They were routinely used to bomb frontline targets to grease the wheels of breakthrough operations, like a Soviet Artillery Corps in the late war or the massed bombing prior to CW operations at Caen 1944. They were also used to disrupt or completely ruin soviet offensive concentrations. The main difference in 1941 and 1942 was that bombing sorties became heavily centralized in Luftflotte IV instead of spread out in Barbarossa . In 1941 there is evidence in divisional histories of them performing refueling-rearming operations for forward German panzer divisions by landing or airdropping canisters with supplies. The Demyansk pocket was supported by the Luftwaffe's re-supply operations (which lead to the even larger resupply operations at Stalingrad and late war operations eg. Korsun pocket). Medium bombers were converted into supply transport.Cult Icon wrote: ↑09 Oct 2019 14:00The german luftwaffe's bombers were primary deployed as CAS (Close air support role). This was a major part of german offensive operations until late 1942, where up to 3,000 sorties a day were generated (maximum being at Stalingrad). The crimea campaign of 1942 was heavily reliant on air support at the 2,000 +/-/per day range.
The typical formula was to concentrate all air support in one small area (Fliegerkorps staff would observe and coordinate- there were also air liaison officers mounted in their own communications SPW and allocated to divisions) in order to facilitate an army, korps, or division sized attack.
A great first book on the subject is "Stopped at Stalingrad" by Hayward.
Of the victories I mentioned, the result for the Axis was heavily if not fully reliant on the german air superiority.
-encirclement of 2nd Shock Army
-2nd Battle of Kharkov (helping hard pressed german divisions survive and severely disrupting soviet armored and infantry echelons from breaking through, then performing massed airstrikes in the german counteroffensive.)
-Crimea campaign (Kerch, Sevastopol) (The Kerch operation was not possible without the massed aerial assault right before the breakthrough attacks. The 11th Army failed for months to break through and it took Manstein's office politics to move the rebuilt and rearmed "Case Blue" Luftwaffe down south to provide support. Then, it was allocated to support the reduction of the Sevastopol fortress)
-tactical successes in Blau I/II , Advance to Stalingrad (particularly battles around the Don Bend). Assault on Stalingrad to Nov 1942. (Massed airpower repeatedly used to secure breakthroughs or disrupt massed soviet counter-offensives with armored and/or infantry numerical superiority. In Stalingrad itself the northern front was held by two hard-pressed german korps and air support helped them hold out)
"Death of a Leaping Horseman" and other books by Jason Mark have a very detailed tactical account of infantry, armored, and air support operations, "Confronting Case Blue", "Stalingrad Trilogy, Glantz", books on Kerch/Sevastopol like "Where Iron Crosses Grow", etc etc... "The Bloody Triangle" covered the Soviet POV of German airpower in the big armored battles in the Ukraine 1941.