was the german aero industry a failure?

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Luftwaffe air units and general discussions on the Luftwaffe.
daveh
Member
Posts: 1439
Joined: 11 Feb 2003 18:14
Location: uk

was the german aero industry a failure?

Post by daveh » 27 Apr 2003 15:47

I have read many articles and comments on the advanced state of the German aircraft industry of WW2. Yet during the war I know of only one design that was not built pre war and was later built in large numbers by the Germans ie the FW 190.

Why did the Germans introduce so few new extesively built (say over 1000) aircraft designs during the Second World War?

A comparison of Luftwaffe equipment in 1944 and in 1939:

present in ...present.......introduced ........built
June 1944....in 1939

Fw190.........no...............autumn 1941....19500`
Bf 109.........yes
Me 410........no...............spring 1944......1160
Ju 188.........(no)
Ju 88...........yes
Do 217,,,,,,,,(no)
He111,,,,,,,,,yes
Ju 290.........no...............early 1943.........65 or so
Bv222.........no...............mid 1941...........12
He 177........no...............summer 1942.....c.900
Ar196..........yes
Bv 138.........no.............april 1940...........279
Fw189..........no.............late 1940............864
Ju87.............yes
Hs 126..........yes
Bf 110..........yes
He 219..........no................1944? ..............294

(no) development of existing design

Of the 17 types listed 7 were introduced pre war and, 2 were developments of pre war designs. Of the remaining 8 only the Fw 190 was built in large numbers, only 1 other had over 1000 built and 2 had less than 100 examples built.

In comparison

RAF (home command) 1944, british designs only

present in ...present.......introduced ........built
June 1944....in 1939

Lancaster............no........march 1942....7378
Stirling................no........august 1940 ...2374
Halifax................no........march 1941.... 6178
Lysander.............yes
Mosquito..............no.......sept 1941........7785
Wellington............yes
Spitfire................yes
Typhoon..............no.........1942?...........3270
Tempest...............no.........jan 1944......1418
Walrus.................yes
Warwick...............no..........1944?..........845

Of these 11 designs 4 were built pre war, of the remaining 7, all but 2 were built in numbers exceeding 1000 and the last 2 had over 700 built.

Why was there such a differnce between the RAF figures and the German ones? Did the british produce successful designs and have the production capacity to build them while the germans produced poorer designs and have no spare capacity?
Does this reflect a poorer german design base? or poorer strategic insight?

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 27 Apr 2003 16:55

You seem to forget about the jets, rocket planes and rockets the Germans "developed".

German aero industry was great , Trouble was the planes had no gas and were plagued by the Germans use of bad-bad stratetegic doctrine. ie. the prioritizing of ground attack planes and light bombers over air superiority fighters and Heavy bombers.

As to adopting new designs, I think Germans had good prewar designs which they did not need to change, for the most part, whereas alot of Britsh prewar designs were shitty so of course they would have had to "develope" new designs.

Phaethon
Member
Posts: 935
Joined: 07 Apr 2002 21:14

Post by Phaethon » 27 Apr 2003 17:18

Until Speer took over and centralized control of armaments production the Nazi war manufacturing suffered from the same bureaucracy and in-fighting that plagued just about every other organization in Germany and conquered territories. Even he, though, was not immune to interference from other high-ranking Nazis and from Hitler himself. Hitler in particular was a 'gadget freak' always wanting the new innovation and bigger and better models to be developed and built, especially tanks but also the research into V-weapons - so long as it involved good Aryan engineering.

But beyond the best efforts of Speer, and in the face of material shortgaes as the war progressed and the tide turned, Hitler continued to refuse to sanction total mobilization of the populus. German women's priorities were traditionally "Kinder, Kirche, Küche" ("Children, Church and Kitchen") and this, with less of an emphasis on Church, found currency under the Nazis and with Hitler in particular.

So while women in Britain, Canada, the USA and particulalry the USSR were turning out armaments, increasing aircraft production and delivery and freeing up men for front-line duty, Hitler's industry was struggling for man-power and making do with unmotivated slave and PoW labour.

In the light of these factors, German production and innovation was quite amazing, thanks largely to Speer's organizational reforms.

Cheers,

K.
--
Ken Cocker, London

John T
Member
Posts: 1187
Joined: 31 Jan 2003 22:38
Location: Stockholm,Sweden

Re: was the german aero industry a failure?

Post by John T » 27 Apr 2003 17:23

daveh wrote:I have read many articles and comments on the advanced state of the German aircraft industry of WW2.

Why was there such a differnce between the RAF figures and the German ones? Did the british produce successful designs and have the production capacity to build them while the germans produced poorer designs and have no spare capacity?
Does this reflect a poorer german design base? or poorer strategic
insight?
Please look for books by Richard Overy, "War and economy in the third reich" is one, before that he wrote a book that only dealt with German airforce and its use of industrial resources.
A german A/c cost more than twice (I forgot the actual %) as much as a British- Admittedly it is hard to compare costs between countries but it gives an indication of German inability to produce their goods efficiently.
It did improve during the war but in the begining it was exeptional inefficient.

Cheers
/John T.

ChristopherPerrien
Member
Posts: 7050
Joined: 26 Dec 2002 00:58
Location: Mississippi

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 27 Apr 2003 17:32

German workers and their unions (Nsdap) go figure!!!!!!

User avatar
Erich
Member
Posts: 2728
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 23:28
Location: OR

Post by Erich » 27 Apr 2003 21:45

take in the consideration of the Allied bombing campaign of late 44-45. Not much standing in the Reich except underground facilities all over central and southern Germany. Imagine trying to crate these articles during daylight hours from place to place and hoping you don't get strafed. Not very promising. besides go to the luftwaffe46 web-site and you can see what German technology came to......and even it's effects for us today

~E

daveh
Member
Posts: 1439
Joined: 11 Feb 2003 18:14
Location: uk

Post by daveh » 27 Apr 2003 22:43

ChristopherPerrien I had not forgotten the jet engine and rocket powered designs of the later war period. The creation of these designs was surely a case of too little, too late. The life span of the Jumo engines was in 10 s of hours, due to lack of suitable heat resistant additives to the steel blades, limiting the use of many aircraft. fuel shortages also hindered their use. Most Me262 s that were built were never used and hence added little to the German war effort.

The many designs and high quality research of the Germans did not lead to any weapons usable in the war. I still look at the fact that the British for example introduced a range of aircraft types that their air strategy required ie 4 engined bombers, recce machines and fighter aircraft.

The german industry basically failed to introduce new designs in any quantiy.

While such designs as the Bf 109 were still reasonable aircraft at the end of the war they were at the end of their development cycle. The Fw190 was close in terms of performance to the allied fighters but faced both improvements in older designs eg the Spitfire and new designs eg the Tempest

The Ju87 and He111 designs, were at best obsolescent by the middle of the war and required replacement within the German air strategy. no new dive bomber was introduced.

A comparison of allied medium bombers shows the German designs falling behind in terms of speed range and bomb load. This was recognised by the Germans as they tried to develop the new B type bomber from 1940 on. 4 designs were submitted of which the Fw 191 and the Ju 288 were chosen for full development. No new B type bomber was ever introduced despite the recognition of their desirability.

The dedicated ground attack aircraft requirement produced the Hs 129 built in small numbers and suffering from problems of unreliable and easily damaged engines and some vision problems. The Fw 190 was successfully adapted to the ground attack (fighter bomber) role.

The germans did not produce an effective and common answer to the high flying speedy Mosquitos

The transport units still depended on the JU 52/3m at the end of the war despite its problems with difficulties in loadig it and its low performance compared with later US transport aircraft.

The British continued developing the pre war Spitfire throughout the war.
Other "shitty " aircraft as ChristopherPerrien put it were successfuly replaced and in quantity. Does not this show the British aero industry in a much better light than the German.?

Overall the Germans had good pre war designs and many quality designs and much high quality research at the end of the war. However it did not for the most part replace older obsolescent designs during the war in any great numbers.

The late war designs had little or no real impact on the air war. it was in the middle war years that new designs were neded and they did not appear. By the time the Me262 s and Do 335 s of this world appeared the few new designs had limited impact on the air war. Surely this was a failure of the German aeor industry?

Witch-King of Angmar
Member
Posts: 915
Joined: 28 Feb 2003 20:40
Location: Europe

Post by Witch-King of Angmar » 28 Apr 2003 08:07

Phaethon wrote:But beyond the best efforts of Speer, and in the face of material shortgaes as the war progressed and the tide turned, Hitler continued to refuse to sanction total mobilization of the populus. German women's priorities were traditionally "Kinder, Kirche, Küche" ("Children, Church and Kitchen") and this, with less of an emphasis on Church, found currency under the Nazis and with Hitler in particular.

So while women in Britain, Canada, the USA and particulalry the USSR were turning out armaments, increasing aircraft production and delivery and freeing up men for front-line duty, Hitler's industry was struggling for man-power and making do with unmotivated slave and PoW labour.

Baseless rumor. During Hitler's rule, until late 1938 the percent of female employees in the total number of employees in Germany had actually increased, not decreased, in comparison to 1931-1932, and after 1941 it surpassed 51 percent. What Hitler said, was that he did not want the German women to work in armaments and especially ammo factories - where the labor was very hard, dangerous, and toxic, so from his point of view was a better deal to expose the Soviet POWs and other similar categories to the health & safety risks encountered there.

~The Witch King of Angmar

User avatar
Maple 01
Member
Posts: 928
Joined: 18 Nov 2002 23:19
Location: UK

Post by Maple 01 » 28 Apr 2003 08:47

Ah, I've just finished reading 'Nazi Women' and they make the point that while many single women were working, the married never flocked to the call, 3,000,000 were registered for war work, only 500,000 went to the factories

Regards

-nick

User avatar
Scott Smith
Member
Posts: 5602
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:17
Location: Arizona

Post by Scott Smith » 30 Apr 2003 05:15

In a word or two Speer is a baseless liar.

Aside from that, on the question of German air-armaments there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it--but Germany did of necessity switch to a Total War economy late in the game, from 1942-43. There were very good reasons for this, however, and not simply a lusty Nazi desire to continue producing pricey perfumes and porcelain chamberpots while they wined and dined their way through Europe's art treasures instead of building Panzers and peashooters to fight the war.

Sure, the British excelled at some things like aviation and electronics. They could do this because they had the luxury of concentrating on a few things--and doing them very well--with the entire Arsenal of Democracy behind them long before the United States was even in the war; and furthermore, with the industrial might of Stalin's Socialism-In-One-Country tossed in the game as well, which had essentially placed the Soviet Union on a Total War footing against Europe since 1928.

German armaments on the other hand had to be "all things to all people." You can't have more U-boats without fewer capital ships. And you can't have more Panzers without fewer U-boats; and you can't have strategic bombing AND have air-superiority fighters, fighter-bombers, dive-bombers, and medium-bombers. That is, if you were Germany.

That the United States could afford THREE types of strategic bombers without hurting its war-effort in other areas, and that Great Britain could afford to send surplus Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union is certainly no indictment upon the efficiency of German industry. Even a minor technological triumph like the cheap Liberty ship went a long way toward winning the war for the Allies.

If the German Blitzkrieg strategy of fighting short, quick wars and returning to a peacetime economy as soon as possible so as not to eat the economic seed-corn had any failings at all it was that Germany was short of strategic metals and oil, and this deficit encouraged Hitler to seek additional campaigns to widen his strategic envelope. The Soviet Union threatened Germany's source of Romanian oil and therefore had to be neutralized--and as soon as possible, the quicker the better. However, since the SU proved a tough nut to crack, this meant gearing for a Total War economy of attrition that Germany could never hope to win against the West. Part of the reason that Germany could not obtain strategic items was because the neutral United States could happily outbid on the world market and pay outrageous prices to keep things like tungsten and even helium out of German hands.

Yes, during the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe was outproduced despite greater capacity, but there were other things on Germany's plate besides a war-of-attrition that only steeled the throats of Germany's traditional enemies. If the war had gone another year or two without U.S. and Soviet involvement then that Churchillian resolve would have been found a bit less sonorous with Germany winning on all fronts.

A Bitzkrieg strategy requires armaments in breadth not depth. It is only when arrayed against the United States and the Soviet Union that German technology and industry was found wanting. The Ju 87 Stuka, the Ju 88, as well as the BF 109, carried innovations that the great WWI ace and brilliant test-pilot Ernst Udet had been directly responsible for. Certainly Generaloberst Udet was not qualified to lead Germany's air armaments industry, let alone its technical department in an age of increasing electronic warfare. He should have been replaced long before his suicide in 1941, but other than that I would not be so quick to condemn German technology or air-armaments.

Lastly, Overy is a Democracy-Capitalist apologist as far as I'm concerned. He wants to show that an Arsenal of Democracy will always triumph over an Arsenal of Dictatorship. Well, this begs the question as to what would have happened if Great Britain had been forced to fight the Soviet Union all by herself and pay in cash for every quart of oil and steel screw produced by the United States, or barter in kind for every electronic and chemical patent from a neutral Germany. The result would have been laughable, even for a globetrotting empire.

It is not to ask the reason why,
But only to do--or die.

:)

Xanthro
Member
Posts: 2803
Joined: 26 Mar 2002 00:11
Location: Pasadena, CA

Post by Xanthro » 01 May 2003 00:15

German aircraft industry already produced more aircraft than crews could be trained for and fuel available to fly them.

What more do you want?

Many of the examples you chose are pretty misleading. Most of the planes Germany started with were capable of being modified into better aircraft. This is one reason exceptional designs never went into full scale production.

Example, the He 219 is an great aircraft, but it was decided that the Night-Fighter version of the Ju-88 was more than capable. Hence, that was built.

There was no Ju-88 night fighter at the beginning of the war, but the airframe was adaptable enough for use.

The same was true for many German aircraft. It was more efficient to adapt an older design than start a new one.

Xanthro

User avatar
Scott Smith
Member
Posts: 5602
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:17
Location: Arizona

Post by Scott Smith » 01 May 2003 04:57

Xanthro wrote:It was more efficient to adapt an older design than start a new one.
Good point, and even the Bf 110 was an outstandingly successful German heavy-fighter. It was a good medium-range fighter-bomber, night-fighter, bomber-interceptor, naval support aircraft, close-support aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, etc.

The only thing the Zerstörer was NOT successful at was the role that it was originally intended for as a long-range escort aircraft for bombers. It could not compete with short-range air-superiority fighters like the Spitfire, because as a twin-engine aircraft it was not maneuverable enough, nor was it quite fast enough to outrun them. It was well-armed with it's machine guns and 20mm cannon, though.

By the same token, the American heavy-fighter, the P-38 Lightning was not particularly successful in this role either. The Americans did solve that particular problem of long-range bomber support with the P-51 Mustang II by using the powerful British Merlin engine instead of the original Allison (also used on the P-38) from when the P-51 was originally designed as a long-range intruding fighter-bomber. So a low-drag and maneuverable American airframe plus powerful British engine produced a miracle in aviation, a long-range single-engine escorting air-superiority fighter!

Interesting that the success of the entire American bomber offensive hinged on a simple quirk of serendipity.

When things work out they are seen as products of genius; otherwise they are just forgotten or condemned as folly. We remember the successes when we win. We remember the failures when we lose. Hindsight is 20/20 and this would apply to all armed services and nationalities. The Luftwaffe and German air-armaments was no different.
:-)

User avatar
redcoat
Member
Posts: 1361
Joined: 03 Mar 2003 21:54
Location: Stockport, England

Post by redcoat » 01 May 2003 10:19

In 1940 the British outproduced the German air industry by 47% with a smaller workforce, and continued to out-produce them in every war year except 44 ( by 41 it was up to 71%)
The main problem with the German aircraft industry was the fact it was run by the Nazi party.
It was highly bureaucatic and run by men who had no understanding of business economics
Constant minor modifications disrupted production runs, and on the basis of divide and rule( a favourite trick within the Nazi party ), potential scale effects were left unexploited. Professional industrialists were kept at an arms length by party hacks and simply ordered around.
As an example of the confusion within the German aircraft industry.
Neither Volkswagen or Opel were drawn into the aircraft industry until late in the war. When Opel finally tooled up to start aircraft production, the orders were changed, and retooling had to begin :roll:

User avatar
Maple 01
Member
Posts: 928
Joined: 18 Nov 2002 23:19
Location: UK

Post by Maple 01 » 01 May 2003 10:57

For my two cents,

The R&D was excellent

The actual production of equipment was a shambles

The direction was %$£&

Regards

-Nick

varjag
Financial supporter
Posts: 4431
Joined: 01 May 2002 01:44
Location: Australia

Post by varjag » 01 May 2003 13:07

Isn't the German performance matched by the British? I mean on the principle of 'two-bob-each way' Britain too - pursued several diffrent designs so that - if one failed, there would be a substitute. Britain began - and ended the war - with the Spitfire as it's prime fighter-plane. The Tornado/Typhoon/Tempest - venture was by and large a failure but the committment to the programme forced them to use the Typhoons for ground-attack, which was all they were good for, as fighters they were useless. On the heavy-bomber side, their Stirling was a failure, the Halifax 'a disappointment' and only the Lancaster proved successful as far as NEW designs were concerned. The shining innovation, was the Mosquito- something the German air-industry did never match because they never thought about that entirely new concept. And by the time they caught on to the idea - it was far too late in the day. The infighting on the German side with excessive bureaucracy and parallell empire-building certainly hampered their effort. The crazy nazi population ideas didn't help - it takes a week to build a fighter-plane but 9 months to make a baby. The fighter can go into battle a week later - the baby needs some 18 years before 'combat-ready' - so the priorities were definitely right on 'the other side of the hill'.

Return to “Luftwaffe air units and Luftwaffe in general”