Why would you include 8th air corps? They were in the south. What were the sorties of each? That would be pretty important to understanding what sort of air support could be had around Orel and Belgorod respectively. Assuming it is equally split each section of the front had at most only 2,225 sorties were flown in support of 9th army during Citadel, which means that is the max that could be expected per day defending Orel from TTL's Kutuzov offensive.Cult Icon wrote: ↑01 Dec 2021 15:13Defense of Orel: Averages 1,141 sorties a day/37 days historically.
If I cut the timeframe off by 2 days: 12 July- August 18 1943, the average between the two operations combined is 1,426 sorties a day/37 days.
The maximum combined air support of 1st Flieger-division and Fliegerkorps VIII (July 5th 1943) was in the region of 4,450 sorties/day.
Which would be huge given that the Soviets employed 3 air armies for Kutuzov. Granted 16th army army was fought during Citadel already, but having the entire strength ready to go without air losses and operating over its own territory was a big advantage to generate extra sorties and recover shot down pilots...as well as deny Soviets pilot recovery and cost them potential sorties by flying further to their targets while exposing them to FLAK that they did not face when defending. Given the advantages conferred on the defender by radar and FLAK in addition to potentially being able to launch more sorties due to shorter turn around time, that would be a major advantage.Cult Icon wrote: ↑01 Dec 2021 15:13With the addition of 28,000 Citadel sorties the total between the two operations is 82,620 sorties.
If the Citadel sorties are conserved, and then expended against an alternate Orel Operation the air support would hover at elevated levels for up to 2 additional weeks instead of dropping off as it did.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation ... ry_actions
Though the next part of the paragraph has some interesting details that may explain why 9th army had a harder time than Manstein's corps:In the early morning of 5 July, the VVS launched a large raid against German airfields, hoping to destroy the Luftwaffe on the ground. This effort failed, and the Red Army air units suffered considerable losses. The VVS lost 176 aircraft on 5 July, compared to the 26 aircraft lost by the Luftwaffe. The losses of the VVS 16th Air Army operating in the northern face were lighter than those suffered by the 2nd Air Army.
Sounds like the Luftwaffe needed the advantages of defense to have a shot of maintaining air parity in this scenario.The Luftwaffe was able to gain and maintained air superiority over the southern face until 10–11 July, when the VVS began to obtain ascendency  but the control of the skies over the northern face was evenly contested until the VVS began to gain air superiority on 7 July, which it maintained for the rest of the operation.