Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

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Qvist
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Qvist » 24 Jul 2008 19:44

Are you serious?! It seems to me there's a slight difference between flying to West Berlin from lavishly equipped bases in West Germany in peacetime, and flying to Stalingrad from a couple of mudstrips on the Steppe, under combat conditions and in the teeth of Russian winter conditions?

I wasn't aware that Germany had "notoriously weird weather" actually, but whatever that means, I assume it's nothing comparable to the weather conditions around Stalingrad in December and January. For instance, I would imagine that night flights were completely out of the question, hence more or less giving the Stalingrad operation only half the effective flying time per day as the Berlin operation had. To bring in 100 JU's per day on a single airfield, they would have had to land a plane every 5-10 minutes throughout the period of daylight - assuming that flights were never interrupted due to weather, which happened frequently. How often were flights to Berlin grounded because of weather conditions? And obviously, the technical resources and infractructure that could be drawn on in central Germany and one of the most sparsely populated and least developed regions of European Russia were not exactly comparable.

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Galahad
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Galahad » 24 Jul 2008 19:55

I never said there wasn't. What I said was that the Luftwaffe lacked the organization and control to utilize the personnel and equipment it had, regardless of the conditions.

Which same concept you haven't rebutted.

Or, if you prefer something different as a comparison.....take a look at the Hump operations, flying from primitive bases in Burma, through enemy territory, over the Himalayas to primitive fields in China--through monsoon season. Tunner did that, too.

How's about, for "notoriously weird weather", you consider the number of days Berlin has either fog or heavy overcast. Perhaps look at the number of times the RAF was unable to bomb due to weather over Germany in WW2. Especially in winter.

And the winter of 1948 was the harshest German winter in some 40 years.
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Last edited by Galahad on 24 Jul 2008 20:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Qvist
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Qvist » 24 Jul 2008 20:00

What you said was that the Berlin blockade shows the Luftwaffe ought to have managed to supply 6th Army with the minimum it needed. Bad organisation is merely the explanation you offer for why it failed to do so. My point is that the comparison with the Berlin blockade shows no such thing, due to the blindingly obvious and vast differences between the two situations. Hence, your point about organisation - which is in fact derived entirely from the ridiculous comparison with the Berlin blockade - hangs in loose air, with neither a foundation nor a point to address.

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Galahad
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Galahad » 24 Jul 2008 20:03

Okay......since you don't agree with what I wrote, or with what an expert in airlift operations--something I seriously doubt you are--thinks, you start with the typical argumentum ad hominem.

How juvenile.

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Qvist
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Qvist » 24 Jul 2008 20:29

Don't be absurd. As is perfectly evident, I have been addressing your theories, not your person. Misidentifying them as "ad hominem" isn't going to prevent anyone from seeing that, any more than going to "because Tunner says so" before having even attempted to rebut relevant objections is going to conceal the weakness of your argument. And displaying personal pique over the whole thing rather puts the dot over the i, so I would suggest "juvenile" is not a good word for you to bring into this.

Jon G.
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 24 Jul 2008 20:35

300 tons of supplies delivered each day would have made no difference to the situation of the 6th Army. This figure isn't what the forces at Stalingrad needed. It was the tonnage which the Luftwaffe said it could deliver. The initial estimate was for 750 tons/day [and even that figure seems small], then revised down to 500 tons/day until Jeschonnek realized that standard issue 1000- and 250-kg containers in fact only carried about 2/3rds of the stated weight-

From the link I gave upthread
...The re-supply effort would require the air force to deliver 750 tons of supplies per day (a figure soon reduced to 500 tons per day). Lieutenant-General Martin Fiebig, commander of Fliegerkorps VIII, the Luftwaffe corps responsible for air operations in the Stalingrad sector, warned Major-General Schmidt, Sixth Army’s chief of staff, that supplying an entire army by air was impossible, particularly when most transport aircraft were already heavily committed in North Africa. Fiebig’s superior, Colonel-General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, agreed that the idea was infeasible, and tried to convince the German leadership that the necessary transport resources were not available (Hayward, 1998: 236). Many army and air force officers advocated that the Sixth Army attempt to break out of the Russian ring as soon as possible.

Jeschonnek quickly realized that adequate logistical support of Sixth Army by air would not be possible, even with favorable weather and no interference from the Russian air force. The standard "250kg" and "1000kg" air-supply containers on which he had based his original airlift calculations actually carried only approximately two-thirds of those loads; the weight categories were derived solely from the size of the bombs they replaced on the racks, not from the weight of the payload they could carry (Hayward, 1998: 240-1). When Jeschonnek tried to explain to Hitler that his earlier assessment had been made in haste, Hitler informed him that Reichsmarschall Goring had given his personal assurance that the air force could meet the army’s needs.
The shameless downward revising of 6th Army requirements to fit the Luftwaffe's capabilities does not suggest that organizational problems were the heart of the matter. Rather, it appears that Luftwaffe officers below Göring considered task of supplying the 6th Army by air hopeless right from the beginning.

Note that Jeschonnek, Fiebig and von Richthofen all died during the war or shortly after it, so they didn't really have the option of changing their story with the benefit of hindsight, as so many other German former generals did.

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 24 Jul 2008 21:58

Just as a note - the DC3/C-47 could carry roughly the same MAX WEIGHT as a JU-52 - but could accomodate twice as much in SIZE terms. The Ju-52 was compromised as a "container" because of the necessity to board in a flat deck, loosing all the space under the flooring as the underside of the fuselage sloped up towards the tail, all that was in there was tankage and control cables in the transport variants. I'm sure there's a fancy geometric term for the shape of "Tante Ju's" fuselage LOL. On the other hand, the DC-3/C-47 was a cylinder with the bottom decked over, maximising the space available. A Ju-52 could carry 12 fully-armed FJ i.e. in jump kit incl. bouncy bits and chutes, their weapons and consumables in baskets and containers....or 18 normally equiped soldiers, or 12 stretchers. The American design could carry 28...the DC-3/C-47 was hugely heavier and BIGGER an aircraft than the Ju-52; and much more robust in construction. Even with its extra open gun positions, extra crew and defensive weapons, the JU-52 was a lot lighter "wet" than the Allied equivalent. IIRC it was actually quite difficult to load a JU-52 to its full weight, depending on the unit weight of the cargo.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by vszulc » 25 Jul 2008 00:50

According to David Irving book on Erhard Milch, the Luftwaffe had developed procedures for engine-starts and engine-operation in the Soviet winter, but to his frustration these were not followed by the ground crews, even though it could have made quite the difference in terms of keeping the planes flying.

Another example of the total collapse of procedures and organisation that was the case at Stalingrad.

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Simon K
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Simon K » 25 Jul 2008 00:58

So what combination of factors in December 1942 would have been needed, to make the Airlift a Success?

I dont think any combination would have worked..after the Soviet offensive, OR was there an optimum window of time, where it could have provided enough material to 6th Armee for a breakout? in that case it need only have been operating till..say 20th December?

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Simon K
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Simon K » 25 Jul 2008 01:03

P.S I think (frantically remembering Beevers daily tonnage rates) wasnt this period prescisely when the airlift was at its most effective? 23RDDec being the best ever day?
What I am saying is, if the airlift had been used as a strategic adjunct to "Winter Storm" it would probably now been seen as a striking success, instead of the mad open ended commitment it became?

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Jul 2008 01:14

the Luftwaffe had developed procedures for engine-starts and engine-operation in the Soviet winter, but to his frustration these were not followed by the ground crews, even though it could have made quite the difference in terms of keeping the planes flying.
I'd love to know specifically what these were, and who/where they had been developed. It COULD have been something experimented with in Germany - and turned out to be unsuitable, rather than a "battlefield improvisation" IN Russia. Likewise, whatever they were, they may not have worked well on worn engines, or the He111's inline liquid cooled engines, for example. They may have required equipment and peace to work in the open that ground crews didn't get.

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Simon K
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Simon K » 25 Jul 2008 01:23

Phylo, I bet aircraft availability rates would have been optimum to about the 20 - 23rd December, the exact time that a break out was mooted for and commenced. Im frantically trying to dig out my Beevor and Clark :|

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Simon K » 25 Jul 2008 01:25

Im talkng about Winter storm, of course.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 25 Jul 2008 03:27

Yes - but they'll be combat aircraft to support the breakout, staging up to frontline airfields. Transport aircraft will have to be withdrawn for a time...or fly from fields further to the rear, exacerbating all the maintenance problems etc.

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Simon K
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Simon K » 25 Jul 2008 03:46

Dont know if there was much air support for Winter Storm, the weather seemed marginal for CAS from the couple of accounts ive seen, but the Airlift continued through it.

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