Luftwaffe was the Air Forces of Germany in World War II. In fact, Luftwaffe was one of the major strengths of Germany in World War II because it was Luftwaffe that provided Germany with the domination in the air, whereas, in the course of the war, the air superiority became one of the main strategies of Germany that determined its successes in World War II. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that Luftwaffe was a blend of advanced technologies and scarce resources available to Germany. In fact, German Luftwaffe had a great potential, especially if all strategic ideas concerning the development of Luftwaffe were implemented, but the scarcity of resources eventually led to the defeat of Luftwaffe, which maintained its technological superiority until the end of the war. In such a way, the history of Luftwaffe in the course of World War II proves the importance of the combination of advanced technologies with essential resources.
At the same time, at the beginning of World War II, Luftwaffe was not the super power totally dominating over its opponents. In stark contrast, specialists argue that by 1939 Luftwaffe was not better prepared than its enemies to conduct a strategic bombing campaign. However, it is worth mentioning the fact that Luftwaffe did not have the strategic domination or superiority over its rivals, whereas technologically Luftwaffe was advanced. Nevertheless, Luftwaffe was in the similar compared to its rivals, which could also development their air forces to oppose to Luftwaffe.
Paradoxically, taking into consideration early successes of Luftwaffe in World War II, specialists stress the weakness and hidden pitfalls Luftwaffe had inevitably to come across before and in the course of the war . In this regard, it is worth mentioning the lack of raw materials, which put Luftwaffe in a dependent position on the supply of raw materials. Germany was located in Europe and had limited access to raw materials essential for the development of its aviation and Luftwaffe.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that Germany imported strategically important materials, including rubber and aluminium. In fact, rubber and aluminium were strategically important for Luftwaffe and the normal development of Luftwaffe was impossible without the stable supply of these materials. However, Germany could not supply the sufficient amount of rubber and aluminium to cover its growing needs. As a result, Luftwaffe grow more and more dependent on external supplies of strategic materials.
In addition, Luftwaffe faced another problem – the shortage of petroleum. In the course of the war, petroleum supplies were vulnerable to blockage because a considerable part of fuel was imported to Germany. Naturally, enemies of Germany attempted to block petroleum supplies to deprive Germany of its supremacy in the air.
Taking into consideration the lack of raw materials, Germany had to focus on the production of twin-engine medium bombers that needed less materials and manpower. In such a way, Luftwaffe refused from the construction of strategic bombers, which would be essential for the war in the USSR as well as other areas, where systematic and substantial bombardments of strategically important production centers were needed.
At the same time, Germany neglected the need for transport aircrafts that naturally undermined Luftwaffe. In fact, Luftwaffe used bombers as transport aircrafts, whereas there was no sufficient amount of specialized aircrafts. This policy can be explained by the strategy of blitzkrieg used by Germany in the course of World War II. If Germany relied on the fast war and victory, then Luftwaffe would not need to supply resources for a long distance and long time. The main aircrafts used by Luftwaffe were Messerschmitt Bf 109, Heinkel He 111, Junkers Ju 87, Dornier Do 17, which were technologically advanced and proved their efficiency in the course of the war.
Furthermore, Luftwaffe used dive-bombing to reach the higher accuracy. In fact, this was a new strategy which changed the technologies used for the construction of aircrafts as well as aircrafts themselves. The main point of dive-bombing was to increase the efficiency of bombing.
As the war progressed, Germany’s Air fleet expanded as the territory of Germany grew. As a result, Luftwaffe needed more resources and materials to construct more aircrafts. In such a situation, the shortage of resources became particularly significant and slowed down the development of Luftwaffe. Nevertheless, technologically Luftwaffe was well-developed. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that by the beginning of the war, Luftwaffe was most technologically advanced Air Forces in the world .
In fact, military operations conducted by Luftwaffe proved its efficiency. The invasion of Poland, Norway and Denmark due to the effective use of Luftwaffe allowed Germany to defeat these countries fast with minimal losses. The War in Poland ended in five weeks. However, during the Battle for Britain Luftwaffe experienced its first defeat because Luftwaffe failed to reach the air superiority.
Furthermore, even though Luftwaffe achieved tremendous success in the USSR but it failed to destroy the Red Air Force, its success did not run long. The lack of strategic bombers prevented Germany from bombing Soviet production centers regularly that allowed the Red Air Force and army to recover after the first defeat at the beginning of the war.
In addition, Luftwaffe faced the double impact of Red Air Force and the US Air Forces. Close to the end of the war, Luftwaffe focused on the defense of the Reich but its strengths weakened. In spite of superior technologies, such as jet and rocket propelled aircrafts, Luftwaffe was overwhelmed by the superior number of Allied Air Forces. In addition, Luftwaffe suffered from the lack of trained pilots and fuel that eventually led to the defeat of Luftwaffe and Germany in World War II.
In such a way, by the end of the war, pitfalls and weaknesses of Luftwaffe became obvious and they proved to be fatal. The lack of materials and human resources, the lack of strategic bombers, the poor air transportation, and other problems Luftwaffe failed to cope with proved to be fatal for Luftwaffe. As a result, in spite of its technological superiority Luftwaffe could not resist to the Allies and Luftwaffe was steadily defeated. The defeat of Luftwaffe naturally led to the defeat of Germany because Luftwaffe was the major striking force, which was supposed to grant Germany with air superiority, while its failure made Germany vulnerable to air attacks of the Allies.
Buckley, John. Air Power in the Age of Total War, West Midlands: UCL Press, 1999.
Cooper, Mathew. The German Air Force 1933-1945: An Anatomy of Failure, New York: Jane’s Publishing Incorporated, 1981.