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View Full Version : Interesting article about the lack of coalition thinking in the Axis



Jaws2002
06-01-2008, 10:09 AM
Only some parts of it but interesting nonetheless:

http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-523941/The-Luft...Allied.html#abstract (http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-523941/The-Luftwaffe-and-its-Allied.html#abstract)



"The coalition aspect of conducting aerial warfare is one of the less explored subjects in the history of the Second World War. The U.S.-British relationship in conducting the strategic bombing campaign is the one subject written about in great detail. Other aspects of coalition air war are beginning to receive appropriate attention. For example, Mark Conversino's Fighting with the Soviets provides an in-depth study of U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) and Soviet Air Force relations in World War II and Air Marshal Probert's book, The Forgotten Air War, does a fine job in describing the U.S. and British air cooperation in Southeast Asia. (1)

The Luftwaffe had several important allies in the air war: In particular, Italy, Finland, Hungary, and Rumania made great sacrifices and took heavy losses fighting alongside the Luftwaffe. Yet, despite the thousands of aircraft Germany's allies put into combat, from the far north to the Mediterranean, the relationship between the Luftwaffe and its coalition allies has received little attention. (2) This article is a contribution towards understanding this aspect of the history of aerial warfare.

A full list of Germany's allied air forces, the forces that flew alongside the Luftwaffe or under Luftwaffe command, would include Slovakia, Croatia and Bulgaria alongside the Italians, Rumanians, Finns and Hungarians. However, this article will concentrate on the latter four air forces and their relationship with the Luftwaffe. These four nations not only had moderately large air forces but also had indigenous aircraft industries and significant industrial potential to produce aircraft. On the other hand, the Bulgarian, Slovakian and Croatian contribution to the aerial war was insignificant and none of those nations had an aviation industry that could have made an impact on the war. In this article, I will concentrate on the relationship between the Luftwaffe with its major allies (Italy, Finland, Hungary and Rumania) to include the an overview of the battle performance of allied air forces, German assistance to its major allies and the Luftwaffe's policy towards the aviation industries of its allies. Germany's allies had the potential to deploy significant forces and production capability to support the German war effort. For the most part, the actual and potential force of Germany's allies was ignored or misused by the Luftwaffe throughout the war. Indeed, one of the primary causes for German defeat, and specifically Germany's defeat in the air, was due to the Third Reich's inability to effectively lead a coalition war.

The Luftwaffe's Understanding of Coalition Warfare

Several factors affected the Luftwaffe's relationship to its wartime allies and inhibited the Luftwaffe from developing an effective relationship with allied air forces. First of all was the influence of Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht culture. Before the war, Luftwaffe officers failed to seriously study coalition operations and the Wehrmacht as a whole suffered from a lack of interest in coalition operations within the senior military leadership. Another factor that inhibited Germany's ability to exploit the capability of coalition allies lay in the Nazi concept of Mitteleuropa that guided German foreign relations. Germany's long-term ambition was to fully control the economy of Central Europe, and this vision had no place for technologically advanced allies with aviation industries that could compete with Germany. Finally, the Germans fought under the concept of parallel war, each allied nation would largely fight its own war in its own sector with little strategic coordination or common direction.

In the 1920s, the German army established a three-year general staff course that provided a thorough education for officers in the operational art, and at the operational level of war. The army general staff course covered tactics from battalion to army levels, military history, operational planning, and joint operations. It was arguably the best education in the world in the operational art of combat command. However, very little emphasis was placed on logistics or the industrial-economic side of warfare in the general staff course, and grand strategy--including coalition warfare--was scarcely mentioned. When the Luftwaffe established its general staff academy in 1935, its emphasis--like that of the army's general staff training--was on the operational side of aerial warfare, with little time devoted to grand strategy. War Minister Werner von Blomberg and Luftwaffe Chief of Staff Walter Wever recognized the deficiency of both the army and air force general staff curricula in educating officers to serve as strategists and staff officers for the Wehrmacht. At the urging of both generals, the war ministry established the Wehrmachtakademie in 1935 to educate officers for service on a joint strategic staff. The one-year course, which was intended for a select group of experienced general staff officers drawn from all services, would emphasize grand strategy, war economics, and politics. From 1935 to 1938, only a handful of officers were sent to the course. (3)

The death of Wever in 1936, and the dismissal of von Blomberg in 1938, eliminated the German military's strongest advocates for creating a true Wehrmacht strategic staff. The Wehrmachtakademie was shut down in 1938, largely as a result of interservice rivalry, and of Hermann Goering's dislike of any staff that might interfere with the direction of "his" Luftwaffe and air ministry. When the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) was formed in 1938, it would not be a staff to coordinate grand strategy, but rather a small, personal staff for the Fuhrer. In short, the Wehrmacht never developed a program to produce strategists or any coherent vision of grand strategy. (4)

A central goal of Nazi foreign relations was to ensure German domination of the economies of Central Europe to include Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. Through its foreign trade and investment policies of the 1930s Germany made a conscious effort to push out British and French trade and influence in the region and supplant it with German domination. >From the German viewpoint, countries like Hungary and Rumania that were mainly agricultural lands should produce food for Germany. The Central European nations were also seen as providers of raw materials to German industry. The Central European nations had many of the vital resources that Germany lacked. For example, Rumania was a major off supplier to Germany and Hungary developed its oil fields in the 1930s. Hungary was, as well, one of the world's major producers of bauxite. (5) Besides providing Germany with food and raw materials, the small Central European states were also seen as a market for German industrial goods and machines. Before the outbreak of the war, the German strategy for the economic domination of Central Europe was quite successful. Austria and Czechoslovakia were absorbed into the German Reich and by 1938 Germany had become the dominant economic influence in both Rumania and Hungary. (6)

There was little subtlety in the German policy of asserting its dominance in Central Europe. >From the time Hitler took power the Rumanian and Hungarian governments were highly suspicious of Germany. Rumania had been closely linked with France after World War I and maintained its alliance into the 1930s. (7) Hungary had a strong democratic tradition and valued its trade links with Britain. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the Rumanian and Hungarian governments, Britain and France were far away while Germany was next door. The small nations had to make realistic accommodations with Germany in order to survive so, in 1940 when the Soviet Union occupied the Rumanian province of Bessarabia, the Rumanians had no alternative but to turn to Germany for help in regaining their territory. Hungary could only turn to Germany to adjudicate a return of territory stripped from Hungary by Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in the aftermath of World War I.

In the prewar period, the Wehrmacht and the air ministry devoted virtually no effort to coalition war planning or to discuss coordinated military production with coalition partners. After the Nazi accession to power in 1933, fascist Italy was viewed as a natural ally and in 1933-1934 a group of senior German officers visited Italy to discuss the possibility of standardizing some equipment between the two countries. Yet nothing came of the discussions and the Germans never pressed the issue. (8) Thus, when Italy went to war as Germany's ally in June 1940, none of Italy's major equipment items or their means of communication were compatible with Germany's. Since the Luftwaffe failed to plan for a coalition war with its largest and most obvious ally, there was bound to be even less effort to develop Germany's military relationship with smaller powers. Indeed, prior to the outbreak of the war the Air Ministry's primary interest in the small nations of Central Europe was as a market for obsolete or surplus German aircraft. Germany urgently needed foreign exchange for its rearmament program and became a major aircraft exporter by the mid-1930s. Hungary and Rumania, then rebuilding their air forces, were eager to buy the latest German aircraft models and to obtain licenses to build German equipment. However, before 1938 the air ministry refrained either from selling front-line Luftwaffe aircraft or from allowing license production of its latest models. (9) As a consequence, Rumania was offered Heinkel He 51 fighters in 1935. As the He 51 was already known as one of the Luftwaffe's least successful aircraft and was in the process of being replaced so the Rumanians sensibly rejected the German offer and bought better fighters from the Italians. (10) Yet the Rumanians kept trying to buy modern aircraft from Germany and finally in 1939 the Luftwaffe allowed the Rumanians to buy 24 modern Heinkel He 112 fighters since it was a model that the Luftwaffe had little interest in and was thus approved for export. (11) However, a Rumanian request to buy 50 Ju 87Bs was turned down by the Air Ministry that same year. (12) The story with the Hungarians is similar. Between 1934 and 1940 several Hungarian missions to buy German aircraft resulted in the purchase of some older aircraft considered surplus to the Luftwaffe's needs. In 1939 Rumanian overtures to license-build the Me 109 fighter and Junkers Jumo 211 aircraft engine were rebuffed.

As a result of German arms sales policies, Rumania and Hungary turned to Italy, France, and the United Kingdom to purchase and to license-build aircraft for outfitting their fighter and bomber units. Hungary and Rumania considered Germany an unreliable aircraft supplier and, faced with the German attitude, Hungary, Finland, and Rumania all took steps to improve the capability of their indigenous aircraft industries in order to become as self-sufficient as possible. The Hungarian and Finnish governments opted to license-build fighter planes and some bombers. Hungary started licensed production of the Italian Regianne 2000 fighter and the Caproni Ca 135 bomber before its entry into the war. Finland's state aircraft factory entered into an agreement to license-build the Fokker D XXI fighter in 1937. Rumania took a different tack by developing a modern fighter plane, the IAR 80, for production by the Rumanian state aircraft company. Hungary and Rumania also took steps to design and build their own trainers along with light liaison and reconnaissance aircraft. Hungary and Rumania worked to adapt foreign airframe designs to their own engines, usually variations of license-built French aircraft engines although none of the domestic-designed or license-built aircraft or engines made by Rumania, Hungary or Finland were equal to the German aircraft or engines available in 1939 or 1940. However, German sales and licensing policy combined with a distrust of Germany ensured that, for the small nations, self-sufficiency took precedence over efficiency in the prewar rearmament programs.

Parallel War and Germany's Allies

Germany never developed a clear grand strategy to fight a coalition war. Indeed, Germany's allies had little in common with the Third Reich and each nation allied itself with Germany in order to fulfill very limited war aims. For example, Finland aligned itself with Germany in order to regain the territory it had lost to Russia in the 1939-1940 Winter War. Rumania sought to regain the province of Besserabia, annexed by Russia in 1940. Hungary served the German cause in repayment for Germany's ensuring the return of formerly-Hungarian territories seized by Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia at the end of World..."

joeap
06-01-2008, 03:00 PM
Very good, I have access to some of these sites at work and will try to d/l this and some of the other articles mentioned.

Bearcat99
06-01-2008, 04:40 PM
That is a very interesting article... One of my favorite aspects of history is that no matter how much you know... there is always more..

BWaltteri
06-02-2008, 04:32 AM
Finns were not interested in contributing German war goals, although they had to pretend they were at least somewhat. Therefore Germans did not want to supply Finns with the latest equipment unless Finns obliged to do something.

Finns' Fokker 21's were not licenced for any Axis cause, they were bought directly from the Netherlands. Also Finns build Bristol Blenheim bombers with a licence from England.

That Finns got at least some Panzerfausts, Sturms and 109's in 1944 were because President Risto Ryti personally promised to Hitler that he will continue the war as an axis nation. But then he resigned from the post, blamed it all on himself, and let Mannerheim to lead the country into Peace.

M_Gunz
06-02-2008, 08:23 AM
A broader coalition might have suited the Axis.
The Japanese could well have used FW's and some fast bombers to guard bases.
And think of what a couple wings of Zeros would have done in the BoB.
Italian Navy and captured French ships would not have hurt in the same time to draw the RN out.

rnzoli
06-03-2008, 05:38 AM
strategic co-operation? when someone thinks he is above everyone else? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

csThor
06-03-2008, 05:56 AM
In hindsight a closer cooperation with its "allies" would certainly have caused a lot less problems for the Wehrmacht, but - as the article lined out - official party line was that all other countries were "comrades in arms" and not equal allies. Additionally I don't think the german war economy could have produced enough material (ranging from small arms to artillery to aircraft to tanks etc) to fulfill the needs of the smaller nations - it couldn't even fulfill the needs of the Wehrmacht.

luftluuver
06-03-2008, 06:08 AM
Interesting. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif


Originally posted by M_Gunz:
And think of what a couple wings of Zeros would have done in the BoB.
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif On July 21 1940 15 pre-production A6Ms were sent to China. On Aug 1940 the A6M flew its 1st combat mission. Only 153 sorties were flown til year end, 1940.

When was BoB?

M_Gunz
06-03-2008, 11:27 AM
So the cooperation would have had to have been all through development which wasn't going
to happen anyway. And it's not like there was a lot of that elsewhere, was there? Hard
to imagine that level of cooperation between companies let alone nations. Look how long
it took to put Merlins in Mustangs for example.

Still with something like the Zero staying with the bombers while the 109's free hunted,
things would have gotten far stickier for the RAF!

csThor
06-03-2008, 12:02 PM
I don't think the Zekes would have sat well with the german pilots. The A6M was the naval epitome of the japanese air combat doctrine - which was based on individuals fighting each other like two knights of the middle ages on the tournament field. The german doctrine was cooperative and espoused high speed and surprise.
Basically it would have been a lot more sensible to attach the 300l droptanks of the Ju 87 R to the Bf 109 (as it was done in early 1941) to enhance the 109's range, but then Göing wanted his favored 110s to shine (with predictable results).

Xiolablu3
06-03-2008, 12:52 PM
Very interesting stuff, thanks Jaws.

I think the whole point of National Socialism is that 'We are the best, charity begins at home, look after our own first' kind of attitude. So its really not surprising that the Nazis regarded relationships with other countries as less important than the Allies.

SAying that, Hitler stuck by Mussolini even when his army was beaten time after time by much smaller forces.

I really dont knwo too much about Hitlers relationship with Hungary, Crotia, Rumania etc, except that they were very untrusting to begin with when it came to sharing German technology, so that in itself shows that Hitler never really trusted any of these 'Allies' properly.

Britian and the USA on the other hand made massive efforts to supply the Soviot Union with supplies and up to date weapons (admittedly not cutting edge, but not far off), even when their own colonies such as Malta and battlefields in the pacific were in dire need of Aircraft/Weapons.

Very interesting thread, I know little about Hitlers smaller Alliesd such as Rumania, Croatia and Hungary so I will be watching this thread with interest. MAybe Kurfy and Brain32 can provide some good info as to the attitude of their countries towards the German allliance?

I gather there is a tendancy to support the Nazis becasue of the misery the Soviets brought after WW2 to their countries, in a kind of 'Could the Nazis REALLY have been worse?' sort of attitude. Therefore anyone who is willing to stand up to the communists/Soviets gets favourable public opinion. This is just what I have noticed from this forum. Many of the guys from Croatia and Hungary greatly favour the blue side and argue for them constantly.

Xiolablu3
06-03-2008, 01:41 PM
Originally posted by BWaltteri:
Finns were not interested in contributing German war goals, although they had to pretend they were at least somewhat. Therefore Germans did not want to supply Finns with the latest equipment unless Finns obliged to do something.

Finns' Fokker 21's were not licenced for any Axis cause, they were bought directly from the Netherlands. Also Finns build Bristol Blenheim bombers with a licence from England.

That Finns got at least some Panzerfausts, Sturms and 109's in 1944 were because President Risto Ryti personally promised to Hitler that he will continue the war as an axis nation. But then he resigned from the post, blamed it all on himself, and let Mannerheim to lead the country into Peace.

The FInns had absolutely no choice but to be on the Nazis side, as they were already 'against' the Russians. They needed the Russians to be defeated in order to reclaim their stolen territory.

'The enemy of my enemy is my friend' fits very well in this case.

Xiolablu3
06-03-2008, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
So the cooperation would have had to have been all through development which wasn't going
to happen anyway. And it's not like there was a lot of that elsewhere, was there? Hard
to imagine that level of cooperation between companies let alone nations. Look how long
it took to put Merlins in Mustangs for example.

Still with something like the Zero staying with the bombers while the 109's free hunted,
things would have gotten far stickier for the RAF!

Absolutely. The Western Allies acheived an incredible level of comradeship and cooperation in WW2. There were massive problems, but they rose above it and succeeded brilliantly.

Listening to some US and British veterans criticzing (actually heavily insulting) their cousins after the war, I sometimes wonder how it held togther.


Admittedly there are very few 'complainers' I have noticed, but I have seen one or two from the US side and the COmmonwealth side who always 'stick the knife in' at every opportunity on History channel interviews.

However the majority are rightly very grateful for the cooperation.

I cant help but think that De Gaulle was a completely ungrateful git after the war however. Churchill bent over backwards for him, even when De Gaulle was completely alone and powerless. Roosevelt hated the guy and wanted someone different leading the French. Its one of hte few things Roosevelt and Churchill really disagreed on.

De Gaulle repaid his help and kindness by insulting CHurchill in his book and vetoeing British entry into the EEC. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

M_Gunz
06-03-2008, 03:55 PM
We can thank DeGaulle for insisting that France got Vietnam back despite a treaty ratified
by the US with them. They earned their freedom in blood by kicking the Japanese out before
the end of the war and thus weakening Japan. They *were* going to be a Democracy with self
rule. And then after they kicked the French out in 1955, guess who got to be the bad guys
and get called Imperialists by who? The French! Oh yeah, Thank You General DeGaulle! We
got a nice legacy that we still ain't shook off, but what are Pals for?