The German Air Force vs. Russia, 1941
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The volumes of graduates were such that many were not made officers, so as not to inflate staff levels. Not all of the young pilots were professionals. This had already become clear during the Soviet-Finnish War, when a small Finnish air force caused serious problems for the Soviet Air Force, despite its overwhelming numerical superiority. However, the question of why was such a tragic year for the Soviet Air Force is more complicated.
It should be borne in mind that creation of a full-fledged air force in the USSR began just 10 years before the war. Aviation plants were often built on greenfield sites and had neither sufficient materials nor the necessary number of qualified engineers and workers. Aviation is among the most technically complex types of modern weaponry. Building top class aviation assets requires a well-developed chemical industry, electronics and metallurgy. All this was also created in the Soviet Union on a just-in-time basis. Designers studied largely on the basis of trial and error.
Disadvantages of aircraft engines limited their freedom of action, and attempts to resolve these issues in the short term led to grave consequences. The lack of qualified commanding staff was another major problem. Stalinist repression did not create the problem, but it certainly exacerbated it. Training and combat experience of the Soviet pilots were not at a high enough level and they were still absorbing lessons learned during combat on the side of Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War a few years earlier.
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Hitler brought Great Britain relief by turning eastward and invading the Soviet Union just as the strain on Britain was becoming severe. The invasion along a 1,mile front took the Soviet leadership completely by surprise and caught the Red Army in an unprepared and partially demobilized state.
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The Soviet armies were clumsily handled and frittered their tank strength away in piecemeal action like that of the French in But the isolated Soviet troops fought with a stubbornness that the French had not shown, and their resistance imposed a brake by continuing to block road centres long after the German tide had swept past them.
By mid-July, moreover, a series of rainstorms were turning the sandy Russian roads into clogging mud, over which the wheeled vehicles of the German transport behind the tanks could make only very slow progress. The Germans also began to be hampered by the scorched earth policy adopted by the retreating Soviets. The Soviet troops burned crops, destroyed bridges , and evacuated factories in the face of the German advance.
Sowing the Wind: The First Soviet-German Military Pact and the Origins of World War II
Entire steel and munitions plants in the westernmost portions of the U. The Soviets also destroyed or evacuated most of their rolling stock railroad cars , thus depriving the Germans of the use of the Soviet rail system, since Soviet railroad track was of a different gauge than German track and German rolling stock was consequently useless on it. Nevertheless, by mid-July the Germans had advanced more than miles and were only miles from Moscow. In the Ukraine, meanwhile, Rundstedt and Kleist had made short work of the foremost Soviet defenses, stronger though the latter had been.
Kleist was then ordered to wheel northward from the Ukraine, Guderian southward from Smolensk, for a pincer movement around the Soviet forces behind Kiev; and by the end of September the claws of the encircling movement had caught , men. These gigantic encirclements were partly the fault of inept Soviet high commanders and partly the fault of Stalin, who as commander in chief stubbornly overrode the advice of his generals and ordered his armies to stand and fight instead of allowing them to retreat eastward and regroup in preparation for a counteroffensive.
He ordered Rundstedt and Kleist, however, to press on from the Dnieper toward the Don and the Caucasus; and Bock was to resume the advance on Moscow. That left the Germans momentarily with an almost clear path to Moscow.
But the Vyazma battle had not been completed until late October; the German troops were tired, the country became a morass as the weather got worse, and fresh Soviet forces appeared in the path as they plodded slowly forward. Some of the German generals wanted to break off the offensive and to take up a suitable winter line.
The Luftwaffe supported all three army groups in their push eastward and it helped the ground forces achieve a spectacular victory at Kiev in which an estimated , Red Army soldiers were killed or captured. The impact of the Luftwaffe during these months was critical to the pace of the advance. During the Battle of Kiev the Luftwaffe accounted for 2, Soviet vehicles and 23 Soviet tanks , and Soviet aircraft destroyed between 12—21 September , and inflicted heavy casualties to the Soviet ground troops.
Soviet prisoners revealed that the Stuka attacks in particular devastated morale. But the drive toward Moscow was halted during the two-month campaign, giving the defenders of the Soviet capital time to prepare defenses and move an enormous amount of industry eastward. Several other Soviet ships were sunk in this engagement.
The Soviet Navy suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the war. The Luftwaffe was losing as many aircraft damaged than in combat. The Wehrmacht was now pushing toward Moscow and the Luftwaffe delivered its first raids over the capital but caused little damage.
The Russians however were reinforced with fresh forces from Siberia including significant numbers of the T tanks and nearly 1, aircraft. The Russian counter-attack, despite Luftwaffe intervention, succeeded in pushing the Germans back in December, saving Moscow and cutting off large parts of Army Group Centre. Faced with annihilation of its forces in the central sector, the Luftwaffe was ordered to increase its efforts, and it managed to prevent the destruction of the central front forces.
The VVS now had numerical superiority. The failure of the Luftwaffe during Barbarossa was reflected in its losses, with 2, aircraft of all types being destroyed. Losses in personnel were also high and irreplaceable with 3, killed, 2, missing and 8, wounded. The campaign in Russia had commenced with an insufficient number of combat aircraft.lentireenling.tk
The Soviet Airforce Versus The Luftwaffe
The reduction in serviceable aircraft, in particular dive-bombers, meant medium bomber and fighter-bomber units were rushing to 'hot-spots' to prevent enemy gains. The Wehrmacht's failure to achieve victory in the Soviet Union before was not a complete disaster for the German war effort as on all fronts the Germans still held the strategic initiative. Hitler had stated that he would avoid a war on two fronts and knew he needed to end the war on the Eastern Front before the Americans built up significant strength in Europe.
Hitler and the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht OKW had decided that the main offensive effort of the Wehrmacht should fall in the south, to capture or cut off the Caucasus oil fields from the rest of Russia, then move north out-flanking Moscow from the south. Conquering the Caucasus would also doom the considerable Soviet forces holding Sevastopol in the Crimea.
The operation became known as Operation Fall Blau. The Luftwaffe assisted with the capture of Sevastopol by subjecting Soviet defenses in and around the city to heavy assault, the bombings mainly carried out by Luftflotte 4.
World War II - Invasion of the Soviet Union, | lipmaecari.tk
The Luftwaffe had effectively dealt with Soviet opposition in the air, the VVS force of had been destroyed leaving the Luftwaffe to operate unmolested, with air support the city fell on 4 July With the Eastern Front largely quiet in early , the Luftwaffe was able to concentrate its forces, as it had done in previous campaigns. The Russians also lacked adequate air cover in the Crimea, allowing the Luftwaffe to avoid the time consuming task of achieving air superiority.
During the summer offensive the Luftwaffe would find itself increasingly spread thin on the eastern front while contesting powerful numerical forces of the VVS. The Luftwaffe was also instrumental in the Second Battle of Kharkov destroying enemy airpower of aircraft whilst destroying hundreds of tanks. The German air-arm had helped the Army achieve another spectacular victory. As Fall Blau began the Luftwaffe wiped out the strong contingent of VVS forces and were instrumental in disrupting supply lines and destroying enemy troop and vehicle concentrations. By 19 November, 2, Soviet aircraft were destroyed.
In the opening month the Luftwaffe lost aircraft but the advance was in full swing and the Germans looked set to take the Kuban food producing region and the Baku oil fields. Due to appalling losses Soviet resistance in the air was radically reduced in August.
From February—August the Germans had sunk 68 freighters, a flotilla leader, three destroyers and three submarines. As the Battle of Stalingrad got underway the Luftwaffe was now operating often from poor airfields, which caused accidents and damaged aircraft, which the Luftwaffe could ill afford.
As a result of the bombing of Stalingrad, which was largely destroyed, the Luftwaffe created ruins in which the Red Army could defend effectively. The bomber units had been hardest hit having only out of a force of left. The Russian output of aircraft continued unabated—no matter how many enemy machines were destroyed, more appeared, while its own much smaller losses, particularly among the crews, were becoming serious.
The Luftwaffe's Sturzkampfgeschwader made maximum effort during this phase of the war flying sorties per day and causing heavy losses among Soviet forces losing just an average of one Stuka per day. Hans Jeschonnek also convinced Hitler that if both bombers and transports were used and the airfields in and outside the pocket were maintained the operation was possible. The Luftwaffe had managed to evacuate 30, wounded German soldiers, and supply the Army with 8, However some aircraft, including Junkers Ju 52 transports one-third of the Luftwaffe's Eastern Front strength and Heinkel He s were lost.
The Luftwaffe also suffered casualties of nearly 1, airmen, many highly experienced bomber pilots. Despite the disaster at Stalingrad the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht decided to launch another offensive in the summer of in which Hitler had hoped would cut off the large salient now protruding into the German front, eliminating the large Soviet Forces within it and turning the tide once more into the Wehrmacht's favour. This new operation was named Operation Citadel , which became the Battle of Kursk.
To support the ground forces the Luftwaffe committed I. Fliegerkorps and VIII. Fliegerkorps under Luftflotte 6 and Luftflotte 4 under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim and Generalfeldmarschall Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen respectively.