Luftwaffe

History; WW1 World War I; Inter-war period; WW2 World War II; Cold war; Reunification; Luftwaffe strength List (1940-1945)

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At the outset of the war, the Luftwaffe was one of the most modern, powerful, and experienced air forces in the world, dominating the skies over Europe with aircraft much more advanced than their counterparts. The Luftwaffe was central to the German Blitzkrieg (lightning war) doctrine, as the close air support provided by various medium two-engine bombers, Stuka dive bombers and an overwhelming force of tactical fighters were key to several early successes.
Junkers Ju 87 Stuka
Dornier Do 215
Junkers Ju-188
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Junkers Ju 88
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Heinkel He 111
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Junkers Ju 52
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Luftwaffe

The Luftwaffe ("air weapon") is the German air force.

Contents
1 History
1.1 WW1 World War I
1.2 Inter-war period
1.3 WW2 World War II
1.4 Cold war
1.5 Reunification


WW1 - World War I

Max Immelmann was the first German fighter pilot to win the coveted Pour le M?rite after destroying eight enemy aircraft. It was because of this that the decoration became popularly known as "The Blue Max", though, later, the minimum score needed to win the medal would be raised to 20.The forerunner of the Luftwaffe, the Imperial German Army Air Service - the Luftstreitkr?fte, was founded in 1910 before the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918) with the emergence of military aircraft, although they were intended to be used primarily for reconnaissance in support of armies on the ground, just as balloons had been used in the same fashion during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 and even as far back as the Napoleonic Wars. It was not the world's first air force, however, because France's embryonic army air service, which eventually became the L'Arm?e de l'Air, had also been founded in 1910 and Britain's Royal Flying Corps, which eventually became the Royal Air Force, was founded in 1912.

During the war, the Imperial Army Air Service utilised a wide variety of aircraft, ranging from fighters (such as those manufactured by Albatros-Flugzeugwerke and Fokker), reconnaissance aircraft (Aviatik and DFW) and heavy bombers (Gothaer Waggonfabrik, better known simply as Gotha, and Zeppelin-Staaken).

The Pour le M?rite medal is clearly in view here.However, the fighters received the most attention in the annals of military aviation, since it produced "aces" such as Manfred von Richthofen, popularly known as "The Red Baron", Ernst Udet, Hermann G?ring, Oswald Boelcke (considered the first master tactician of "dogfighting"), Max Immelmann (the first airman to win the Pour le M?rite, Imperial Germany's highest decoration for gallantry, as a result of which the decoration became popularly known as the "Blue Max") and Werner Voss. As well as the German Navy, the German Army also used Zeppelins as airships for bombing military and civilian targets in occupied France and Belgium as well as the United Kingdom.

All aircraft in service until early 1918 were distinguishable as being German from the Iron Cross that was being used as the German military aircraft insignia. (It should be noted, though, that Germany's closest ally, Austria-Hungary, also adopted the Iron Cross for its aircraft.)


The Fokker Dr.I (Dreidecker = "three-wing") was the mount of Manfred von Richthofen and so became one of the best-known fighter planes of World War IFrom early 1918, German military aircraft began to sport the straight-line Balken Cross (Balkenkreuz, Balken = "beam"), which would become better known the world over during the era of the Third Reich.

After the war ended in German defeat, the service was dissolved completely under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which demanded that its aeroplanes be completely destroyed. As a result of this disbanding, the present-day Luftwaffe (which dates from 1955, in any case) is not the oldest independent air force in the world, since the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom is older, having been founded on 1 April 1918.


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Inter-war period

Since Germany had been banned by the Treaty of Versailles from having an air force, there existed the need to train its pilots for a future war in secret. Initially, civil aviation schools within Germany were used, yet only light training planes could be used in order to maintain the facade that the trainees were going to fly with civil airlines like Lufthansa. In order to train its pilots on the latest combat aircraft, Germany solicited the help of its future enemy, the USSR. A secret training airfield was established at Lipetsk in 1924 and operated for approximately nine years using mostly Dutch and Russian, but also some German, training aircraft before being closed in 1933.

Collar tabs of a major in the Luftwaffe (1935-1945). Specifically, the tabs with a yellow background denoted those officers who were in the flying divisions of the Luftwaffe, whereas officers in other divisions, such as anti-aircraft artillery (Flak) and parachute troops (Fallschirmj?ger) had patches with different colored backgrounds.On February 26, 1935, Adolf Hitler ordered Hermann G?ring to reinstate the Luftwaffe, breaking the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919. Germany broke it without sanction from Britain and France or the League of Nations, yet neither the two nations nor the League did anything to oppose either this or any other action which broke the provisions of the Treaty. Although the new air force was to be run totally separately from the army, it retained the tradition of according army ranks to its officers and airmen, a tradition retained today by the Bundesluftwaffe of the unified Germany and by many air forces throughout the world. However, it is worth noting that, before the official promulgation of the Luftwaffe, what was a paramilitary air force was known as the Deutscher Luftverband (DLV), with Ernst Udet as its head, and the DLV uniform insignia became those of the new Luftwaffe, although the DLV "ranks" were actually given special names that made them sound more civilian than military.

It is of interest to note that Dr. Fritz Todt, the engineer who founded the Organisation Todt that organized the construction of roads before the war and of fortifications, such as the so-called "Atlantic Wall", using thousands of forced laborers during World War II, was appointed to the rank of Generalmajor in the Luftwaffe even if he was not, strictly speaking, an airman, although he had served in an observation squadron during World War I, winning the Iron Cross. (Ironically, he died in an air crash in February 1942.)

The Luftwaffe had the ideal opportunity to test its pilots, aircraft and tactics in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 when the Condor Legion was sent to Spain in support of the anti-Republican government revolt led by Francisco Franco. Modern machines included names which would become world famous: the Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive-bomber and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane. However, as aircraft seconded to Franco's Nationalist air force, Luftwaffe markings were replaced so as not to make the world believe that Germany was actively supporting the revolt. Instead of the Nazi Party's swastika on the tailplane, there was a black "X"-like marking on a white background, painted on the rudder of the aircraft. On the fuselage, meanwhile, instead of the Balkankreuz, there was a black disc. All aircraft in the Legion were affiliated to units given a designation ending in the number 88. For example, bombers were in Kampfgruppe (bomber group) 88, abbreviated to K/88, and fighters in Jagdgruppe (fighter group) 88, J/88. (The markings on the rudder were, and have still been, retained on Spanish military aircraft ever since, though the black disc was replaced with an RAF-style roundel of red-yellow-red.)

.A grim foretaste of the systematic bombing of cities during World War II came in April 1937 when a combined force of German and Italian bombers under National Spanish command destroyed most of the Basque city of Guernica in north-east Spain. This bombing received worldwide condemnation and the collective memory of the horror of the bombing of civilians has ever since become most acute via the famous painting, named after the town, by the Cubist artist, Pablo Picasso. It was feared by many that this would be the way that future air wars would be conducted, since the Italian strategist, General Giulio Douhet (who had died in 1930), had formulated theories regarding what would be dubbed "strategic bombing", the idea that wars would be won by striking from the air at the heart of the industrial muscle of a warring nation and thus demoralizing the civilian population to the point where the government of that nation would be driven to sue for peace - a portent of things to come, certainly, and not just during the war which would break out in Europe only months after the end of the civil war in Spain.

World War 2

By the summer of 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, the Luftwaffe had become the most powerful air force in the world. As such it played a major role in Germany's early successes in the war, and formed a key part of the Blitzkrieg concept, much due to the use of the innovative Junkers Ju 87 dive bomber (Sturzkampfflugzeug—"Stuka"). Germany swept through Poland, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands and France in a matter of months between September 1939 and June 1940 due in no small part to the Luftwaffe, which seemed invincible, causing G?ring to become over-confident in its abilities and boasting that the RAF would be defeated in a matter of a month before the planned launch of Operation Seel?we ("Sealion"), the invasion of the United Kingdom. However, the fact that the English Channel was between occupied France and Norway (since Luftflotte ("Air Fleet") V under Generaloberst Hugo Sperrle operated from Norway) did as much to save the U.K. from invasion as the unexpectedly fierce resistance from the squadrons consisting of pilots of many nationalities, not just British.

Ultimately, the inability of the Luftwaffe to control the skies in what became world famous as the Battle of Britain (so-called after Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast announcing the end of the campaign in France) after the tactical mistake of shifting the focus of operations to bombing industrial targets in cities instead of British airfields formed a key point in the war. German air power, which suffered increasingly from a shortage of aviation fuels, raw materials (especially aluminum) for the construction of aircraft and frequently flawed leadership by G?ring (who managed to deflect blame onto others like Udet), diminished further with the entry of the United States into the conflict in December 1941.

Unlike the Germans, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), under the command of General Henry H. Arnold, developed a strategic bomber force. The USAAF bombers, along with fighters like the P-51 when fitted with droptanks, were capable of very deep penetration into Reich territory and maintained daylight bombing of industrial targets, while their RAF colleagues continued with the offensive by conducting night operations.

Nevertheless, the Luftwaffe remained strong and both the day fighters and the night fighters (see below) were able to shoot down hundreds of Allied bombers, including 95 on a single night (October 30-31, 1944) when the RAF bombed the southern city of Nuremberg, famous as the place where prewar Nazi Party rallies took place (and, postwar, where the trials of Nazi criminals, including G?ring, would take place).

Hans-Ulrich Rudel would become the most successful and most highly-decorated German pilot of World War II flying the "Stuka," whose Ju 87G variant was used to devastating effect as a "tank-buster" with twin 37-mm cannons fitted under the wingsGerman superiority was especially felt on the Eastern Front, given that the Luftwaffe enjoyed an advanced technical standard as well as employing highly trained and experienced pilots like Hans-Ulrich Rudel, who, flying the "Stuka," was to become the most highly decorated pilot of the war, winning the Knight's Cross with Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds (Das Ritterkreuz mit Goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten) by the end of 1944 and being promoted to Oberst (Colonel). Unlike other officers of such high rank, Oberst Rudel would remain in the front line until his surrender as Kommodore of SG 2 (a combined dive-bomber and fighter unit) to the U.S. Army at Kitzingen in Czechoslovakia on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

Amongst the Experten (the name given to the fighter pilots), Erich Hartmann would emerge at the end of the war with the highest number of enemy aircraft shot down—352, a total initially disputed but eventually accepted. In contrast, the highest number of aircraft shot down by any Allied pilot was 62, achieved by Colonel (later Colonel-General) Ivan Kozhedub of the Soviet Army Air Force. Nevertheless, the vast land mass of Russia allowed the Soviets to manufacture war mat?riel well away from the front line and so it was partly due to overwhelming numbers of weapons made available to the ground and air forces of the USSR that the Soviets managed to push the Germans back west, especially after the crushing defeats of the German Army at both Kursk and Stalingrad and the Germans' failure to take Leningrad (St. Petersburg).

The Luftwaffe saw action on many fronts, including in North Africa in support of ground operations conducted by General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, and in the offensives against Yugoslavia and Greece prior to the invasion of the USSR in June 1941. Many Luftwaffe units were stationed in Italy, including after the Italians switched sides in September 1943 and remained there until the end of the war in May 1945. There were units also present in Romania, since fighter units stationed there were charged with the protection of the oilfields at Ploesti, since they were providing vital fuel for the German war machine in its continuation of its offensive against the USSR.

One of the unique characteristics of the Luftwaffe (as opposed to other independent air forces) was the possession of an organic paratrooper elite force, termed Fallschirmj?ger ( listen ? ). These paratroops saw action during 1940-1941, most notably in the operations to capture the Belgian army fortress at Eben-Emael in May 1940 and to capture the island of Crete in May 1941. However, more than 3,000 Fallschirmj?ger were killed during the Crete operation, and a shocked Adolf Hitler ordered that these elite paratroopers would never be used for such large-scale operations again, but only for smaller-scale operations, such as the successful rescue of Benito Mussolini, the then-deposed dictator of Italy, in 1943.

Although night-fighting had been undertaken in embryonic form way back in World War I, the German night-fighter force, the Nachtjagd, had virtually to start from scratch when British bombers began to attack targets in Germany in strength from 1940 as far as tactics were concerned. A chain of radar stations was established all across the Reich territory from Norway to the border with Switzerland known as the "Kammhuber Line", named for Generalleutnant Josef Kammhuber, and nearby night-fighter wings, Nachtjagdgeschwader (NJG), were alerted to the presence of the enemy. These wings were equipped mostly with Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Junkers Ju 88 aircraft, which would later be outfitted with the Lichtenstein nose-mounted radar.

"Uhu" (Owl) was considered one of the best night-fighters in the Luftwaffe's inventory, yet, thankfully for the Allies, not enough of them were built to stem the tide of bombers, which became effective at using strips of aluminum foil called "Window" (more commonly, "chaff") to jam the radar screens. Two notable names amongst the night-fighter pilots were Helmut Lent, who shot down 110 enemy aircraft before being killed in a landing accident in October 1944, and Wolfgang Schnaufer, who shot down 102 enemy aircraft and survived the war, only to die in a car crash in France in 1950.

The Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a was the world's first operational jet fighter planeAfter playing a pioneering role in the development of aircraft powered by jet engines ("TL Triebwerke") with prototypes such as the Heinkel He 178 and Heinkel He 280, the Luftwaffe became the first air force in the world to press an operational jet fighter into service—the twin-engine Messerschmitt Me 262. The aircraft was still plagued by reliability problems of its powerplants, however: while the Junkers Jumo 004 engines were of the advanced axial-flow design, they suffered from a lack of high-quality strategic materials required during the manufacturing process, a result of the Allied bombing offensive and the turn of war fortunes for Germany. The Me 262 was soon joined by other highly advanced aircraft designs, such as the Arado Ar 234 twin and four-engine jet bomber/reconnaissance aircraft, the Heinkel He 162 single-engine jet fighter (powered by a BMW jet engine), the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket fighter and others. A variety of further highly advanced aircraft designs, such as the Horten Ho 229 flying wing (originally designated Horten Ho IX and later to be manufactured by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik aircraft factory), were either at the testing stage or even ordered into production by the time the war ended. The German aviation industry also developed the first cruise missile used operationally on large scale, the Fieseler Fi 103 V-1 flying bomb, and the first ballistic missile, the V-2.

As modern as these aircraft were, they could not prevent Germany's total defeat in the air. The Luftwaffe lacked fuel, trained pilots, organizational unity and "safe" airfields. The final fully-blown offensive conducted by the Luftwaffe was on January 1, 1945, when it launched Operation Bodenplatte ("Baseplate"). The idea here was to destroy as many Allied aircraft on the ground, yet the Germans lost over 300 aircraft and were henceforward very much on the defensive as the western Allies and the Soviets closed in and invaded the Reich itself. The Allies were able to harvest Germany's advanced technical efforts as many German aircraft were abandoned after being deliberately wrecked for the most part; Operation Paperclip, for example, was one of many designed in 1944-45 to obtain either technical specimens, data, or the design personnel themselves and "evacuate" them to the United States, England, the USSR or France.

The early US and Soviet space programs employed German hardware and were staffed with many German scientists and engineers, the most famous of which was Wernher von Braun, subsequently the head of the design team of the American Saturn V moon rocket. Many aircraft designers were also captured by the Red Army and sent to the USSR to design and build potential fighters and bombers for the Soviet Army and Navy Air Forces.

The Junkers Ju 287 was the world's first forward-swept-wing jet bomber, yet it never saw operational serviceAmongst the designers sent to Russia were Dr. Hans Wocke, the man who designed the world's first forward-swept-wing jet bomber, the Junkers Ju 287, the first prototype of which, the Ju 287V1, had flown during the war on test flights. The Ju 287 design work was incorporated into the Junkers EF (Erprobungsflugzeug = "test aircraft") 140 bomber prototype, yet neither this nor any other aircraft designed by the Germans would ever be accepted into the Soviet Army or Navy Air Forces since the Germans themselves were technically prisoners and were denied access to the latest facilities for designing and perfecting modern warplanes. Most of the captured designers had been allowed to return to either West or East Germany by the end of 1953.

Wolfram von Richthofen was a cousin of the late Manfred von Richthofen and one of only a few select officers in the Luftwaffe to have attained the highest rank of Generalfeldmarschall. However, he was retired on medical grounds in late 1944 and died of a brain tumor in the American POW camp at Bad Ischl on July 12, 1945Throughout the history of the Third Reich, the Luftwaffe had only two commanders-in-chief. The first was, of course, G?ring, yet he was fired by Hitler near the end of the war in Europe on account of his having contacted (western) Allied forces without his authorization with a view to securing a ceasefire before the Soviets overran Berlin. Hitler thus appointed Generaloberst Robert Ritter von Greim as the second (and last) commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, concomitant with his promotion to Generalfeldmarschall, the last German officer in World War II to be promoted to the highest rank. One other officer, who happened to have been promoted to this rank himself, had been Wolfram von Richthofen, the cousin of the "Red Baron," but he had retired in late 1944 on medical grounds and would die of a brain tumor while in American captivity at Bad Ischl on July 12, 1945.

Operational and training units of the Luftwaffe were organized roughly similarly to those of the U.S. Army Air Corps (which later became the U.S. Army Air Forces). Fighter wings (Jagdgeschwader) (JG) consisted of groups (Gruppen), which in turn consisted of fighter squadrons (Jagdstaffel). Hence, Fighter Wing 1 was JG 1, its first group was I/JG 1 and its first squadron was 1./JG 1. (As a point of interest, JG 1 was operating the aforementioned Heinkel He 162 at the end of the war. In the final two months, JG 1 lost 22 of them, mostly in crashes, resulting in ten pilots being killed and another six injured.)

Similarly, a bomber wing was a Kampfgeschwader (KG), a night-fighter wing was a Nachtjagdgeschwader (NJG), a dive-bomber wing was a Stukageschwader (StG), and units equivalent to those in RAF Coastal Command, with specific responsibilities for coastal patrols and search-and-rescue duties, were K?stenfliegergruppen (K?.Fl.Gr.). Specialist bomber groups were known as Kampfgruppen (KGr).

Each Geschwader was commanded by a Kommodore, a Gruppe by a Kommandeur, and a Staffel by a Staffelkapit?n. However, these were appointments, not ranks, within the Luftwaffe. Usually, the Kommodore would hold the rank of Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel) or, exceptionally, an Oberst (colonel). Even a Leutnant (second lieutenant) could find himself commanding a Staffel.

Some of the Luftwaffe's units came from countries under German control such as 13 JG 52 (Slovakia) and Luftwaffen-Legion Lettland (Latvia).

From before the war, the German Ministry of Propaganda disseminated a magazine specializing in the Luftwaffe called Der Adler ("The Eagle"), not just in German but also in the first languages, including French, of several countries which eventually became incorporated into the Reich territory. While the USA remained officially neutral (from September 1939 until December 1941), the magazine was also published in English. Many color photographs of the Luftwaffe in action during the war originally came from this publication.


Cold war

Following the war, German aviation in general was severely curtailed, and military aviation was completely forbidden when the Luftwaffe was officially disbanded in August 1946 by the Allied Control Commission. This changed when West Germany joined NATO in 1955, as the Western Allies believed that Germany was needed in view of the increasing threat militarily from the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies. Throughout the following decades, the West German Luftwaffe was equipped mostly with US-designed aircraft manufactured locally under licence. All aircraft sported—and continue to sport—the Iron Cross on the fuselage, harking back to the days of World War I, while the national flag of West Germany could be seen on the tailplanes.

Many well-known fighter pilots, who had fought with the Luftwaffe in World War II, joined the new postwar air force and underwent refresher training in the USA before returning to West Germany to upgrade on the latest US-supplied hardware. These included Erich Hartmann, the highest-ever scoring ace (352 enemy aircraft destroyed), Gerhard Barkhorn (301), G?nther Rall (275) and Johannes Steinhoff (176). Steinhoff, who suffered a crash in a Messerschmitt Me 262 shortly before the end of the war which resulted in lifelong scarring of his face and other parts of his body, would eventually become commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, with Rall as his immediate successor. Hartmann retired as an Oberst (colonel) in 1970 aged 48. The aforementioned Josef Kammhuber also served with the postwar Luftwaffe, retiring in 1962 as Inspekteur der Bundesluftwaffe.

During the 1960s, the "Starfighter crisis" was a big problem for German politics, as many of these Lockheed F-104 fighters crashed after being modified to serve for Luftwaffe purposes. Therefore the Starfighter was dubbed the "widow-maker" (German: Witwenmacher). (It is of note that the F-104 served with the USAF for only a few years.) On the other hand, the Canadian version of the North American F-86 Sabre, the Canadair CL-13, enjoyed a long career with Luftwaffe fighter squadrons, since seventy-five of them entered service in and after 1957.


Reunification

The name "Typhoon" caused controversy since the Hawker Typhoon was an RAF ground-attack aircraft which destroyed many targets in support of the ground forces invading France in June 1944 and afterwardsThe air force of the Communist GDR used the same name as the one used during World War I, that is, the Luftstreitkr?fte. It flew Soviet-built aircraft, like the Sukhoi Su-7 "Fitter" and the more famous Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) family of aircraft, such as the MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-29 fighters. Unlike the West German Luftwaffe, however, the markings sported on the aircraft reflected the identity of the country as belonging to the Communist bloc. As such, the markings consisted of a diamond-shaped design, in which could be seen the vertically-oriented three stripes in black, red and gold surmounted by the stylized hammer, compass and wreath-like ears-of-grain design, which was also seen on the Flag of East Germany, although the stripes were a 90-degree orientation from those to be seen on either national flag of the two German nations between 1959 and 1990.

After the GDR and West Germany were reunified in October 1990, the aircraft of the Luftstreitkr?fte were taken over by the unified Federal Republic of Germany, and their GDR markings replaced by those of the Iron Cross, thus creating the somewhat anomalous situation of Soviet-built aircraft serving in a NATO air force. However, these would eventually be taken out of service altogether, in many cases being sold to the new Eastern European allies now part of NATO, such as Poland and the Baltic states.

Since the 1970s, the Luftwaffe of West Germany and later the reunited Germany has actively pursued the construction of European combat aircraft such as the Panavia Tornado and more recently, the Eurofighter Typhoon.

In 1999, for the first time since 1945, the Luftwaffe engaged in combat operations as part of the NATO-led Kosovo War. No strike sorties were flown and the role of the Luftwaffe was restricted to providing support, for example with suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) sorties.

No Luftwaffe aircraft were lost during the campaign, but the force's role proved to be controversial in Germany because of the strong pacifist sentiment still present in the population that is opposed to the use of force by Germany in international affairs. Moreover, there were constitutional concerns, because Germany was not and, indeed, still is not - allowed to participate in "wars of aggression" owing to its 1949 Grundgesetz (loosely: "constitution"). Because of something like a paradigm shift, Germany can use its Luftwaffe for crisis reaction and conflict prevention.

Luftwaffe serviceable aircraft strengths (1940-1945)

The following tables summarize the operational strength of the German air force, or Luftwaffe, in terms of the number of different aircraft by general category. The period covered is World War II from 1940 to 1945, starting at the time of the Battle of Britain.

1940

17 August 1940
Single-engined fighters 787
Twin-engined fighters 219
Night fighters 63
Fighter-bombers 119
Dive-bombers 294
Twin-engined bombers 960
Four-engined bombers 7
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 185
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 135
Coastal aircraft 162
Transport aircraft 226
Total 3157

1941

24 June 1941
Single-engined fighters 898
Twin-engined fighters 105
Night fighters 148
Fighter-bombers 124
Dive-bombers 260
Twin-engined bombers 931
Four-engined bombers 4
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 282
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 388
Coastal aircraft 76
Transport aircraft 212
Total 3428

1942

27 July 1942
Single-engined fighters 945
Twin-engined fighters 58
Night fighters 203
Fighter-bombers 40
Specialized ground attack aircraft 19
Dive-bombers 249
Twin-engined bombers 1119
Four-engined bombers 41
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 188
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 209
Coastal aircraft 64
Transport aircraft 365
Total 3500

1943

17 May 43
Single-engined fighters 980
Twin-engined fighters 114
Night fighters 378
Fighter-bombers 216
Specialized ground attack aircraft 61
Dive-bombers 413
Twin-engined bombers 1269
Four-engined bombers 33
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 215
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 251
Coastal aircraft 149
Transport aircraft 414
Total 4641

1944

31 May 44
Single-engined fighters 1063
Twin-engined fighters 151
Night fighters 572
Fighter-bombers 278
Ground attack aircraft 352
Night harassment aircraft 305
Twin-engined bombers 840
Four-engined bombers 97
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 153
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 210
Coastal aircraft 123
Transport aircraft 719
Kampfgeschwader 200 (misc. aircraft} 65
Total 4928

1945

10 January 1945
Single-engined fighters 1462
Night fighters 808
Ground attack aircraft 613
Night harassment aircraft 302
Multi-engined bombers 294
Anti-shipping aircraft 83
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 176
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 293
Coastal aircraft 60
Transport aircraft 269
Kampfgeschwader 200 (misc. aircraft} 206
Total 4566
9 April 1945
Single-engined fighters 1305
Night fighters 485
Ground attack aircraft 712
Night harassment aircraft 215
Multi-engined bombers 37
Long-range reconnaissance aircraft 143
Short-range and army cooperation aircraft 309
Coastal aircraft 45
Transport aircraft 10
Kampfgeschwader 200 (misc. aircraft} 70
Total 3331

Text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Unlike the British and American Air Forces, the Luftwaffe never developed four-engine bombers in any significant numbers, and was thus unable to conduct an effective long-range strategic bombing campaign against either the Russians or the Western Allies. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the most versatile and widely-produced fighter aircraft operated by the Luftwaffe and was designed when biplanes were still standard. Many versions of this aircraft were made. The engine, a liquid cooled Mercedes-Benz DB 601, initially generated up to almost 1,000 hp (750 kW). This power increased as direct fuel injection was introduced to the engines. The kill ratio (almost 9:1) made this plane far superior than any of the other German fighters during the war. In this regard it was followed by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 at 4:1. This plane had relatively short wings and was powered by a radial BMW engine. The Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was a main asset for Blitzkrieg, able to place bombs with deadly accuracy. The leader of the Luftwaffe was Hermann G?ring, a World War I fighter ace and former commander of Manfred von Richthofen's famous JG 1 (aka "The Flying Circus") who had joined the Nazi party in its early stages.
 
     
   
   
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Glossary Of German Terms
WW2 Luftwaffe Planes - List of Aircraft

Abschuss "Shootdown"--an air victory.
Alarmstart Scramble.
Ami slang for American.
Blitzkrieg "lightning war"-
dicke Autos "fat cars"--enemy heavy bombers.
Einsatzfruede love of combat.
Einsatzstaffel operational Staffel (of a training unit.).
Endausbildungstaffel operational training squadron.
Endgueltige Vernichtung final destruction of an already-culled aircraft.
Ergaenzungsgruppe (ErgGr) advanced training group.
Ergaenzungsstaffel (ErgSt) advanced training squadron.
Erprobungsgruppe (EprGr) operational test group.
Erprobungsstaffel (EprSt) operational test squadron.
Experte a fighter pilot proficient in aerial combat; the Allied Ace.
Fliegerdivision (FD) air division--a higher command containing several types of flying units.
Fliegerfuehrer (Flifue) aircraft command/control unit or it's commander. In the case of isolated theatres, the theatre air commander..
Fliegerkorps (FG) air corps--a higher command containing several Fliegerdivisonen.
Flugzeugfuehrer pilot.
Freie Jagd "free hunt"--a fighter sweep without ground control.
Fuehrer leader.
Fuehrungsstaffel leader's squadron.
Fuehrungsverband lead formation.
General der Jagdflieger (GdJ) General of the Fighter Arms; a staff position in the RLM. Werner Moelders and Adolf Galland were the most prominent holders of this position.
Geschwader wing (pl. Geschwader)--the largest mobile, homogeneous Luftwaffe flying unit.
Geschwaderkommodore wing commodore--usually a Major, Oberstleutenant, or Oberst in rank.
Gruppe (Gr) group (pl. Gruppen)--basic Luftwaffe combat and administrative unit.
Gruppenkommandeur group commander--usually a Haptmann, Major, or Oberstleutnant in rank.
Herausschuss "shhot out" (cull)--to damage a bomber sufficiently to seperate it from it's formation.
Himmelfahrtskommando "mission to heaven"--suicide mission.
Holzauge "wooden eye"--the last airplane in a formation.
Horrido hunters' or pilots' cry of victory. St. Horridus was the patron saint of hunters and fighter pilots.
Indianer "Indians"--enemy fighters.
Jabostaffel fighter-bomber squadron.
Jaeger originally hunter, now fighter pilot.
Jaegerschreck :fear of fighter"--a derogatory term coined in Goering's headquarters.
Jagdbomber (Jabo) fighter-bomber.
Jagddivision (JD) fighter division; could command one or more Jafue or Jagdgeschwader.
Jagdflieger fighter pilots.
Jagdfliegerfuehrer (Jafue) fighter command/control unit or it's commander. Tha Jafue originated as administrative units but evolved into operational control units during the war.
Jagdgeschwader (JG) fighter wing, commanding three or four Gruppen.
Jagdgruppe (JGr) fighter group, containing three or four Staffeln.
Jagdkorps fighter corps; commanded one or more Jagddivisionen.
Jagdschutz "fighter protection"--generally, apatrol of a section of front, rather than an escort mission.
Jagdstaffel fighter squadron, originally containg twelve aircraft (three Schwaerme). It's authorized strength was increased to sixteen in 1943.
Jagdverband (JV) fighter unit. The term was only used for JV 44, the Gruppe of jet fighters commanded by General Adolf Galland in 1945.
Jagdwaffe fighter arm or fighter force.
Kampfgeschwader (KG) bomber wing.
Kanalfront the (English) channel front.
Kanalgeschwader the geschwader serving on the English Channel (JG 2 and JG 26).
Kanaljaeger fighter pilot(s) based near the channel.
Kapitaen "captain"--a Staffel command position rather than a rank.
Katschmarek a sland term for a wingman--originally a derogatory term for a dim-witted infantry recruit.
Kette flight of three aircraft.
Kommandeur "commander"--a Gruppe command position rather than a rank.
Kommodore "commodore"--A Geschwader command position rather than a rank.
Luftflotte (LF) "air fleet"--corresponded to a numbered American Air Force.
Luftwaffe "air force"--refers to German Air Force.
Luftwaffenkommando (Lkdo) air command-a small or down-graded Luftflotte.
Nachtjagdkommando night fighting detatchment.
Nachwuchs "new growth"--a late-war replacement pilot.
Oberwerkmeister line chief.
Pulk combat box-an American heavy bomber formation.
Reich "empire"--Hitler's Germany was the Third Reich.
Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) German Air Minitry; Goering's headquarters, it controlled all aspects of German aviation.
Reichsverteidigung (RVT) organization responsible for the air defence of Germany.
Rotte tactical element of two aircraft.
Rottenflieger wingman, the second man in a Rotte.
Rottenfuehrer leader of an element of two aircraft.
Schnellkampfgeschwader (SKG) fast bomber wing.
Schwarm flight of four aircraft (pl Schwaerme); all German fighter formations were made up of units of Schwaerme.
Schwarmfuehrer flight leader.
Sitzkrieg "sitting war"--the "phony war" in western Europe between September 1939 and April 1940.
Stab staff.
Stabsschwarm staff flight.
Staffel (St) squadron (pl. Staffeln).
Staffelfuehrer squadron leader (temporary or probationary).
Staffelkapitaen squadron leader--usually a Leutnant, OberLeutnant or Hauptmann.
Stukageschwader (Stg) dive-bomber wing.
Tommy German slang for Englishman.
Valhalla a large formation of aircraft.
Zerstoerer "destroyer" (heavy fighter)--Bf 110 or Me 410 twin-engined fighter.
Zerstoerergeschwader (ZG) heavy fighter wing.
Zerstoerergruppe (ZGr) heavy fighter group.

 

 

World War 1; World War 2 Operations, Weapons Data; Modern Weapons Data; Modern Wars; Combat Organizations
WW2 Luftwaffe Planes - List of Aircraft Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Dornier Do 215 Junkers Ju-188 Dornier Do 17, Dornier Do 335 Pfeil Junkers Ju 88 Messerschmitt Bf 109, Messerschmitt Me 262 Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, Heinkel He 111 Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Junkers Ju 52
LIST OF PLANES US AIR FORCE WW2 USN WW2 Torpedo Bomber - Douglas TBD-1 Devastator USN WW2 Fighters: Brewster F2A Buffalo, Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk Grumman F3F, Grumman F4F Wildcat, General Motors FM-2 Wildcat LOCKHEED P-38 LIGHTNING F-82 TWIN MUSTANG REPUBLIC P-47 THUNDERBOLT NORTH AMERICAN P-51 MUSTANG Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Boeing B-29 Superfortress Consolidated B-24 D Liberator North American B-25 Mitchell, Martin B-26 Marauder
Third Reich Organization and people GERMAN ARMY WW2 ORDER OF BATTLE Adolf (Adolph) Hitler WW2 Victory Defeat Power Luftwaffe History Axis Powers WW2 Pact of Steel Gestapo, SS Panzer Divisions Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, Werner Von Braun, Wilhelm Canaris, Albert Sper, Walter Schellenberg, Von Rundstedt, Heinz Guderian, Wilhelm Keitel Field Marshal Erwin Rommel - Desert Fox German Africa Corps Manstein WW2 German Generals Otto Skorzeny (Skorceny) WW2 Commandos Rundstedt WW2 Field Marshal Nazism Fascism WW2 V1 Rocket - Flying Bomb V-1 V2 Rocket V-2 Fuhrerbunker - WW2 Forifications Maginot Line WW2 Iron Cross Flak
RAF List of aircraft Avro Lancaster De Havilland Mosquito, Vickers Wellington Fairey Swordfish Hawker Tempest Hawker Hurricane Supermarine Spitfire Gloster Meteor LIST OF RAF PLANES WW2 Pre/Post WW2 RAAF Australia Planes - List of Aircraft Pre/Post WW2 SWEDEN Planes - List of Aircraft Tornado F3 AV-8 Harrier Panavia Tornado Rafale Fighter Eurofighter Typhoon
USAF Plane List USN FIGHTERS A-10 / A10 Thunderbolt II F-5 Freedom Fighter F-20 Tigershark F-4 Phantom II F-86 Sabre, A-4 Skyhawk, A-6 Grumann Intruder F-14 Tomcat F-15 Eagle F15, F-16 Fighting Falcon F-18 Hornet F-22 Raptor F-35 Joint Strike Fighter U-2 Dragon Lady SR-71 Blackbird F-117 Nighthawk F117 F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter JSF B-52 Stratofortress B52 F-111, AC130 Gunship B-1 Lancer B-2 Spirit P-3C Orion S-3B Viking CH-46 Sea Knight, CH-53 Sea Stallion H-3 Sea King MH-53 Sea Dragon SH-60 Seahawk HH/UH-1N Iroquois AH-1 Cobra UH-60 Black Hawk, HH-60 Pave Hawk Helicopter AH-64 Apache AH64 RQ-1 Predator List of Aircraft Weapons
World Intelligence_Agencies_List CIA Central Intelligence Agency NSA National Security Agency United States US Secret Service Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Canadian Security Intelligence Service KGB NKVD MI6 Military Intelligence 6 -British Secret Intelligence Service SIS MI-5 Kim Philby Soviet Spy Mossad Israel Intelligence Agency Gestapo
Pre/Post WW2 USSR Russia Planes - List of Aircraft Ilyushin_IL2 IL-4_Ilyushin Operation Stalingrad , Operation Barbarossa Zhukov (Zukov) M, Russian navy WW2

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