Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Bomber crew survival rates during the war

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by buckusmc, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    7,904
    Likes Received:
    1,687
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    The myth went that redesigning the Me262 as a bomber caused significant delays in it's production. Hence, it became operational too late to make a difference to the outcome of WW2. This has been put forth by Galland, Speer, and Milch, amongst others.
     
  2. brianw

    brianw Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Bridgend, Mid Glam.
    It is a matter of record, as told by Adolf Galland of his arguments with Hitler over releasing the Me262 as a fighter in the first instance, but Hitler seemed to be obsessed with putting bomb racks on it. Galland did eventually get his way and was given a small number to use in the interceptor duty, if I remember the interview correctly, just two squadrons, but not in large enough numbers to really make that much of a difference to the final outcome, and anyway, Nazi Germany by that time didn't really need a large bomber force.
     
  3. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    7,904
    Likes Received:
    1,687
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Galland's autobiography and interviews are, shall we say, self serving. Gallant formed JV44 long after Hitler rescinded his bomber directive.
     
  4. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    215
    It wasn't that putting bomb racks on a ME 262 would prevent it from being used as a fighter, it meant that the aircraft would be issued to a bomber formation and thus not be used as a fighter. There was an internal LW control battle going on over the use of the 262 that involved Galland, Milch, Goring, Hitler, and some bomber types on just how and who would get priority issue of the craft. So, every 262 that went to a bomber unit was one less the fighter boys got to hit back at the bombers. (Actually, Hitler's actual order stated that for every two 262s that were produced, one would be released as a fighter.) This order was only in effect only for about six weeks but at that point in the war any delay would have been crucial. However, getting (more or less) reliable mass produced engines and retraining ground crews AND transitioning pilots from 400mph piston engine a/c to 500+ mph jets were factors that also delayed getting the 262 into an effective fighter. Given the factors of developing a revolutionary aircraft, internal control battles within the LW, Hitler's interference, transitioning problems, bombing of production facilities, etc. its almost a miracle that any 262s got into combat!
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,795
    Likes Received:
    655
    The roots of the myth seem to be Hitler's remarks of 20 December 1943 when he said they would be valuable attacking the anticipated invasion and ordered further development of the bomber version, i.e., the Me 262 A-2, and the fact that the first Me 262 unit operational was a converted bomber unit, 3./KG 51. However, they were operational with the ME 262 A-1 fighters and did not receive any of the A-2 until November 1944.

    Meanwhile, Galland's JV 44 was the latecomer to the party. It was formed 10.1.45 at Brandenburg-Briest, two months after JG 7 began converting and just two weeks before the first night fighter conversion began with 10./NJG 11. Even the reconnaissance units predated him, NAGr. 6 began converting in December 1944.

    So I suspect it was also sour grapes on Galland's part, along with an effort to pump up his importance.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    215
    Actually, KG 51, a ME 262 bomber group was formed in July of '44. Ekdo 262 was activated about the same time but morphed into Kommando Nowotny in September. This became III/Jg7 in November. JV 44 was established on 5 February '45.

    Hitler's remarks in December, 1943 were ignored by Milch and Galland which led to the now-famous Hitler tirade ordering all 262s to be bombers when he found that out. Milch was fired after remarking that "Even an idiot could see that this plane was a fighter!" in Hitler's presence. Galland was relieved of his position (General of Fighters) soon after and then went on to form JG44.
     
  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,795
    Likes Received:
    655
    Why yes, as I mentioned, 3./KG 51 was the first operational Me 262 unit. However, it was not formed in July of 1944, the original 3./KG 51 was formed 1 May 1939 at Landsberg-Lech. It converted from the Me 410 A to the Me 262 A in June 1944 and transferred to Chateaudun as Kommando Schenk with nine Me 262 A on 20 July 1944. The rest of I./KG 51 remained at Schwäbisch-Hall. However, it was not a "ME 262 bomber group" until November 1944, since all of its aircraft were Me 262 A1, which were fighters. The first operational Me 262 A-2 unit was I./KG 54, re-equipped at Giebelstadt beginning 22 August 1944.

    Yes, Thierfelder's Ekdo 262 was organized in April 1944 at Lechfeld, but was not an operational unit. The Erprobungskommando were units organized to test new aircraft under operational conditions, but were not themselves operational units. It was disbanded and reorganized as Kommando Nowotny on 26 September 1944 at Achmer and Hesepe, using personnel from the disbanded III./ZG 26. It became operational 3 October 1944 and was redesignated as III./JG 7 on 19 November 1944.

    ISTR Milch was fired for siding with Goebbels and Himmler against Goering? In any case, his responsibility for developing, testing, and producing aircraft for the Luftwaffe as Generalluftzeugmeister and Staatssekretär im RLM ended on 20 June 1944, which was apparently the date of Hitler's "tirade". Meanwhile, Galland was not transferred to the Fuehrer Reserve (i.e., relieved of his position as General der Jagdflieger (L.In. 3)/RLM) until 23 January 1945 and was appointed Kommandeure JV 44 on 1 February 1945.
     
  8. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    215
    Galland's professional downfall was rather slow compared to Milch's. Before being actually fired he was increasingly bypassed and isolated. The excuse was that his trial "Big Blow" had failed. However, a cabal of officers around Goring were also lobbying for his dismissal so one of them could have the job. After Galland was sacked some high ranking fighter leaders jumped on Goring, demanding he reinstate Galland and approve other reforms. Goring rejected all demands and threatened them with execution. This became known as the "Kommodores Rebellion" Thinking Galland had initiated it, Goring tried to court-martial Galland and have him executed and use him as a scapegoat for the failures of the fighter arm. Galland at this point was contemplating suicide but was stopped by Hitler and was given JG44 to keep him busy and out of the way. So perhaps my use of the word "soon" wasn't the best choice.

    However, I've always felt that an Ekdo was indeed an operational unit since they carried out combat ops. it just was a temporary operational unit.
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,795
    Likes Received:
    655
    The "Kommodores Rebellion"? That's such a mess of "he saids" without much documentation that its almost impossible now to sat what really happened. For example, we don't know the date of the rebellion. Some say it led to Galland's relief, while other's say Galland's relief is what sparked it.

    According to many accounts Johannes Steinhoff was relieved as Kommodore of JG 7 because of his participation in the revolt...except he was relieved 26 December 1944, 28 days before Galland's relief.
    Hannes Trautloff was relieved as Inspekteur der Tagjagd...well that checks, he was relieved 26 January 1945, three days after Galland, but retained his position as Kommandeure 4. Flieger-Schul-Division.
    Günther Lützow was "relieved of his command and sent to Italy" (according to the Wiki account...I know :rolleyes:), appointed Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien...except he was never actually Kommandeure of Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien. His last actual appointment I can trace was as Kommandeure 4. Flieger-Schul-Division until he was relieved by Hannes Trautloff on 10 November 1944. He appears to have had no official appointment from then until he joined JV 44 and I suspect he was in the Führer Reserve in the interim for whatever reason.
    The actual Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien was Eduard Neumann, who was also supposedly a member of the revolt. He was appointed c. 27 September 1944, then promoted to Oberst on 1 October and reappointed to the post in January 1945. He was relieved of the post as punishment though...he held it until the end of the war in Italy.

    Some of the other Kommodores supposedly in the "revolt" are even odder. Take Josef Priller. He was actually promoted from Kommodore JG 26 to Inspekteur der Tagjäger West on 28 January 1945...an odd "punishment". Or Hermann Graf. He was Kommodore JG 52, a post he held to the end of the war, and was promoted to Oberst on 30 January 1945, another odd punishment. Gustav-Siegfried Rödel is yet another supposed participant in the revolt, who was appointed Kommandeure 2. Jagddivision on 1 January 1945...and also held that position to the end of the war. Yet another odd form of punishment. Gerhard Michalski? Same story, Kommodore JG 4, promoted to Oberstleutnant on 1 January, and retained his position to the end of the war.

    It's kind of the same with Galland's "Great Blow"...the idea was a non-starter from the beginning since the Luftwaffe was never going to have that many fighters available. And his supposed "tests" in November 1944 were apparently all-out efforts to stop the Eighth Air Force assault on the synthetic fuel plants. They would have played out the same whether or not they were part of a "test".

    Unfortunately, too much of Galland's story reads like the typical German general's apologia.

    Well, it was kind of difficult for the Luftwaffe to do operational testing without getting involved in actual operations non and then. After all, there wasn't much airspace in the Reich in 1944-45 that didn't have enemy aircraft overflying it. :D However, it was a temporary testing unit, not an operational unit. None of the various aircraft or equipment Ekdo were intended as operational units even if they occasionally got involved in operations.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,230
    Location:
    Michigan
    With regards to bombers being shot down; I remember looking at some stats from the Med and in many cases both fighters and flak were credited with the loss. I.e. one or the other damaged the bomber and the other finished it off.

    In regards to the Me-262 it's worth noting that the engineer in charge of the engines didn't think they were ready for mass production even at the end of the war. None of the aforementioned political infighting would seem to have had much impact on the engine reliability which was the main problem as I understand it.
     
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    215
    "...typical German general's apologia." What did he have to apologize for? Galland himself has written that there were certain things he could have done better or that he was wrong but that could be said about any general in any war. Galland tried his best to stop the bombing however,he had a position of responsibility but little authority over operations. He was a desperate man in a desperate situation so I think during the war he clutched at any straw that seemed to hold up the possibility of salvation of his country.

    On ekdos: We may be using different definitions of "operational unit" here. If by that term one means that it is an established squadron or group, then you are correct. If an operational unit means that it's a unit that engages in combat ops, then I feel I'm right. I believe one of the Ekdo's duties was to fly new machines in combat so as to get a feel for what tactics would be most appropriate against enemy aircraft.

    To lwd: On your first paragraph you are correct. The LW employed "clean-up crew" (usually a few newbies with an experienced leader) flying at lower levels to shoot down bombers that had been damaged and dropped out of formation so that they couldn't limp home.
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,795
    Likes Received:
    655
    Fair that, a poor choice of words on my part perhaps. He wasn't apologizing per se, but he sounds like Manstein, Guderian, Speer, et al in that he is speaking from memory, rather than from the records, and perhaps remembering selectively. It may have been partly deliberate in that everybody loves a good anecdote and loves telling them or it may have been inadvertent.

    I simply question, from the records, who exactly was "punished" for "revolting" against Goering, how widespread the "revolt" actually was, and who actually stood shoulder to shoulder with Galland against Goering. The evidence is that aside from Galland, Hannes Trautloff was relieved about that time. Trautloff was subordinate to Galland in (L.In. 3)/RLM so it looks like the dispute and reliefs were actually confined to that office rather than a Jagdflieger-wide "purge" as most seem to envision.

    Yes, I suspect we are hair-splitting, but that is half the fun of these discussions. :D
     
  13. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    215
    I think one of the problems bedeviling historians and those writing their memoirs , especially of the LW, is that so many records were destroyed at the end of the war. I have this picture in my head of Soviet soldiers going through the wreckage in Berlin and using all those documents for toilet paper! Which points to another question: How many of those documents ended up in Soviet hands?
     
  14. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,795
    Likes Received:
    655
    So not the Soviets, but the Germans. :) At this point, some of the most extensive Luftwaffe "archives" are the ULTRA decrypts held in the HW series at Kew.
     

Share This Page