighters in 1944 did not help the Germans
4 To produce more fighters in 1944, the decision had to be taken in 1943 .
5 As the training of a pilot lasted longer than the time needed to build a fighter, to increase even more the production of fighters would result in a situation where fighters would wait on pilots .
6 The situation where pilots were waiting on fighters did not exist .
7 There is no proof that Germany could have produced more fighters in 1944 than it did produce .
This is wrong.

Germany built 737 bombers vs only 605 fighters in 1939.

That a bomber is not more expensive than a fighter is wrong.

The Ju-88 program was granted higher priority than army production in 1940.

To ignore this is wrong.

Your claims about fighter production are based on the shift to fighters in 1944. This is wrong.

The war was already over by 1944.

We need to look at the early period of the war, when Germany still had a chance. This is when Germany was building more bombers than fighters.

This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

See how annoying it is when someone keeps repeating "This is wrong" over and over again?
Last edited by HistoryGeek2019 on 23 Dec 2019 14:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 23 Dec 2019 14:09

Cult Icon wrote:
23 Dec 2019 13:58
Read the "Bloody Triangle" for a Soviet POV of LW air power in 1941.

This idea that the LW ground-attack force was low impact is grossly ill-informed and based on an agenda of Germany winning WW2....
Vague reference to a book without giving any specifics.

Ad hominem.

Great contribution to the thread. :thumbsup:

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Re: The Luftwaffe only makes fighters

Post by ljadw » 23 Dec 2019 16:02

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
23 Dec 2019 14:06
ljadw wrote:
23 Dec 2019 12:13
The OP is also founded on 2 wrong assumptions
1That Germany produced too many bombers compared to fighters
2 That the production of fighters and of bombers were dependent on each other and influenced each other ,
Look at the figures
1 Bomber production
1940 2852
1941 3373
19424337
1943 4649
1944 2287
2 Fighter production
1940 2746
1941 3744
1942 5515
1943 10898
1944 25285

3 Production of fighter-bombers( bad translation of Schlachtflugzeuge )

1940 : 603
1941 :507
1942 :1249
1943 :3266
1944 :5496
Conclusions
1 The Germans built 3 fighters for 1 bomber
2 The production of fighters increased while the production of bombers increased ,thus less bombers does not mean more fighters
3 The production of 25285 fighters in 1944 did not help the Germans
4 To produce more fighters in 1944, the decision had to be taken in 1943 .
5 As the training of a pilot lasted longer than the time needed to build a fighter, to increase even more the production of fighters would result in a situation where fighters would wait on pilots .
6 The situation where pilots were waiting on fighters did not exist .
7 There is no proof that Germany could have produced more fighters in 1944 than it did produce .
This is wrong.

Germany built 737 bombers vs only 605 fighters in 1939.

That a bomber is not more expensive than a fighter is wrong.

The Ju-88 program was granted higher priority than army production in 1940.

To ignore this is wrong.

Your claims about fighter production are based on the shift to fighters in 1944. This is wrong.

The war was already over by 1944.

We need to look at the early period of the war, when Germany still had a chance. This is when Germany was building more bombers than fighters.

This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

See how annoying it is when someone keeps repeating "This is wrong" over and over again?
1 The 1939 figures will not make any difference, besides the war did not start in January 1939 but in September 1939
2 That a bomber is more expensive than a fighter is irrelevant : it is not so that if a bomber costed the double of a fighter,that one could make 2 fighters for a bomber .
3 That the JU88 received more priority in 1944 than the army propduction,is also irrelevant ,because less JU 88 does not mean more artillery for the army . Besides it was a good decision .
4 My figures ( NOT claims ) about fighter production are not based on a 1944 shift : the 1944 shift was decided in 1943 , besides the 1943 shift was decided in 1942

6 Germany's chances would not be better in the early period of the war,if they had built less bombers and more fighters .In the early period of the war,which started on September 1 1939 ( which is the reason why I did not count the mainly peacetime production figures of 1939 )Germany did NOT produce more bombers than fighters, but the opposite :in 1940/1941 it produced 6225 bombers and 6490 fighters, thus your complaints are wrong . Germany would not have done better in 1940/1941 with less bombers and more fighters than in the OTL.
And I see that you still hide the problem of how the Germans would be able to train sufficient pilotes for their fighters : without pilots, aircraft are useless .

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