Luftwaffe loss numbers in 1939, myth and reality

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M.Rausch
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Luftwaffe loss numbers in 1939, myth and reality

Post by M.Rausch » 26 Aug 2007 21:27

I just received yesterday a document where an author wrote about the Fall Rot. In the introduction again the claim was made, that during the war with Poland about 560 German planes had been lost.

Fortunately the Wehrmacht had very accurate accounts, listing losses of men and equipment. These accounts were updated 3 times each month. I found now the original report from 6.1.1940 telling the losses for the time from 21.12.1939 till 31.12.1939, the losses for the whole December 1939 and the losses from the 1.9.1939 till 31.12.1939.

For these 4 months the total losses were listed as 565 planes, but only 123 through enemy action. The real total losses (planes were not worth to repair or destroyed) were a total of 276 planes, 93 through enemy action, the other planes were in repairable condition and probably repaired.

Anyone having an idea how the claim of 560 lost planes by the Luftwaffe was created?

Regarding the German definition of loss, afaik any plane which could not repaired within 3 days using the airfield facilities, was counted as loss. Anyone having different or more accurate sources on this?

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Post by Njorl » 31 Aug 2007 15:29

M.Rausch wrote:For these 4 months the total losses were listed as 565 planes, but only 123 through enemy action. The real total losses (planes were not worth to repair or destroyed) were a total of 276 planes, 93 through enemy action, the other planes were in repairable condition and probably repaired.
As I recall from memory Luftwaffe lost following number of a/c owing to enemy action over Poland in 1939: 13 Bf 109, 9 Bf 110, 27 Do 17, 25 He 111, 16 Ju 87, 3 Hs 123. That will do 93. You also have to add 3 Ju 52 and ca 30-40 recon planes.

IIRC there are 2 original documents concerning Luftwaffe loses in 1939, one from Generalquartermeister, can't remember where did the other one come from.
Regarding the German definition of loss, afaik any plane which could not repaired within 3 days using the airfield facilities, was counted as loss.
Any plane which estimated damage was above 60% was considered total write-off. Planes damaged 0-20% could be repaired in unit, anything damaged between 40 and 60% had to be sent to factory repair workshops or similar place.

I'll write more when I get back from work (free time permitting).

Regards,

MJU

M.Rausch
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Post by M.Rausch » 02 Sep 2007 11:58

Thank you for the information. Comparing the numbers just 30 lost planes would remain for losses over the Nothern Sea and the Western front in 1939. This sounds rather low to me or I overestimated the intensity of the battles with the British and French airforces in 1939.

Is there any information, where the claim of 560 lost planes in the Poland campaign could have its origin?

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 03 Sep 2007 18:27

Fortunately the Wehrmacht had very accurate accounts, listing losses of men and equipment. These accounts were updated 3 times each month. I found now the original report from 6.1.1940 telling the losses for the time from 21.12.1939 till 31.12.1939, the losses for the whole December 1939 and the losses from the 1.9.1939 till 31.12.1939.
These are the ten-daily (later monthly) loss summaries prepared for Wehrmachtsführungsstab. A word of caution on them. I have done work on the personnell losses contained in them from 1941 onwards, and on that side at least, it is clear that the Luftwaffe reporting did not keep pace with events. For the immediately preceding period, they invariably give only a fraction of the actual losses, which is evident from later reports which give much higher figures. I don't know if the same problem existed with regard to aircraft losses in 1939, but I would at least be careful to assume so. The way to find out would be to look into the reports for the next months, and see if the figures change. If you should be in Freiburg, RW19/1390 would probably be the place to look.

cheers

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Rian
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Post by Rian » 13 Feb 2008 23:23

New sources (Marius Emmerling "Luftwaffe nad Polską 1939") giving new view for Luftwaffe losses in september 1939. In Emmerling book, Luftwaffe losses is 247 planes "destroyed" + 280 damaged (damage more than 20%). In this book number of Luftwaffe planes shot down by polish fighter pilots is only about 50 - 60 (one by bomber gunner) !! Rest was shot down by ground air defence (about 100 - 105) and was loss in accidents (91). But author is not fair - all of polish damaged planes who crushed when landing - are "shot down" by Germans, bul all damaged german planes who crushed when landing - are "loss by accident".

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LWD
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Post by LWD » 14 Feb 2008 23:29

I've wondered for some time just how often combat damage was a factor in operational losses. In many cases it may not have even been realized but it isn't good for anything to get shop up and patched up with any frequency. I seam to recall the "norm" for most air forces in WWII was operational losses = or exceed combat losses. Perhaps this deserves it's own thread. Sorry if I'm pulling it off topic.

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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Luftwaffe loss numbers in 1939, myth and reality

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 31 Mar 2011 17:42

Compilation of some data mainly from Jerzy B. Cynk's "Polish fighter air force in the September Campaign":
LW 1939.jpg
(287 - instead of 285 - in the first "Total" results from 3 Ar 68 instead of 1 - see below for more info)

As you can see overall losses in Poland were around 250 destroyed aircrafts.

The report "Abschluss-Gesamt-Meldung" (OKW/Ob.d.L./Gen.Qu.6.Abt., 5.10.1939, g. Kdos.) which mentions 285 aircrafts destroyed (complete losses: damage 100% and missing + critical losses: damage 60% - 99%)

Apart from that report, Cynk also quotes another report ("Flugzeugverluste" - daily losses) which lists 265 destrouyed aircrafts for September 1939 - including 215 complete losses (damage 100% & missing) and 50 critical losses (damage 60% - 99%). Cynk also adds 5 further aircrafts to this daily breakdown, which he managed to identify basing on other documents (in total this gives 265 + 5 = 270 losses). Thus there are still 15 aircrafts less than in the "Abschluss-Gesamt-Meldung" report (this includes 7 Bf 109 and 8 close reconnaissance aircrafts Hs 126, He 46 and 45).

These 15 aircrafts (7 Bf 109 and 8 close recon) are included in "Unknown" column.

However, it seems that also the overall report is incomplete - the numbers don't much after summing up.

Emmerling mentions 90 "other" aircrafts lost in Poland, which - after adding to this 10 lost in other places (7 in the West, two in Heimat and 1 interned in Sweden) give in total 100 - instead of 97.

It can be explained by confusion which was in casualty reports from Armies (Ob.d.H.). Armies reported in total 45 - 47 aircrafts lost (including 35 - 37 close recon, 5 Fi 156 and 5 Do17), of which apparently some were not included in both "Flugzeugverluste" report and "Abschluss-Gesamt-Meldung" report. We should thus add 2 close recon planes and at least one Fi 156 or Do 17 (up to 5 Fi 156 and 5 Do 17) to the number of 285 casualties.

Further 2 additional aircrafts are Ar 68. The "Abschluss-Gesamt-Meldung" mentions only 1 Ar 68 lost (among 285 aircrafts listed in total), while daily reports from "Flugzeugverluste" list mention as many as 3 of them.

Thus 285 + 2 close recon + 2 Ar 68 + at least 1 Fi 156 or Do 17 = at least 290.

==========================================================================

When it comes to victories of Polish fighters:

Cynk - after detailed studies of German documents - verified 97 out of some 126 / 131 / 133 / 136 (depending on source) victories granted by different commissions etc. to Polish fighter pilots after the campaign.

Apart from this Polish fighters shot down also 3 Soviet planes according to Cynk.

When it comes to 13 Bf 109 destroyed by Polish fighters - Cynk writes that out of 33 Bf 109 lost over Poland, 13 due to Polish fighters. But he of course doesn't includes those 7 Bf 109 lost in "unknown" place in these numbers. It appears that of these 7 "unknown", 6 were lost in Poland. Some of them could be also destroyed by fighters.

--------------------------------------------------------

Apart from those destroyed (damaged 60% - 100% and missing) further 279 (at least) were damaged:

According to "Abschluss-Gesamt-Meldung" this number is broken down as follows:

----In Total ------------------------------------------------------------ Of which in the West --------
- 69 bombers ---------------------------------------------------------------- 1 -------------------------
- 67 fighters (Bf 109 and Ar 68) ------------------------------------------ 11 ------------------------
- 27 destroyers / heavy fighters (Bf 110) -------------------------------- - --------------------------
- 22 Ju 87B and Hs 123 ----------------------------------------------------- - -------------------------
- 10 far recon --------------------------------------------------------------- 1 ------------------------
- 45 close recon ------------------------------------------------------------ - --------------------------
- 22 transport --------------------------------------------------------------- - -------------------------
- 5 hydro -------------------------------------------------------------------- 3 -------------------------
- 12 liaison and other ------------------------------------------------------ - ------------------------

Cynk identified 16 of them as damaged in the West (basing on German, British and French documents).

Cynk admits that he wasn't able to identify how many of the remaining 263 were damaged in Heimat. But he estimates that ca. 13 were damaged in Heimat (compared to 12 destroyed there) and ca. 250 in Poland.

=========================================================================

Thus the total number of Luftwaffe losses in Poland would be:

ca. 250 destroyed + ca. 250 damaged = ca. 500 aircrafts

PS:

"Non-combat losses" in the chart above (ca. 65 or 60 - 70) include also German friendly fire.
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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Luftwaffe loss numbers in 1939, myth and reality

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 16 Apr 2011 12:58

Comparing the numbers just 30 lost planes would remain for losses over the Nothern Sea and the Western front in 1939. This sounds rather low to me or I overestimated the intensity of the battles with the British and French airforces in 1939.
Definitely the second thing... you overestimated the intensity...

There was virtually NO INTENSITY of air battles in the West before 17 September (i.e. the Soviet Invasion of Poland).

Out of those 27 aircrafts that Luftwaffe lost in the West in period 1 - 30 September (see above), only 3 (three !!!) were lost before 17th of September and the remaining 24 were lost after 19th of September.

This means Franco-British air force made virtually NO EFFORT to fight against Luftwaffe before 17.09.1939.

And later (after 17.09.1939) it was rather Luftwaffe which made effort to fight against them, than inversely.

Not to mention that probably those 3 lost before 17 September were lost in accidents (I will check this).

========================================

Daily breakdown of Luftwaffe losses in the West in September 1939:

13.09.1939 - 2 (both from Ob.d.M.)
16.09.1939 - 1

20.09.1939 - 1
22.09.1939 - 3
24.09.1939 - 3
25.09.1939 - 4
26.09.1939 - 2 (both from Ob.d.M.)
27.09.1939 - 2
28.09.1939 - 1
29.09.1939 - 4
30.09.1939 - 4

Total: 27, including:

Luftlotten - 22 (19 Bf 109 fighters, 1 He 111 bomber, 1 Ju 52, 1 Do 17)
Ob.d.M. - 4 (3 Do 18 and 1 He 59)
Other units - 1 (1 Do 17)

Ob.d.M. = Navy Air Force

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