World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

The Luftwaffe

Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956.

At the outset of the war, the Luftwaffe was one of the most modern, powerful, and experienced air forces in the world, and dominated the skies over much of continental Europe with aircraft much more advanced than their foreign counterparts. The Luftwaffe was central to the German BlitzkriegStuka dive bombers and an overwhelming force of tactical fighters were key to several early successes. 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. (lightning war) doctrine, as the close air support provided by various medium two-engine bombers,

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 engine, and it was upgraded to the DB 605. The 109's kill ratio (almost 9:1) made clear that this plane was superior relative to its enemy contemporaries than any other German fighter 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 originally by a radial BMW 801 engine, and later by an inline Junkers Jumo (Fw 190D), and held its own against new, improved Allied aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang. The Junkers Ju 87 StukaBlitzkrieg, able to place bombs with deadly accuracy. The leader of the Luftwaffe was Hermann Göring, 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. 

In the second half of 1940, the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain over the skies of England, the first all-air battle. Following the military failures on the Eastern Front, from 1942 onwards, the LuftwaffeLuftwaffe was no longer a major factor, and despite fielding advanced aircraft like the Messerschmitt Me 262, Heinkel He 162, Arado Ar 234, and Me 163 it was crippled by fuel shortages and a lack of trained pilots. There was also very little time to develop the new aircraft, and they could not be produced fast enough by the Germans, so the jet- and rocket-powered planes proved to be "too little too late". went into a steady, gradual decline that saw it outnumbered and overwhelmed by the sheer number of Allied aircraft being deployed against it.

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger (Shrike) was a German single-seat, single-radial engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1930s. It was used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War in a variety of roles. Like the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Fw 190 was employed as a "workhorse", and proved suitable for a wide variety of roles, including air superiority fighter, strike fighter, ground-attack aircraft, and operated with less success as a night fighter.

When the Fw 190 started flying operationally over France in August 1941 it was quickly proven to be superior in all but turn radius to the Royal Air Force's main front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V. The 190 wrested air superiority away from the RAF until the introduction of the vastly improved Spitfire Mk. IX in July 1942 restored qualitative parity. The Fw 190 made its air combat debut on the Eastern Front in November/December 1942. Soviet pilots regarded the Bf 109 as the greatest threat in combat on the Eastern Front; nevertheless, the Fw 190 made a significant impact. The fighter and its pilots proved just as capable as the Bf 109 in aerial combat, and in the opinion of German pilots that flew both German fighters, the Fw 190 presented increased firepower and manoeuvrability at low to medium altitude.

The Fw 190 became the backbone of Jagdwaffe (Fighter Force) along with the Bf 109. On the Eastern Front the Fw 190 was versatile enough to be used in Schlachtgeschwader (Battle Wings or Strike Wings), specialised ground attack units which achieved much success against Soviet ground forces. As an interceptor, the Fw 190 underwent improvements to make it effective at high altitude allowing the 190 to maintain relative parity against its Allied opponents. The Fw 190A series' performance decreased at high altitudes (usually 6,000 m (20,000 ft) and above) which reduced its effectiveness as a high-altitude interceptor, but this problem was mostly rectified in later models, particularly in the Focke-Wulf Fw 190D series, which was introduced in September 1944. In spite of its successes, it never entirely replaced the Bf 109.

The Fw 190 was well-liked by its pilots. Some of the Luftwaffe's most successful fighter aces flew the Fw 190, including Otto Kittel with 267 victories, Walter Nowotny with 258 victories and Erich Rudorffer with 222 claimed kills. A great many of their kills were claimed while flying the Fw 190.

 

The Ministry of Aviation    was a government department during the period of Nazi Germany (1933–45). It is also the original name of a building in Wilhelmstraße in central Berlin, the capital of Germany, which now houses the Bundesministerium der Finanzen (German Finance Ministry).