Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

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Knouterer
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Knouterer » 10 May 2018 14:28

It is difficult to find out what the Luftwaffe was actually planning to do if Hitler had given the order to launch Sea Lion, among other things because the LW’s archives were largely destroyed at the end of the war. It is clear that at the top there was little real enthusiasm for the plan, Göring even declared at one point in September that preparations for Seelöwe should not be allowed to hamper or constrain the Luftwaffe’s operations (DRZW, Vol. 2, p. 390-391).

Kesselring, whose Luftflotte 2 would have had the main role, even wrote in his memoirs that “Air Fleet chiefs were completely excluded from such planning and preparation for Sea Lion as there was.” (p. 83). However, he wrote that shortly after the war, when he was in prison and did not have access to German documents, and it seems possible that his memories were somewhat affected or distorted by the many dramatic events he had been through since 1940, including his being sentenced to death.

Karl Klee’s work (from 1955) on the role of the LW in Sea Lion, which unfortunately seems to be available only in an incomplete English translation, mentions (p. 205) a “tentative combat directive” issued by Luftflotte 2 on 17 September, two days before the OKW issued orders to halt all further movement of shipping towards the jumping-off ports. According to this directive the mission of the Luftwaffe was (1) to neutralize the Royal Air Force in the Channel area where the crossing was to take place; (2) to protect the cross-Channel transportation movement against attack by British naval forces; and (3) to support the landing by attacking the British coastal defences and ground forces.

A slightly bizarre episode, as described by general Warlimont (head of the Abteilung Landesverteidigung or “Chef L”) in a report to the OKW about an inspection trip to the coast, occurred on 19 Sept. when Lutftlotte 2 held a conference concerning in particular the role of Richthofen’s VIIIth Fliegerkorps. To quote from Klee (p. 85-86):
“In connection with this question, the Commanding General of the VIII Air Corps suggested that, if possible, only one army corps be shipped across the Channel in the initial stage to make it possible to provide stronger air support for this corps. The Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff who attended this conference agreed to this suggestion …”
If Richthofen could so casually suggest, at this late date, to reduce the initial landing forces of 16th Army by half, and was even backed by Jeschonnek, that would indicate, IMHO, that neither had given the matter much serious thought until then. Warlimont according to his report strongly disagreed and pointed out the reasons why the first wave needed to be as strong as possible.
“After that, the suggestion made by General von Richthofen was not considered anymore.”

Be that as it may, from the documents collected by Klee it appears that the general plan was that Luftflotte 2 would support 16th Army on the right while Luftflotte 3 would support 9th Army on the left.
VIII. Fliegerkorps would initially provide support up the line Faversham-Lenham-Goudhurst-Mayfield, and II. FK to the north of that line, the latter with the main task of preventing British ground forces from reaching the front. The 9th Fliegerdivision meanwhile would protect the right flank, principally by “bottling up” the Royal Navy in ports by dropping mines, starting a day or two before S-Day.

Similarly, in the zone of 9th Army I. FK (which had been put under command of LF3 in exchange for VIII. FK but remained in situ, HQ at Beauvais) would support the landings up to the line Winchester-Reigate, roughly. The proposed roles of IV. and V. FK are not known, AFAIK, but it seems likely that one, or both if required, were tasked to defend the left flank of the invasion against naval attack.

Luftflotte 5 in Norway Denmark had by mid-September been stripped of its bomber units (KG 26 and 30, which went to LF 2) and had only a handful of fighter planes left for local protection of airfields and coastal traffic. Its reconnaissance and naval (Küstenflieger) units would keep an eye on the Home Fleet and assist the Kriegsmarine’s diversionary operation (Operation Herbstreise).

It should be noted in this context that VIII. FK was not as strong as it had been, apart from some reconnaissance aircraft only StG 77 (with three Gruppen) and III./StG 1 were left, with perhaps 150 Ju 87B/R in all. Stab and I./StG 1, plus IV./LG 1 (with Ju 87R) were with the II. Fliegerkorps, II./StG 1 was with the V. FK. The whole of StG 2 (Stab and three Gruppen) was with the IV. FK. So were the Stab and the single Gruppe of StG 3 (the II. and III. Gruppe were formed in 1942). From this redistribution of Stukas we might tentatively deduce that IV. FK would be the main force protecting the flank, including attacks on Portsmouth and any ships coming from there, which is the assumption on the map below.

It looks like a neat geographical division of responsibilities. Of course Geschwader or whole Fliegerkorps could and would have been switched to other targets as operational necessity dictated.
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Bergedorf
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Bergedorf » 10 May 2018 21:17

The proposed roles of IV. and V. FK are not known,
they are... main tasks:
IV. FK: fighting naval forces in harbours and sea (western channel)
V. FK: the same within the channel
and many minor tasks

seperating line between IV. FK and V. FK:
Troyes (V)- Sens (IV)- Melesherbes (V)- Angersville (V)- Argentan (IV) - Coutances (V)- Küste - C.d.l.Hague (V)- Bristol (IV)-
Gloucester (IV)- Cheltenham (V) - Evesham (IV) - Stratfort on Avon (V)
For fighting naval forces: St. Brieue - Torquay

between V FK and I. FK:
Eprnay (I)-Montmoreney (V)- Lauf der Seine bis Rouen und und Ort Rouen (V) - Fecamp (V)- Portsmouth(V)-
Winchester (I)- Basingstoke (V)- Willesden (I)
For fighting naval forces: Dieppe-Bognor
It should be noted in this context that VIII. FK was not as strong as it had been, apart from some reconnaissance aircraft only StG 77 (with three Gruppen) and III./StG 1 were left, with perhaps 150 Ju 87B/R in all.
Can´t confirm that. You are using Battle of Britain OOBs, which are differnt to "Seelöwe"-OOBs. VIII. FK should have 9 Stukagruppen according to a meeting between AOK 16 and Kesselring. IV./LG 1 was loaned to 9. Fliegerdivision. I don´t know if that would have changed for Sealion, or if this was a new planning step after the meeting...

Knouterer
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Knouterer » 11 May 2018 10:31

Thanks for the info Dirk, we need a different map then, no problem ... so it looks as if V. FK is responsible for a fairly wide stretch of the Channel, including on the British side the naval bases of Portsmouth and Portland. Strength of this Fliegerkorps was as follows as of 7 Sept, as far as I have been able to figure out:

V. Fliegerkorps, General der Flieger R. Ritter von Greim, HQ Villacoublay (near Paris)
Geschwader Gruppen Type Aircraft Serviceable
KG 51 I, II, III Ju 88A 94 45
KG 54 I, II, KGr 806 Ju 88A 91 54
KG 55 I, II, III He 111H/P 88 68
II./StG 1 Ju 87 43 29
4.(F)/14 Bf 110, Do 17 12 9
4.(F)/121 Ju 88, Do 17 13 5

Looking at this map it is clear that many of the bombers would be operating far outside the effective range of the Bf 109 fighters, which in any case would all be needed to provide cover over the landing beaches.

The zone of I. FK includes, it seems, Aldershot Command with large troop concentrations, and also (most of) VII Corps, the main counterattacking formation.

To the planners, insofar as they had a realistic view of the situation, the Luftwaffe must have seemed like a blanket that is just to small to keep you warm on a cold night; if you pull it over you on one side, you're exposed on the other ...
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Bergedorf
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Bergedorf » 11 May 2018 17:09

Hi Gerard,

I am not sure about the Stuka. An LF 3 - order dated 13.09.1940 puts Stukageschwader 3 with I./St.G. 1 and II./St.G. 2 under V. FK. but FK I talls AOK 9 that at 17.09.40 that they have 2 Stukagruppen an an I. FK - order dated 19.09.1940 has St.G. 3 under I. FK

Knouterer
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Knouterer » 12 May 2018 09:33

It does seem that the intention was to reinforce FK VIII again if Sea Lion had been launched. Wheatley (p. 163) quotes German sources to the effect that on 14 Sept. FK VIII had 230 dive bombers, of which 177 serviceable, while the total at that date was 440, of which 340 serviceable. With 11 Gruppen in existence, that’s exactly 40 (31 serviceable) per Gruppe.
That seems on the high side for that date. Perhaps the fighter bombers of ErProGr 210 and I. and II./LG 2 are counted as "dive bombers" in these totals? I.(J)/LG 2 was equipped with E-7s from late August, but flew its first bomber attack on 4 Oct.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Bergedorf
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Bergedorf » 12 May 2018 16:48

On 28th September 1940 the whole Luftwaffe had 428 (368 serviceable) Ju 87 with 344 (327) crews.

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Alexandra W
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Re: Operation Sealion - RAF and Luftwaffe Plans & Preparations

Post by Alexandra W » 20 May 2018 11:38

Knouterer wrote:It is difficult to find out what the Luftwaffe was actually planning to do if Hitler had given the order to launch Sea Lion, among other things because the LW’s archives were largely destroyed at the end of the war. It is clear that at the top there was little real enthusiasm for the plan, Göring even declared at one point in September that preparations for Seelöwe should not be allowed to hamper or constrain the Luftwaffe’s operations (DRZW, Vol. 2, p. 390-391).

Kesselring, whose Luftflotte 2 would have had the main role, even wrote in his memoirs that “Air Fleet chiefs were completely excluded from such planning and preparation for Sea Lion as there was.” (p. 83). However, he wrote that shortly after the war, when he was in prison and did not have access to German documents, and it seems possible that his memories were somewhat affected or distorted by the many dramatic events he had been through since 1940, including his being sentenced to death.

Karl Klee’s work (from 1955) on the role of the LW in Sea Lion, which unfortunately seems to be available only in an incomplete English translation, mentions (p. 205) a “tentative combat directive” issued by Luftflotte 2 on 17 September, two days before the OKW issued orders to halt all further movement of shipping towards the jumping-off ports. According to this directive the mission of the Luftwaffe was (1) to neutralize the Royal Air Force in the Channel area where the crossing was to take place; (2) to protect the cross-Channel transportation movement against attack by British naval forces; and (3) to support the landing by attacking the British coastal defences and ground forces.

A slightly bizarre episode, as described by general Warlimont (head of the Abteilung Landesverteidigung or “Chef L”) in a report to the OKW about an inspection trip to the coast, occurred on 19 Sept. when Lutftlotte 2 held a conference concerning in particular the role of Richthofen’s VIIIth Fliegerkorps. To quote from Klee (p. 85-86):
“In connection with this question, the Commanding General of the VIII Air Corps suggested that, if possible, only one army corps be shipped across the Channel in the initial stage to make it possible to provide stronger air support for this corps. The Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff who attended this conference agreed to this suggestion …”
If Richthofen could so casually suggest, at this late date, to reduce the initial landing forces of 16th Army by half, and was even backed by Jeschonnek, that would indicate, IMHO, that neither had given the matter much serious thought until then. Warlimont according to his report strongly disagreed and pointed out the reasons why the first wave needed to be as strong as possible.
“After that, the suggestion made by General von Richthofen was not considered anymore.”

Be that as it may, from the documents collected by Klee it appears that the general plan was that Luftflotte 2 would support 16th Army on the right while Luftflotte 3 would support 9th Army on the left.
VIII. Fliegerkorps would initially provide support up the line Faversham-Lenham-Goudhurst-Mayfield, and II. FK to the north of that line, the latter with the main task of preventing British ground forces from reaching the front. The 9th Fliegerdivision meanwhile would protect the right flank, principally by “bottling up” the Royal Navy in ports by dropping mines, starting a day or two before S-Day.

Similarly, in the zone of 9th Army I. FK (which had been put under command of LF3 in exchange for VIII. FK but remained in situ, HQ at Beauvais) would support the landings up to the line Winchester-Reigate, roughly. The proposed roles of IV. and V. FK are not known, AFAIK, but it seems likely that one, or both if required, were tasked to defend the left flank of the invasion against naval attack.

Luftflotte 5 in Norway Denmark had by mid-September been stripped of its bomber units (KG 26 and 30, which went to LF 2) and had only a handful of fighter planes left for local protection of airfields and coastal traffic. Its reconnaissance and naval (Küstenflieger) units would keep an eye on the Home Fleet and assist the Kriegsmarine’s diversionary operation (Operation Herbstreise).

It should be noted in this context that VIII. FK was not as strong as it had been, apart from some reconnaissance aircraft only StG 77 (with three Gruppen) and III./StG 1 were left, with perhaps 150 Ju 87B/R in all. Stab and I./StG 1, plus IV./LG 1 (with Ju 87R) were with the II. Fliegerkorps, II./StG 1 was with the V. FK. The whole of StG 2 (Stab and three Gruppen) was with the IV. FK. So were the Stab and the single Gruppe of StG 3 (the II. and III. Gruppe were formed in 1942). From this redistribution of Stukas we might tentatively deduce that IV. FK would be the main force protecting the flank, including attacks on Portsmouth and any ships coming from there, which is the assumption on the map below.

It looks like a neat geographical division of responsibilities. Of course Geschwader or whole Fliegerkorps could and would have been switched to other targets as operational necessity dictated.
Jeschonnek, as the chief of operation staff, assigned Hellmuth Felmy, who would later be the first chief of Luftflotte 2, a task to study on preparation of a war against western countries on Feb 1938. Felmy gave the conclusion that consider the resources they had they can do no more than harassment. When Jeschonnek became the chief of General Staff he had a discussion with Felmy in his office on May and the latter was assigned to make the plan on air war against England. After a war game conducted by Luftflotte 2 the department 1 concluded that Luftflotte 2 cannot have any decisive impact on the war towards England in short time.

And also a notable thing is that the first Chief of General Staff Walther Wever, who was also Jeschonnek’s protector, was a firm Nazi supporter and had actually read Mein Kämpf. Apparently they knew way before army officers what Hitler really want.

Under these circumstances, I’d be surprised if those Luftwaffe guys were very enthusiastic about Sea Lion......

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