I have been reading a lot of books about the air war, both general history and biographies. Most books describes the Germans as almost finished after the Bodenplatte attack, and that the Allied had total air superiority after that.
This week I have been re-reading Clostermans book (he was flying a Tempest in the late war). Closterman describes spring 1945 as very tough, with hard German resistance (long nosed 190:s) and very strong AA defence. His squad lost a lot of planes and pilots during this period. Closterman describes large 190 flights, and this to the very end in May 1945.
Isn’t this strange, or maybe the Germans concentrated their forces to his sector (the Rhine)?
‘Tail End Charlies’ Hans I just finished, about the ‘tail-end’ of WW2 - the last days of the war. Yes the huge formations of Allied bombers were torn to pieces even at the end of the war by massed formations of German fighters. Over the Fatherland. It was the Fatherland and all the sons came home to fight one last time I think. We would wouldn’t we.
Unbelievable so-heavy flak fields put up too even when attacked on all sides. Armageddon down there.
Final week of February 1944: the Americans drop more bombs on Germany than in the whole of 1943.
157 bombers and 33 fighters from the Eighth lost plus 58 bombers from the 15th (based in Italy)
RAF Bomber Command lost 140 aircraft in night missions
Claimed were 600 Luftwaffe fighters shot down, 1000 half-built planes destroyed on the ground
For the Germans the loss of pilots was more devastating than the loss of machines
Underground factories producing aircraft…
Early March 1945: 200 Ju-88’s fly low over England and catch the returning enemy bombers as they are landing. 24 RAF bombers destroyed over England. 25 Ju-88’s fail to RTB
After the April 7th ‘suicide mission’ (17 bombers lost to the Eighth, most by the desperate kamikase-ramming tactic) “If Herrmann had been able to put… 1500 fighters in the air… 20 times the number he was able to deploy…”
1500/20 = 75 German fighters (plus some 262’s in the mix to lure away Allied fighter escort)
So evidence of at least two large formations very late on
The relative size of the Western Front and percentage of the Luftwaffe units assigned, meant you were more likely to run into German fighters if you flew with 122 Wing or an American tactical sqaudron. Also, since about 1942 the Germans on the defenseive in the West had tended to fly in Gruppe formations of 30-40, so when battles did occur the Allies were sometimes outnumbered. For the kind of low to medium altitidue Armed Recce sorties the RAF tended to fly in formations of 8 as it was more flexible.
Roughly 1/3rd of all Germans guns produced and used in WW2 was for flak - that gives you an idea of what it was like at low level over the Rhine