Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 28 Jul 2008 21:42

Well...it's hardly going to OVERHEAT in January in Russia... :lol:

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 28 Jul 2008 21:57

More seriously...

When it comes to serviceability rates - we have a finite and very small number of FW-200s that have been in-theatre for just over a week...

BUT in the case of the He177s we have an additional issue - they only flew one mission. So that "33% unserviceable" as of the 18th COULD be unserviceable BEFORE that one mission - which if you think about it is pretty atrocious LOL ....

Note also - SEVEN were allocated, but FIVE were lost. That's a 71% loss rate on their SINGLE mission or on the ground.

Jon - you don't happen to have any indication of WHEN that SINGLE He177 mission was flown? Would be interesting to know if it was before/after either of those two benchmark dates, the 18th January and the 3rd February.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by JonS » 28 Jul 2008 22:31

Tangentially related, seen toady on Stone and Stone:
Forthcoming from Pen and Sword
26 July 2008

Annett, Roger. Drop Zone Burma: Adventures in Allied Air Supply 1943-45. Forthcoming from Pen and Sword Books Ltd in September 2008

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 29 Jul 2008 07:43

phylo_roadking wrote:...Jon - you don't happen to have any indication of WHEN that SINGLE He177 mission was flown? Would be interesting to know if it was before/after either of those two benchmark dates, the 18th January and the 3rd February.
Conditionally, I do. There is this Belgian guy who has put together a day-by-day account of the Stalingrad airlift, neatly divided by month:

November,
December,
January and
February

...it seems that the He-177 mission was flown 29th-30th December, and that their supplies were dropped, rather than landed. It is BTW not very likely that any He-177 missions were flown to Stalingrad after Feb 3rd because both pockets of the garrison had surrendered by then :)

The website I link to is really useful, but I am however inclined to take some of its data with a grain of salt - the webpage author has the sense to list his sources, which is a very good thing - OTOH, he lists Kurowski as one of his sources, which is decidely not a good thing. I would also definitely like to see solid evidence that condoms were delivered to the Stalingrad pocket as part of the Luftwaffe supply effort; it sounds like a distortion for dramatic effect.

From the same website, here is a map of the airlift
Image

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 29 Jul 2008 08:26

..and from Joel Hayward's own site, here is a longish essay about Stalingrad: An Examination of Hitler's Decision to Airlift

...although Hayward is more interested in distributing blame for the Stalingrad failure evenly than he is in recounting exactly how much was delivered and when, his essay is interesting reading for our purposes regardless.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 29 Jul 2008 14:58

Interesting. The timeline for the HE177s seems then to be -

First Condor sorties January 9th;

Seven He177s allocated a few days after;

First and only mission flown around the 29th-30th December;

On 18th January 33% of the He177s serviceable;

Final loss reporting on the 3rd february, then, reports five lost during allocation to the airlift.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

So I would guess, therefore that the figure of 33% serviceable on the 18th, is the survivors of the first and only mission...AND the total loss figure MUST include at least ONE mechanical "struck-off" OR FOUR...

Why?

On the 18th, the figure is 33%...therfore the aircraft AVAILABLE has to be EITHER THREE or SIX...to be able to give that nice round "33%" figure! :wink: That's the advantage of working with such a small sample as seven aircraft, we can crunch numbers far more easily.

TOTAL loss was five out of seven...so on the 18th, to be able to produce a 33% figure from SO low a number allocated there were EITHER 3 or 6 aircraft STILL available IN TOTAL...

EITHER

A/ THREE available on the 18th, ONE flying, therefore "33% serviceable" - and ONE MORE LOST before the end of the airlift but no more sorties - therefore one struck-off as mechanically unserviceable, giving the two survivors;

OR

B/ SIX available on the 18th, TWO flying, therefore "33% serviceable" - and FOUR MORE LOST before the end of the airlift but no more sorties - therefore FOUR struck-off as mechanically unserviceable, giving the two survivors.

And Case B does NOTHING for the He177's reputation! :lol:
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 30 Jul 2008 16:12, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 30 Jul 2008 08:33

Hmm, yes. Just remember that serviceability rates can also go up. The 33% quoted for the He-177s involved in the Stalingrad airlift pertains to February 18th only, more than a month after they had flown their apparent only mission. It could for example be that ground crews prioritized aircraft which were still on active duty on the Stalingrad air bridge, rather than the He-177. Low serviceability rates seem to have been accepted as an unavoidable fact by von Richthofen. Remember, he estimated just 30% of his aircraft ready on any given day, so in that sense the He-177 were better than expected* on Feb. 18th - but overall reality turned out to be worse than his already rather pessimistic assumption.

The 'Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen' sub-links from the site I linked to above - bombers and transports - actually make it possible to trace losses for individual months (though there are holes) for individual units by cause - so you can determine how many a/c went into (and out of) repair/overhaul, which were written off/lost due to enemy activity or other causes, and which a/c went to (and from) other units.

Just as an example, here is the link to the aircraft inventory and movements of K. Gr. z.b.V. 900, a unit which formed part of the Stalingrad airlift from beginning to end. Unfortunately there's no data for Dec. 1942, but we see that while this unit lost 11 units in Nov. 1942 only one Ju-52 was lost due to enemy action - three Ju-52s were lost due to to other causes; two went to repair, and six Ju-52 went to other units.

Edited to insert similar data for the I./KG50 which was the unit operating He-177s on the Stalingrad front - 11 a/c lost in January; three to enemy action, three to other causes, and five sent to other units; at the other end the unit received a single new He-177, but then only 20 He-177 were present on the Stalingrad front from the beginning, and as we've discussed only seven of those were serviceable when it was attempted to use them as supply aircraft.

*Which admittedly doesn't say a whole lot due to the small number of He-177 involved.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 30 Jul 2008 16:40

Hmm, yes. Just remember that serviceability rates can also go up. The 33% quoted for the He-177s involved in the Stalingrad airlift pertains to February 18th only, more than a month after they had flown their apparent only mission. It could for example be that ground crews prioritized aircraft which were still on active duty on the Stalingrad air bridge, rather than the He-177
Jon - got that wrong above and have corrected it now. The "serviceability rating" was as of JANUARY 18th - therefore two weeks and a couple of days AFTER their single mission....and when the airlift was still on and they were still being accounted for as being allocated to it. The Jan. 18th date is the approximate mid-point checkpoint date between the heavy-lift aircraft being assigned and the airlift ending.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 31 Jul 2008 13:35

How embarrassing that I missed that. Anyhow, from the site I linked to:
...[I./KG50]Was equipped with He 177A bombers. The unit was charged with the evaluation of this new bomber, and this took place at Brandenburg-Briest and at Værløse (Denmark).

In early 12.42 the unit was transferred to Zaporozhye in South Russia for winter trials with 20 He 177A. Due to the worsening situation at Stalingrad, the unit was promptly applied to the transport role, although only seven aircraft was serviceable. On the first operation the Gruppenkommandeur, Major Scheede, was lost, and the aircraft was found to be totally unsuited for the transport role. The unit quickly reverted to bombing missions in support ot the Army. I./KG50 flew 13 missions, and lost most aircraft...link
...it's clear that serviceability was a very modest 35% on the day of the He-177s' only mission on the Stalingrad air bridge, at least as I understand it. I wouldn't put it past Murray that he may have been cherry-picking for the date with the lowest serviceability rates he could find. He's not exactly a Luftwaffe fanboy - sometimes he over-states his points so it appears to the casual observer that the Luftwaffe was an air force run entirely by clowns.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 31 Jul 2008 15:07

True...but look closely at THIS -
The unit was charged with the evaluation of this new bomber, and this took place at Brandenburg-Briest and at Værløse (Denmark).

In early 12.42 the unit was transferred to Zaporozhye in South Russia for winter trials with 20 He 177A. Due to the worsening situation at Stalingrad, the unit was promptly applied to the transport role, although only seven aircraft was serviceable.
In other words - winter TRIALS, not operational sorties, had reduced I./KG50's serviceability rate to 35%!

Now, here's another interesting wrinkle - does anyone happen to know WHAT "He177A" model it was they were trialling??? On an initial scan the dates would SEEM to indicate they were the improved A-3s that started coming into service in October 1942...but when you drill down further - Heinkel had problems building more than FIVE a month. Now, "In early 12.42 the unit was transferred to Zaporozhye in South Russia for winter trials with 20 He 177A" therefore they CAN'T have been A-3s for if the A-3 came into service in OCTOBER and Heinkel was having production problems building MORE than five a month...they CAN'T have been A-3s, for twenty didn't exist in early December??? That means they have to be Arado-built A-1s with ALL their problems :lol: :lol:

Unless - does anyone know if Arado built any A-3s, or were they at THAT point working up to the building of the A-5 from February 1943 on?

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by phylo_roadking » 31 Jul 2008 15:11

Now, here's ANOTHER snippet of information from that -
On the first operation the Gruppenkommandeur, Major Scheede, was lost, and the aircraft was found to be totally unsuited for the transport role
At least one aircraft lost. Remember....?
B/ SIX available on the 18th, TWO flying, therefore "33% serviceable"
1+6=7...so that serviceability rate on the 18th of the month would indeed indicate a further FOUR aircraft of the seven unserviceable at THAT date...?

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 31 Jul 2008 16:07

OK, at the risk of obfuscating and/or sidetracking matters, I've translated the arrivals/departures report for I./KG50 into English. I've concentrated on He-177s only (the unit also had a few Ju-88As from November through March) from June '42 to April '43:

Code: Select all

  Month/Year       06.42  07.42  08.42  09.42  10.42  11.42  12.42  01.43  02.43  03.43  04.43

He-177 on hand
FIRST of
month:               0      3      5      8     20     22     27     31     21     26      26

Arrivals:            3      2      3     13      5      7      6      1      5      -       3

- new builds:        3      2      3     13      3      6      6      1      -      -       2
- repaired:          -      -      -      -      2      1      -      -      -      -       1
- other units:       -      -      -      -      -      -      -      -      5      -       -

Departures:          -      -      -      1      3      2      -     11      -      -       1

- enemy action:      -      -      -      -      -      -      -      3      -      -       -
- other causes:      -      -      -      1      1      2      -      3      -      -       -
- to other units:    -      -      -      -      -      -      -      5      -      -       1

He-177 on hand
LAST day of
month:               3      5      8     20     22     27     31     21     26     26      28
The two extra departures in October were machines which went to repair.


...this is of course paper strength only; serviceability is not taken into account. Also, only 20 He-177 were committed to the Stalingrad airlift in December. In the bigger picture, losses weren't that bad - if still unsustainable - and after the He-177 had been found wanting in the air transport department, it was relegated back to bombing duties.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 07 Aug 2008 15:03

More numbers, swiped from Eagle in Flames p. 187.

Code: Select all

             Aircraft    Sorties    Supplies    Wounded

24.11-29.11    53          204         397        1,740
30.11-06.12   132          355         612        2,920
07.12-13.12   137          572       1,244        3,470
14.12-20.12   106          567       1,023        4,380
21.12-27.12    97          415         801        2,590
28.12-03.01    64          524         968        4,700
04.01-10.01    98          564       1,237        4,500
11.01-17.01    74          445         767.5        460
18.01-24.01    69          431         422.5         -
25.01-31.01   102          614         600.5         -
01.02-03.02    87          181         179           -

TOTAL                    4,872       8,250       24,760
'Aircraft' is the daily average available for the period. Sorties are missions which reached Stalingrad. Ditto for supplies, which are rounded off to the nearest .5 tonne. Also, 5,150 key personnel were evacuated by air in addition to the 24,760 wounded.

Pitomnik and Gorodyzhe airfields in the Stalingrad pocket had very poor landing facilities, and, Hooton says, Paulus refused to have Gumrak airfield expanded because of its proximity to his HQ.

Hooton mentions that the Soviets overran Tatsinskaya airfield on Christmas eve. A German counterattack isolated the Soviets at the airfield until they broke out on December 29th, in part thanks to Luftwaffe fuel for their tanks. Even more ironically, the Soviets at Tasinskaya were supplied ('at Stalin's insistence') by air drops while they held the airfield and until they broke out.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by T. A. Gardner » 27 Aug 2008 05:06

I would add two items to the failure:

First, the Germans did little to improve or maintain their airfields in the engineering sense. Flying in some mechanized construction equipment and improving the runways should have been a priority. This would have also allowed construction of new airfields to relieve congestion.

The second item was that the Germans lacked a good homing system for their transports. I suppose they could have used Knickbein or X-Gerät but something more portable like the Allied Rebecca - Eureka system was what they needed. These were transmitting at the receiving end and the planes could home in on them with a high degree of accuracy. Their failure at Market Garden and success at Bastgone were a major factor in each air lift operation.

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Re: Why the Stalingrad Airlift Failed

Post by Jon G. » 27 Aug 2008 13:31

The X-Gerät is derived from a blind landing system which was originally developed by Telefunken well prior to the war. Also, the Luftwaffe wanted to expand the Gumrak airfield in Stalingrad, but Paulus would have none of it.

Many of the pilots flying on the Stalingrad airlift were blind flying instructors who had been detailed from Luftwaffe schools to the airlift. The Luftwaffe lost so many instructors in the airlift that they were never able to replace them.

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