Core Thesis (XX-Tim D.)[edit | edit source]

"This book is about the ideas and operational doctrines of the German air force as they developed during the interwar period. It is interested in how the concepts of air power in Germany were developed, how the theories about air war were translated into practical operational doctrine for war, how they approached the study of air warfare."

Main Ideas[edit | edit source]

The Luftwaffe

18 Military aviation in Germany was very much a child of the general staff, The prestige of the general staff prior to World War I was such that its advice was usually taken with a great deal of respect by the war ministry.

34 The Luftstreitkrafte - German air service during WWI - conducted more than just recce - The Flanders campaign saw some distinctive innovations in aerial warfare - two-seater observation planes, ground attack, interdiction, anti-air campaign, radio technology

35 On 13 June 1917 18 Gothas flying at 8,000 feet in daylight bombed London and killed 162 civilians and wounded 432. There was no effective air defense and no palnes were shot down. There was immediate panic on the part of the British public. Absenteeism in the factories soared, and the German raids soon became a cabinet-level crisis. The crisis resulted in the recall of British fighter squadrons from the front and the creation of the Royal Air Force—whose first mission was to assure the strategic defense of Britain

40 The German air staff studied the effect of the Allied strategic raids against Germany and concluded that they posed no major threat to the population or to war production.

46 In World War I, the German air service maintained a lead over the Allies in developing and fielding equip ment. Radio communications, aerial direction finding (ADF), oxygen masks, parachutes

49 As part of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the Allies demanded the surrender of 2,000 German aircraft. On 8 May 1920, the Luftstreitkrafte was officially disbanded.

50 Col Gen Hans von Seeckt, Germany's chief of general staff 1919-1920, CINC of the German army 1920-1926.

53 In von Seeckt's concept aerial warfare, the primary responsibility of a strong, independent air force in war would be, first to gain air superiority and once control of the air had been obtained, the air force's operational and strategic mission would be serving in concert with the army to disrupt the enemy's mobilization and transportation systems. Von Seeckt firmly believed that the air force was primarily an offensive, not a defensive weapon.

58 Reichswehr, provisional military authority, embarked on the process of conducting a comprehensive examination of wartime tactics and operational doctrine. On 1 December 1919, von Seeckt issued a directive to the Truppenamt, the Waffenamt, the branch inspectorates, and the Air Service, outlining a program to create studies on tactics, regulations, equipment, and doctrine.

63 The army and air service studies provided the basis for a new, comprehensive army war doctrine, emphasizing an elite, modern, and technically proficient military capable of winning through mobility and maneuver.

64 1921 All force must be deployed to a decisive point and air support will be there to assist. The battle for air superiority was the primary object of the AF in wartime.

66 Von Seeckt focused on officer education, technology, aviation, foreign languages. The Reichwehr strove to become the best educated army in the world.

75 German/Russian Rapallo Treaty of 1922. In the Soviets agreed to allow the Germans to establish air force and army training and testing centers in Russia, in return for German technological assistance and training. Lipetsk AB, 1925-1933, they conducted aviation training to include live-fire, dive bombing, high explosive bombing.

79 Naval Air Doctrine Navy was sensitive about its wartime record, but also of its status as the junior military service of the nation. All of this contributed to a genuine reluctance to make a comprehensive examination WWI.

81 The 1920s saw few advances in development of naval air doctrine in Germany. Indeed, there was a regression.

82 May 1926. Directives for the Conduct of the Operational Air War, two air forces in a future war. One would provide tactical spt/reconnaissance to army/navy units and the second would be composed of long-range bombers.

105 By the early 1920s, the German professional soldiers fully accepted that strategic bombing campaigns would become an integral part of a future conflict. the Luftschutzliga (Air Defense League) a large and very effective organization for training the public in civil defense.

114 While Germany led the world in areas such as pressurized flight at high altitude, airframe design and navigation instruments, they were behind with development and production of engines.

124 1933 Leaders of what would become the Luftwaffe had one of the most challenging tasks that airmen have faced in the twentieth century: building major air force in a short time from a minimal foundation.

124 Hermann Goring, who was commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, Erhard Milch, ran the air ministry, Lieutenant General Walter Wever served as chief of staff of the Luftwaffe from 1933 to 1936.

138 To achieve the objective of defeating the enemy armed forces, Wever set five operational tasks for the air force:

           1. To destroy the enemy air force by bombing its bases and aircraft factories, and defeating enemy air forces attacking German targets 

           2. To prevent the movement of large enemy ground forces to the decisive areas by destroying railways and roads, particularly bridges and tunnels, which are indispensible for the movement and supply of such forces; 

           3. To support the operations of the army formations, independent of railways—i.e., armored forces and motorized forces, by impeding the enemy advance and participating directly in ground operations 

           4. To support naval operations by attacking enemy naval bases, protecting Germany's naval bases and participating directly in naval battle 

           5. To paralyze the enemy armed forces by stopping production in the armament factories.

140 The result was published in 1935 Luftwaffe Regulation 16: Luftkriegfuhrung (The Conduct of the Aerial War). 'The mission of the armed forces in war is to break down the will of the enemy. The will of the nation finds its greatest embodiment in its armed forces. Thus, the enemy armed forces is the primary goal in war.

142 The first and most vital mission of the air force was the destruction of the enemy air force. The enemy air force had to be destroyed in its bases, and its infrastructure wrecked.

145 Probably the most radical difference between the Nazi ideology and the strategic vision held by the senior military officers was their disparate objectives of warfare. Under Nazi ideology, war was viewed as a life-or-death struggle between nations, with total defeat or overthrow of the enemy nation as the only acceptable outcome.

147 The concept of civil defense, war games and exercises played a central role in the development of air doctrine.

156 1 March 1935 when Hermann Goring officially announced the existence of the German Luftwaffe to the world.

161 , Hans Jurgen Stumpf managed to create an officer corps of several thousand fully qualified officers for the Luftwaffe by 1936- 1938. Came from 11 different sources on page 158.

165 The policy of the air ministry in developing the first generation of Luftwaffe aircraft was to take aircraft models that had already been developed, or well along in the development process, and put them into production. During 1934, the Luftwaffe general staff developed the specifications and production priority requirements for an entire second generation of aircraft. The first priority heavy, long- range bomber, second heavy dive bomber, third priority was for medium bombers, and the fourth priority went to a heavy fighter.

166 The air staff argued that strategic air war was the primary mission of the Luftwaffe, but the creation of effective doctrine and organization for army support was not ignored. Also focused on reconnaissance units, close air support missions, air liaison officers, and flak forces, paratroopers.

171 The difficulty faced by the Luftwaffe and the Technical Office in the development of the heavy strategic bomber was the weakness of the German aircraft engine industry in the early 1930s.

176 Their focus on technology led to long-range navigation, new antiaircraft equipment, future weaponry, radio navigation technologies, and technologies for accurate bombing.

178 It is clear from the models and types of aircraft produced by the Luftwaffe for the naval air service that naval air doctrine in Germany had aircraft for fleet reconnaissance. Naval aviation did not progress.

180 To Wever, air power meant civil defense and the employment of flak artillery as well as strategic bombing. At no time did Wever forget the importance of joint operations.

181 In short, under Wever's direction, the Luftwaffe was in an excellent position, in 1936, to grow from a moderate-sized air force into a world-class air force with first-rate equipment, equipped with an effective doctrine for battlefield and strategic operations. The Luftwaffe, so carefully built up by Erhard Milch, equipped by Wilhelm Wimmer and his staff, and given a doctrine and organization by Walter Wever, would undergo a severe military test of its readiness, doctrine and capabilities, in the Spanish Civil War.

220 The Spanish war featured strategic bombing, interdiction campaigns, naval anti-shipping campaigns, close air support, and air superiority.

221 When the Luftwaffe left Spain, it left as a confident and experienced air force. When World War II began in September 1939, the Luftwaffe was better prepared for war than any other major air force.

222 German main lessons from Spain...civil defense, aerial navigation and night flying.

224 Wever's death kicked off a long series of power struggles within the Luftwaffe's top command, which would hinder its development and effectiveness.

271 By WWII The Luftwaffe was the most capable air force in the world in conducting joint operations with the army.

278 In Poland and France 1940, The Luftwaffe successfully conducted a wide variety of missions successfully: an air superiority campaign, reconnaissance, flak defense against Allied attacks, the world's first major airborne operations, and a conventional interdiction campaign against the French transport system.

280 The Luftwaffe's single greatest failure in developing an air war doctrine: The Luftwaffe went to war without a coherent naval air war doctrine and without an effective naval air arm.

282 Battle of Britain...Luftwaffe had inadequate intelligence, and fighter escorts for bombers.

284 German air power theory of the interwar is remarkable for its broad and comprehensive approach to air power. Air power meant a doctrine of strategic bombing, a concept of conducting joint operations with the ground forces, homeland civil defense and passive defense against a bombing campaign, the creation of a paratroop force capable seizing and holding vital objectives, the creation of a large air transport force and mobile logistics system, the development of a strong antiaircraft artillery arm that could defend the homeland and provide support to the armed forces. In virtually all these aspects of air power, the Luftwaffe was ahead of the British and the Americans in the interwar period.

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