Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

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tramonte
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Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 27 Jan 2020 09:39

I have tried to find the most realistic numbers of Luftwaffe combat air sorties but so far i have been little bit confused how real they have been. For instance this one (photo) is claiming about 430,000 sorties from March to December 1943 but less than 258,000 for whole year 1944. Other sources are claiming however that Luftwaffe had 342,483 combat sorties according American sources in east during 1944. Combat loss rate per combat sorties were according those claim same in both 1943 and 1944 suggesting that Luftwaffe had more than 400,000 combat sorties in 1943.

https://images.cdn.tiede.fi/_V8pzLYtYWq ... k=sUD3boyx

So what's the truth of numbers of Luftwaffe combatsorties in east? Is there also annual numbers of sorties of aircraft? According official Soviet military history numbers of Soviet combat sorties were in Great Patriotic War about 3,125,000. Is that figure near the truth?
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by Art » 27 Jan 2020 11:27

tramonte wrote:
27 Jan 2020 09:39
According official Soviet military history numbers of Soviet combat sorties were in Great Patriotic War about 3,125,000. Is that figure near the truth?
From an official digest 3.81 million combat sorties up to 9.5.45
Combat loss rate per combat sorties were according those claim same in both 1943 and 1944 suggesting that Luftwaffe had more than 400,000 combat sorties in 1943.
https://images.cdn.tiede.fi/_V8pzLYtYWq ... k=sUD3boyx
Sorry to disappoint but this table is copied from the same digest and gives the number of sorties over the frontline registered by Soviet observation and warning service:
http://stsokol.ru/vvs_tsifra/gl_6/6.253.html
Which could be quite different from the actual numbers. And after all some fighter sorties didn't cross the frontline.

According to Zablotsky and Larintsev(with reference to BA MA RL 2 III/1198) LW made about 350 000 combat sorties on EF in 1944 (69 775 fighters, 226 502 bomber and ground-attack, 57 632 recon). Not much different from 342,483. The difference is probably due to inclusion of forces in Finland/Norway.

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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 27 Jan 2020 12:46

"Which could be quite different from the actual numbers. And after all some fighter sorties didn't cross the frontline."

What's interesting however is that Soviet observation and warning system gave almost exactly right numbers of LW combat sorties during Operation Citadel what LW actually had combat sorties. At least in that case Soviet observation system worked pretty well. I have also figures of BArch RL 2-III/633 p.22ff, BArch RL 2-III/634 pp.3-9; munitions weights from RL 2-III/748 which gave LW bomber and ground attack units bombing campaign in Eastern Front during 1943:

Jan - June 43: 132,158 tons
July- Dec 43: 168,129 tons

as we can see LW must have had average 27% more bombs dropped in latter part of 1943. It's in fact it might be possible that Stukas, Jabos, Ju-88's, He-111's and Hs-126 did have some 200,000 missions during latter part of 1943. Which means average 840 kg bomb load. Besides how reliable are figures of LW combat sorties in 1944? Are they primary German sources?
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 27 Jan 2020 13:18

1944 - All Combat Types....

Total West: Sorties 182,004, losses 9 768 (destroyed), 5.37% per sortie
Eastern Front: Sorties 342,483, losses 2 406, 0.703% per sortie.

Same sources used by Caldwell are suggesting that LW had pretty same loss per sortie in 1943. http://don-caldwell.we.bs/jg26/thtrlosses.htm

However Richard Andersson of Dupuy Institute is giving higher combat total loss figures for LW in Eastern Front: 2,913 (1944) and 3,128 (1943). Using these figures LW combat loss rate would have been 0.85% in 1944. If LW had about 450,000 sorties in east during 1943 their loss rate per sortie has been about 0.7%.

(PS. that figure of Soviet combat sorties 3,125,000 during Great Patriotic War was from 1970's Soviet era book. No idea why such about 700,000 gap)
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by Art » 27 Jan 2020 20:47

tramonte wrote:
27 Jan 2020 12:46
What's interesting however is that Soviet observation and warning system gave almost exactly right numbers of LW combat sorties during Operation Citadel what LW actually had combat sorties.
Naturally there was a correlation with actual activity.
Besides how reliable are figures of LW combat sorties in 1944? Are they primary German sources?
Yes
Eastern Front: Sorties 342,483, losses 2 406, 0.703% per sortie.
According to Zablotsky&Larintsev 342 483 sorties in the Luftflotte 1, 4 and 6. Plus 11 426 sorties in air command "Finland". The same numbers essentially. They also provide very similar data for losses.

As for aircraft losses the Luftwaffe had a notorious percentage system which was almost by intention designed to made the question of losses as complicated as possible. So discrepancy between different data is a natural thing.

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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 29 Jan 2020 20:15

Art wrote:
27 Jan 2020 20:47

According to Zablotsky&Larintsev 342 483 sorties in the Luftflotte 1, 4 and 6. Plus 11 426 sorties in air command "Finland". The same numbers essentially. They also provide very similar data for losses.

As for aircraft losses the Luftwaffe had a notorious percentage system which was almost by intention designed to made the question of losses as complicated as possible. So discrepancy between different data is a natural thing.

Thank you Art for that information. I'd also be pleased if you can give annual (or even monthly) Soviet combat sortie numbers of Great Patriotic War.
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by Art » 30 Jan 2020 10:35

Sure
1941 - 459 221
1942 - 852 691
1943 - 885 416
1944 - 993 050
1945 (up to May) - 617 758
From statistical digest "Soviet aviation in the Great Patriotic War in numbers" (1962)
http://stsokol.ru/vvs_tsifra/index.html

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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 30 Jan 2020 11:10

Art wrote:
30 Jan 2020 10:35
Sure
1941 - 459 221
1942 - 852 691
1943 - 885 416
1944 - 993 050
1945 (up to May) - 617 758
From statistical digest "Soviet aviation in the Great Patriotic War in numbers" (1962)
http://stsokol.ru/vvs_tsifra/index.html
Thanks again Art. :thumbsup: Biggest surprise for me was actually the relatively high number of sorties in 1942 compared to especially 1943. I'd have bet the increase been much higher than just 3.84%. Annual increase of 1944 ( +12.15%) should of course be compared to death spiral of Luftwaffe. Growing share of Soviet aircraft must have been in reserve - out of front line duties. Combat losses per shorties has been according official Soviet loss figures much higher in 1943 (11,200 )than in 1942 (7,800) . That's another surprise. Combat loss rate going sharply down in 1944 was truly expected (9,700).

1942: 0.915%
1943: 1.265%
1944: 0.977%
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 04 Feb 2020 11:42

There's of course the story of Soviet night harassment units taking big share of Soviet combat aviation missions.
These night harassment aircraft formed an extraordinary 23% of total Soviet air force strength at the time of the battle of Stalingrad (VVS Staff 1962: Chapter 3, Table 3.108). These Soviet units suffered very low loss rates, with one aircraft loss for every 703 hours flown in combat, compared with an average of one loss per 30 to 50 hours for most Soviet aircraft (Rastrenin 2015, p.39).
(Dan Zamansky)

In the period 1941-43 the Soviet air force flew 28% of all its missions at night (VVS Staff 1962: Chapter 6, Table 6.233). Putting aside all myths and legends of night harassment aircraft, the pale fact however was that they had little or at least just limited combat value.Of all 850 000 - 885 000 missions during 1942 and 1943 about > 600 000 were day light combat missions.
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by Art » 04 Feb 2020 15:20

From the same digest. VVS RKKA sorties:
1941 - 259686 day and 9879 night
1942 - 365060 day and 206070 night
1943 - 474343 day and 203514 night
1944 - 630468 day and 186579 night
1945 - 448855 day and 120307 night
Of course, night sorties didn't necessarily belong to light bombers only.

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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by Richard Anderson » 04 Feb 2020 16:00

tramonte wrote:
27 Jan 2020 13:18
However Richard Andersson of Dupuy Institute is giving higher combat total loss figures for LW in Eastern Front: 2,913 (1944) and 3,128 (1943). Using these figures LW combat loss rate would have been 0.85% in 1944. If LW had about 450,000 sorties in east during 1943 their loss rate per sortie has been about 0.7%.
Hi Tramonte,

Those figures were very much created from the "ground up" using the monthly Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen of the Luftwaffe. The only problem was always determining accurately what was a "Eastern" and what was a "Western" sortie, which is truly problematic for the units based in Norway and the Balkans. So I'm not surprised there is a variance from the official figures.
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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by AllenM » 04 Feb 2020 18:51


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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 13 Feb 2020 17:54

Art wrote:
04 Feb 2020 15:20
From the same digest. VVS RKKA sorties:
1941 - 259686 day and 9879 night
1942 - 365060 day and 206070 night
1943 - 474343 day and 203514 night
1944 - 630468 day and 186579 night
1945 - 448855 day and 120307 night
Of course, night sorties didn't necessarily belong to light bombers only.
Thanks Art again. These are of course excluding sorties of PVO, Navy Air Force and ADD (strategic longer range) etc. The share of VVS RKKA was in 1941 58.7% (all sorties 459,221), 66.98% in 1942 (852,691), 76.56% in 1943 (885,416), 82.28% in 1944 (993,050) and 92.13% in 1945 (617,758). According official Soviet aviation combat losses, VVS share of losses in 1942-44 was: 80.18% (1942), 84.86% (1943) and 83.13% (1944).

ADD certainly did night combat missions quite a lot (1944 e.g Helsinki, Tallinn, Budapest etc). Is there any information of night combat sorties of ADD, Navy Air Force and PVO? In 1943 ADD according Soviet statistics dropped 43.8% of all bombs (Navy Air Force 3.67%). In 1944 ADD still dropped 30.98% bombs (Navy Air Force 3.76%)

The low loss rate of VVS night harassment combat missions as claimed " 1 loss per~700 flying hours" is suggesting these sorties caused just about 300-400 annual combat losses in 1942-44 and left clearly bulk of losses to daytime missions. For instance something like: 7,800 (1942), 9,200 (1943) and 7,500 (1944). These figures are clearly showing how sharply loss rate of VVS (daytime sorties) went down after late 1943: ~2.1% (1942), ~1.9% (1943) and ~1.2% (1944).
"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such affair."

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Re: Luftwaffe combat air sorties in Eastern Front 1941-45?

Post by tramonte » 13 Feb 2020 18:11

Richard Anderson wrote:
04 Feb 2020 16:00
The only problem was always determining accurately what was a "Eastern" and what was a "Western" sortie, which is truly problematic for the units based in Norway and the Balkans. So I'm not surprised there is a variance from the official figures.
Before late 1943 most Luftwaffe Balkan operations were clearly much more targeting Western Allied. After that things were of course much more complicated ( excluding Schlachtgeschwader units). When it comes to Northern Norway (just like Finnish Lapland too) is hard to claim Luftwaffe there nothing but just Eastern Front northern flank targeting 7th Air Army of VVS, Soviet Navy Northern Fleet and Red Army.

Luftflotte 5 Ost
Fliegerführer Nr. 3 [Kirkenes]:
L.R. Reconnaissance: 1.(F)/ 124 Kirkenes 20 Ju 88: Bf 109
L.R. Reconnaissance: 1.(F)/ 31 Kemijärvi 15 FW 190: Bf 109
Sea-Reconnaissance: 3.(F)/ SAGr. 130 Kirkenes 8 BV 138
Ground-Attack [Schlacht] I./SG 5 Kirkenes 51 FW 190: Ju 87

JaFü Norwegen [Petsamo]:
Day-Fighter III./JG 5 Petsamo 24 Bf 109
Destroyer [Zerstörer] 13. (Zerst)/JG 5 Kirkenes 16 Bf 110

"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such affair."

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