WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

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Politician01
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WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Politician01 » 14 Nov 2020 17:39

Due to a combination of factors the Germans do a lot better in 1941/42 - by early 1943 the USSR is defeated/ a treaty is negotiated. Germany now turns its attention and industry towards the Allied bomber offensive. It has been argued by the Anglophiles on this forum that the Anglo powers would have avoided an invasion of the continent - Husky may or may not commence - and would have concentrated on bombing Germany into submission.

I would like to discuss the feasability of such an air war. Without the USSR in the game - or greatly reduced - the Germans can transfer substantial air and fighter forces towards Western and Southern Europe in 1943. Around 1/3 of all LW losses in this year were sustained in the East. Germany can concentrate on AA gun production and invest more funds and manpower into projects like the R4M and the dual time/impact fuse - both these projects were completed in early 1945 OTL.

Historically the flak was devastating for Wallied bombers, destroying at least 1350 Bomber command bombers and damaging an additonal 8500 in the 42-45 period. The Americans fared even worse with 5400 destroyed and 66 000 damaged aircraft from 42-45.

The costs of an 88 mm AA gun were around 15 000 Dollars, the average 3400 rounds of ammunition needed to down an Allied bomber cost another 107 000 Dollars = 120 000 Dollars. However a B17/24 cost 300 000 Dollars. In terms of costs the German Flak had a 2:1 or even 3:1 exchange ratio in its favor.

In short, could a Germany that would have concentrated most of its resources, manpower and funds on the air war stalemated the Allied Bomber offensive by the summer of 1945? It would seem so.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2020 18:27

Politician01 wrote:
14 Nov 2020 17:39
Historically the flak was devastating for Wallied bombers, destroying at least 1350 Bomber command bombers and damaging an additonal 8500 in the 42-45 period. The Americans fared even worse with 5400 destroyed and 66 000 damaged aircraft from 42-45.
A total of 7,821 USAAF aircraft were recorded lost to German AAA, out of 18,418 lost on combat missions to all causes. Of those, 3,752 were heavy bombers and 798 were medium and light bombers. Damage statistics are more generalized, but an interesting statistic does exist for fighter aircraft for the period 24 August 1943-8 May 1945. There it was found that 63.2% of damage was attributable to flak, but only 17% of losses, while 21.6% of damage was attributable to Flak, but only 39% of losses. Thus, only 19.8% of damage was due to other causes, but 39.4% of losses was.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Nov 2020 18:33

Richard Anderson wrote:Damage statistics are more generalized, but an interesting statistic does exist for fighter aircraft for the period 24 August 1943-8 May 1945. There it was found that 63.2% of damage was attributable to flak, but only 17% of losses, while 21.6% of damage was attributable to Flak, but only 39% of losses. Thus, only 19.8% of damage was due to other causes, but 39.4% of losses was.
I don't understand to what "there" refers; or the quoted passage generally. Are you saying 63.2 of fighter damage was flak but only 17% of fighter losses? If so, what of the next two clauses?
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Politician01 » 14 Nov 2020 18:53

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2020 18:27
Politician01 wrote:
14 Nov 2020 17:39
Historically the flak was devastating for Wallied bombers, destroying at least 1350 Bomber command bombers and damaging an additonal 8500 in the 42-45 period. The Americans fared even worse with 5400 destroyed and 66 000 damaged aircraft from 42-45.
A total of 7,821 USAAF aircraft were recorded lost to German AAA, out of 18,418 lost on combat missions to all causes. Of those, 3,752 were heavy bombers and 798 were medium and light bombers. Damage statistics are more generalized, but an interesting statistic does exist for fighter aircraft for the period 24 August 1943-8 May 1945. There it was found that 63.2% of damage was attributable to flak, but only 17% of losses, while 21.6% of damage was attributable to Flak, but only 39% of losses. Thus, only 19.8% of damage was due to other causes, but 39.4% of losses was.
Where is this from? My numbers are from: German Flak Defences vs Allied Heavy Bombers 1942-45 by Donald Nijboer, Jim Laurier

I found the statistical digest of the Air war for the Americans - however it emits damaged aircraft:https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a542518.pdf Pages 254-264 are the relevant ones.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 14 Nov 2020 19:41

The question that follows is: What alternatives do the Allies have or choose for their bombing tactics / campaign and apply to it?

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2020 20:12

Politician01 wrote:
14 Nov 2020 18:53
Where is this from? My numbers are from: German Flak Defences vs Allied Heavy Bombers 1942-45 by Donald Nijboer, Jim Laurier

I found the statistical digest of the Air war for the Americans - however it emits damaged aircraft:https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a542518.pdf Pages 254-264 are the relevant ones.
What is the primary source that Nijboer and Laurier used to write their secondary source from?

Yes, the USAAF Statistical Digest is the source for losses by cause...you found it, so why didn't you use it?
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2020 20:33

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Nov 2020 18:33
I don't understand to what "there" refers; or the quoted passage generally. Are you saying 63.2 of fighter damage was flak but only 17% of fighter losses? If so, what of the next two clauses?
Sorry, I was being too telegraphic...I'm trying to limit my typing due to neck and shoulder problems. It is from a RAND report, T. E. Greene, A Method for Estimating Aircraft Attrition in Sustained Tactical Operations, RAND, RM-4440-PR, April 1966, p. 55. I'm afraid I did not note down Greene's original source for the data, probably an Eighth AF ORS report, which could probably be found at Maxwell or CARL, but I no longer have access to the original, which was in the TDI archives. You could probably order it from RAND for a fee if you're interested.

The AAF ORS studies done by Eighth and Ninth AF are fascinating. I spent quite a bit of time at what was then Bolling AFB at AFHSO going through the microfilms. The Ninth AF analysis of the Transportation Plan bombing was fascinating...wish I had made a copy.

The sample is of 1,330 8th FC aircraft damaged and 659 lost. 841 of the damaged were to flak, 288 to enemy aircraft. 178 of the lost were to flak, 257 to enemy aircraft. Other causes were fascinating, including one damaged due to collision with enemy aircraft, while four were lost to that cause. :o
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Nov 2020 21:31

Politician01 wrote:
14 Nov 2020 17:39
...

I would like to discuss the feasability of such an air war. Without the USSR in the game - or greatly reduced - the Germans can transfer substantial air and fighter forces towards Western and Southern Europe in 1943. Around 1/3 of all LW losses in this year were sustained in the East.
From memory the German AF started 1943 with approx half its strength in the east. About 2500 to 2700 operational combat aircraft, according to Ellis 'Brute Force'. During the year replacements to the east were reduced & in the autumn 600 too 800 interceptors were transferred from the east to German. Ellis places the operational number in the east at 1500 1 January 1944 IIRC. The various numbers folks have posted here & in other forms look to me like the loss rates per capita in the west were substantially higher that in the east. Hence that oft cited 68% of all GAF losses of 1943 were in the west. The conclusion I've taken away is shifting aircraft from the east to the west with its higher loss rate would over the year draw down GAF strength faster than OTL. Allied losses might be higher, but one result of that is production of aircraft is not rescheduled at a lower rate and the higher production number continues. Maybe Rich has some data of Allied pilot/aircrew training for 1943-44. I cant recall any.




Historically the flak was devastating for Wallied bombers, destroying at least 1350 Bomber command bombers and damaging an additonal 8500 in the 42-45 period. The Americans fared even worse with 5400 destroyed and 66 000 damaged aircraft from 42-45.

The costs of an 88 mm AA gun were around 15 000 Dollars, the average 3400 rounds of ammunition needed to down an Allied bomber cost another 107 000 Dollars = 120 000 Dollars. However a B17/24 cost 300 000 Dollars. In terms of costs the German Flak had a 2:1 or even 3:1 exchange ratio in its favor. ..[/quote]

Against Viet Nam the USAF resorted to attacking the anti air weapons. A counter fires campaign as we might have called it in the artillery. I've seen some anecdotal evidence the veteran air crews and some higher level commanders were starting to do that on a informal basis in 1944 or 1945. But I've not looked for indications of a formal counter flak program. Note how there was a organized counter fires program vs enemy airfields, and interdiction of the Axis interceptors from the early on. The attacks on the Me 262 aircraft as they landed or took off are a specific example of that. ECM of the German air defense radars is another. Weather or not Spats, Doolittle, LeMay & the others would have latched onto a effective counter fire plan against the FLAK is a separate question, but the possibility is there.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2020 21:42

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 Nov 2020 21:31
From memory the German AF started 1943 with approx half its strength in the east. About 2500 to 2700 operational combat aircraft, according to Ellis 'Brute Force'. During the year replacements to the east were reduced & in the autumn 600 too 800 interceptors were transferred from the east to German. Ellis places the operational number in the east at 1500 1 January 1944 IIRC. The various numbers folks have posted here & in other forms look to me like the loss rates per capita in the west were substantially higher that in the east. Hence that oft cited 68% of all GAF losses of 1943 were in the west. The conclusion I've taken away is shifting aircraft from the east to the west with its higher loss rate would over the year draw down GAF strength faster than OTL. Allied losses might be higher, but one result of that is production of aircraft is not rescheduled at a lower rate and the higher production number continues. Maybe Rich has some data of Allied pilot/aircrew training for 1943-44. I cant recall any.
Zamansky's study gives a more accurate breakdown over time, although you can quibble over his definitions for locations.
The costs of an 88 mm AA gun were around 15 000 Dollars, the average 3400 rounds of ammunition needed to down an Allied bomber cost another 107 000 Dollars = 120 000 Dollars. However a B17/24 cost 300 000 Dollars. In terms of costs the German Flak had a 2:1 or even 3:1 exchange ratio in its favor. ..
Not sure where that stat came from. The 12.8cm was credited with about 3,000 rounds fired per shoot down, the 10.5cm with 6,000, the 8.8cm Flak 36/37/38 with 15,000, and the 8.8cm Flak 41 somewhere in between the other 8.8cm and the 10.5cm. The key was engagement time.
Against Viet Nam the USAF resorted to attacking the anti air weapons. A counter fires campaign as we might have called it in the artillery. I've seen some anecdotal evidence the veteran air crews and some higher level commanders were starting to do that on a informal basis in 1944 or 1945. But I've not looked for indications of a formal counter flak program. Note how there was a organized counter fires program vs enemy airfields, and interdiction of the Axis interceptors from the early on. The attacks on the Me 262 aircraft as they landed or took off are a specific example of that. ECM of the German air defense radars is another. Weather or not Spats, Doolittle, LeMay & the others would have latched onto a effective counter fire plan against the FLAK is a separate question, but the possibility is there.
Counter-flak shoots were common for the FA in World War II, but of course that was pretty much limited to tactical air support.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Nov 2020 22:02

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2020 21:42
\\
Against Viet Nam the USAF resorted to attacking the anti air weapons. A counter fires campaign as we might have called it in the artillery. I've seen some anecdotal evidence the veteran air crews and some higher level commanders were starting to do that on a informal basis in 1944 or 1945. But I've not looked for indications of a formal counter flak program. Note how there was a organized counter fires program vs enemy airfields, and interdiction of the Axis interceptors from the early on. The attacks on the Me 262 aircraft as they landed or took off are a specific example of that. ECM of the German air defense radars is another. Weather or not Spats, Doolittle, LeMay & the others would have latched onto a effective counter fire plan against the FLAK is a separate question, but the possibility is there.
Counter-flak shoots were common for the FA in World War II, but of course that was pretty much limited to tactical air support.
I was thinking only of counter fires from aircraft deep inside enemy turf.

I spent a fair number of hours coordinating artillery unit air missions with air strikes. The trick was the air guys always want to to get their part done before the intel people could reorient the artillery on the known & suspect AA positions. I suspect that in actual combat we'd had to have slowed down the whole thing to get effective SEAD fires on target.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Thumpalumpacus » 15 Nov 2020 01:30

Attack ammunition plants along with POLs and railways. Feign an amphibious assault, for distraction, until you can pull it off.

Even with the USSR defeated, it would take a lot of manpower, production, and logistics to actually subdue the country and turn it into a productive vassal. That alone was probably outside Germany's capabilities.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by EKB » 15 Nov 2020 03:39

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 Nov 2020 22:02
I spent a fair number of hours coordinating artillery unit air missions with air strikes. The trick was the air guys always want to to get their part done before the intel people could reorient the artillery on the known & suspect AA positions. I suspect that in actual combat we'd had to have slowed down the whole thing to get effective SEAD fires on target.

Did you work with the Weasels from George AFB?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Weasel

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Politician01 » 15 Nov 2020 12:51

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2020 20:12
Yes, the USAAF Statistical Digest is the source for losses by cause...you found it, so why didn't you use it?
Because the statistical digest strangely omits the number of damaged aircraft. It has very detailed statistics about casualties but except one statistic about damaged B-29´s in 1944/45 it has no data on damaged aircraft. I once found a detailed statistic online - I think it was in the Playboy magazine for whatever reason - but have been unable to find the same statistic again - or the primary source from which it was quoted.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Nov 2020 13:00

politician01 wrote:I would like to discuss the feasability of such an air war.
Me too, I'm working on this subject in the background (though currently sidetracked by delivery of a few Eastern Front books).

I strongly believe that conventional bombing alone wouldn't have ended the war - even optimistic projections like the 1941 Victory Program still envisioned invasion of bombing-weakened Germany.

I also believe, though less strongly, that Germany would have stopped the CBO. Among the variables to consider:
  • 1. Relative aircraft production of Allies and Axis (don't forget about Japan).
  • 2. German avgas production - can it refine Russian or possibly Iraqi oil into avgas (seems likely but not certain)?
  • 3. German willingness to devote sufficient resources to defense before too late (i.e. does Hitler just build more bombers post-SU? Seems unlikely but should be addressed in ATL.)
  • 4. German ability train sufficient pilots.
Re (1), I've written elsewhere projecting a doubling of total German/Grossraum productive resources doubling post-SU. viewtopic.php?f=76&t=251476#p2288097. With 2x total productive inputs, 3x LW productive inputs is easily feasible (i.e. slightly sub-OTL Army production, higher KM production, and 3x higher LW production). With 3x higher LW productive input and even an incomplete blunting of the CBO, 4x higher LW output is also feasible (fighter production 30% higher absent radical dispersion alone).

Re (2) we just need know whether Russian fuel can be refined - or Iraqi. The transport infrastructure is an added expense but, compared to OTL investments in synthgas plants - 2% of GDP, up to >5% of steel, 100k's of labor - is pocket change.

Re (3) it was clear to Milch et. al. no later than early '43 that more defensive fighters were needed. Hitler basically agreed though occasionally made demands for more offense. Those demands were irrational responses to bombing, however, and if Hitler feels less afraid of the bombers he's perhaps less likely to make irrational retaliation demands.

Re (4) the many emergency responses that denuded the training schools (Stalingrad/Tunisia airlifts, general Allied pressure) are absent/diminished post-SU, so training seems to be on a better long-term footing. But a good ATL should contain some description of the augmented LW training programs.
politician01 wrote:The costs of an 88 mm AA gun were around 15 000 Dollars, the average 3400 rounds of ammunition needed to down an Allied bomber cost another 107 000 Dollars = 120 000 Dollars. However a B17/24 cost 300 000 Dollars. In terms of costs the German Flak had a 2:1 or even 3:1 exchange ratio in its favor.
It was 5,000 rounds for Flak 41 but in 1944 16,000 for Flak 36/37 (5,000 for same weapon in early years). Westermann argues, with some merit, that 1944 was an aberration as the flak barrels were all worn down from excessive use. Still, I'd take $120k as a lower bound for flak shootdown cost.

One post-SU possibility is a massive shift from Flak 36/37 to Flak 41 due to greater copper and overall resources. OTL Hitler restricted Flak 41 production due to copper shortage.

Also B-17 was down to $240k by 1944.

In any event, I'd see more Flak in '43 as a partial bridge to fully ramping up LW production: art'y tubes/shells are more fungible with Ostheer production in the medium/short term. In '43/44, only 20% of ammo expenditure was on heavy flak (Westermann p.200). So a tripling of total flak defenses is feasible from a production standpoint, would require a lot of labor though.

But fighters are more efficient: by 1944 a Me-109k-4 (with engine) cost only ~30k.

If Germany has built up its fuel and training infrastructure by 1944, flooding the skies with >5,000 fighters whenever the USAAF sorties, LW will completely shut down any daylight bombing, even with escorts. The Germans would reinforce their forward Gruppen (France, Low Countries), which means they force combat on the escorts before they cross into Germany. A P-51 or even P-47 laden with enough fuel to get to Berlin and back suffers a significant weight-based performance deficit; they have to dump fuel or they're not competitive. That means either the fighters suffer adverse and unsustainable attrition or the bombers go into Germany alone - which was disastrous OTL and would be worse ATL. The LW tried to execute this strategy OTL but lacked the numbers to make it work (fields like Schiphol in NL couldn't be defended well enough either, given the numerical odds).

The forward air bases are one area in which more flak could play a great role, specifically light flak. Per Westerman the shell-cost of light flak shootdowns was only $15,000; to strafe/bomb airbases effectively requires exposure to light flak.

Night-bombing would be sustainable for longer but so would its damage, which didn't compel radical (and inefficient) dispersal or threaten the essential transport and oil facilities with collapse. By '44 the Germans would be building thousands more night fighters; the British only built 7,600 Lancasters in the whole war. Besides the traditional nightfighters, a surfeit of single-engine fighters means LW can maintain and expand Wilde Sau rather than needing those 1-E fighters against daylight operations. By '45 LW would be fielding night Me-262's, He-219's, Do-335's in significant numbers; night bombing isn't viable by then at the latest. But probably Bomber Command has to give up in 1944.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Richard Anderson » 15 Nov 2020 17:38

Politician01 wrote:
15 Nov 2020 12:51
Because the statistical digest strangely omits the number of damaged aircraft. It has very detailed statistics about casualties but except one statistic about damaged B-29´s in 1944/45 it has no data on damaged aircraft. I once found a detailed statistic online - I think it was in the Playboy magazine for whatever reason - but have been unable to find the same statistic again - or the primary source from which it was quoted.
Damn, I had forgotten how good those Playboy history articles were...the footnotes occasionally got lost in the photos though... :lol:

The reason that damage was not tracked in the statistics I suspect was because of the difficulty defining "damage" and segregating battle damage from what was "merely" mechanical failures. The more interesting statistic for the USAAF was the overall logistical load and ability to maintain operational strength. So it is more curious that the Statistical Digest only tracks aircraft on hand, rather than operational. Partly I think it is because all of the USAAF squadrons and groups were designed with a built in overstrength. Originally, the 72 aircraft HB group with 96 aircrew was required to put 54 aircraft and crews into the air in a combat box on each mission.
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