The air battles of February and March had gone far towards establishing air supremacy over the continent. The basic issue now was how the Allies could best utilize that advantage. At this point, however, the air commanders could no longer claim that only their air forces could strike Nazi Germany. Victory in the Atlantic had enabled Britain and the United States to build up the land and naval power required to make an opposed landing on the coast of France a viable possibility. Debate centered on how the air forces, particularly the "strategic" bombers, could support overall strategy. The results of that debate in effect determined the success of D-day and led to the destruction of Germany's strategic position in western Europe.

On the German side, spring boded ill for the Third Reich. In Russia, its forces were in disarray; and in the Ukraine, Soviet armies were reaching towards Rumania and Hungary. Russian advances posed a direct threat to Germany's major source of crude oil and to the entire Balkan region, the raw materials of which were critical to the continued functioning of armaments production. Everywhere in Europe--from Russia to France, from Norway to Greece--resistance movements harried the German occupier. In France, the Germans faced an imminent invasion with little prospect of support from the Luftwaffe.

Hitler understood that a successful invasion of France would spell the doom of his regime. In a directive to the Wehrmacht, he claimed that Germany could lose territory in the east without such losses having a decisive impact on the war. In the west, however, the situation was different:

Should the enemy succeed in breaking our defenses on a wide front here, the immediate consequences would be unpredictable. Everything indicates that the enemy will launch an offensive against the western front of Europe, at the latest in the spring, perhaps even earlier. I can, therefore, no longer take responsibility for [the] further weakening of the west in favor of other theaters of [the] war.1

For defense of the west, Hitler relied on two of his foremost generals--Rundstedt and Rommel. The former, acclaimed as a master strategist, argued for a mobile defense of France that would trade territory for time and inflict heavy casualties on the attacker. Rommel, often criticized as having little grasp of strategic issues, argued that the Wehrmacht must defeat the invasion on the beaches before the Allies could consolidate a foothold. He warned, correctly as events turned out, that if the Wehrmacht could not hold the coast, air superiority would allow the Allies to build up their forces more quickly than a defender, harried by strikes against his


transportation networks.2 Hitler by vacillating between these two clear-cut strategies and by controlling the mobile reserves himself, in effect, hamstrung both strategies.

In the air, American fighters and bombers were close to breaking Germany's fighter forces. Bomber Command, however, had lost the initiative over the Reich. The night fighters had made the skies over central Europe so dangerous that the British could only risk their bombers on deep penetration raids in unusual circumstances. However, Bomber Command in western Europe was a most effective force. Although flying at night, it was capable of a precision that its commander denied it possessed and which was, in some respects, more accurate than the daylight "precision" attacks of American bombers within the range of navigational aids.3


On January 12, Air Marshal Arthur Harris fired the opening salvo in a prolonged debate over the role of "strategic" bombers in the coming invasion. "Overlord," Harris announced, "must now presumably be regarded as an inescapable commitment." He then pointed out that the "heavy bomber force has been developed as an independent strategic weapon" whose task was "the destruction of the enemy's industrial centers." He claimed that its specialized equipment and training allowed it to attack targets with efficiency and economy. After describing the limitations and navigational problems besetting his force, Harris laid out what his force could not do:

17. Consequently, anything like a planned schedule of bomber operations designed to give immediate assistance . . . to ground forces engaged in effecting a landing or operating in the field would be extremely unreliable and almost wholly futile . . . . In no circumstances could it be relied upon to destroy gun emplacements or cause noticeable casualties to defenders in slit trenches . . . . Nor is the heavy bomber force suitable for cutting railway communications at definite points. Indeed in Western Germany, France and the Low Countries, owing to the multiplication of roads and railways and the impossibility of maintaining the requisite continuity of action in the prevailing weather conditions, such a policy is probably impracticable with any type of bomber force . . . .

21. There could be no greater relief afforded Germany than the cessation or any ponderable reduction of the bombing of Germany proper. The entire country would go wild with a sense of relief and reborne hope . . . .

22. It is thus clear that the best and indeed the only efficient support which Bomber Command can give to OVERLORD is the intensification of attacks on suitable industrial centres in Germany as and when the opportunity offers. If we attempt to substitute for this process attacks on gun emplacements, beach defenses, communications or [ammunition] dumps in occupied territory, we shall commit the irremediable error of diverting our best weapons from the military function, for which it


has been equipped and trained, to tasks which it cannot effectively carry out. Though this might give a specious appearance of "supporting" the Army, in reality it would be the greatest disservice we could do to them.4

Harris, never known for understatement, was attempting to minimize the commitment of his command to "Overload." His strongest argument was that his forces with their training and doctrine could not effectively help the ground forces. Harris, however, already had evidence that heavy bombers could destroy gun emplacements (see Chapter VI). In the end, he did throw his forces into the campaign against the French transportation system. The reasons for his eventual acceptance of using Bomber Command in support of "Overlord," a course of action that he regarded with considerable distaste, were several. On one hand, his command had suffered terrible losses during the winter, and he seems to have been more amenable to Air Staff direction in the spring. The second factor pushing Harris towards compliance was an excellent political sense--he undoubtedly realized that "Overlord" represented a venture that either he supported or he risked losing his position.

The final element pushing Bomber Command towards support for the invasion was the fact that Harris' argument that his bombers could not attack precision targets in France was incorrect. The initial invasion plan had envisioned an extensive campaign against the transportation system of northern France, with the main target being railroad marshalling yards. The claims that Bomber Command was suitable only for "area" bombing had alarmed Churchill. If Harris were correct, those French living near the target areas were in great danger. As a result, in March, British bombers carried out test raids on six French towns. Using Oboe and new marking techniques, the raids succeeded beyond anyone's expectations.5 An attack on Vaires not only destroyed the railroad yards but occurred while troop trains of the Waffen SS division "Frundsberg" lay on sidings intermingled with several carloads of mines. The Germans collected nearly 1,200 identity disks from the Waffen SS dead.6 French casualties were minimal.

Establishment of a command system to control air assets in support of the invasion was a tortuous process. In 1943, Air Marshal Sir Trefford Leigh-Mallory received appointment as Commander, Allied Expeditionary Air Force. However, neither Spaatz nor Harris wished to subordinate their "strategic" bombers to a man possessing experience only with "tactical" aircraft. Eisenhower then appointed Tedder as his chief deputy, and Churchill's suggestion that the latter command all air assets in Britain might have removed some ambiguities in command relationships. As the official historians note: Had Churchill's suggestion been adopted, "orders and not ambassadors could have been sent to the strategic air forces."7 Churchill's proposal met strong resistance and an eventual compromise gave Tedder limited control over the bomber commands. He was to form the air plan in consultation with Harris and Spaatz, while Leigh-Mallory under Tedder's guidance would draw up the "tactical" air plans for "Overlord." Then Portal and Eisenhower, acting through the Chiefs of Staff, would see that the heavy bomber


assets required to support the invasion would be available.The command arrangements took a period of time to settle down and, although somewhat clumsy, the good sense of Allied commanders made them function.

Two considerable arguments occurred in the months before the invasion. The first was Churchill's continuing worry that tens of thousands of Frenchmen would die in attacks on the transportation system. Such casualties would have serious implications for future Anglo-French relations. While extensive arguments took place between Churchill and those favoring a bombing campaign against transportation targets, Bomber Command's accurate and precise destruction of French rail yards eventually alleviated the Prime Minister's doubts.9

The second argument was between advocates of the transportation plan and Spaatz's adherence to "Pointblank" objectives. The American commander, however, interjected a new element into the "strategic" bombing offensive by pushing Germany's oil industry to the top of his priority list. The tendency among some historians to see a clear delineation between the oil and transportation plans distorts what actually occurred. The plans were not contradictory, although the debate at the time tended to pose them as such. In fact, events proved the plans complementary. Spaatz, one of the more flexible and imaginative commanders in the war, had no serious qualms with the railroad plan. He noted in late February that he would have no quarrel with bombing railway targets if such attacks were to stimulate "the Luftwaffe to fight."10 He did, however, disagree with Leigh-Mallory's contention that the decisive air battle would be won over the beaches. Rather, he felt that Eighth Air Force's attacks on German aircraft plants had already helped establish air supremacy and that his oil plan would continue the process of attacking targets that forced the Luftwaffe to fight. His plan had one additional advantage. By destroying Germany's fuel sources, the Allies would eliminate Germany's ability to train the replacement pilots that spiraling attrition rates demanded.

The transportation plan owed its origins to the close work between Zuckerman and Leigh-Mallory. Zuckerman's initial conception was that Allied air forces operating from England would devote themselves, for extended time periods, to the destruction of the railroad system from the German frontier westward:

An essential preliminary to enable Operation "OVERLORD" to take place is the accomplishment of certain vital tasks by the Strategical and Tactical Air Forces. Unless these are completed by D-day, the success of the Operation will be jeopardized, not only because our naval and ground forces would then have to contend with a highly unfavorable situation but also because the air would not be in any position to lend full support to the actual assault or to deal with the subsequent activities of the enemy. Subject to a satisfactory air situation, the main object of the preliminary air operations is to paralyze the railways from Western Germany to the assault area to such an extent that major reinforcement by rail would be virtually impossible.11

Zuckerman's plan did recognize that Allied air forces would have to maintain pressure on the Luftwaffe through attacks on its production base.


On March 5, Spaatz suggested that his forces attack the Reich's oil supplies and refineries instead of Western Europe's transportation system. Such an offensive would, he claimed, cause a 50 percent reduction in gasoline supplies within six months.12 The upshot was a compromise. While Tedder and Eisenhower backed Leigh-Mallory's emphasis on the transportation plan, Spaatz placed active Luftwaffe units as well as the German aircraft industry at the top of Eighth's priority list. Nevertheless, he agreed to use his heavy bombers to attack the transportation network as a "secondary objective."13 Although the directive to the bomber commands said nothing about oil, the Luftwaffe's designation as the main objective allowed Spaatz sufficient latitude to go after the synthetic fuel industry in mid-May. Out of the 80 most important transportation targets, Bomber Command attacked 39, Eighth Air Force 23, and Allied Tactical Air Forces in Britain 18. Thus, Spaatz's forces played an important role in the offensive against enemy transportation systems.14

In fact, there was sufficient Allied airpower in Britain to allow the simultaneous execution of a dual strategy that was consistent with the objectives of "Pointblank" and "Overlord." Leigh-Mallory and Zuckerman believed that the only effective method for severely damaging the railway network of western Europe was a sustained offensive against the whole system. Bomber Command would provide its support at night, while during the day Eighth and Allied Tactical Air Forces would attack the network. Critics of the plan had claimed that the Germans would escape the serious consequences of such an offensive by shutting down civilian traffic; they would then be able to continue full military traffic. That did not happen, because in some areas the Allies virtually closed down the railroads.

Bomber Command's shift from targets in Germany to railways in northern France was a tribute to Harris' obedience to his instructions. In March, the command devoted 70 percent of its effort to targets in Germany. In April, the British dropped 34,000 tons of bombs, only 14,000 tons in Germany. In May, three-quarters of the sorties and more than 28,000 tons of bombs were against French targets; while in June, approximately 52,000 tons of bombs were dropped on France.15

Allied air forces did not make this effort at a light cost. Between early April and June 5, they lost nearly 2,000 aircraft and some 12,000 officers and men.16 In mid-March, a precipitous fall in French railway traffic began. By July, the volume of traffic on French railroads had fallen to 10 percent of January's totals. Those who had suggested that the Germans would close down civilian traffic at the expense of military shipments were initially correct. However, the sustained nature of Allied air attacks was such that after March transportation support for the Wehrmacht also declined. The May attacks by fighter bombers on the Seine River bridges and on running trains further accelerated the decline.17 (See Tables LV,18 LVI,19 and LVII.20)

In the last weeks before D-day, the Allies intensified efforts to disrupt rail and road traffic. On May 21, tactical air units began sweeps aimed at destroying stationary and running locomotives. Nearly 800 "Spitfires," "Thunderbolts," and "Typhoons" operated at low level over northern France.21 In the period between


Table LV
Number of Loaded Wagons
(Excluding a Relatively Small Number Owned Privately)
Originating in Region North
(Weekly Totals)


Table LVI
Number of Loaded Wagons
(Excluding a Relatively Small Number Owned Privately)
Originating in Region West
(Weekly Totals)


Table LVII
Number of Trains Passing Along the Route Valenton-Juvisy
in Relation to the Tonnages of Bombs
Directed Against Railway Centres Along the Route


May 20 and 28th, Allied air attacks damaged 500 locomotives.22 Normally, quick repair of damaged locomotives was not a difficult task, but destruction of repair centers as well as bridges, marshalling yards, and switching points made it extremely difficult.23 By late May, just before attacks on the Seine bridges, overall rail traffic was down to 55 percent of January's levels. Destruction of those bridges reduced traffic levels to 30 percent by June 6, and thereafter the level of railway utilization declined to 10 percent. Attacks on the system in western France were particularly effective, and by mid-June it had virtually ceased to operate.24 The effect on military transport was as marked as on other types of travel. In June, in the west, the Germans could only run 7 percent of the March tonnage; in July, the figure was slightly higher, 9 percent. In the north along the Belgian frontier, the figures for June and July were 27 percent and 23 percent, while for all France the movement of military trains through the system in June and July dropped from 56 percent to 35 percent of the March total.25

As the campaign progressed, "Ultra" intercepts and decrypts played an important role in providing Allied air commanders with a picture of the campaign's effectiveness on the transportation system.26 A mid-May appreciation by Commander in Chief West (Rundstedt) warned that the Allies were aiming at the systematic destruction of the railway system and that the attacks had already hampered supply and troop movements.27 On June 3, a report dealing with attacks on the railroads concluded:

In Zone I [France and Belgium], the systematic destruction that has been carried out since March of all important junctions of the entire network--not only of the main lines--has most seriously crippled the whole transport system (railway installations, including rolling stock). Similarly, Paris has been systematically cut off from long-distance traffic, and the most important bridges over the lower Seine have been destroyed one after another. As a result . . . it is only by exerting the greatest efforts that purely military traffic and goods essential to the war effort . . . can be kept moving . . . . The rail network is to be completely wrecked. Local and through traffic is to be made impossible, and all efforts to restore the services are to be prevented. This aim has so successfully been achieved--locally at any rate--that the Reichsbahn authorities are seriously considering whether it is not useless to attempt further repair work.28

The success of these interdiction efforts was a major contribution to the winning of World War II, for it placed the Germans in an impossible situation. Since much of the Wehrmacht consisted of infantry whose equipment was horse-drawn, the Germans depended on railroads for movement of reserves and supplies to the battlefront. Removal of that support made it difficult to redeploy forces once an invasion occurred. Thus, the Germans lost the battle of the buildup in Normandy before it began. Unlike the battle in Italy, the Allies were able to move large numbers of divisions into the invasion area and place heavy pressure on the defenses. The resulting ground battle demanded enormous expenditures of men and


matériel. Destruction of the transportation system forced German infantry to fight without adequate artillery support, and even infantry ammunition was in short supply. Moreover, damage to the transportation system made it difficult for motorized and mechanized units to pick their way past broken bridges at night.29 For obvious reasons, day movement was virtually impossible.

Eighth Air Force provided substantial help in the attack on transportation targets. Its most important contributions, however, involved continuing pressure on Germany's aircraft industry and, in May, the start of attacks on synthetic fuel plants. Those who have seen the oil and transportation plans as contradictory have ignored the fact that the oil offensive robbed the Germans of their road and air mobility, just as the transportation plan robbed them of their rail mobility. For the invasion, that latter mobility proved more important as movement of most Wehrmacht ground troops (including tank units) and the shipment of bulk supplies like food, fuel, and ammunition to fight the invasion depended on railroads. Because the Germans had fuel reserves available, the attack on oil took considerable time to reach full impact. This had led Eisenhower to adopt most of Zuckerman's transportation plan despite gloomy forecasts by some intelligence experts. As the historians of Bomber Command note: "The communication [transportation] plan was adopted more in a spirit of desperation than of optimism."30 The gloomy forecasts, however, proved mostly wrong.

Since the early days of the war, the Germans had worried about their petroleum supplies.31 In September 1940, Hitler remarked to Hungarian representatives that British efforts to sabotage Rumanian oil fields had occasioned some anxiety and added that there were two vital raw materials Nazi Germany needed: Swedish iron ore and Rumanian petroleum.32 He might have added that Germany's own great synthetic fuel plants were also of critical importance. From 1940 on, fuel shortages bedeviled German strategy. The 1942 campaign aimed to capture the Caucasian oil fields in Russia to relieve fuel shortages that were plaguing prosecution of the war. In 1943, there was marginal improvement in the situation as Italy ceased to be a drain and Germany's synthetic fuel industry reached a productive high point.33 From 1940 to 1943, production from natural wells (mainly in Austria) and from synthetic fuel plants rose from 4,506,000 to 6,985,000 tons per year. Nevertheless, Germany still imported the same percentage of oil in 1943 that she had in 1940, while in tonnage the Germans imported nearly 700,000 tons more than in the war's first year.34

Unexpectedly high stocks captured in Italy in 1943 also helped in early 1944.35 In fact, over the winter of 1943-44, the Germans built up aircraft fuel reserves for the first time since 1941. From a reserve of 33,786 tons in November 1943, the special reserve had grown to 119,738 tons by May 1944. Its existence provided a substantial cushion in meeting the fuel crisis of the early summer.36 The Germans had found the failure of Allied bombing to strike the synthetic oil industry inexplicable. Writing to Speer in March 1944, Keitel's staff thought it possible that enemy air forces would attack the oil industry to achieve a quick end to the war.37 In April, a Luftwaffe staff officer was more direct. Considering that the major German refineries and fuel plants lay within "the zone threatened by air attack," he found it


extraordinary that enemy airpower had not struck the oil industry--a target that would jeopardize the Reich's entire war effort.38

On May 12, 1944, Spaatz released Doolittle's Eighth Air Force from invasion preparations to attack oil targets. From England, 935 B-17's and B-24's sortied against synthetic oil plants at Zwickau, Merseburg-Leuna, Brux, Lutzkendorf, Bohlen, Zeitz, and Chemnitz.39 Allied bombers and escorting fighters encountered severe fighter opposition and a moderate response from flak batteries. Eighth lost 46 bombers (43 B-17's and 3 B-24's) and 12 fighters (5 P-47's and 7 P-51's). German losses were also heavy. Twenty-eight German pilots died with 26 injured.40 The results, while encouraging from the Allied perspective, were not decisive. The great Leuna plant, although damaged, lost only 18 percent of preattack capacity. Speer, nevertheless, was enormously worried and warned Hitler:

The enemy has struck us at one of our weakest points. If they persist at it this time, we will soon no longer have any fuel production worth mentioning. Our one hope is that the other side has an air force general staff as scatterbrained as ours!41

What Speer did not know and what has only recently come out is the role of "Ultra" decrypts in keeping American "strategic" bombers attacking the oil plants. The intelligence officer who handled "Ultra" messages at Eighth Air Force headquarters later claimed that intercepts, indicating that shortages were general and not local, convinced "all concerned that the air offensive had uncovered a weak spot in the German economy and led to exploitation of this weakness to the fullest extent."42 The first intercept, underlining German vulnerability, came almost immediately. On May 16, Bletchly Park forwarded a May 14 message cancelling a general staff order that Luftflotten 1 and 6 surrender to Luftflotte 3 five heavy and four light or medium flak batteries each. These batteries were to be reassigned to Luftflotte Reich to protect the hydrogenation plant at Troglitz. In addition, four heavy flak batteries from Oschersleben, four from Wiener-Neustadt, and two from Leipzig-Erla (defending aircraft production plants) were to move to other synthetic fuel plants.43 On the 21st, another intercept from an unspecified source ordered that:

Consumption of mineral oil in every form . . . be substantially reduced . . . in view of effects of Allied action in Rumania and on German hydrogenation plants; extensive failures in mineral oil production and a considerable reduction in the June allocation of fuel oil, etc., were to be expected.44

After feverish efforts to repair damage, production had almost returned to preattack levels by the end of the month.45 On May 28, Eighth Air Force struck again with only half the force used in the first attack. Supported by fighters, 400-plus bombers attacked the synthetic fuel plants. Again fighter opposition was heavy, and 32 bombers were lost (nearly 10 percent of the force). On the next day, Eighth again attacked the fuel plants, while Fifteenth Air Force hit aircraft factories in Austria. Bomber losses were 52, making a total of 84 heavy bombers lost in two days. Attrition of German pilots was also severe. On May 28, day fighter squadrons


lost 18 pilots killed and 13 wounded; on the 29th, the Germans lost 21 single-engine pilots killed and 8 wounded. Twin-engine fighters lost 23 crewmembers killed and 10 wounded.46 Spaatz had been correct that attacks on the oil industry would force the Luftwaffe to fight, thereby imposing further severe attrition on its forces. These two attacks, combined with raids that Fifteenth launched against Ploesti, reduced German oil production by 50 percent.47 The impact of the new raids became almost immediately apparent to air commanders. On June 6, Bletchly Park passed along the following decrypt:

Following according to OKL on Fifth. As a result of renewed interference with production of aircraft fuel by Allied action, most essential requirements for training and carrying out production plans can scarcely be covered by quantities of aircraft fuel available. Baker four allocations only possible to air officers for bombers, fighters and ground attack, and director general of supply. No other quota holders can be considered in June. To assume defense of Reich and to prevent gradual collapse of readiness for defense of German Air Force in east, it has been necessary to break into OKW reserves. Extending, therefore, existing regulations ordered that all units to arrange operations so as to manage at least until the beginning of July with present stocks or small allocation which may be possible. Date of arrival and quantities of July quota still undecided. Only very small quantities available for adjustments, provided Allied situation remains unchanged. In no circumstances can greater allocations be made. Attention again drawn to existing orders for most extreme economy measures and strict supervision of consumption, especially for transport, personal and communications flights.48

May's attacks were a prelude to the devastating raids that followed in succeeding months. After a two-week pause during which most of the aircraft supported the invasion, the Americans staged new raids that knocked out 90 percent of aviation fuel production so that production sank to 632 tons. By mid-July, the Germans had repaired the facilities sufficiently to quadruple production. More American raids and Bomber Command's first intervention on the 22nd lowered production to 120 tons per day. By the end of July, the offensive had knocked out 98 percent of Germany's capacity to produce aircraft fue1.49 Success did not come without cost. The raids on June 20 cost Eighth Air Force 49 bombers and 12 fighters, while the raid on the 21st cost 24 aircraft shot down by fighters, 20 bombers destroyed by flak, and 44 destroyed on the ground at Poltava.50 For the remainder of the war, the American "strategic" bombing force concentrated much of its effort against German fuel plants and refineries. In July, Leuna produced only 70 percent of its normal production, while other major production centers dropped to between 43 percent and 58 percent of estimated capacity. Only Ludwigshafen reached full production. Continued attacks would keep a firm lid on German fuel production (see Table LVIII51).


German Fuel Production

  Percent of Fuel
Capacity Produced
Percent of Aviation Fuel
Capacity Produced

August 1944 46 65  
September 1944 48 30  
October 1944 43 37  
November 1944 60 65  
December 1944 59 56  
January 1945 51 33  
February 1945 40 5  

The implications were not hard to see. After the June attacks, Speer warned Hitler that he would need six to eight weeks to restore production. Should the Führer not provide defensive support for oil production centers, the enemy would soon recognize recovery efforts and destroy the repair work.52 Speer alluded directly to the fact that Hitler had promised in May to hold the fighter force in Germany to defend synthetic fuel plants. However, he had then turned around in June and thrown it against the invasion where Allied fighters could destroy it.53 Speer pointed out to Hitler in July that the number of day fighters available in the Reich to defend synthetic plants was substantially under what had been present in early June (see Table LIX54).

Fighter Forces Available, Luftflotte Reich


1 June 1944 788 472 203 83  
1 July 1944 388 242 156 64  
27 July 1944 460 273 94 42  

He noted that the number of fighters in frontline units had remained the same and that the diversion of recent production to the front had only resulted in the wastage of more aircraft to little effect. If Hitler refused to protect the fuel plants, Speer warned, there would not be adequate fuel for the Luftwaffe.55 By mid-summer, as fighter production reached its wartime high, the Germans were approaching the situation where the hundreds of aircraft their industry turned out had neither fuel to fly nor pilots. Pilot training schools were already shutting down for lack of fuel. The circumstances recall a somewhat ironic remark that Göring made in early 1943:


. . . furthermore I am of the opinion that the building of our aircraft should not depend in any way on the fuel programme. I would rather have a mass of aircraft standing around unable to fly owing to a lack of petrol than not have any at all.56

In fact, the Germans were able to produce a minimum amount of fuel to keep some aircraft and some tanks moving, but throughout this particular period the general impression is of a steady decline in Luftwaffe and army capabilities due to fuel shortages. Loss of fuel needed to continue adequate training programs further accelerated the decline in pilot quality and ended the chance that the Germans might rebuild their shattered fighter forces. The decline in maneuverability in the motorized and mechanized forces showed up most clearly in the December Ardennes offensive. There, the Germans launched their attack without fuel to carry it past the Meuse with the hope that its spearheads could capture enough fuel in American dumps to reach strategic objectives.

In the final analysis, Tedder's and Zuckerman's transportation plan and Spaatz's fuel plan were entirely complementary.57 Their execution placed German troops on the "Atlantic Wall" in a difficult position when the invasion came and insured that, when the collapse occurred, the Wehrmacht could not make a fighting withdrawal in France. Destruction of the transportation system prevented the Germans from moving reinforcements up with sufficient speed to match the Allied buildup. Thus, when the contest in the bocage country turned into a battle of attrition, the Germans could only bring up enough supplies and reserves to hang on. That their ill-supplied and outnumbered forces held out for so long was a tribute to the skill and tenacity of the German soldier, but certainly not to the political and military leadership that had placed him again in a hopeless situation. Conversely, Spaatz's oil attacks achieved two major goals. First, it continued the decimation of the Luftwaffe and it hindered the training program from regenerating pilot strength. Second, it robbed the Wehrmacht of its motorized mobility.

The conduct of these operations raises an interesting point concerning the personalities and capabilities of Tedder and Spaatz. Tedder, as he had in the Mediterranean, designed an air strategy that placed Anglo-American air forces firmly within the context of overall Allied strategy. He did not deny the air forces an independent mission but rather insured that the air campaign would make the greatest contribution to the whole effort. The same can be said of Spaatz, who possessed a thorough understanding of how to gain and to maintain air superiority. From January, he attacked targets that forced the Germans to fight, again allowing American escorts to devastate the Luftwaffe's battle strength. Spaatz's push for an offensive against oil revealed his understanding of the need to continue an air superiority strategy as well as his sense that oil might be the weak link in Germany's economic structure. He realized that the destruction of the synthetic fuel plants would not only eliminate the Luftwaffe but finish the German army. Thus, Spaatz and Tedder, unlike so many of their contemporaries, grasped the meaning of strategy in the largest sense rather than in the narrow, confusing definition that Douhet and Trenchard had given "strategic" bombing. Only in their personalities


was there significant difference between the men. With his quiet, intellectual approach, Tedder did not dominate men or events; his success depended on the cooperation and support of others. In the arguments and debates during the spring of 1944, he relied on Eisenhower's friendship, support, and prestige. Spaatz was more his own man and was, as a result, the premier airman and one of the great generals of the war.


April witnessed Allied air forces continuing the unrelenting pressure on German defenses that had marked previous months. While the tempo of operations over Germany declined, air attacks against the transportation system and airfields in France kept the wastage of German fighters and pilots close to March's high rate. The Luftwaffe wrote off 43 percent of frontline fighters and lost over 20 percent of fighter pilots present at the beginning of April.58 By mid-month, the Germans were admitting that defending forces over the Reich were severely strained. Nevertheless, they still made a sizeable dent in the attacking forces; American bomber units in England wrote off the largest percentage of aircraft thus far in 1944, 24.6 percent of aircraft in tactical units.59

But the Luftwaffe had reached the breaking point. In April, Eighth Air Force lost the most bombers that it would lose in any month of the war (409 four-engine bombers); thereafter, bomber losses dropped off (See Table L and Appendix 4). Similarly from this point forward, the percentage of operational sorties lost began a significant drop from the steady level of close to 4 percent that Eighth suffered from November 1943 through April 1944.60 There were, of course, several factors affecting loss rates. The climb in Eighth's frontline strength continued through June and finally began to drive down the sortie loss rate. Operations over western Europe to attack the transportation system also reduced casualties, but the most important factor seems to have been a break in Luftwaffe fighter capabilities. From May on, German fighters inflicted increasingly sporadic damage on attacking formations. If American bomber losses dropped in May, German fighter and fighter pilot losses reached a high point in the war. The Luftwaffe wrote off 50.4 percent of single-engine fighter aircraft during the month and lost 25 percent of their Bf 109 and Fw 190 pilots.61 Thus far in the year, its single-engine fighter force had lost 2,262 pilots. On December 31, the Luftwaffe had had 2,395 single-engine fighter pilots in frontline units (1,491 fully combat-ready, 291 partially combat-ready, and the rest not combat-ready).62 Thus, crew losses for the five-month period came close to 100 percent of the entire day fighter force (excluding twin-engine aircraft). The decline in American losses that began in May is therefore explicable in view of these German casualties.

The attrition rate caused a ripple effect throughout the force structure. Pressure to get pilots through training schools was such that German pilots had half the training hours of their Allied counterparts, a point previously mentioned. More costly was


the fact that a German fighter pilot received 60 to 80 hours of training in operational aircraft, while his opponent in the RAF or Army Air Forces averaged 225 hours flying time in operational aircraft. Consequently, the product of German training schools was even more inadequate than the ratio between total flying hours suggests.63 A study by the Luftwaffe's historical section lamely suggested in 1944 that "our pilots must attempt to counterbalance this obvious disadvantage by greater enthusiasm and courage."64 Extension of American fighter range throughout the Reich gave the Germans an additional headache. Training flights, both beginning and advanced, now frequently came under attack from American fighters.65

A conference between Galland and Göring in mid-May underlined how enemy air operations were devastating the fighter force. Galland reported that Luftflotte Reich had lost 38 percent of its fighter pilots in April, while Luftflotte 3 had lost 24 percent of its fighter pilot strength. Altogether, the Germans had lost 489 pilots (100 of whom were officers), Galland reported, while training centers had forwarded only 396 new pilots (including 62 officers).66 Galland's proposals to meet the shortfall and continued attrition reflected the desperate situation. He urged (1) that all fighter pilots holding short staff positions be transferred immediately to operational units, (2) that qualified night fighter pilots transfer to the day fighter force, (3) that two fighter Gruppen transfer from the eastern front as soon as possible, and (4) that the ground attack command release all pilots with more than five victories to the defense of the Reich. Finally, Galland reported that flying schools had released 80-plus instructors to fill empty cockpits.67

Other evidence suggests a rush to strip commands outside of Luftflotte Reich of experienced pilots in order to reconstitute defense forces at the center. Fliegerkorps I on the eastern front was ordered to surrender 15 pilots, "including 2 to 4 aces," after it had received a new draft of pilots straight from training school.68 Galland even suggested that all fighter Gruppen in France pull back to Germany to meet the bomber threat. Göring, fearing that an invasion was imminent, refused.69 As had happened over the past year and a half, the Luftwaffe used Russia as a school for inexperienced pilots. There they could build flying and fighting skills before being thrown into the cauldron of western air battles.70 However, there was less chance to do this now, because there were fewer squadrons in the east and because attrition was so high in the skies over Germany that the Luftwaffe had to throw new pilots directly into combat against Allied air forces.

The following two cases show what the scale of combat losses meant to individual fighter Gruppen. The III Gruppe/JG 53 possessed an average strength of 23 aircraft in April with 16 serviceable. During the month, the Gruppe lost nine aircraft in combat with one slightly damaged. Six more were written off due to noncombat causes with one aircraft badly damaged and three slightly damaged. The Gruppe suffered five pilots killed and two injured (average crew strength would have approximated the number of aircraft). In the month, its aircraft took part in 38 separate operations on twenty-four days with 431 combat sorties.71 The tempo of air operations in May showed in the following report of II Gruppe/JG 53:


(A) Operations took place on thirteen days. Twenty-one scrambles, 15 of which resulted in air combats. (B) Average aircraft strength, 34; average serviceability, 20. (C) Fifty-three aircraft lost or damaged. Of these: (1) Extent: 34 at 100 percent, 3 over 60 percent, 9 over 35 percent, 7 under 35 percent. (2) Reason: 33 through Allied action, 4 [through] technical faults, 16 owing servicing faults. (D) Repairs: three in Gruppe's workshop, six at GAF station, seven at [the] factory. (E) Personnel Losses--Killed or Injured: seven killed, five missing, three wounded (two bailed out), seven injured (of whom five bailed out). Two more injured not through Allied action. Seventeen parachute jumps, 2 jumped with wounds, 2 jumped twice without injury.72

The pressure on the Luftwaffe during the spring showed in the diversity of targets that Allied air forces attacked. Not only did fuel, aircraft, and tank industries receive attention but along with the offensive against the transportation system, Allied tactical air forces made a major effort to cripple forward operating bases. Despite the attacks on the fuel plants, the Germans could not divert the protection afforded aircraft production and repair facilities because of the losses frontline units were suffering.73 At the end of April, an attack on Friedrichshafen revealed the tank industry's vulnerability. Factories in Friedrichshafen produced 40 to 50 percent of the drive gear assemblies for the Pz III, IV, and V tanks; 40 percent of the motors for the Pz IV's; and 65 percent of the motors for Pz V's and VI's. The works, badly damaged by the attack, took at least two to three months to disperse to other factories; thus, there was a production shortfall of at least 30 percent for May and June.74

Allied attacks in May against bases in France soon had a decided impact on Luftflotte 3's capabilities. "Ultra" intercepts gave Allied intelligence a glimpse into the location and strength of fighter units as well as the effectiveness of attacks carried out by tactical air.75 They also indicated when the Germans had completed repairs on damaged fields or had decided to abandon permanently operations at particular locations.76 Armed with this information, the Allies pursued an intensive, well-orchestrated campaign that destroyed the German's base structure near the English Channel and invasion beaches. The scale of these attacks forced the Germans to abandon efforts to prepare bases close to the Channel and to select airfields far to the southeast.77

Thus, on the brink of the invasion, the Luftwaffe had lost control of its base structure in France. Since December 1943, the Germans had planned to move major aircraft reinforcements into Luftflotte 3 when the invasion occurred. That command would then launch a decisive air attack against the landings.78 Further plans followed in February. Basic premises were that "defense against an invasion [would] be decisive for the successful conclusion to the war" and that "massed intervention of all the flying units in the first hours of a landing would be decisive for the continuation of the whole undertaking."79 Such platitudes sounded impressive. However, by June, the Allied air offensive had removed all possibility for the Germans to make an effective aerial response. Air battles in Germany had devastated the Reich's fighter forces, German bombing attacks on Britain had


eliminated most of the bombers, and Allied attacks on forward operating airfields had destroyed much of the base support.

What is remarkable in examining Luftflotte 3's force structure is the fact that it contained few ground support aircraft, as nearly all ground support squadrons were on the eastern front (with 550 aircraft) in anticipation of what the Germans correctly believed would be a major Russian offensive.80 As a result, fighter aircraft would have to fly most of the attacks on the invasion forces. These fighters would fly in from Luftflotte Reich, and their pilots would have received no previous training in fighter bomber tactics. The weight of their bomb loads would put German pilots at an even greater disadvantage against Allied fighters.81

On June 5, 1944, Luftflotte 3 contained 815 aircraft, of which approximately 600 were in commission.82 The hope was that fighter forces from Luftflotte Reich would build up aerial forces in France to required levels. Unfortunately for the Germans, their forecasters misread the weather for June 6 so that the invasion caught their entire command structure by surprise. (Rommel was in Germany celebrating his wife's birthday.83) Through the night and daylight hours of D-day, the Allies enjoyed complete air superiority with Allied air forces flying 14,000 missions in support of the invasion. They lost only 127 aircraft. By the end of the first day, the British had landed 75,215 troops and the Americans 57,500. In addition, some 23,000 airborne troops had dropped behind the invasion beaches.84 Throughout the day, the Luftwaffe was hardly seen. But Field Marshal Sperrle did issue a pompous order of the day to his troops:

Men of Luftflotte 3! The enemy has launched the long-announced invasion. Long have we waited for this moment, long have we prepared ourselves, both inwardly and on the field of battle, by untiring, unending toil. Our task is now to defeat the enemy. I know that each one of you, true to his oath to the colors, will carry out his duties . . . . Great things will be asked of you, and you will show the bravest fighting valor. Salute the Führer.85

Sperrle's words could not have been further removed from reality. Luftflotte 3 launched less than 100 sorties of which approximately 70 were by single-engine fighters. That evening, the bombers and antishipping squadrons mounted 175 more sorties against the invasion fleet.86 For the day, the Germans lost 39 aircraft with 21 damaged, 8 due to noncombat causes.87

The Luftwaffe now scrambled desperately to get its fighter forces from Germany to fields in France where they could bring some relief to the pressure being applied by Allied forces. Movement of ground reserves towards the invasion area was extraordinarily difficult. It took five days for the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division to cover 200 miles, as Allied air attacks limited its movement to night time and secondary roads. The SS division Das Reich set a record for frustration. Tracked elements of the division left Limoges on June 11 and did not arrive on the Normandy front until the end of the month.88 Frustrated and enraged, SS troops took their anger out on the inhabitants of the village of Oradour sur Glane by herding adults and children into the church and burning it down and machinegunning those


who escaped the fire. Movement of divisions immediately adjacent to the beachland was hardly easier. Panzer Lehr moved towards the battlefront on five separate roads, and its commander described one of those as a "fighter-bomber race course." On June 6 alone, it lost 80 half-tracks, self-propelled guns, and prime movers.89

The buildup of Luftflotte 3 strength began with the movement of 200 fighters from Germany to airfields in France within 36 hours of the invasion. An additional 100 had followed by June 10.90 But the destruction of forward operating bases had forced the Luftwaffe to select new and inadequately prepared sites for reinforcements arriving from the Reich. But there was confusion even on fields that had been selected early in the spring. A German study written after the defeat in Normandy stated:

The airfields which had long been earmarked for the emergency day fighter Geschwader from the Reich in the event of an invasion . . . , were completely inadequate. In almost every case, no H.Q. [headquarters] buildings had been constructed and dispersal points had not been organized; there was a complete lack of splinter screens, trenches, dugouts, shelters, teleprinting and wireless installations, and of ammunition and fuel depots.

To urgent request for the provision of these elementary necessities, the reply received was always that no personnel [were] available for construction purposes and no one for the installation of signals equipment.91

"Ultra" intercepts picked up a substantial portion of the move and indicated bases and arrival times for the reinforcing fighters.92 The Luftwaffe was at least able to better the poor showing of June 6. On the nights of June 7-8, the bomber and antishipping aircraft managed to launch 100 sorties, while the day forces flew 500 sorties on the 8th, 400 by single-engine fighters.93 The Luftwaffe, however, could raise the level of sorties only by stripping the Reich's fighter defenses. Losses against swarms of Allied fighters were heavy. On June 8, Luftflotte 3 lost 68 aircraft; and in the first week of operations around the beachhead, 362 aircraft. In the second week, the Germans lost another 232 aircraft. Thus, in the two weeks from June 6 to 19th, they lost nearly 75 percent of the aircraft that Luftflotte 3 had possessed on June 5.94 Moreover, by throwing their aircraft into the invasion battle, Hitler and Göring gave Eighth Air Force carté blanché to attack the synthetic fuel facilities; and almost as fast as the Germans fed aircraft into the Normandy battle, American and British fighters shot them down.

Allied air superiority led the Germans to vacillate on their tactics, all of which worked to little effect. Initial Luftwaffe thrusts consisted mostly of fighter bomber sorties. However, Allied fighters jumped attacking aircraft and forced German pilots to jettison their bombs. Losses were always heavy. "Ultra" often gave Allied commanders advanced warning of German attacks and targets, thus increasing chances of interception.95 On the 12th, the Germans abandoned the attempt to use the fighter force as fighter bombers and ordered all Gruppen to convert back to fighter configuration. The rationale was that as fighters they could drive off their


opponents, a thoroughly unrealistic assessment in view of Allied numbers.96 The change in configuration made little difference, and Allied attacks reduced German fighters to protecting their own airfields. When the Germans managed to assemble 50 to 60 fighters together, they could squeeze 10 to 15 aircraft into Allied territory. These aircraft made a few strafing runs but accomplished little else.97

The situation was clearly hopeless and reinforcing the battlefront, in the eyes of a war diarist, was "a race in which conditions inevitably favor the enemy."98 Allied air superiority was troublesome enough for German ground forces, but when combined with "Ultra" the effects were devastating. "Ultra" intercepts on June 9 and 10th gave Allied intelligence the exact location of Geyr von Schweppenburg's Panzer Group West headquarters. Obligingly, the Germans left their vehicles and radio equipment in the open.99 The attack not only destroyed most of Panzer Group West's communications equipment but also killed 17 officers, including the chief of staff.100 The strike effectively removed Panzer Group West as an operating headquarters and robbed the Germans of the only army organization in the west capable of handling large numbers of mobile divisions. On June 14, Bletchly Park decrypted a message from Rundstedt reporting the difficulties involved in conducting a battle when the enemy enjoyed complete air superiority.

C in C West report morning ninth included: In large-scale operations by thousands of bombers and fighter bombers, Allied air forces stifled German tank attacks and had harassing effect on movements. High losses in wireless equipment by fighter bomber attacks (I SS Corps had, for example, only four wireless troops, and Panzer Group West had lost 75 percent of its wireless equipment) were noticeable in making reporting difficult.101

Nevertheless, the Germans were able to hold on, but just barely. A number of factors beside their own military competence played a part. First, the Allied buildup did not proceed as fast as planners hoped. Then, a major June storm almost completely halted the buildup for three days and did severe damage to the artificial harbors established off the beaches to aid in the logistic effort.102 Moreover, the Normandy terrain, particularly the bocage country south of Utah and Omaha beaches, favored the defender. Fighting their way through hedgerows, the Americans slowly bisected the Cotentin Peninsula and captured Cherbourg. They then pushed the Germans south toward St. Lo but were unable to gain the leverage necessary to break loose. Thus, American forces could not use their mobility against an opponent who, because of Allied air superiority, enjoyed little possibility of fighting a battle of maneuver.

On the eastern side of the lodgment, the countryside was more favorable. However, the road system as well as the danger posed by a breakthrough led the Germans to move their armor towards Caen. The accumulation of strength made it difficult for the British to advance, but pressure on the Caen defenses prevented the Germans from massing armor for a counterattack. Instead, panzer divisions moved directly into the line as fast as they came up.103 Still whatever their ability, German


frontline troops were in difficult circumstances. A major in the 77th Infantry Division, captured at SC Sauvern on June 16, told a fellow prisoner:

I once [remarked] that the Führer said that if the invasion came, he would send the whole G.A.F. [German Air Force] into action at the place of the invasion, even if it meant leaving all forces in all the other theaters of war without air cover. That story was over as far as I was concerned after I had seen one single German reconnaissance aircraft in the air between the 6th and the 16th, and apart from that, complete mastery of the air by the Americans. We can bring out whole armies, and they'll smash them completely with their air forces within a week. Above all, we have no petrol at all left. We can no longer move any numbers of troops by means requiring petrol, only by rail or marching on foot.104

The performance of Allied air forces during June reflected their overwhelming superiority. From June 6 to the 30th, RAF and American squadrons flew 163,403 sorties over the continent, of which 130,000 supported the invasion. Conversely, Luftflotte 3--even with reinforcements--only flew 13,829 sorties. German losses were again devastating. In France, the Luftwaffe lost 931 aircraft on operations, with a further 67 lost due to noncombat causes; over Luftflotte Reich, the Germans lost an additional 250 aircraft on operations, with 183 more aircraft destroyed due to other than combat causes.105 Efforts to maintain a high tempo of operations floundered because of combat losses. Depots for replacement aircraft now lay behind the Rhine, as the original replacement centers at Toul and Le Bouget were vulnerable to aerial attack.106 Ferrying operations were often hazardous affairs that sometimes cost the Germans the aircraft in transit.107 Thus, the effectiveness of the Gruppen fell off rapidly after an initial surge when first on operations. By June 11, the Luftwaffe had had to withdraw five Gruppen from France because of heavy losses and replace them with units from Germany. The shattered units returned to the Reich for new aircraft and new pilots.108

At the end ofJune, the Luftwaffe's strategic position, as well as the Reich's, gave the Germans small cause for optimism. A Luftwaffe intelligence report summed up the situation. While Allied air operations over Germany had declined due to the invasion, the authors felt that Allied bombers would soon return to Germany. In France, air attacks had destroyed the transportation system, while bombing attacks in Germany had extensively damaged the fuel industry. Production of aircraft fuel was off by 70 percent, synthetic fuel production was down by 60 percent, and refinery output (including Rumania) had dropped to 70 percent of total capacity. The report noted that aerial attacks on transportation and petroleum industries had provided substantial aid to the ground battle in the west. Particularly worrisome from the German perspective was the possibility that the Allied air forces might do in the Balkans what they had accomplished so successfully in France and Italy; that is, destroy the rail and road system. In conclusion, the report warned that the great danger was a continuation of attacks on the synthetic fuel industry. Thus, the German high command needed to provide adequate support for the great fuel plants.


Attacks on transportation were almost as dangerous, but there was little that could be done because one could not protect an entire rail system.109

In July, the Normandy battle swung decisively in favor of the Allies. Hitler, worried by deception plans warning of another seaborne landing at Pas de Calais, held strong forces along that coast.110 Thus, as had happened in June, German reinforcements were thrown into the line in piecemeal fashion to patch up the defenses. On July 15, two days before being severely wounded, Rommel warned the new commander in chief in the west, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge, that:

The position in Normandy is becoming daily more difficult and is approaching a serious crisis. Owing to the intensity of the fighting, the exceptionally strong matériel supplies of the enemy, especially in artillery and armored vehicles, and the operation of their air force, which commands the battlefield unchecked, our own losses are so high that the fighting strength of the divisions is rapidly sinking. Due to the disruption of the railway and the attack carried out on major and minor roads up to 150 km behind the front, only the most essential supplies can be delivered to the troops. Conditions are unlikely to improve in the future, as enemy air activity is likely to become even more intense.111

Six days later, Kluge wrote Hitler that his "discussions with field commanders near Caen yesterday have convinced me that in our present position, there is no strategy possible that will counterbalance the annihilating effect of the enemy command of the air."112 While Montgomery's forces battered past Caen, the Americans pushed southward on the Cotentin Peninsula and created the conditions necessary for a breakout.

The Luftwaffe's situation continued to deteriorate. Loss rates among Gruppen and Geschwader commanders reached such a level that Göring ordered them to limit their operational sorties to an absolute minimum.113 Commitments on various fronts, all of which showed signs of collapse, led Göring and Hitler to divide the Luftwaffe into a patchwork quilt. Nowhere was there a Schwerpunkt (main emphasis). (See Table LX.114)

Distribution of German Fighters, End of June 1944

Western Front 425
Norway 40
Defense of the Reich 370
Eastern Front 475
Balkans 65
TOTAL 1,375

In France, the Luftwaffe frittered away so much strength in demonstrations that it could rarely support German counterattacks. Periods of sustained effort, under the strain of overwhelming Allied air superiority, resulted in unit exhaustion within two


to three days of the start of operations.115 Meanwhile, Eighth Air Force continued its pounding of the fuel industry. By mid-July, "Ultra" had revealed that fuel shortages were placing the Nazi war effort in desparate straits. A message on July 10 reported that fuel shortages necessitated the limitation of bomber pilot training strictly to replacement crews.116 By August, a lack of fuel forced a cessation of long-range bomber attacks against Russian targets, as Eighth's attacks had reduced Leuna's production by almost 100 percent.117

While Allied air forces and armies battered the Wehrmacht in Normandy, the Russians launched their most devastating offensive of the war. The attack came close to destroying an entire army group. On the morning of June 22, 1944, three years after the start of "Barbarossa," Stalin launched his forces against the center of the eastern front. Army Group Center possessed only 38 divisions to cover a 488-mile front, since severe fighting over the past two years in the Ukraine had caused a gradual diminution of strength in the center. By contrast, Army Group North Ukraine had 35 German and 10 Hungarian divisions to cover a 219-mile front. In addition, the two southern army groups possessed 18 panzer and panzer grenadier divisions, while Army Group Center had only 3.118

The collapse began at once. The army group commander rigidly adhered to Hitler's instructions that no retreats occur and that the armies maintain a rigid linear defense. By the 28th, the Russians had smashed Ninth Army, destroyed two out of the three corps in Third Panzer Army, and had pierced the front of its one remaining corps in a number of places. Fourth Army was in full retreat. So terrible was the army group's position that its only hope lay in the possibility that the Russians might outrun their supplies. The collapse turned into a route with German units streaming out of Russia towards Poland. Most did not make it. In the first twelve days of the Soviet offensive, Army Group Center lost 25 divisions, while Fourth Army lost 130,000 men out of its original strength of 165,000 men.119 In mid-August, the Russian advance finally sputtered to a halt before Warsaw after an advance of over 200 miles. Meanwhile, to the north the Russians also shattered Army Group North and drove it back into the Baltic countries. By early September, German troops held a thin crust from East Prussia through Central Poland. They had little chance of holding their opponent once the Russians had reinforced and resupplied their armies. The Red Army would not, however, resume the offensive on this front for another five months.

As in the west, the Luftwaffe played no effective role in this catastrophe. Over the whole eastern front, Soviet air forces enjoyed nearly a 6-to-1 superiority over the Germans and thus could muster a decisive superiority over the Luftwaffe on whatever front chosen.120 The Luftwaffe's forces in the east were as badly skewed in their deployment as were the army's, reflecting the concentration of effort that had gone into defending the Ukraine. In late spring, Luftflotte 4 covering the Rumanian-Hungarian frontier possessed 845 aircraft, including 390 ground attack, 160 single-engine fighters, and 45 twin-engine fighters. Luftflotte 6 possessed nearly as many aircraft as its neighbor in the south (775), but it had to cover Army Group Center's front with far fewer fighters and ground attack aircraft. It possessed


only 100 ground attack aircraft and 100 single-engine fighters, as its major strength lay in its long-range strike force of 370 bombers.121 Thus, Luftflotte 6's force structure was not suited to meet the offensive the Russians launched. In addition, it had shipped 50 of its fighters early in June to Germany to replace fighters sent to meet the invasion.122

The stunning nature of Army Group Center's collapse and the speed of the Soviet advance precluded more effective help from the Luftwaffe. Moreover, the Russians soon overran the forward operating fields and forced the Luftwaffe back onto airfields in Poland and East Prussia, bases that were neither prepared nor stocked for major operations. Nevertheless, the defeat forced the Luftwaffe to rush reinforcements to the east. Nearly 100 fighters moved from Italy, the 50 fighters that had gone to Luftflotte Reich returned; the staff stripped Luftflotten on the flanks of fighter support; and even 40 fighters arrived from Normandy. Despite substantial reinforcements, losses in the east were so heavy that overall strength declined from 2,085 aircraft in June to 1,760 by the end of July. Virtually no fighters remained in Rumania to defend the refineries and wells from the bombers of Fifteenth Air Force. Finally, loss of forward operating bases, well stocked with supplies, parts, and fuel, caused a serious decline in operational ready rates.123

One final aspect of the Luftwaffe's role in this particular defeat deserves mention. Luftwaffe flak divisions were extensively involved in the antiaircraft defense of various sectors of Army Group Center. Their after action reports on the collapse make interesting reading and are a fundamental indictment of the leadership and conduct of operations. One report suggested that German propaganda with its claim that the Russians had bled themselves white in the winter and spring offensives of 1943-44 had given German soldiers a false optimism. That overconfidence had soon turned to despair when reality engulfed Army Group Center. As one report summed up the situation, "One can only comment on the measures undertaken [to meet the Russian offensive], 'half measures' and 'too late'."124

As Field Marshal Model rebuilt a defensive line to hold the Soviets along the Vistula, disaster broke in the west. Collapse of both the eastern and western fronts in the summer of 1944 showed the insufficiency of Germany's resources to fight what had for the army become a three-front war and for the Luftwaffe a four-front war (the eastern front, Normandy, the Mediterranean, and the skies over the Reich). The western collapse had been building all summer; and the length of German resistance insured that when an Allied breakthrough occurred, there would be no reserves available. With the capture of St. Lo on July 19, the American First Army had fought its way through the bocage country and almost into the open. German reinforcements, however, continued to flow towards the British and Canadian Second Army where Commonwealth forces were placing great pressure south of Caen. On the 24th, a renewed American effort went in; and after heavy fighting, German defenses began to dissolve. Allied tactical air, particularly strikes by Ninth Air Force, contributed to the breakdown. The German Seventh Army, which had hitherto maintained an unbroken front to the coast, fell back away from the ocean in small battle groups facing west instead of north.


Map 12
The Soviet Advance
Nov 1942-Dec 1944

By the 30th, American troops had captured Avranches at the juncture between the Breton and Cotentin Peninsulas. The great breakout now began. At the start, American commanders made a serious error. The first divisions through Avranches turned west to capture Brittany rather than east towards Orleans and Paris. This decision pushed the first thrust away from the pocket of German troops already forming in the west. As the American drive spread out from Avranches, first to the west and then finally to the south and east, Hitler reacted. Instead of authorizing a retreat to the Seine to build another line of defense, he demanded that Kluge counterattack the base of the American breakthrough. He assigned XVII Panzer Corps, with a substantial portion of the German armor in the west, the task of cutting off and defeating the Americans.125 "Ultra" informed Allied commanders of what to expect, and the German counterattack at Mortain ran into a well-prepared reception.126 German offensive operations made little headway against the ground opposition and heavy tactical air strikes, while Hitler had, in effect, placed his armor deeper in the sack. American forces struck west and captured Le Mans on


August 8; both German armies in Normandy were now in danger of being surrounded.

At the same time that Allied operations were destroying Germany's strategic situation in the west, Eisenhower made a number of command changes. Montgomery's Twenty-First Army Group now controlled only the British and Canadian armies. Bradley received equality with Montgomery and command over the Twelfth Army Group, consisting of his First Army and Patton's Third Army. At the end of August, Eisenhower took over control of the land battle himself. With those changes, and in a mood of euphoria, the Allies made the first of a series of mistakes that failed to exploit the rout in France, thereby prolonging the final defeat of the Third Reich. British and American forces did not close the pocket forming around Seventh Army. The most obvious responsibility for this error lay at Montgomery's door. However, a portion of the blame also lies at the door of American commanders who were more interested in distant objectives like Paris than with Falaise and with frontline troops who were less than enthusiastic at closing the gap and facing German troops breaking out. In the gap itself, Allied tactical air caused terrible damage to German troops and their equipment attempting escape. Little equipment got through the blasted roads and columns, but thousands of the toughest, most experienced veterans did escape. And in Germany, there was plenty of equipment, through Speer's efforts, to turn those troops back into the formidable formations that had resisted so long and so well in Normandy.

The collapse became complete as the Germans raced for the frontier. On August 17, American and French troops landed in Southern France, and the German position in the west dissolved. Once again, German leaders threw the Luftwaffe into battle to mitigate collapse on the ground. The Luftwaffe made large numbers of fighter and bomber attacks on rapidly moving Allied columns, but its air operations had little significant impact on the drive towards the German frontier. The Luftwaffe suffered heavy losses. By August 14, Luftflotte 3 was down to 75 operational ready fighters. The numeric balance was so unfavorable and the enemy advance so dangerous that the Luftwaffe high command immediately returned squadrons to the front from Luftflotte Reich that had just begun to refit with new pilots and aircraft after July's losses. These units were severely attrited just in moving to airfields in France as Allied fighters once again savaged the refitted squadrons. The haste of the retreat forced the Germans to abandon enormous amounts of matériel, supplies, and aircraft. By early September, most of Luftflotte 3 was back on German airfields in utter disarray. Its new bases did not even have flak protection against Allied fighter sweeps.127 Losses in the collapse in the west, particularly in aircraft, were high. The II Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 53 reported that it had lost 42 aircraft through enemy action, 18 more in noncombat accidents, 20 more abandoned and destroyed on airfields captured by the enemy, and a final 20 through other causes. All told, it had lost approximately 200 percent of its authorized strength in one month.128 Overall in August 1944, Luftflotte 3 lost 482 fighters, while Luftflotte Reich lost an additional 375 Bf 109's and Fw 190's. This worked out to loss rates of 24.8 percent and 19.4


percent (total 44.2 percent) of the total fighter force at the beginning of the month.129

The Anglo-American advance now struck towards the German frontier. It chewed up whatever resistance the Germans managed to throw together. Unfortunately, the euphoria gripping Allied commanders and troops as they approached the frontier turned into overconfidence and a belief the war was won. Rightly, the Allies sensed that the Wehrmacht was teetering on the brink of a final collapse that could cause the end of the Third Reich. But that very sixth sense brought with it failure.

As overall commander, Eisenhower held responsibility for that failure--not because his strategy failed but because he was unable to control his subordinates.130 His personal qualities had enabled him to make the diverse and strong individuals in the Allied high command work together to accomplish the invasion. Those qualities, however, were not the qualities needed to dominate and drive that collection of strong personalities under tight leash, and a very tight leash was required to turn the rout in France into final victory. The failure at Falaise was an initial sign of his inability to control the armies. Now as the rush towards the frontier gathered momentum, Eisenhower held the reins too lightly. Patton diverged towards Metz, the one place where the Germans could put up a creditable resistance. While Third Army entangled itself in that fortress city, the Germans had scarcely a soldier in the Ardennes, an area that would not have significant German forces until the end of September.131

In the British drive, Montgomery played a major role in the failure to push the Germans over the brink. The idea of launching one massive narrow front thrust over the Rhine into Nazi Germany fascinated the Field Marshal. The British military historian, Basil Liddell Hart, with justification, suggests that while there were arguments on the side of such an approach as opposed to Eisenhower's broad front strategy, Montgomery was not the person to lead such a thrust.132 The British Field Marshal's attention as his forces drove towards Antwerp focused on the Rhine. At that moment when he was demanding that Eisenhower shut down Patton's drive and give the British the gasoline and material required to supply his effort, he ignored Antwerp's importance. While Montgomery's attention centered on the Rhine, he allowed the exploitation of Antwerp's capture to slip through his fingers. On September 4, the port fell to the British 11th Armored Division. British tanks had arrived so suddenly that German authorities could not destroy the docks and port facilities. Furthermore, the capture of the port entrapped the German's Fifteenth Army that had recently guarded Pas de Calais and was now in flight up the coast to escape British mechanized forces. At this point, having captured Antwerp, Montgomery showed his greatest failing as a general--his inability to pursue a beaten enemy and reap the full fruits of victory. Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks' XXX Corps was stopped north of Brussels, even though it had few Germans in front of it and possessed enough gasoline to advance another 100 kilometers.133


The speed and extent of the pursuit after the German collapse in mid-August now led Montgomery to halt Twenty-First Army Group's operations. As a result, British troops failed to advance beyond Antwerp and cut off the Walcheren Peninsula. Had they pushed on, they would have trapped Fifteenth Army. They did not, and the Germans ferried fleeing troops across the Scheldt. Montgomery paused and regrouped for a great airborne operation, later code-named "Market Garden," to drive to and over the Rhine. Under pressure to use Allied airborne divisions in Britain, Eisenhower agreed, and transport aircraft that had supplied Patton ceased that effort and prepared for a great paratrooper drop.

The pause came at precisely the wrong moment and was sufficiently long for the Germans to recover their equilibrium. In an extraordinary display of organizational ability, as they had so often done in the east, the Wehrmacht took the shattered flotsam and jetsam of defeat and reorganized and replenished the beaten men into effective military formations. A number of panzer divisions, including the 9 SS and 10 SS Panzer Divisions, were sent to rework and refit in the Dutch countryside. Two "Ultra" messages on September 5 and 6th indicated that Montgomery's argument for "Market Garden" was faulty even as the planning began. The second message, slightly more explicit, noted:

Hq and Hq Two SS and SS Panzer Corps subordinated Army Group Baker, to transfer to Eindhoven and Eindhoven to rest and refit in cooperation with General of Panzer Troops West and direct rest and refit of Two and One One six panzer divisions, Nine SS and SS Panzer Divisions and Heavy Assault Gun Abteilung Two One Seven. Comment elements these divisions and Ten SS and SS Panzer Divisions not and not operating ordered Fourth to area Venloo and Venloo-Arnheim and Arnheim-Hertogenbosch and Hertogenbosch for refit. . . .134

Thus, Allied paratroopers would land among some of the toughest troops in the German armed forces.

Making a difficult task impossible, the Allies selected the inexperienced British 1st Airborne Division to capture the bridge at Arnhem. The division agreed to a drop zone 6 miles from its objective. Having recovered their equilibrium, the Germans prevented British armor from thrusting through to Arnhem and crushed the British paratroopers. As a result, they maintained their hold on the Rhine. Outside of flak units, summer fighting had so shattered the Luftwaffe that it made few appearances at Arnhem. On the first day of "Market Garden," the Germans could only launch between 50 and 75 sorties.135 Nevertheless, despite enemy air superiority, German ground forces, led by the 9th and 10th Waffen SS divisions, held the Allies from the Rhine. At this point, logistical reality caught up with Allied armies. Montgomery, having turned his back on Antwerp, faced the grim task of prying the Germans from their hold on the Scheldt. The cost for the Canadians and British Commandos was high. Not until November 28 did the first convoys navigate the Scheldt and unload an Antwerp--a high price for the negligence of late summer.136


One other element in the Third Reich's escape from complete defeat in the early fall deserves attention. Stalin, unlike most American political and military leaders, had a deep understanding of Clausewitz's simplest aphorism: "War is a continuation of politics by other means." He recognized that the purpose of Soviet grand strategy should not be the quickest possible defeat of Nazi Germany. Rather, it should be the achievement of maximum political advantage for Soviet Russia. Thus, the Red Army, after defeating Army Group Center in June and July, stood on the defensive for five months along the Vistula River and East Prussian frontier. Meanwhile, Russian armies in the south made a massive onslaught into the Balkans and insured that Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary would have regimes in line with Soviet interests. The Yugoslavs also fell initially within the Soviet camp but, unfortunately for Stalin, they made their own revolution and liberated their own territory. Not until January 1945, when the Balkans were well in hand, did the Russians move against German territory.


Bereft of fuel, its units ravaged by the summer attrition, the Luftwaffe was a force that no longer exercised any influence on the conduct of either air or ground operations. The price that American bombers paid to keep the Luftwaffe down was at times high. The attacks on the synthetic fuel factories from September 11 to 13th cost the Americans no less than 91 bombers, but the destruction of fuel capacity, Luftwaffe pilots, and aircraft kept the Germans from any substantial recovery.137 On November 2, 1944, Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces launched a massive attack on the German fuel industry. Of the 490 fighters that sortied to meet the invading formations, the Luftwaffe lost no less than 120 aircraft with 70 pilots killed and wounded. Approximately 40 American bombers fell.138 Nevertheless, the Luftwaffe as a force that could affect the course of the war was through. The Allies had captured the German radar network in France and Belgium. Germany's enemies now based their aircraft in France and Belgium, and even "Spitfires" could range far to the east of the Rhine. For the Allied air forces, the problem was how to turn their air superiority into final victory. At the end of September, control of Allied strategic air forces returned to the air commanders.139 Like the ground commanders, Harris and Spaatz searched for their answer to the question of final victory. Their efforts blasted to bits what little remained of Germany's cities. Nevertheless, contrary to what Douhet and Trenchard had argued, final collapse came only when Allied soldiers moved through the broken wreckage of what had been the Third Reich. Then and only then did the structure as well as the fabric of German society collapse.

By April 1944, the task facing the Luftwaffe had become manifestly beyond its capabilities. Tedder's and Spaatz's direction of Allied air strategy against Germany's transportation and oil production infrastructures placed Anglo-American air efforts solidly within the framework of overall Allied strategy. The pressure of Allied air and ground forces, landed and supported by their navies, caused the Wehrmacht's entire defensive structure in France to collapse. That


collapse threatened to become complete at the beginning of September, but the Allies missed their chance to finish it. The end, however, was no less inevitable. Continued, tenacious German resistance only insured that the Reich would suffer even worse physical destruction and mounting casualties for another eight months.



1. Trevor-Roper, Blitzkrieg to Defeat, Directive #51, 3.11.43., p. 149.

2. KTB OKW, Vol. IV, pp. 299-300.

3. Webster and Frankland, SAOAG, Vol. III, p. 37. This was so, because American bombers were carrying out their missions in great formations; and no matter how accurately the lead bomber might have placed its bombs, the pattern bombing became decreasingly accurate on the fringes of the formations. Bomber Command's aircraft, however, bombed individually on markers placed on the target by the pathfinder forces. If the markers were placed accurately on the target (and within the range of navigational aids reaching into France and the Low Countries, the pathfinders could place their markers with remarkable precision), the individually aimed bombs of the main force could form a very tight pattern.

4. "The Employment of the Night Bomber Force in Connection With the Invasion of the Continent from the United Kingdom," A. T. Harris, 13.1.44., BC/MS.31156/C.-in-C.; copy in the possession of the author.

5. Webster and Frankland, SAOAG, Vol. III, p. 27.

6. Middlebrook, The Nuremberg Raid, p. 82.

7. Webster and Frankland, SAOAG, Vol. III, p. 17.

8. Ibid., p. 19.

9. Zuckerman, From Apes to Warlords, Chapter 13.

10. Ibid., p. 234.

11. Ibid., p. 232.

12. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. III, p. 76.

13. Webster and Frankland, SAOAG, Vol. IV, "Directive by the Supreme Commander to USSTAF and Bomber Command for Support of 'Overlord' During the Preparatory Period," 17.4.44., p. 167.

14. Major L. F. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, The Battle of Normandy (London, 1962), p. 101.

15. Webster and Frankland, SAOAG, Vol. III, p. 39.

16. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, p. 112.

17. PRO AIR 37/1261, Bombing Analysis Units, 4.11.44., B.A.U. Report No. 1, "The Effects of the Overlord Air Plan to Disrupt Enemy Rail Communications." It should be noted that there was some squabbling between Leigh-Mallory and General Louis Brereton who took matters into his own hands and proved that bridges could be destroyed.

18. PRO AIR 37/1261, Bombing Analysis Unit, 4.11.44., B.A.U. Report No. 8, "Changes in the Volume of French Traffic, Expressed in Kilometre Tons, as a Result of Air Attacks, January to July 1944."

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, p. 101.

22. "Die Kämpfe im Westen, I. Teil," based on KTB of Wehrmachts führungsstab, Die Feindlichen Luftangriffe und die Massnahmen gegen ihre Auswirkungen," NARS, T-77/781/5508003.

23. Zuckerman, From Apes to Warlords, p. 232.

24. PRO AIR 37/1261, Bombing Analysis Unit, 4.11.44., B.A.U. Report No. 1, "The Effects of the Overlord Air Plan to Disrupt Enemy Rail Communications."

25. PRO AIR 37/1261, Bombing Analysis Unit, 6.12.44., B.A.U. Report No. 8, "Changes in the Volume of French Traffic, Expressed in Kilometre Tons, as a Result of Air Attacks, January to July 1944."

26. Among many other messages, see PRO DEFE 3/47, KV 3015, 6.5.44., 1316Z; DEFE 3/153, KV 3300, 9.5.44., 2301Z and KV 3292, 9.5.44., 1659Z; DEFE 3/155, KV 3763, 14.5.44., 0412Z; DEFE 3/158, KV 4690, 21.5.44., 0534Z; DEFE 3/161, KV 5446, 27.5.44., 2131Z; DEFE 3/162, KV 5626, 29.5.44., 1107Z; DEFE 3/162, KV 5622, 29.5.44., 0817Z; DEFE 3/163, KV 5825, 31.5.44., 0039Z; DEFE 3/163, KV 5999, 1.6.44., 1516Z.

27. PRO DEFE 3/155, 14.5.44., 0412Z.

28. Air Historical Branch, "Air Attacks Against German Rail Systems During 1944," Luftwaffe Operations Staff/Intelligence, No. 2512/44, "Air Operations Against the German Rail Transport System During March, April, and May 1944," 3.6.44.

29. See, among many others, PRO DEFE 3/58, XL 2299, 16.7.44.; DEFE 3/171, KV 7998, 14.6.44., 0753Z; DEFE 3/179, KV 9976, 28.6.44., 2135Z.


30. Webster and Frankland, SAOAG, Vol. III, p. 33.

31. For a fuller discussion of this point, see Murray, "The Change in the European Balance of Power, 1938-1939," Chapter V.

32. DGFP, Series D, Vol. XI, Doc. #41, 10.9.40.; see also Hitler's comment to the Rumanians in Hillgruber, Staatsmänner bei Hitler, pp. 248-49.

33. For a short account of Germany's petroleum difficulties, see: Der Chef des OKW, Nr. 77986/44, WFST/Qu 3, 25.3.44., An Reichsminister Speer, Imperial War Museum, Speer Collection Reel #27.

34. "Der Beauftragte für den Vierjahresplan 'Mineralöl' Planung für 1940-1945, Planungs-Stand," Dezember 1943, Imperial War Museum, Speer Collection, Reel #35.

35. Der Chef des OKW, Nr. 77986/44, WFST/Qu 3, 25.3.44., An Reichsminister Speer, Imperial War Museum, Reel #27.

36. For the development of the fuel reserve, see: Der Reichsminister der Luftfahrt und Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe, Az. 85 Nr. 2995/43, 13.12.43., An das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Betr.: "Bildung einer Flugbenzin-Reserve"; and Reichminister der Luftfahrt and Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe, Az. 85 Nr. 1873/44, 15.6.44., An das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Betr.: Bildung einer Flugbenzin-Reserve, and assorted other memoranda in NARS, T-77/90/814909-814948.

37. Der Chef des OKW, Nr. 77986/44, WFST/Qu 3, 25.3.44., An Reichsminister Speer, Imperial War Museum, Speer Collection, Reel #27.

38. "Gedanken über die Ausarbeitung des Oberstlt. i.G. Sorze, Die luftstrategische Lage Mitteleuropas," 14.4.44., NARS, T-321/18/4759386.

39. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. III, p. 176.

40. Wener Girbig, . . . mit Kurs auf Leuna, Die Luftoffensive gegen die Treibstoffindustrie und deutscher Abwehreinsatz 1944-1945 (Stuttgart, 1980), pp. 28-32.

41. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, pp. 346-47.

42. PRO 31/20/16, "The Handling of Ultra Information at Headquarters Eighth Air Force," Ansel E. M. Talbert, Major, US Army Air Corps.

43. PRO DEFE 3/156, KV 4021, 16.5.44., 0558Z.

44. PRO DEFE 3/159, KV 4762, 21.5.44., 2054Z.

45. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 348.

46. Girbig, . . . mit Kurs auf Leuna, pp. 40, 55.

47. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 348.

48. PRO DEFE 3/166, KV 6673, 6.6.44., 2356Z.

49. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 350; and Speer's memorandum to Hitler on the fuel situation, 29.7.44., Imperial War Museum, Speer Collection, FD 2690/45 GS, Vol. 3.

50. Girbig, . . . mit Kurs auf Leuna, pp. 66, 77.

51. See the papers dealing with fuel production in the 1944-45 period in the Speer Papers, Vol. 7, Imperial War Museum, FD 2690/45.

52. Speer to Hitler, 30.6.44., Speer Papers, Imperial War Museum, FD 2690/45 G.2, Vol. 3.

53. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 351.

54. Speer to Hitler, 29.7.44., Imperial War Museum, Speer Collection, FD 2690/45 G.2, Vol. 3.

55. Ibid.

56. Report of a conference held by Reichsmarschall Göring on 22.2.43., AHB, Translation No. VII/85.

57. For the German sense that attacks on elements of the transportation system and oil industry were part of a larger plan to destroy the entire transportation system, see the following translation of an OKW Report: "A Report on Enemy Air Attacks on Rumanian and German Centres of Fuel Production, and German Counter Measures, August 1943-June 6, 1944: A Study Issued by the Operations Staff of OKW," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/77.

58. Based on the loss tables in BA/MA, RL 2 III/1025, Genst. 6. Abt. (III A), Front-Flugzeug-Verluste; and BA/MA, RL 2 III/729, 730, Übersicht über Soll, Istbestand, Einsatzbereitschaft, Verluste und Reserven der Fliegenden Verbände.

59. "Statistical Summary of Eighth Air Force Operations, European Theater, 17 Aug 1942-8 May 1945," AFSHRC.

60. Ibid.

61. Based on the loss tables in BA/MA, RL 2 III/1025, Genst, Qu. Gen. 6. Abt. (III A), Front-Flugzeug-Verluste; and BA/MA, RL 2 III/730, Übersicht über Soll, Istbestand, Einsatzbereitschaft, Verluste und Reserven der fliegenden Verbände.


62. BA/MA, RL 2 III/728, Genst. Qu. Gen. 6. Abt. (III A), Übersicht über Soll, Istbestand, Einsatzbereitschaft, Verluste und Reserven der fliegenden Verbände.

63. "The Problems of German Air Defense in 1944," A study prepared by the German Air Historical Branch (8. Abteilung), 5.11.44., Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/22.

64. Ibid.

65. BA/MA, RL 2 II/127, Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, Lw Führungsstab, Nr. 1640/44 (Ia/Ausb), "Taktischer Einzelhinweis Nr. 19, Sicherung des Flugbetriebes gegen feindliche Jagdangriffe."

66. This figure is slightly different from my figure of pilot losses for April calculated on the basis of the quartermaster report in BA/MA, RL 2 III/729, but the discrepancy is not major and is explicable in terms of a differing method of calculation. Galland's figure probably is based on actual losses, while the quartermaster's table is based on the losses reported during the month of April.

67. "Notes on Discussions with Reichsmarschall Göring, Held on May 15-16, 1944, on the Subject of Fighters and Fighter Personnel," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/71.

68. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 169.

69. "Notes on Discussion with Reichsmarschall Göring, Held on May 15-16, 1944, on the Subject of Fighters and Fighter Personnel," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/71.

70. See the "Ultra" message in DEFE 3/178, KV 9684, 26.6.44., 1528Z, for confirmation on the continuation of this practice.

71. PRO DEFE 3/46, KV 2850, 4.5.44., 2257Z; and DEFE 3/47, KV 3174, 8.5.44., 0759Z.

72. DEFE 3/165, KV 6476, 5.6.44., 1210Z.

73. BA/MA, RL 7/553, see: Der Chef der Luftflotte 6, O.Qu. Nr. 1402/444, Betr.: "Jägerhilfsaktion."

74. Organisationsabteilung III, Nr. 91 520/44, 1.5.44., Betr.: "Auswirkung der Fliegerschäden Friedrichshafen auf Panzer-Fertigung." Stand 29.4. Abends., NARS, T-78/414/6382263.

75. Among many messages, see PRO DEFE 3/154, KV 3525, 11.5.44., 2032Z; DEFE 3/153, KV 3417, 10.5.44., 2033Z; DEFE 3/153, KV 3327, 9.5.44., 0845Z; DEFE 3/160, KV 5141, 25.5.44., 1020Z; DEFE 3/159, KV 4944, 23.5.44., 2054Z; and DEFE 3/168, KV 7135, 9.6.44., 1648Z.

76. See, among others, PRO DEFE 3/155, KV 3863, 14.5.44., 2020Z; and DEFE 3/153, KV 3430, 10.5.44., 2129Z.

77. PRO DEFE 3/163, KV 5762, 30.5.44., 1440Z.

78. BA/MA, RL 2 II/5, Der Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches und Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe, Nr. 8947/43, 6.12.43., Betr.: "Drohende Gefahr West."

79. BA/MA, RL 2 II/5, Der Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches und Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe, Nr. 9221/44, 27.2.44., Betr.: "Drohende Gefahr West." See also BA/MA, RL 2 II/127, Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, Führungsstab, Ia/Ausb. Nr. 70/44, 13.5.44., Taktischer Einzelhinweis Nr. 4, "Richtlinien für die Ausbildung von Jagdverbänden im Schlachtfliegereinsatz," for a thoroughly unrealistic appreciation of the possibilities open to the Luftwaffe to meet the invasion.

80. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 329.

81. BA/MA, RL 2 II/127, see Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, Führungsstab, 13.5.44., "Taktischer Einzelhinweis Nr. 4, Richtlinien für die Ausbildung von Jagdverbänden im Schlachtfliegereinsatz."

82. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 329.

83. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, p. 130.

84. Ibid., p. 223.

85. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 196.

86. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, pp. 329-30.

87. Air Historical Branch, "Luftwaffe Losses on the Western Front (Luftflotte 3), June 1944," Translation No. VII/136.

88. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. III, p. 221.

89. Headquarters Air P/W Interrogation Detachment, Military Intelligence Service, A.P.W.I.U. (North Air Force) 63/1945, 29.5.45., "A Crack German Panzer Division and What Allied Air Power Did to It Between D-day and V-day."

90. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 330.

91. "Some Aspects of the German Fighter Effort During the Initial Stages of the Invasion of N. W. Europe," 18.11.44., Oberst Mettig, Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VI/19.

92. Among others, see PRO DEFE 3/166, KV 6675, KV 6699, KV 6694, KV 6749, and KV 6735; see also "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 196.

93. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 330.

94. Based on figures in "Luftwaffe Losses on the Western Front (Luftflotte 3), June 1944," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/136.


95. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 197.

96. PRO DEFE 3/171, KV 7815, 13.6.44., 0715Z.

97. PRO DEFE 3/176, KV 9416, 24.6.44., 2151Z.

98. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, p. 238.

99. Ralph Bennett, Ultra in the West, The Normandy Campaign 1944-45 (New York, 1979), p. 68. This is a thoroughly admirable book by an author who has taken the trouble to read the "Ultra" files and has, therefore, been able to indicate among other things that claims that there was no "Ultra" information on the Battle of the Bulge are entirely false. A recent book about Eisenhower and his generals has continued this claim. Astonishingly, the author of that work, who makes all sorts of claims for "Ultra's" impact on the war, does not appear to have read the files. The messages on the location of Panzer Group West are in PRO DEFE 3/168, KV 7171, 9.6.44., 2044Z; and KV 7225, 10.6.44., 0439Z.

100. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, p. 258.

101. PRO DEFE 3/171, KV 7998, 14.6.44., 0753Z.

102. Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I, pp. 271-74.

103. Russell Weigley in his Eisenhower's Lieutenants (Bloomington, 1981), pp. 50-53, suggests that had the Americans been on the left flank at Normandy instead of the right flank, they would have better utilized the open country around Caen. This is an interesting thesis, but on the whole untenable given the nature of the resistance that the Germans established. 1 SS, 2 SS, 12 SS, 21 Panzer Division, 2 Panzer Division, and 116 Panzer Division were not the sort of units that one broke through easily.

104. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," pp. 210-11.

105. Based on the figures in "Luftwaffe Losses on the Western Front (Luftflotte 3), June 1944," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/136; and "Luftwaffe Losses in the Area of Luftflotte Reich, June 1944," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/139.

106. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 332.

107. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 199.

108. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 332.

109. Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, Führungsstab Ic, Nr. 3080/44, 16.7.44., Betr.: "Britischnordamerikanische Luftkriegsführung gegen Deutschland," Imperial War Museum, Speer Collection, Roll #21, FD 3046/49.

110. J. C. Masterman, The Double Cross System (New Haven, 1972), pp. 157-58.

111. "The Effects of Air Power," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VII/40.

112. Ibid.

113. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 216.

114. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 333.

115. Ibid.

116. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Forces Europe vs German Air Force," p. 217.

117. Ibid., pp. 224-25, 234.

118. Ziemke, Stalingrad to Berlin, p. 319.

119. Ibid., pp. 323-25.

120. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 363.

121. Ibid., p. 357.

122. Ibid., p. 358.

123. Ibid., pp. 357-59.

124. See the reports of the three flak divisions involved in the collapse of Army Group Center in BA/MA, RL 7/522, 12. Flakdivision (mot), Kommandeur, Br. B. Nr. 167/44, 24.8.44., An Luftwaffenkommando 6; 23. Flakdivision (mot), Kommandeur, Br. B. Nr. 3/44, 25.8.44., Betr.: Stellungnahme zum Zusammenbruch der Verteidigungsfront im Abschnitt der Heeresgruppe Mitte; Flakdivision (mot.), Kommandeur, 26.8.44.,"Der Zusammenbruch der Heeresgruppe Mitte im Sommer 1944."

125. OKW KTB, Vol. IV, p. 338.

126. Bennett, Ultra in the West, pp. 114-16.

127. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, pp, 335-39.

128. "Ultra, History of US Strategic Air Force Europe vs German Air Force," p. 251.

129. Based on figures in "Luftwaffe Losses on the Western Front (Luftflotte 3), 1 July-31 August 1944," Air Historical Branch, Translation No. VIII/144; "Luftwaffe Losses in the Area of Luftflotte Reich, July-September 1944," AHB, Translation No. VII/142; and "Luftflotte Strength and Serviceability Tables, August 1938-April 1945," AHB, Translation No. VII/107.


130. The following account is based on Ellis, Victory in the West, Vol. I; R. W. Thompson, The Eighty-Five Days (New York, 1957); Weigley, Eisenhower's Lieutenants; Martin Blumenson, Breakout and Pursuit (Washington, 1961); Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War.

131. OKW situation maps on the western front, August and September 1944, NARS, Captured German Records Division, Washington, D.C.

132. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War, pp. 364-67.

133. J. L. Moulton, Battle for Antwerp, The Liberation of the City and the Opening of the Scheldt, 1944 (London, 1978), pp. 52-53.

134. PRO DEFE 3/127/XL 9188, 5.9.44., 1152Z; and DEFE 3/128, XL 9245, 6.9.44., 0103Z.

135. Air Ministry, The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, p. 339.

136. See particularly Thompson, The Eighty-Five Days, p. 19, and Parts 3 and 4.

137. Girbing, . . . mit Kurs auf Leuna, p. 139.

138. Ibid., pp. 154-55.

139. PRO AIR 2/8699, 25.9.44., CMS/608/DCAS, Air Ministry.


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