Air war during the Normandy campaign

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Shermaninterest
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Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Shermaninterest » 01 Mar 2016 16:45

Recently i tried to learn more about the airwar over Normandy. Unfortunatly there seems to be no comprehensive book about that topic not even a book which deals in some detail with this. To this point i wasn't even able how much aircraft were employed during the campaign for both sides. Christer Bergström, which books i like a lot, hasn't done anything on the Western Front except BoB and other known historians also focused their work on BoB or North Africa.

Does anybody know a good book ? Iam mostly interested in anylsis, numbers, statistics to get a better grasp of the situation over Normandy.

How much aircraft were the Germans even able to use? Did they tried to use bombers? Were they ever able to conduct ground attack/support missions? I have read that during Cobra "a lot" German aircraft were able to enter the battle and contribute.

How much aircraft did the Allies employ over the entire duration?

Some informations from Bergström suggest that the highest numbers for aircraft were 13000 allied and 1300 german. Did the Germans reinforce their airforce during July/August? Zetterling in his Swedisch books seems to say 2,127 german losses. I didn't read the book, i guess it got never printed in english. Somebody got access to that book?

Orwell1984
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Orwell1984 » 01 Mar 2016 17:09

Since you mentioned Bergström, this may be of use to you"

Air War Over Normandy by Christer Bergström
http://www.bergstrombooks.elknet.pl/normandy.htm

4 part article he wrote.

Shermaninterest
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Shermaninterest » 01 Mar 2016 17:17

Yeah i read that right before making the post. Sadly its rather short. He got some nice information but not a lot sadly.

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Pips
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Pips » 02 Mar 2016 08:07

Sadly there is no detailed, single authored book that covers Normandy onwards. Certainly nothing from the German side.
But there are two books that can give you what you need from the Allied side.

The first book is "Air War Europa, America's Air War Against Germany In Europe And North Africa. Chronology 1942-1945:, by Eric Hammel. It consists of a detailed list of all operations by day, by target, y country, by 8th, 9th 12th and 15th air forces. It also includes losses (combat reports) and claims (based on pilots/gunners claims, not actual comparison against Germans loss records) in the same form. An excellent book, and gives perhaps the best appreciation of the growth of American air power over Europe, and the formidable weapon it became.

The second book is a series of 3 by Christopher Shores. It's "2nd Tactical Air Force", Volume 1 (Spartan to Normandy, June 1943 to June 1944), Volume 2 (Breakout to Bodenplatte, July 1944 to January 1945) and Volume 3 (From the Rhine to Victory, January to May 1945). It too details all actions by day, by target, by region, with claims and losses. However unlike Air War Europa, the claims listed in these books are far more specific and accurate (with most German air actions identified by person/unit), in typical Chris Shore fashion.

You certainly won't find more detailed information on Allied actions, raids, losses and claims over Normandy, France and Germany in 19445/45. And it's probably as close as you'll come to finding information of German actions, if only by default.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Sheldrake » 02 Mar 2016 11:39

There are several books that tell the story from the British allied,rather than US perspective.
Chris shores volumes on the history of 2nd Tactical Air Force is one (or rather the second volume II covering Normandy to Bodenplatte). I have not read it, but Chris works on the middle and far east are well researched with an attempt to reconcile the stories from each side of each engagement.

John Foreman's 1944 "Over the beaches" is an Allied oriented anal;ysis for June 1944.

There are the official histories, but even the internal classified histories have a political edge. They were certainly not interested in re-evaluating fighter combats in any way that might challenge narratives that had led to awards, decorations and promotion.

You could contact Ross Mahoney. He is the resident Historian at the RAF Musuem Hendon and posts omnn this board asas "Mahross" http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/blog/author ... historian/

It is harder to get a picture of the Luftwaffe side of these battles. There are chapters in Alfred Price's book on the end of the luftwaffe, and in the Luftwaffe War Diaries, and the excellent history of JG26 covers one unit. I haven't found anything that covers the scope of the Luftwaffe operations in Normandy. It may be that the sources are not that easy to obtain. Luftwaffe losses were heavy and they may have lost records. It may be that is hasn't attracted the interest of Luftwaffe historians. The campaign lacks the luftwaffle cliches. The Germans lost the battle without outnumbered aces racking up high scores of kills There is a story to be told about the Luftwaffe in Normandy and the pilots do better than they are given credit. It is clear from army accounts and diaries that the Luftwaffe were quite active, especially over the SE corner of the beachhead and the activities oif the night bombers did have a moral effect. Furthermore the flak arm inflicted very high casualties on the allied air forces to the extent that the allies cut back on air operations in July 1944.

If you find a good account let me know.

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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Sean Claxton » 02 Mar 2016 18:37

Hello there,

Not completely what you're after but Jean-Bernard Frappé's "La Luftwaffe face au débarquement allié" is useful. It's in French and focuses on Fw190 and Bf109 equipped units. It's hard to find unless you have an inordinate amount of spare cash.
Here's one on amazon for €344,90....
http://www.amazon.fr/Luftwaffe-d%C3%A9b ... barquement

After years of searching I found one at a reasonable price a while back, so they do pop up.

HTH

Sean

Andrew Arthy
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Andrew Arthy » 03 Mar 2016 01:48

Hi,

Some answers to your questions:
How much aircraft were the Germans even able to use?
Day 6 June 1944: 237 sorties, 11 losses
Night 6/7 June 1944: 249 sorties, 11 losses
Day 7 June 1944: 357 sorties, 32 losses
Night 7/8 June 1944: 295 sorties, 22 losses
Day 8 June 1944: 424 sorties, 37 losses
Night 8/9 June 1944: 105 sorties, 4 losses
Day 9 June 1944: 424 sorties, 15 losses
Night 9/10 June 1944: 246 sorties, 15 losses
Day 10 June 1944: 309 sorties, 20 losses
Night 10/11 June 1944: 200 sorties, 16 losses
Day 11 June 1944: 67 sorties, 5 losses
Night 11/12 June 1944: 77 sorties, 3 losses
Day 12 June 1944: 266 sorties, 19 losses
Night 12/13 June 1944: 304 sorties, 19 losses
Day 13 June 1944: 384 sorties, 8 losses
Night 13/14 June 1944: 198 sorties, 13 losses
Day 14 June 1944: 288 sorties, 17 losses
Night 14/15 June 1944: 288 sorties, 17 losses
Night 14/15 June 1944: 259 sorties, 20 losses
Day 15 June 1944: 344 sorties, 18 losses
Night: 158 sorties, 4 losses
Day 16 June 1944: 349 sorties, 7 losses
Night 16/17 June 1944: 96 sorties, 8 losses
Day 17 June 1944: 329 sorties, 25 losses
Night 17/18 June 1944: 103 sorties, 14 losses
Day 18 June 1944: 268 sorties, 4 losses
Night 18/19 June 1944: 116 sorties, 10 losses
Day 19 June 1944: 359 sorties, 7 losses
Night 19/20 June 1944: 89 sorties, six losses
Day 20 June 1944: 214 fighter sorties, 13 losses
Night 20/21 June 1944: 59 bombers mining in Seine Bay, 9 Ju 88 night fighters in western France
Day 21 June 1944: 414 fighters over Normandy, 14 losses
Night 21/22 June 1944: 63 IX. Fliegerkorps aircraft laying mines, 14 bombers against shipping, 8 Me 410s over England, 42 night fighters over western France
Day 22 June 1944: 288 fighters, 16 losses
Night 22/23 June 1944: 77 bombers mining in Seine Bay, 8 bombers against naval targets, 2 Me 410s to London, 50 night fighters
I have read that during Cobra "a lot" German aircraft were able to enter the battle and contribute.
Day 18 July 1944: 250 fighters, 12 losses
Night 18/19 July 1944: 15 night fighters, 119 bombers
Day 19 July 1944: 304 fighters, 12 losses
Night 19/20 July 1944: 83 night fighters, 106 bombers
Day 20 July 1944: 223 fighters, 3 losses
Night 20/21 July 1944: 134 bombers
Day 21 July 1944: 22 fighters, 3 losses
Night 21/22 July 1944: 50 night fighters, 6 bombers
Day 22 July 1944: 144 fighters, 0 losses
Night 22/23 July 1944: 124 bombers
Day 23 July 1944: 81 fighters, 0 losses
Night 23/24 July 1944: 89 bombers
Day 24 July 1944: 472 fighters, 7 losses
Night 24/25 July 1944: 45 night fighters, 113 bombers
Day 25 July 1944: 441 fighters, 3 losses
Night 25/26 July 1944: 84 night fighters, 175 bombers
Day 26 July 1944: 420 fighters, 5 losses
Night 26/27 July 1944: 79 night fighters, 143 bombers
Day 27 July 1944: 506 fighters, 8 losses
Night 27/28 July 1944: 24 night fighters, 139 bombers
Day 28 July 1944: 278 fighters, 0 losses
Night 28/29 July 1944: 157 bombers
Day 29 July 1944: 287 fighters, 1 loss
Night 29/30 July 1944: 110 night fighters, 147 bombers
Day 30 July 1944: 323 fighters, 9 losses
Night 30/31 July 1944: 242 bombers
Day 31 July 1944: 231 fighters, 6 losses
Night 31 July/1 August 1944: 130 bombers

Sources: Luftflotte 3 records; KTB S.K.L.
Did they tried to use bombers?
Yes, most of the night sorties were bombers. They had a bit of success against Allied shipping.
Were they ever able to conduct ground attack/support missions?
III./Schlachtgeschwader 4 participated in the initial week after the landings, and fighter units focussed on ground-attack missions throughout. Kurt Dahlmann's I./Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 was engaged on night ground-attack sorties throughout as well.

Below is part of the Luftwaffe daylight effort on 17 June 1944.
17 June 1944.JPG
Cheers,
Andrew A.
Air War Publications - http://www.airwarpublications.com/earticles
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Shermaninterest
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Shermaninterest » 03 Mar 2016 17:26

Awesome post, thanks a lot. There is no definitve number on German or Allies planes involved, is there?

Mori
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Mori » 29 Mar 2016 11:10

For NW Europe, the strategic war seems to be much better documented than the tactical air warfare.

It's not clear why tactical air has attracted so little attention from scholars. It could be that any close investigation would lead to major revision of Allied claims (both against enemy air and enemy vehicles). However, this would have been valid for 20-30 years after official history publication, and we are beyond that.

For those who want to assess German strength, I recommend exploring the ULTRA intercept. ULTRA caught Luftwaffe messages very well, and these routinely include report on number of aircraft by base. The whole DEFE3 series of ULTRA intercepts is available for free download at TNA - and that's over 100 000 pages of reading, so it should make one busy for quite a while.

It is worth having a look at the reports from 21 AG research team (here). They show that airmen claims are fantasy. These reports were very badly received by the RAF, which goes some way into explaining why the airforce never pushed for "ground confirmation" of their claims.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Sheldrake » 01 Apr 2016 00:06

Mori wrote:For NW Europe, the strategic war seems to be much better documented than the tactical air warfare.

It's not clear why tactical air has attracted so little attention from scholars. It could be that any close investigation would lead to major revision of Allied claims (both against enemy air and enemy vehicles). However, this would have been valid for 20-30 years after official history publication, and we are beyond that.
Yes. Organisational politics could have played a major part. This was the first war fought by an independent Royal Air Force, founded on the arguments for strategic air power in offence and defence; and by the USAAF keen to become and independent arm. Of course they emphasized the strategic -(independent) over the tactical (army support) role.

The air forces reaped the benefits of a favourable press over their influence on the land battle. Allied claims plus German comments about jabos made their air forces look very good.

However, The allies flew far fewer sorties in July than in June, because of the high loss rates, mainly to flak.

If you take a cold hard look at the German actual losses to air attack against allied aircraft losses, the air war over Normandy looks different. In terms of physical damage inflicted it is hard to justify the loss of aircraft brassing up dummy aircraft or tank hulks. But that ignores the psychological impact on the Germans from generals down. There is no doubt that allied air-power sapped German spirit.

Andrew Arthy
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Andrew Arthy » 13 Jun 2022 03:49

Hi,

Here is an updated list of Luftwaffe sorties over Normandy, with most of the gaps filled:

Day 6 June 1944
- 237 sorties, 11 losses

Night 6/7 June 1944
- 249 sorties, 11 losses

Day 7 June 1944
- 357 sorties, 32 losses

Night 7/8 June 1944
- 295 sorties, 22 losses

Day 8 June 1944
- 424 sorties, 37 losses

Night 8/9 June 1944
- 105 sorties, 4 losses

Day 9 June 1944
- 424 sorties, 15 losses

Night 9/10 June 1944
- 246 sorties, 15 losses

Day 10 June 1944
- 309 sorties, 20 losses

Night 10/11 June 1944
- 200 sorties, 16 losses

Day 11 June 1944
- 67 sorties, 5 losses

Night 11/12 June 1944
- 77 sorties, 3 losses

Day 12 June 1944
- 266 sorties, 19 losses

Night 12/13 June 1944
- 304 sorties, 19 losses

Day 13 June 1944
384 sorties, 8 losses

Night 13/14 June 1944
- 198 sorties, 13 losses

Day 14 June 1944
- 288 sorties, 17 losses

Night 14/15 June 1944
- 288 sorties, 17 losses

Night 14/15 June 1944
- 259 sorties, 20 losses

Day 15 June 1944
- 344 sorties, 18 losses

Night 15/16 June 1944
- 158 sorties, 4 losses

Day 16 June 1944
- 349 sorties, 7 losses

Night 16/17 June 1944
- 96 sorties, 8 losses

Day 17 June 1944
- 329 sorties, 25 losses

Night 17/18 June 1944
- 103 sorties, 14 losses

Day 18 June 1944
- 268 sorties, 4 losses

Night 18/19 June 1944
- 116 sorties, 10 losses

Day 19 June 1944
- 359 sorties, 7 losses

Night 19/20 June 1944
- 89 sorties, six losses

Day 20 June 1944
- 214 fighter sorties, 13 losses

Night 20/21 June 1944
- 59 bombers mining in Seine Bay, 9 Ju88 night fighters in western France

Day 21 June 1944
- 414 fighters over Normandy, 14 losses

Night 21/22 June 1944
- 63 IX. Fliegerkorps aircraft laying mines
- 14 bombers against shipping
- 8 Me 410s over England
- 42 night fighters over western France

Day 22 June 1944
- 288 fighters, 16 losses

Night 22/23 June 1944
- 77 bombers mining in Seine Bay
- 8 bombers against naval targets
- 2 Me 410s to London
- 50 night fighters

Day 23 June 1944

Day 24 June 1944

Day 25 June 1944

Day 26 June 1944

Day 27 June 1944

Day 28 June 1944

Day 29 June 1944

Day 30 June 1944

Night 30 June/1 July 1944
- Night fighter and defensive reconnaissance sorties
- 79 sorties by II. Jagdkorps
- 66 sorties by IX. Fliegerkorps, carrying out minelaying operations in Seine Bay and attacks on shipping
- 8 other sorties by IX. Fliegerkorps
- 1 sortie by X. Fliegerkorps
- 4 sorties by 2. Flieger-Division
- 2 sorties by AGr.123

Day 1 July 1944
- II. Jagdkorps intentions were the same as 30 June 1944: operations from dawn in Schwärme strength, or concentrated operations according to weather to protect own movements in the area of Caen/Tille/Vire/Lemesnil Villemont
- Sea reconnaissance
- Armed reconnaissance
- II. Jagdkorps employed 400 fighters supported the army, on fighter sweeps and against hostile fighter-bomber formations
- 1 sortie by X. Fliegekorps
- 8 sorties by 2. Flieger-Division
- 1 sortie by A.Gr. 123
- 2 sorties by N.A.Gr. 13

Day 2 July 1944
- II. Fliegerkorps and Fliegerführer West were ordered to be disbanded.
- 324 sorties by II. Jagdkorps
- 11 sorties by 2. Flieger-Division
- 2 sorties by A.Gr. 123
- 2 sorties by N.A.Gr. 13
- 2 sorties by Geschwader Bongart

Night 2/3 July 1944
- 62 mining sorties
- 14 bombers against ships in Seine Bight

Day 3 July 1944

Night 3/4 July 1944
- 57 aircraft mining Orne Mouth, five losses
- 13 bombers attacked shipping targets off Orne Mouth

Day 4 July 1944

Night 4/5 July 1944
- 60 aircraft of IX. Fliegerkorps mining
- 15 aircraft of IX. Fliegerkorps against shipping
- 14 He177 and 17 Do 217 of X. Fliegerkorps against shipping
- 20 aircraft of 2. Flieger-Division against shipping

Day 5 July 1944
- 444 fighters supporting the army
- 33 fighters on sweeps

Day 6 July 1944
- 284 fighters supporting the army
- 103 fighters on sweeps
- 37 fighters against partisans in area of Lyon-St. Claude

Day 7 July 1944
- 346 fighters supporting army and on sweeps, 15 victories

Night 7/8 July 1944
- 91 aircraft mining Seine Bight, 6 losses
- 15 Fw 190s attacked occupied towns and road targets west of the Orne mouth, no losses
- 9 Me 410 attacked airfields in the Caen area, 1 loss
- 95 night fighters operating in western France, 65 victories, 5 losses
- 2 Me 410 and 1 Bf 109 reconnaissance to London

Day 8 July 1944

Night 8/9 July 1944
- 90 bombers of IX. Fliegerkorps to the Seine Bight
- 9 Ju88s attacking shipping targets off the Orne mouth

Day 9 July 1944
- 121 fighters supporting the army, 5 victories, 1 loss

Night 9/10 July 1944
- 86 bombers mining Seine Bight, no losses
- 12 Fw 190s against localities and airfields in the bridgehead
- 5 night fighters without success

Day 10 July 1944

Night 10/11 July 1944
- 62 aircraft mining Seine Bight

Day 11 July 1944

Night 11/12 July 1944
- 85 aircraft mining Seine Bight, 4 losses

Day 12 July 1944
- 359 fighters supporting the army, 8 victories, 4 losses
- 32 aircraft against partisans in southern France

Night 12/13 July 1944
- 33 aircraft against shipping in Seine Bight (14 against main target, 18 against alternative target), 3 losses
- 41 aircraft mining Seine Bight (38 over target), 1 loss
- 17 aircraft attacked bridges in bridgehead
- 2 aircraft with Sonderkampfmitteln against Orne-Mündung, an emergency target was attacked due to weather situation
- 88 night fighters over western France, 7 victories

Day 13 July 1944
- 340 fighters supporting the army, 9 victories, 13 losses

Day 14 July 1944
- 356 fighters supporting the army, 12 victories, 4 losses

Night 14/15 July 1944
- 107 aircraft mining Seine Bight, 3 losses
- 27 fast bombers attacking ground targets and airfields in bridgehead
- 98 night fighters over western France, 7 four-engine aircraft shot down, 3 losses
- 1 Me410 reconnaissance Portsmouth-Southampton

Day 15 July 1944
- 309 fighters supporting the army, 3 victories, 1 loss

Night 15/16 July 1944
- 150 aircraft mining Seine Bight, 8 losses
- 9 Fw 190 against ground targets in the bridgehead
- 13 Me 410 against airfield west of Caen

Day 16 July 1944
- The dissolution of II.Fliegerkorps was suspended, and Göring ordered II.Jagdkorps to set it up again.

Night 16/17 July 1944
- 108 bombers of IX. Fliegerkorps attacked troops north-west of Caen, 20 losses

Day 17 July 1944

Night 17/18 July 1944
- 119 bombers of IX. Fliegerkorps against supply and artillery positions in the Caen area, 1 loss
- 13 night fighters, no victories, no losses

Day 18 July 1944

Day 19 July 1944

Day 18 July 1944
- 250 fighters, 12 losses

Night 18/19 July 1944
- 15 night fighters, 119 bombers

Day 19 July 1944
- 304 fighters, 12 losses

Night 19/20 July 1944
- 83 night fighters, 106 bombers

Day 20 July 1944
- 223 fighters, 3 losses

Night 20/21 July 1944
- 134 bombers

Day 21 July 1944
- 22 fighters, 3 losses

Night 21/22 July 1944
- 50 night fighters, 6 bombers

Day 22 July 1944
- 144 fighters, 0 losses

Night 22/23 July 1944
- 124 bombers

Day 23 July 1944
- 81 fighters, 0 losses

Night 23/24 July 1944
- 89 bombers

Day 24 July 1944
- 472 fighters, 7 losses

Night 24/25 July 1944
- 45 night fighters, 113 bombers

Day 25 July 1944
- 441 fighters, 3 losses

Night 25/26 July 1944
- 84 night fighters, 175 bombers

Day 26 July 1944
- 420 fighters, 5 losses

Night 26/27 July 1944
- 79 night fighters, 143 bombers

Day 27 July 1944
506 fighters, 8 losses

Night 27/28 July 1944
- 24 night fighters, 139 bombers

Day 28 July 1944
- 278 fighters, 0 losses

Night 28/29 July 1944
- 157 bombers

Day 29 July 1944
- 287 fighters, 1 loss

Night 29/30 July 1944
- 110 night fighters, 147 bombers

Day 30 July 1944
- 323 fighters, 9 losses

Night 30/31 July 1944
- 242 bombers

Day 31 July 1944
- 231 fighters, 6 losses

Night 31 July/1 August 1944
- 130 bombers


Sources
- BA-MA RM 7/301
- Luftflotte 3 records
- KTB SKL

Cheers

Richard Anderson
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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Richard Anderson » 13 Jun 2022 04:12

Brilliant Andrew, thank you. Since my Dad was AAA - landed 14 June - this kind of data has a special significance for me.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Air war during the Normandy campaign

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Jun 2022 00:16

Pattons Air Force ' by Spires is a slim volume on the US tactical air groups supporting the Third Army in Europe. The opening chapters give a useful overview of the air operations in close support of the ground combat.

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