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Sixty-five years ago, the months of April and May saw the

final end of the German air force and it was realised that
the loss of control of the air was the deciding factor in
the list of reasons for Germany's failure in WW2.
The German air force failed to gain control of the air in
the Battle of Britain and again endured the same failure
on the Eastern Front. It failed again on the Western Front
after 1944 when the Allies were able to put into service
the P-51D fighter in sufficient quantities.
Despite all the failures, no Allied pilot ever matched the
performance of the German pilots in air combat. Over 100
German pilots occupy all the top rankings in the list of
air aces. The top German pilot who scored the most against
the Allies on the Western front was Marseille who destroyed
at least 158 enemy aircraft. Next best scorer was Heinrich
Bar who amassed at least 124 kills against the Allies on
the Western Front. Bar also served on the Eastern Front.
Number three top scorer against the Allies on the Western
Front was Schnaufer with 121 kills and the fourth top ace
against the Western Allies was Buhlingen who racked up a
score of 112 kills.
During the later part of the War the German fighter gruppen
operated under very dire conditions, with severe shortages
of almost every thing from fuel to pilots. Few pilots were
able to receive proper rest and some almost collapsed out
of sheer exhaution. Still, the German pilots especially the
veteran fliers were able to rise above their circumstances.
It was not uncommon for some pilots to score several kills
in one day and a few even had to endure empty ammunition
situations which prevented them from adding further kills
to their tally. No Western Allied pilot ever came close to
their very extraordinary achievements.
From 1944, the Western Allies flew over Germany in massed
formations with hundreds of fighters accompanying equally
huge numbers of bombers. These formations often attacked
aircraft factories, air bases and fuel depots and even the
air training schools. Meanwhile, the German pilots sent to
intercept the bombers often had to fight their way through
the massed formations of Allied fighters. Many pilots out
of desperation often flew at top speed straight towards the
bombers. Some unfortunately lost their lives in these very
heroic acts for their country and their fellow pilots. One
top fighter ace even deliberately smashed his plane against
a US bomber and he was surely not just one lone brave man.
There were quite a number of such pilots in the German air
force. Other pilots also collided with enemy bombers but
their collisions were mainly the result of flying errors.
Most of the Allied bombers flying over Germany with their
deadly cargo were US B-17s which were armed with up to 13
heavy machine guns. These bombers usually flew in certain
precise and tightly packed formations which meant that any
fighter that tried to attack them would almost certainly
be flying into a wall of withering fire. The bombers were
not only sowing immense destruction on Germany's industrial
and military centres, but also obeyed to the letter the
instructions and orders to destroy German morale by wiping
out their civilian populations. Numerous German cities and
towns with no military or weapons manufacturing facilities
at all were routinely firebombed causing immense casualties.
German pilots defending their homeland were ordered to get
the bombers no matter what the cost, and so the German air
force developed certain tactics and modified their fighter
aircraft to nail those bombers.
One tactic that was quite effective was the head-on attack
which required the German pilots to manoeuvere their planes
and approach the bombers directly opposite or the twelve o'
clock position. This was the direct frontal assault method
and often the fighters and bombers flew towards one another
at a combined speed of over 600 mph. The German fighter pilots
would then open fire with their guns hoping to smash through
the front cockpits of the bombers before zooming right through
or diving below the enemy formation. This approach was very
effective but required tons of courage. Flying straight into
a huge formation of heavily-armed bombers at very high speed
defintely was not for the faint of heart.
One could say that it closely matched the experience the NY
attackers endured when they flew straight into the towers.
One highly experienced German fighter gruppen leader urged
his men on by telling them: 'Your wives and children are
right under their bombs!'.
Despite the extraordinary bravery of the German pilots, the
country was fighting with its back to the wall. US air raids
were mounted by the eighth Air Force and the 15th Air Force
and they had several thousand bombers always available any
one time. They bombed Germany during the day while their UK
counterparts attacked at night. Often, the US bombers came
over up to a thousand strong accompanied by several hundred
fighters. Thus, German pilots were very heavily outnumbered
during each aerial battle and it was not uncommon altogether
for a German pilot to tangle with five or ten opponents each
time they went up to challenge them. Some pilots even fought
until they ran out of fuel or ammunition or both.
Eventually, the German air force was worn down and the June
1944 landings at Normandy became a reality. Defeat for the
German nation was now inevitable. Still, the air force came
up with one last try, the new Me 262 jet fighter. This plane
accounted for well over 500 Allied aircraft but such losses
meant little as the Allied factories back home could easily
replace them in mere weeks. German losses however, were just
simply irreplaceable.
On the Eastern Front, it was much the same story. With a big
supply of aircraft always at hand, the USSR slowly cleared
the sky of German opposition and Germany was forced to go on
the retreat. All the way back to Berlin.
Germany lost because of its loss of control of the air. Its
fighters failed to overcome the opposition and Germany also
lacked the presence of heavy bombers during the time it was
on the ascendancy in the earlier part of the war. Had the
German air force possessed well-armed heavy bombers during
the Battle of Britain, the outcome could well have been a
very different story. The victorious Western Allies boasted
about the kill ratios for their aircraft; but it cannot be
denied that the German pilots were much better compared to
theirs. Fate was just not on their side and in the end fate
proved to be far stronger than their efforts, and thus the
defeat in WW2 was their destiny. They just could not seize
control of the air. Final defeat was totally inevitable.
There are many, many valuable lessons to be learned from the
German failure. The lessons are so very greatly valuable and
cannot be ignored at all. Even today. The US is just as cruel
now as it was during the air blitz over Germany in 1944. And
'total annihilation' and 'total destruction' are still among
the most favourite words and phrases in its vocabulary.
Nothing has changed. Be fully aware.
Do NOT be caught fast asleep.