TheMarcksPlan wrote: ↑
22 Dec 2020 09:56
Wrong analysis: the facts of attrition
don't care about military strategy. Whether the W.Allies were fighting LW with bombers or fighters, they were losing bombers (plus some fighters) at a rate that doesn't work, relative to German attrition
, unless the anti-W.Allies fight is a sideshow for Germany.
Uh, Pot, meet Kettle.
The USAAF did not lose 226 bombers 20-25 February 1944 in "Big Week
", they lost 225. Eighth Air Force lost 148 bombers in operations over Germany in that period, 3 over the Netherlands, and 6 in "special operations". Fifteenth Air Force lost 88. Those include combat and operational losses.
That aerial attrition ratio is terrible for the US. A B-17 cost ~$250k, an Me-109 ~$30k.
No, it is not, and it isn't a "ratio" that matters. The loss rate for Eighth Air Force in February 1944 was 315 aircraft to all causes in 9,884 sorties or 3.19% per sortie. Or 0.11% per sortie per day. In the meantime, Eighth Air Force heavy bomber strength grew by 191 operational aircraft from 31 January to 28 February.
The personnel picture is worse: US lost >2,000 crewmen, Germany <100 KIA. The Luftwaffe over Germany by Caldwell and Muller p.162-63.
Worse than that even...for the month of February in theaters versus Germany, 4,653 battle casualties were incurred, all except 506 "irretrievable" (killed, died, missing, captured, and interned). It was worse in March, 4,744, and far worse at peak in April, 7,219.
For the quarter ending 31 March 1944, 4,804 aircrew for B-17 and B-24 completed training and during the month of February, six complete Heavy Bomber Groups moved to theaters versus Germany.
Obviously, while severe, the losses were sustainable. That was not the case for the Luftwaffe. It struggled to grow operational single-engine fighter strength in the first quarter of 1944. On 31 December 1943 on all fronts they had 1,095. On 31 March 1944 they had 1,188. Twin-engine fighter strength shrank, from 199 to 148. In the second half of 1944 they did manage to grow the Jagdwaffe, peaking at 2,491 on 10 October, but only at the expense of shrinking the bomber and ground attack strength, from 1,544 operational on 31 December 1943 to 901 on 10 October 1944. Worse, they also achieved that increase by curtailing the Jagdwaffe training program.
This combat attrition ratio is actually worse, in personnel and material terms, than what the Russians accomplished on the Eastern Front. USAAF was - with splendidly trained and educated human resources - less efficient at winning wars than were the Russians with semi-literate peasants. It was a 100% war-losing strategy against an opponent with remotely equal resources. It would have failed completely had the Russians not been doing most of the fighting in WW2.
Nice claim. You have the figures to back that up? My admittedly old analysis based upon the monthly Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen from March 1942 through December 1944 indicated that the breakdown (Westfront and Reich/Ostfront) was:
1E Ftr 536/707
2E Ftr 61/178
N Ftr 83/0
1E Ftr 2,359/1,135
2E Ftr 182/132
N Ftr 274/23
1E Ftr 6,818/972
2E Ftr 275/185
N Ftr 1,063/94
Overall, it appears that about 77.5% of the 1E Ftr loss, 51.1% of the 2E Ftr loss, 92.4% of the N Ftr loss, and 57% of the Bmb loss was in the West and in defense of the Reich. Only GA were lost disproportionately in the East, about 71.6% of them.
Your analysis goes wrong by assuming that victory in the fighter vs. fighter duels means victory overall. This is tactics blind to strategy. The LW appropriately focused on the big, expensive bombers and not the American fighters - aside from a few "high cover" groups to try to distract the escorts. LW "fighter" forces included large numbers of heavily-laden bomber destroyers that the Germans knew were ineffective in dog fights. But unlike your analysis, the Germans had the correct strategic priorities: bombers not fighters. Per man/frame they were far more efficient than the Americans through Big Week.
Your analysis goes wrong by assuming that the Luftwaffe could successfully continue to focus on the big
, expensive bombers and not the American fighters. In February 1944, 170 HB were lost to German aircraft and 81 to antiaircraft. In October 1944, 36 were lost to German aircraft and 112 to antiaircraft. Not only did the numbers decrease, the proportional cause reversed, and the overall loss rate decreased.
Later, of course, it got much worse for the LW when they couldn't train crews or protect their airfields. But that's a consequence of victory via brute, inefficient force rather than a cause of it.
Actually, it became worse for the Luftwaffe when the American fighter force developed sufficient strength and range to combine close escort with fighter sweeps and direct attacks on fighter airfields. Worse for the Luftwaffe, the requirement for heavier armament to bring down the bombers reduced the capability of their fighters versus fighters, requiring a large percentage of the Jagdwaffe to act as escort fighters for other fighters, which was horribly inefficient and tactically complex.