was the german aero industry a failure?

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daveh
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Post by daveh » 01 May 2003 18:05

Thanks everyone for some very interesting and thought provoking comments.

To what extent do people believe that a purpose built design will generally perform better than a modified basic design? and to what extent is any gain in performance of a specialised purpose built design offset by the fact that it is a new different design requiring completely new machine tools and rigs? I am thinking of Xanthro's point on
It was more efficient to adapt an older design than start a new one
Im thinking especially of the many roles undertaken by the Ju88 and Bf110 for the Germans. As mentioned the He219 was a better night fighter but
the He 219 is an great aircraft, but it was decided that the Night-Fighter version of the Ju-88 was more than capable.

If the Germans produced more aircraft than crews to man them would the gain in performance of a specialised design have been a better investment than more (unused) machines of perhaps poorer performance?.

At what point do you decide to produce a new design?

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Post by Witch-King of Angmar » 01 May 2003 23:04

daveh wrote:Thanks everyone for some very interesting and thought provoking comments.

To what extent do people believe that a purpose built design will generally perform better than a modified basic design? and to what extent is any gain in performance of a specialised purpose built design offset by the fact that it is a new different design requiring completely new machine tools and rigs? I am thinking of Xanthro's point on
It was more efficient to adapt an older design than start a new one
Im thinking especially of the many roles undertaken by the Ju88 and Bf110 for the Germans. As mentioned the He219 was a better night fighter but
the He 219 is an great aircraft, but it was decided that the Night-Fighter version of the Ju-88 was more than capable.

If the Germans produced more aircraft than crews to man them would the gain in performance of a specialised design have been a better investment than more (unused) machines of perhaps poorer performance?.

At what point do you decide to produce a new design?
It is called development potential and any engineer and industrial designer has to take it into account when designing an industrial good, from teaspoons to space shuttles. It's the possibility of a design to be improved while still in production, bit by bit, so as to fulfil many purposes beside the original one, and to answer to ever-increasing demands. The Ju-88 series had the best development potential of all airplanes of WWII - it could be, with not very large modifications, practically anything, from heavy bomber with 3 tonne load, to high-speed night-fighter, recon plane, dive bomber able to fight against warships.. anything. Another planes with excellent development potential were the Bf 109, FW-190. The Ju-87 had far less of it, and this had shown up in very costly losses for the German side. The Pz IV got the edge over the Pz III due to a slightly higher development potential - a Pz III armed with 50mm L/60 cannon was just as good against a T-34, but it could be no further improved.

The Japanese had made the mistake to concentrate on designs which were both flawed and had no development potential at all - Mitsubishi A6M Zero comes to mind. The Romanian aircraft industry had pulled out the IAR-80 in a haste during 1939, and the designers did not care about development potential, so the plane had to be replaced in 1944 by the license-built Bf 109.

Maybe the best example of development potential of an object designed during the Third Reich was the Volkswagen - it started in 1938 with 985cc, 22bhp engine, and is still in production, enlarged, but with the same basic technologies, with almost triple engine power(1600cc, 60bhp). Most VW components, from 1949 to 1967, were practically interchangeable between most cars - you could just as well mount a 1500cc engine from 1967 under the hood of an 1949 Beetle and it worked. The later modifications were still reversible, up to the modern Mexican Beetle - even the 1302 Super Beetle had most pieces interchangeable with conventional VWs.

If all technology designed under Hitler's leadership could be made VW-like fashion.... take a guess

~Best regards

The Witch King of Angmar

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Von_Mannteufel
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Post by Von_Mannteufel » 02 May 2003 09:18

if you look at german designs you wouldn't say that they had any "poverty" in them. I belive it was more a nazi issue to waste time building tons of project, and they did that in every field, what would have not been bad if they had an industry to build them.

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Post by - Barbarossa Isegrim - » 02 May 2003 13:41

daveh wrote:
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.
Actually this is only true for the powerplants built in early 1944, when it was still largely in prototype stage. By late 1944 the Jumo004 had a lifespan of 50 hours, thanks to improvements (i.e. turbine baldes were now hollow and thus more heat resistant).

The many designs and high quality research of the Germans did not lead to any weapons usable in the war.
Don`t let yourself blinded by the popular and mythized "secret weapons".. there were many many "conventional" design aparts from them, which proved to be very useful on the field. New radar, passive homing devices, smart bombs

The german industry basically failed to introduce new designs in any quantiy.
How about Me410, Do217, Me262, He-177, Fw190? They were all new designs, and produced in rather large quantities. The "old" models were continously upgraded with new engines and weapons, so they too remained among the best.

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.
Hun? It was actually quite the other way round. While the Germans were behind the Allies in standardizing a 4-engien bomber in numbers, their medium bombers were simple the best the world known at that time. The He-111 had a bombload of 2500kg, later ones went up to 3250kg, the Ju-88 or 188 could carry 3000kg of bombs, to a comparable range as Allied mediums. But those carried only about 2/3 of that bombload, the B-25, B-26, Wellingtoncould carry no more than about 1800kg during their carreer.

Speed goes similiar. The He-111 was comparable to Allied medium bomber designs with it`s speed of 430 to 480 km/h, depending on model. The JU-88 was faster at 470 to 500km/h speed, and the Ju-188 was really impressive with 545 km/h.

And if we compare allied mediums to the largest german 2-engiend medium bobmer the Germans had, the Do217, it`s very unfavourable to the former ones. The Do217 could carry 4000kg of bombload, at 515 km/h max speed, and plenty of defensive guns for it to a respectable range. It`s a less known aircraft though.

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.
You could safely add the later Ju-87s as well, as those were more like dedicated ground attack aircraft than dive bobmers, as shown by the fact that they no longer had dive breakes, forward firing cannon armament was introduced, cluster bombs, strafing gondolas were carried, and the whole plane, engine and crew positions were heavily armored.

The germans did not produce an effective and common answer to the high flying speedy Mosquitos
First this ain`t true, as they had produced the Heinkel 219 Uhu high-speed nightfighter for that purpose in some numbers. But the Mosquitoes were never as much of a threat that would justify the full scale production of such a specialized plane. Fact is, the Mosquito was a useful light bomber for ground attack and anti-shipping, but as "strategic" bomber, it was merely a propaganda weapon of little actual value, thrown in to the bombing campaign in numbers after the RAF-BC had to realize that it could not keep up the bomber offensive due to heavy losses in early 1944.
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.
Ju-52 obsolate? No. It remeined the most dependalbe transport of the LW, in fact some Ju-52s still fly in Switzerland in commercial role. I don`t think it would have a low performance compared to any other transport of it`s time.

As for transports you shouldn`t forget the huge Me321 and 323 Giant transports, they were the the equivalents of the USAAF`s Hercules transports at that time. They could carry loads far in acces of any other transport of their time.


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.
I don`t think that the sole fact that many planes started their carrersbefore the war neccesarily mean they were obsolescent. Look at the 109 and the Spitfire, they were the best fighters from 1st September 1939 through 8th May 1945... they had far better performance than many "later and more advanced" types... there`s no real connection between introduction date and on how obsolent a design is. Some designs could successfully upgraded with the newer engines etc., other were fundamentally flawed.

Frankly, I can`t name any really obsolate fighter or plane in LW`s arsenal. The Ju-88/188, Bf109K, Fw190D were truly among the very best planes of their time, produced in great quantities.

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Scott Smith
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Post by Scott Smith » 03 May 2003 11:12

Another thing is that the RAF put all of its efforts initially into strategic bombers and still didn't build a good one until the Lancaster in early-1942, a superweapon of mass-destruction for its day.

Furthermore, the RAF had to develop close-air-support equipment and tactics in the Desert War from scratch--and this was a good two or three years after the Luftwaffe had perfected it to an art.

Also, the much-vaunted Mosquito was another instance of serendipity. It was a "hit" by accident and it never got the support it deserved as an Intruder except as a propaganda piece to drop a bomb on Berlin. Only 7,780 of all Mosquito types were built as opposed to 7,377 Lancasters which cost three times as much, needed over three times more crew, and had one-third the service life for only three times the bombload.

The German Do 335, Me 262, and He 219 would have been and were more than a match for the Mosquito except for stealth, and if the Go 229 had been perfected it would have been even better there. All these were advanced designs with great potential.

I disagree about the byzantine, chaotic view of German aircraft production. This is a view proferred by Speer and is developed further by historians such as Richard Overy, Horst Boog, etc. Williamson Murray's Strategy for Defeat is another title that should be read.

I will agree that Udet was not competent to head the Luftwaffe's technical office and that Göring had a dysfunctional command structure that had power divided between himself as Oberbefehlshaber, Milch as head of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, and Jeschonnek as OKL Stabschef. Then Speer came into the picture as Armaments Minister with his deputy (and head of the Fighter Staff to prioritize fighters in 1944) Karl-Otto Saur to further complicate things. After Jeschonnek's suicide in 1943 Günther Korten became OKL Chief-of-Staff and he and Speer favored strategic bombing panaceas at the time when Germany needed more interceptor fighters and pilots.

But to recapitulate, the main issue here is that Germany was organized to develop weapons in breadth for Blitzkrieg and not depth for attrition.

This did not begin to change until 1942 and would not have won the war if changed earlier because there is no way that Germany could have won a war-of-attrition against the Allies in any case. Military genius and crisis-management cannot always makeup for failed diplomacy.
:)

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Post by joshyboy » 10 May 2003 02:50

the german air force almost seems like a failure because we compare it to the american air force. if you think about it the germans had to forget spending there money on air power and start focusing more on defence. hitler knew he was losing and was going to be stuck in germany so he did everything he could to improve the "Flying rockets" (V-1's- V-2's)

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 10 May 2003 03:28

Flying rockets don't gain air superiority. Economically, they cost more than the damage they inflicted.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 10 May 2003 03:29

Flying rockets don't gain air superiority. Economically, they cost more than the damage they inflicted.

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Post by Scott Smith » 10 May 2003 07:03

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Flying rockets don't gain air superiority. Economically, they cost more than the damage they inflicted.
No, the V-1 was an outstanding success!

It can only be considered a failure in that it failed to win the war or deliver (as intended) enough destruction that it would deter the Anglo-American strategic offense against Germany. In hindsight, Germany had no hope of doing that short of an atomic bomb.

The V-2 was less justifiable since it was so much more expensive. And prisoners would not have been killed blasting out the tunnels in Nordhausen if the Allies hadn't bombed the intended German factories for the V-weapons. (It was just luck on their part but the Germans didn't know that and called in the SS to "make it so.")

Anyway, deterrence is a tried-and-true strategy that is based on payback plus interest or intent of serious retribution if attacked. If the Germans had been able to deliver with their V-1s, V-2s, and jet-bombers, as much firepower as the Allies were dropping on Germany using bombers with very-high attrition rates, then the strategy would have worked and the Western Allies would have had to scrub the air-campaign altogether and probably the invasion of Europe as well. They could lose a lot of aircrew bombing German cities, but exactly how many Londoners were willing to die to kill German civilians?

The cruise-missiles and rockets (that couldn't be shot down) just didn't deliver enough ordnance, and the jets came too late. What the Germans accomplished is staggering, especially when compared to the resources put into strategic bombing from the Allies during the war (let alone from 1918). Nevertheless, in hindsight it can be seen that the most worthwhile of the Wunderwaffen would have been the atomic bomb, the technology that the Germans considered the least promising militarily.
:)

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 10 May 2003 07:15

"Terror" weapons only harden the resolve of your opponents, as does retribution and revenge.

The Vengence weapons did nothing to the Allied war effort (except slow down the supplies at Antwerp around the time of the "Bulge" for a couple weeks).

Pulse jet and rocket production facilities could have been making -
jet engines for fighters, or alot of other "vital" stuff, for the German war effort. Hell, personnel heaters would have been more useful.

I forgot, they did help the propaganda angle to get the Germans to fight to "utter destruction".

To quote Robin Williams-" Stylish yet unfunctionable"

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 10 May 2003 07:33

I thought of something, more of a "what if" topic.

You know, Mr Smith, if the Germans had put Nerve Gas in those V-2 warheads, the Third Reich would still be here.

Poor o' Hitler just did not know what a good terror weapon was.

I would rather debate the actual events.

Excuse the off topic stuff

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Post by Scott Smith » 10 May 2003 07:44

ChristopherPerrien wrote:"Terror" weapons only harden the resolve of your opponents, as does retribution and revenge.
Define "terror weapon."

At best the Germans could have made 900 V-2 rockets per month of about a ton yield each. The Allied bomber offensive could have dropped a thousand tons in a single raid.

That is why German "terror weapons" were not effective and Allied terror-weapons were.

I agree that strategic-weapons hardened the resolve of the Germans and made them fight (and exploit) their enemies ruthlessly. Not all would agree with you that the Allied bombing-campaign didn't help win the war, however. The vast (I mean VAST) resources that the Allies used for their air-offensive forced the Germans to develop effective and expensive countermeasures for defense and for offense (the V-weapons). But not as much as the Allies spent; however, the Allies had more to spend in the first place.
The Vengence weapons did nothing to the Allied war effort (except slow down the supplies at Antwerp around the time of the "Bulge" for a couple weeks).
It also wreaked havoc during the time of the invasion in June, 1944 when the V-1s first started to hit London, a central communications an-d logistical point. If the Germans had been able to hit harder and sooner then the invasion would have had to have been scrapped. Keep in mind that the Germans essentially had no other means of taking the fight to the enemy shore at all.
Pulse jet and rocket production facilities could have been making -
jet engines for fighters, or alot of other "vital" stuff, for the German war effort. Hell, personnel heaters would have been more useful.
This assumes an awful lot. In reality, the German turbojets were not even mass-producible until June of 1944 when the other V-weapons were deployable if not quite mature technologies. The Germans still needed six more more to tool up. I agree that turbojet research should have been pushed harder and earlier, but the other V-weapons had not been pushed before Stalingrad either when the Germans realized that they might lose the war.

Basically, the V-1, which was cheap, used low-octane fuel, and saved the need for bomber pilots, was worthwhile. The V-2 was too expensive and immature for major use during the war; indeed, it's resources for mass-production in 1944 should have gone into the Wasserfall Flak rocket instead, as well as Me 262s and other jets. Even so, the Germans would not have won the war. Even with an atomic bomb at-the-ready the best that Germany could hope for was a draw based on mutual-deterrence.
I forgot, they did help the propaganda angle to get the Germans to fight to "utter destruction".
Which any government would have found immensely valuable in wartime. Goebbels certainly did his job.
To quote Robin Williams-" Stylish yet unfunctionable"
The V-weapons didn't win the war, but they were hardly unfunctionable, and neither did the strategic-bombing campaign win the war all by itself.
:)

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Post by Scott Smith » 10 May 2003 07:57

ChristopherPerrien wrote:You know, Mr Smith, if the Germans had put Nerve Gas in those V-2 warheads, the Third Reich would still be here.
No, because the Allies could have dropped much more mustard gas and strontium 90 dust, anthrax mines, etc. than the Germans. And that is why Hitler never used the nerve gas even when he lost the war. There is your deterrence! He certainly was not squeamish about using any violence that would win the war. But he could not be assured by his experts that the Allies could not match the nerve gases with equal or superior payback or effective countermeasures. That is why poison gas did not win the First World War, and Hitler knew it.
:)

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 10 May 2003 08:17

Thanks for the reply,
I suppose neither of us is willing "give" any.

I consider all the V-weapons projects, except the wasserfall and reichenboter(sp?) to have been wastes of resources -natural. human. and monetary. At least they helped us get to the moon and now we have ICBMs.

Wish I could explain how much more deadly nerve gas is over any of your mentioned "replies" or why Hitler did not use them, but that is a different "topic(s)".

Have a good day/night/etc.

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Post by Scott Smith » 10 May 2003 08:24

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Have a good day/night/etc.
Good night, also. We are only two hours behind you this time of year.
:)

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