GoodGuy -> RE: An online WWII Quiz...but... (10/7/2009 6:30:13 PM)
ORIGINAL: Bogo Mil
The second major Alliied assault was in northern France, the first was in Italy.
Correct, but if you stick to the Author's requirement - the year "1945", then it would be an assault on German soil.
While it's not wrong to ask for a major assault that took place in 1945, the author overrates the thrust into the North German plain. Besides the German occupation force in the Netherlands, there were no massive troop concentrations along Germany's coasts and Allied operations were rather a race through the plain than a bloody fight for terrain. The RAD (Reich Labour Service) worked on a couple of bunkers and strongpoints, but these installations or positions mostly remained unmanned.
I'd consider the operations tailored around Operation Plunder (ie. Operation Varsity) to be the major assault, as Plunder aimed to cross the Rhein and to knock out Germany's industrial heart in the (river) Ruhr area, called Ruhrgebiet, surrounding 2 German Armies in the process.
The lack of experienced pilots was more critical than the fuel shortages most of the time, even in late '44 and early '45.
Germany had a serious lack of pilots, but the lack of aviation fuel was way more serious than you think.
Basically, the Germans lived off their stocks of aviation fuel, means they lived off a surplus that was gained before and early in the war, until 1940, and off captured stocks, where the biggest share was looted in France (I think more than 200,000 tons), other stocks had been grabbed in Eastern Europe, as well as in Russia.
The Germans were quite lucky (and glad) that their Blitz in Poland had consumed rather low amounts of aviation fuel.
In turn, with able opponents coming up for the French campaign, the planners still didn't schedule a dramatic (and realistic) increase to a yearly consumption of 2,600,000 tons or even 5,200,000 tons to occur until 1st of October 1940, a fatal error.
Also, with the German motorized and armored units' increasing fuel consumption, the quite flexible refineries seem to have focused on the production of motor gasoline starting in summer 1940, one month after the production of aviation fuel had peaked at 230,000 tons, but which then pushed the aviation fuel output down to some mere 90,000 tons. The planners obviously believed that the fuel stocks wouldn't have to be touched excessively, as the Brits could be toasted within a few months. Another error in thinking. From that point in 1940, monthly fuel production did not match the monthly consumption until mid 1942.
In June 1941, Germany's aviation gas stocks had dropped to around 630,000 tons (from an all-time high of around 680,000 tons) and the monthly consumption of aviation gasoline peaked at around 150,000 tons (this includes the small amount of civil consumption), while the monthly production did not exceed 100,000 tons that same year.
In late August 1942 the monthly consumption peaked at around 160,000 tons, while the production output had barely reached the same amount - 160,000 tons .... but the stocks had dropped to a dramatic low level of 200,000 tons, meanwhile.
The aviation fuel production then dropped tremendously in 1944, a result of the Allied bomber campaign. The production then was way lower than the required supply level, and only Göring's annual plan for 1945/1946 projected a monthly output that would have covered the required consumption. In this case, "required" refers to the number of sorties requested by field commanders or Luftwaffe HQs.
With all these numbers, you should not overrate the fact that even until late 1943/early 1944 the Luftwaffe still had a usable amount of operational aircraft (maybe except for the Russian theater, where the Sovjets had widely gained air superiority). Way more missions could have been flown, if sufficient fuel supplies would have been available. After Kursk, the Squadrons in Russia were rather conspicuous by their absence, not by their presence above Russian soil, and this wasn't just a result of the heavy losses.
The Allied bomber campaign's secondary goal was to wear down the Luftwaffe by forcing them to eat up their fuel reserves and by delivering a fatal blow to their pool of available pilots over the Reich.
The gaps between the total number of serviceable aircraft (with or without fuel), the number of available pilots and the number of operational aircraft (with sufficient fuel) had increased since 1943, with the fuel problem and the aircraft losses in Russia (transport aircraft and fighter/bomber losses) being the most imminent problems, followed by the Fw 190 losses over France. Until Allied long-range fighter escorts came up in early 1944, fighter losses over the Reich could be sustained.
From January to April 1944, an average monthly output of 170,000 tons of aviation fuel could be maintained, but this production rate suddenly dropped to only 52,000 tons in June (within a few weeks only), due to the raids on German refineries. Another series of output losses occured until December 1944 (loss of Rumanian oil fields, additional bombings), where the monthly output had decreased to 26,000 tons.
From May 1944 the stocks had dropped from 570,000 tons (peak) to less than 180,000 tons in December.
The aviation fuel stocks could not be shuffled around to the Squadron commanders' liking, as often fuel reserves had to be held back for nightfighters or for the air support of vital attacks, depriving other sectors or theaters of sufficient fuel supply. And this administration of shortages had to be performed as early as 1942, already.
Also, the transport situation in 1944 had worsened, due to raids on railroad networks and hubs, which turned the distribution of fuel supplies into a tough business. The backbone of the German supply system was the railroad (this goes for all kinds of supplies), not motorized transports. The Luftwaffe was the only branch that was using tank lorries, but these used to reside right at the airfields, usually.
The chief in charge of building up underground facilities for aviation fuel production could not manage to put out more than a few thousand tons, IIRC, until May 1945.
You can review the corresponding production rates in the Army's Strategic Bombing Survey, or in the summary provided by Sturmvogel's website.
The lack of pilots was a serious problem, but the Luftwaffe had to deal with fuel shortages since around 1941/1942 already.
Trainees supposed to be trained to fly the Me 262 usually watched their trainers (or regular pilots) flying the bird, from the ground, due to lack of fuel. The trainees then asked about altitudes and angles for approaches, instructors on the ground (often just mechanics) explained the instruments and controls.
Germany still had quite some Me 109s, Fw 190s and Me 262s, but the majority of these planes were parked on the ground and camouflaged, due to .... guess what ... lack of fuel.
The US Army scrapped an impressive amount of ME 262s and sold them to scrap dealers after the war, they did such a thorough job that they had to bring German engineers to the US when they wanted to build a flying replica (they used a number of original parts, afaik, tho) in 1948, as not a single "american" ME had survived.
Many people don't seem to notice/know these details.