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German Self-propelled Flak guns vs. Allied Fighter-bombers

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  • German Self-propelled Flak guns vs. Allied Fighter-bombers

    A few questions:

    1. How were self-propelled Flak deployed and allocated during mobile offensive missions and how many of them were there in a division?

    2. How big and how effective were the typical Allied fighter bomber attacks against infantry and armor?

  • #2
    For an answer to your second question this thread might have some information for you:
    "Planes vs Tanks"
    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=87408

    There's also a very interesting thesis you can download for free here:
    http://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/32/
    Tactical air power in the Normandy campaign: The role of 83 Group (France)
    There is now over a half century of historiography regarding tactical air power in the Normandy campaign in the Second World War. Within this body of material there exists two schools of thought; by far the largest and most popular is that which argues tactical air power was effective, even decisive, in winning the campaign, primarily in the role of ‘tank-buster’. A more moderate school has attempted to refine this and instead argue that tactical air power, while effective, was not decisive, and contributed to the campaign by producing a negative ‘morale effect’ on the enemy. ln each case the focus has been on the provision of air support directly on the battlefield. This thesis studies the role of 83 Group and its effectiveness in providing support to the land campaign using a broader perspective that incorporates the study of tactical air power both above and beyond the field of battle. It also addresses the assumptions ingrained in the historiography and offers a new, balanced appraisal of tactical air power in Normandy and in the Second World War.

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    • #3
      I am interested in the capabilities of the Flak platoons in keeping the fighters bombers away from armor and armored infantry during attacks. (Ground perspective) To my understanding, it was typical for every panzer battalion to be allocated one platoon (6 x 20 mm/37mm or 4 X 20mm Quad) mounted on truck, halftrack, or panzer chasis.

      Among the more successful was the Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind, which was used against both ground and air targets.



      At the divisional level, the flak battalion had various heavy and light units, and among them was one battery of self-propelled flak (12 vehicles)

      How were these divisional assets allocated, particularly the self-propelled flak battery?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
        A few questions:

        1. How were self-propelled Flak deployed and allocated during mobile offensive missions and how many of them were there in a division?

        2. How big and how effective were the typical Allied fighter bomber attacks against infantry and armor?
        1. Germans never needed or used 'em, for why, see answer 2.

        2. Completely inneffective.

        One of the most egotistical and long winded, of the 'know all' clowns, we have round 'ere, once gave a magnificent dissertation to Yours Truly...
        proving that the entire power of 2nd TAF only ever knocked one Jerry offen his pushbike, slightly skinning his left knee. Even this lucky strike came about only 'cos said Jerry hit a pothole in a Normandy road...
        them eight 60lb rockets did make a mess of a nearby flowerbed...
        allegedly.

        The long toll of the brave
        Is not lost in darkness
        Over the fruitful earth
        And athwart the seas
        Hath passed the light of noble deeds
        Unquenchable forever.

        Comment


        • #5
          2. Allied airpower was very effective against infantry and soft-skinned vehicles, but operational research carried out after Falaise showed surprisingly that very few armoured vehicles had been destroyed by aircraft.
          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

          Comment


          • #6
            What I am hoping for is to develop some sort of generalization as to what exactly happened in the ground to air scenario with mobile Flak, both tactically and strategically.

            The Germans were unable to attack the Allies in force, and much of this was due to Allied air superiority (such as fighter bombers) that made forming/staging up for a panzer corps-sized or larger attack impossible or very difficult.

            For instance, in the Mortain counteroffensive, the attacking Axis armor and infantry took losses and were badly disoriented and scattered by fighter bombers. Among other things, of course. Where was the flak in this situation? Another question would be: Why did the Germans not prepare for this type of situation?

            Since the Axis knew that the Allies owned the skies, I do not understand why the Germans did not put more emphasis on their self-propelled Flak as being integral to success in offensive missions.

            The self-propelled flak was to keep up with the armor and motorized infantry during counterattacks, and provide some sort of 'anti-aircraft shield' and boost the infantry's attack power by shooting at ground targets as well. What they were or weren't capable of is less clear, or whether or not they were used properly.

            In reality, an entire panzer division, at full strength, would have only around 20 quick-response units (the majority being only a single 20mm or 37mm gun) to provide anti-air for all their 150-200+ attacking armor and thousands of infantry.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tigersqn View Post
              2. Allied airpower was very effective against infantry and soft-skinned vehicles, but operational research carried out after Falaise showed surprisingly that very few armoured vehicles had been destroyed by aircraft.
              There is a new book out that seems to confirm the low number of tanks destroyed by aircraft:

              http://www.amazon.com/WAFFEN-SS-ARMO...ews/1907677240

              In it they say 4 of 65 Panthers in 1/SS Pz Reg 12 (HJ) were lost to aircraft June-Sept 1945.
              However they also claim only 5 Panthers were lost to Allied tanks so credibility is suspect!



              !

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by m kenny View Post
                There is a new book out that seems to confirm the low number of tanks destroyed by aircraft:

                http://www.amazon.com/WAFFEN-SS-ARMO...ews/1907677240

                In it they say 4 of 65 Panthers in 1/SS Pz Reg 12 (HJ) were lost to aircraft June-Sept 1945.
                However they also claim only 5 Panthers were lost to Allied tanks so credibility is suspect!



                !

                IIRC, OR found that most German tank losses were due to mechanical breakdown or lack of fuel; essentially, they were abandoned by their crews. That's for the Falaise pocket anyway.
                Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tigersqn View Post
                  IIRC, OR found that most German tank losses were due to mechanical breakdown or lack of fuel; essentially, they were abandoned by their crews. That's for the Falaise pocket anyway.
                  Correct.
                  When they stood and fought the main killer was AP.
                  When on the run then they drove their tanks into the ground.
                  The mistake is to use the 'running away' losses to claim the tanks were so powerful they could not be knocked out by the enemy.

                  I was having a little joke.
                  The book does attribute losses to AP shot but the usual excuses are used to deny Allied tankers any credit-they say they lost 22 Panthers to AT guns!
                  Quite how a towed 17pdr and a towed 6pdr can knock out a Panther but the same guns in Shermans or Churchills can't is a puzzle.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Perhaps I should have changed question #2 to:

                    "How big and how effective were the typical Allied fighter bomber attacks against German assault operations and how easy was it for them to stop them & attack through their flak? Tactics, tactics, tactics..

                    I am not interested in the re-hash conversation (with all due respect, I have seen it several times) with the fighter-bombers and the tanks and the arithmetic over the course of the whole normandy campaign. It ends up as a generalization, and the specifics get the short stick.

                    I am more interested in the 'micro', which is often missing from the histories of that time. Eg. Were entire fighter bomber wings deployed once German assault elements were on the move, and how were squadrons deployed against them, and what were their expected results?

                    eg. What could the flak platoons put up in response?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      According to the Panzer-Division 1943 TOE (ordered for all divisions 24th September 1943) a Panzer-Division was supposed to have to following flak weapons:

                      Begleitkompanie (divisional escort company)
                      4x self propelled 2cm

                      Panzergrenadier-Regiment (armored)
                      12x self propelled 2cm

                      Panzergrenadier-Regiment (motorized)
                      12x self propelled 2cm

                      Panzer-Feldersatz-Bataillon (field replacement battalion)
                      1x 2cm

                      Heeres-Flakartillerie-Abteilung (army flak artillery detachement)
                      8x 8,8cm
                      15x 2cm
                      12x self propelled 2cm
                      2x self propelled 2cm quad

                      Additionaly many tank battalions in 1943/44 had a platoon of three self propelled 2cm quads (Sd.Kfz.7/1).
                      In early 1944 the Panzer-Regiments in France and Italy received a platoon of 12 Flakpanzer 38(t).

                      So an "ideal" Panzer-Divison in Normandy would have had:
                      12x Flakpanzer 38(t)(2cm)
                      40x self propelled 2cm
                      16x 2cm
                      2x self propelled 2cm quad
                      8x 8,8cm

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Were these 'self-propelled' guns in your list actually self-propelled- as in mounted on top of a halftrack or a tank chasis (like Flakpanzer) or or were they actually towed weapons that required the truck or halftrack to stop and then de-camp?

                        An anecdote I have seen from a German AA commander was that the self-propelled flak and flakpanzer were more effective against attacking fighters because it could follow and engage before the enemy could drop its payload.

                        But nevertheless, it is clear that the flakpanzer and the flak battalions of the German panzer divisions failed badly in their anti-aircraft mission. I am interested in knowing exactly why.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                          But nevertheless, it is clear that the flakpanzer and the flak battalions of the German panzer divisions failed badly in their anti-aircraft mission. I am interested in knowing exactly why.

                          Interesting that you posted a pic of that particular vehicle, this is the one that was available to the Panzer Divs from the very start of the war. The Germans had an early start with this sort of thing.

                          Half-tracks mounted Flak weapons were produced in the hunderds. In addition to what is shown above there were Quad 20mm mounts, single 37mm and about 25 huge ones with 88mm.

                          First of all, the reason for mobile Flak was (is) to protect the tanks while on the move. Otherwise, the towed variety would be sufficient. Later in the war as a result of combat experiance, the flak guns were put on valuable tank chasis so that the flak could go anywhere the tanks could go.
                          If the tanks could not go there, then why would their flak want to?
                          Thus, the modern and highly respected Gepard is on a Leopard tank chassis.

                          Secondly, these machines were not ineffective.
                          Like the escort Destroyers and Frigates who's job was to protect convoys, their primary mission was not the destruction of enemy machines but to discourage attacks in their own.
                          Also, the attrition rate for these weapons was pretty low. The famous Vierling with it's Quad 20mm had a small run, only about 86 were made. Only three dozen of its successor with the single 37mm ever existed. Only about 600 of the Halftrack variant shown above were built from 1938 onwards.
                          I'm not sure why, I suppose that the flyboys were too interested in the big tanks to focus on them much.

                          The switch from 20mm to 37mm reflects the decreasing effectiveness of the smaller rounds vs aircraft like the P-47 and Sturmovik. You would only have about a second or two to get a good burst in, so apparently one or two hits from a 37mm did more damage than half a dozen from a 20mm.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A hundred and sixty one names testify to the effectiveness of Jerry light flak. Don't forget this monument is to the Tiffy pilots lost in Normandy.
                            Spitfire, Mustang and Thunderbolt Wings also made a major contribution to destroying the nazis in Normandy.


                            The long toll of the brave
                            Is not lost in darkness
                            Over the fruitful earth
                            And athwart the seas
                            Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                            Unquenchable forever.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It is certain that light flak could inflict losses, but it is also clear that they did not perform well enough to achieve local protection for German panzer formations. I am thinking more in terms of doctrine and numbers- there was not enough mobile flak equipment available, and they were not used with sufficient concentration to seriously disrupt large fighter-bomber attacks.

                              So the german flak strategy in the armored formations failed. (if there was one at all) They needed to kill more than 161 fighter bombers, and truly devastate the fighter-bomber arm to the point of Allied ineffectiveness in order to succeed in their mission.

                              The impression I have from reading is that the mobile flak platoons were haphazardly attached to armor detachments when available, and spread thin.

                              There was no real attempt to construct a strong defensive shield like the one protecting the artillery regiment and auxiliary units.

                              Overall, self-propelled flak is very much an esoteric topic that doesn't get proper attention IMHO.
                              Last edited by Cult Icon; 13 Dec 12, 14:28.

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